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Did I tell you I took an ACTlab class this last semester? 

No?

Did I even tell you what the hell ACTlab is? 

Well, if you want the official version, you can check out their website. Here's the quick and dirty: ACTlab is an experiment. It's a "new media" class that is officially linked to the Radio, Television, and Film department at UT, though the pedagogy free-wheels across sociology, psychology, gender and women's studies, queer theory, literature, semantics, etc. And in ACTlab, you express and grapple with theory by making shit. No paper-writing, no staring at a hateful blinking cursor, no banging your head on the table due to a peer's narrow-minded reading of some concept or another. Everyone has to put together three projects, and they can be...more or less whatever you can make good. A piece of film, a game, a performance, a hacked piece of machinery, a sculpture, a song, an animation. It is entirely open.

I loved this class.

I am so accustomed to my own neurotic and isolating form of creativity, that I was both terrified and enthralled by what this class required of me. As many of you know, I love the concept of DIY, but am thin on actual DIY skills. But because the focus in ACTlab isn't on perfection so much as ambition, daring, and exuberance, it felt like I was finally allowed to just play.

Enough blather. Go check out my projects already! Oh! Didn't I mention? They're all on my ACTlab website. <3
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Wow it's been a while you guys. Let me get you caught up on my past three months:

WRITE WRITE WRITE READ WRITE WORK WORK WORK pause for tendonitis WRITE WRITE WRITE WORK WORK WORK WORK.

Now you're caught up.

So obviously I've been bloody rotten at keeping up with you guys, and will likely remain so for a while. If you've got good/bad news to share, need to whinge on an empathetic shoulder, or miss me horribly and yearn for my glorious conversation, drop me e-mails at zenithblue@gmail.com. I am also bad at keeping up with my e-mail right now but I will do my best to stay in touch. I am also get-in-touchable via facebook. Just don't try to get me in on Mafia Wars, I am trying to graduate my program with at least a part of a novel.

I miss you all and hope someday I'll have a slacker job again whereby I can surf the net all day and read your blogs. Love.
zenithblue: (mad mod)
I haven't really editorialized on the health care thing much in part because I don't have a level detached philosophical response to provide. That said, I'd like to put my opinion forward now.

Shut the fuck up, you fucking moron assholes. Shut up you fucking senators who already fucking have government subsidized health care that, by the way, my tax dollars are paying for. Shut up you crazy people at town hall meetings. Wipe the spittle from your mouths. If I had a way to make sure each and every one of you were without health care for a year or two, I'd do it. I'd push that button.

As an uninsured American with a number of "pre-existing conditions," whose income bracket lurks somewhere in the vicinity of the poverty line, I'd like to invite you paranoid backwards pieces of shit to seriously shut. The fuck. Up. Basically every word out of your mouth is a claim that I don't deserve to be healthy, that many of the people I love don't deserve to be healthy. Frankly, if we don't get some kind of public plan, I will be clamoring for euthanasia options for my remaining elderly relatives, because none of them will be able to afford to live in anything resembling comfort.

And by the way, I'm guessing some of you people are the ones who like to blame the unions for everything that goes wrong with our economy. Those unions are the only reason anyone has any kind of private health care, just so you know. Otherwise the hegemonic rich dudes who are encouraging you poor white trash to make so much noise at town hall meetings wouldn't have reason to give you shit.
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This Tuesday [info]deadkytty9 and I ventured, finally, to  the Harry Ransom Center for their tour. That's right; I have been here for two years and have not yet really explored the HRC (though I did go to one of the reading rooms with my Romantic Lit class, where I got to breathe on Cassandra Austen's personal copy of Emma). The truth is I have been intimidated. It's a huge collection, and trying to figure out where to start and how to proceed gives me the fantods. Ridiculous, really; I'm going to pass up one of the best reasons to come to UT Austin just because I've got the Stendahl shakes? 

So, let me tell you what we saw just in the lobby and the gallery (disregarding the milliions of manuscripts and artifacts within the bowels of the collection): a Gutenberg Bible (illuminated with what looked to my undiscerning eye with blue Bic pen); the first photograph; an exhibition of Fritz Henle's photography; a hundred plus beautifully bound and beautifully illustrated copies of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat (which became a Victorian sensation upon its translation in 1859 by one Edward FitzGerald, and as you can imagine is treated with all the cultural sensitivity one can expect from that particular time period); and one of my favorite Frida Kahlo portraits, "Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird."

Evidence that we do more at UT than paint ourselves orange and pound the snot out of Sooners. Though we do that too.

 



It's odd to know how much stuff we have, and while I'm glad a lot of this material is in the hands of trained archivists in one of the most climate-controlled environments in the state of Texas, I do wonder if there are places and people that have firmer claims to these treasures. Still, collecting all these physical artifacts in one place makes good sense from a research perspective. The collection is fully open to memebers of the public, as well, which I find beautiful. You too, dear reader, can waltz into the building and read Tennessee Williams' first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire (spoiler alert: Blanche and Stanley run away together in this version. No joke.). You can walk into Earl Stanley Gardner's living room. You can read Carson McCullers' letters, Edith Wharton's letters, Henry James' letters, Paul Bowles' letters, and so on.  

Also if I ever have any degree of success as a writer the HRC is my retirement plan. Selectively, of course. The eight-grade Newsies fan-fiction and the blues song I composed for a grade-school project on Roald Dahl's BFG might not make the cut. 
 

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In Carlos Fuentes' Aura there's a scene in the middle of the book in which the second person narrator--so, "you,"--looks out the window and sees that "five, six, seven cats...are all twined together, all writhing in flames and giving off a dense smoke that reeks of burnt fur." And then you go back into the house and head down the hallway to fuck your boss's niece and the scene is never explained or referenced again. Well, that's magical realism for you.

This week, I think I edged closer to comprehending the complexities of gatos en fuego. I turned on my oven to roast some pecans. Suddenly, one of my foster kittens, Azuki, came bolting from behind the stove like the proverbial Chiroptera out of hell. I didn't even know there was a hidey-hole back there for him to get into. He was covered all over with a fine dusting of black stuff. "What did you get into?" I scolded. "Meow," he said.

When I brushed him off, I realized he hadn't gotten into something; the black stuff was the outer layer of fur burned to a crisp down his back. He had a slightly...sizzled odor.

So we all learned a valuable lesson. I now do headcounts when I turn on the oven, and Azuki, I suspect, will never venture near a stove again.
are you gonna eat me? )

zenithblue: (anne bonny)
In the office where I've been temping this week, one of my few regular responsibilities is to send out an e-mail when the taco lady shows up with her cooler. I've taken to just placing "tacos" in the subject line, and then in the e-mail's body simply writing "...are here." Because why write "tacos" more than once?

This afternoon, the company's CFO sent out an e-mail. It read:

"please say hi to ee cummings who is covering our front desk"

So I sent him back a reply:

"since hunger is first
who pays attention
to the syntax of things
will never give you tacos"

Meanwhile, all day, the rest of the office has been stopping by my desk in confusion. "I thought your name was Jennifer?"
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A half dozen MFA students with a sudden surplus of spare time equals what? Birthday tribute videos, that's what!

We're all pretty good at lip synch too. )
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An essay I wrote for my "Metaphysical Messages" class. The original had footnotes, which I don't feel like figuring out how to format in lj, so they're rendered here in brackets and small text (to differentiate them from the copious amounts of parentheticals I seem to use these days). This was written for a comics skeptic, so apologies for anything that comes off didactic.

Invisible Arches )
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I'd never encountered the spirit--the story I mean--before. But in the past five months I've encountered her twice: once in Andre Breton's Nadja, once in A.S. Byatt's Possession. When I searched for her face I recognized it.
the fairy Melusina )

watchmen

Apr. 17th, 2009 12:37 pm
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Today I am writing an essay about Alan Moore for class. I am actually having Stendahl paroxyms looking at Watchmen. It's like a combination between a panic attack and an orgasm. It feels really bizarre.

I've always been really affected by the book, but I'm having a really hard time writing about it. Reason being that there is so much to notice, built into the structure and the art. I'm overwhelmed by how many ways the book works. It gets me agitated and light-headed when I start to unpack it. It is hard to focus when you are hyperventilating.

This is why I will not see the movie. It can't work the same way. It might be a perfectly viable movie (I don't know, Hodge said it wasn't as bad as most Moore adaptations at least) but it just can't be the astonishing work of art the book is.

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Check out Mari Kasurinen's absolutely amazing My Little Pony mods. Warning: may cause violent geek-gasm.

Among my (predictable) favorites:holy pony paradise batman )

an excerpt

Mar. 14th, 2009 09:11 pm
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...from a paper I had to write for class, about my relationship to experimental or metaphysical fiction. It was really supposed to be more narcissistic than it turned out...but I've been wanting to write about my first reading of Infinite Jest for a while now. There's nothing in this piece, yet, about the visceral feelings, about the personal feelings, about seeing my own loneliness expressed in a way I couldn't even have expressed it. But it's a start.

So of course you grow up... )

dollhouse

Feb. 8th, 2009 04:51 pm
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On the way home from lunch Hodge and I heard an interview with Joss Whedon about the upcoming Dollhouse.

By the way: Dollhouse? A show pivoting around identity, misogyny, and Eliza Dushku? Was there ever a show more geared towards my own interests?

Anyway, the interview was a little bit obnoxious. Jacki Lyden asks the oft-feminist-lauded Whedon how having a disempowered identityless protagonist who is programmed to have sex with whoever is willing to pay for her when she's not going on crazy black-ops missions is remotely a feminist idea. This would be a reasonable question once, but she grills him on it throughout the whole interview. What makes the interview worth listening to is that Whedon articulates the conundrum of the politically-aware storyteller quite gracefully.

"The fact of the matter is, I've been worried about this. It's kept me up nights. But I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place," Whedon says. "You can't be a storyteller and a speechwriter at the same time."

This is something I fret over all the time. How do you create art that is dangerous, new, risky, etc., if you're hyperaware of the hegemonic potential of your medium? What if the story you need to tell involves women who are weak? I think part of why Buffy has been meaningful to so many people is that it reflects the power struggles young women face much more accurately than a consistently empowered heroine would. Guess what? We don't live in a world of consistently empowered women. We live in a world where you have to fight to become empowered, and it's so much more meaningful to see a Buffy who is sometimes naive, vulnerable, and powerful, because we know we can count on her to grow and fight exactly the way the rest of us must. I'm assuming Echo, Dollhouse's new heroine, is not going to be passive for a full season. I'm guessing we're going to get some fight out of her, and how satisfying will that be, to see her strength finally push through?

The audio is worth a quick listen (the printed version just paraphrases; the audio will be available later tonight) just to hear Whedon's calm confidence about the power of a narrative to do something that a polemic cannot accomplish.

Also, Dollhouse will be on my television this Friday, so if any of y'all is looking for a spot to watch it give me a ring.

(PS: I obviously fail at livejournal. Apologies. It has been that kind of month.)

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It has never been a better time to purchase an exclusive Abernathy Green t-shirt, designed by our own [livejournal.com profile] drawgirl. Why? Because [livejournal.com profile] drawgirl  and her boyfriend Slasher both got laid off their respective jobs this week. Merry Christmas, guys! 

If cute-culture is not your thing, check out Slasher's Jack of No Trades line for a more aggressive, political look.

Abernathy Green and Jack of No Trades shirts are comfy, high-quality, and sweatshop-free. This is a great time to support an independent artist and get a cool new shirt for the new year.
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"Mario Incandenza's nineteenth birthday will be Wednesday 25 November, the day before Thanksgiving. His insomnia worsens as Madame Psychosis's hiatus enters its third week and WYYY tries bringing back poor Miss Diagnosis again, who's started in on a Pig-Latin reading of the Revelation of John that makes you so embarrassed for her it's uncomfortable. For a couple nights in the HmH living room he tries falling asleep to WODS, an AM-fringe outfit that plays narcotizing orchestral arrangements of old Carpenters songs. It makes things worse. It's weird to feel like you miss someone you're not even sure you know" (589).
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Intrigued by what feel more and more like deliberate nods to Joseph Merrick, AKA "the Elephant Man," in descriptions of Mario Incandenza. The oversized head topped with sparse hair, for instance, and the sly repeat notes about the piles and piles of pillows the bradypnea-afflicted Mario must sleep upon.
The connection is interesting in part because of Wallace's obsession with David Lynch... )
zenithblue: (mad mod)
I've gotta say, I'm pretty tired of hearing McCain's people blame Sarah Palin for losing the election.

It's not that I'm a Palin fan--obviously I'm not. And it's not that I don't think she was a factor. She might well have been. But even if it was Palin that lost the election, it was McCain's fault she was there to lose it. His camp vetted her for all of five minutes. Her nomination was a crass political maneuver, an attempt to make the GOP more appealing to women. Sarah Palin just did what she's always done: she showed up and acted like Sarah Palin. If they didn't want that, they shouldn't have tapped her for the job.

Yes, I'm glad she's being packed off to Alaska where the only people I have to hear complain about her are my parents. But it's not fair for the Republican party to blame her for their own miscalculation.
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Of course I'm bloody ecstatic.

Amidst all the celebration, I think it's worth remembering:

I believe Obama will be a fantastic leader. But he has no magic wand. He's not going to patch everything overnight. He will not be able to accomplish any of this change without us.

Stay vigilant, stay involved, stay invested. This is your democracy. It's only as healthy as you make it.

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