Monday, October 20, 2014

"Breaking Glass," A Film

The Kickstarter video for an independent film, "Breaking Glass."
It needs your help to complete post-production.

These young actors are going places.  Help these filmmakers go places, too.

Please donate.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sitting and Thinking

I've realize that a large part of my thesis woes stem from the fact that though I'm reading a lot, I'm thinking very little.  I quickly run through the material, make a few cursory/obvious notes, then set the article/poem/novel/treatise, aside.  Then I wonder why I haven't learned much. 

What I need is a good old fashioned thinking session.  The problem is, so much of my life (our collective 'America in the 21st Century' life?) doesn't encourage lingering over a single poem, or a single couplet of a poem to find out how the words work, or if I find it moving and how.  Everything I read online (where I jump from window to window, tab to tab, trying to quickly absorb as much material as possible) tells me how to speed read, how to multi-task, how to get the most done in the shortest amount of time.  Don't think (too hard), just do.  Rush rush rush to get it all done.  And so, slowing down, especially when I don't know how beneficial-- or at least, when I can't quantify how beneficial-- that lingering might be... it becomes very difficult.  But I've made next to zero progress (by word count, page number, outlines) on my thesis, and even though I've read a lot I haven't processed it in a way that feels worthwhile.  But instead of trying to take the time to process it, I've just kept looking for more sources to read in the hopes that one of them will make me feel like I've hit the thesis jackpot.  Maybe I already have, I just haven't thought about it enough to realize it.

So this week: I'm thinking.  I'm going back over poems I've read; I'm close-reading.  I'm looking for moments of brilliance and moments of connection-- both to eighteenth-century society/movements and to my own emotions.  My adviser told me that literary criticism should be analytical and emotional, as if the two were not usually viewed as opposites.  My thesis class professor told me that her graduate adviser told her that each project needed to be personally meaningful and to help her learn a new skill set.  For me, reading eighteenth-century poetry (actually, reading most poetry) feels a bit like reading another language, and it's a skill I want to learn.  So, I'm ignoring secondary sources for a bit so I can determine what I personally think, instead of relying on other critics and scholars to tell me what to think.  I'm going to try to learn the art, mystery, and skill of reading poetry in an analytical way.  I'm looking for what moves me and trying to figure out why.

And I'm going to write it down.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The 7th Annual Halloweentown Party

We did it again!  Another Halloweentown party come and gone.  To give you an idea of my sentiments towards this annual event I should tell you that on the morning of the party I sent an e-mail to everyone that began, "When you woke up this morning did you say to yourself, 'It's the best day of the year!' If not, you should have because today is Halloweentown Party Day!" 

I feel like this one was another great success, though I had less time to set up for it.  Since I had work in the morning, and we started the party a bit earlier than usual to try accommodate for a double feature, we didn't have: pumpkin decorations, gingerbread haunted house. We did have: black and orange table runner, homemade caramel corn, chips and salsa, warm apple cider (and a little whisky for optional spiking), too much candy for words, cookies, cupcakes, pizza, salad, and a whole lot of fun!

The movie was...well, the same as always.  Same cheesy jokes.  Same gratuitous reaction shots.  But, oh, it's just wonderful!  I love sharing this movie with people year after year.  And the thing is, for return Halloweentown party guests, the movie starts to grow on them.  Yes, we all admit that it's not good cinema.  But it's endearing, and treating it just a little bit like Mystery Science Theater 3000 only makes it greater.  The more (slightly snarky, slightly sentimental) people watching at a time the better.  And this year we got in Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge.  I had never actually watched this film before (at least not that I remember) despite the fact that it's included on the Halloweentown DVD.  We decided that the film felt Beckett-esque.  Yes, Samuel Beckett-esque.  I readily admit that our attention span was a little frayed by the time we got to the second film so I might have missed a few key plot points, but they seemed to end up in a weird limbo world where everyone turned gray and started caring about finding missing socks.  Then they briefly worried that they were trapped in the gray land for a year, left to wait out the time doing nothing.  Has any other Disney Channel Original Film more closely approximated elements of Endgame and Waiting for Godot? Meanwhile, in another part of the universe, a group of people turned into their Halloween costumes (a trope we realized can be found in film/television from The Twilight Zone to Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

But all great evenings must come to an end, and so did the 7th Annual Halloweentown party.  Thanks for another fantastic year, everyone!  I leave you with this...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October Movies, October Foods

It's that time of the year again...

(Image found here)

October starts the beginning of movie season!  This year I really want to actually watch my Halloween films in October (and then it's Christmas movie time!).  So, the Halloween list:

1) Halloweentown
2) Halloweentown II
3) Practical Magic
4) Hocus Pocus
5) It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
6) Sleepy Hollow
7) The Addams Family and/or Addams Family Values

I'd also like to add on a horror movie or two, even though I normally hate them.   I'll let Zan pick the horror movies, as he will probably have some feel for which ones are good.  Maybe The Village or something.  I've always wanted to see The Orphanage, so maybe this is the year! 

Moreover, October starts the best season for food!  This week I've made stew and chili so far, and I have a great recipe for potato/apple/smoked trout hash and one for chicken with wild rice.  I'm also excited to make Brussels sprouts and maple butternut squash with carrots.  Yum!  Plus, I'm loving all of the fall ciders and pumpkin ales in the stores.  And, I'm harboring hopes that Zan will make me some Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes this weekend.  Isn't autumn wonderful?! 

Finally, I want to finish my bucket list from last October: I'd really like to visit a pumpkin patch, dress up in a Halloween costume, and make apple-onion soup with cheese puffs.  I'm also going to add "Make a Gingerbread Haunted House" to the list, because I saw a beautiful, inexpensive kit in Trader Joe's the other day, and I really want to do something decorative.  After all, October comes but once a year, so live it up now! (And, for a bit of Halloween thesis flare, maybe I'll dig into some scholarship on Frankenstein...)

So what do you all think?  Any movies I need to add to my list?  Any recipes you think I should try?