Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Friday Five: a mixed bag of interviews, illustrations and graphic design.

ONE. People who can make a living out of writing make me simultaneously happy and jealous. This girl sounds like someone I could be friends with: interview with Mallory Ortberg..

TWO. A Periodic Table of Typefaces. I’m secretly (not-so-secretly) passionate about graphic design, type and all things magazines. I love quirky items like these.

THREE. The greatest authors and the age they were when they published their greatest book. It’s good news for me!

FOUR. Travelling in your home town can be exciting! I might even do some of these this year.

FIVE. I’m a big West Wing fan. I started rewatching season one this week (during my new sleeping hours — aka the daytime — thanks Summer of Tennis night matches), and it’s still brilliant. I know Sorkin has his quirks (oh, gosh, so many quirks), but it’s still a beautiful piece of television and ensemble casting. A beautiful illustrated look at the episode: Seventeen People.

end of post: permalink

On sound and emotion

The video above crossed my Facebook dashboard last week and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. Glen Keane’s first animation since leaving Disney, called Duet.

For those who don’t have sisters who are animators, Glen Keane animated Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Beast (Beauty and the Beast), and Tarzan. Basically, he brought to life an amazing array of beloved characters. He’s a truly talented storyteller.

His ability to tell stories with, what is essentially well-placed lines (obviously, I say this with the utmost respect for animators), is amazing. He is a master of timing and of ‘camera placement’.

But what really pushes this animation above the rest is the music.

Music connects us to our emotions, it makes us feel things that would otherwise be just words (or lines) on a screen. Sometimes, people will say that their life should be punctuated with certain songs, because they mean something. Because of the emotion they portray.

In my life, there are songs that mean something. Dancing around the living room with my sister when I was seven is a Spice Girls’ song, sung out loud. Complicated by Avril Lavigne reminds me of moving from primary school to high school. A break-up was mourned and celebrated with songs by The Veronicas and Alanis Morrisette. Britney’s Toxic is symbolic of all my crushes on guys who turned out to be gay. Taylor Swift’s Love Song and All Too Well and basically anything she’s written is… well, she was singing my life from ages nineteen to twenty-one out loud.

These days, songs aren’t representative of my life. They are more “emotion reminders”. I can intensely feel something simply by listening to the right song, that has been played at the right moment while reading a book or watching a television show. The Vampire Diaries does teenage emotion so well. I wrote a large portion of the rewritten ending of Charlie & Cub listening to A Great Big World’s Say Something. Now I only listen to Say Something while writing Charlie & Cub. If I’m looking for something powerful, I play Infinite Potential–otherwise known as Matt Smith’s Doctor’s regeneration scene. And then you have the Harry Potter soundtracks. Or the playlists I made when I read Harry Potter fanfiction. (A Walk to Remember soundtrack for Cassie Claire fanfiction anyone?)

I wonder sometimes when music became emotion reminders in my life? Is it because I’m a writer? More likely, is it because I’m a creative? (I know my sister has musical emotion reminders as well.) Is it because humans have evolved this way? Is it just me? Am I thinking too much about this?

Yes, is the likely answer to the last question.

They used to represent a time in my life, now they trigger emotions. When did this happen, and why did it transform into this? Whatever this is or why I’ve developed this little quirk, I do hope it doesn’t go away.

end of post: permalink

HP Love, described in images and a love letter

lunalovegoodI have over 850 favourited tweets on Twitter. I use the favourite button as a bookmark button. Things that look interesting but I don’t really have time to investigate right now. Things that are interesting and I want to repost on Tumblr or talk about on this blog. Things that I never get around to actually looking at again.

However, that is no longer true! I’ve gone through the last eighteen months of tweets, unfavourited a bunch of them (mostly job openings or grant funding applications), but also found a familiar theme running through a few of them.

That theme was Harry Potter and how much its fans love it. Those books have had a lasting impact on an entire generation (and the older generation as well–the parents). I read the books, I watch the movies, and I am in awe of Ms Rowling. I don’t think there will be another book/series like it in my generation. I don’t think anyone will be able to create something as powerful again.

I write with aspirations to create a world as complex and contained as hers and I fear that I’m not that good.

That’s beside the point though! Harry Potter’s impact is no longer just the world that we escaped into through the paper pages. We carry it with us.

The links below showcase some of our love for Harry Potter.

A Guide To Rare & Unusual Patronuses In The ‘Harry Potter’ Universe (found via Design Taxi). In the movies, we see some of the more normal patronuses–otters, birds, stags, does–but it does ask the question what COULD be a patronus. This lovely guide describes some of them.

Incredible Tattoos from Childhood (found via Adele Walsh). The HP ones are good, but I have to admit the Peter Pan one behind the ear is my favourite.

JK Rowling plotted Harry Potter on a hand-drawn spreadsheet (found via Rebecca Schinsky). “People have probably made more money attempting, questionably, to pin down, define, and teach the best practices of storytelling, but … we have a revealing scrap of Rowling’s own process.”

A Hilarious Collection Of Harry Potter Pick Up Lines (found via Publishers Weekly). There are some things that just should not be said. Harry Potter pick-up lines are some of them. Although, they are hilarious nonetheless.

One of my favourite bloggers, Nathan Bransford–ex agent and now author–wrote about JKR’s pseudonymous novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and what it says about commercial success. (Found via Allison Rushby on twitter.) A well-written article that articulates exactly what everyone says, but with The Cuckoo’s Calling as the example: “It just goes to show how fleeting commercial success is in the book world. Take away those magical series of events that result in bestsellerdom and it’s just another well-received crime novel that fails to catch fire.”

A love letter to Luna Lovegood, from Evanna Lynch “where she describes first reading about Luna while in a recovery programme for anorexia”. (Found via Serena’s twitter, with the whole thing on her tumblr.) I don’t think anything more can be said about this one.

(photo credit: Ellie Ann’s blog post)

end of post: permalink

On the definition of nerdfighter

(photo credit: Crash Course on YouTube)

Note: I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, and I’m still not sure where I stand. But I really can’t sit on it forever. So excuse the very open-ended-ness of this post, but I feel like I should post it now or I never will.

…the word soon took on a more celebratory, inclusive cast. Nerdfighters weren’t against anything; they were simply proud to immerse themselves in interests that others might find geeky or arcane. Indeed, the nerdfighter community is strikingly civil and constructive for an Internet subculture.

from The Teen Whisperer, written by Margaret Talbot for The New Yorker

I’m not a rabid John and/or Hank Green fan. I’m in awe of them. They have been able to build a life doing things they love. Not a lot of people are able to do this, no matter how hard they try. (I’m still trying … as I probably should be in my mid-twenties.)

But I find that I don’t really accept the nerdfighter label. At least, I don’t feel I can label myself with it. For starters, I had no idea what the label meant. Are these people super-Green brothers fans? Are they indie? Are they part of an actual community? Do they meet up? Do they have shared experiences? Do they all create YouTube videos? Are they people who buy merch/put money into the Green Brothers various companies/endeavours? I wasn’t watching the vlogbrothers when they started the channel, so I have not evolved with the channel.

I filled out the nerdfighter census this year too. I like filling out forms, even though I don’t identify myself as a nerdfighter.

It wasn’t until the article quoted above that a real definition was revealed to me. I like this definition; this definition is very inclusive and really, for the majority of the Green Brothers’ fans, that’s exactly what they’re looking for in their mid-teens: to be included. Maybe that’s why the brothers are able to resonate with so many people–they’re inclusive.

But I still don’t like the term nerdfighter. And that makes me wonder why.

Am I not their audience? I like these brothers, and I like what they do, but I don’t watch their videos religiously nor do I ‘accept’ what they say as fact. They don’t influence me like they probably influence a younger age group. I honestly feel I’m more like a peer than a follower. Maybe that’s the problem–I can’t accept a ‘follower’ label, even if the ‘founders’ use it, because I’m not a follower. I’m not a fan. They’re inspirational in a different way to me.

end of post: permalink

On the Veronica Mars movie… #spoilers

…and why I hate it so much.

Gosh, that was a hard sentence to write. Let’s be clear: I didn’t help kickstart this movie. And I have lived vicariously through my sister watching the seasons during university. I understand what happened in most episodes–I didn’t miss the in-jokes in the movie. However, I have not watched every single episode of this show. In fact, I can only attest to watching season one from beginning to finish.

I consider myself a marshmallow. … Without actually being one, I guess.

I adore Veronica. I loved the fact they were making a movie. This is a brilliant show and I wanted to see what they could pull off. But sadly, I’ve been disappointed.

The beginning was brilliant. Veronica had achieved what she wanted: she was out of Neptune. She was living a life free of drama (except from the courtroom she now found herself in). She was dating someone not famous. She wasn’t a private investigator. She got out.

But of course, she was pulled back in. And that’s when we start to slide. Because with talks of sequel movies and books, they need Veronica back in the drama-arena. So, with Neptune High’s ten-year reunion coming up, the potential for cameos was too strong. Veronica leaves her non-drama boyfriend, Piz (whom I adore in the movie and if I watched enough of the series, I probably would have adored there as well despite the LoVe destiny), in New York to go back to Neptune to help Logan–her EX BOYFRIEND–find a lawyer as he has been accused of murder. Just by the way.

Their love is epic and has been their destiny forever, despite the fact that they both started out dating the Kane siblings twelve years ago. This is when the addiction metaphor becomes the central theme in the film.

Veronica can’t let Neptune, and by extension Logan, go. Piz, realising that he deserves SO MUCH more than her, breaks up with her. The high powered lawyer job that she got in New York fires her before she begins because she won’t return their calls. The cameos from Neptune High revert to their high-school selves.

The most heart-breaking reversion is Weevil. He did a full 180 before Veronica got back to town. He got married to a gorgeous woman with whom he has a three-year-old daughter. (The daughter apparently rules his world making him play with tea parties with her dolls). He even tells Veronica he hasn’t been on his bike since his daughter was born. Of course, with Veronica back in town, he gets implicated in shooting. So to help out, he goes back to being leader of the local bikie gang. Because that makes total sense.

Veronica is on her downward spiral. She has fallen off the wagon. She is smoking, drinking, swallowing those drugs like there is no tomorrow.

Once she solves Logan’s supposed murder, she has to, I mean HAS TO, stay with him. Their love is ‘epic’. (A cliche that should only be spoken in fandom circles and never mentioned in the canon series–faux pas Logan, faux pas). She can’t leave Neptune. She belongs there. And she’s running her Dad’s PI agency (another story, another time).

Basically the show tells us that high-school is the height of your success. There’s no way your getting out. There’s no escape. So, you just need to resign yourself to your fate.

And I say “No, Veronica. Just no.”

I came away from this movie feeling intensely sad.

end of post: permalink

On abstract locations (a #doctorwho post)

(copyright, sort-of: alibi_factory)

It’s started to crop up again: “A Partial Map to Your TARDIS” is making the rounds on the internet. I am quietly pleased when I can say, you haven’t seen that before!? and also a little saddened by it. The internet has become so huge and sprawling (quite like a TARDIS in its own right) that these wonderful things get lost in the cyberspace.

The fanfic/fanart mash-up has regained prominence because the latest episode of Doctor Who took us further into the TARDIS, exploring rooms, technology and even the engine. Of course, the writers will not need to keep these rooms as the official rooms–the TARDIS changes so often that there is no guarantee that a room that was there before will still be there nor that it will look the same as it did earlier. (See, the console room and its desktop themes.)

I first came across the project as a link from Sam’s blog. (Sam writes unbelievable fanfic of all fandoms.) This was a really long time ago. I tend to tweet about the mash-up at least once a year because how can you not when something so beautiful, elegant and awe-inspiring lives in the world. Yesterday, my darling friend Zja linked to a Tor blog post on the topic.

It intrigues me to consider the idea of an infinite space. Much like our own universe, but a universe inside a universe. The TARDIS is like that. Time is like that. I think that’s what I like the most about time and stories about time. Time is a single moment and all moments all at once. A deck of cards, and time travel allows the traveller to step from one spot to another. Imagine if all time was contained in a house and by stepping through a door was just like stepping through time.

How does one map that? How does one navigate it? How does one keep up with things that are constantly changing?

“A Partial Map to Your TARDIS” will always be special to me because it constantly brings up these questions, it makes me think, it makes me inspired. It was the seed that created The Museum, my next work-in-progress novel.

The internet would be incomplete without A Partial Map to Your TARDIS.

end of post: permalink

On young people’s programs

(photo credit: scottwills via photopin cc)

I am passionate about young people’s programs. They don’t have to be writing programs (although those tend to be my favourite), I really like all programs for young people. I had quite a peaceful young life, but I realise that some people that do not have such young lives. (Some of the kids I went to school with were such people.) It’s important that there are programs dedicated to them.

The Sydney Story Factory, which I have talked about before, is based on Dave Eggers‘ 826 Valencia – both are not-for-profit creative writing centres for young people. The SSF allow children to become professional writers. All programs at SSF are project-based, so all participants walk away with something in print: a book with cover illustrations and their name as author or a newspaper created with other children each having their own byline are just some examples. In education, creativity is lost because the need to teach to standardise testing has only increased. Creativity isn’t encourage and it is getting lost. SSF provides the space, the programs and the support that encourages children to be creative people and tell their stories–stories that are just as valuable as award-winning novelists, if not more so because they are told by children.

(Nick Hornsby, UK novellist, opened a centre in London as well: The Ministry of Stories.)

On Friday, I started thinking about young people’s programs because I heard on ABC Radio an NPR segment of their program All Things Considered. The segment, which I encourage you to listen to, was about a boys’ program based in Washington called Life Pieces to Masterpieces.

“At Life Pieces to Masterpieces it’s not really about the arts. It’s about the process of learning to express yourself and it’s a very collaborative process. Boys and young men conceive ideas for their paintings together and those paintings often reflect what’s going on in their lives.”

— Elizabeth Blair, All Things Considered reporter

The African-American boys come from some of the most volatile suburbs in Washington DC, so creativity isn’t high on their list of proirities. But they need it. And the boys that have completed the program know that they need it. Many start as students, then become mentors to the new students. Almost 100% of the young men that complete the program go onto college (in some form or another). This is a centre that helps by creating–and it’s participants give back to it.

Creativity, in any form, is important. I had a lecturer that was researching the connection between poetry and therapy. Children are asked to draw if they can no longer talk about experiences. Music is prominent in teenagers lives because it allows them to express the emotions that teenagers have without actually saying it about themselves. Creativity is important. And these programs are important for children that don’t know how to or have forgotten how to create.

Do you know and/or support any young people’s programs?

end of post: permalink

On inspiration from writing festivals

I recently went to the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow in Sydney. I love EWF. I’ve been to the past two in Melbourne and I love the program, the people and what it does.

I have reservations about writing festivals in general, but that’s mainly to do with the fact that I’ve now been to enough of them that I don’t really learn anything new any more. So paying money to go to panels that I’m not learning anything from seems like a waste.

However, I wouldn’t say I don’t get anything out of festivals. Festivals now give me inspiration more than anything else.

I came out of #ewfsyd wanting to write and submit to journals and magazines. I have short stories I want to tell. I want people to read my writing.

While it is November, and I am in the throes of NaNoWriMo, my short story writing may have to wait until December. But I am inspired. I want to work hard at getting published in a journal.

And that is what I now get out of festivals. That is why I still go to festivals. I feel inspirated to write and do new things. What do you get out of festivals?

end of post: permalink

It’s Mad Hatter Day.

It’s Mad Hatter Day. I only just found out–as in in the moments before writing that first sentence. It’s Mad Hatter Day and I feel that it’s important to recognise it.

The problem with recognising it on a blog is that I have to write something on a blog. I can’t tweet a sentence and I can’t post a picture (partly because it wouldn’t be my picture and copyright laws are messy enough as it is).

So, I am here, rambling on my blog about a day I want to recognise without actually knowing how to recognise it.

Which brings me to ideas. Ideas for writing, ideas for blogging, ideas to get any words on a page.

I am generally a planner. A planner for all my writing. Whether it be a blog (does anyone actually think that the 100 word reviews are anything but a way for me to write short reviews?), or a novel, or a short story, I will plan it. I have lots of bullet points. I have sub-bullet points. I have coloured lines and points and words. Everything is planned.

To be a planner, you need a multitude of ideas.

So where do these come from?

I have a lot of voices in my head. This isn’t strange. I’m a writer, I have voices. They tell me things, they show me things, they hint at things but don’t tell me what they are and that really irritates me.

But really, I couldn’t tell you where ideas come from. Mine or anybody else’s. It seems that everyone wants to know this. I know successful writers are often asked about ideas, and many have stories like J.K. Rowling that tell us not how they get their ideas, but simply where.

And that makes me feel like the Mad Hatter. A little crazy, a little distracted and a lot like Johnny Depp’s interpretation of the Mad Hatter where he talks in different accents. Ask any writer ‘how do you get your ideas?’, they will give you a multitude of answers–most of which answer location only.

It’s Mad Hatter Day. Celebrate your craziness is all I’m saying.

end of post: permalink