Thursday, November 13, 2014

Post-Colonial Cookies

Today I had the privilege of being a part of the best group presentation I've ever been associated with, and I don't say that lightly. I'm taking a post-colonial lit class that has a focus on India, and the text our group is working on throughout the semester is called Early Christians of 21st Century, by Anto Akkara, an Indian journalist. We polled 40 people as part of our project, and only one of them had heard of the situation reported in the book, so don't be surprised if you're unfamiliar with it.

The book is an account of the vicious persecution of a religious minority in a remote part of India, and we're focusing on a section that recounts the gang-rape of a young Hindu girl, by Hindu extremists, because her uncle is a Christian and will not convert to Hinduism. It's very disturbing; you can read a brief news article on the situation here, in the Guardian.

In our presentation we used several tactics to engage our fellow students in our literary activism. We created a 10-minute mini-documentary in which we discuss the situation with other students who agreed to be interviewed. Our documentary isn't available for public viewing, but we also used this video of photos of Kandhamal as a background visual while we introduced our project to the class, and the images are stunning, although I do suggest muting the music that plays in the background. :) We asked the interviewees questions about journalistic objectivity, religious persecution, what kind of challenges might a child face in a situation like this, and what, if anything, Canadians/students could do to help subaltnerized groups in other places.

We have a Twitter account, where we use the hashtag #491voices, and where we've engaged with other students, as well as Akkara, the author of our text. As our project focuses on a voiceless group, the subaltern children, using Twitter as a 'voice' seemed very appropriate. We also created a brochure for our classmates to take away with them, so that they can research the topic further if they so choose.

Our project isn't over yet - we still have to collaborate on writing a paper, but the presentation was the more stressful part! Now that we've spent so much time talking and thinking about the issues surrounding our text, I feel like I could just sit down and start writing. Hopefully I didn't just use up all my inspiration on this blog post... :)

And, last but not least, we provided a bit of fusion comfort food to go along with this heavy topic. I had a couple of requests for the recipe, so I thought I'd post it here. Nan Khatai seems to be a recipe that varies depending on who's making it; I used nutmeg, vanilla, and almonds in ours, but I also saw versions with cardamom and pistachios instead.

Nan Khatai or “Indian Shortbread”
Makes 20-25 cookies
Preheat oven to 325º

2 cups flour
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp baking soda
4 tblsp finely chopped almonds

1 cup melted butter
1 cup icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Almonds for garnishing


With a fork or whisk mix flour, nutmeg, baking soda, and almonds in a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate, deep bowl mix melted butter and icing sugar together and beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and stir.

Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mixing constantly, then add milk by tablespoons until the dough is of a shortbread consistency. *

Cover dough and let stand for half an hour.

Shape tablespoons of dough into round, flat cookies and garnish with an almond.

Bake on greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are just golden.

The flavour seems to improve over several days, if they last that long!

* In dry, high-altitude Calgary I added about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of milk
Inspired by:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

When Words Collide 2014

I first went to When Words Collide in 2011, which was its first year, and I've gone every year since then. In 2012 I was inspired enough to blog each day: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Last year I covered the whole weekend in just one post, and I think that's what I'll do again this year. Every year I come home with notes and handouts and a dog-eared program, and add a whole bunch of books to my to-read list. It's so much fun! If you're an editor or writer in Alberta, I definitely recommend checking it out in 2015.

Unfortunately this year I had a cold. The event's official photographer got this shot of me late on Friday night, and yes, I am as tired as I look, although I wasn't actually asleep...

Friday, 1 pm: Early Bird Live Action Slush
Live Action Slushes are usually my favourite panels of the weekend. It's a chance to hear from publishers/editors about what they're looking for (or NOT looking for...) in a manuscript, which helps me when I'm editing for clients who are going to be submitting their manuscript to publishers. "Watch for wandering body parts" was a great piece of advice from this panel, in reference to a character's "eyes roaming over the deserted city", or something to that effect. The quality of manuscripts submitted seems to get better every year, and I think this year had a new record for number of submissions that were read to the end.
I think it would be useful if the organizers posted the rules on the website and on the door of the room so that first-timers would know important things like, only submit one page. Someone submitted two pages, but they weren't stapled together, so the second page ended up being read rather than the first, and everyone was very confused. Also, a manuscript that was criticized in one slush session was re-submitted, un-changed, to another session which had one of the same judges on the panel, and he was not amused (neither was I - at least make the suggested changes first!). Posting some FAQs about slush etiquette would help eliminate that kind of situation in the future.
Friday, 2 pm: Writing a Good Pitch/Query Letter
I doubt I'll need to write a pitch or query myself, but I might be retained to edit one, and this was a solid panel with lots of good discussion. It wasn't long enough for all the questions people had though, so this would be a good panel to offer again next year. It would have been really helpful to have a handout for this one, or a list of online resources for good templates and that sort of thing.
Friday, 3 pm: Social Dimension of Reading
I actually can't recall this one at all. I saw several of the people on this panel on other ones during the weekend, and they're all blurring together a bit...ooops!
Friday, 4 pm: I had a change of plans
I started out in one session that just was not doing it for me, so I moved to Shawn Bird's session on plot models, which was a good choice. It was a really interesting look at the structure of story, and gave me some ideas of things to watch for in my clients' writing. She had handouts and slides on the screen, which was really great.
Friday, 5 pm: Short Stories
Lots of interesting tidbits of information from this session about characteristics of a short story as opposed to a novel.
Friday, 6 pm: Criminal Heroes
In hindsight I probably should have gone to 'Ask an Editor', because while the panel had a good mix of panellists and discussions, it was very similar to a panel from last year and I didn't really pick up anything new.
Friday, 7 pm: Kill the Parents
This was a panel about parents in YA fiction, and it was totally slanted toward those who thought that parents need to be removed from the equation, either by death or other absence, in order to allow the teen to overcome obstacles on his or her own. None of them thought that parents could be anything other than an hindrance to personal development, and when I suggested otherwise, it was suggested that if that's what I wanted to read, that's what I should write. Sigh. There have got to be good, supportive, understanding parents out there, both in real life and fiction, right?!
Friday, 8 pm: Keynote Speakers
The keynotes actually started at 7, so I came in late, which is one of the reasons I ended up sitting on the floor. I didn't see any empty end chairs, and I didn't want to disturb people to get into a middle seat. Plus, being hemmed in by people makes me feel claustrophobic.
ANYway, I got there in time to hear Brandon Sanderson, who I didn't know at all except in an abstract way as one of those writers of epic fantasy that I don't really enjoy. I quite liked his style, so I am going to give his writing a chance, if I can find something that's not too epic. :)
But my highlight was Jack Whyte, as it usually is. I'd seriously listen to him talk about anything. What a voice!
Friday, 9 pm: Laughing at Love
This was about using humour in storytelling, and they started it off by playing my favourite Moxy Früvous song:

I did take a few good notes at the panel, which still make sense even almost a month later, so it was definitely worthwhile staying for, but by that point I was so tired I was getting worried about driving home, so I snuck out early and didn't even bother with the parties, which was unfortunate, because they're the best chance for networking.  

Sorry RJS, I'll try not to be sick next year! :( I found out later the steampunk social had a solve-the-murder-mystery theme going on, so I was really sorry to miss that. Hopefully they do it again! I heard that there were also problems on both nights with hotel security expecting the late night parties to be over by 11 pm, which is silly. Next year we're going to be a different, bigger hotel, and I have high hopes for the parties there!
Saturday, 10 am:  Blending SF and Fantasy
I only made one note from this panel: "When blending genres always be consistent with the rules of the universe." :)
Saturday, 11 am: Editing Explained
This panel featured editors from the Calgary Association of Freelance Editors (CAFE), which I'm a member of, so I went along both to be supportive and to hear what kinds of questions the audience had about editing. People had lots of questions about the editing process and various editing roles. One person was confused about editors who edit versus acquisitions editors who work for publishing houses and decide what manuscripts to acquire for publishing, so it's a good thing they did the panel. Hopefully they'll do something similar again next year.
Saturday, noon: Live Action Slush: Science Fiction Edition
I think this was the one where the one that had been criticized on Friday turned up again. Also, I think this was the panel where one of the editors was talking about the difficulty in writing believable dialogue, and for an example he used Star Wars Episode One, and I quote loosely; "That dialogue was so wooden I think I got splinters", which really spoke to me.
Not only that, at I think two of the slush sessions I went to - scifi and historical, and maybe a third one, but I can't remember for sure - a manuscript riffing off the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air introduction showed up. In the scifi version, there were robots, and in the historical version it was all old-fashioned language. It was highly amusing, and probably only someone who went to as many slushes as I did would have noticed. Although there was one panel, maybe the scifi one, where the reader was reading it out loud, and as soon as people realized it was Fresh Prince, they were laughing so hard the reader just stopped and went on with the next one. Kudos to whoever went to all that trouble for what I presume was meant to be a very amusing prank.
Saturday, 1 pm: Teaching Canadian Fiction
This was an interesting panel composed of education professionals who are also writers and editors. It didn't end up being anything particularly applicable to me, but it was interesting nonetheless.
Saturday, 2 pm: New in YA Fiction
This session was put on by a lady who's a manager at a Chapters, and she did a great job of drawing out a list of solid, current YA fiction that goes beyond vampires. I added a lot of books to my to read list! It would have been helpful to have a handout though, because I was trying to type everything into my iPod, and when I'm getting audio input only it's hard to tell the difference between 'night' and 'knight', for instance. It took most of Monday to translate the list into something that Goodreads would recognize. :)
Saturday, 3 pm: Live Action Slush, Historical Edition
This one was my favourite, because Jack Whyte was the reader. 'Nuff said.
Saturday, 4 pm: Plotting Your Novel
I had a hard time with this one. It just wasn't doing anything for me, and I was SO TIRED. I ended up sneaking out early and waiting in the lobby for my husband to come have dinner with me. In hindsight, I should have gone to Jack Whyte's session on writing action scenes - I don't know what I was thinking. I suppose my thought process was dulled by the cold medication...
Saturday evening:
The Saturday evening schedule was weird. Sessions all ended at 5, and then at 5:30 there was a banquet for those who wanted to pay for the expensive tickets for it. At 6:30 there was a variety show that went till 7:30, but there were more regular sessions starting at 7. So basically I kicked my heels around the hotel from 4:30 to 7. Then there was an autograph session from 8-9, and then the parties didn't start till 9. So if I had wanted to stay for the parties, I would have had to kick my heels some more from 8 till 9. It was very strange - I'm not sure why they laid it out like that - it would seem to make more sense to just not have panels that evening at all. I guess if Diana Gabaldon had actually come and not cancelled because of the tv show, I would have been hunting her autograph and filled in that hour, but as it was, I went home to bed after the 7:00 panel finished...
Saturday, 7 pm: Gripping [sic] About Grammar
This was a really fun panel. The room was way too crowded - they should have gotten a bigger one, and it was no where near long enough for all of the questions. I think next year they should have a few sessions dedicated to different grammar issues.  The highlight of the panel was a panelist and an audience member getting into a (mostly friendly) shouting match over whether or not the Oxford comma is necessary or not. I think it is, by the way. I'm not sure if it was worth waiting two and a half hours for though, since I didn't learn anything. But I did laugh an awful lot though, so that's something!
Sunday morning:
I skipped the first two sessions - I would have gone to the publishers' panel on novels at 10, and the one about the use of poisons in mysteries at 11 - but I wanted to go to church. Pastor preached a great sermon about faith and fantasy, which, other than the Bible, featured a lot of Doctor Who references. If you've got 20 minutes, it's definitely worth watching.  
Sunday, noon: Murder Most Fair
This panel was ok - there were definitely too many people on it for everyone to get a good chance to talk. But I did discover a great series of cozy mysteries set in Nova Scotia, so it was totally worth going to the panel just for that.
Sunday, 1 pm: Publishers' Panel on Short Fiction
Again, should have gone with the historical fiction one that Jack Whyte was on... The publishers' one was fine, but there were a lot of people on it, and it was kind of all over the place topic-wise, so I didn't really get a ton out of it, although I did take a few notes. I even tried asking a question to get it back on topic, and that totally didn't work. Although by that point in the weekend, everyone is so tired that maybe expecting everything and everyone to be totally sensible is honestly an unreasonable expectation. :)
Sunday, 2 pm:
There wasn't really anything during this time slot that caught my attention, and I was pretty tired. I popped into one about gender perspectives in mystery novels, but...meh. I ended up buying a couple of books in the vendors' room and then just hanging out till 3. It was the only slot where I couldn't find anything I wanted to go to, and ironically, in the next slot at 3 there were THREE things I wanted to go to!
Sunday, 3 pm: Live Action Slush, Mystery Edition
I don't remember anything particular about this one, although I feel like there weren't many submissions for it. Hopefully with WWC's increasing content for mysteries and mystery writers, more people will submit next year.
Sunday, 4 pm: How to Build a Consistent and Original Magic System
I was even more impressed by Brandon Sanderson after this. He's only five years older than me, and he's got massive writing credits as well as a large family, and he's a great speaker. I took a pile of notes at this one, and kind of wished I'd done one of the pre-weekend classes with him. It was a good session to end the weekend with.
General comments about panels:
Six people on a panel is WAY too many. Five people is a lot, but manageable with a good moderator. Four seems to be about the right number. Also, it's obvious when a moderator/panel guest has come prepared...or not. I know they're all volunteers, but audience members can tell when you're there because you care about the topic and have things to share that go beyond just the scope of your own books. Like the general social media rule, no more than 10% of your content should be flogging your own product.
When you have a panel of 4 or 5 well-prepared guests/moderator, it's a wonderful thing.  
Speaking of volunteers, everyone, except for two or three keynote author guests, is a volunteer, which is why the conference is so affordable. As I do a lot of conference planning, I thoroughly appreciate the smoothness with which WWC runs. I'm sure there are snags in the background that most of the attendees never notice, and there are always things that could be done differently, but all-in-all the volunteers who put this on do an amazing, amazing job of it.
Something interesting and unexpected that came out of the weekend is that I'm now the Social Media Project Leader for CAFE. I spent some time visiting with the president of CAFE, and after hearing of my love for Twitter, she asked if I would take that on. I've started out by taking an online course in social media through the library, and I'm developing a social media strategy and thinking of interesting things to do. I can always use more volunteer positions on my CV, right? :) You can find us on Twitter - we're @CalgaryEditors.
I'm looking forward to next year! Registration is already 5% full, which is a good sign... Check out the guest list, and if you're going to attend, register before the rates go up on April 1. It'll be the last year I'm eligible for the student rate, which is bittersweet. I'll be graduating in June, which means I'll be looking for more editing work in the spring, if you know of anyone looking for a nit-picky copyeditor...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hell on Wheels Twitter Roundup

It's been a busy summer for the Hell on Wheels cast and crew! They're currently filming season 4 around Calgary, and I've JUST started watched season 3. It took forever for the library to stock it, then I had to get in the queue. It started off a bit slow, but it's picking up the pace by episode 4. My favourite thing about it is the Alberta scenery, I think. And Eva is my favourite character. It's fun to keep an eye on Twitter and see what they're up to, even if there are minor spoilers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Washington State 2014

For our holiday in 2012, we went to Seattle, and this year we decided to visit some other places in Washington, based totally on where KOAs are located. First up was Lynden, which has what's probably the most beautiful campground I've ever been to. The campsites are in a ring around a large pond, which makes it feel more open and spread out. The people of Lynden are some of the friendliest I've ever seen - if you go into a store, EVERYONE wants to help you, and you don't have to play 'hunt for an employee' the way you do in Calgary!

The best thing is that Lynden is only 30 minutes from the coast, a little community called Birch Bay, which has lots of public beach access as well as a state park. We got delicious sandwiches from the Lynden bakery, and spent a day at Birch Bay. It's really beautiful - it reminds me so much of my favourite beach, Rathtrevor Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. The view from Birch Bay, on a clear day, is of BC's Gulf Islands, that's how close it is to Canada.

Birch Bay at low tide

Birch Bay with the tide in

At Birch Bay

Birch Bay State Park

After a couple of nights in Lyden, we headed south, hitting our favourite outlet mall, Seattle Premium Outlets, on the way. I love it because you walk around outdoors, in shady breezeways, so I don't get a headache from florescent lights the way I do in regular malls. And I scored a pair of TARDIS earrings from Hot Topic, which was very exciting. We also took a slight detour for Krispy Kreme.

On the Kingston-Edmonds ferry from just north of Seattle over to the Olympic Peninsula

Taking the Kingston-Edmonds ferry cuts out having to drive all the way south of Seattle to connect to the Olympic Peninsula. It was only a 20-minute crossing, and unlike BC Ferries, it wasn't expensive at all, and saved on a lot of gas.

There's a KOA located half-way between Port Angeles and Sequim. It's under new management, and you can tell the old management was letting it get run down, but the new owners are working on fixing it up. First they assigned us a TERRIBLE site, but they were great about letting us move to a less-trafficked area of the campground. Putting a tent on a tiny site at the convergence of three roads, right beside the main office/bathrooms is not a quiet way to spend the better part of the week...but the second site was big, green, and most importantly, quiet.

Now I had, rather naively, as it turns out, thought that we would be surrounded by beaches, seeing as how we were surrounded by ocean, and based on how many beaches there had been around Seattle. That turned out to not be the case, and we spent three days pursing my dream of sitting quietly on a beach, reading.

Dungeness Spit, near Sequim, Washington

I had seen that Dungeness Spit was a long peninsula sticking out into the ocean, and that there was a wildlife sanctuary there, so we headed there after church on the Sunday, our first full day there. Alas, you had to pay a fee to hike what was an approximately 9K trail each way, with no beach. As you can see from the photo above, the Spit has sheer cliffs. So, no beach there, although very beautiful scenery. I ended up just reading at the campground that day.

I was also surprised by how small Port Angeles is. Since there's a large ferry that goes to and from Victoria, I was expecting to find a city of a similar size. Alas, PA doesn't even have a Target. So we did the historical walking tour. PA has a history similar to Seattle's in that they had to raise the city because of issues with tides and sewage. They don't have as extensive an underground as Seattle, but there were some bits of it in the tour. The guide was really great and knowledgeable. The other two couples on the same tour, all older Americans, were slightly entertaining. The couple from Jersey had never heard of Alberta ("Oh, it's in Canada! That's why I've never heard of it!") and the couple who had been to Banff exclaimed not over our pristine mountain scenery...but over the cleanliness of the public bathrooms.

Mural in downtown Port Angeles, a stop on the walking tour

This very cool mural is of a ferry called the Kalakala, built in the 1930s. The artist is Cory Ench, and he did several murals around PA. The mural has an optical illusion that makes it looks like the ferry is moving as you cross the parking lot, and it looks like an airship, so it was worth the stop.

The underground bits of the tour were interesting, including a massive two-walled mural in what used to be an underground mini golf, but there was no way I could get a decent shot of it. There's one wall here and one wall here, though. The tour wound up in what's now a shoe store, but used to be a brothel, and we got to go upstairs and check out all the vintage detritus lurking in the dusty corners. That was my favourite part. I love Old Stuff. :) This lady's got some really good photos on her blog, including of the old theatre which we didn't get to see because it's closed on Mondays.

Port Angeles' octopus

Port Angeles' real live octopus at the Feiro Marine Life Center

PA has a little aquarium called the Feiro, much smaller than Seattle's, but it had some interesting critters.

Nudibranchs, otherwise known as sea slugs, at the Feiro Marine Life Center

I've been fascinated by nudibranchs ever since National Geographic did a special on them a few years back, and I've never seen any in real life before. They're also known as sea slugs, for obvious reasons.

On Ediz Hook by Port Angeles

PA has a long spit you can drive out on, and at the very end there's a coast guard station. Unfortunately, it was far too open and windy to sit and read, but we did see an Osprey landing and taking off from the station. It's a very cool aircraft, because it can land and take off like a helicopter, but then once it's in the air it can re-position the propellers and fly like a plane.

An Osprey taking off from the Port Angeles coast guard station

On the Tuesday, we went into the national park to hike one of the trails from Crescent Lake. We chose the Marymere Falls trail, and it was beautiful. 

Marymere Falls

Then we were off to a beach - or so we thought. I had read about Salt Creek Recreation Area, which in addition to being on the waterfront, had some old military bunkers and a campground. I just assumed there was a beach there, but there wasn't, just more cliffs.

View from former Camp Hayden

We did drive by a beautiful long crescent-shaped white sand beach - but it was privately owned by an RV park and only guests could use it! I don't think you can own beaches in Canada? I was pretty disappointed! Not to mention the fact that our Garmin seems to have a thing for the scenic route rather than the straightforward one, so by this point it was getting late in the afternoon.

Finally we ended up at this boat launch, which had a tiny strip of beach on either side of it. It had some good beach combing, and later on we saw otters.

Otters at Freshwater Bay boat launch

On Wednesday, our final full day in the PA area, I finally found my favourite place in Washington. It's called Port Townsend, and it's by Fort Worden State Park. It was about an hour from where we were camping, so it was a trek for just a day, but oh my...

The mini castle at Fort Worden

The main feature of Fort Worden, beside the beach, is Artillery Hill, which is mazed with hiking trials that loop around the old artillery placements. There are also several small museums, and did I mention the beach? They have a campground, and many of the old homes and military dorms are now available as vacation rentals. We didn't even have time to get to the museums, or explore charming and historic downtown Port Townsend. Sign me up for a return trip!!!

Military decay at Fort Worden

Deer crossing

At the top of Artillery Hill

Mount Baker from the top of Fort Worden's Artillery Hill

The beach is everything a beach should be. Long and white, with great views, and lots of nice clean bathrooms. We had to pay $10 for parking, but I was totally ok with that.

Fort Worden State Park beach

At Fort Worden beach, you can see Mount Baker to the left...
...and Mount Rainier to the right!

We grabbed some lunch at the Chinese restaurant in Port Townsend, which is just so charming. In fact, the town and the state park remind me irresistably of a much smaller, more American version of Halifax and its Citadel Hill, which might be one of the reasons I feel so drawn to it.

Port Townsend

Port Townsend

And that was the end of our adventures in Washington. Thursday morning we packed up and caught the Coho to Victoria. I lived in Victoria for years, and I was born on the island, so it was a nice feeling of going sort of home.

On the Coho, heading back to Canada

Eating Ivar's clam chowder on the Coho

Ivar's is a really excellent Seattle-area chain of fast seafood, which I highly recommend...

We won't be going back to the States next summer, but hopefully in 2016 I will get to spend more time in Port Townsend/Fort Worden!

That wasn't the end of my summer adventures though - last weekend I went to a local reader con, and this week I'm off to visit my family in NS, so hopefully there will be more adventures coming here soon!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Middle Earth Comes to Calgary

To continue my recap of the Calgary Comic Expo at the end of April, I recount what might possibly have been my favourite bits: Billy Boyd (Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and three of the dwarves from the Hobbit. Jed Brophy (Nori) Dean O'Gorman (Kili), and Mark Hadlow (Dori) were the dwarves who came, with the bonus of Jed's son Sadwyn Brophy, who played Aragorn and Arwen's son in the Return of the King.

Billy Boyd was HILLARIOUS. SO FUNNY. If you ever go to a Q and A and get a chance to ask him a question, start by telling him your cat/dog/hamster/whatever is named Pippin. Apparently he gets that a lot. :)

Billy's interviewer was a lady called Greendragon, a moderator of the biggest LotR fansite, The One Ring. I forget her real life name, but she moderated all of the Middle Earth panels, and she was fab. Kirsten, maybe?

My brother getting a henna tattoo, in Elvish.

The Being Dwarvish panel. It was SO MUCH FUN.
Sean Astin

Sean's panel turned into a bit of a bummer, because somehow the topic got onto bad experiences he had working on the films, and it was a bit depressing!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any good videos of any of the panels, but I assure you, Billy and the dwarves were a barrel of fun. (Ha!) My only disappointment was that because of the special Middle Earth super-panel that you had to pay extra for, Billy wasn't allowed to sing at his Q and A, and at the dwarvish panel, the actors didn't want to re-tell stories that they'd already told at the super-panel. It's one thing to sell tickets for this extra-special multi-media event, but another thing to take away from the main event to do that. So that was sad.

The only thing missing was Martin Freeman, who'd been in Calgary filming Fargo for most of the winter, and who left just weeks before Expo started. So sad! Depending on how the season of Fargo ends, maybe he'll be back next year...hint, hint...

Ok, I think that's it for my Comic Expo re-capping this year - we also saw Garrett Wong, Adrian Paul, and Tom Felton, but alas, my memories are fading and I'm not sure I have anything to share at this point. It was nice that Tom finally made it to Expo though! :)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Doctor Who Comes to Calgary

Doctor Who has been on my to-watch list forever, and in January this year, thanks to a gift of season 1 and 2 on DVD, we finally got started with the ninth doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, and now we're into season 6 with the eleventh doctor, played by Matt Smith.

Well, we started with Eccleston, but couldn't really get into it, so we skipped ahead to David Tennant. I already knew him as my favourite Hamlet - he's a fantastic Shakespearean actor - and it was an excellent strategic decision. Then we went back and watched Eccleston once we cared more. I have a lot of feelings about Doctor Who now.

David Tennant as Hamlet. Patrick Stewart co-stars as his dead father/crazy uncle.

The tenth Doctor is definitely my favourite, although I do also like the eleventh. The ninth; not so much. His habit of calling people "stupid apes" really got on my nerves.

I've been applying serious effort to choosing a favourite companion, but I can't decide - I like them all! I really ship Rose and Ten, and I related to Martha. Donna and Amy are both so spunky and outgoing and totally unlike me, so that I enjoy watching them do crazy things I would never do, and living a bit vicariously. I love Mickey, but he doesn't really count as a companion. Amy's my brother's favourite, so I can't decide - maybe it'll be Clara when we get to her?

And in April, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were at Comic Expo! We hadn't gotten to their time on the show yet, but we went to their panel anyway. They were so fun - it made me not dread quite so much the transition from the tenth to the eleventh doctor that I knew was coming. I still bawled like a baby when it happened, but that's beside the point. Trevor said that Matt and Karen basically spent the whole panel flirting, which I think is an accurate depiction of their relationship. It's sort of bad form to ship real live people, but I don't think that either of them is in a romantic relationship with anyone else, so I totally do ship them.

Anyway, here's a video of the Q and A portion of the panel, if you're interested.

Bonus Lego Dalek

Matt and Karen being ridiculous.

Epic backdrop for the panel

Here's another video, it's part one of four of the whole panel, which is nice, so I can relive the memories. :)

Here's a Twitter roundup from someone who live-Tweeted the panel:

Anyway, it was a FAB panel, even thought a lot of the references went over my head. Even just six weeks and a whole season and a half of Doctor Who later, now that I'm re-watching the panel I'm getting more of the references. Hopefully we'll see more Doctor Who guests at Comic Expo in the coming years...hint, hint! :)

I can't quite put my finger on what it is about the show that I love so much - it must be the characters and the character-driven story lines. And I LOVE the episodes set in the past, like the one with Agatha Christie, and the one with Shakespeare. I'm also entertained when I notice guest stars that I recognize from somewhere else - the episode we watched tonight guest-starred the Earl of Grantham from Downton Abbey as a pirate captain. So if the estate goes bankrupt, he can always turn to piracy. Arrr!

Yesterday we watched the arc with the Silence and I realized why cats always seem to stare at random things that no one else can's because THEY can see the Silence! That realization creeped me out. I'm also now wary of garden statuary. It's such a good show - if you like Firefly, Stargate, Star Trek, or Star Wars, and haven't watched Doctor Who yet, than what are you waiting for? Allons-y!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Fourth Season of Hell on Wheels

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo was a MONTH ago already! How did that happen? I still want to recap with whole weekend, because it was an epic one, but I'm going to start with a Hell on Wheels roundup.

Hell on Wheels was not only renewed for a fourth season, they're doing 12 episodes instead of just 10. The cast and some assorted behind-the-scenes people did a panel at Comic Expo, and it was about time! Unfortunately it started rather late, and because there were so many people on the panel (which was great, but...) it was logistically complicated and there wasn't as much time to hear them talk as would have been nice to have. There were some spoilers for season three, which I haven't seen because it's not out on DVD yet, but I was kind of expecting that might happen. The cast did a free autograph signing (mostly you pay for autographs at cons) after, but I had to go get in line for Tom Felton so I couldn't go. I hope they come back again next year!

Also, I don't know what it is about Comic Expo lighting, but you're not allowed to use a flash (which makes sense, but...) which means that unless you're a professional or at least a serious photography hobbyist, your photos don't turn out very well. Sigh...

I totally approve of Dohn's Darth Vader shirt.

Anson brought his new dog, Mac, who's basically now the star of Anson's twitter account.
I realized as I was sorting through these that I took a disproportionately high number of pictures of Chris...

Feel the bromance!

And most importantly, I give you a massive roundup of tweets going back through March - all about Hell on Wheels! And thanks to Suzette Chan's live-tweeting of the HoW panel, most of the highlights are here too. It's been a busy spring for them. I'm very excited for season four! And to see season three when it FINALLY comes out on DVD in July...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recent Addtion to the Oxford English Dictionary

When I first started my English degree, I took a required class in fundamentals of being an English major, including how to use the dictionary and the Dewey Decimal System. One of the assignments was to make a mock dictionary entry for some sort of language used in our day-to-day lives, but not found in the Oxford English Dictionary. It was lots of fun. of the new uses of a common word that I used is actually being added to the OED!

They announced it on their blog last week, and they used BBC Sherlock's Sherlock/Molly shippers (of which, I confess, I am one) as an example.

Louise Brealey, who plays Molly, reacted on Twitter:

I hope she doesn't really retire though - we need more Molly next season! ;)

Here's my entry, including links to words already in the OED (which probably won't work for you unless you have a subscription to it). I think my entry is perfect, but we'll see how it looks when it arrives in the OED online... :) It was a fun assignment - and I if I lived in England, I would be applying for a job at the OED.

to ship, v.

Etymology: The suffix ‘ship’ abbreviated from the noun ‘relationship’ and used as a verb. Developed in the late 20th century, on the Internet.

The psychological connection of a fan of a work of fiction (i.e. a book, movie, or television series) to a certain relational paring of the fictional characters. A dedicated fan will ship their ‘one true pair’, and perhaps have other minor ships, and the act of shipping may involve writing fan fiction, creating fan art, discussing or advocating the relationship in fan forums or on blogs, or simply by being emotionally invested in the outcome of the characters’ situation. The more passionate the fan, the more intense the involvement in shipping culture, usually online. Trendy shipping slogans include “I ship them so hard it hurts” and “I will go down with this ship”.

2005    The San Francisco Chronicle August 2005 In the Harry Potter fandom, 'shipping (short for "relationshipping") simply means championing a romantic relationship between certain series characters, either within canon or in works of fan fiction (fan-penned fiction that spins off an original narrative).

2009    University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 70.3 2009 Related concepts include het (romantic and/or erotic stories involving characters of different genders, such as Harry/Hermione), femmeslash and femslash (slash with female rather than male characters, e.g. Buffy/Faith from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer), transgender slash, friendship fiction (indicated by an ampersand, such as Harry & Draco, to denote a story in which the two characters are friends, in contrast to their canonical relationship), and shipping (devotion to a particular non-canonical romantic relationship, or ship). Ships are often given names, such as HMS Harmony (for Harry/Hermione)…

2010 January 2010 For those who’ve never heard of the phrase “shipping war”: this is fandom lingo for flamewars disagreements amongst fans about intimate relationships between fictional characters. Various opinions on character pairings—canon or not, bizarre or not, straight or not—are also referred to as “ships.” You may have heard of references to the Hermione/Harry ship and the Hermione/Ron ship in Harry Potter fandom; this is what that means.

Chonin, Neva. “If you’re An Obsessed Harry Potter fan, Voldemort Isn't the Problem. It's Hermione Versus Ginny”. The San Francisco Chronicle. 3 Aug. 2005. Factiva. Web. 2 March 2012.

Jericho, Arachne. The Sherlock Holmes Fandom: Dawn of the Shipping Wars. Macmillan, 4 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Schwabach, Aaron. "The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works, and Copyright". University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 70.3 (2009): 387-434. OmniFile Full Text Select. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.