Archive of ‘My Life’ category

Wiscon 36

Wiscon 36

Once upon a time, six-ish years ago when I was but a wee terrible blogger, I began lurking in feminist SF/F communities, because I could barely believe that such things existed. And as I was lurking about, I heard about this thing called WisCon. It was a whole, real life, actual convention, just for feminist science fiction. I fell in love with the idea. I read tons of blog entries about it and decided that someday, finances allowing, I would go.

And I did.

Last year. I just never mentioned it here.

Worst blogger ever.

But I also went this year! And have just returned! And it was great! And oh man, am I tired.

I took notes at most of the panels I was at, and, assuming my notes are at all coherent, will attempt to turn them into blog posts soonish.1 For now, here are scattered, overall thoughts about the con:

1. The people are awesome. I’m super lucky in that one of my best friends lives in Madison, and she was happy to put up me and a couple of our other besties throughout the con (both years!). But I also met tons of people I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I kept in touch through the year mostly by way of twitter, and when we got to the con on Friday, running into people was like coming back to summer camp and seeing the whole summer crew after a year of boring school. But better, because unlike summer camp, no one tried to tell me coffee was just for grown ups.2

And what’s great is that going to WisCon is like finding my people. There’s a core of shared interest among basically everyone there, so even if you don’t all have the same exact interests, it’s still refreshing to be around people who won’t bat an eyelash at how excited you are over whatever it is that you love. I wear my nerdy fangirl tendencies on my sleeve3 and it’s lovely to be surrounded by others who do, too.

2. The quiet room. I fell in love with it. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a dim room with nothing going on, where you can sit quietly and recharge if, say, you’re coming off of a night with only four hours of sleep, your day began at 6:30 AM, and won’t end until 1 in the morning. Or if you’re an introvert who’s been surrounded by people for a couple of days and you need a break. (Or, in my case, both.) I spent a few hours chilling out in the quiet room through the course of the weekend, and am deeply grateful it existed. I don’t have any real con experiences to compare WisCon to, but I get the impression WisCon organizers go out of their way to make the con as accessible as possible, and it shows.

3. I wish I had a time turner. Seriously, you guys, I can’t even convey how agonizing the choice between “But It’s Not For Girls,” “Geek Girls and the Problem of Self Objectification,” and “Feminism and the YA Explosion,” was. The programming is vast and varied, with different tracks that suit different people’s interests. There was tons of programming on class and race (both within science fiction and generally), panels on comic books and novels, academic discussions and readings, and tons more. There were a lot of things that sounded fascinating that I couldn’t get to due to conflicts with other things that sounded fascinating.

And now I feel like I should conclude this blog entry, but here’s the thing: I just got home from an awesome con. I need to go to bed. More (hopefully) soon.

  1. My track record on writing the blog posts I say I will is wretched, however. Just sayin’.
  2. Also, there was booze. At the con, I mean, not camp.
  3. omg I met Corbin Bleu again recently!!1!one

Moving Day, Again

Moving Day, Again

You know how some people get wanderlust, and just have to move, or find a new job, or make a massive life change every few years to stem off boredom? I’m not generally one of them. Except with this blog, which is now on its third home. Whew.

“But Becky!” you might cry. “Isn’t moving your blog without bothering to set up some form of redirect pretty much the worst way to build up or maintain an audience of actual readers?”

To which I would say, “Thank you for being so concerned! But no. The worst way to do that, I suspect, is actually to only update twice in one year.” Then I would probably pause and think about it, and say, “Oops.”

So if you’ve found me somehow, hello! Nearly all of my old, old, old blog entries have made the leap, except for some that were so embarrassingly earnest that I winced upon rereading and decided the internet didn’t really need to see them any more.

As for what happens now, well, if I were the sort of person who made a lot of New Years resolutions, I’d almost definitely have resolved to blog more. But I’ve had various online journals since roughly 1998, and history indicates pretty strongly that I’m not cut out to be a regular blogger. I’m okay with that, but it’s why I wanted to downsize from a blog that was a whole domain, to this little personal site. Rebecca-Allen.net still exists for my online professional life, but this new space feels much smaller and cozier, like a return to my old Geocities collective of web projects, albeit with less Sailor Moon fanfiction.

So anyhoo: if you’re reading the RSS feed, click on over! I’ve got a lovely new template up and running and relentlessly tweaked. We’ll see how long it lasts before I decide I hate it.

And to get things started on the right foot, here is a picture of my cat:

Lily and the umbrella

Sickness, Whininess, Book Reviews

I’m sick. I’ve been sick for about five days, though recovering steadily for the last two. This is better for me. It isn’t better for my roommate, for reasons illustrated in this graph:

Sickness vs. Whininess

There are no units of measurement in this graph. How exactly would I measure whininess, anyway?

In short, as I start to feel better, I become insufferably whiney that I’m not all-the-way better yet. At my sickest, I dope up on cold medication and mostly sleep; as I get better, all I do is complain.

Translation: Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Today, it came as a relief that I had enough energy to do things like wash dishes and run laundry. And I hate washing dishes and running laundry.

Oh, and just barely enough energy to (almost) catch up on book reviews.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins#33: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

See, this is how far backed up I am. I reread Catching Fire the weekend before Mockingjay came out, because I’d devoured it so fast the first time I didn’t actually remember anything that happened, or any of the new characters who’d been introduced. So I reread. This time, the book’s few weaknesses bothered me a little bit more, but overall the story and writing are so compelling that I once again devoured it. Luckily, I didn’t have enough time to forget anything, because Mockingjay came out the next week.

(Wait, you wanted an actual review? Last year, at Active Voice. Of course.)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins#34: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

What is there to say about Mockingjay that hasn’t been said? I was at the release party and got to see Suzanne Collins read the first chapter; that was awesome. (BTW, did you know Katniss has an Appalachian accent? I didn’t! But it was cool.) I took the next day off work to read (because the awesome thing about being a grown up is that I can do that), and it took me a long, long time to gather my thoughts on the book. There’s so much there.

I’ll sum it up like this: I wanted to like it more than I did. It does justice to the first two books in the series, for sure. It was fairly well put together, definitely. But getting that isn’t the same as liking it. More on this one, too, is over at AV.

Bloom County: The Complete Library (Volume Two)#35: Bloom County: The Complete Library (Volume Two) by Berkeley Breathed

Oh, Bloom County. I grew up reading collections of the strip, over and over, even though I was pretty young when it was canceled. I’ve occasionally joked that everything I know about 80s politics, I learned from Bloom County, but it’s not actually much of an exaggeration. What was really brilliant, though, is that the rhythm and the characters of the strips are so great that even as a kid, not getting about 65% of the jokes, I found it hilarious anyway. So I had not only read a lot of these before, I’d memorized them.

Getting a look at some strips I’d never seen before was great. I also enjoyed Breathed’s commentary. In fact, that was one of the reasons I liked Volume Two better than the first. The first had a lot of annotations about the events of the time, and very little commentary from Breathed; the second had fewer annotations and more commentary. (Don’t get me wrong, having some of the context for stuff that happened when I was a toddler was useful, but a lot of it was also pretty obvious just from reading the strips.)

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith#36: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This book, sigh. I’ve mentioned in a few other reviews that I often have issues with classics, because I’m so accustomed to (and more easily engaged by) modern pacing. This is the sort of book that shows just how much that limits me: it took me awhile to get into it, to pick it back up when I put it down, but it would have been a real shame if I had let the pacing put me off. The book is lovely.

It’s the journal of Cassandra, a young woman in the 1930s, living in an English castle (but also living in complete poverty). Her goal is to be a writer, so she strives to record all of her encounters and emotions honestly — to capture the castle in writing, you see. The story of the book also takes you through Cassandra’s first love (and the first time a boy likes her) and her family relationships, in a way that’s so real it’s almost painful. The prose is beautiful, but above all, it’s the emotions that the book gets right.

(Are those all the books I’ve read? No! But is it time for me to go take some more medicine and whine some more? Yes! So that’s it for now.)

In Which I Don’t Love Irony, but Do Love Corbin Bleu. Like, a Lot.

In Which I Don't Love Irony, but Do Love Corbin Bleu. Like, a Lot.

I’ve had an idea for a post percolating for awhile about how I don’t really like irony. That’s a pretty sweeping statement, hm. Let me get more specific: what bothers me about irony is that I think it contributes to a cultural feeling that genuinely liking things — specifically, happy things — isn’t cool.1 Liking things that are artistic, or weird, or only little-known (but never popular, god no) is fine, but the only way to like something silly or fun for the sake of being fun, is to like it ironically. Which means, you know, you like it, but you don’t really like it, because that’s Uncool, and you’re way too Cool to ever just like something for fun. To me, there’s just something sad about the idea that products created just to be enjoyable aren’t worth really liking; I think it devalues joy, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that.

Luckily, I realized many years ago that I will never be Cool. I had angst about that for, oh, four or five minutes, then came to terms with my nerdiness and did my best to stop worrying about what other people would think of me based on the things I enjoy. And it’s very freeing! It means that when I like something, even if it is silly or ridiculous or aimed at people roughly 13 years younger than I am,2 I am free to enjoy and squee and fangirl shamelessly.

This, however, is not that post. That was merely prologue, brought up so you will all know I am not exaggerating my glee when I can share this news: Today, I sort-of-kind-of met Corbin Bleu, and oh my god I love him so much!!!11!!one

Uh, yeah, I had two friends taking pictures and we looked at different cameras. WHATEVER, IT WAS A MAGICAL MOMENT.

Let me back up: a few years ago, I watched and kind of enjoyed High School Musical. A year after that, the creatively-named sequel, High School Musical 2, aired on Disney. And I loved it. Love. Present tense. And after that, High School Musical 3: Senior Year was an actual theatrical release3 and yeah, I saw it in the theaters three times. These movies are ridiculous. I can’t give you plot summaries, because the “plots” are nonsensical. But the cast is adorable, the songs are fun, and the dances are wonderful.4 These movies are 100% joy, and my love for them is 100% genuine. I keep the music from all three on my iPod just in case I need an instant shot of joy during my day, and they never fail to pick me up.

Obviously, Corbin Bleu is one of the afore-mentioned adorable cast members. And while I’ve said before that I’ll basically see anything with any of these kids in it, no matter how bad, Corbin is my favorite. Except that should be italicized and have way more vowels stuck in, and ideally be read in a sing-songy voice: faaaaaaavorite. He’s ridiculously talented, and in interviews, he always comes across as genuinely sweet. (And let’s face it, he’s cuter than a box of kittens.) And… look, I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs, but I think you get the point.

I’ve watched a lot of things just because Corbin is in them. Most of them are not very good.5 So a couple months ago, when it was announced that he’d be starring in In the Heights on Broadway — something that is actually good, not just gleeful, and which might actually show off his strengths as a performer — I made a noise so squeaky it’s possible only dogs could hear me, and then convinced my sister and two of my BFFies to come with me. (This consisted of saying, “Hey, want to go see In the Heights with me?” It was not a hard sell.)

At which point Jess — my co-blogger — pointed out, you know, hanging out at the stage door to meet actors is basically a thing that it’s okay to do with Broadway shows. And then I fainted and had to be revived via smelling salts.6

I wish there was something more to the story than that, like, oh, a sudden gaze into one another’s eyes, instant true love,7 and a marriage proposal. But in actuality, it was a brief but lovely moment; he was very nice (to me and my sistren, the girls in their early teens who also started shrieking when he came outside), even more adorable up close, and YOU GUYS, I LOVE HIM A LOT.

Oh, and the show was good, too. I don’t want to understate that. I’m not nearly knowledgeable enough about such things to really critique it, but it certainly seemed to me to be very well done. Loved the music, loved the use of the setting, loved the interwoven stories. (Though my favorite moment was the joke about the 1/9 train, and how the 9 no longer exists — or more specifically, the audience reaction. Which is to say, only a handful of people laughed, a nice way of picking out who was not a tourist in the crowd.)

But let’s face it: above and beyond all that, I love this guy:

Credit: Joseph Marzullo/Wenn.com

So thank you, sir, for existing, and making my not-at-all-inner fangirl very, very happy. ♥

  1. I feel like this was a very Gen X thing that has really stuck around, but haven’t done any research to back that up.
  2. Holy crap, 13-year-olds are half my age, when did that happen?
  3. I think the only series that’s ever started as made-for-TV and made the jump to theatrical, not the other way around.
  4. Discounting Zac Efron, who is charming as all get out, but really, really not a dancer.
  5. Case in point: a show so bad even the CW wouldn’t keep it on the air.
  6. Okay, not gonna lie, I actually had to be talked into this. When I meet someone I’m that emotionally invested in, I tend to freak out. Not that it’s happened often, but for example, when I met the bassist from my favorite band in 12th grade, I actually forgot my own name when he offered to sign my ticket. You know the cliché girl who bursts into tears when she meets her favorite teen idol, as illustrated daily on TRL for a decade? SO ME.
  7. On his part, clearly, since that’s obviously already true on mine.

Speaking of New York…

Speaking of New York...

Things and people spotted on the my daily commute that made me smile:

  • A guy intently reading a book on astrophysics, but who kept looking up furtively when he changed pages. I ended up sitting next to him. Glanced down at the page he was reading and discovered the book only had an astrophysics cover — inside was You: The Owner’s Manual. Good luck self-helping, subway guy! (Meant sincerely. Goodness knows I could have handled a fake cover for, say, Hot Target, the cover of which is much more neon pink that that image shows.)
  • “Scary” teenagers — mohawks, lots of piercings, studded leather jackets, the works (picture the guys from Star Trek IV, who hassled Kirk and Spock when they were taking public transit, except with music-playing cellphones instead of boomboxes) — who got up and gave their seats to a group of little old ladies.
  • A panicked tourist who caught me on my way to work this morning, and demanded to know where the nearest Starbucks was. (There are four within four blocks of my office. But it was clearly a coffee crisis. I sympathize.)

And finally, perhaps my favorite thing I’ve ever seen during my commute…

  • An off-duty clown. I actually noticed the shoes first — they were huge and bright red. I wondered why someone was wearing clown shoes in real life, then actually looked up at the guy and saw a baggy clown suit — with a regular demin jacket over it. He’d apparently washed his face, but smears of white makeup remained around his hairline. He was holding a large box labeled ‘TRICKS’ on his lap, and — like pretty much everyone else on the subway — listening to an iPod and zoning out. Hey, the commute home is universal, I guess.

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