charloween: (Default)
1. Pack.

2. Get to airport.

3. Board plane.

...It's Monday that has the long to-do list. *whimper*
charloween: (fly)
Today I bought my one-way ticket to the UK (and moved another load of stuff to my parents' place) but mostly: one-way ticket to the UK.

I also found out that I have a college* at Cambridge willing to take me. Now I'm just waiting to hear back on the money issue, so it's unlikely I'll be adjusting my plans.

*One of the really old ones! Woo!
charloween: (Unimpressed)
I've got to write four presentations (one tonight for sure, the others hopefully ca. Tues/Wed), fake some kind of test prep for my students, and do a massive amount of laundry: I leave for a week in New Mexico in the wee hours of next Sunday morning.

(Mum wants to go shopping in Santa Fe, I want to stalk the production of In Plain Sight oh and that sure-to-be-sucktastic wacky road trip movie starring RDJ - we'll come to a compromise, I'm sure. :D)

But until then, I've got to figure out Tuesday's presentation. I don't think it'll take all that long to pull together, but I just need to start working at it. I think I can manage the one-liner version (Jameson's article works to shift the definition of "postmodern" away from referring just to a cultural style, and towards a broader understanding of the term which brings together the economic/political expression of late capitalism with the realities of production within the cultural realms, and specifically an expansion of the idea of the culture industry) but I'm not sure how to expand this into a presentation that's only 15 minutes long, and neither am I sure what the heck a four-page (double-spaced) summary will look like.

Even though the professor for this class keeps ducking my attempts to ask for help, I found a fellow student who's been helping me through navigate the historical positioning of Marxism vs postmodernism in the early 80s. Apparently this particular article is an attempt to reconcile two warring factions in cultural theory, and a treaty can look really weird if you don't know what the war was about.

As for the test prep, well... this quarter we've covered No Logo, Vietnam, Sesame Street and the Mission: Impossible television show. This week we're screening stuff from Paper Tiger Television. *throws up hands* IDK.
charloween: (Default)
And in the course of a month, I've: seen both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, presented at a conference, failed to jump on a hotel bed even though the hotel bed was available, seen two neat cities, hung out with many people (including [livejournal.com profile] thucyken, [livejournal.com profile] firstgold, [livejournal.com profile] squonk and [livejournal.com profile] stickchick596, and many new people) and had some awesome food. (The food is important. Food is always important.)

Boston is a neat place, and there's quite a lot of Important Stuff that went on there. It may just have been a factor of my being downtown/in the North End the entire time, but every time we turned a corner there was something else famous. On the way to have Italian dinner (ammazzafame + pinot grigio for me) we passed Paul Revere's house, for example. The next day we hit the Museum of Science for the Harry Potter exhibit: props and costumes from the movies - the pre-teens were all about the kids' costumes, the tweens were all about RPatz's Cedric costumes, and I was all about the teachers' things - fun fact, Snape's robes are bluish-purple, not black. Also at the museum was the ginormous Van der Graaf generator from the 1930s that was used to futz with atoms back in the day, and the 3.5" floppy containing the world's first computer virus. Then we wandered over to the USS Constitution (in commission since 1797), which was awesome enough to make an impression even after all the awesome that we'd seen thus far.

*takes breath* And then we decided that the menu at the Cheers bar was not so good, so we had dinner elsewhere before going to see Boondock Saints II in a theatre off of Boston Common. I think I annoyed [livejournal.com profile] stickchick596 a bit by keeping a running commentary of where to find all the Toronto-as-Boston locations. One giveaway: Boston's streets are allergic to straight lines. Toronto's are mostly in a grid. It was a fairly crappy film, but it was also fun in its own bubble-headedly violent way.

Many jokes were made about the Freedom Trail. Like jumping on and off the painted/bricked red line in the sidewalk, declaring one's relative states of liberation or oppression, etc. All joking aside, it's a good way to map out sites of interest. Just follow the trail and you get where you need to go.

As for the conference itself, there's not much to tell. I was in the first scheduled slate of panels, meaning I got everything over with first and got to enjoy the rest of what I saw. There were some fantastic papers, a few horrifically bad presentations, and a good time was had by all. I have a good idea of how to refocus my piece, and because there wasn't a big SF/F contingent represented, I spent most of my time in panels on interior design and architecture.

It's good to be home. I'm not planning on going anywhere until February (Albuquerque!) though Ottawa in December is still on my radar. I have to spend the next few weeks doing some intense reading, though somewhere in there I'll also be applying to PhD programs and hitting the symphony a few times. ...Yikes.
charloween: (fly)
Last November, I went to Wales for a conference; this November, I'm off to a conference in Boston.

Without the stress of international travel (a transatlantic flight + the train from London to Cardiff, yikes) or the jetlag, I'm looking forward to sneaking a few hours tomorrow and Thursday for hiding in a posh-ish hotel room and working on schoolwork. Yes, looking forward to meeting up with friends in the area, looking forward to the conference (there's a paper on nerdcore rap that I hope I can attend, and a whole panel on women and the development of American museums), but also looking forward to a few quiet hours of no distractions.

Luckily, my paper is in the first set of panels (last time it was the final paper of the conference), so I'll be able to relax for the rest of it. Relax and maybe order ridiculously expensive room service. Relax, maybe order ridiculously expensive room service, and get some interrupted time to work. Bliss. This is how you make an academic happy.

In other news, Claude Levi-Strauss is dead. He was 100, and since I spent all of last week writing the paper that was such a big part of Hellweek (making Hellweek particularly hellish), and trying to make sense of Levi-Strauss's structural approach to mythology was a big part of why the paper was such a pain to write.... my reaction is inappropriate. Though, it's odd to think that when I finished the paper on Friday he was still alive and when I handed in a paper copy this week he was dead. If I had a better grasp of his theories, I could make an appropriate joke. Alas, I cannot.

In other-other news, my mass-emailing of profs in grad programs I'm interested in has been yielding generally positive replies. They obviously can't judge me from the four sentences of inquiry, but there have been a few replies that have encouraged me to apply to the program. This is also how you make a (young, cautiously hopeful) academic happy.
charloween: (Default)
Okay, they're related in that they're about places other than Toronto. (Gasp! Such places exist! But I thought we were the centre of the Universe Canada this part of Lake Ontario, always yearning to be as properly historical as London, as sophisticated and fun as New York and as cool as LA...)

Anyway.

1. Even though this seems to be a Volkswagen ad and not an actual transit-related brainwave, I think the theory still holds. Fun = better. Video behind the cut )

2. For whatever reason, the only pictures I took in Vancouver were of Capilano. Photos behind the cut )

3. Calling all Bostonians/people in the vicinity of Boston! I'll be in your corner of the world on the afternoon of Nov 4 (Wednesday), and I'll be leaving on the 8th (Sunday). I've got to give a presentation on the 5th, but the rest of the time is my own. Would any of you Bostonians/near-Bostonians care to join me for coffee/dinner/touristy stuff? (Anyone else who wants to come with, there's room in my hotel if you'd like to crash. :D)
charloween: (pure style)
I know three things about Albuquerque:
1. Bugs Bunny never takes a left there, and always gets lost;
2. Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight are set and shot there;
3. The Southwest Texas Pop Culture and American Culture Association are holding their annual conference there next February.

Seeing as I'll be visiting Albuquerque next February to give a paper at the SWTX PCA/ACA conference (...squee!), I'm sure I'll be learning more about Albuquerque. Like, where it is, exactly. Other than (*waves southish and westish*) thataway.

ETA: as [livejournal.com profile] wicked_g reminds me, High School Musical is set in Albuquerque. HOWEVER: Imdb says it was shot in Utah. It's a Fauxbuquerque.
charloween: (Default)
After a week of pure (exhausting) awesome - that I'd say peaked with giggle fits while watching a professional production of Julius Caesar* - the only sane response is to cuddle into bed for an extended period of time.

Which is awesome when you don't have to work the next day. (Eep!) But! Fun was had, sights were toured (touristed?), plays were watched and freakishly good weather was most enthusiastically enjoyed.


*Never take slashers to a sausage fest. And never feed them The Importance of Being Earnest as a matinee, either.
charloween: (Default)
Once upon a time, four grad students went to DC... clickez for fotos )

It was a phenomenal six days. Two of those days were spent driving, but we had the audiobook of Dreams From My Father for the way down and the audiobook of America: The Book for the ride home. Many thanks to our lovely hostess for the fantastic bed, the warm reception and the chauffeur-to-Metro. Everyone we met was kind and wonderful (except for the waitress from hell, but even she was comically horrible), and it seemed like the entire city was made up of ridiculously happy people. We made new friends, remade old friendships and had a darn good time.

I'll have more pictures when I meet back with the other four and we exchange photo files. But no pictures can really replicate or even hint at what it was like to be there. Pictures can't replicate the feeling of sunlight (finally peeking out from the clouds) warming your face after 6 hours of sub-zero windy weather, knowing it's another two hours before Obama is even supposed to arrive.

Pictures can't tell you what it was like to hear the middle-aged black women behind you in the crowd of millions repeating over and over again, "We did it, I can't believe we did it, praise the Lord we did it," and knowing that you have no way to understand - being too young, and too white, too Canadian, even - the magnitude of what you're witnessing.

Pictures can't describe going to someone else's county to watch their leader take some ceremonial oath of office and being moved to tears by politics. Of all things, tears of joy over politics.

The entire thing was equal parts surreal and fantastic (but more on that later), and I'd never been witness to so much unbridled Americanism. We're so lucky that we had this chance to head down there, and to be a part of it all. I'm going to sleep for 36 straight hours now, and leave my email for the morning...



(a woman and her niece were collecting signatures on a bedsheet to take back home)


Edit: score one for women in academia, 'cause Jill Biden was introduced not as Mrs. Biden, but as Dr. Jill Biden. I looked her up on wiki, and they say she earned her doctorate in Education.
charloween: (goaty grin)
In a few hours!

Getting excited!

And caffeinated!

Which is not helping!

*points to icon* I'm making that face! :D

*bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce*
charloween: (Default)
As promised, here are some more pictures from the trip to Wales. I'm home now, and I think I might be on Eastern Time again. Maybe. It sucks that I'm not in Denmark right now as the original plan had it, but you know, maybe next time. (sigh)

Pictures! )

The flight home was entertaining. I was sitting with two guys (both in their mid-30s) who're both travelling because of job interviews. The British guy was moving to Canada to be with his wife, and had a job interview or two lined up for when he arrived. The other guy, a Canadian, had been at an interview in the UK somewhere. The thing was, the British guy totally had his shit together and the Canadian guy was well on his way to being a whiny loser. He wasn't a full-on complainer just yet, but he was getting there.

As for the food, well... Air Transat's "hot meal" is a President's Choice tv dinner. If you're into that, cool, but if you're expecting food, then you'll be disappointed. It wasn't totally inedible, but I've had better meals in my life. The movies (that I didn't watch because the earphone jack was broken) were: Get Smart and something I slept through on the way over, with Hancock and The Incredible Hulk on the way back. The Incredible Hulk is hilarious on mute, or rather, when the soundtrack is the folk-rock, indie cool and classic metal on your unPod. Some of the green screen looked really bad even on the crappy tiny airplane televisions. Hancock I might go back and watch properly, instead of sleeping through it and watching the rest without sound - but I still can't look at Jason Bateman without thinking "Michael Bluth", which could be a problem.

The flight was good, though. The worst I've ever been on was a terrifying trip from Atlanta to Asheville where even the scary tattooed biker guys thought we were going to crash and die. Air Transat's not spectacular, but they get you where you're going with a minimum of fuss. The strangest thing was that it totally feels natural now. This year I've taken more flights than in the past ten years, combined. It's all rather old hat. I feel so grown-up. :D

Also, back in July and with this trip both, the customs guys at Pearson were super-interested in what I was studying, where I was studying it, making me prove I was a real student, etc. Nothing major, and nothing to complain about, but it's still funny. The complainer from the plane found me again at the baggage return, and complained about the last time he flew into Pearson the baggage handlers dented his luggage. I probably could have cared less. Then he went on about how the customs folk figured that he's dealing drugs and so he always gets hassled. By this time I really don't want to hear him say anything more. So imagine my glee when he gets pulled off for a full search just before we make it out of the customs maze. Karma for being tedious, I tell you.

I bought the Long Way Round book at the Cardiff train station, which means I had to start downloading the series (and the sequel) as soon as I got home. It's quite adorable, and far better than I thought it would be. I also bought-and-read Pratchett's Nation on the way back. Such a good book. No words to describe. Just: good book.

Edit: swapped in the proper photo for a repeat.
charloween: (Ianto has a plan)
After months of anticipation, my first academic conference has come and gone. I'm still in the UK (at Gatwick), but the crazy Japanese-style capsule hotel I'm staying at has free wifi, so I can update! And be cowed by the state of my inbox. The important thing is that my paper was well-received by most of the people there. I don't feel like I wasted my time or money, I met some fun people, learned stuff and got to spend nearly two whole days alone at the end of it all (a needed people-buffer).

I'll say one thing for a Doctor Who conference... it's probably the only place where you'll hear a paper on the Lacanian construction of the self, go on a tea break, and then trade fic recs with one of the writers on Doctor Who. The entire week has been surreal but mostly awesome. One highlight was the paper that more-or-less mathematically proved that Torchwood was fandom crack... there was a picture of a half-naked Methos involved. [livejournal.com profile] thucyken, you should have been there. There were charts!

One revelation was that audience studies is a lot further along than I'd been led to believe. It's very exciting.

The horrible part, though, is that after four straight days of talking about Torchwood means that now I want to go back and watch it again. Even after everyone there agreed that it's a bad, bad show.

I'm off to another conference again in a few weeks, though not presenting this time. And it looks like I'll be getting some cash up fron tfor that, which will be a nice change. What with this conference, that conference and house-sitting for my sister, I don't think I'm going to be home much before January.

Pictures! )
charloween: (Default)
The running joke of the vacation was how civilized things were. But then, there was a book vending machine at Heathrow - obviously they know something about capitalism that North America has yet to pick up on. And no, we didn't get to see Hamlet, but it would have cost $500 to get tickets off of eBay and I have my limits.

Anyway. Cardiff was hilarious, London was fantastic and the museums were all a little creepy.

Highlights:
1. Me and [livejournal.com profile] piratefanatic outside the Millennium Centre in Cardiff. The picture is wacky-underexposed because Teagan was taking the picture and didn't know how to use my camera.


2. An inappropriate suggestion from an interactive display at the Doctor Who exhibition.


3. Cardiff: A Fine Place to Raise a Family.


4. Look! A room full of bits from the Parthenon! (On Teagan's camera there's a shot of me doing a thumbs-up move in front of the Rosetta Stone. Good times...)


5. Oxford! Just under that bridge and to the left is a fantastic hidden pub.


Gone 10 days and there're lots of stories to tell (and pictures!) but for now this'll have to do. I got back yesterday afternoon and was at work today, so I'll probably stumble around the next few days in a wee haze while I get those residence handbooks completed and printed.

The weather was gorgeous, the food was fantastic, the tea was excellent (they do tea better over there, I don't know what that's all about) and I've got plenty of ideas about what to do next time and how to document it. (MOAR PICTURES and not dropping and breaking my camera would help with that last one...) It drizzled a little on our first day there, but the rest of the time it was lovely blue skies. I got a tan and everything. I also only bought two pairs of shoes, which I feel showed remarkable restraint.

On the bus home from work today, a friend was reading Neverwhere. Amusing, since I'd just spent the last week quietly geeking at the names of the Tube stations.
charloween: (Having a bad day...)
The good news is, I made it to Asheville! How I got there... )

I think tonight we might watch movies. That would be really neat. *nod*
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