Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Infinite Glass Slippers: Thoughts on Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella by Valentine Prinsep (1899)
I've embraced the newest film adaptation of Cinderella from Disney with more enthusiasm than I thought I would. Glossy frames, detailed sets, and expert editing can sell me on a whole lot in a visual medium. I embrace this Cinderella with hesitance, yes, but an eye toward the need for foundations.

The twist on this adaptation for Cinderella is that there is no twist. Lily James' turn on the character isn't Drew Barrymore's forward-thinking tomboy in Ever After. She's not the boastful, pixie-cut Leslie Caron in 1955's tongue-in-cheek, The Glass Slipper. She's not the flustered, conflicted heroine of Rossini's opera, La Cenerentola (1817).

Speaking of which, unlike the various adaptations of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, while Cinderella sings in the film's climactic reveal, there's no big production numbers featuring Whitney Houston.

Lily James is dewey-eyed and insurmountably uncomplicated. Her worst offense is earning the disdain of her stepsisters by chatting happily to mice when she doesn't see anyone else around.

Brandy
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
Kenneth Branagh's re-write is a softening of the character in the broader scope of live action adaptations, dismissing much of the agency she's been endowed with in previous incarnations. Her role is so deeply passive, rather than be given the chance to get the prince's attention when he arrives at her house, she sings "Lavender's Blue" during the film's climax. She does so by accident; the prince's retinue don't hear her and see she's locked away until the mice open the window for her. Barrymore's Danielle unabashedly saves herself but James' Ella isn't given the same chance.

At least Branaugh adds more definition to her than Disney's 1950 animated Cinderella, the one with which this film claims kinship. The animated main character of that feature is perfectly likeable the way Daphne from the original 1969 Scooby-Doo is likeable. Both are capable and nice (or at least, as Jessica Rabbit would purr, "drawn that way") but neither are designed to express much opinion outside the demands of the plot. They're charitable and kind because we never see anything denoting the contrary. They're pretty designs with a negative space where a character would be. Lily James' take is more animated than her cartoon counterpart.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Arts, Stars, and Horseshoes

Approximation of @hownowgobbycow
for #BlackOut
Over on Twitter, I've been intermittently posting drawings since completing the hourly comics' challenge.

During Boskone, I met Jenna Kass who suggested trying to draw an hour a day for six months. I don't succeed in setting aside time every day, but I try to make it up when I don't.  I'm feeling a lot more confident about my sketches.  I'd say they're "pretty far from where I want them to be," but from years of following art blogs, I've confirmed this is a fairly common anxiety.  Regardless of experience, it seems like every other artist is embarrassed about their "lack" of drawing ability.

Also, Hugo-winner Ursula Vernon posted this adorable certificate that gives the bearer permission to "make as much really terrible BAD ART as they need to make and it'll be OKAY" because that's how you get better.

***

Want to help me raise money for 826 Boston, a non-profit tutoring writing center? Their 2015 Write-a-Thon is currently underway.  The team I'm on is called The Eternal Footmen (because yay literary references!) which has some pretty nifty people.  If you have some cash to give, please do!

***

I had my first poem of the year accepted for publication.  I'll say more later when stuff is signed/confirmed/etc.  I'm so happy!  It's in a market I've been wanting to get into for a long time.

For all those querying, sending out submissions, or just putting your writing out there, keep going.  It's a grim, slushy time of year.  Keep the hope strong and enjoy a gif.

***

Boskone 52  was pretty neat.  While there, I met and talked to a lot of writers who had braved the dire weather forecasts.  Then Boston's record-making snows happened.

And it was still pretty neat.

But wow, yes, February was hard.  Hope everyone has taken care of themselves.

Now that it's clearing up, I'm poking my head out once more to attend Vericon.  I'll be another attendee thumping around the halls of Harvard if you want to say hi or grab a drink at one of the many bars near campus!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hourly Comics Day: Feb 1, 2015

After years of saying, "Hey, I should totally do hourly comics some time," I actually did some.  They were fun and reminded me that, yes, I do love drawing.  I posted these through out the day on Twitter, but why not have all these sketchy doodles in one place?

I posted the set I straight-up photographed from my sketchbook on Facebook, but I did a...little bit of clean up on these.  A little.




For more info on the store above, check out The Book Shop.

The Star Lord vs. Captain America Bowl 2015






Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dispatches from the Land of Ice and Snow: Boskone 2015

Boskone 2015 Promo Art
Oh look! My Boskone 52 schedule!

25 Things I Learned From SF

Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Harbor III (Westin)

How much of what you know was learned from science fiction? Chromatophores and Kuiper belts, tesseracts and teratogens — what Newton dreamt and how anarchy might work — we've all received numberless info dumps. What are your favorites? Your most exotic? How has science fiction shaped your life, your worldview, and the fancy factoids you spout at parties?
Laurie Mann (M), Walter H. Hunt, Fred Lerner, Steve Davidson, Gillian Daniels

Transformative Fan Fiction
Saturday 10:00 - 10:50, Galleria-Discussion Group (Westin)
Looking for fiction that breaks boundaries across gender, race, and religious roles? What is fan fiction? Moreover, what is transformative fan fiction? Why do people write it? Where did it come from? What needs does it fulfill? And where can you find it?
Julia Rios (M), Gillian Daniels

SF Screen Comedy: Galaxy Quest to Guardians of the Galaxy
Sunday 14:00 - 14:50, Harbor I (Westin)
Anybody order a side of Meatballs? Let's talk about the most successful SF films with a lighter touch. We've seen many SF feature-length cartoons in the last few years aimed primarily at children: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Planet 51, Mr Peabody & Sherman. Which of those are worth seeing? What about live-action comedies aimed at adults? Are there examples the other way around? Which are the "best" big-screen SF comedies, and what sets them apart from the crowd?
Julia Rios (M), Gillian Daniels, Craig Shaw Gardner, Annalisa Schaefer, Stephen P. Kelner

***

My Arisia was a pretty nice one.  Everyone has a different Arisia, being the size and shape of fan convention it is.  N.K. Jemisin was brilliant in person and Mark Oshiro was terribly sweet and has a fantastic memory for faces.  I spent a great deal of it live-tweeting the panels I attended for the #arisia and #arisia2015 tags. That's probably one of the reasons I'm going to skip going in-depth with my description of Arisia this year.

I'll say that, due to its bigness, the con itself has a lot of mixed messages.  It's not uncommon to attend a number of panels regarding race and cultural appropriation in popular entertainment but also run into That Guy Who Wants to Tell You Being Offended by X is Wrong Because He's Not Offended By It.  This is probably due to the fact that 90% of New England's geek population shows up for this con and, really, geeks have never been just one group but a bunch of enthusiasts from all backgrounds and walks of life.  I'm pleased Arisia is here to attempt to unite them all in one place and do so with enthusiasm.

The panels I was on went wonderfully and the reading I had with Adrienne Odasso and Sonya Taaffe was fantastic.  I hope to read with them again.  Our writing styles sit very comfortably with each other.  Also, they're both really cool.

Otherwise, after staying at a con from Friday, 6pm to Monday at 3pm with plenty of parties, I was pretty exhausted.

So of course I'll be at Boskone in February.  If you're in the area, you should stop by and say hello!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter: Straeon and Arisia

This past December, M. David Blake's Straeon Quarterly debuted from Stupefying Stories.  In it, along with work by Anna Yeatts and Juliette Wade, is my short story, "The Art Teacher."  If you haven't already, please check it out!

I'm grateful the editors took a chance on the piece.  Very curious to see where the publication goes from here.

***

2014 was a great publishing year.  Looking back, I'm proud and still in shock.  I can only hope 2015 will be even a little bit as fantastic.

For poetry, special thanks to Adrienne Odasso for taking "The Liar's Charm" at Strange Horizons, Elise Matthesen at Apex Magazine for publishing my poem, "Sleep Lives Inside the Bed," and Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg at Stone Telling for giving "To the Creature" a lovely home.  To John Benson, thank you for accepting Death Defying Stunts to your wonderful Not One of Us

Also, as previously mentioned, I've begun my monthly New and Noteworthy Short Fiction column at Fantastic Stories with Warren Lapine, Jay O'Connell, and Robert Davis.

You all are fabulous to work with.

This year, I want to keep going and keep pushing forward.  You get nowhere without taking risks.

***

Arisia 2015 popped up fairly quickly this year, if feels like!  I've been busy with work and my social life at the holidays tends to become all-consuming.  

Below is my schedule, ending with a killer reading line-up with Sonya TaaffeAdrienne Odasso (linked above, too), and myself on Sunday. Very exciting!

The Legend of Korra (Fri, 7pm) Marina 1
The third season of “The Legend of Korra” found the show finally starting to live up to its potential and expectations, with mature storylines and character development. It also saw Nickelodeon removing the show from the air and only streaming it online. We’ll discuss the changes on both fronts in this panel about one of the better and more diverse cartoons on the air.
Juliet Kahn, Donna Martinez, Rubi, James A. Wolf (m)

Speculative Fiction: The Year in Review (Fri, 10pm) Marina 2
What books, short stories, and poetry have we read this year? What trends and patterns have emerged in the genre?
Morgan Crooks, Tegan Mannino (I'm moderating!)

Marvel Cinematic (and TV) Universe, 2015 (Sat, 7pm) Marina 1
In 2014, we saw Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America: The Winter Soldier deal with global corruption, while Guardians of the Galaxy took on Thanos and Ronan. As this panel takes place, we’ll have Agent Carter on TV, with a Netflix Daredevil show hitting in May. We’ll talk about where this increasingly complex and connected universe goes from here, and how things are looking after the last year.
Kevin Cafferty, Ed Fuqua, Elektra Hammond, Shira Lipkin (m), Heather Urbanski

Poetry Reading: Gillian Daniels, Adrienne Odasso, Sonya Taaffe (Sun, 4pm) Bulfinch (3W)

If you can make it to the con this year, I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tell a Stone

In the eleventh issue of Stone Telling, my poem, "To the Creature," is available for consumption. Or, if you prefer, listening. And yes, that's me reading.

Special thanks to Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan for publishing an issue of poets not yet featured in their lovely publication. You should read their introduction.

The issue came out on the tail of my second set of reviews for Fantastic Stories. I'm enjoying writing it and hope you've taken a look at the recommendations so far.

November has been nice so far in New England. I decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo but, as one of my writing group friends has dubbed it, ReviYoNoMo (Revise Your Novel Month). Another name: FiYoFuNo (Finish Your Fucking Novel). Which is all to say I'm investing time in editing a longer, more complex work that I hope to one day have ready for widespread reading and poking.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Short Fiction Review Column in Fantastic Stories!

I've started a new column in Warren Lapine's publication, Fantastic Stories, that reviews short fiction I've recently found interesting.  No reprints (mostly; I make the rules), just recently published pieces I think resonate and should be noticed.  This endeavor is a slightly terrifying one to me, but it's a thing I'm strongly invested in. I hope others will check in on it once in a while for recommendations or just to see what's been knocking around my brain.

Anyway, working with Jay O'Connell and Robert Davis has been a lot of fun.  So you see, I've had a super secret vendetta to gab with them more all along.