You'd think that this year - what with the whole unlucky 13 thing - would start off with meteor showers and dinosaur attacks, but it's actually going quite well so far. Why "mooching?" My winter break was horribly devoid of Buster Keaton, so I'm starting the first post of the year off right with a reference to one of Keaton's talkie shorts, "Mooching Through Georgia." Because, after two weeks of driving across Florida, I feel like I've been on a long journey.
I traveled to Miami, St. Augustine, and Disney World (always Disney). The best way to talk about my vacation is to, well, show you.
This museum is, hands down, the best museum I've ever been to. Why? Because it's stuffed with strange and mechanical wonders from the Gilded Age. I think I could spin a hundred stories from here. The bonus is that the museum used to be the Hotel Alcazar, built in back in 1887 - so, not only did I see a lot of need glass work and automatons from the Gilded Age, but I also got to learn about the hotel and see where the baths were, among other interesting rooms.
Ghost chair. (LOL. I guess all plastic has that kind of effect).
After seeing the museum the first day, we came back again to eat lunch in the center of the museum. I ordered the spinach egg drop soup and curry chicken sandwich. It. Was. Delicious.
When I was in middle school, still acclimating to Florida life, I went on a school trip to St. Augustine and climbed the lighthouse. Despite visiting St. Augustine many times since, I hadn't been back to the lighthouse for years. It's been a huge inspiration for my thesis and it felt thrilling to climb all the way to the top, knowing that my main character does that every single day of her life (how strong she is, haha!) - and also knowing that my thesis journey is almost complete. I tried not to shed tears of joy at the top, for fear that my falling tears might have seriously injured someone below, bwahaha.
I'm a ham.
Disney World - Orlando
Disney. Yep, you guys know I always go here. With the family all together, we really celebrate by staying over a few days and doing what we love best - hotel hopping. Basically, we like to hop on the monorail and see how each hotel is decorated for Christmas, as well as eating sugar-coated almonds in the parks and standing in line, haha. The finest achievement (besides finding a hidden Wreck-It Ralph room in MGM) was getting to eat lunch at the Beast's Castle.
We also spent the evening strolling on the Boardwalk - it was the first time I'd ever been there at night. Nothing relaxed me quite as much as that stroll down the lit up boardwalk, seeing strings of popping lights, the epic pirate ship water slide, kids running around on the lawns (the Boardwalk hotel sure know how to keep the party going, haha), and a giant goblet full of caramel apple sundae that we always get at The Fountain.
I wish it actually worked - it was for show only *shakes fist*
At the Beast's Castle, I ordered the spinach quiche and, for dessert, a raspberry-filled cream puff.
I got home with knots in my shoulders, but a spring in my step. For the first time in the last four weeks, I finally have a spot of free time to relax and regroup. The perfect time to blog. My plans for this month's posts were going to be fantastic. Trust me. They would have blown your mind.
But September decided to have none of it.
From The Enchanted Cottage (1924). YES. My sentiments exactly.
The Fall semester is typically a whirlwind of surprises, deadlines, and extra events to color autumn and dawning winter with different flavors of stress.
The best way to express this past month is with bullet points:
Being up to my nostrils in manuscript revisions
Attending meetings about things like how to graduate by properly formatting thesis
The usual school stuff (like teaching and taking classes)
Adopting a Dalek mentality towards my revisions. EXTERMINATE THE ADVERBS!
Through every speed bump this past month, I had to tell myself:
The truth is: of course I care. I always care. But just watching this gif made my stress more bearable - especially because I loved the film, In the Good Old Summertime. It's the first color film I saw with Buster in it. He's adorable and I almost cried when he appeared on screen ;_;
Dwah. Look at 'im.
Returning from my digression... this month hasn't been all business. I've eaten a lot of sushi (there's a new all-you-can-eat buffet in town), listened to Shelly Fraley's albums over and over, and geeked out over Richard Barthelmess in The Enchanted Cottage (1924).
OH. And I was just bored enough at a meeting today that I doodled this (and colored it when I came home):
Jimmy, Ashlyn, and Diamond! Yay!
I dragged my feet through this month. It's actually surreal to think that it's almost over. And I'm looking forward to October.
The best way for me to share the love is, usually, through the magical art of t-shirts. I used to have a huge collection of t-shirts, but recently I've done a massive clean out because... I'm a grown up now. I can't have too many of these things. As a truce, most of my closet is full of lovely bow and bird prints and lace dresses. But I can never forget my t-shirt days.
The shirts I've kept are my favorite cartoon ones - and yes, once in a while, I still love to purchase new ones. Also, my new school year resolution is to wear some of these shirts when I teach. I'll do it. It's going to be fun, haha.
I want to share some of my t-shirts with you - and consequently, some of my favorite cartoons.
From one of my favorite cartoons EVER: The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. Sadly, this shirt is mostly used for pajamas since it's way too big on me. I really didn't expect shirts for this show to be gone already, you know? I'm sad that this is the only one I have.
However, anything that mentions the mythical Candied Island is awesome in my book. It's on my list of places to vacation along with Nilbog (*cough* Troll 2 joke *cough*).
Ahhh, oldies. To be honest, I had a love-hate relationship with Captain Planet. My brother and I would make fun of it the whole time, but we secretly coveted the power rings. I wanted the wind one, haha.
I watched a lot of Felix growing up - and the movie was by far one of my favorite things to watch. The scene where Princess Oriana dances in a bubble has stuck with me as one of the most striking animated scenes I've ever seen. So I'm including the clip here, haha:
Regular Show. My brother got me interested in it, despite my initial reluctance to watch it. The characters are all surprisingly endearing - to the point where I haven't decided who my favorite is. But I got this shirt because I love when Mordecai and Rigby shake their fists and chant, haha. I'm guilty of imitating them... though it usually comes off better when you have a friend to mirror you, haha.
Rocko's Modern Life - another childhood staple. This show is totally guilty of corrupting my mind, haha. I started watching it again recently and what surprises me most is that the show is so quiet. Do you know what I mean? It's actually peaceful to watch, instead of having blaring, heavy sound effects and high-pitching voice acting.
By the way.... my brother interviewed the creator, Joe Murray, on his radio show. I even got to ask him a question! That was a great fangirl moment, haha. The interview is here... just don't cringe when you hear my voice pop up, haha. (is sensitive about my voice, bwahaha).
Courage the Cowardly Dog. This is probably my favorite cartoon ever! No joke. I've gushed about Courage before, and more specifically, his creator John R. Dilworth. It's a wonderful treat to be able to wear shirts from this great show. Courage looks delightfully frightened in both shirts.
Adventure Time. Of course. As much as I love this show, it's been difficult to settle on which shirt to get. A lot of the girls shirts have Marceline, the vampire hipster on them, so I've said no for a long time. Her character just rubs me the wrong way, I guess. But I was so excited to see a shirt inspired by the gender-bending episode - so this is the one for me! Fiona and Cake are adorable. And, well, I love the positive energy going on here with the "HECK YES!"
Not a cartoon, I know. But how could I not include Buster Keaton? In honor of meeting some summer goals (including writing ones), I bought these two Buster shirts. The grey one, I think, is one of the better shirts out there for Buster fans. The fabric is thick though, so I'll have to wait until it gets cooler to wear it for long periods of time. *shakes fist at Florida*
The white tank top makes me smile - all my favorite silent film boys, haha! At the top is Fatty Arbuckle, then to his left is Al St. John, then there's Luke, the talented dog, and finally good old Buster Keaton. This was from Buster's early film years, before he struck out on his own - I really love watching Fatty and Buster's short films. I'm sorry to say that the design for this shirt is no longer available, but if you're a fan of Al St. John (who isn't?), you can check out the other shirts and items from the shop.
Very well, thank you. It's a little slow at times, but I'm only a few weeks away from writing the conclusion.
If anyone's been checking my Figment page over the last few months, you've probably noticed that besides the occasional contests, my updates have slowed down considerably. There's a good reason for that.
My third and final year of graduate school is approaching and in order to earn my diploma, there is one last epic task that I must complete: writing a finished, polished manuscript. My thesis.
No matter what genre you work in - whether it be fiction, nonfiction, or poetry - this is the usual requirement for graduation (besides, you know, getting good grades and all that). Fiction writers have the option of either writing a novel manuscript or a short story collection manuscript for their thesis.
After much deliberation, I decided to take on a novel.
The last year is usually spent working closely with one's thesis director and committee; we gather together, talk about revisions, and then I go back to my office and scratch my head until I figure out the best plan to attack my editing. In order to this successfully, and get the best feedback I can, I must complete the first draft of my thesis before returning to school.
So that's what this summer is for. I have been writing every single day to reach that goal.
Because it's a school-related writing project, I'm not able to share it. However, I can tell you a little about it.
My thesis is set in a fantasy world inspired by the 1920's. There is a girl who studies shipwrecks and lore. There is a boy who speaks to numbers.
This novel is bursting with flappers, lighthouses, gramophones, an adventurer's club, deaths, narwhals, pocket watches, keys, wooden props, a castle, islands, witching waves, candy floss, ocean liners, violets, a carnival city, squash racket matches, captains, sailors, saltwater swimming pools, childhood crushes, fire, and foul storms.
I've been listening to a lot of The Hush Sound and A Fine Frenzy, two bands I've adored for a while. I've also been filling my iPod with a ton of electro swing.
My research books include, but are not limited to a 1927 reproduction of a Sears catalogue and an early history of ocean liners.
And of course, there's always bits of inspiration to be found along the way:
Richard Barthelmess, you're terribly cute.
The anatomy of a 20's girl!
And of course, a happy helping of Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton's misadventures.
Anyone familiar with by blog, and especially my tumblr, knows how much I love the silent film comedian, Buster Keaton. To be honest, it hasn't been a long affair - I discovered him back in October when TCM had the entire month dedicated to Keaton films. But I was hooked immediately. Needless to say, I stayed up as late as I could on Sundays so I could be mesmerized by his skilled acrobatics, hilarious stunts, and expression-filled "stone" face. And that wasn't enough. I bought a box set containing the bulk of his silent films and I've also gotten a few smaller collections that are the numerous short films he did later in life (after MGM screwed him over) that never came close to the golden years of his silent films (though, in my opinion, they're still fun to watch. It's a treat to hear Buster's voice and he is, even without creative license, still as talented as he had always been).
Silent film, in general, has been an exciting new world for me. I discovered it in the fall - my gateway drug, in a sense, had been Mary Pickford. Even though she was a famous actress that did so much for film as we know it today, getting a hold of her movies is extremely hard (and the ones that are available are super expensive). I'm hoping that, like with Buster, having TCM dedicate a month to her will help fix that. So although I'd love to kick back with a bunch of her films, I had to expand my exploration of silent films before finishing with her movies. I tumbled right into Buster at that time, haha.
The great thing about silent film is that, when you watch one, it feels like you're being told a secret. The characters are delightful, the music funny and sometimes extremely catchy, and, as a viewer, you are engaged with the film at a higher level because you have to watch the character's expressions and fill in the gaps. It's not that hard, really. A good silent film is easy to follow.
Buster Keaton is fantastic in those regards. Sure, he's funny, but humor has never been enough for me to engage in a particular actor or actress. He's an artist; his films are surreal and risky and Buster knows how to grab a viewer's attention. Of course, it helps that he's been performing acrobatics and athletic feats since he was a baby (no joke) and that it's a marvel to watch him fall gracefully and dive under moving cars and dodge trains.... yep. The characters he plays are consistently sympathetic, charming, and melancholy. If you're a fan of Ziggy comics, you'll connect with him immediately, haha.
I could probably go on and on about him until I'm blue in the face, but I thought that it'd be better to show, rather than tell, my favorite Buster films. I've chosen gifs from my top favorites in two categories - feature-length films (45 minute - 70 minute movies) and short films (only about 20 minutes). The gifs respectfully come from tumblr, haha.