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I live in a lovely, pungent and adventurous district of Ho Chi Minh City. My favorite café ) strews birdseed outside the café on the “sidewalk.” I say “sidewalk” in quotes because the sidewalk is so small, so crowded with motorbikes and food stands, that it’s really more of a slightly-raised shoulder than a sidewalk.
But the sidewalk in front of my café is covered with birdseed, and so it shines a wholesome yellow in the sun, and when the rains roll back the birds fly in, little brown ones happily pecking away. When I walk through them, they rush up right in front of my face. This is probably the favorite part of my day.
When I sit here, drinking strong, strong coffee and lotus tea, I think of the only thing that could make this scene more perfect: storytelling. But I have no idea where to go to hear a good story.
Where do you go to hear stories nowadays? Read the rest of this entry »
The other day I was talking with one of my best friends about academia. And how it kills absolutely everything it touches. You like Dickens? Take a class on him, that’ll fix that problem. You’re a fan of writing about and analyzing interesting cultural phenomena? Go to grad school, so you can learn to write so well you’ll be unintelligible. Want to share ideas with like-minded people? Learn how to speak jargon so well that you’ll never be understood by humanoid life forms again.
Ah, sweet academia. Being outside it – at last? finally? unfortunately? – feels odd to me. For the first time in a long while, I find myself outside a scholarly community, living in “the real world,” even if only for two years, after which time I shall go to grad school and become a Slave to Academia once more. But this little respite prompts me to ask: is academia useful? For studying fairy tales? Folklore? Does studying something actually partially destroy it, as I’ve suggested elsewhere?
First of all, before you even say it: yes, I agree. Academics need to make themselves – and their work – more accessible. It’s part of the reason why I write this blog, and why I write it the way that I do. I write about what I’m working on, and I write to be read. Understood. Much though I love certain academic thinkers, they specialize in being obscure. Like Lacan! Reading Lacan is like doing mind-gymnatics: how well can you perform on the balance beam? Can you do a triple flippy thingy? Those who cannot do a triple-flippy-thingy are abject failures whose minds are worthless. Or so the prevailing attitude goes.
Some people seem to think of academia the way that Miranda Priestly thinks about fashion. Click here to listen to Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada explain it all, as she rants at her assistant for not caring about fashion. But fashion actually controls us all!
For those international viewers who can’t watch the clip, I’ve copy/pasted the relevant text here: Read the rest of this entry »
Dorothy of Oz, an animated sequel to The Wizard of Oz, is coming soon to a theater near you. True, an Oz-sequel has already been done, 1985’s Return to Oz. It was quirky, it had spunk…and it fell just a *little bit short* of being good. But! Dorothy of Oz looks promising.
So what’s the story about, and why does it have potential? Read the rest of this entry »
My mother is pretty much the most awesome human being ever. The worst thing about living in Việt Nam is being away from her. I keep coming back to one especially fond – and recent – memory of the two of us together.
It was during the last winter vacation I had, in December 2009. I was busy being super lazy; I was supposed to be researching for my thesis, but I’d had enough of obscure Finnish poems. So I hunkered down with a quilt and watched *the entirety* of the SyFy channel’s Merlin Series 1 marathon. That’s about ten straight hours of Merlin. My mom watched it with me, and we laughed a lot about how Merlin looks like a scared deer.
Ah, Merlin. He is forever being too clumsy to live. He goes about banging into brooms, dropping vials of Important Potions, and stuttering every time he’s caught doing something Sneakily Magical. Happens every episode. I should know, I watched them all in a giant chunk. And when do you do something like that, patterns stick out to you. This sort of clumsiness doesn’t just happen in Merlin, it happens in *so many fantasy adaptations.* Why? Read the rest of this entry »
So, this was actually announced back in April, but it was announced so quietly that I missed it. That, and I was eyeballs-deep in a giant pile of thesis papers at the time. But you heard it here first (sort of): There will be another Wicked Years book, and it will be the last in the series.
The book apparently opens with Glinda under house arrest. Well that, at least, is good! I was wondering where Glinda was in “A Lion Among Men.” I hated that book. Maguire can do so much better. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and I will definitely read the book whenever it comes out.
Find out what I hope happens in the book, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
My hatred for Taylor Swift is the stuff of legend. I kid you not. Ask anyone I went to college with. Taylor Swift’s songs – especially “Fifteen” – contain views of gender roles that troglodytes would be proud of. But that is neither here nor there. Today I will be aloof, dignified, scholarly, and talk about Taylor Swift, Jane Austen, and the Iliad. An odd combo, but that’s what’ll make it fun. We’ll start with Taylor; the specific song that I want to analyze is “Love Story,” from her album “Fearless.”
The most terrible thing about this song is that I absolutely love it. I’ll come back to that in a minute. First of all, I want to note the things which the movie – both explicitly and implicitly – makes reference to:
Fairy Tales. This is an implicit reference; however, we do have Taylor Swift standing on a balcony in a tower. (Rapunzel anyone?) The song’s title, “Love Story,” is also a gesture towards the fairy-tale genre, as is its opening line, “We were both young when I first saw you.
Romeo and Juliet. The classic love story, no? Swift is Juliet, Dashing Man With Very Styled Hair (I’ll call him DMV) is Romeo.
The Scarlet Letter. Not a good idea on Swift’s part. The line: “Cause you were Romeo, I was a Scarlet Letter, and my Daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet.'”
Jane Austen. Here I am not talking about any particular Jane Austen book, movie, or other adaptation, but rather the sort of romantic “brand” that Regency England has become, and which is often talked about under Jane Austen’s name. This sort of Jane Austen has several things: waistcoats, lovely dresses, women with diamonds and/or gold in their up-dos, country dances of the like shown in Swift’s music video. In fact, that dance is basically just a flashier, more polished, less witty version of the dance between Darcy and Elizabeth from the 2005 film (which in turn was a flashier, more polished, less witty version of the same dance from the 1995 mini-series). You’ll find the video after the jump: Read the rest of this entry »
Because I live under a rock (this rock is called Ho Chi Minh City and it is very far away from Hollywood), I had no idea that a film version of Little Red Riding Hood is in the works. It’s called “Red Riding Hood” and it stars Amanda Seyfried.
Blog Reader: Great! Can’t wait!
Dae: Fiend, stay your excitement! I have *most sobering news.*
Blog Reader: Oh no! Whatever could it be?
Dae: Catherine Hardwicke is the director.
Yep. Twilight‘s director. So it should come as no surprise that the Wolf in this movie has been re-imagined as… a werewolf.
But wait! There’s more! Read the rest of this entry »