Being a list of 5 things

1. Kinderbard – Songs for Children Sung by Characters from Shakespeare
Kinderbard is an awesome project to create that uses Shakespeare and music to inspire and educate children.

“We want to bring into the world the first in a planned series of books, music, and interactive apps containing songs for children. Each song is ‘sung by’ a character from Shakespeare, and is true to the quotation spoken by that character, and on which the song is based. Many of our songs address issues with which children can identify, such as anxiety, sibling rivalry, even bullying. Some are just silly or funny. But they are all lovingly created, and professionally performed, produced, and mastered.” — quoted from here

If you watch the video on the kickstarter page, you can see the love that has gone into making all of this. Daeshin Kim is organizing the project, while his wife is creating the art and his young daughter is singing the songs. The project is in fact inspired by the challenges the daughter had to face when the family moved to Paris and how music and Shakespeare helped her adapt to a new language and culture.

The project only has a few days left to gain funding, so I’m trying to signal boost and get others to join in. It certainly helps that in every interaction that I’ve had with Daeshin, he has been generous and kind, so I hope, hope, hope that the funds for this project come together.

2. Rereading The Martian Chronicles
The Martian Chronicles is a collection of short stories that have been strung together into a novel, which presents earth’s colonization of Mars. The first expeditions meet with challenges from the Martian natives, who are an advanced race in their own right. In one such story, “The Earth Men,” the company lands hoping to receive acknowledgement and fanfare in this first interaction with an alien race, only to find the Martians to be bored and annoyed by their presence.

As the colonization continues and more and more humans come to Mars, we see new kinds of stories, stories of people reshaping a stranger world, of strange people finding peace in solitude away from the red tape of Earth, of people fighting back once Earth tries to bring it’s red tape to Mars. Some stories are better than others of course — and certainly, being written in the ’50s, there’s not much space for women who are little more than background — but on the whole they are stories with interesting characters, stories that analyze humanity and society by situating it on an alien world.

I actually picked up the book to reread just a few days before Ray Bradbury passed away, the coincidence of which added a new level of poignancy to the reading. I remember being immediately smitten with the book when I first read it in school. “There Will Come Soft Rains” remains one of my favorite shorts stories, and in rereading it again now, I’m still amazed by the way he spun the story and how it still both moves me and gives me chills. Really a fantastic book — just one piece of evidence showing how amazing Bradbury was, and I’m already looking forward to reading it again someday.

3. Snow White and the Huntsman and the fabulous witch
I was going to write a post all about how, while Snow White and the Huntsman was a flawed movie in many ways, Charlize Theron was gorgeous and wonderful, bringing a haunted, unhinged depth to Queen Ravena (that pretty much carried the movie), and how I really do love the queen in the Snow White stories in general, because Snow in her purity is rather boring, but Gemma Files (aka [info]handful_ofdust) already wrote about it in her fabulous column and said it so much better than I ever could.

The only thing she didn’t mention is Theron’s fantastic costumes throughout the movie. Her gowns were amazing, like this one with the amazing headpiece and bird’s skulls around the neckline or this one that’s made with dung beetle carapaces or this one that looks like chain mail. Gorgeous.

Photo 184. Speaking of fairy tales…
I was introduced to this story at PANK Magazine by Rachel Rodman, called “Experimental Breeds: Bears, Clothed In Rumpled Hoods, Pipe “Rapunzel” To The Sleeping Pigs,” which fractures multiple fairy tales and mashes them together. It blew my mind. I mean, literally I was left sitting in my chair, slack-jawed, and unable to think properly — mind-blown. Go read it.

5. Pants
Yesterday, I arrived at work, only to immediately rip a hole in the seat of my pants. It was NOT awesome and set a bad precedent for the day. However, that evening I went to the mall to replace the pants that ripped, and … I ended up buying myself a whole new outfit, pants, shirt, sweater.

Considering the fact that shopping can sometimes be a stressful and/or depressing event for me, finding a whole outfit that works perfect, makes me feel good, and that I love is a really great feeling.

Don’t I look cute! For joy. (^_^)

[Cross-posted to my livejournal.]

Review: Shock Value by Jason Zinoman

I’m a huge fan of horror movies and I love seeing behind the scenes of how movies are made, so it’s no surprise that I would totally dig Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror, by Jason Zinoman. The book presents a history of how filmmakers, such as Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, George Romero and others, took the old schlocky stories (Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.) to the next level, with stories that push the boundaries of politics and social commentary, as well as gore.

Zinoman didn’t go into deep analysis of the film (I’m sure there are plenty of other books that do), but explored the lives of the directors and writers that became known as auteurs in the industry (whether or not it was truth), revealing how they came to develop the movie that are now classics of horror. Keeping in mind that I did not live in the era and have not seen several of these movies (though I have heard and know about all of them), I can’t judge whether the author’s point of view accurately reflects the movies or the time in which they were made, but I can say that it worked for me. I was thoroughly fascinated and entertained, so much so that I plowed through the book in under two days. It was a great, fun read, and I now need to do a marathon and see all the movies that I have not seen.

The one flaw, for me at least as I have a deep love (read: obsession) of lists, is that the author did note compile of filmography of movies mentioned in the book. How else am I supposed to easily quantify which movies I have and have not seen?

So lacking a proper filmography, I skimmed through the book and made my own list of all the movies discussed or mentioned, and posted it on my blog.

The Hunger Games and Racism

So, I didn’t mention much about the other characters in The Hunger Games movies, but Amandla Stenberg as Rue was beautiful and charming (and exactly how I imagined the character to the letter) and Lenny Kravitz was fantastic at bringing depth to Cinna, Katniss’ stylist. They were wonderful, and as a whole the cast was great.

However, racist fans have come out of the wood work complaining about how deeply disappointed that Rue and Cinna are black. Not only that, and far more disturbing, the feel the movie was worse for it and that they cared less about Rue’s death because she wasn’t a little white girl.

I want to hurl things.

I can understand that everyone imagines characters differently, so that even though Suzanne Collins described Rue as having “dark brown skin and eyes,” maybe they imagined her as Asian or Latino or some other nationality, and yeah, maybe they read with a “white default” and saw her as just really tan. Either way, you’d thing that if someone read phrase “dark brown skin,” they could at the very leas understand that other people would imagine her as being black (which is what the author confirmed she intended anyway).

But, no, they are very disappointed, claiming that “Rue wasn’t black!” Never mind, all the white washing that occurs in movies ALL THE TIME (i.e. Airbender and Prince of Persia to name just two), which I’m sure these same people would be happy to excuse away as being “best for the movie” or the “best actor”. Gah!

Another good post: “Why is everyone so surprised that some of Collins’s fans are having indisputably racist reactions to her books?

Which ties into a recent discovery (for me) that producers allowed only white actresses to even audition for the part of Katniss. While I loved Jennifer Lawrance in the role, it makes me kinda sick that women of color weren’t even given a chance. (I wish I was surprised, but I’m sadly not.)

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder (which is still not resolved and in which people are tryng to blame Trayvon for being murdered in the same way rapists blame women for “asking for it”), this just reiterates shows again that there is prevalent racism still in the world. It’s a serious problem and it needs to be addressed — and not just by people of color, but all us white people (and that includes myself) who have ignored it, or let it slide in the past, because we were afraid or because we let ourselves pretend there wasn’t a problem because it wasn’t happening to us. Racism needs to be addressed and acknowledged, or it won’t ever go away.

Also, a rather amusing comic about Hollywood’s love of whitewashing and racebending.

Comments are welcome, but keep in mind that if you have to start your comment with “I’m not a racist, but…” then what you are about to say is probably going to be racist. (Think before you speak.)

In other news…
There’s a rather awesome project going on at kickstarter for Scherhezade’s Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-Dressing, and Transformation, an anthology that includes some rather great authors. It was originally going to be published by a traditional publisher, but that fell out, so the editor is planning to publish it anyway he can. (I had planned to submit a story to this anthology, but it grew out of proportion to the length of a novella and besides, I missed the deadline, but I LOVE the idea.) At any rate, it’s a good way to preorder the book, while helping make it come about.