Thursday, July 31, 2008

rhet/comp ink

In the context of a larger conversation on the (re)branding of Rhetoric and Composition (or are we simply talking FYC? it's been unclear), Alex Reid shares an insightful post about massively advancing technological speed and the ways in which conventional FYC and R/C are headed for a sort of tragic scenario, that is, unless and until we haul ourselves out of steerage:

When we talk about branding rhetoric and composition, it's interesting. It is maybe like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. If we are to talk seriously about the future of the discipline it will lie in a near future for which few of us have even the most modest preparation. We comfort ourselves with the thought that colleges and universities are far too incompetent and conservative to change that quickly. It's like the joke where you don't need to outrun the bear, just your friends. Well, we can likely outrun our disciplinary "friends." But maybe that won't be sufficient.

Imagine the interactive, rich media experience I can send to you at 17 DVDs per second. Well not me, but someone. Or more likely a whole production company of someones. These technologies point to a world where course materials will have serious production values as well as extensive real time interactive possibilities. And of course it will be many-to-many where students could upload hours of high-definition raw video footage (as well as other storage-intensive data). Students will be able to collaborate in real time over the web to edit information on a global scale for any number of rhetorical purposes.

And yet, in a few weeks, tens of thousands of FYC instructors will be assigning 500-word, individually-authored, text-only compositions. Those students, btw, will be graduating into this world I'm describing. We have already failed them.

If you really want to brand rhet/comp, it can't be "ink" [only] any more.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

adventures of power

we saw Adventures of Power (filmed in Utah) at a volunteer screening the night before the 2008 Sundance Film Festival began (it's a traditional vol perk). as i was waiting in the hall w/ Mike and talking to the Park City Library Theater Manager about the upcoming film, I said, "I'm not at all into air drumming [the subject of the fictional feature] or metal [the subject of the 2nd feature doc], but Mike dragged me along . . ." just as Ari Gold (the film's writer/director/lead actor) walked by, looking very calm and unaffected, as if to radiate, "why, yes. i did hear that." as it turned out, i enjoyed the film and gushed to Gold afterward, feeling apologetic and small and reminded of the fact i did not have a film screening in the festival.

note: it does seem true that festival films often screen better at festivals (the audience desire for the film's success is something you can feel in/through the body), so i don't know if it will play quite as well outside of that context, but i thought i'd give a little nod. i liked it.

so for local Utahns, Adventures of Power will screen free at the Sundance Summer Film Series up at the Resort next Wednesday evening. usually, they start when it gets dark, but you may want to call to check (801.225.4107). and here's a trailer:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

media goodness

so much to look forward to. tonight's 2nd episode of Project Runway (Season 5). i'm still hoping, even after the lackluster premiere. and then, Sunday on AMC we have Season 2 of Mad Men, and if you are not watching, what. is wrong. with you? what? you didn't watch Season 1 and feel you need to catch up? watch.

and there's AMC's delightful motto, "the future of classic," which is simply fabulous.

and Californication (Season 1) DVDs are out (and on my list). i watched a few episodes with a friend who had tivo'd them, and we were hurting it was so funny/good.

simple pleasures. not so simple is that i apparently missed the Josh Whedon fun, Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. and missing out on even a little Nathan Fillion is just sad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

inspiration or plagiarism? (sigh)

see this nytimes slide show for comparions between contemporary ads and iconic art installations. the latter 2 are favorites of mine, including Spencer Tunick, and Fischli - Weiss. assuming you have never seen Fischli - Weiss' fabulous Der Lauf der Dinge or The Way Things Go, see the trailer, and then buy the dvd. it's worth it, in my humble art-appreciating opinion.

a tangent: it seems to me that the German title translates more accurately to "The Way Things Walk" or "The Walk of Things," and Free Translation Online has it as "He Run Him Bargains," (so i'm not sure i can trust them any longer). so but below is a clip, featuring at least some of the tire action many are associating with current Honda ads. notice the sound. d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

other associations: originally, i had wanted to use this Spencer Tunick image as the cover for the AMAZING! collection i did with Elizabeth Vander Lei. our series editor, Chuck Schuster ,was all over it. loved Tunick and what he did and believed that my conceptualization worked (a book exploring religious faith in composition classrooms and an image of nude human bodies, laying flat and forming a spiral toward the horizon of a Nevada desert. see? vulnerable?! searching! get it?! i joke, but i still think it's genius. w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r). as you might guess, we had to negotiate a different image. sigh. a forest. i mean, it's lovely, but ...

i even got a callback from Tunick after i'd left a message on his machine, requesting clearance. he very politely said that he didn't want to associate his work with a book on religion. sigh. "... but, it's not ... a book *about religion* exactly ...". too late.

so but anyhow here's Fischli - Weiss:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

maybe ...

it's true that the currently confusing state of academic life accommodates the focus-deprived individual, such as myself. traditionally, "successful" academics earned that title by writing (a) book(s). i struggle with that task. i'm still after it, but my film work keeps interrupting:

"um, say there,
excuse me, but wouldn't you rather...
(a beat)
make me??"

"why, yes, please!"

my upcoming fall sabbatical is about the book, but now that i've begun my new film project, i'm not sure how i'll get it all done. maybe the struggle will test my theory about writing as "subtractive" (ala Massumi) in light of the affective intensities of multimodal work such as filmmaking, and the book will just sort of emerge, given a halfway decent schedule, coffee, new-age mantras, and plenty of (sigh) "seat time." OR, i'll simply follow the voices in my head, respond to their direction, and eventually find myself in a new paradigm.

where is mario lopez?

so i'm reading the New York Times and see a link to a review of Mario Lopez' performance in A Chorus Line. now, i'm no big Mario Lopez fan (i'm not an anti-fan), but A Chorus Line was one of the first Broadway shows i saw. i was 15, on a trip with my family, back in the late 70's (breathe), and i was a pretty rabid fan. later, i sang "What I Did for Love" in my first highschool musical audition. i got a part in the chorus (ha), probably because while i cried and made other people cry, as well, i was not "peripatetic, poetic, and chic." so but back to Lopez: i figure, let's see what he's bringing to the show...

click. nothing. click again. nothing. the link is dead. search. 0 finds. search again. 0 finds. what?

is he that bad? is he that famous, so famous as to have the power to get the New York Times to yank a bad review? is he bringing so much to NYC that he is getting a pass? where is that review? where has it gone???

the worst thing is that i'm now searching furiously to find a review of Lopez in A Chorus Line . . . anywhere, anything . . . can't find it. all i can find are earlier notices announcing his addition to the cast (one narrative line has Lopez' casting as an attempt to boost summer sales).

if you, or anyone you know, have information on the whereabouts of a review of Mario Lopez in A Chorus Line, please leave your information in the comments form.

for now, even though it feels corny out of context, here's a little show tune. this the original cast (and the sound is pretty bad, so turn it down), the one i saw from the 5th row, center. i was dazzled, transfixed, vibing out with longing to perform and forming my disposition as a young wanabe. later, before heading back to the hotel, we stood in an alley. we didn't know why, but my Dad kept saying, "just wait." and "something very special is about to happen." we had. no. idea ... but soon, a door opened, and out came these fabulous people we'd fallen for so intensely and with what felt like such deep emotional sincerity. so we met some of the cast by the stage door. i was smitten with the whole performance vibe -- the smoking (smoking?! hey, who doesn't need a smoke after 2 hours of singing, dancing, and angsty good times?); the laughter; the danskins; the capezio dance shoes -- which I then bought and wore throughout the '80's; the makeup; the camaraderie ... the fans. so but anyhow ...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

project run(a)way

oboy. season 5 premiere of Project Runway off to a discouraging start. it seems the producers, salivating at the possibility of another Christian Siriano (regarding on-air personality and decidedly not thinking about actual talent, which Sirriano has -- see below), selected as a contestant the over-tanned, cluelessly neon-loving "Blayne." i predict/hope to see him gone next week and was surprised that he didn't get the axe last night. i mean, Jerry's slasher rain jacket was kooky, sure, but it was interesting and i liked the cut, the hooks, the use of the shower curtain hardware and the drape of the thing; even the kooky gloves and boots said something, something beyond "i don't know what this is," which is how Blayne's "piece" spoke to me.

Jerry's mistake came not so much in the execution of/or his design but in his presentation. he could have "made it work." when Heidi asked, "so where do we wear this?" (not quoting directly), Jerry said the ensemble's intended for "a night on the town" ... and oh, my ... how about, "it's runway spectacle," which would have been fine, easy-route tablecloth/showercurtain usage notwithstanding. but Blayne? look. "girliscious" is a stupid word, (really needing that extra syllable and the "ee" sound, as in "bootyliscious" or "fergieliscious") and your outfit looked as though you had crammed an actual human girl into a worn out tire and then placed a feminine protection product on her torso. gross. gross. i know (sorry, but that's my take).

but so here's Christian Siriano, talented and likeable:

i complain, but you know i'll stick with it. early prediction: Kelli maybe Kenley.

framing for convention

i notice as i look at the still of Christina Hendricks, in my earlier post (i'll just reproduce it, above) some curious troubling interesting (i can't find the right words) design moves at work.

i have been so delighted to see "actual women" on Mad Men (oops, this is not to say that superthin actresses are to be slighted, still ...) that i hadn't realized the extent to which the frame has been designed so that Ms. Hendricks is proporitioned in a way that approximates "smaller" or maybe "more linear." i mean, that's sort of okay, i suppose, for although i enjoy my curves, as many of us do, i want to look lovely in a picture, and, well, in filmic terms, lovely = at least a little bit thinner (regrettably, but there you go. and here, i have to note that this is the message Ms. Hendricks' character, Joan, keeps imparting to sad little Peggy). and we could say that it's simple rule of thirds-type design, but how this frame operates seems worth noting.

so but notice the elements, the downscaling effects of the multi-framed window in the background, the fan, which is very interesting in terms of how that shape operates to sort of parallel (counterbalance?) Ms. Hendricks' curves. and then, the frame is sort of rendered more vertical, more, um, "slender" with the inclusion of the shadowy left side of the frame.

i want to say that none of these design moves are necessary, but despite the celebration of a womanly silhouette, it's still a filmic image, and conventions are conventions. i could lament the equation, smaller = better, all day, but then, i recall that when i was making my short film remove to dispense, i wound up in a directorial dilemma when a shot of my own relatively large (by film standards) hand (which Mike calls "tiny") looked enormous, and i had a very petite-to-worrisomely thin girl put her delicate hand in the frame, instead. and it was, um, better. so. ??

p.s.: why, oh why, does Peggy have to get fat as a consequence of being smart? i get it, but it wish i didn't. i wish ... i don't know, there is something both right and very wrong about that plot move. also, that Don goes to Rachel after Sterling's coronary? weak. too bad. still, i'm hoping for more slobberingly fabulous spectation, later today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

hair set point

i recently read that, as with our weight, we possess "hair set points." that is, we routinely return to the same "do" that keeps us comfortable and associating with particular versions of ourselves (any sense of self is better than none; this might explain Billy Ray Cyrus).

i have an appointment for a haircut tomorrow. will i keep hanging w/ my set point? i'm thinking that a side part might shake things up, but is that too tame to enable me to claim that i've broken free? i mean, i'd basically switch from the sensible age-resistant middle part to a marilynesque bob for the wanabe. and is that so bad?

Monday, July 14, 2008

you are, of course, watching Mad Men?

and you've got to love the women, especially when we see what we awkwardly refer to as "real" or "curvy" women. i mean, the stripper in episode one? she has a tiny little "crease" that we see in a shot of her back ... such a startling and delightful surprise, that i was hooked then and there.

actually, these actresses are more like the women we are and know, but for film/video/image standards, we call them "curvy" or "big" or whatever (blah). and i realize that the show is going for a realistic vision of women in the late 50's-early 60's, so maybe there's nothing to discuss here. still. nice to see. fabulous show.

here is a major scene, featuring the show's radiant Christina Hendricks as Joan (office manager). Any actress (especially this "curvy" one, i.e., "me") would die to play this:

Friday, July 11, 2008

how many times . . .

can you run into Andrea Lunsford and/or Marvin Diogenes before you just break down and beg her/him to hire you at Stanford :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

calling for a center

in her plenary address at WPA this evening, Andrea Lunsford shared her concerns about rhetoric and composition/writing studies/writing and rhetoric studies (whatever), lamenting that it is so very fragmented that we are missing opportunities to evolve as a discipline ... evolve, at least partly in ways that move us beyond our associations with First Year Composition (which she sees as incredibly valuable but historically limiting and potentially contributing to said lack of a dense and substantial center, not to mention a contributing factor in interdepartmental -- lit/rhet-comp -- conflicts).

 Lunsford called for us to commit to planning and attending a National Summit at which we might begin to map the contours of a new, . . . "something." she grappled for the words and at one point sort of whispered that this blueprint for our "new" discipline would generate programs that we would refer to as "Super . . . something" (at Stanford, she says, they long for a "something" that they refer to as "Worldwide Domination," which their Program in Writing and Rhetoric seems, to me, to approach, and i say this out of pure, rabid envy). but so as for what we will call our "new" field and the programs that emerge from it -- she hadn't worked it out.

it was a provocative and engaging talk, but i left puzzled and, naturally, reflecting upon the sad state of affairs at my own institution regarding r/c's situation within the English department.

so but look for a call for that National Summit. it does sound super.

wpa, denver

why? i did not get reassigned a WPA position, so why am i here? well, it's always a good conference. such supportive colleagues. tonight, i'll hear what Andrea Lunsford has to say about "What's Next for Writing Programs -- and WPAs?" . . . which, um, given my sitch, i'm curious to hear. 

i'm giving my presentation on Saturday, sort of ranging around ethos, affect, program blogs and creepy treehouses. there's more to it, but i gotta go see Andrea now. 

wish you were here :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

shiny, new

on the day of the Big Opening Gala for the new Library (c. 2 wks ago), i wandered around, taking it in. funny, i didn't see many books, but i saw lots of cool, modern spaces in which to sit and chat with friends or whatever . . . some skylights that recalled Kubrick's way-station lounge in 2001. but the thing that moved me to fantodish tears was the little plaquard i found pasted to a bit of side molding on the groovy, curvilinear walls on the top (and most invitingly loung-y) floor. it read something like this:

notice the use of White Oak. you will find it throughout the Library, adding a touch of class.

(emphasis mine). and but ha. doesn't everyone know that designating something as "classy" negates its hope of rising to the demands of that descriptor? "classy" recalls for me a kind of rat-pack-wives' mentality, when the ladies sipped vodka gimlets, smoked as though they didn't know, and found themselves bored with the things that they had, bored with their feigned ignorance -- thus the spike in psychotherapy and valium and, happily, finally, "women's groups."

and this is reminding me to encourage you to watch AMC's Mad Men, which after 3 episodes on On Demand is still pretty good. fabulous nostalgia value, as when watching "Don," the lead Madison Avenue Ad Man who drinks beer all day while putting together his daughter's birthday playhouse. he gets at the beer by using an old-school triangular-tipped can opener and punches the can on opposite sides. magic.

i just noticed that my ramble took me from our shiny new Library's "classy" design to a show about Madison Ave. ad men and their slick rhetoric. what's wrong with me? that doesn't make any sense. maybe i need a valium, cause that's just crazy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

roll call

why do i list some blogs by their authors' name and others by the blog's title? i honestly cannot figure this out. when i go to change it, to make my "go here" section (@ right) uniform, i feel a physical discomfort that compels me to close the window and move away from whatever inclinations to revise brought me there. what is this about? and but so does it matter?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If on a winter's night a traveler

tumbles into the arms of a woman, reclining on a bed of purest down, luxuriating in the poetry of an Italian master; he entices her to enter his network of stories that enlace . . . she nears the end . . . discovers the final move -- a cheeky and surprisingly linear one-liner . . . this woman, blindsided, she didn't see it coming and feels foolishly naive.

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than an...