Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hard-Core Journalism?

Today I braved the cold, drenching rain to cover a student protest on the college campus. In spite of the weather, about thirty two students arrived and I recorded some wonderful interviews with students and administration alike.
As soon as the students dispersed to classes and dry shelter, I ran back to the newsroom and possibly beat my record for quickest assembled article.
I feel like a lot of what we do at the college paper, as well as on blogs is just recycling stories that other people have already written. Maybe getting a new perspective or doing extra research, but it's still a lot of sitting in front of a computer. It's not often we get to break something completely fresh and I love it when we do. That's the grass roots, "hard-core" journalism students dream of. Imagining, as Tom Stoppard put it "lying on the floor of an African airport while machine-gun bullets zoomed over my typewriter."
Though not quite to that level, or even to the level protests from my parents' day reached- the tear gas of the Vietnam era- it still felt good to be reporting something live. Whether the protest had the effect the students wished remains to be seen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Morning Drive

After a small family Masterpiece Theatre Party at my dad's last night, I crashed in my old bedroom at his house. The mattress was more uncomfortable than I remembered and in the middle of the night I found myself sitting out on his balcony trying to keep my candles from blowing out. My breath came in clouds and I could hear oceans of water pouring through the rain gutters. But I couldn't sleep.
This morning I woke up and the house was empty except for me. I hadn't slept there in an age and it was strange. I would have loved to stay there and wander around the little town all day, but I had to behave as a responsible adult and come home, there are a million things to do.
The drive was beautiful though. Bits of color are starting to burst out from the naked winter branches and a light fog hung over everything like a canopy. I felt like I was in I Capture the Castle, it always seemed to be raining in that book- a damp but lovely English countryside. It was all very serene. I normally don't like driving on back country roads, they make me nervous, but I didn't mind it at all today.
And in case you were wondering: Sharpe's Challenge was quite good, and Sean Bean was hunky as usual. Cornwell is one of my father's favorite authors and he loved it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Creative Writing Blues

Sometimes I wonder if being a novelist is actually within my grasp, if creative writing is actually my "thing." When I was going to drama school I thought I wanted to live my life in the theatre, to direct and act. Then I re-evaluated that and decided to study English. I'm wondering if that might be a mistake. I still don't know exactly what I want to do with my life.
I'm really developing an affection for journalism, but I want to write stories. I guess I'm just a bit down because I didn't do as well on my Hamlet paper as I had hoped and my short story didn't win the campus writing contest (I really could have used that $75 prize too). I have to ask, what if I'm not that good at the thing I think I'm best at- if my best isn't that great? Where would that leave me?
Hopefully Screnzy will cheer me up, I haven't written a script in a while, but I like the feel of it. Maybe that's my thing. Maybe once I start eating and sleeping regularly again I'll feel better. I'm glad tomorrow's Friday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Summer Reading Lists

It's never too early to start making your summer reading lists! By June, my list is usually so ambitious I never manage to get more than halfway through it. Here's what I've accumulated so far:
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Possession by A. Byatt
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
The Sun Also Rises by Earnest Hemmingway
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
as much of "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as possible
Villete by Charlotte Bronte
My Antonia by Willa Cather
As I Lay Dying by William Faukner

That's already a pretty fair list, and I should probably stop while it's still do-able, but I'm sure it will still grow. Most of the list represents friends and proffessors. Everyone keeps saying "Oh, you would love this book I just read..." and I dutifully add it to the list.
Most pleasure reading will temporarily stop the end of next week. I will be Script Frenzying.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sonnet Sunday: Millay

A sonnet about love and nature with notes of spring especially by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I for one am delighted by the sun's sudden return.
Sonnet III
Mindful of you the sodden earth in spring,
And all the flowers that in the springtime grow,
And dusty roads, and thistles, and the slow
Rising of the round moon, all throats that sing
The summer through, and each departing wing,
And all the nests that the bared branches show,
And all winds that in any weather blow,
And all the storms that the four seasons bring.

You go no more on your exultant feet
Up paths that only mist and morning knew,
Or watch the wind, or listen to the beat
Of a bird’s wings too high in air to view,—
But you were something more than young and sweet
And fair,—and the long year remembers you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


A brilliant woman directed me to the poem "Oatmeal" by Galway Kinnell. It's about a man who lives alone and imagines himself eating oatmeal with John Keats to keep from eating alone. It's very funny and slightly tinged with irony.
Haven't you imagined conversations with writers or philosophers during an idle hour? (Tell me I'm not alone here...) Check it out, it may inspire you to read more of Kinnell or even refresh yourself on Keats.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 3: College Media Conference

On the final morning of the conference I caught a session entitled "Weird Careers in Journalism," though not as weird as I had hoped. We did recieve some very sound resume advice and great ideas to consider when looking for employment.
The day's keynote speech was delivered by Mark Halperin, author of Game Change. He advised us to tell interesting stories in our journalistic reports to make people stay interested in the news. His extensive background in interview led him to compile a basic set of rules to keep in mind when using quotations or doing longer interviews.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to ask the speaker questions was abused by a student present. The student hijacked the conversation and began a speech they had written out before hand that had nothing to do with Halperin's book or discussion. Though this student may have been passionate, they chose the wrong method to get their opinions across appearing disrespectful to the bewildered speaker and counter-acting any trust she might have built in her cause. The microphone was shut off and she left the conference room leaving behind a stack of petition pages in spite of the fact that there was a collection of signatures on some of them. As she left, she yelled something about us all being "inducted," I'm still not sure what to.
Other than the farce like incident during the final keynote, the conference ended on a good note and left me feeling energized about my own journalistic aspirations. I do feel I need to read more newspapers and magazines and I need to invest in a good tape recorder.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 2: College Media Conference

Monday was the only full day of the convention and it was packed with exciting and informative sessions. My morning started with a session led by an editor at The Paris Review, one of the most respected and long standing literary journals in the country. They were apparently innovators of the long form interview and I made a note of the fact that they actually accept and read unsolicited manuscripts.
The Keynote speaker Monday was Terry Moran of "Nightline". Apparently Wikipedia lies about him, he did not appear in The Heartbreak Kid, his nieces and nephews posted that as a joke. Though Moran told light hearted tales of being called Terry "Moron" in a press conference and making his famous blunder on Twitter, the most poignant was the story of his experiences in Nicaragua. He challenged the young journalists to avoid the sea of noise that engulfs the media today; to resist the temptation of "the shouters, posers, mountebanks," and seek out facts about what the world is really like. I recorded part of his speech, it was probably my favorite session of the whole conference.
After that I heard Lauren Collins, a staff writer at The New Yorker who previously worked at Vogue. In the afternoon I went to hear Toni Albertson and Elena Jarvis, two music journalists that have written for Rolling Stone and a variety of other major publications, even having what sounds like Almost Famous comparable experiences back in the 80's. They offered great interview tips and educated us about intellectual property.
Though I did see some of the conference on Sunday, today really felt like the meat of everything was reached. The offerings were very colorful and the speakers more experience professionals that have been living in the journalism/media world for years.
After the sessions, some friends and I took advantage of the remaining daylight and took the subway downtown where we wandered around Soho for a while. Later, we met a friend of a friend attending Columbia University and picked up some amazing cheesecake for dessert. I'll post about the final day of the conference (today) tomorrow night. Tonight, I actually have to work on some articles for the paper.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 1: College Media Conference

I'm sitting in a hotel in Times Square after the first day of the College Media Conference. The Key Note speech of the day was delivered by Brian Stelter of the New York Times, a 24 year old journalist that started out as a media blogger. He was of the youngest people at the Times, living the dream of basically every student at the conferance- hired straightout of college to one of the most prestigious newspapers in existence.
After a few sessions, some of us went on an adventure and got some Thai food for dinner. I'm excited for tomorrow's session and another adventure in New York City. Not only is it a conference about college newspapers, but radio, television, and yearbooks as well. Some students are very job-hunting aggressive at these conferences, but I'm not at that point yet, mostly those that are graduating this spring are being proactive about this. So, I have some time before I start arriving here with my resume and portfolio.
More updates Tuesday.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Script Frenzy Approaches!

Everything on the Frenzy website has been reset for the new season of writing adventures. There aren't as many participants as in NaNo, so the boards don't appear to be as ridiculously active. However, there is the Plot Device Machine on the home page that produces wonderful "plots" such as these I collected over the past few months:
During a summer lightning storm -a Parisian fishmonger -invents the cure for a broken heart
After a harsh break-up -a hot-headed public defender -finds and rears abandoned adult triplets
Dressed like Liberace -a talking lobster -wreaks Godzilla-style havoc
After reading a coworker's email -a toddler with a smoking problem -must kill the president to save the country
After eating some bad cheese -a talking lobster-receives dating advice from the afterlife

If these aren't inspirational ideas... check your pulse please. It's a very good procrastination tool at any rate.
My current plot would break down to: In a world where no one cares about theatre any more- a group of broke students- try to produce artistic integrity from themselves and the possibly clinically insane. I'm excited about it, though it may seem a bit lame. I've been reading back over journals I kept at drama school and backstage during plays, writing down truly bizarre incidents friends have told me about, etc. I want to capture the chaotic energy and stress of creating theatre as well as the inexplicable way things sometimes come together, the story-telling and bonding, randomness and tantrums. Overall, what makes working in the theatre and going to the theatre an experience unlike any other. Hmm... this may be harder than I thought.
Also, last night I broke the 'O' key off my laptop. I can still use it, I just have to press the little pad where the key used to be. It still made me sad, I've kept this machine pretty pristine for almost a year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

I finally saw this movie on Monday (finally!). When I was a little girl, I loved the book very much and I think the film makers wanted to make a film, not just for children reading the book now, but the past two or three generations of children that loved it growing up.
Of course, the story is greatly expanded and dramatized, but I don't think they do anything out of line. It sticks with the themes from the original book and shows Max seeing his own flaws reflected in some of the creatures and growing as a person through this experience.
The Creatures were all fantastic,combing costumed actors with animatronics and CGI. Jim Henson's Creature Shop made the costumes. The soundtrack was also really impressive, not just background music, but actually sometimes combining sounds of almost ferral screaming.
There's not much I can say about the film as a critic. It gave me a feeling of reminiscent sadness that was very pleasant, if that makes any sense. I did love that it opens with a scene of Max chasing the dog with a fork just like the in the book.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2010 Reading Challenge Neglect

So far I only have 2/5 for my Bronte reading and watching challenge, 2/6 for my What's in a Name? challenge. Next month I will (gleefully) be moving into Script Frenzy month, so I really should get some of my reading done before that insanity begins.
Here's the problem: I have been accumulating a very extensive TBR shelf, so large that I'm a little scared of it. There also have been so many other things to read and do cropping up. Work on the newspaper has been very time consuming, I always end up doing about 3 articles per week as well as all the reading and writing for the classes I'm taking. Fortunately, one of the novels for my literature class fits one of the categories for What's in a Name? Since I won't be taking any classes for the next week (spring break on the campus) I will have more spare time and I've accumulated a small stack of books to get through. Of course friends and family keep popping up with other ways for me to spend my extra time. I really don't want to completely isolate myself from everyone but the employees at the local library, and sometimes you have to live a life worth writing about (or at least meet people who are).

Sonnet Sunday: Rossetti 2

I thought I would post my Sonnet Sunday entry a day early, I'll be very busy tomorrow and am afraid I'll forget. I've been reading more Christina Rossetti lately, so I thought I'd post another of her sonnets. This one is not about romantic love/torment as many sonnets are, but rather about love between a mother and child:
Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart's quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.

Friday, March 5, 2010

On the Tube Update

Sorry for the neglect, my attention has been fixed on Hamlet and handbags all week and I highly suggest browsing Etsy as a procrastination technique.
The 39 Steps on Sunday night was delightful, Rupert Penry Jones seemed a very comfortable fit for the role, more so than his turn as Captain Wentworth in Persusion few years back.
On the 28th Masterpiece comes back with two new Sharpe adventures, I must call up my father, he'll be very pleased having read all the books.
Of course, the big news is....Series 5 of Doctor Who premieres on BBC America April 17th. Once again proving that there is no reason why the US must wait almost a year to get most series from the UK. The new teaser is up for viewing on BBCA's site, but I must warn you, it made me sort of nervous for the next season. Stick to the trailer in my opinion, the teaser is very bizarre and stilted.