Monthly Archives: June 2010

Anime Expo 2010, part 1

Anime Expo 2010, part 1

Some preliminary thoughts:

I love anime. I’ve loved anime since the time I surfed past an episode of Sailor Moon (the first season) on Toonami and then went back because I just couldn’t believe a guy (with long, wavy dark brown hair) would go to an (apparently abandoned) church and talk to the… galaxy/universe… which was represented by stars and solar systems inside the church. (I’m not even joking, either.) Yeeeeah. I flipped past it thinking, “Uh, what? Weeeeeird.” And then I went back anyway because it was just too strange not to watch.

I’ve watched hours and hours of anime. I was the Anime Club president for two years at my alma mater and helped found Diplocon, an anime and gaming convention in the city where my undergrad is located. In high school, I went to Anime Expo religiously since the year I found out about it. I’ve cosplayed and written fanfiction based on anime and certainly read a ton of anime-based fanfiction.

I’ve had long, drawn-out conversations about the benefits and weaknesses of one character’s powers against another character’s, which anime is best suited for a new watcher, where someone can get the best yaoi, and the complete mindfuck that is End of Eva. I follow numerous episodic blogs, ANN, and other animerelated websites… I have an anime/manga category on this site for a reason, after all.

Right, so all this is to say: I love anime, and I have a history that proves this. Now to get to the point of this post.

And that is: I’m not super-enthused about going to Anime Expo 2010. I’m just admitting it right now so as to get past the “OMG are you really a diehard fan if you don’t want to attend AX?” Well, the answer is: if you think that attending all four days of Anime Expo does a diehard make, then no, I’m not one. But if you think a diehard is someone who loves anime and never gets tired of it and annoys other people with her obsession with it, then yes, I definitely am one.

That said, I’m still going for Friday and Saturday (admittedly, the two most popular days to attend). Expo has the Exhibit Hall, the mecca of all the anime/manga crap you could possibly want, old or new, original or fan-made, DVD or keychain. It has screening rooms, a manga library, panels, workshops, Cosplay Chess for crying out loud; what anime fan, in all honesty, wouldn’t want to go to at least some of that? (If there is one, I don’t know about him or her, that’s for sure.) It’s anime 24 hours a day for 4 days straight. It’s like the ultimate, giant All-Night Anime.

I’m going to take pictures (and post a few here, in part 2, after the con), buy stuff (if I can find my debit card), and bask in the anime geek glory that is AX.

Gotta get my nerd on.

The Past Week via Twitter: 2010-06-27

  • off to schoooooooool for claaaaaaaaaass. #
  • first day of class wasn't so bad. not really what I expected, but not bad. #
  • gotta get to class earlier tomorrow than I did today; I was 15 minutes late. also, so I don't forget: Postcrossing, Joan's letter, Starbucks #
  • hells yeah today is a good day. #
  • I got a joooooooob today. Go me. #
  • @animeexpo yay! I subscribed so I won't miss a thing. in reply to animeexpo #
  • omg hahahaha died laughing #
  • okay, I need to write an English or Italian sonnet or a villanelle in iambic pentameter. any suggestions? #
  • omg I just wrote THE worst villanelle ever. I'm not joking. #
  • work on villanelle = fail. Joan's send off = win, and by "win" I actually mean "fail" because we're losing the best Minister of Music ever. #
  • Now off to a new adventure tomorrow: class, then first day of work. Have to wear black on black! I'll let you know how it goes. #

Letter to Joan

Praise the Lord in the holy place;
Praise him in the firmament.
Praise the Lord for his mighty acts;
Praise him for his excellence.

Those are the first four lines of a song from “Cool in the Furnace”, a children’s musical that Joan directed in 1995. (If you don’t know the story, you can find it the first three chapters of Daniel.) In the musical, I played Abednego, one of Daniel’s three friends who are literally thrown into a furnace that’s been heated seven times hotter than normal for refusing to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol. I had one speaking line, which was “NO! We will not worship your idol” right before Shadrach, Meshach, and I were thrown into the fire. I’ll let you read about the story in the Bible to find out what happens.

“Cool in the Furnace” helped instill in me more than just a love of Converse shoes. In Children’s Choir, I learned to love music. Since you offered your resignation, I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something to say Joanto you that portrays accurately what you’ve given me since I was a little kid. There are two things I like about myself for sure, no matter what the circumstances are. The first is writing, and I hope this letter does my skill justice. The second is singing. And I realized something recently: Joan, you taught me that.

I have the apparently unique experience of having sung in Children’s Choir, Miriam Singers, and Adult Choir here at this church. In each experience, you managed to combine teaching, music, and actually having fun. You’re hands down the best choir director I’ve ever had, and I’ve had several. And you did all that learning, singing stuff without losing sight of the ultimate goal: to praise God. That’s amazing to me. While in choir with you, I learned to breathe from my diaphragm, stagger breathing, alto and soprano parts, how to pronounce words while singing, and to enunciate. I learned that it was okay to make a mistake as long as I was working hard and striving. And through all the rehearsals and dress rehearsals, restarts, run-throughs, and “one more time”s, you never forgot the entire point, which was, and is, God.

Joan, your serious commitment to so many children and adults week after week can’t have been an easy job. Thank you for loving the people under your direction, especially me, and bringing us to God through music. I feel closer to God when I’m singing than any other time, and you taught me that.

[NOTE: The Minister of Music at the church where I grew up resigned from her position this Spring, effective today, 27 June 2010. We had an evening service for her to wish her well in her future endeavors, where I read this letter to her in front of the congregation.]

Saturday Afternoon Poetry

Saturday Afternoon Poetry

Pasadena Public Library, Santa Clarita Branch
Saturday Afternoon Poetry
26 June 2010, 3-5 PM

On Saturday, I attended an afternoon reading the Santa Clarita Branch of the Pasadena Public Library, located on East Washington Blvd. off Lake Ave. in Pasadena. I arrived a little bit late, but luckily they also started late, so I didn’t miss anything and didn’t even interrupt the introductions. The reading was given in a back room of the library, and if I hadn’t asked where to go, I wouldn’t have been able to find it because the door to the room looked like it was meant for librarians only (and perhaps it was, once). At the front of the room, there was a long folding table that had various collections and chapbooks from the featured readers for sale on it. Fours rows of six chairs each were set up facing the table, with the chairs split down the middle for an aisle. Though Poetry Flash only mentioned three featured readers, there were actually four.

It seemed like it was a group of regulars who all knew one another (and had heard some of the poets before) because there was little in the way of introductions. There was also an open mic, the readers of which signed up ahead of time and were interspersed between the featured readers. There were two open mic readers, who each read for five minutes or less, and then a featured reader, who read for around fifteen minutes. Then, two more open mic readers and a featured reader, and so on. I didn’t take many notes on the open mic readers since I wasn’t attending the reading for them, and they seemed to have less of a stage Poetbrokerpresence than the featured readers anyway. I don’t know if that’s because they [1] read fewer of their poems (as opposed to the featured readers), or [2] had less time to get going, or [3] rarely raised their heads from the page (so frustrating! It was like they were giving reports instead of reading poetry!), but there you go.

The first two open mic readers were Rich Lufta (I’m not sure of the spelling), who read three poems, and Rafael F.J. Alvarado, who read one. The first featured poet was introduced as “Poetbroker” (left) and he never gave his real name, so I guess an alias is just fine for him. He explained that he is a real estate broker who writes poetry about real estate and has therefore taken on his moniker. He didn’t give any titles to any of the poems he read, so I wrote down the first lines of each, including “When a poet was heard to say” and “Developers are tinkering with a tinsel town tool kit”. He was an engaging reader, but his choice of topics was completely uninteresting to me, so I found most of his poems to be, basically, forgettable.

Poetbroker had a tendency to explain each poem before he read it and interrupted himself at least once midway through a poem to explain something he didn’t think we understood. (Or maybe that interruption was part of the poem? It didn’t sound like it, but it’s possible.) One interesting one that he did name was “Ezra and Ezri”, which was named after Ezra Pound and Ezri Namvar, a man who is considered by many to be the West Coast’s Bernie Madoff. Lucia GallowayHis last poem, which began with “Terrence O’Connor was a kid that wasn’t afraid to make trouble”, was also memorable (to me) because he mentioned the Far Rockaway Local, which is part of the A Line that makes local stops in the New York City subway system. He has a chapbook published called Jaded Deco.

Following Poetbroker were two more open mic readers: Jerry Garcia (no, not the Jerry Garcia), who read two poems, and CaLokie, who read four poems, including a sonnet and a call-and-response, “Oklahoma Stomp Dance“. “Ghost Ships”, his third poem, had (a) good line(s): “Weeping Cherokee woman walking in front of Anglo-Saxon soldier on horse could have been my ancestor. The soldier, too.” The second featured reader was Lucia Galloway (right). She read seven poems from her collection, Venus and Other Losses. One interesting line from “Winter Tales” was “small rat he was to trail a tail so long”. The title poem, “Venus and Other Losses” was in seven parts, one part of which had the line(s): “Last night I dreamed my infant daughter had been thrown into a barrel and I, armless, could not save her.” It included poignant imagery of arms and hands and mentioned the Venus de Milo along with other references to ancient Greek mythology and architecture.

Galloway also read “The Comtesse d’Houssonville with Nature Morte”, about a painting of the same name. Another poem she read, “Jane Carlyle Laments”, is a persona poem in the voice of Thomas Carlyle’s wife. (Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian, and teacher who lived in the 19th Century.) “Instructions for the Lucialet” was an ars poetica for a made-up poetic form that the poet named after herself. Galloway’s last poem was interactive, with members from the audience reading parts of “Urban(e) Pianos”; Mikel WeisserI read the third and fourth stanzas, which were coupled together because of enjambment.

Two more open mic readers followed Galloway; Judith Terzi, first, read two poems, including an anagram sonnet. She has a collection out called The Road to Oxnard. Michelle Angelini went second and read three poems, including one called “A Metamorphic Weariness”, which alluded to The Wizard of Oz by mentioning Dorothy in a field of poppies. The third featured poet was Mikel Weisser (twitter) (left), whose most recent chapbook is Leaving the Empire. Like the last featured poet, he also read seven poems, including “Another ‘P’ Word” (a prose poem about plumbing at a friend’s house), “Reach” (a slam poem), “Here’s What You Do”, and “Careful, my hair is here to be dangerous”. Weisser had a very good stage presence and his work was more interesting than the first featured poet, Poetbroker.

In “For My Late Wife”, Weisser wrote about his wife’s six suicide attempts and her seventh success (if you could call it that): “Seven times we went down that road and the seventh time I came back alone.” Another poem about aging poets, especially one woman who had to drag her oxygen behind her when she stood up to give a reading, was called “The Good Grey Poets”. It had quite a few similes and ended with “a few more measured breaths, a few per minute, a few minutes more… or less”. His last poem, “Someday”, was about possibly coming across a Great Poem (so great that it can even cure cancer) written by someone completely unexceptional. It ended retrospectively: “and when that moment comes, I hope I don’t recoil. I pray I’m listening.”

The last two open mic readers were interesting for different reasons. The first of the two was Neva Wallace (on left in photo), who read two poems. The first was “The battle rampaged throughout the year”, a sonnet about man’s struggle against man that had a quirky twist ending. Her second poem, “Tribulations”, was much longer and more enthralling than most of the poems previously read by the other poets. Her two-poem reading made me wish that she was a featured poet instead of one of the other, lesser choices. (Actually, I think that she was a featured reader at Saturday Afternoon Poetry in April or May this year.) The other open mic reader was Don “Kingfisher” Campbell. He read three poems from two of his collections, Campbell’s Classics and Amongst the Detritus. He was interesting because he was also the afternoon’s emcee. Heather Derr-SmithHe had commented on various other poems all the way through and then he read, too. His last poem was printed out on a broadside for some inexplicable reason.

The last featured reader was Heather Derr-Smith (right), who flew in from Iowa (specifically for this reading? I’m not sure; she might be touring) and who has spent a lot of time in Damascus, the subject of her second collection, The Bride Minaret. “It’s about exile and identity in the Middle East,” she said. Derr-Smith was an engaging reader and is a poet with a few memorable lines, but by the time she got up to read, I was pretty much poetry-ed out for the day. The poem called “The Girl Named Tents” was the most impressive of the ones she read, about a girl born into a (refugee?) camp in the Middle East. One line about why she was named Tents says, “She was supposed be a boy, as all girls are.” Derr-Smith also read “Witchcraft in Twin Springs” about her brother heading out of the suburb where they grew up with their mother to meet up with some 30-ear-olds practicing magic in the woods. “The Pelican” was a story in poetic form that her father had told her after she was able to reconnect with him as an adult. (The last time she saw him before finding him again was when she was five. Shortly thereafter, he “went missing” and lived in Mexico for a long time.)

I still would’ve liked to have the poems in front of me while they were read so that [1] I’d know each poem’s title, various spellings, and line breaks, [2] I’d be able to follow along more easily and not get lost in what felt like buzzwords (especially in the case of Poetbroker), and [3] I’d have a flavor of each poet’s work on which to base my assumptions. It’s probably a completely different experience when an audience member is already a fan of a poet’s work and then decides to attend a reading where that poet is speaking. Presumably, that audience member would already know the work and possibly more about the life of the poet than I did today.

“In Between” lyrics

SONG: In Between
BY: Linkin Park

Let me apologize to begin with
Let me apologize for what I’m about to say
But trying to be genuine was harder than it seemed
And somehow I got caught up in between

Let me apologize to begin with
Let me apologize for what I’m about to say
But trying to be someone else was harder than it seemed
And somehow I got caught up in between

Between my pride and my promise
Between my lies and how the truth gets in the way
And things I want to say to you get lost before they come
The only thing that’s worse than one is none

Let me apologize to begin with
Let me apologize for what I’m about to say
But trying to regain your trust was harder than it seemed
And somehow I got caught up in between

Between my pride and my promise
Between my lies and how the truth gets in the way
The things I want to say to you get lost before they come
The only thing that’s worse than one is none (x2)

And I cannot explain to you
And anything I say or do or plan
Fear is not afraid of you
But guilt’s a language you can understand
I cannot explain to you
And anything I say or do
I hope the actions speak the words they can

For my pride and my promise
For my lies and how the truth gets in the way
The things I want to say to you get lost before they come
The only thing that’s worse than one is

Pride and my promise
Between my lies and how the truth gets in the way
The things I want to say to you get lost before they come
The only thing that’s worse than one is none (x3)

Day Three hundred nineteen

Day Three hundred nineteen

01 Landed a job after some serious legwork. Hells yeah.
02 The job thing gets two spots because it’s that awesome.
03 Was NOT late to class today! Whew, dodged a bullet on that one.
04 Working on Joan’s letter; things are coming together. More soon.
05 Every time I hear “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” arranged by Z. Randall Stroope, I get all teary-eyed.