Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Another Publication Forthcoming!

I have a piece in here on discovering medieval magic texts, like the Anglo-Saxon charms and the Leechbook.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Women and the Divine

Another conference acceptance: best of all, it's in England! It was about time I had an excuse to go back. The conference is Women and the Divine. It's sponsored by the Institute of Feminist Theory and Research, co-hosted by Liverpool University and Liverpool Hope University College, and features heavy hitters like Luce Irigaray. Wow! And they're looking for non-traditional presentations, so I am really excited (and terrified!). My mini-workshop is entitled "Casting the Circle: Ritual and The Body of the Goddess" and will be interactive. Now all I have to do is write it...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Sin City: Brutal

Robert Rodgriguez continues his outlaw ways and we all benefit. It seems cruel to say I enjoyed Sin City; it's a brutal film with no winners and a whole lot of losers, but that's part of the ride. You don't tend to look for heroes among hookers and hoods. Like the best movies, though, it's true to the source -- in this case, Frank Miller's cruel and unflinching ride through the underbelly of a vaguely noirish hell drawn in jagged black and white, punctuated elliptically with splashes of garish color when that world is ripped open with bullets or blades.

The gore and grimness are lightened only by the black humor; sometimes when it's coming down so heavy you gotta wear a hat, what can you do but laugh? Fleeting moments of recognizable "good" -- like Bruce Willis' grizzled cop struggling against the odds to save one innocent girl -- get ground under the relentless heel of this corrupt dead-end town. Everyone in Basin City is suspect, from the top to the bottom, and that's a bottom that seems to keep receding farther and farther into the murkiness. So you take sides, latch onto the merest glimmer of "right" whether it's the tough crook out for revenge on behalf of the hooker who was kind to him once, or the stripper who realizes the fragile power she's carved out among the worst of the worst is about to collapse.

Willis is good, Rourke (!), too. Owen -- yeah. Rosario Dawson -- awesome. Miller's own cameo is cool.

There are grisly (and inventive) beheadings, flying bullets, lots of pointy knives and the tawdriest behavior imaginable. Images that will float up to the top of your mind in the wee hours like bloated corpses quickly become the norm. It's a travelogue of the perverse and cruel, and not for everyone -- but artistry in blood, and black and white. Go, throw back a quick scotch first if you need it, but go.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Two (Very Different) Acceptances

Two bits of good news in my email box yesterday: first, the big academic coup -- an acceptance for a paper at MLA. The Modern Language Association holds the premier conference in literature and language studies (that's why all the job interviews are done there). An acceptance there is a ticket to the big leagues! Better yet, my paper on gendering the conversion narrative in medieval Iceland was selected for the one and only panel on Old Norse Literature at MLA. Tough competition, so I am thrilled to have been selected.

The other acceptance, while less prestigious, could be even more fun: The Witching Hour is a multifaceted conference that sprang up around the Harry Potter books. I'll be talking about real medieval magic but aiming it toward a more general audience, trying to convince them that medieval studies is as fun as the HP books. We'll see if I can pull that off! Better yet, it also features people like Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris, who are so wonderful and were so much fun at Mythic Journeys last June. Other guests so far include editor Ellen Datlow, writers Holly Black and Nancy Farmer. Best of all -- it will be held in Salem, MA in October. Ahhhhh. I can't wait!

Beantown Rendezvous

I always leap at the chance to return to Boston, so I ended up giving a paper at the NEMLA conference (on Clive Barker and queer theory) this past weekend. I was smiling before I got out of Logan because it felt like home, as always. Riding on the T--not the most exciting thing, I know, but I really miss public transportation. And changing to the red line at Park St, I went downstairs to find a busker playing "Brown Eyed Girl" and everybody singing along. Ah, Boston.

After getting settled into the hotel, I set out for Cambridge and Somerville. My main target was McIntyre and Moore, still the best bookstore in the greater Boston area. Some interesting finds: medieval theatre of cruelty, early percussion, and a collection of Carnival plays by Hans Sachs. Of course as good as the shopping is the eavesdropping on the way there--riding the T provides a lot of interesting and hilarious conversations. I forgot what it was like to be surrounded by BU students nattering on about dorm hijinks. I have not missed backwards baseball caps!

My CT pals arrived amidst the terrible downpour (that I later found out had flooded the house my brother lives in on the banks of the Hudson), soaked to the skin and a little cranky -- who could blame them. But I was so cheered to see them all that I couldn't let my spirits be dampened: The Queen of Everything and Johnny 10X, and the Boojums: Perilous Cheryl and the Joey Zone. A great lunch at India Quality in Kenmore and soon everybody was in a much better frame of mind. A stop by Nuggets helped too--even though, for once, I didn't actually buy anything. We headed out to Simmons, where Cheryl will be starting her MLS soon, then back to the hotel for me to deliver my paper (seemed to go well, people asked for copies). Then off to Cambridge to rummage through the Coop before the cocktail hour beckoned. Not as much shopping as we could have done, but the conversations over lunch, drinks and dinner were the best part for me (even if two conferences in the space of a week left me exhausted rather earlier than usual).

I could have taken the shuttle Sunday morning, but that would mean giving up one more walk along the Charles, It's sad when the idea of being able to walk outside without collapsing from heat and humidity is so precious (still not adjusting to Houston weather). I had an early lunch at Legal Seafoods (lobster and crab ravioli and a big pot of Earl Grey) and bid Boston a wistful goodbye. Much too short a visit! Especially with friends--and I really thank them for making their way up to MA in that horrible rain to see me. Really. Thanks.