on disneyworld and comps

Walking around Walt Disney World is like walking through a movie set.  This boat sits, like a workboat in use, near the Expedition Everest roller coaster in the Animal Kingdom park.

 I don’t know how I’d feel if I were from Tibet or Nepal or Thailand – I might be offended – but there is something cool about walking around a place and feeling like you’re someplace far, far away from the familiar.  A little too clean, I suspect, to be authentic.  Authentic is not what’s wanted at a Disney theme park.  Safe, fun … more real than real.  A Baudrillard third order simulation moment, I guess.

I didn’t expect to like DisneyWorld so much. But I made myself go in with an open mind and my visit has left me wanting to learn more about imagineering and their concepts of immersive theatre.  Because that’s what they’re doing … with their rides and their parks and their productions, including the parades and firework displays … they create experiences and tell stories.

Of course a lot of it is about marketing and sales – about branding and celebrity. Still, they do it very, very well.

Why am I thinking about Disney now?

Okay – it’s a distraction from preparing for comps – I’ll admit that I’m tired of preparing and just want to do the writing, hand the two essays in, and have preliminary comps recede behind me.

This morning I checked on my website and looked at my work there for the first time since I handed in my eportfolio in November.  And I thought about the hundreds of photos I took in Walt Disney World and how another photo gallery would be cool to add.  Of course, like everything else, it’ll have to wait now until comps are behind me.

One of the reasons I revisited my website is that I’m disheartened again by the MATX program.  I don’t know why going to class last night made me doubt what I’m doing in this program.  I know that work is the only cure for doubt.  But I know that my “mastery” of the material is thinner than I’d like it to be.

Wonder if I can write about my observations of Disney World and immersive theatre as part of my comps – that’s what I’m most interested in right now and I always write better if I’m really interested in what I’m writing about.  My blogging comics paper last semester was way better than my celebrity outlaw paper on Jesse James.  I could tell by the way I slogged through the outlaw paper and enjoyed writing the blogging comics paper.

The writing I’m doing in preparation for the comps feels very sloggy.  A bad sign.  I think I’ll write about Disney and multimedia this afternoon – see where that gets me.


time travel on studio 360

I love to listen to to radio shows, especially creatively produced talk shows. Two favorites, both from NPR, are Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and On the Media.   Studio 360, with the slogan “get inside the creative mind” is another favorite.

I don’t usually catch Studio 360 through WRIR‘s weekly broadcast, but pull it up online and listen to the segments streaming on my laptop. An advantage of the website is that they embed videos and have slide shows to go along with the sound content. A cool model for something I might try for my dissertation work. Later, though – this month I have to prepare for preliminary comps.

from jesse james to blogging comics

I got back from DisneyWorld just in time to write two research papers for finals.

The first paper is on Jesse James as America’s archetypal Robin Hood … and the media technologies and strategies that put him there and keep him there.

The PBS show American Experiences did a one-hour show on Jesse James … a historical myth-buster, of course, but their website helped me understand how his experience as a teenage bushwhacker probably propelled him into his career as an outlaw.   Missouri bushwhackers were pro-Confederate guerrillas who operated behind the Union lines … American insurgents, I guess.  Hard to go back to pushing a plow after that sort of adrenaline rush – not to mention PTSD, long before it had initials.

I especially like the shooting gallery – done in Flash, with sound effects.

Now that the first paper is done – I’m back to comics & blogging.  I have about a day and a half to turn my ideas and research into a coherent 12-page research paper.  I hope I can do it without my head exploding.

on web redesign (again) and the need for rest

I’m redesigning my website – again – this time because the MATX e-portfolio is due next week.  And because I was tired of the old design.

I have to say that today, finally, I created a few pages I’m pleased with.  I like the graphic look of the pages and with how they function. I’ve redone the home page , the media projects page , the about me/contact page and created an MATX page to serve as the jumping off point for all things MATX – like the e-portfolio & my academic papers.

The oral history project homepage needs to be redone … I really, really hate the old design now.  

It’s satisfying to look over the work I’ve done since August 2008 and realize how much I’ve accomplished in 15 months.  No wonder I’m tired.  My goal now is to get through the next ten days of academic work (final research project deadlines & the eportfolio), plus pull off my kid’s birthday party and get packed for a family vacation.  Sometimes I envy my cohorts in the MATX program who don’t have kids or even spouses – it would be so much easier to get completely lost in the work.  But N & D keep me grounded.  My envy doesn’t last long … mostly I’m thankful that I’m not going this alone.

matx communal website launch

Some of my MATX cohorts have just launched a communal website called MATXer. There’s some pretty cool work on it, as well as links and information.

Interesting that it showed up on my birthday – just when I was going to find a place to host my website outside the university. After VCU outsourced my student email to google, I got mad enough to reserve a domain name and begin the process of having a professional web presence not connected with a university. My cohorts have the right idea.

friday art moment

Jeanie Finlay is a UK artist who uses documentary work in an interesting way. Enjoy!


What she says about Home-Maker: “Home-Maker explores what it is like to be housebound, to live your life alone within four walls, focusing on the artefacts that the interviewees collected over a life time and how these objects represent memories and stories from their history. Often the stories are about the person who used to share their life who is no longer with them. The films also document in the intimate nature of the interviews, the close relationship that developed between the artist and the subjects.”

more about Home-Maker

equipment and media work

I’ve squirreled away enough money in my “educational / professional development” savings account to purchase some equipment. So yesterday I started pricing and spec checking external hard drives and digital audio recorders / microphones. Time to pick up the phone and place an order. I’m going to do this the old-fashioned way so I can ask a few technical questions before the stuff is bought and shipped.

I’m also working on a new blog – this one specifically for the farm life oral history project. It’ll be a repository for the stories I’m collecting – I’ll publish one a week for about sixteen weeks. My plan is to go live on June 1, and publish a new story each Monday for sixteen weeks. Maybe some photos too, if I have some that fit and I like.

isn’t she beautiful?

Beautiful and frightening – a large black widow spider we saw in an ash pile near our house over the weekend. Large enough to make an adult very sick and to kill a child, potentially. We didn’t kill her – we let her be. I hope I never see her or her children anywhere in my home.

I’m still working on my new website. I’m finally happy with the homepage. Now I’m working on the design of pages within the site. My artist husband suggested I take more pictures of the field and use the patterns of the cover crop for background. I’m going to try working with them today and see if I like the look of the pages any better. I’ll be happy to leave the container design behind and work on projects and writing instead. But for now – the container.

new website posted

On Saturday I somehow lost the home page of the website that’s been up since December. Whoops! It wasn’t an identifiable file lost – I’m sure I did something … rather than spend a lot of time fixing a home page I don’t plan to keep, I took the whole thing off the server and posted the website I’ve been working on, even though I’m not thrilled with it. my new website

It does feel good to have a website with fewer unfinished pages and dead links … and with finished writing and about me/contact pages. I cleaned up the audio files, converting .wav files to .mp3s so they’re compressed and easier to download. I gave an attribution to the Georgia O’Keeffe quote that’s been running in a Flash experiment for a month. And I took down Patchwork – a video piece I wasn’t happy with. I love the audio mix I did for it, however, so I’ll add that to the Thirty-Second Audio Experiments page. I want to spend any time I have between now and Thursday’s lab workshop on audio. Adding clips. Fixing clips. Working on the oral history page.

For today, however, I need to shift gears and move on to Monday’s deadline – reading for the seminar class, followed closely by Tuesday’s deadline – all student artist statements read and feedback finished – and Wednesday’s deadline – move into the Annex Studio. Thankfully, in about a month, the deadlines will evaporate. I’ll be able to relax. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the recovering dog sleeps.