*Points to New Blog*

Featured

I haven’t posted here in YEARS, and I doubt anyone still sees or notices this blog. But just in case anyone was still technically subscribed to this blog (even if they’d forgotten about it) and just in case anyone still occasionally wanders in here from out of the wilds of google search, I just wanted to share this news:

I have started a brand new blog, after years of absence. It can be found here: nightforestbooks.wordpress.com

It will be, like this blog was before it, mainly about books and movies and such, but will also include more personal posts and any other random thought/hobby/obsession I feel like sharing. I hope you will join me at the new location!

Thank you!

“Make It Rain” by Chris Spisak

Hello folks! I wanted to take just a few moments of your time to pitch an Indiegogo project that is trying to raise money right now. It’s for a short film called “Make It Rain” by Chris Spisak, a local Houston filmmaker. I’m a big fan of supporting local artists and indie filmmakers. Also, my brother knows the filmmaker, which is a good enough reason for me.

Here’s the pitch for the film:

MAKE IT RAIN (2013)

Written and Directed by Chris Spisak
Starring Dave MaldonadoCandice BarleyJohn McClainJohn LopezA story about basketball, youthful innocence, and the power of hope, Make It Rain tells the story of a young boy’s efforts to help his family overcome the effects of a devastating drought which result in a magical night he won’t soon forget.The film is currently raising funds for a summer 2013 shoot.  To learn more about how you can be a part of the Make It Rain team and gain exclusive access to the making of the film and receive other fantastic perks, visit our fundraising page here!

Once more, here is the link to the Indiegogo page, including their salespitch video: “Make It Rain” 

If that doesn’t give you enough to go off of, and you’d like to know a bit more about Chris Spisak before you decide if you’re going to back him or not, you can check out his previous short films (which have been presented at several film festivals in Texas) on his website here: Two 21 Entertainment.I’d appreciate it if you could take a look. And even if you can’t afford to donate right now (though even a few dollars helps), please consider spreading the word.

Thanks!

This article was written about and mainly directed against a sub-culture of sexism among online gamers, which is a very important topic to be addressed. But what I really LOVE about it is that it applies to the general attitudes of some men, gamer or not, and is an absolutely fantastic message no matter who you are. I think its also a good thing for women to read to remind ourselves that a) we have a responsibility to be grown-ups too, it’s not just on the men; and b) not all men are like some of the jerks on these gaming sites, some men are more like Ernest Adams, so we have to be careful not to blame all men for the bad behavior of some.

Anyway, this is a great article, and because Gamasutra refused to publish it, it’s up to us to spread it around as it deserves.

The Feminine Miss Geek

Hullo, readers. Bex here. This article comes from the amazing Ernest Adams of the Designer’s Notebook series on Gamasutra. Because of the content, Gamasutra declined to publish the article. So Adams sent out the call to spread his message across the internet. It’s worth sharing.

A Call to Arms for Decent Men
By Ernest Adams
July 26, 2012

Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.

Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men. They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal…

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It’s Alan Turing birthday. Alan Turing is one my favorite people ever. This tribute covers pretty much all the reasons why he’s awesome, so thanks to storiesbywilliams for sharing! Enjoy!

Stories by Williams

Wouldn’t you know it? Today marks what would have been Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. This man was not only immensely influential in the development of computer science and cryptanalysis, he is also considered the father of Artificial Intelligence. In fact, words like “algorithm” and “computation” are traced to him, as was the development of the “Turing machine” concept which has helped computer scientists to understand the limits of mechanical computation.

However, his reputation goes far beyond the field of computer science. During World War II, he worked at the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. For a time, he was acting head up Hut 8, the section responsible for breaking the Enigma Code, Germany’s wartime cypher which they used to encrypt all their communications. Were it not for this achievement, the Allies may very well have lost the war.

Especially in the Atlantic, where…

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Aside

Yes, I saw Prometheus.  Yes, I finished Fool Moon.  Yes, I watched the first ep of Sherlock ssn 2. No, I have not written a blog post about any of these things.  Sorry.  I’ll be back in a few days, hopefully, when I’ve stopped having anxiety attacks and fits of laying on my bed for hours staring at the ceiling for no apparent reason.  Sorry.

Old Town Charm in Brenham, Texas

About two hours north-west of Houston is the small town of Brenham, TX in Washington County.  According to the brochures and signs, Washington County is known as the “birthplace of Texas,” where the Texas government first formed.  There is an astonishing amount of history in the area, as well as an old plantation-turned-museum, and several vineyards, and two lavender farms.

But we (my mother, brother, and I) went to Washington County for one very good reason: ICE CREAM.  For Brenham, TX is the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream, a company that some people will not be familiar with (as it is regional and has not yet reached the coasts or the northern-most states), but if you live in the South or Midwest, you know the wonders of Blue Bell Ice Cream. And Brenham is where it began, and where it is still headquartered.

We’d heard that the Blue Bell creamery gave tours, and so during my mother’s short vacation we decided to make a day-trip of it.  The tour was a lot of fun.  Seeing the inside of a creamery, with the huge tanks of ice cream ingredients, the frozen-over pipes, the actual ice cream being cartooned and stored… It was all pretty cool.  But the best part was, of course, the free sample of ice cream at the end.  I got peaches n’ cream.  DELICIOUS.

Sadly, photography was not allowed inside the creamery (understandably), but here are a few photos from outside the creamery, where they have a beautiful little courtyard, and an ice cream delivery truck, circa 1920s that still runs and is occasionally taken out for a spin for carnivals and parades.

courtyard outside the Blue Bell Ice Cream Creamery

the founders of Blue Bell Ice Cream

the girl and cow that make up the logo on every carton of Blue Bell Ice Cream

my brother and I in front of the 1920s ice cream delivery truck

After we had finished the tour, however, we discovered that Brenham also has an historic main street district, with antique shops, cute cafes and restaurants, a couple bed and breakfasts, the Washington County Courthouse (which also meant lots and LOTS of lawyers offices), and the FIRST paved road in Texas.  So we had to go check out it.  My photography leaves much to be desired, but I still think the photos are better representative than any description would be, and so, and give you:

Brenham, TX!

Washington County Courthouse – I LOVE this building, seems somewhat Art Deco to me (though I’m definitely no expert)

We’ll DEFINITELY be going back. The antique shops alone made the trip well worth the gas.  And there are some more restaurants I want to try out.

‘Til next time, folks! Have a good day!

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

A Letter from Your Host:

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I saw you last!  I’ve been gone far too long, and for that apologize.  As my previous posts have made clear, this past semester nearly did me in.  I’m rather disappointed with myself, actually.  During the Fall semester I managed to keep mostly on top of my blogging despite my PhD study and teaching, but for some reason I just could not do it this semester.  In my defense, it has been universally agreed among my fellow English grad students at UH that this semester was especially heinous for some reason we can’t identify.  For some reason the workload, the time-crunch, the number of things going wrong, the stress, were all WAY worse than usual.  Bad juju. Gypsy curse.  Karma biting us in the ass.  I have no idea.

Anyway, the semester officially ended for me a week ago.  I wrapped up three papers (I got an A- on one which I am particularly bitter – an A- is grad work is about equivalent with a B-, maybe even a C, in undergrad work, and I know for a fact that the prof simply did not AGREE with my argument).  I graded an enormous stack of freshman papers, and turned in my grades to the department.

The same day I turned in my grades, my mother graduated, receiving an Master of Science degree in Technology Projects Management, with a focus in Future Studies (pictures of which I have been forbidden to put online because my mother is paranoid about the internet, despite – or because of – being a computer programmer/engineer).

That was two Fridays ago.

I have spent the last week wrapping up a last bit of work as part of the editing staff of University of Houston English Department’s literature journal Plaza: Dialogues in Language and Literature.  It’s our second year doing the journal, so we’re still getting the hang of things, but we’re pretty proud of it.  It is free and (as far as I know) you don’t need an account to view it, so please feel free to take a look.  It showcases the work of my fellow graduate students, and is affiliated with the graduate student conference I mentioned early in the semester.

I also spent the last week with my mother, who took a week off her day-job to celebrate graduating and get a little bit of a vacation.  We’ve been up to a lot this past week, and it’s too much to cover in one post so I’m spreading some of the fun out over the next few days to stretch my blogging-muscles and get back into the swing of things.

Besides spending a lot of money at the mall as a belated birthday present to myself (my birthday was May 6th, right in the middle of finals, so I didn’t have much chance to celebrate), there were several highlights: a trip to Brenham, TX where Blue Bell ice-cream is made, my mother’s birthday (which was May 18th), and seeing the Irish alternative rock band Snow Patrol in concert (but more on all of that tomorrow, and probably Wednesday).

I have a lot of plans for this summer that I’ll probably be sharing with you as well.  I intend to start revising Midnight’s Knife, the novel I wrote a first-draft of last summer.  I want to start practicing the piano again (I say this every summer, and I always do for a while before it falls away again).  my mother bought me a fantastic painter’s easel for my birthday and I’m going to start drawing (again) and painting (which will be a bit new, despite a little experience from high school).  I have an ENORMOUS stack of books I want to read (I started Hunger Games – FINALLY – on Friday afternoon, and finished it on Saturday night).  And I’ll be doing a bit of traveling as well.

On top of that, I am planning to sit down and build a new syllabus/curriculum for my freshman writing course, which will incorporate a lot of student-blogging.  I was not at all happy with my performance as a teacher this semester.  I mean, I was admittedly extremely busy with PhD stuff, and I still did okay by my students – I didn’t completely slack off or anything.  But I had much more trouble this semester staying on top of things, and keeping my students engaged.  I firmly believe that what I do is important, but that only remains true if I do a good job, put serious effort energy into it, and I did not do as good a job as I could have this semester.  That’s going to change in the Fall.

I also have some ideas for ways I want to change-up the blog.  And I’ll be frank, that’s not so much for the benefit of you, my readers, as it is for my benefit.  To keep myself moving, to keep myself interested, to find a focus or a rhythm or whatever that will work for me, and will hopefully make it possible for me to keep this up through the Fall semester when things have gone upside-down-wacko again.  I’m fiddling with some ideas/plans, and I’m waiting on one major component before these changes will begin to take shape.  But I’ll keep you in formed about that.

In the meantime, I hope I didn’t lose too many of you during my extended absence, and I hope I can keep you entertained over the summer at the very least.  I’ll see you tomorrow!

Sincerely,

Amanda