Category Archives: storytelling

Dark Victorian Fairytale Science Fiction: An Interview with Psyche Corporation

By Guest Contributor Ay-leen the Peacemaker, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

In exploring the range of music that has been classified under the steampunk umbrella, Psyche Corporation would be on the more Gothic side of the spectrum.  The one-woman musical singer behind the band, Psyche Chimère possesses a versatile voice, and her music ranges as far as the imaginative topics she sings about. At turns Psyche Corporation moves from evocative and theatrical, as with“Part of Her Design” or “Beast”; to the darkwave dance beats of “Institute” or “The Crime”; to whimsical but edgy storytelling like in “The Ceiling” and “Wonderland.” (You can listen to her music on her MySpace, Reverbnation, or last.fm).

Psyche Corporation’s music, however, has struck a chord with the steampunk community, and she has performed at steampunk events around the country, including The Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey, Dorian’s Parlor in Philadelphia, the Steampunk Salon run by the Brooklyn Indie Mart, and in conjunction with Steampunk Canada & the Toronto Steampunk Society for Canada’s Fan Expo. Psyche Corporation’s next steampunk performance will be at The Anachronism at Webster Hall in New York City on November 21st.

Just in time for Halloween, however, Psyche Chimère stopped by the blog to talk about her darkly-tinged music and her career as a musician in the steampunk community.

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Time Traveling in Seattle: Digital Futures, Racial Pasts

by Latoya Peterson

Last weekend, I keynoted at the Washington State Association for Multicultural Education. I was asked to talk a bit about the role of technology in the classroom and multicultural education. They asked what educators should know about how technology impacts the classroom.

After thinking on it, I decided on the core message for the talk: a lot of the issues in technology are the same old problems, wrapped in new packaging.

I opened with a discussion of the changing nature of technology and how it influences children, and then explain how some people are still locked out. Here is the slide deck from the talk:

I’ll be adding rough notes to go along with it soon.

Since I tell a lot of stories in the talk, consider the deck to be a rough outline.

After that, I hosted a break out session on video games and teaching, here are the slides from that:

And created a monster resources page, which is still in process.

The presentation went over well, as both people comfortable and uncomfortable with technology found out new and interesting ways to think about how we discuss and frame technology, and why more people aren’t fully participating in the digital revolution. But the really interesting things started to happen after the talk was complete, and I was given a racial landmark tour of Seattle. Continue reading

Young, Gifted, Gay and Black: The Tounges Untied Remix

by Latoya Peterson

Queer youth suicides have started to receive a lot of media attention, but still, far too many members of our community swallow their pain in silence.

Over on blackpublicmedia.org, fledgling filmmaker John Dargan explores what life after Marlon Riggs’ seminal 1989 film Tongues Untied, and the shifting landscape for those on their own journeys nearly a decade later.

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There is no transcript available, but here is the summary:

Inspired by the work of Marlon Riggs young filmmaker John Dargan decides to make a homage to Rigg’s critically acclaimed “Tongues Untied.” Dargan explores the contemporary face of voguing; the power behind identity and self-expression, the connection between safe spaces and the true robustness of spirit that comes to these young men with the beat of every up tempo mix they vogue to. In “Tongues Untied: Still In Vogue” we explore current young African American gay youth and their passions and personal struggles in society similar to Riggs original intention in his 1989 documentary.

Gil Scott-Heron Hits A Nerve With New Video

By Guest Contributor Naima-Ramos Chapman, cross-posted from Colorlines

In their new music video for “New York is Killing Me,” Gil Scott-Heron and director Chris Cunningham turn popular characterizations of the Big Apple completely on their heads. The video, which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan last week, has one simple message: it can be a cold, brutal place. But as a legendary artist, Heron’s bitter break up letter with the city has prompted some of hip-hop’s leading players to openly challenge its evils.

In this case, it’s a matter of cleverly mixed mediums that get the message across. Heron’s raspy vocals blend well with Cunningham’s visuals of alternating shots of the city, all in constant, dizzying motion. Subway tunnels, bridges, extreme aerial long shots of the city cloaked in darkness create a menacing mood for viewers. They easily conjure up feelings of destitution and grittiness for a city that over the past twenty years has become largely represented as the entertainment capital of the world.

When I first heard the track, I immediately thought of all the other highly-touted New York anthems. There’s Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and the recent Jay-Z-Alicia Keys collaboration “Empire State of Mind.” Those types of love letters contrast sharply with Heron’s gritty city journal. This is not a song about a glitz and glam New York whose “streets will inspire you.” According to Heron, it’s a lonely, cold, and bare city. For a die-hard New Yorker like myself, the song is a hard pill to swallow but once it goes down, it’s difficult not to sober up and realize how much this city’s inhabitants are hurting.

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Boo, Hiss: True Blood Recap “Evil is Going On” S03E12

Hosted by Thea Lim, with Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson, Andrea Plaid and Joseph Lamour

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Thea: Well. Colour me disappointed. Laffy and Jesus get all of 5 seconds in the season finale, the cliffhangers have solely to do with the unkillable Bill and Sookie (wow, I wonder what is going to happen to them. yawn.), Alcide gets neither action nor a chance to take off his shirt, Nan is totally unchanged by Russell’s TV appearance, Godric comes back as a hippie hologram, AND Tara leaves the show?…Wait, maybe Tara leaving the show isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe she’ll move to some new parish with good storylines.

Latoya: I’m still blown that they set it up so Tara leaves. W.T.F. I remember clearly saying “Tara and Laffy go to New Orleans” not Tara gets a new cute ‘do and rides off into the sunset. Now, I’m not saying it doesn’t make sense. It’s been about three months of non-stop drama, murder, and mayhem. But I’m mad Tara might get the chop. Unless something takes out her car on the way out of Bon Temps, which could also happen.

Andrea: Thea, you will be the life of me!:-) I wholeheartedly agree with ya: I felt Sookie disappearing into Faerieville *improved* the show. Bill and Sophie….didn’t give a shit. I hope that ends with their driving stakes into each other’s hearts. Laffy and Jesus: the witch confession was interesting, but then that suggests what a couple of readers said in earlier threads about Jesus manipulating Laffy via his visions so Laffy would be dependent on him. Then again, it could become an interesting lover/apprenticeship entanglement that might be fascinating to watch.

Thea: I did love Laffy’s “so you’re a witch who’s a nurse who’s a dude?” line.

Andrea: That was a moment, but I also want to get some clarity on the gendered meaning of “witch.” ::Flashes big “W” in the sky:: Hey, Winn, would you mind offering some understanding about that for me, pretty please with your favorite topping on it? :-)

But my fave moment is Tara riding out of town with her fab-ass car and new ‘do. Roll on, sistahgurl, roll on…

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Tara Cuts Her Hair: A Reality Check

Thea: It’s true. That was a good moment. What did y’all think of the haircut scene? Did one of the writers watch Good Hair and then write a memo saying “Black ladies like hair. Must write hair scene for Tara.” Oh, I have just out-cynical-ed even myself.

Andrea: Not at all, Big T. (May I call you Big T, Thea?) I liked the scene a lot. I dig your analysis about the racialization of the scene, but I didn’t quite read it that way. At first, I read it as an engendered scene, of “look at the woman cutting her hair to change her life,” which seems to be a leitmotif of women’s transformation stories in literature, mythologies, and pop culture. However I had to check that idea because hair-cutting seems to symbolize, in both spiritual and secular traditions, a letting go, a movement towards transforming one’s life for people of various genders. And, as much as I loved Tara’s fresh braids for three seasons, I really dig her natural lush ‘do, which is rare to see a dark-skinned Black woman rock in moving pictures.

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Table For Two: A look at Burn Notice

By Andrea (AJ) Plaid and Arturo R. García

Arturo: On occasion, Andrea and I will catch up via Google Chat on this, that and the other. And as it happens,we got to talking about a shared favorite show, Burn Notice.

If you don’t follow the show, here’s the premise: The Adventures of Unemployed James Bond, with a side of Bruce Wayne Angst for the protagonist, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who does the whole A-Team “help those who can’t help themselves” thing while figuring out who and how he lost his job as a spy. Assisting him are his not-really-an-ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), professional kept man Sam (Bruce Campbell, chewing scenery like Sam drinks mojitos) and his increasingly conflicted mother Maddie (Sharon Gless).

Shot with an Ocean’s 11-style pizazz and buoyed by Michael’s “Dummy’s Guide To MacGyver” internal monologues for the audience’s benefit, Burn Notice slots in well alongside shows like Psych and White Collar as shows that get by on “quirk” – sometimes to the point of excess. But as Andrea learned, there’s definitely a method to the mirth. Ain’t that right?

AJ: Basically, when I complained on twitter that I didn’t understand the point of the USA Network shows, beyond an excessive amount of quirk, some head honcho from usa network tweeted back that they tested the shows and found that the formula of funny action-packed show with happy ending worked. I responded that winning formulas win winningly … what I should have added is that it becomes a formula of diminishing returns if every blessed show is the same formula.

Arturo: Now, unless you’re willing to “turn your brain off,” the ::ahem:: monochromatic nature of the principal cast, as seen above, looks especially problematic when you consider the show’s set in Miami, a city with a sizable Latino population. In what might be a back-handed way to address this disparity, two POC players entered the fold this season: spy-master Vaughan (Robert Wisdom) and, more prominently, counter-intelligence officer Jesse Porter (Coby Bell).

SPOILERS AHEAD

Clutch Magazine Shows Our Editrix Some Love

By Arturo R. García

Latoya is too modest to bring this up herself, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight her getting name-checked in a rousing post by Britni Danielle on Clutch Magazine’s blog regarding this decade’s vanguard of Black feminist writers, including, among others, Lisa Jones, Tricia Rose, Rebecca Walker and Joan Morgan:

I remember reading When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost when it debuted and thinking that Joan Morgan was speaking FOR me. I loved hip hop, hard. It was my first crush, the soundtrack to my youth, it inspired my passion for writing, but I always felt some kind of way about the ease in which women were relegated to the sidelines. With the exception of a few dope women (Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, Lauryn), women were almost always seen as sidepieces and groupies.

But I kept listening. Even though I danced to its beats, would argue about who was the best emcee, and would defend hip hop like it was my big brother, I always felt uneasy about its willingness to label other women (because clearly, they couldn’t be talking about ME, right?) bitches and hoes. Joan Morgan’s in-your-face exploration of women maturing in the age of hip hop articulated my own contradictory feelings about a culture I loved, but didn’t always love me.

This new brand of feminism understood that the struggle of women wasn’t about hating men. It wasn’t about writing them off and branding them as enemies. Our feminism—as beneficiaries of many movements of equality—was about claiming our voice, articulating our worth, and fighting our own, modern, battles.

From there, Danielle shifts the discussion toward online media, including …

RacialiciousRacialicious explores the intersections of race and pop culture. Blog editor Latoya Peterson and company cover everything from current hot topics (such as Dr. Laura’s “Nigger” problem), to discussions of TV shows, commercials, and other media sources that feature minorities. The aim of Racialicious is to hold the media accountable for questionable images of people of color. This collective blog is an amazing source for intelligent critiques and discussions regarding how we are viewed in the public realm.

So thanks much to Clutch for the shine, and to you for your continued support.

Why The Phrase ‘Half-Blood’ Needs Serious Interrogation

By Guest Contributor Jennifer from Mixed Race America

This morning I woke up and did my daily routine: I went for a walk (1-2 miles — good for keeping me healthy esp. with the chemo treatments, and just as an f.y.i. aside, the treatments are taking their toll on me, in terms of my level of fatigue–which is high (sigh) and which is one reason I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I like), I drank some water, and I open up my laptop to read The New York Times. And the first thing that caught my eye this morning was this blurb from the article, “At Camp, Make-Believe Worlds Spring Off the Page“:

“Organized role-playing literary camps, like the weeklong Camp Half-Blood in Brooklyn, are sprouting up around the nation.” [The emphasis in bold is my doing]

The article describes a trend for summer camps based on literary themes, most notably those centered around fantasy children/young adult works of fiction, like the Harry Potter novels or the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

Apparently the premise of the Jackson series (and this I’ve gleaned from the article and from the trailers to the movie of the same name that came out last summer) is that Percy is a young kid who finds out that his Mom slept with a god and so Percy is a demi-god in the making–a “half-blood” if you will. So this Brooklyn summer camp divides up these kids into different “half-blood” groups–like some are the half-human/half-divine offspring of Apollo or of Ares.

[Note: they probably didn’t choose some of the more “problematic” gods, like what would the group look like and what would they DO if they were the offspring of Bacchus or Hades? And apparently all the kids in this particular camp are boys, but it still doesn’t make sense why they don’t seem to have an Artemis group or a Hera group, although Aphrodite may also be problematic in a different way…]

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