Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Mapparium and the Christian Science Center

I meant to write about my quick Boston trip, but I wasn't totally sure what to do write about--I'm hardly a stranger to Boston, so I felt weird doing travel posts for a city I've spent a lot of time in.

But the Mapparium really stuck out, since I'd never even heard of it until this trip. Thanks to my friend Nali, who found out about it somewhere, because the Mapparium was really interesting.

The Mapparium is a three-story tall convex world map made of colorful panels. It's housed in the Mary Eddy Baker Library at the Christian Science Center in Boston. The giant globe was created in 1935, reflecting the political boundaries and names of countries in 1935. It's never been updated, so it serves as a really interesting look into what the world was like back then.

You are ushered into the room where the map is and everyone stands on a gallery which is at about equator level, I guess. Look down and Anarctica is all the way down. Look all the way up and there's Canada. There are no pictures allowed of the Mapparium itself, but if you want to see some pictures, here's a Google Image link!

And there's also the Irish Free State, the Soviet Union, British India, the Empire of Japan (with Korea and Taiwan annexed and therefore, also part of the Empire of Japan). Hawaii is a U.S. territory. Most of Africa is still divided up among the Dutch, British, French, and Italians.

And to think about what erupted with WWII not long after.

The funny thing about the Mapparium is that you can hear the softest whisper from the other end of the gallery so clearly.

Church of Christ, Scientist extension

We also were able to take advantage of a free tour of the Mother Church of Christian Science just after the Mapparium. The annex, built in 1906, is bigger than the original church, which was built in 1894--I think the annex can hold about five thousand people and it has this beautiful dome and a huge pipe organ. We also asked to be taken to see the old church, which was much tinier and tighter.

There was a lot of construction going on when we visited, but we thought the construction signs were clever.

For more about the Mapparium.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Goodreads Tag!

Oh, hi.

What? Another post, the second in a week? Indeed! Because my writing friend Krystal Jane Ruin did a fun Goodreads Tag video on her BookTube this week:

My Goodreads page is here.

1. What was the last book you marked as ‘read’? 

The last book I marked as read is Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

2. What are you currently reading? 

Right now, I have two books going: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. They're very different books, different genres, different tones, so I'm kind of switching between them at will.
3. What was the last book you marked as TBR? 

The last book I marked as to-be-read was And Aleksey Lived: An Alternate History by Ursula Hartlein. I got into the tragic story of the Romanovs as a pre-teen and I did wonder what would've happened if someone in the family survived, so it'll be interesting to read the author's take on that.
4. What book do you plan to read next? 
Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath, based on the website, which has stories of mythic and real-life women--and pictures!--who are far too badass to ever be made into Disney princesses.

5. Do you use the star rating system? 
YES! The Goodreads star system goes from 1 "I fucking hated it" to 5 "I fucking loved it." I don't rate books one star, so two stars for me means that I really did not like the book. 3 stars is where my personal rating range can vary, because 3 stars can mean I was a bit "meh" about the book or that I liked it well enough but it has some problems. 4 stars means I liked a lot, 5 stars means I REALLY liked it.
6. Are you doing a 2018 Reading Challenge? 

Yep! 35 books is the goal. I'm at 24 right now.
7. Do you have a wishlist? 
I have a to be read list which never gets below 60 books no matter how much I read, but not a wish list per se.
8. What book do you plan to buy next? 

Also not something I really plan. I read mostly on my Kindle and I have a bit of a backlog on it this year because Goodreads now sends me a daily "this is what's on sale" email which is fantastic but dangerous. 
But I've been able to grab a lot of books on TBR list this year because of those emails, so I can't complain too much. 
9. Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few. 

How much time you got?

10. Who are your favorite authors? 

This is an utterly unfair question.

Jane Austen, Elizabeth Chadwick, Courtney Milan, JRR Tolkien, Alyssa Cole... I tend not to read based on authors but on books I'm interested in for whatever reason, so.
11. Have you joined any groups?

I'm in three Goodreads groups, but I don't post in them and I don't read the threads very much. There is Blogger Lift, Support for Indie Authors, and Goodreads Authors/Readers.

12. How many shelves do you have?

Other than the basic shelves, I have shelves for each year I've done a reading challenge--so four now--and one for research books.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Writing Muscles

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Smart Bitches, Trashy Podcast and Sarah Wendell mentioned something about "writing muscles"--how her nonfiction writing muscles are strong because she runs and writes on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which is a romance novel review blog.

And I find that it is sort of true, in a way--that certain types of writing come more easily to me than others or that some types of writing feel like more like a struggle if I haven't done it in awhile.

And that got me thinking about my writing muscles and where they're at these days. My fiction writing muscles are slow but still strong--I'm outlining one thing and writing something else fictional. But then I was like, "Yeah, well, maybe my nonfiction muscles are stronger."

I mean, I have the blog and the other project I'm tinkering around with is mostly nonfiction. And my favorite writing class in college was Creative Nonfiction. I can trace a direct line between the eternal monologue in my mind to my diary to  Creative Nonfiction class to "my blog writing voice."

So, what do you think are your stronger writing muscles? What kind of writing muscles do you think you have?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG August 2018

It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group post for August 2018. The IWSG is a wonderful network of writers who blog their writerly insecurities out into the world the first Wednesday of every month. Check out the group here.

The August question is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

So, I'm not a new writer, but I am new to publication--so far I've had four short things published, two of them on my own, two of them by others. I've not really gone down the trad publishing route--that is, I've queried a manuscript for a limited time, but everything else I've managed to finish after that is short in length. And I like publishing on my own, actually. 

So first, I'd say, see how you want to be published. There are many platforms out there for writers these days to get their work out there. See what works for you. Do your research on any editors, publications, or companies that offer to publish you. Don't pay to be read or published. Be sure any contract you sign is legitimate, that there is a way to get your rights back if need be. 

But most of all: keep writing. Nothing gets published if you don't write. Ideas are all well and good, but only getting the words down on the page and polishing them leads to publication. 

Also, a quick note: Blogger has stopped sending me emails when anyone comments on my posts,which is annoying. So sorry if I'm not responding promptly here! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Emerson Colonial Theatre

Last time, I wrote about how fandoms converge and how weird that is. It almost feels serendipitous. I have a lot to say overall about my weekend in Boston--because Boston when it's summer and sunny and you are over drinking age with a credit card is very different from trudging through Boston in two feet of snow in the biting cold in college.

But though Boston and I have changed in the eight years since I was last up there, I have to say that my on-foot knowledge of downtown Boston has served me in good stead--I'll cover more of what my friends and I did and saw in Boston in subsequent posts.

But first! Moulin Rouge. We were greeted with it from the second we got off Amtrak at South Station and we kept seeing ads for it all over Boston, which was exciting.

Although the Colonial Theatre was smack in the middle of my college "campus," I never went inside or had classes in the building. I remember sitting in the Tufte Performance and Production Center, which goes behind the Colonial Theatre and has big windows and seeing the touring cast of Spamalot wave because we could see them running up and down the stairs to get to their dressing rooms one night.

Emerson College, my alma mater, bought the Colonial and there were rumors for a while that the College was going to tear the theatre down or make it into another dorm (like a lot of smaller urban colleges, Emerson's dorm space is tight). But instead, they renovated it and like the Cutler Majestic and the Paramount Theaters, there are professional productions up at each place. Moulin Rouge is the first production up at the Colonial since its renovation and reopening.

You can learn more about the Emerson Colonial Theatre here.

It's gorgeous in the theater, by the way. "They're going for a Versailles thing, huh?" I said to my friend Nali at one point as we were waiting for the auditorium doors to open.

Ceiling shot

"Especially with all the mirrors," she replied.

Then we went up to the mezzanine to our seats and we were stunned at the set.

Look at that set.

The windmill moved, guys. There's an elephant sticking out of the balcony. We had to take pictures of it from our perches in the back mezz. As other audience members walked by to be seated, we could hear them react to the set as well.

There was also some VIP seating at the very foot of the stage with tables. We wondered if they would keep that when the show transfers to New York.

The movie came out in 2001 and it's based on archetypal operatic tragic love stories--the musical hews closely to the movie's plot. The characters are pretty much the same and all of that translates well to the stage. It has that musical plot already from the film and it absolutely works.

The music is different though. They've added pop songs that were not in the movie to the stage version. Moulin Rouge is kind of the ultimate jukebox musical, right? I mean, the movie was that and the audience would know to expect that style. Some of the song choices were unexpected. My friend Nali and I were punching each other whenever a song we'd liked was sung on stage. For the most part, the songs worked in moving the story along and expressing character and feelings'n'shit. They were just...unexpected in some places and in some choices.

After we were all back at our hotel, I was like, "Did I just see a musical or was I just at a concert?"

This being the first out-of-town tryout any of us have ever attended, we're not sure how much the show will change between their Boston run and their upcoming-sometime-in-the-next-season Broadway run. We're looking forward to seeing it at home and to see what, if anything, the production tweaks. We doubt the music will change very much though because of music rights and licensing and whatnot. But the presentation may change.

The two big numbers from the movie, in my mind, are "Come What May" and "Roxanne."(Or am I just saying that because those are the songs Virtue and Moir used in their free dance?) "Come What May" was glorious. The combination of Karen Olivo's powerful belt and Aaron Tveit's earnest and strong vocals gave me goosebumps. They sound amazing together, holy shit.

And "Roxanne." Woo. "Roxanne" is a Dark Moment song in the plot so there's angst and jealousy and anger. And no shit, but Aaron Tveit was fucking growling "Roxxxx-annnnnneee." It took me a second to realize that he was the one singing it and singing it that way, which is so different to his usual vocal style. I think I turned to my friends during that number and I know Jess was as open-mouthed as I was.

There was also a big Acting Moment for Aaron's character at one point--it's directly from the movie, so everyone there probably knew it was coming, but people gasped and reacted like "Omg, no!" which is a testament to the emotions in the show and to the actors.

I cannot wait for the show to come to Broadway, but it was incredibly special to be able to see it in Boston. My friends and I felt that we leveled up in our mutual theater geekdom by seeing an out-of-town tryout run and a world premiere, to boot.