Saturday, October 24, 2015

I Took a Trip, Sitcom FOMO, A New Deck, What Not to Get

This week, I took a little three-day jaunt to the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service in Houston. I was going to blog about the conference in detail, but then I realized the minutia probably wouldn’t be interesting to anyone but me, and I’d prefer not to bore my readers.  In summary, it was a powerful conference, and I’ve returned with some solid tools and exciting ideas that I think will make a difference in my job.  If you’re interested, you can view the wide array of speeches from the afternoon plenaries here. Highlights: George H.W. Bush made a surprise appearance at the first plenary, and his son Neil Bush got teary when he introduced him, Kenna sang, Nancy Pelosi spoke, and John Meachum led a panel discussion with three former White House Chiefs of Staff. In addition to all of the stuff I learned in the seminars, I also discovered that everything in Texas is named after George Bush, air conditioning in the South is ferociously cold and dehydrating, and if you go to the Houston airport, you have to take a tram four miles to find a restaurant.

There wasn’t much to do in the evenings, so after swimming in the hotel pool, I’d just crash out in my room and watch TV, which is how I belatedly discovered “Bob’s Burgers”. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on it all this time. I will be binge-watching each season as soon as possible. Most of the time when I’m looped out of some pop culture phenomenon, I’m fairly indifferent, but I actually feel deprived knowing that this one got past me. It’s one of wittiest shows I’ve seen years.

I’ve always been interested in the philosophy of the Tarot, and at one time entertained the notion of creating my own deck (before I realized that is a years-long, if not life-long, endeavor.) I’ve always liked the more unconventional decks, and I’ve been wanting a new one for a while, so I dragged Mr. Typist off to my local New Age bookstore today to see what was on offer. Amid an array of overly-sentimental, gooey “fairy cards” and feel-good affirmation decks, I found a highly unusual one called the Steampunk Tarot. The artwork is stunning, and the overall theme explores the intersection of spirituality and technology. It came with a 300-page book and seems to have real meat to its philosophy. I’m going to plunge into the book this afternoon.

In writing news, I wrote a new poem, polished an older one, and conjured an idea for a new fiction series. I’m in the “fun” phase with that one—dreaming, imagining, inviting in the characters. If this one pans out the way I want it to, it will take a fair bit of planning and plotting up front, which is not my strong suit—but maybe I can make it enjoyable. Speaking of plotting, on the plane, I managed to read Marian Keyes latest novel, “The Woman Who Stole My Life.” I normally love her books, but I found this one a bit off-putting because of its needlessly complicated use of flash-backs and flash-forwards. It took a while to get into the rhythm of it, and I was often lost as what part of the main character’s life was occurring when. I don't understand why it couldn't have been written in a more linear fashion. But it did teach me a fair bit about Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome. Bottom line: It’s terrifying. Don’t ever, ever get it.

 --Kristen McHenry


Frank Moraes said...

Bob's Burgers does make everything better. It is an amazing show. It's the only television I actively pursue. I've written about it many times. Here's my blog-deep dive into the show: Thoughts on Bob's Burgers' Characters.

Steam punk Tarot cards sound awesome! But I have to admit that I find the standard Pamela Colman Smith deck beautiful, and continually fascinating.

Kristen McHenry said...

I read your post on Bob's Burgers, and I really enjoyed it. I've only seen about six episodes total so far, and I'm trying to find a way to way to watch in order from Season One, because I've been jumping around quite a lot. But so far, I agree with your assessment. I love all of the characters so much, I just can't pick a favorite. What I really like about it is how the family just accepts each other's nuttiness. It's not that they're in denial about it, but they have a clear view of each other, and just let everyone be who they are.

Yes, the Rider-Waite deck is a true classic, and actually, a lot of the Steampunk Deck is based on the Rider-Waite, with some variation. I did a few test readings yesterday with the Steampunk deck (created by Barbara Moore), and it's totally charming. The book is gorgeous, with an old-timey font and scroll work on each page, and it's written in this quasi-Victorian language, so it's very stylized. But also very wise and deep--with a focus on the practical. I really like it so far.

Frank Moraes said...

Do you have Netflix? It has the first 4 seasons available. And I'm sure the 5th will be coming soon. I'm actually playing with an idea of putting together screen shots of all the exterminator trucks. They go by so fast, people miss them. Of course, I'm afraid that Fox would have a problem with that, even though it is exactly the kind of fan art that is ultimately good for their business.

I just checked out the cards. They're great. Steam punk really brings out the best in artists. Speaking of which, have you seen The Boxtrolls. I love that movie!