Merry Christmas and Holiday Wishes from me and my pet kookaburra!
Merry Christmas and Holiday Wishes from me and my pet kookaburra!
I’m here in Tasmania, where everything smells like lavender - mingled with the scent of roses, jasmine, freshly cut hay, and clear crisp air - its lovely!!
Today I finally had some time to register a character at gaia, the online manga/anime role-playing site that’s a big hit with the tweens that I blogged about here. I managed to earn enough gold to buy myself a very boring skirt and top, but these boots that I am trying on cost 9000 Gold, and I only have 115 left! That means I need to get role-playing in a hurry to earn the gold to buy the shoes!!
I also started my gaia blog and applied to join the “literate role-playing guild“. To apply I had to submit an example of role-playing text to see if it passes muster *laugh* - I’ll be devestated if I am not accepted in!!
Len and I had lunch at Thai Times 9 (yummmmmm) today and he sends a message to Brian (via my blog!) - Merry Christmas Brian!! I told Len that one of my most popular links is the one to his blog so watch that space for more adverts about books, conferences and research opportunities!
I also promised to link to his research project about Image/Text Relations in Narrative and Information Texts for Children in Print and Electronic Media. Here’s a project overview:
This project focuses on image/text relations in print and electronic materials designed for children in primary school and early secondary school. Both narrative and information texts will be considered. The research is informed by systemic functional linguistic theory and its social semiotic applications to other modalities of communication. To date, the main focus of the project has been on relations between images in narrative picture books. Work on the affective dimension of these relations is currently underway. As this theme nears completion our research is shifting to consideration of the mutually informing relation between words and images in narrative and information texts, including CD-ROM and web based materials. Information texts recontextualising science, history and culture for children are being considered, concentrating on themes from the Australia, Asia and the Pacific.
One of the interesting things they are doing is looking at the human body and the expression of affective meanings, so I told him to look at the avatars on Second Life because they are capable of infinite expressions, and it would be a fun way to illustrate their point in presentations! (Nothing worse than presentations without images, ESPECIALLY when discussing multimodality)
OK, messages over *laugh*
I find this both funny and fascinating - there are pictures from Sky news floating about the internet of Madame Tussauds “Cheeky Christmas Pantomime” in which she has cast Jennifer Aniston as Snow White, Angelina Jolie as the wicked witch and Brad Pitt as Prince Charming.
Don’t you just looooove the composition of this scene and what it means to be able to “read” it - an understanding of fairy tales, pop culture gossip and the semiotics of spatial composition to construct/portray interpersonal relationships. I’m sure to find a way to weave this into one my lectures *chuckle*
Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You is a gorgeous children’s picture book. The illustrations are reminiscent of ye dole worlde English botanist’s sketches slash Beatrix Potter-ish style images, and there’s a mix of genres from descriptions and captions to narratives about the different creatures to link to the novels written by the same author. From amazon.com:
The superdeluxe, lavishly illustrated “field guide” features 142 information-packed pages, 41 full-color plates, 6 spectacular gatefolds, 6 watercolor landscapes, scores of black-and-white and color sketches, and enough information to satisfy even the most demanding faerie enthusiast. Not only will readers learn all about the 14 fantastical creatures featured in the series, but they’ll be delighted and astonished by an additional 15 creatures featured in this elaborate volume–including mermaids, gargoyles, and more. And if that weren’t enough, we’ve included dozens of snippets from Arthur Spiderwick’s personal journal–information that links the Guide specifically to the Spiderwick Chronicles–as well as cameos from a few of the series’ favorite characters.
Here are some examples of the lush art work:
and here’s an example of one of the “gatefolds” - a glorious pull out double page spread:
Irresistible! Now I just have to weave this into my units next year when teaching about genre and visual literacy :>
and I’ll be living by the ocean again - ahhhh *deep sigh*
ooooohh I have been having fun with these flickr toys!
The Movie Posters:
The Motivational Poster:
and The Captioner:
Where was I when these new toys came out? Oh well, never too late to play :>
The Fairies is a new TV show for the Under 5s. Its “pinkness” and very explicitly gendered “girliness” is sickly sweet but despite wanting to critique it and hate it, I watched an episode this morning (at some ungodly hour thanks to continued jetlag effects) and I really loved it! It is a bit like high-5, with music, singing, dancing, educational “lessons” but it also features three child actors (two little girls in fabulous, elaborate fairy costumes and a little boy in an elf costume - sooo funny!) which I really liked because they were learning along with the viewers. The sets were lush and gorgeous too - magical fantasy. I learned from the media release that the stes were made by the same company that was involved in Lord of the Rings, and that the series was costing 3 million dollars(!!!) to make. I also noticed that the costumes cost over $80,ooo - Kids TV is a booming business!
Actually the deliberate and over the top girliness is reported to be a reaction against the numerous TV shows for this age group that seem to target boys (such as Thomas the Tank Engine, The Wiggles and Bob the Builder, all with male characters). There are male characters in the show, but I don’t know whether it would appeal to little boys or not.
The website has some fun things too: games, colouring in sheets, music, downloads (like screensavers and calendars) and so on. The music (which is coming soon) will come as mp3s for the kids to download on their i-pods!! There will also be video clips of songs and dances for the kids to learn and dance and sing along to. I even joined the Fairy Fan Club to follow what sort of things 5 year old fans are interested in *laugh* I was a bit embarrassed about confessing my age though!
I have a really OLD computer at home and am constantly disappointed that I can’t access sites/programs or go to the places I’d like to do. Fortunately my office computer is a bit better and today for the first time I was able to begin my second life as Anya Ixchel!! :> I had fun at my first dance party!
Girl Friday is another new Australian mobile phone / internet “interactive sitcom” that looks like its going to be lots of fun. Here’s some info from the site:
GF will be Australia’s and possibly the world’s first mobile cam girl. She is a live action character who on the surface appears ‘real’ but in fact is a fictional part of the GF interactive world. Her story reflects the way devices (such as your mobile) are changing the way we communicate in everyday life. As GF tries to deal with the sagas of career, love and family we journey with her as a friend and confidant.
GF is a sophisticated interactive drama with a comic edge; taking its lead from outstanding programs such as Sex In The City and Ally McBeal. The program will delve into some of life’s sticker questions with insight and humour, and aim to satisfy the content hungry 16-30 year old market.
Once you start, you’ll be hooked and aching for your weekly GF fix.
Girl Friday’s life changes when she finds a mobile phone on a tram on the way to work. She soon becomes engaged in the mysterious life of the stranger’s phone. All the while she has paper clip trouble at the office; is searching for the mother she never knew, and is clawing her way to the top of the local karaoke charts.
To view the two pilot episodes you have to email for the password, but here is sneak peek of the interface:
I really like the narrative and the 3 to 5 minute video episodes are doing fun things: dream sequences, imagined projections, multiple poloraid shots to show you a rapid sequence of events and so on. The narrative is also distributed throughout Girl Friday’s “handbag” - you see her diary, read her sms text messages and more. I am looking forward to following this once it starts officially.
Forget the Rules is a new interactive soap opera from Australia which would be wonderfully fascinating if the plot weren’t so sordid and trashy.
It’s fascinating for several reasons:
1) it is being broadcast cross platforms: on channel V TV, the internet and on mobile phones
2) its format is 3 minute video micro-episodes
3) viewers get to vote at the end of each week to determine the plot for the next week’s episodes
Here’s a bit of a blurb from the site:
Each week ends with a dilemma, inviting the audience to vote on what happens next. The production team then write, shoot and edit the follow-up over the weekend. The show is designed to run as a continuing serial, and has a commitment for at least a 52-week run. The programme format is available for international distribution.
The plot revolves around three twenty-something characters who share a house together in Melbourne. The site has games, a forum, lots of back story and much more. But the episodes are so cringe-worthy I can’t bear to watch more than the three from this week, and its such a shame because for something so exciting in structure and form and so on, why why WHY didn’t Film Victoria (who are funding it) choose a narrative that was even slightly interesting?
Thanks to my favourite pop culture blog, I have just learned via US Weekly that Matt Damon (my not so secret celebrity crush) has married his girlfriend Luciana Barroso! AND that they are expecting a child! Ah well, congratulations :>
The funniest movie I’ve seen in aaaaaages!. Tonight my brother Robert was passing through Sydney on business and we went to see this laugh out loud meta-fictive parody of film noir-ish crime fiction - it was hysterical, really!! But I was laughing so much Rob started laughing at ME and then I had fits of giggles throughout the non-funny parts - honestly I am shocking company at the movies!
I looked over at rotten tomatoes for a review and found that lots of American reviewers hated it:
“Storytelling, performance and visual literacy this brilliant may be out of style, but I can’t imagine anyone who sees Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang not coming out panting for more.”
— Bob Strauss, LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS
“[Director Shane] Black is so determined to break down the ‘fourth wall,’ he loses sight of all reality. His film is too gimmicky for its own good.”
— Randy Shulman, METRO WEEKLY (WASHINGTON, DC)
“A silly, self-reflexive lark oozing spitfire sarcasm and nonchalant cool.”
— Nicholas Schager, SLANT MAGAZINE
“Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang turns into a film that is too ostentatiously pleased with itself, so in love with its own cleverness it doesn’t notice it’s darn near worn you out.”
— Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES
But its a big hit with Australian reviewers: Margaret and David loved it, and Megan and Jamie said it was “vulgar, funny and full of surprises. All pulp and no seeds. Just how a paperback thriller on screen should be. ”
I loved it!
And in other blog fiction news, L. Lee Lowe has started a blog for posting her short fiction for adolescents. Looks like some fun Summer reading ahead for us :>
Len and I are conducting a research seminar together in February! Details below:
REME (Research in English and Multiliteracies Education)SEMINAR
Tuesday14th February, 2006, Lecture Theatre 111, University of New England
For UNE staff and students and teachers of primary/secondary school
Interfacing Research and Teaching in ICT and Multiliteracies Education
PRESENTERS:Dr. Angela Thomas (University of Sydney) & Prof. Len Unsworth (UNE)
12.30 - 2.00 The blog as a literacy research tool (Dr Angela Thomas).
For the past 18 months I have been using blogs as means for: conducting research with young adolescent research participants; developing a network of like-minded researchers; discussing and soliciting feedback about my research within my blogging community; writing, refining, editing, and thinking ‘out loud’ about the issues related to research; and communicating my research to others. I have also involved my post-grad students in researching through blogging. This session will explore these various uses of blogs and the benefits of maintaining an active online presence (“googleability”).
2.00 – 2.30 Afternoon Tea
2.30 – 3.00 Building School/University Research Partnerships: ARC Linkage Grants in Literacy Education – current and projected examples (Prof Len Unsworth).
The advantages in terms of funding and professional development to ‘industry partners’ such as schools, groups of schools, directorates and offices of government, Catholic and other independent education systems, of becoming research partners with universities will be outlined. Key elements of one existing ARC Linkage Grant and one proposed grant will also be outlined.
3.00 – 3.30 From the PhD blues to Publication Bliss (Dr Angela Thomas)
In this session I will discuss the process I undertook for establishing a research and publication agenda after the completion of my PhD. Issues such as how to find a publisher, how to convert the PhD into publications, and how to start building a track record will be discussed.
3.30 – 4.00 Refreshments
4.00 – 5.00 Kahootz: Children as active designers of 3D animated simulations, games and narratives. (Dr Angela Thomas)
Kahootz is a powerful set of 3D multimedia tools that allows students and teachers to be creators, designers, inventors and storytellers. Kahootz is also an active, online community. Kahootz students and teachers can publish their work and exchange, share, collaborate, de-construct and explore with other schools in the Kahootz community. The affordances of Kahootz and how children are manipulating these affordances will be the focus of this session.
REGISTRATION: Free – but RSVP to Len Unsworth is required by 6th February, 2006.
Participants may choose to come to any or all sessions.
(via Len’s blog)
I am so thrilled and proud to announce that two of my research participants, Tiana and Jandalf (aka Audreidi) were winners in the 2005 NaNoWriMo (national November writing month) event! Yay!!! Congratulations!!!
Here is Tiana’s “library card” (don’t you love the metaphors being used here!)
Here is the cover page of the novel she wrote:
and here is an excerpt:
Isn’t NaNoWriMo such a fabulous idea?! I can’t wait to find out how the girls feel about their published novels in comparison to their published fan fiction pieces. I am really excited for them because it feels to me that these novels and this whole process authenticates them as legitimate authors in a way that fanfiction.net doesn’t. How wonderful is this!!