Kickdown by Rebecca Clarren

The language is poetic, the main characters interesting, the setup somewhat cliche. Yet another young woman halts her career to return to a small town and save the family farm.

At the start of the book we are plunked down in the middle of fractured relationships. The tension is palpable from the first page.  We come to know everything about the hearts and minds of our main characters.

So when a major plot-point is resolved by the change of heart of a side character, with absolutely no insight given into what brought about the change, the resolution leaves the reader dissatisfied. Pressures evolve and dissipate rather than explode as the title implies.

That evolution makes for a worthwhile read, though, if not quite the one expected.  The main characters were engaging and well-written enough to want to want to follow.

Indiana Comic Con – Day 3

Sunday was the best day by far. The first panel I attended was by Muncie-area author Casey Glanders, called “Writing Worlds: Writing and Publishing Superhero Fiction.” It was basically a lecture on self-publishing for other independent authors. But I got the opportunity to expand on some of the library resources he touched on. That was kinda cool.

The Steampunk and Comics panel should have been amazing.  The presenter was in costume, his presentation was professional, and it was full of the history and development of steampunk as a genre, as well as the divergence of the steampunk timeline. But some kid sat down a couple rows in front of me streaming the whole presentation through his cellphone on a selfie stick.  Which really wouldn’t have bothered me if not for the fact he kept commenting to his audience.  I got up and asked security to speak to him, which they did, and he left.  But immediately afterward, the guy behind me decided it was a great time to take a phone call.  Didn’t take it outside, didn’t hurry to get off the phone.  Just sat there chatting away.  That ruined it for me. Old lady, remember?   I couldn’t concentrate, so we left to watch more Freestyle D&D.

Would have liked to have seen the voice acting panel, “Voice Acting: Everything You Want to Know.”  I wanted to know things.  But there were scheduling conflicts.  Also, “Writers: Worldbuilding Workshop” coincided with “Black to the Future: An Exploration of of Minorities in the Space Time Continuum.”  I earned my creative writing degree at least three years ago, and I’m still put off from workshops.  So I chose the latter.  And I’m so glad I did.  It was easily the best panel of the whole weekend.

Did you know it was thing on Twitter not long ago (probably during the whole uproar over a black actress being cast as Hermione) to completely recast Harry Potter with people of color?  Why wasn’t this all over library lists and groups?  Why didn’t we all latch onto this?  Granted I’m no Harry Potter fan, but why was I just hearing of this?

But that was only one part of the discussion.  The panel runs an independent media channel on YouTube and had very insightful things to say.  They engaged the audience in a meaningful way, beginning with the question, “When was the first time you saw yourself truly represented in mainstream media, and who was that character you identified with?” and ending with the question of what we could all do to improve representation of minorities.

I would have liked to say the highlight of the day was (Gabrielle from Xena) Renee O’Connor’s Q&A.  I mean, Jonathan Frakes AND Renee O’Connor both at the same convention?  So cool.  But as great as they were, they still couldn’t top that last panel.

Indiana Comic Con Day 2

Day 2 was pretty disappointing, to be honest. It was the busiest day, with the biggest crowds and most costumes. But the panels were really crap. There were few that appealed to me. Starbase Indy spoiled fan cons for me, I guess. Theirs was so much better in every way.

“Behavioral Development and the Child Protagonist,” sounded like it would be fantastic. But it was presented by a homeschool art teacher, with no credentials in child development that I could discern. The talk basically amounted to the presenter reading off a list of characters and giving her opinion (with the audience chiming in) on whether or not a child of that age would really behave that way or be realistically able to handle the circumstances they were placed in. Unfortunately, I chose this over “Explaining Manga for the Comic Book Fan.”

“Life as a Girl in Yaoi” was just as bad. I only have a vague idea of what yaoi is as a genre. I hoped I might learn something. All I learned is that it proaaaaaabably isn’t a good fit for the library collection, although I suspect there are some tamer forms that rely more on subtext. But the presentation was just so bad. I felt like I’d crashed a stoner party, watching three young women tell inside jokes and digress into tangents and side conversations that had nothing to do with the topic at hand.

“Is Fan Art Legal” fell right at dinner time, and my teen was starving (as per usual), so I missed out on that. The previous day’s panel on copyright, patents, and trademarks really glossed over this issue. I was interested to hear it covered with more focus. But I didn’t go. Another thing I realized later that the copyright panel didn’t address was the pervasiveness of digital copyright infringement. The response was basically, “Oh, get a lawyer.” They really kind of ignored the problem of theft of images or art that then goes viral. Like, they didn’t even seem to be aware.

So, Saturday really centered more around entertainment. The highlight of the day was Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker’s) Q&A. I spent most of the day in the exhibit hall and the game cave. The panels I was interested in were all in the late afternoon. I had been looking forward to RHPS. But by 8:30 I decided I was an old lady now and went home to bed.


I guess this convention would be a great place for someone with no experience in professional public speaking or a fear of doing so to practice. The standards for presenters are just that low.

Indiana Comic Con – Day 1

Art from “Building Your Collection,” including original 1971 Dr. Strange blacklight poster.

Today’s Panels:
Protecting your Ideas-Presentation by the Patent+ Trademark Office. Also covered copyright.
Building Your Collection-Interesting to hear hobby collectors come up with some of the same collection-development practices from an amateur perspective without formal training. Presenter couldn’t speak to classification schemes, though. | thought I might gain some insight that might apply to comics & fan merchandise as special collections. But it really was focused on hobbyists, which really was to be expected.
Race & Gender in Video Games-Insightful overview of presenter’s research on representation in video game trailers.
Also a magic show & Freestyle D&D.

It’s Official!

Having received the final evaluation of my Master’s Portfolio, my graduation is official!  I finished three degrees (and two certificates) in eight years, after returning to community college as a student over 40.  During that time, I moved three times, got divorced, raised my now-teenaged son, and, I guess, managed it all pretty OK!  Of course, I got lots of help from others, mentors, co-workers, my kid, my parents, U et al. (despite everything), and most especially, IUPUI CAPS.

Reflection: 2.3 Analyze and Evaluate Systems

The artifact I chose to demonstrate this standard is probably the one I enjoyed creating the most, and that I am most proud of.  It’s also the one I’m most likely to continue to keep adding to.  The Breadth and Depth of Digital Libraries assignment required me to evaluate many different libraries based on criteria such as purpose, information and services provided, and any other distinctive features.  This assignment demonstrates my ability to determine relevant and accurate knowledge and to respond to diversity in user needs.  It also required me to assess the impact of current and emerging situations on the design and implementation of services and resource development.

When locating digital libraries to evaluate, I did my best to find the most diverse resources possible.  This allowed me to become more familiar with resources that might fall outside the realm of my typical interests, allowing me to provide more relevant information to patrons, and to respond to diversity in user needs.

Emerging technologies impact the implementation of digital libraries, most often by filling information needs in more useful ways.  For example, Arnetminer uses cutting-edge technology to provide the most relevant information to users.  It is always updating.  Open-source or crowd-sourcing is having tremendous impact on digital libraries, providing access to, if not more accurate information, more niche information that is much more relevant to users as well.  For example, The Chinese Text Project is open-source and “the largest database of pre-modern Chinese texts in existence.”  The Free Quilt Block Library allows color and pattern swapping, and was created by a software engineer running on a platform that she created. Modern technology allows for this diversity of systems and services in a variety of settings.

Reflection: 2.2 Educate Users

The artifact I chose to represent my mastery of this standard was an assignment requiring me to evaluate the reference services of different libraries using different techniques and methods to retrieve, evaluate and synthesize information, as well as to interact successfully with the patrons.  This interaction occurred across three different technology platforms, phone, email, and chat, and for each platform I contacted multiple libraries.

On the whole, I found the email reference service to be lacking, and very often more a vehicle for promoting the institution than providing a successful reference interaction, if a response was received at all.  Phonecall interaction was somewhat better, but offered lists of resources that I, then, had no immediate access to.  Using the phone, I would still have had to go to a library or get on the computer to find a second time what the librarian had just found the first time.   Chat reference services I found to be the best of all, in one case offering excellent resources that were, for the most part, immediately accessible from the chat window.  In the second case, the pace of the chat conversation allowed for an excellent reference interview.

Evaluating these interactions, techniques, methods, and platforms from the perspective of the patron gave me insight into the best ones to use to help them locate  information resources and tools.  As a result, I believe this artifact shows my understanding and mastery of this standard.