November 30, 2007

Return of the Ponies

Hi, all!

This is Karissa. I'm invading Amanda's blog. She was having some design issues, so I fiddled around and got things to work again. Since the image (blue and green color blocks) she used to have here is MIA, I created another one in Photoshop to help bring the color scheme back together. Hopefully it's doing what I want it to do.

It's been about two years since I did any major work to Amanda's blog. I'm impressed with the staying power of the style, even through multiple MT upgrades. There are a couple little things that I may tinker with, but they're probably not bothering anyone else so we'll see what I can do.

Oh, and what would a visit to Amanda's blog by Karissa be without PONIES? :)


I'm not making them take over the whole background like I did last time... But this one at least comes close to matching, eh?

Yours in style,
Signing off --Karissa

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 29, 2007

Hand in can of worms

I think I've stuck my hand into a big squishy can of worms. HIV and AIDS Care in New York City is tricky business. It's my last hard-hitting story of the year, and I'm just now getting information on what I need to get information on.

It's tricky pushing through all the legal and medical jargon, but something really interesting is emerging. I can't wait to see what it is.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2007

Two realities--one life

I never expected home to be two-fold.

I've come home to this house and its charms, its pace and I'm reminded of everything I've left behind. It's tempting to stay, especially when there's two articles and a lengthy Ethics paper on my docket.

However, this home is different now, but still the same. I'm seeing everything with a camera woman's eye. The close-ups, the over-the-shoulders, the wide shots. It's becoming a disease--almost as bad as the critic's when I pick up a book.

But home is much more than something to capture. It's so alive and so incredibly real. For so long, I've dealt with the idea that the world keeps going in two places at once. It's really egotistical of me to think this way, and I'm well aware of it, but it's something to behold. People change and grow and do things and time passes and we're all along the same timeline. It seems like a magic trick, and I can't seem to find the smoke and mirrors anywhere.

I am living one life in two realities. I hope I can make them one, but for now, it's like I'm jamming myself into one or the other, with nothing fitting quite right yet. Maybe somewhere else...with more time.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

Home for the holiday

So weird to be packing to go home.

Funny thing, though. Two articles, a documentary and an ethics paper due the week I return. Feeling the end of the semester burn.

I can have turkey comatose one day, but the rest is work, work work...and see my wonderful family and, thank God--drive.

This is my first train trip alone. My ticket is tucked in my bag and I'm on the rails tomorrow. What joy is mine!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:58 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 11, 2007

Go yogurt, and back again--without fish

I hated the concept of yogurt as a child, almost as much as I hated the idea of fish. I think both foods were once palatable to me, but something made me change my mind.

I remember what happened with yogurt. I heard from one of my parents that there were actually living things in what I was eating. Cultures. I envisioned them, swimming around in my tasty cup, ready to devour my insides. I could almost feel them then, skirting around on my tongue in their bedeviled movement on my taste buds.

Even now, when I think of cultures, it makes me think I am somehow a colonial literally sucking up an entire society when I now eat the stuff. But more on that later.

As for fish, I had a fascination with Shamu and aquariums since my first trip to Sea World and watching Michael Jackson sing to "Will You Be There" over cuts of Free Willy.

Fish were flailing in nets, caught by big, gruff men in rather large plastic suspendered pants that had big laughs and cold hearts.

And I hated the taste. That goes for seafood, too. I taste a little bit of the ocean in all fish and seafood and am repulsed. That hasn't changed.

However, yogurt has risen in my esteem exponentially. I love it now. I started eating it after a babysitting gig one summer where I tried - very nervously - Gogurt. They froze it, and seriously, that was the only reason I ate it. I thought the cultures died in the freezer.

It grew on me. It was Dannon. I won't eat anything else, and that's not a plug for them. The stuff seems rather harmless, even when unfrozen. And I had serious issues trying it without it being frozen. However, I can't taste the same thing I tasted in other yogurts I've tried since childhood. I think it's the cultures. I don't feel anything that on my tongue. And as for the culture label, it's not even in 8 pt. font on the label. Harmless, right?

Oh gosh, I think I've been thinking about this too much...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 7, 2007

Yay for Brooklyn

Can I just say that I love Brooklyn? I find myself wanting to stay close to my new neighborhood more than ever these days.

And I just heard about this upcoming event -- a huge flea market -- in the works for April.

In Brooklyn Heights, every Tuesday and Saturday are these lovely farmers' markets with fresh vegetables from upstate New York, and yes, Pennsylvania. I always feel very Cider House Rules when I walk through the tents, picking up apples.

I've also discovered the Brooklyn Public Library on my end of town. The selection is amazing and very homey. I wish I could live here as a real person, not a student.

Maybe I'll stay a little bit before Christmas after classes have ended and see some of the things I've been longing to visit like the Brooklyn Museum, the Guggenheim, Central Park's northern end, the Museum of Natural History...There really is -so- much to do here.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:37 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Pre-release viewing: War Dance

A couple of nights ago, my program at NYU hosted a pre-viewing of Sean and Andrea Fine's documentary, War Dance.

The film is about three children living in a displacement camp in Northern Uganda and their struggle to do good things, despite the bad things they've seen and actually been forced to do.

When I used to think about documentaries, I thought about my dad and I watching The Civil War together on the couch, listening to the lilt in Ken Burns' voice over dissolves of old photographs. And that's fine. It's actually pretty wonderful.

But War Dance was more than a history coming alive. It -- is.

The story, however, isn't only about a time and a place that's currently experiencing strife. It's not about the war directly, but rather about the war's effect on the children. The lens, for example, is held almost unbearably at some points on the children and their grief at losing loved ones, being abducted themselves and fleeing their homes.

The film's ugliness, though, is countered, as Fine said in his call-in interview to our viewing, by the beauty which surrounds the war zone where these children are imprisoned.

And the Fines captured that beauty to its fullest. Sean Fine said he even used his third-generation camera lenses -- modified, of course -- for his camera equipment on the shoot. I don't know if it was the lenses or the scenery, but the colors were richer and clearer than any I've seen in the documentaries I've been madly watching this fall.

The film is structured around a competition that the children's school has qualified for, and their journey as underdogs; but the real story is along the way, and crowned by their experiences at the competition.

I was captivated. Tears streamed down my cheeks at many points during the viewing. I didn't expect such an emotional drain from a documentary. I don't think anyone really thinks crying and documentary really go together. People think Ken Burns. People think Morgan Spurlock. People think documentaries aren't good drama.

But I don't think so. People, think War Dance.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 6, 2007

Entering graffiti: Urban aesthetics and crime

I'm currently writing a story about a mural in my neighborhood beat of Highbridge in the Bronx about graffiti. I've always been interested in graffiti. Back home, there is an old train trestle that is covered with phrases and once-colorful inscriptions. Now they're faded and probably peeling as much as the lead-based paint underneath.

But the graffiti in Highbridge is always getting new coats. In fact, the event which I peg my story on is the creation of a new graffiti mural on the main thoroughfare of my neighborhood.

The mural, however, is permitted by the substance rehabilitation center that is run in the building. The painters -- now in their late 20's and 30's -- are masters in their craft, and seem to have moved on from simply tagging -- an early form of the graffiti art -- to painting elaborate murals that feature one mainstream cartoon character and then place their intricate signatures around the picture as a frame.

Though this style sort of still glorifies the cartoon character -- which is ironically, Disney's Tarzan -- the idea of making something recognizable alongside the graffiti, which people have difficulty understanding, is art to me.

Graffiti, in New York State, has many classifications. It's ironic, but many people appreciated the art, but abhorred what the professionals called the testing ground for graffiti artists. To become a master graffiti artist, they said, you must be a "toy" first. A "toy" is a beginner or a person that practices on structures to be a better artist. Love the master, hate the apprentices, I suppose.

I had so much fun on this story. I just discovered them doing the mural on Saturday, then went back on Sunday. I interviewed the building's inhabitants and even got the point-of-view of a very friendly police officer. Good journalist times.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 3, 2007

Homesick collection

The man in the elevator
Smells like Daddy's chest on graduation day.

A crinkled flour bag
Are absent cookies
And the sprinkles she put on top
To match this season.

The remote control isn't mine.
I should leave this room
It's hers, not mine,
So I stay, but she's not protesting.

I look with you through
The garbage.
We find lots of good things
To mismatch this apartment.

The shower is a substitute
For the waves and algae and chlorine.
A moment in a subway car
is an adventure beyond Somerset.

The native spins yarns on a keyboard in bed--now without a cord.
And sings quietly on a train platform, longing for an engine.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack