Catching Up: WisCon and What I’ve Been Reading

It’s been nearly a month since WisCon 41. After six years, I’m getting much better at not breaking down into tears as soon as I leave the hotel like I did for a couple of years. I’m also getting better at taking the little actions that make the con better people other than me (pronoun stickers and such). Most of all, I’m getting that family reunion with new additions as well as familiar faces. Overall, it’s always the thing I look forward to most during the year.

This year I got the chance to finally meet a couple of people I’ve gotten to know online, missed a few I got to meet at the event these past few years. I’m getting to the point where I don’t need to spend most of my free time in the safe space. And I’m getting more comfortable as a moderator and probably had my best year yet with this task.

In fact, I ended up modding five panels this year, all of which I proposed. But to that later. My favorite panel was actually one I attended on Friday afternoon, Exploring Identity Through Food and Fandom. The panel made me think of all the ways I use food in my writing (and in real life). For instance, love interests for my characters tend to cook for them or feed them in some way. One of the things I lament most being alone on holidays is that I don’t have anyone to feed. I also thought a lot of the points made about weaponizing food as well as the ways food access is weaponized on a systematic level.

I thoroughly enjoyed our five panels. I had the pleasure of paneling with Nerdgasm Noire Network again on several of them and the wonderful Krys was the common factor in all of them. We discussed The Year in Black Movies and #OscarsSoWhite on Friday afternoon and gave me a great start to my modding duties. I also found out the only thing more terrifying than reading Mikki Kendall’s Get Out story is actually hearing it. The New Golden Age of Black Television on Saturday morning was also a delight and De Ana decided to join the panel. In the afternoon, we had a great Black Panther panel making connections among the upcoming film, the comics, the animated series and the extended Marvel universe. I was most nervous about this one, but it went well.

Well, Sunday afternoon was one of the most anticipated for me, The Women of Luke Cage. We had a great discussion about the awesome and complex portrayals of Black women. We discussed the show within the larger context of the Marvel universe and the possibility of Misty Knight-Claire Temple slash fic. Last panel on Monday morning also went well and was more well attended than I hoped. Apparently, there are a few of us interested in Older Black Women in Romantic Relationships on Television. Overall, this was probably the best WisCon I’ve had so far.

But alas, WisCon came to an end as it always does. I immediately missed my friends and prepared for another year of hermitting in my home. Which might be a good thing if I actually took the time to read or write like I always tell myself I’m going to do. However, the new job that’s sustaining me takes up much of my time and it zaps much of my motivation to write and read. However, I have managed to read two books over the past couple of months and have started on Edwidge Danticat’s nonfiction work The Art of Death.

alice pung

Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

I picked up this book from one of the Little Free Libraries around town. Yes, I was racially profiling as I do, so I took a chance on this one. I didn’t know then it was about a 15-year-old or that it was set in Australia, but I’m glad I kept with this YA entry. I liked the protagonist Lucy Lam. The narrative starts as a series of letters to her friend Linh, whom Lucy says she lost as she became more a part of the prestigious private school where she won a scholarship as part of a diversity initiative.

Lucy’s experiences bring to light the underlying racism, classism and gender politics that run through the school. Furthermore, as Lucy experiences the pressures from her classmates and school authorities as they treat her like a project, an experiment in transforming the poor child of immigrants into one of them, her mental health weakens. While the influence of The Perks of Being a Wallflower are evident (Pung even mentions the book), this story is wholly original and one of those young adult books that will probably be on English literature reading lists in the near future.

tomoyuki hoshino

ME by Tomoyuki Hoshino

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Hoshino took the premise of this book from a scam in which strangers called unsuspecting targets by only saying “it’s me” before pretending to be in great distress and in need of money. However, in this story, Hoshino’s protagonist Hitoshi Nagano accidentally takes the phone of a young man named Daiki Hiyama and prank calls Daiki’s mother and cons her out of several thousand yen.

However, three days later, Daiki’s mother shows up at Hotoshi’s apartment and acts as if he is Daiki. Hoshino later tries to go back to his own family and finds that they do not recognize him. He gets another surprise and finds that his life will not be the same. While it takes a turn that Hoshino must live Daiki’s life, it becomes much more than that.

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ll just say that Hoshino’s writing style reminds me of Banana Yoshimoto’s, whom I adored during my college years. Not only does this story have echoes of great scifi shows such as The Outer Limits and Black Mirror. Interestingly, another turn the story takes reminds me of the films of Chan-wook Park.

In the meantime, I’ll make my way through Danticat’s work and hopefully get back to my own writing. I’ve managed to do a chapter outline for both high fantasy and urban fantasy works. I’m still working on the outline for the graphic novel. Hopefully, I’ll get back to it sooner rather than later.

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WisCon Schedule and Possible June Livetweet Event

As most of you know, I have the opportunity to go to WisCon every year and in a couple of days I’ll be having a family reunion of sorts 😀 I usually don’t post my schedule coz for some reason I kept myself anonymous, but that really serves no purpose. I’m doing five panels this year, moderating all of them. If you’ve ever been to a panel I moderate, I like to keep it fun, keep it Black, keep it mostly womanly. Hope you’ll join us and look for a short announcement about a possible livetweet event I might hold in June.

May 26

The Year in Black Movies and #OscarsSoWhite

Conference 1

Friday, 4p-5:15p

MoonlightFencesHidden FiguresQueen of Katwe and Birth of a Nation were all major releases in 2016. These first four films offered refreshing depictions of blackness and Black people beyond what we have been used to seeing from Hollywood films. However, more than the controversy surrounding BOAN prevented it from living up to its hype from Sundance and it cannot be excluded from the conversation. This panels discusses these films and why they inspired so much hope for further representations of blackness.

 

May 27

The New Golden Age of Black Television

University B

Saturday, 10a-11:15a

In addition to shows such as Empire and Survivor’s Remorse, television has seen a resurgence of Black-cast television shows. In 2016, we got Queen Sugar,  Atlanta,  InsecureLuke Cage and The Get Down among other shows. Queen Sugar was especially impressive in its depictions of blackness and its decision to hire all women to direct the show. The Get Down was not only nostalgic but also depicted a multicultural setting with POC. This panel discusses these shows and how they gave room to explore blackness in ways television has failed in previous shows. We will also discuss any problematic aspects of these shows and what we hope for them in future seasons.

Can We Really Wait Until 2018? In Anticipation of Black Panther

Conference 2

Saturday, 1p-2:15p

#BlackPantherSoLit! Two years before the film is scheduled for release, Black Twitter trended the hashtag in anticipation. While we’re waiting for 2018 to get here, let’s talk about why we are so eagerly looking forward to Black Panther. Let’s discuss what we are hoping for from Black Panther and Wakanda, especially after the success of Luke Cage. Let’s also discuss what we are afraid could go wrong and whether we have faith in Ryan Coogler and company to give us the MCU film we all deserve.

May 28

The Women of Luke Cage

Assembly

Sunday, 1p-2:15p

Who knew we could break Netflix! Less than 24 hours after it debuted, Netflix crashed as we all tuned in to the first Black-cast MCU show. The response was overwhelming. However, within this culturally specific and complicated context, the women of Luke Cage made a lasting impression. Misty Knight, Mariah Dillard, Claire Temple, Priscilla Ridley, and Betty Audrey were among a plethora of well-rounded Black female characters with depth and range in this world. This is not to say that all depictions were perfect, but they were far from one-dimensional. This panel will discuss the women of Luke Cage and how they were essential to this show.

May 29

Older Black Women in Television Romance

Caucus

Monday, 10a-11:15a

This panel will discuss what it means to see Black women in various intersections finding and receiving love and support, especially at an older age. We will look at Annalise Keating from How To Get Away With Murder, Mariah Dillard from Luke Cage, Cookie Lyon from Empire, Violet Bordelon of Queen Sugar, Cassie Calloway of Survivor’s Remorse and Jessica Pearson of Suits.

So that’s my WisCon schedule. Of course, I’ll be attending other panels and will hopefully see some of you on my downtime.

After WisCon, I am contemplating doing a livetweet in June in honor of Black Music Month. What I plan to do is livetweet a few music documentaries: WattStax, Soul to Soul, A Band Called Death and Buena Vista Social Club. Right now, I am considering Wednesday or Thursday evenings, but I don’t have a set time. I will be off work and hoping the queue from my transcription job has work again. Whether or not there is, I want to make time for these livetweets that each celebrate some element of Black music history. If you are interested in co-ordinating or want to do this on a day that has five weeks in the month so that you can add a film, hit me up. I’m open to suggestions.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing my WisCon peeps!