Reading on the decline?

The National Endowment for the Arts released a survey today finding that literary reading has declined heavily in the US since 1992 – by 10% generally.

The news is disheartening, but I have to wonder how much of the slack – particularly among the age group of 18 to 24 – is taken up by the internet. More and more weblogs and journals pop up every day – certainly these people aren’t writing pages and pages of analysis over Harry Potter out of a sense of duty.

I wonder if the NEA took any figures on that?

Spider-Man the Musical?

Variety is reporting (and E! Online, too, for free) that Marvel Comics has teamed up with producer Tony Adams to turn the Spider-Man franchise into a musical. Sources told Variety that the planned project would bring Julie Taymor, of Broadway’s “The Lion King,” on board to direct; Neil Jordan would write the script; and U2’s The Edge and Bono would create the music. (Be still, my heart!)

Will it happen? No comment from any of the rumored players (of course). If the project did get off the ground, though, there’s no guarantee it would be successful; E! wonders whether such a musical would be an enduring hit of Annie proportions — or a Saturday Night Fever-scale flop. Hmmm. I wonder if Tobey Maguire can dance.

Now this is a con with heart…

I saw this over on TFN, but I’ve discovered I look forward to seeing it every year.

It seems that Russia has an amazing Star Wars fan community. Each year, they gather in Saint Petersburg for StarCon to share costumes, fan art, lightsaber training and various seminars.

The summary of the most recent event is now online. (Yes, it’s in English.) The next time you’re whining about having to stay in a crowded hotel room at a con, just imagine sleeping on the floor of a kindergarten classroom!

And they just have a lot of heart. Star Wars isn’t all that well known in Russia, yet these folks found each other. Pretty cool.

Repaying a debt to the master

As the deadline to vote for your favorite Star Wars Fan Film approaches, Wired magazine sits down with Trey Stokes, director of fan film Pink Five Strikes Back, who credits Star Wars with inspiring him to go to film school and become a visual effects supervisor. The article takes a look at how fan films have proliferated over the past few years, and it notes that Lucasfilm’s response to the growing “art form” — giving fan films a distribution outlet and a stamp of approval — is unusual for a production company.

Buffy, Feminism and… the Pope?

No, I’m not kidding. This article from Commonweal magazine, which appeared in November 2003, examines the “new feminism” championed by Pope John Paul II and the ways in which the author believes it falls short. In what I think is a terrific example of the theory that a fan can make anything relate to the fandom, Notre Dame professor Cathleen Kaveny argues that the pope’s conception of the role of women could benefit from a few Buffy viewings:

Why is Buffy an important interlocutor for the “new feminism” inspired by John Paul II? Because the two have enough in common for the discussion to be fruitful. The pope rejects sexism, as well as both “sameness” and “separatist” feminism, for the same basic reason: they undermine the dignity of women because they are untrue to the complex reality of the nature and situation of women. So does Buffy, but with snappier dialogue and better clothes.

Agree or disagree, it’s food for thought.

Fan Club Syncs Up

Those of you who have been, well, a bit put off by the timing of your Hyperspace online subscription and the new Hyperspace combined magazine/online subscription will be happy to know that things have been adjusted.

You can now renew your Hyperspace membership and get everything you paid for.

Let’s hear it for listening to the fans!