All This I Do for Glory

Apr. 29th, 2017 01:40 pm
yasaman: a little cartoon bear wearing head phones saying music makes me invincible! (music makes me invincible!)
[personal profile] yasaman
Pay no attention to the fact that I haven't updated in months oh my god. Still alive, still fine, etc. But my writing energies have been going to, variously, a) writing/editing at work, [more responsibility = good? i guess? but uuughh I feel like I write a lot on a daily basis now.] b) writing assorted strident metafilter comments and c) writing fic, which I am procrastinating from doing AT THIS VERY MOMENT. I'm two scenes away from finishing it, so of course I'm going to come guilt-post here instead of just goddamn buckling down to finish it. I'll post it this weekend ;__; I'll try, at least.

I'm taking a weekend off from protesting, which I also feel a little guilty about, but I feel like I'm in downtown LA all the damn time now for one protest or another. An immigrant rights thing here, Women's Day strike there, science march, tax day march, etc. I took this weekend off in the interests of just sleeping in.

I ostensibly put some Colin Stetson on to focus on writing, but lol whoops, I'm too into the music. I really liked his new album that just came out yesterday, All This I Do for Glory, but after listening to that on a loop at work yesterday while I powered through drafting a few things, I wanted to return to one of his earlier albums that I hadn't listened through all the way more than once, New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light. Good god, what a fucking experience it is to listen to one of these straight through, with the sound up loud. It's sort of like being out in a storm, being buffeted by rain and wind, and feeling equal parts thrilled and terrified.

Like, not gonna lie, this is, at best, challenging music. It's one guy howling and screaming into a bass saxophone, clomping away at the keys, while, occasionally, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon pops in to either sing beautifully or roar with astonishingly metal brutality. The answer to just what genre this music is can only be answered with ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But holy shit is there something deeply satisfying in the sheer forceful physicality of it, or sometimes the meditative drone of it. One man's breath powers all of this, no loops or overdubbing, and the embodied physicality of that really comes across. Not least because you can sometimes hear him breathing. Rarely have I ever felt music in my own body the way I feel this, where the music feels like it's filling my own chest and lungs.

Also, in this our new national nightmare, I find there is something incredibly cathartic in listening to one man howling and screaming in seeming agony and rage into a fuck-off giant saxophone. Like, objectively, I am aware that Hunted is sort of...punishing, as music goes, and that probably a lot of people would react to it with "....this is music?" Meanwhile I take a happy deep breath in every time Stetson lets loose with another eldritch monster of the deep howl through that saxophone. I think I see the appeal of heavy metal now.
sartorias: (JRRT)
[personal profile] sartorias
Orcs have become a complex subject in the dialogue about fantasy, both critical and fictional. There are numerous authors who have put together stories sparked by the notion that the orcs are the underdog heroes, despised as they are by the hypocritical elves, dwarves, and men. Within an outlook that “good” is meaningless and “evil” is mere propaganda for the other side, the orcs can become protagonists in a crapsack world chockfull of postmodern relativism, ugliness everywhere, and plenty of blood and guts.

Then there are those who consider the orcs, etc, as evidence of Tolkien’s racism. I’ll get to that. Finally, there are those, like me, who think the orcs pretty much act like human beings in their pettiness, enjoyment of cruelty, othering (they do it, too), and relish for violence, but that doesn’t make them heroes. It does, however, make me wonder about their lives away from war.

So all this stuff was in mind as I read this pair of chapters. I thought I’d look for, oh, let’s call them cultural details.

In chapter two we first encounter orcs and goblins up close, initially through a flashback in Pippin's point of view. The first orcs we are introduced to aren’t particularly battle-minded—until Boromir forces them to it.

Thinking back, Pippin reflects on how he and Merry:

. . . had run a long way shouting — he could not remember how far or how long; and then suddenly they had crashed right into a group of orcs: they were standing listening, and they did not appear to see Merry and Pippin until they were almost in their arms. Then they yelled and dozens of other goblins had sprung out of the trees. Merry and he had drawn their swords, but the orcs did not wish to fight, and they had tried only to lay hold of them, even when Merry had cut off several of their arms and hands. Good old Merry!

Then Boromir had come leaping through the trees. He had made them fight. He slew many of them and the rest fled . . .


The second speech we hear is one of them threatening Pippin, offering to ‘tickle’ him with a knife blade. This is an angry and threatening enemy who seems to relish the idea of torture, which he calls “play,” but still I wonder when he learned the concept of tickling as well as play.

We then get an argument, in which it becomes clear that there are two parties loyal to their respective masters, each of whom have orders that they intend to obey.

Then a third speaks up, saying, “Not our orders! We have come all the way from the Mines to kill, and [italics mine]avenge our folk. I wish to kill, and then go back up North.”

Following comes another interesting bit of dialogue: “Maybe, maybe! Then you’ll fly off with our prisoners, and get all the pay and praise in Lugburz, and leave us to foot it as best we can through the Horse-country. No, we must stick together. These lands are dangerous: full of foul rebels and brigands.”

Ugluk says that they have to stick together, then he brags that they are the fighting Uruk-Hai. He is concerned about “his lads” getting worn out—and Grishnakh returns because “There are some stout fellows that are too good to lose.” And finally, they carry at least one first-aid kit, judging by Ugluk’s tending Merry.

So underneath the threat and the ugliness, the dirty bandages, and so forth, we can see evidence of unit cohesion, obedience to orders, a wish to avenge their people, and at some point in their lives, a sense of play.

I remember a long talk on a panel during which an author, in slamming LOTR, pointed out that Aragorn, our noble hero, Legolas, the beauty-loving elf, and the honorable Gimli don’t seem to have any problem with abandoning the enemy dead.

Another person on that panel (which had been put together for the purpose of talking about why LOTR is bad) did not actually rant, but said more mildly, “Look, I totally respect your loving that book, and I know it’s got a lot of great qualities, but it also others people like me—persons of color—and I can’t get past that, even in a fantasy full of magic and dragons and elves.”

"Yes!" proclaimed the first panelist. "One of the many signs of othering is disrespecting the enemy dead." And pointed out later in the last volume an orc claims that ‘the big warrior’ (Sam)’s leaving the apparently dead Frodo lying in Shelob’s lair is a “typical elvish trick.”

Nobody countered it, but I remember wondering as I walked out of the panel if what the orc probably meant that the elves disdained a perfectly good meal, as I could not remember an instance in LOTR in which orcs and their allies respectfully buried anybody, ally or enemy. But there were plenty of references to relishing man-meat.

Anyway, it does appear that the orcs have some social and cultural rules. They are also thinking beings, choosing to follow orders to kill, avenge, and invade.

The other question is a tougher one, the language that equates dark with bad (“swarthy,” “swart,” “black,” “dark”) as opposed to those elves having as one of their beauteous qualities their pale, pale skin and hair.

It’s been pointed out that not all white characters are good: Saruman isn’t (“dark eyes!” someone on the panel noted), Gollum is sometimes described as dark and other times pale, and then there are the Nazgul, who under their black cloaks are “pale kings.” Whereas Aragorn when he first appears is dark of hair and clothes.

In my reading so far, what I think is going on is a light and darkness comparison rather than racial—though the Haradrim and their dark skin are difficult to explain away, as are the sallow and slant-eyed goblins. But to Tolkien light was so very important, going back to the light of the Two Trees, and one expression of evil is reviling that light, or wanting to possess or distort it.

Sauron certainly relishes darkness, what with only trying to buy (and steal) black horses, outfitting his minions in black (which takes a ton of dye work), and of course being a part of the breeding project to raise warriors who prefer to move in darkness, and who developed thick hides rather like armor, that seem by description to resemble elephant hides.

Anyway, my completely boring and wussy conclusion is that Tolkien was a product of his time, betraying certain unexamined assumptions, but what I do not believe is that he set out to write an allegory “proving” that all dark-skinned people are evil.

When I finished the chapter, I went hunting through the letters, and I found a passage when JRRT was writing to Christopher Tolkien during the last year of WW II, who apparently had been undergoing some problems with his military peers, JRRT writes: Urukhai is only a figure of speech. There are no genuine Uruks, that is folk made bad by the intention of their maker; and not many who are so corrupted as to be irredeemable (though I fear it must be admitted that there are human creatures that seem irredeemable short of a special miracle) and that there are probably abnormally many of such creatures in Deutschland and Nippon — but certainly these unhappy countries have no monopoly: I have met them, or thought so, in England's green and pleasant land).

Anyhow, I wondered what orc culture was like when they weren’t on the march to war. Did they marry? Were their children like any other kids until beaten into angry warriors? They definitely have a sense of humor, warped as it is, as is evident in this passage:

"Hullo, Pippin! Merry said. “So you've come on this little expedition, too? Where do we get bed-and-breakfast?"

"Now then!" said Ugluk. "None of that! Hold your tongues. No talk to one another. Any trouble will be reported at the other end, and He’ll know how to pay you. You will get bed and breakfast all right: more than you can stomach."


Did orc mothers wait anxiously for their boys to come home from the war?

Then, how much of their wills have been distorted by the magical influence of their supreme commanders, Saruman and Sauron? We’re going to see evidence of some kind of mass effect in book three.

Onward. We also have have in this chapter Pippin planning ahead, and watching for a chance to leave evidence. When he can, he cuts his bonds, then quickly loops the ropes so that they look convincing. This is not evidence of a stupid hobbit. After the Rohirrim attack, when Grishnakh turns up threatening them, it’s Pippin who does his best to deflect him.

And when Grishnakh is dead, it’s Pippin who was ready with his fake ropes, and after making sure they eat a bit of lembas: “Pippin was the first to come back to the present.” It’s he who cuts their bonds and takes the lead into Fangorn.

Oh yeah. At the end of the chapter, Eomer and his riders make a mound of their fallen, and they do burn the orc dead.

The next chapter is another of Tolkien’s wonderful mood and mode changes: we go from sweat, blood, fire, and sword into the beauty and mystery of Fangorn.

We meet the Ents. For me as a reader, it is somehow more wonderful that it is hobbits, and not men (or even elves) through whose eyes we first meet Treebeard and Quickbeam. I love the humor-veined awe that the Ents inspire in Pippin and Merry. We also encounter Entish magic, which—like the elven magic we have encountered so far—seems to be a natural part of their being.

Ho, hum, hoom, the Ents are on the march, after pages of wonderful, evocative description. Tension rises, after the Entish look at history and the world around them. As the next chapter returns to Gimli and company, that should do it for this round.

Yay, sleep disruption

Apr. 29th, 2017 02:11 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
It should make this long shift seem much shorter.

random Star trek thought of the day

Apr. 29th, 2017 12:01 pm
sixbeforelunch: behind the scenes black and white photo of shatner and nimoy (trek - shatner and nimoy)
[personal profile] sixbeforelunch
Neelix isn't just annoying, he's a jerk. His behavior toward Kes is creepy and possessive, he runs roughshod over Tuvok's personal boundaries, and he's a bad cook and a worse morale officer.

I'm sick and watching Voyager on BBC America. This show is such a tangled mess of emotions for me. I can't quit it or write it off because I like so many things about it but it's also the epitome of missed opportunities and squandered potential. :(

Mix tape!

Apr. 29th, 2017 10:55 am
jadelennox: A tiny duckling climbing a vertical curb many times its height (Duckling)
[personal profile] jadelennox
I made a snarky aside about cassingles in the poll on my last post, and then [personal profile] cnoocy and [personal profile] sanguinity got into a conversation about how you actually could fit a mix on a cassingle.

So [personal profile] cnoocy did it. No repeat bands, with a solid mix tape musical arc. It's got three girl punk bands and three tracks from musicals -- and, [personal profile] minoanmiss, one track "from an album of settings of Mesopotamian texts in translation and in the original language."

"Nice Glass": a cassingle mix. Complete with cassette-shaped cover art.

Techno-fail

Apr. 28th, 2017 09:44 pm
flemmings: (Default)
[personal profile] flemmings
Those who follow me on Facebook know I've been coping with mice this week, or possibly just with mouse. I set my tip-trap at night and there's always a mouse in it shortly thereafter. Same trap I used, fruitlessly, in 2010. This, by the way, is what a tip trap looks like. You stick bait to the non-arachnid end, mouse goes in to eat it, trap tips with its weight and hinged jaw shuts.

I always found it very hard to get the mouse out of the trap, which I put down to trauma. It took until this morning for me to realize you have to prise off the square end, not just open up the jaws, because the mouse can't turn around in the trap to get out the way it came in. Of course, prising off the end puts you in immediate contact with a traumatized mouse, so I may just go on opening the jaws and shaking the critter out.

FMK: The Snow Queen

Apr. 28th, 2017 08:28 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
So, it turns out The Snow Queen is not high fantasy and is a fairy tale AU. Oops.

About the only other things I knew going in was that I had really liked Vinge's Cat books (not actually books about cats, books about a dude named Cat, sorry), that she had at one point been married to Vernor Vinge, and that I was pretty sure that years ago I had heard a rumor that her husband was a total POS.

...turns out that I was unable to find anyone saying anything bad about Mr. Vinge, but her current husband is Mr. Banned-From-Wiscon himself, so apparently I have been thinking poorly of Mr. Vinge for years for no reason. Sorry, sir! See, this is why this stuff needs to be out in the open, not whispers.


Anyway, as for the book itself: it's well-written, I didn't hate any of the characters, the world-building and plot mostly hang together (at least until the very end, anyway), the concepts are interesting, there is no compelling reason I shouldn't have liked it, and yet I never quite managed to get into it. It isn't even that it's not my thing, because it *should* be my thing, and yet )

Anyway, short version: You could probably do a Snow Queen retelling that used the story in a way that worked for me (I should really get my hands on The Raven and the Reindeer) but this was not it; and I would totally read an entire novel about Ngenet and Jerusha (as long as Jerusha got to finally show a tiny bit of minimal competence which she never actually did in the book - a plot line about how she is unfairly treated as incompetent because she's a woman doesn't work if she never actually is competent); and I should have listened to my instincts and run when the summary on the back ended with "...the one man fated to love them both."

...interestingly I also read Makt Myrkranna today (having never read Dracula all the way through) which is also about a pretty, innocent young man who gets lured into the clutches of an ancient powerful beautiful cold devouring woman and her consort, and how his true love traveled across a continent to rescue him and save the world, but somehow I don't have any of the aforementioned complaints about it. A++ worldbuilding, dude does not let heterosexuality make his choices for him, lady makes reasonable choices based on the knowledge she has at the time and caring about him as a human being she is fond of who is in trouble.

I also read Pale Guardian, but I think that's actually the first Ashers book in which nobody ever has to rescue James, so it doesn't quite fit the set.

(eta: no, wait, Simon rescued him at least once in between Simon and Lydia repeatedly rescuing each other, nvm. On a motorbike.)

(I have been sick lying on the couch all day, which is why all the reading suddenly. Also I still have four more library books and two fmk waiting lalala.)

new raised bed

Apr. 28th, 2017 07:33 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
Here is the start of my gardening blog. Let me know if the thumbnail previews are fine, or if you would prefer all pictures behind a cut.

So this spring I put in a new raised bed, which Neal built for me out of 2x4s. It's in the front yard, which has more sun and less exposure to dogs, but the dog deficiency means the feral cats my next-door neighbor feeds think it belongs to them.

I didn't dig up the grass, just put down a thick layer of cardboard,

set the box on top,

soaked the cardboard, to provide all the elements necessary to decomposition,

and filled it with compost.

The white tubes are the bases of a hoop cover. I have some smaller-diameter flexible pipe, bent into half-circles, whose ends go into the white pipes. Then I can put a big piece of UV-resistant polyethelene over the top, and have a mini-greenhouse.

Next step is to mulch. Usually, when you are choosing a mulch, the first consideration is "What do I have lots of?" and then you evaluate how well those things work as mulch:
- Does it shade the soil to suppress germination of weed seeds?
- Does it keep the soil cooler?
- Does it let water get to the soil?
- Does it slow down evaporation?
- How fast does it break down, and what does it add to the soil?
- Will it stay where I put it?
And so on. But for me, the second consideration is, "Will this make my lovely loose soil more or less attractive to the feral cats as a litter box?" So the first mulch I use is a few layers of brown paper that came as packaging material.

Here it is in the rain:

Right now it is covered with snow, but I don't have a picture of that.

More about mulching and planting next time.
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey: passion)
[personal profile] sovay
I have had a wonderful day.

Not very much happened in it. I woke up late. It was beautifully sunny outside and it smelled like late spring, not premature August. I called [personal profile] rushthatspeaks to find out if they wanted to take the baby for a walk and found that they had already had the inspiration; I changed my keys and wallet out of my coat pockets into the one purse I own (I am pretty sure I have had it since high school: it started out moss-green and has bleached and abraded to army green over the years; the string has been broken since something like 2015, but I temporarily repaired it using the twist-tie off a bag of bread, which made me feel like a successful tool-using creature) and got dressed in the lightest shirt I've had occassion to wear all year and stepped out in the beautiful sunlight and met Rush and Fox at the corner of Highland and Crocker. The trees are flowering and uncurling green. Davis Square was full of people who had all clearly had the same idea to emerge blinking from their winter caves and soak up as much sun as possible before the weather did something irresponsible like flash-forward through summer or start snowing again. I had a frustrating interaction regarding my health insurance at the pharmacy, but it does not seem to have left the dominant note on the afternoon; Dave's Fresh Pasta had restocked its supply of switchel since last night. We took the bus back from Davis, in the course of which Fox charmed the woman sitting to my left and later engaged in extensive dialogue with the four- or five-year-old who took her place (along with her mother and a vaguely Fox-aged sibling in a stroller) despite the fact that she spoke both English and Spanish and Fox mostly speaks glossolalia and drool. They held on to the pole like a regular commuter, but we had to dissuade them from starting to chew on it. Rush handed me the first volume of Kore Yamazuki's The Ancient Magus' Bride (2013–) when we got back to their house and I had finished it by the time we got back from picking up [personal profile] gaudior after work; I have made a huge tactical error in not borrowing the second volume while I had the chance, because it has great Faerie, great stealth weird, and reminds me for some reason of Diana Wynne Jones. I was going to nap as soon as I got home because I was yawning all the way in the car, but then Autolycus presented me with such a fluffy belly and such an appealing look that I have in fact just been petting the cat for about an hour now while he purrs and grooms my arm, which is very relaxing for both of us. A mysterious benefactor off the internet sent me a copy of Andrew Moor's Powell and Pressburger: A Cinema of Magic Spaces (2012), which looks wonderful; the author has already observed something about A Canterbury Tale (1944) that I've noticed a lot of reviewers miss, so I feel I can trust him to have seen more or less the same movies I have. [personal profile] spatch just let me know that the lobby-level bathroom of the Somerville Theatre is now gender-neutral. I am tired and should probably take it easy tomorrow, since Rush and I are planning a day trip to New York on Sunday and I don't want to burn out, but I think I am definitely on the mend. There was a gorgeous smoky slate-and-peach sunset over the commuter rail tracks as I walked home, cut across with one white-reflecting line of jet contrail.

I like days like this.

(no subject)

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:17 pm
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
At a restaurant and "The bestiality doesn't bother me but is nothing sacred
anymore?" just drifted over from the next table and I really want to know
what *does* bother her.

WisCon 2017 Schedule

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:03 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
Saturday, 10:00 – 11:15 am, University C
Join the Mod Squad: Enhance Your Moderation Skills
Christopher Davis [Moderator], Victoria Janssen
Ever go to a panel and spend your time thinking, "With a good moderator, this would be a much better panel"? We will review several ways to be that good moderator, offer tips and tricks, and generally work on improving WisCon's already high standards for panel moderation. We strongly encourage you to attend this panel if you are moderating at WisCon, especially if it's your first time. It's also a great experience if you ever have been, or think you ever will be, a panel moderator anywhere.


Saturday, 1:00 – 2:15 pm, Conference 2
In Anticipation of Black PantherInda Lauryn [Moderator], Candra K. Gill, Victoria Janssen, JP Fairfield, Krys
#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.

Saturday, 2:30 – 3:145 pm, Wisconsin
This Canon is Fired: Redefining the “Must Reads” of SF/F and Comics Canon
Jake Casella [Moderator], Victoria Janssen, coffeeandink
Lists of genre greats often include lots of straight cis white men and not much else. What works and creators are being left off of these lists? What's on the lists that shouldn't be? What do the new SF, fantasy, and comics canons look like?

Saturday, 9:00 – 10:15 pm, University B
Fanfic, Retcon, and Zombies, Oh My!
Carrie Pruett [Moderator], Gwynne Garfinkle, KJ, Victoria Janssen
Let's talk about what happens in the murky territories where fanfic meets original works. Do writings that use original works in the public domain—modern-day Sherlock Holmes characters, zombies in Jane Austen's worlds—count as fanfic? When a series gets unwieldy or unpopular, it can be rebooted or rewritten with different parameters: maybe a character comes back to life, changes gender, or gets a new backstory. Are there differences between retcon and fix-it fic, other than who owns the copyright?

*whistles*

Apr. 28th, 2017 11:47 am
ceb: (spotty)
[personal profile] ceb
Just posted off my first Pay It Forward present (ref: http://ceb.dreamwidth.org/257205.html). [personal profile] venta look out!

parenting is hard, part N

Apr. 28th, 2017 04:18 am
cahn: (Default)
[personal profile] cahn
I've noticed that I'm spending a lot of time teaching my daughter (7) stuff that I'm simultaneously reading about as Stuff Women Internalize That Can Cause Problems — not making waves, not kicking up a fuss about things, trying to accommodate other people, giving a lot of attention to other people's feelings, being deferential and respectful to people in authority.

On the other hand, with E it's on the level of "not making waves" = "not literally screaming loudly because you bumped your leg mildly in a way that your two-year-old sibling just did and didn't even make any noise," and "being deferential and respectful" at 7-year-old diva stage corresponds to "don't yell 'Don't say that!' to everything Mom says, and in general give Mom the courtesy of not yelling given that Mom doesn't yell at you." So… I think I am okay here. But I find myself talking a lot about how it's totally okay to scream and/or be super non-deferential and impolite if someone is trying to get you to do something that you're uncomfortable with. And I still worry: am I finding the right balance? Am I going too far in one way or another? Where's the line?

(I'm trying to raise the boy and girl more-or-less identically, but this is actually a difference — while I try very hard to make sure that I don't teach E anything about being polite and accommodating that I wouldn't also teach A, I probably will not lean so hard with him on the "but if someone harasses you, you can totally go off on them!" because I expect A to have a lot more in the way of examples for that. I mean, I think it's still important for him to know that as a little kid! But more and more I suspect I will de-stress or even work against that view as he grows up, whereas it will probably get more important to me to stress that for my daughter. I think. Who knows. This parenting thing is hard.)

Profile

rushthatspeaks: (Default)
rushthatspeaks

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
910 1112 131415
1617 18 192021 22
2324252627 2829
30      

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 29th, 2017 09:36 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios