silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
So as the last entry may have suggested, I went to the symphony to hear Orff's Carmina Burana, and it was amazing.

It's a cantata scored for choirs, small orchestra, and tenor, baritone, and soprano. Orff used medieval songs/poetry from Beuern (Latinized to Burana) as his libretto, most of which were written in Latin but also Middle High German. He grouped them into several categories: drinking songs, love songs, songs about spring, all centered on a theme about Fortune. And then he set them to music.

You are probably familiar with the very first poem. It's O Fortuna and it's a very, very famous piece, often scored for epic scenes in pop culture. Here is a slowish Youtube recording. I really, really encourage you to listen to it, because I'm sure you know the first few seconds:

There was a hundred-plus choir singing this alongside a children's chorus, in what had to be like ffffffff dynamic phrasing. It was also a lot faster and had some incredibly clipped, marcato enuciation, so the impact can hardly be imagined in the concert hall. This is music to bowl you over completely!

The rest of Carmina Burana, and a quick note about the contrasting pieces preceding (including translated & original lyrics, even!) )
silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
cover image of The Thief

All my public entries are about books these days, so please have another one!

I finished The Thief a few days ago. It's been a book batted around as a really good novel, but I never got round to it (so credit must go to [ profile] kmo_lj who recced it again.)

The novel begins with Gen, a prisoner in the Sounis king's prison, where he's been languishing for months. The door to his jail opens and he's told that he's wanted by the magus. Gen was arrested for bragging in public he was thief who could steal anything (and did), but the magus wants him for some purpose, so he packs Gen on a horse and they leave the city alongside a few other characters--Pol, a soldier, and Ambiades and Sophos, two young men apprenticed to the magus. Slowly the magus reveals that he wants Gen to steal Hamaithes's Gift, a stone that in legend was given as a gift by one of the gods as a sign of divine right to rule. The novel is a mix of Gen and party moving through to Attolia (where Hamaithes's Gift is hidden) and Gen's telling of the myths.

The reveal! Holy cow! Reveals, plural, actually. I don't think I've ever read a book that's in first person all the way through and still has such a big surprise/revelation about the main character at the end. Most authors end up dropping at least some kind of biographical information to give insight into the character's motivations, which were almost completely lacking, though of course I never realized till the actual reveal happened. That is so cool. First person tends to talk about the thoughts and opinions of the person whose perspective is written from (sometimes as a clumsy way to do exposition or scene description) so it is really cool.

I also really enjoyed the writing. Some of the characters sounded very YA--they seemed to have some simplistic reactions and such (e.g. the magus was really rather trusting)--but Gen was very engaging and the reveal especially gave a lot more depth. The writing wasn't terse or spare or anything, but it dropped words exactly where they were needed--it was very deft, not a word out of place. Gen was always very dry, and I loved his narration. She also did a really great job with the scene where Gen walks into the cavern. When he first enters he nearly has a heart attack, thinking that there are people inside, then realizes they were statues--and then realizes in an even more heart-stopping moment that they aren't merely alive, they are truly the gods of myth. What a moment!


Currently reading, and quick discussion of article talking about hard science fiction )
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
Keeping in mind that I read the book while in mild pain, in a overwarm room, and sleepily:

let the spoilers commence! )


Someone said something about Harry Potter the series being Calvinist, so I looked it up (usually there's an essay backing the argument somewhere) and I had an intense People are Wrong on the Internet moment while reading. Not with the theology, which I'm never gonna be qualified to argue. But on literary interpretations, well, I had objections. Here is the post for reference. While I agree that Snape isn't a nice guy, he's written as a godawful teacher, a jerk, spiteful, but also bullied, misguided, and held up as someone who did good in impossible situations--even if he personally was awful to be around. Harry names his child after him, for heavens' sake! Even if you want to argue that it's just Harry's inhuman ability to forgive (wrongly), Snape himself shows you don't have to be sorted into Gryffindor to be, as the essayist says, 'the Elect', the good guys. Lily...does not treat Snape as dirt. She's shown to stick up for Snape in that infamous scene by the lake, she tells Snape while they're in private--after years of being friends--her reasons why she feels uncomfortable with his associates. She doesn't just drop Snape for no reason; I think being uncomfortable with friends getting violent/holding ugly prejudices against you is certainly not unreasonable, and nor is it "treating Snape like dirt". I will not argue that James Potter was not "a bullying toerag", but one of the recurring themes in HP is that it's possible to be bad and still love people. I wish she had de-evilized Slytherin and carried the theme more consistently throughout, but that's an argument for another day. Nevertheless, look at the Malfoys--they really love their son (to the point where Narcissa quite clearly defies Voldemort, risking everything at the cusp of their supposed victory). James clearly loved both Lily and Harry a great deal. Dumbledore loved Ariana but not enough, as a teenager, to realize what he was doing or enough to stop being resentful. Love didn't make characters perfect, but imperfection elsewhere didn't (doesn't) mean that jerks couldn't love.

Nuance, please.

Some of the statements were perfectly wrong. "That deep down a person can't change. Deep down...Percy is officious"--but it's a major point that Percy comes back and says, giving up his pride, that he was wrong and he did wrong and he was a prat and he's sorry. This essay also ignores other characters sorted into different houses: what happened to Luna? The DA is populated with Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. Harry has a rather low opinion of some of them--he thinks Ernie McMillan is pompous, for example--but never does he, nor the text, argue that they have less of an impact fighting against Voldemort because they were sorted into the wrong house. I could go on refuting random sentences, and it's tempting, but I think I've made my main point.

I feel this argument was predicated on one assumption, namely "Harry Potter is Calvinist", and the facts got twisted to suit it. That's one way to construct an argument, but I don't see it as very valid. I'd rather you start with a reading of the text first, or at least play around with the idea.


In real life news, I went to dance class on Thursday! We started salsa, and it was a blast. I don't like dance as a performance very much--I did it as a child, and synchronized choreography, performance, and all that is not my cup of tea--but I do very much enjoy dance with a partner. Or with sequential partners, like square dance. I know some of my classmates thought it was hopelessly old and outdated, but I thought it was just so fun, and music was ridiculously catchy. OK, it's fun when the person you're partnered with wants to be there and wants to exert effort (not always a given in mandatory gym class!) but here, my partner, a random boy standing across from me, was good, or at least equally matched with me.

We went through the basic steps, and some turns and variations. It was really warm, even though the sun had gone down hours ago, but massively fun. My partner was good (and could hear the rhythm! Oh man, best) so we ended up practicing everything a million times while the teacher went among other dancers. I've done jive before, which I thought was kind of similar--at least some of the turns. The stop and go (leader does basic step, follower turns 180, twisting arms around, then unfolding) I'm pretty sure I did before. The music was fast--a lot of energy is involved! Definitely looking forward to learning more this week.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Bee)
So a couple of weeks ago Amazon announced that they are allowing the sale of fan-written fiction (fanfic, fanfiction, fic, ficcies1, etc) for select fandoms through their site. Here is the announcement:

A lot of people have talked about this. I found out on f_fa, thought that someone was pulling my leg, but nope, it's true. Here is Scalzi's thoughts on it, which come from the perspective of someone who has been published and knows a little about contracts for writing, more than fic writers probably do:

Right, so I'm not even going to touch the fan side of it, except to boggle: I can't believe it's happening! Just like I was surprised at the mainstream-ing of Fifty Shades of Grey, I can't believe that fic is getting out there like that. Holy cow!

No, my main thought is: who's buying2?

Like I said, I don't get where it's coming from )


1 *giggle*

2 In case you ever wanted to know, yes I do spend a lot of time learning/thinking/talking about economics.
silverflight8: text icon: "Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush!" (Panic!)
cover of Fahrenheit 451, a man made of printed-on paper in flames I feel that the conventional descriptions of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 don't do it justice. For perhaps the first quarter or so of the book I felt it was entirely too heavyhanded. After all, I've been thoroughly spoiled for the themes of the book, and honestly I'd much rather be spoiled on the action; themes really spoil everything. The thing that bothers me about dystopia is an almost fetish for the past - re-imagining what came before a paradise. Sometimes it's an idolatry of the political system that came before (civilization only exists as a city--all right, fine, the word itself is derived from civitas inextricably tied to cities, but still.) Sometimes it's putting historical figures on pedestals. A similar vein exists with high fantasy: protagonists trust the knowledge contained within books more than anything else. And dystopias sometimes demonize or play up the dangers of new technology until I feel I'm listening to another lecture: all that TV that kids watch will rot their brains! all the videogames they play will rot their brains! all those movies, all that internet! and so on. Bradbury's "Veldt", one of his short stories, has some lingering similarity in themes (about TV, incidentally.) But this passage was a much more nuanced look at the issue. Faber is an old English professor who has been hiding for years, along like most thinkers:

It's not books you need, it's some of the things that were once in books. The same things could be in the 'parlour families' today. The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and televisors, but are not. No, no, it's not books at all you're looking for! Take it where you can find it, in old phonograph records, old motion pictures, and in old friends; look for it in nature and look for it in yourself. Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

(Faber, page 78)

Faber is speaking as someone who was educated in the past, but his words fit in with how Clarissa's living--she doesn't have the same philosophical bent or education, but she's living what Faber's speaking about. "Infinite detail and awareness", except expressed in life instead of words.

I'd heard Fahrenheit 451 being described over and over again about the perils of modern society and the dangers of not reading. And truthfully, the book does deal with burning books and firemen whose roles are twisted versions of their original purpose, but perhaps that's because Bradbury was writing in 1951 and books were a/the major way of consolidating information. And there's no resurrection of a burned book. A ripped book, maybe. A water-soaked book, maybe. Once fire gets through a book, it's gone. But the idea of the novel is much broader than books.

The other interesting point that Bradbury seems to make is that it's not a top-down movement, not really. Unlike similar novels like 1984, it's not the government. It might have been the government or a higher power, once, but now the compulsion to destroy books and bury oneself in the blunting influence of TV is from the people themselves. The fire department will show up at your house if you have books, but the firefighters aren't being forced to do it; they feel it's right to do so. Through Faber, Bradbury criticizes the pursuit of happiness at the expense of everything else like critical thinking, though he notes elsewhere that people aren't really happy, either. The protagonist's wife, despite her 24/7 immersion in her virtual Family and other content, seems to be deeply unhappy in a way she isn't even aware of (it's ambiguous whether or not she tried to commit suicide.)

I'm pretty sure I could go on for a long time dissecting this novel (what about the chief fireman? The woman who chose to burn with her books? etc) but I'm sure lots of more eloquent people have done this already, and I've spilled enough ink myself!

Fahrenheit 451's a very short book; I liked it, but I do think he's more used to writing short stories. Bradbury's writing is unexpectedly lyrical and abstract, I suppose, with a lot of metaphors and similes that took awhile to get used to, but it left me distanced from some of the action, which was really effective. I make it sound like a very anvilicious novel, but I've heard so much about it that I'm incapable of actually judging anymore. Despite this, I'd still recommend the book--if for nothing more than to understand what all the references are invoking. (And he quotes "Dover Beach"! One of my favourite poems, so it's got my vote.)
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[Some gore in the last few paragraphs.]

You know, after The Serpent Prince and more generally Hoyt's Princes trilogy, I don't think I can really do the whole "duel for honour in Regency England" thing anymore.

Before I start, I'd like to say I LOVE DUELLING. The trope is like catnip. Half my favourite characters are expert swordsmen/women, and especially ones who are not soldiers, but warriors. Ilario de Sylvae? Joscelin Verreuil? Gwalchmai ap Lot? It's actively embarrassing, but the chances of me loving a character go up about 100% if they are swordsmen.

Now, for the Princes trilogy - they are the first three books written by Elizabeth Hoyt, all romances set in Georgian England that focus on a trio of friends: Edward de Raaf, Earl of Ravenwood; Harry Pye, a land steward; and Simon Iddesleigh, viscount of Iddesleigh. The three meet because of the Agrarian Club, and also I must mention that their moments of friendship and camaraderie at the club are my favourite parts sometimes. (I would kill for friendship fic about the three, but there is literally no fandom to speak of.)

Now, duelling.

Duelling. )
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cover of Interface Masque, pixellated blue bird wingI'm going to admit this upfront: this is a rant disguised as a book review. By this I mean that this is me getting my music-student rage on. Among general reader rage, too. I fully admit to getting frustrated at around the first 1/3rd of the book because of logic, world-building, and characterization inconsistencies on top of bad, bad treatment of music, but sticking it out purely for the catharsis of writing a review. I finally finished it today. While it took me about a month-and-a-half to read the book (where normally a book this size is 2 hours, max) partly because of real life, it wasalso because I could not get through five or ten pages without being brought up short by some inconsistency or problem.

So. Wanna hear about Interface Masque?

The paragraphs under the first cut do not contain spoilers. The rage review contains spoilers. If I were you, though, I wouldn't read the book. Not worth it. In fact, I have so many issues with this book that I'm not even addressing the RANDOM ALIENS IN THE NET bits, because I have piled quite enough objections in this review, but please be assured that they are ??? and are like a red herring that doesn't actually help with anything. They're just there and never resolved properly.

Interface Masque, Shariann Lewitt. 350 pages. Science fiction - cyberpunk?

The reviewer bits )

The music-student (and general reader) rage bits )
silverflight8: Barcode with silverflight8 on top and userid underneath (Barcode)
I don't actually care about books.

No, no, don't run away!

BACKING UP TO EXPLAIN NOW. I've always defined myself, for lack of a more widely understood shorthand, as a a lover of books and reading. What I really mean is I don't care about the book's physical format. I do have preferences between books "bound in 1850 with spines falling off", "bound in 1960 and grungy with that ugly university bindery", "bound in 2007 never opened as a paperback" and "bound as a hardcover in 2007 and opened" and "ebook as a .pdf" and "ebook as .epub" and "printed out with 1" margins on white paper".

But what I mean is I evaluate all these on the axis of how easy they are to read.

I have terrible eyes, so reading on a computer is kind of not all that great, and makes me feel like my eyes are radioactive after too much; reading destroys my sense of time passing and so I can read for two, three, four hours at a stretch. (It doesn't stop me from consuming fic and borrowing epubs though.) I like books bound hundreds of years ago, but purely as a historian and for general wonder - look, here is a book that has passed through hundreds of years into my hands! I wonder where it's been, and who's read it, and how it has come to be here. But I don't care so much for them as a reader, because if I try to open them on my pillow (I like to read under the covers), it's sure to get grit all over the place, so I have to actually sit at my desk to do it. Hrmph! And paperbacks - you have to either break spines, or else open them a crack and cant your head one way and then the other to read them. Hardcovers are heavy to carry. The bindings on the 30-year-old books, and their dusty and dirtiness are not to be mentioned; those I have to read at my desk too.

Think of me as a vampire. The Bookish Vampire. (I am sure that will sell.) I re-read a lot, but I also have very good memory, so I need only read the book once to create a version in my head. Like I've sucked the lifeblood of the book - the ideas, the world built in there, the characters, the themes and atmosphere - and kept it inside me. The physical shell I don't care about. I like to reread, to refresh the world over, and - if the writing is enjoyable in itself - to wade through the words again. But the most important part has already been imported. Next time I have to wait for the bus, I can think of this particular book's core, or cackle, or replay events.

This is what I'd like to tell the friends I have who don't like books, and are badly puzzled by me liking books. (Also the random guy participating in the lab who was intent on psychoanalyzing me on why I didn't like movies and preferred books: seriously, lay off.) And the people who assume that since I like books, I should want to spend time in the library, or am suited to working in a library*. I like words a lot, but ultimately it's the soul of the book. I like libraries all right, but the library isn't magic in itself; it's what it houses and what it stands for that's magical. If the Library of Alexandria were still standing I would go visit - but as a historian, not as a reader; a book that came from that fabled library and from my home branch, four streets over, makes no difference to me whatsoever as a reader. All I need is the words and the things contained therein.

This is why I don't have shelves and shelves of books. In addition to having no space, little disposable income, and the necessity of moving - I just don't see the point. I can borrow from the library, and it's the exact same book. Other than to re-read, why should I keep copies of books? They're already inside me, and a book is nothing but ink and paper and paste, a physical burden that I can carry in another way.

*OK, so I do work in two separate library systems, but those don't count! It has nothing to do with my reading.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Bee)
So Uther, by Jack Whyte. I've read Whyte before; he wrote a series about Templar Knights on the Third Crusade. In retrospect I had similar objections. They didn't come through so clearly, since they weren't talking about Arthur's father...

At any rate, the novel is about Uther, father of Arthur Pendragon, etc etc and chronicles his life. From some reading on the author's site, he's written quite a bit in this section of history/mythology, with a parallel tale following Merlin, which was published before Uther.

My objections, I suppose, rest on various genre conventions that I've come to expect in works set up a certain way. There was a discussion this summer about realistic vs fantastic fiction and the writing and expectations of readers that came along with other genres (it was a fantasy/horror course, so genre came up.) Anyway, we talked briefly about LeGuin's essay "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie*", wherein she argues that the author's style is essential for establishing a fantasy world, and that (unlike realistic fiction), that in fantasy the heroes can truly be heroic. That is, that there is no need to pull your punches; you can so change appearance or character attributes or names or whatever to suit exactly what the story is asking for, with no need to consult whether it would be plausible in this real world. Green eyes for John Lackland, or something. I transcribed a passage from her essay:

"[the protagonists of three quoted fantasy novels] speak with power [,] with a wild dignity. All of them are heroic, eloquent, passionate. It may be the passion that is most important. Nothing is really going on, in those first two passages [...] but with what importance they invest these trivial acts, what emotion, what vitality!

[several paragraphs omitted]

Lords of Elfland are true lords, the only true lords, the kind that do not exist on this earth: their lordship is the outward sign or symbol of real inward greatness. And greatness of soul shows when a man speaks. At least, it does in books. In life we expect lapses. In naturalistic fiction, too, we expect lapses, and laugh at an "over-heroic" hero. But in fantasy, which, instead of imitating the perceived confusion and complexity of existence, tries to hint at an order and clarity underlying existence - in fantasy, we need not compromise. Every word spoken is meaningful, though the meaning be subtle."

LeGuin, Ursula K. The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction. Ultramarine Publishing, 1980. Print.

It doesn't mean that your characters must be archetypes, but that it's not necessary to lampshade, because a reader will not kneejerk object, on "that's not plausible!" leaders will truly be lordly and warriors will be honourable. Of course, LeGuin wrote this in 1980, thirty years ago, but a lot of the points she makes are very interesting. If the text is accessible from your part of the world, give it a shot! (Especially since this is mostly paraphrase).

Now: as for Uther. In a lot of ways, this book swung inconsistently between what I think of as idealized- and realistic-leaning fiction. This isn't a value judgement, nor am I trying to imply that the realism must be grimdark and the fantasy must gloss over physicality. The idealized works are often in secondary worlds (like immersive fantasy, or portal-quest ones). Lord of the Rings. For realism, think contemporary, I guess. I put Pride and Prejudice in the realism category, but Wuthering Heights in the former category, for the whole Gothic romance bit. I find that this divides down genre lines mostly; for example, a lot of historical fiction I read is of the realism category, but a lot of Regency novels are in an idealized world.

Firstly, the setting clashed with the characters. The novel opens with Veronica, Uther's mother, coming unexpectedly upon a scene where prisoners are being burned alive by the inhabitants of the town she's going to live in. (She's Roman). This is generally quite the grim scene setting. And yet - the characters! There's his grandfather, who is noble and incredibly understanding of young Uther, though as far as I can see Uther is just secretive and insular and no wonder everyone laughs at him for trying (and failing) to bash open a giant piece of coal with a knife; the fact that Uther's grandfather can divine Uther's intention to smash the coal was a weird contrast. Uther's grandfather then goes on to tell the council that they oughtn't have laughed, and reveals to them what Uther meant - about breaking open at fractures, applying it metaphorically. Then there's the Champion, who forgoes an assignation to help a little boy who got beat up, which, lovely, but he doesn't get much characterization otherwise! Merlin drops out of the story some midway through and the thread doesn't get picked up again. Uther has a brief affair with the wife of a diplomat and they meet again and nothing is picked up again.

Mostly though I had major issues with Nemo, who is a girl ("no name") running away from home because of really bad conditions there. She becomes utterly, fanatically obsessed with Uther, follows him around, keeps tabs on him (that's how we know about the coal-breaking incident; it's narrated by an omniscient POV but one who is clearly seeing through Nemo's eyes [though not her voice] as she is in the rafters spying). Nemo goes so far as to join his warband, though she's the only woman and to the point that the men cease even seeing her as a girl. AND THEN THAT'S IT. She's introduced early, and then NOTHING HAPPENS, except that she gets in trouble that once in the town (demonstrating her seriously misplaced loyalty for Uther and picking a fight).

What? What? This made me so mad. Characters basically enter Uther's life and they leave and that's it! Like the protagonist of the Templar Knights book, Standard of Honour who dies off-screen and the second protagonist goes on! Where is the follow-up? I felt cheated out of several character arcs. I am always game for a realism/historical-accuracy retelling of anything, because I love history, but this just shortchanged me; characters move through a parody of changing and then they freeze and don't keep changing, even though the narrative continues.

*Poughkeepsie, a place in New York State; fantasy to real, from the other to the mundane. (I had to look that up).

[Hm, I guess I didn't really talk about symmetry that much. Another post, then.]
silverflight8: lion rampant on shield. See <user name=houses> (house of bit)
There are little music rooms here that you can sign out to use. One has drums, one has a good upright, and two have deconstructed and badly-out-of-tune pianos. And so although each room has a window and is bordered by its neighbouring rooms, it's like locking oneself into a room and practicing. I like it. The closed door and the location - in the basement by the laundry - makes me feel like I can make mistakes and practice that one part a million times without worrying.

All this piano practice has made me aware of a Thing I first dreamed up of in grade eight when my Humanities teacher asked us for inventions. (She was a very cool teacher.)

PREMISE: A music score display.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: Like an iPad! A tablet! The pianist for our choir used an iPad once, so that he could just tap the screen and have it shift to the next page. Anyone who's ever had to play long pieces or take music from a book knows what a pain it is. (I used to use those big clips to hold pages open. And bend spines without even a flinch, because it was so frustrating.) It should be about the same height and width as a sheet or two of paper, perhaps foldable in half, to save space. Light, so that it doesn't mess with the piano. As well, there should be some kind of flap or physical button to hit, when turning pages.

When I tried the idiocy of playing Erlkonig (link goes to Youtube, of a fantastic Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) and equally amazing pianist - watch the speed of the octave triplets), it was something like twelve pages. I taped six together - that was the length across that would fit - and ripped the sheets down to get to the next part. Dramatic, but cumbersome.

SPECIAL EFFECTS: A system of automation - set the pages to flip every, say, 21 seconds automatically. You could time your piece and then enter timings for each page - just play consistently. Even for pieces heavy with rubato you could set timings individually. Or documents in certain file types could have meta associated with it, so that it could calculate tempo (given by composer) and number of bars and estimate.

Even better, we could have another pedal, off to the left, which would turn pages! Like a sewing machine's pedal - stomp on it (the only important pedal's on the right anyway) and the page turns.

BENEFICIARIES: Pianists. Any musician that needs both hands to play. People who prefer not to pay freaking thirty dollars for ten pages of music (oh Debussy) and can get scores online. People who want to take music scores around with them but don't want to cart loose sheet music. Musicians who are too trivial to have page-turners assigned to them :P

DISADVANTAGES: The tech would be expensive, of course. And we might wind up with the same problems as ebooks do now, but by God, I'd love to have something like this.

(Of course, all of this is why you memorize pieces as fast as possible. But still!)
silverflight8: Different shades of blue flowing on a white background like waves (Fractal)
1. If you wish to make an argument and also would to preface with a disclaimer that you are not talking about x, or that you understand y,

2. then your subsequent argument should not make me doubt that you understand y. In fact, if you find that you disclaim z and then override this again and again in your argument, it's not very persuasive.

2a e.g.: I KNOW that x is OK, but x is wrong wrong wrong. What are readers reading into rapefic? It can be rape fantasy, not evidence that everyone believes rape=love is true.) Question of the day: why are there always so many rants started "I know about rape fantasy, YKINMK etc." but then quickly devolve into "Rape fantasy is icky and gross and harmful!"

At least make your argument make sense, please. I can't even argue with you because you've muddled it all up first. I have no idea what you're trying to say, and I haven't the patience to try to go through. Either disclaim m, or don't.


If it's okay with all the historians on the planet, I'd like to move the dates of the Seven Years' War up about fifteen years. I need some way to kill off an OC (convincingly) so that the dragon Praecursoris can meet Choiseul properly. Anyone else have suggestions...?
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
Someone posts to fandomsecrets about Disney Specifically, that the song Kiss the Girl isn't sexist.

In this scene Ariel is consenting silently, as she's been rendered mute, but holy cow those lyrics are creepy.

Yes, you want her/ Look at her, you know you do/ possible she wants you, too/ There is one way to ask her/ It don't take a word/ Not a single word/ Go on and kiss the girl

In the context of the WHOLE ENTIRE MOVIE, they're acceptable, as her whole intent is to get Eric to kiss her.

The premise is troubling: girl wants to transform into another species (approximately) altogether, leave behind everything she's known, all her family, makes a deal with what she considers evil, just to win the boy. Courageous, yes. The fact that the boy doesn't do anything, doesn't need to do anything? And she has to give up her whole world to do be with him?

If we lived in a world where we don't have a history of one gender with greater privilege over another (HINT: misogyny is the word) this movie would be fine. The problem is we don't live in that world.

But to those people who are arguing that this has no real life repercussions? (raaaaaage: Sexism does not manifest itself with blatant slurs or outright assault alone. It's obviously more subtle than you can pick up.) The people who don't want to admit that Disney is sexist? (I'll be back; I just need to check to make sure this is the same universe I woke up in. You are so oblivious I can't believe you're serious.)

I have news for you.

One single movie about a woman who has marriage as the culmination of her dreams is fine. A hundred movies saying that is okay. It's not an unreasonable dream, and we are not all the same and do not agree on dreams. But when nearly every Disney movie (qualified because I have not watched them all) does end that way, there is a big problem. Belle, who is a heroine I love (the admiration for Page's voice is helpful) dreams of something bigger, better, and ends up marrying. Cinderella wants to escape her life of drudgery - she marries, and it's all a magic dream; it's nothing she's really done. Snow White is rescued by someone riding by at random; for Sleeping Beauty, ditto. Meg gets married; Mulan gets married. As examples build up, you cannot claim that this is only one girl's dream, and not the silent expectation in society, women and men alike.

I do not believe the Disney producers intended to be sexist. *Intent is magical! But the fact that even The Princess and the Frog, a movie released in 2009, has the girl predictably happily-married only shows that nothing has really changed. The message underneath it all is: for a happy ending, you need to be married.

One Disney movie like this = not a problem. All Disney movies with the subtle implications about how one can live a good life = a very, very big problem, and I am sorry that you cannot see this.

*Thank you also for the side helping of ablism.
silverflight8: Barcode with silverflight8 on top and userid underneath (Barcode)
BIAS CHECK: I do not agree with lj's point of view. I am also not lj staff, nor am I one with flocked entries. Please read with these in mind.

I'm starting to see the privacy debacle on lj as a vast difference in the concept of who owns what.

It's obvious that for people with flocked journals or entries who are telling lj that they don't want this feature feel that it is their content. That the comments made on their account fall under their 'jurisdiction' (used in the non-legal sense). They want the ability to control what is seen and what is not seen: while copy and paste is always possible, it is an conscious, deliberate action that crossposting is not.

From lj's standpoint, the comments are the property of the commenters, and so they have control over what and where they post their comment. A crosspost of a comment to them is thus not the invasion of privacy that many lj users are calling it.

This seems to be a sort of Gaping Pit of Ideology that neither can cross. The ones who don't like lj's decision will lock down further or get out — to dreamwidth, to journalfen, to where-ever else — and the users who agree with lj's view or simply don't care will not be able to understand the fuss.

This reminds me of the state/federal rights fight in the US.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
THIS IS A SPOILERY REVIEW FOR The Red Wolf Conspiracy, by Robert V.S. Redick. BE CAREFUL IF YOU DISLIKE SPOILERS. I don't particularly recommend you read this book (my rating: 7/10), though.

While I was in France, the apartment I lived in had things that the previous renters had left behind; one of those were books. I picked out The Red Wolf Conspiracy, because I am a sucker for high fantasy. And sea-adventures.

Right now, I would like to say that I retract any statement I ever said against Tamora Pierce's female protagonists and her portrayal of feminism in her novels. At least I know, when getting into her books, that I won't be surprised unpleasantly by stalking is love or strong female leads who aren't really strong after all. Or supposedly sexy interludes which aren't because of unpleasant dub-con implications. (Not that these scenarios happen in The Red Wolf Conspiracy, but that they're a problem in general).

Doesn't it have a beautiful cover? )

In conclusion: 7/10. There are better fantasy books out there.
Crossposted manually from my livejournal and bookish.
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I was going to post a feel-happy, look-a-pretty-book, isn't life wonderful? sort of post. I suppose not. I bring this to you because the person in question was ignorant, and that's the last time I ever want anyone to use that excuse for racism again.

If you're not in fandom, you might've missed this. An author posts a story set in Haiti during the earthquake, accompanied by really, really cringe-inducing portrayals of actual Haitians, many of who are still suffering. This is, apparently, to further the relationship between two of the characters. See link lower for context (the round up has a large number of commenters, as well as the link to the original.)

A lot of people, most more eloquent than I, have already gone through and processed this, torn it open and looked at the racism and the bad taste, and have offered their own commentary. I was going to sit on my hands and read, but then there was a sentence in her apology that really, really ticked me off.

' [I see how the] portrayals can be seen as unflattering,"

No. NO.

Unflattering connotes vanity, self-image, trivial, skin-deep. Unflattering is used to describe clothes: "Oh, that dress really doesn't flatter your figure, dear." 

People are not objecting to the fact that all your characters aren't saints. Excuse the capslock, but THEY ARE POINTING OUT THE RACISM THAT IS INHERENT IN THE INTERACTIONS THAT YOUR PROTAGONIST HAS WITH HAITIANS. These are people, they are living through an immense tragedy, and a decency to understand that their pain is not OK for you to exploit for your story--you're missing that.

Semantics? Maybe. But I think it shows what the author truly thinks, and that word--"unflattering portrayals"--is indicative of their attitude towards this. I don't think they get it.

[ profile] amazonziti has a beautiful round-up of links, but warning: if you value a rage-free day, avoid the direct quotes. It is bad. Very, very bad. Don't look.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
I finished The Wolf and the Dove, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss today (it was the one I blathered about earlier--set in an atypical historical period (!))

Bones to pick:
1. Historical inaccuracies, let me show you them. In 1066, it's still the medieval age for England, and the Battle of Hastings--you know, the one with William the Conker? (Sorry, conqueror. It all sounds the same when I say it. ) I don't know all that much about this time period, but even I can spot these ones.

a) I am very glad to see that the girl, Aislinn, feels strongly about rape and realizes that the shame of rape should not fall on her. But the problem is, that's a modern thought--which isn't even all that accepted even now! (Proof: look at how many people say: "Oh, she was dressing like a [pejorative noun]; "he was asking for it," "I couldn't control myself.") In the book's day and age, you own people--serfs, for instance. And it makes no difference whether there's consent or not--you're stained, marked, blackened, reputation slandered--and that awareness that it's not your fault is very unlikely.
a) i. On that note, I'm kind of wondering how likely a family is going to take in their daughter after she's been brutally used (no specifics in the book; it's just a very minor character). After all, you have to pay a dowry, and they 'can't work the fields'.

b) To me, trying to wrap up a bleeding wound in dirty linen is vile and disgusting and I'd immediately feel as though I was coming down with an infection. However, it took until after the Crimean War--approximately 1854 to 1856--and even later to make the public realize that sterilizing things made medical operations safer. The concept of germ theory, that we get sick because of microscopic organisms or viri, doesn't exist. I find it strange to think that Aislinn always reaches for the "clean linen", because her home has been ransacked, and it'd be work to get it clean.

c) Horses get tired. People get tired. There is very little acknowledgment of this.

2. The characterization stuff. I have this aversion to sudden character shifts. People get epiphanies, realize they did something wrong, wake up one day and find out that their beliefs have been smashed into pieces--it's possible. But two characters (interestingly, both women) do this strange about turn in character, after the protagonist is nice or the villain is especially evil. I think that the characters had more pride than to come to the protagonists, crying, to ask for forgiveness. Especially considering the vehemence of their hate and their spitefulness that had lasted for months.

3. I'll let the ~super beautiful~ protagonist and extremely understanding (for this time, anyways) other protagonist to slide. It's fiction, after all, and few books are about the mediocre or ordinary.

4. If you wish to adopt a highly officious, or 'ancient' writing style, I suggest you be very careful in inspecting your work to be assured that you have not added in modern mannerisms. *shakes self* There were a couple places where the statement was so inexplicably--well, today-like--that I was yanked out of the story and just stared. (Also, the use of 'babe' always seems pretentious to me. Just saying.)

5. There might be something wrong when I start secretly hoping that the obviously unlikeable character (that the author sets up) wins. I thought Maida deserved some sort of respect for standing up for what she believed in, even though that wasn't the smartest idea and nearly drove her crazy. Still, the female protagonist stands up for herself in the beginning, but slowly loses that throughout the book.

6. Please leave off the random info dumps.

7. ETA: Also--writing mistakes. Misspellings, comma splices, misuse of the words 'therefore' and 'thus', and generally awkward writing.

tl;dr: I think I'm just going to read a historical textbook for this, actually. Rating? It would have been 8/10, but after the character turn around, it's 5/10.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
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They never taught us it, but life is fragile, death is inevitable, and humans have an infinite capacity for both extraordinary violence and hope.

Cheesy. I know.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
I read the editorial page today, and came across this lovely...thing.

"Most people do not think there are similarities between Communist Russia and Canada, but the legislation recently proposed by the Liberal party, to give tax cuts to Albertans who vote, is just one step closer to that very thing. This tax cut is a ridiculous idea and it is bribery. The whole point of democracy is the ability to freely vote. People who don't already take advantage of this opportunity shouldn't be paid to do so. During the Soviet Union's reign, bribes were given to people to ensure a high voter turnout. During elections, all sorts of efforts were made to ensure that people would vote, and those who voted were treated to free buffet lunches and the like. While a $50 tax cut is not a free lunch, it is not that much different, either. In fact, it is frighteningly similar."
 -Nicole Holway

This smacks of the ridiculous. Here comes the lists!

1. I would like to point out, before we get into all this, that "Communist Russia" sounds odd to me--possibly because the USSR didn't just include Russia. In fact, all those little countries around it--satellites--were quite as much a part of that union as Russia proper was. Just saying, since you seem to be hitting the reader with a lot of historical blargy.

2. No, I don't have all the facts, but judging by your editorial, this means that the Liberals will give $50 off your taxes if you vote. Right?
   2a) Thus, since Alberta is a (*thinks*) about a four party province (NDP, Liberal, Conservatives, and possibly the Wildrose Alliance).
       i) And so, that means that the average voter has four well known parties, plus a whole thwack of other random people running. A tax cut to vote is not going to automatically make you vote Liberal.

3. Stalin (I'm expecting this is the time period you speak of) and his government wanted people to vote because there was only one party. And they needed that show of popularity, since, y'know, you haven't a shred of a justification about a democratic state if you are both unpopular and have a one-party 'democracy'. This is Alberta. There are many, many parties to vote for.

4. I agree--this tax cut is very stupid, and I really don't know why people don't vote. However, while this cut may guilt-trip some into voting Liberal, I don't think this is quite 'bribery' as you claim.

5. You say: "People who don't already take advantage of this opportunity shouldn't be paid to do so." I'm going to assume you meant: "People who don't vote" as what you meant by 'opportunity' (I don't see any other way, but I could be wrong here). But you see, you only get this supposed tax cut if you vote. Which just rendered your objections null. They aren't going to get a cut if they don't vote.

6. Please go back to a non-propaganda history book, open it, and read about the USSR. Please write things about other countries when you actually understand their history. Thank you for your time, and thanks for providing me my daily dose of "OMG WHAT?" for the day.

With all due respect,


I think I'll get around to discussing the bill about bilingual Supreme Court justices tomorrow. But it's kind of iffy...I get the feeling it might be a longer post, as far as time to write goes.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
I went to see a choir concert today, and I--well, it's hard to sum it up.

For one, this wasn't just a single choir--it was two choirs, collaborating. That meant that what is normally quite complicated polyphonic harmonies in medieval music are suddenly doubled: you now have eight to ten voices singing, and the texture is so rich. Comparing their sound to a conventional SATB choir is like comparing the thickness (and I apologize for the weird analogy) of a wool sweater to a light cotton blouse. They sang the vespers, as well as the traditional (and I mean "from the 500 AD timeperiod") church services: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei.

Even though the composer was obviously contemporary (seeing as music was mostly within the church anyway), the music was very much medieval, all of the voices moving independently and over and around each other. The choir was good, though, at letting some voices sometimes shine through the medley. They also had the most amazing dynamic contrast I've ever seen: the voices were in perfect unison, sometimes, and other times I felt as though the people outside the church walls could hear and feel the force of sound. I can only imagine how much work was put into all of this...

They sang a few contemporary pieces (and by that, I mean 20th century). Again, they chose the ones with really unusual harmonies--not the perfect and major/minor intervals familiar to the Western ear, but instead a lot of diminished and augmented intervals, a lot of clashing and grating melodies. As well, most of the pieces didn't end on the tonic--often times, since the piece was modal anyway, the listener was left with a: "I know the piece is over but it sounds kind of incomplete" sense, because we're so used to having music finish off in a tidy little perfect cadence.

Anyways, I'm very glad I went, despite the cost ($20 for adults, $15 for students/seniors). I only regret that they could not perform in one of the great cathedrals of Europe: that sort of music belongs in those stone halls.


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