silverflight8: stacked old books (books)
book cover, with medieval art: two men fighting with lion on one side, one man has stuck his sword literally in the face of the otherI've been reading these (Penguin 1990's edition) and I've now read Erec & Enide, Cligès and half of The Knight and the Cart (Lancelot).

(I included the book cover because it illustrates beautifully why I love medieval art. The era of photography and photo-realistic art [and understanding/importance of perspective] makes that image delightfully weird. The artist just doesn't care about any of that. The guy on horseback has literally stuck his sword into that other guy's face. And that's a lion, fighting alongside. But what a story!)

I thought that Erec is such an ass. He was fine at first but at a very innocuous remark, he basically drags Enide all over the country because work-life balance? That's not balancing marriage and knightliness, Erec. Telling Enide to not say anything, Enide then twisting herself into knots over whether Erec would get murdered by the next three knights trying to sneak-attack him and whether she should warn him and get verbally thrashed, or not warn and potentially see him killed, was so frustrating. She's so devoted to him too, even after all that; she faints after this random count tries to forcibly marry her not only because of the forcibly-married part but because she thinks Erec is dead and she can't stand to be married to anyone else period. Erec & Enide was also written rather episodically, in three parts, so I kept expecting pieces of the past bits to be picked up, but they never really were. I'm guessing that they were probably told episodically--come back tomorrow night to hear the second installment!--but it's not obvious in text.

Cligés was a lot better. A lot easier for me to follow, too. There's one part I want to talk about though: about midway through Fenice and Cligès decide to try to get married 'the right way', i.e. Fenice is already married to Cligés' uncle and so they can't just run away, no, that would destroy Fenice's reputation 1. No, instead, Fenice decides to literally play dead, with her nurse Thessala helping by feeding her a potion which would make her seem dead. Then they would dig her up afterwards and no one would be the wiser, see. This was such a Romeo and Juliet plot that I stopped reading, thought about chronology, and then went back to reading, but couldn't help think this was going to end badly. And oh my god, IT DOES. (Other examples: Les Misérables. Lesson: don't literally play dead). Three wise doctors arrive and they infer correctly she's alive and then they start torturing her to make her speak. But the potion's effect means she can't speak or move and they literally get to the point of torture ) before the bereaved court ladies shatter the door barring them and rescue her. Things which I was no expecting: THAT.

I'm struck by how sometimes you can almost hear Chrétien saying some of the stuff. I mean, in the beginning of many of the tales he slips into the narrator role, and he says "written for my lady Marie [of Champagne, his patroness]". But in some of the knightly parts, where whichever knight is the hero is laying about and fighting so hard he splits weapons with the force of the blows, you can almost feel Chrétien's glee, like a little boy's, over how so-and-so is the best knight in all the land, unequalled, etc. Some of it is perhaps idealization for his audience, who would have been knights; knights becoming an actual noblish class is just beginning around this time, and they probably don't have people opening their doors and getting lavish hospitality everywhere they go. That's the dream or just an enjoyable fantasy, like our own fiction genres.

1: For some reason it is better to pretend to die and then marry Cligès than to run away. I'm pretty sure either way you're committing bigamy.... Oh! And also it's okay to do this (perhaps not in "real life morality" reasons, but in "audience will root for you" certainly) because there's a complex plot in which Cligès' uncle essentially stole Cligès' inheritance by marrying Fenice, whom Cligès then immediately fell in love with while they were retrieving her in Saxony (or thereabouts). Trying to explain how these stories work takes so much ink because they're basically stories with most of the description taken out, although there is always description of riches (oh the furs!) and the battles, of course, with the lance splitting and being knocked off horses and all that.
silverflight8: text icon: "Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush!" (Panic!)
I was trying to find an article on medieval credit. This is what I found instead:

Read more... )
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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.


Jul. 8th, 2013 07:11 pm
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
It's pouring rain! The intersection down the road is underwater. The cars in downtown are swimming. I got out of work dry and was soaked to the skin as soon as I made it down the stairs. It's unbelievable. What is going on?? This isn't normal at all!


This is ironic because on Saturday, A and I went to the park to photograph butterflies, and sweated like pigs. All we saw were two (2) Cabbage Whites (invasive species) and 2 (two) Summer Azures, which are azure by naked eye, and tattered grey by photograph. Better than the first time in May, when we saw only the Cabbage Whites...lots of birds though. A has a picture of me sitting in despair under the shade of a bush, but some of the photos were worth it.

Here's my favourite picture of Saturday:

under the cut )
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
The Puppet Masters is a novel about Earth's contact with extra-terrestrials that want to enslave the human population. The protagonist, "Sam Cavanaugh", is an agent working with an unspecified intelligence agency, and the plot follows him as he tries to help beat them back. The extra-terrestrials are slug-like things that clamp onto the back of humans and completely take over their consciousnesses and willpower, and they begin infecting Earth. Like many megalomaniacs, their justification is that humans can't make peace themselves, and wouldn't it be better if someone solved that for them?

There, that's the bare bones of the plot. Heinlein wrote in in 1951, so I give it a pass when it comes to overused plotlines.

The novel's set in the future, so we have cars that fly and some pretty amazing appearance-altering technology (or the intelligence agencies have them anyway) but we also have a very solid Iron Curtain and some commentary about the Soviet Union. That said, the action is mostly closely focussed on Sam. When the agency investigates the disappearance of a couple of its best agents in Iowa, he tags along with the director, the Old Man.

Interestingly, because of the scale of the attack, there's an element of politics and social change involved. The slugs attached to humans make a sometimes hidden hump on the back of a person, and to avoid having one slug-infected person infest the rest (the slugs do so deliberately) the population of America strip. This doesn't exactly go over so well initially, and convincing the President and Congress that there is a serious danger isn't downplayed either.

The more informal reaction )

Enjoyed it, can't articulate it, 8/10. Still not thinking about certain things. I wish there was a way to turn off certain parts of the brain's analytics.
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.
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I'm struggling a bit through--wait, I forgot the title of the book--The Guns of Avalon, by Roger Zelazny. I think I'm struggling because a) Corwin, the protagonist, and b) the weird language switching.

Corwin: I'm not getting a bead on him at all. He's very powerful (walks in Shadow, much more powerful than normal humans, regenerates flesh, used to be a powerful leader of some sort, etc) but he just doesn't seem to be very interesting. He's royalty but he's been distanced so long from his extensive family that all the political drama is being narrated to me (or to him, he's catching up) in little dribbles and at great distance. So far the most interesting person I've met is Dara, who I do quite like and understand, at least, even if I have a bad feeling about this seventeen-year-old girl. What happened to Lorraine doesn't reassure me. But Corwin--he's just kinda there.

Language: OK, what's up with the switching between high-fantasy and vernacular? Here's an excerpt with more formal language:

He was young and fair of hair and complexion. Beyond that, it was hard to say at a glance. It is difficult, I discovered, to obtain a clear initial impression as to a man's features and size when he is hanging upside down several feet above the ground.

(Page 70)

Nothing especially archaic, but not entirely modern, right? Especially that first statement. But then there's dialogue like this:

"Don't worry about it. It's not contagious."
"Crap," she said. "You're lying to me."
"I know. But please forget the whole thing."

(Page 44)

It keeps doing this. Corwin refers to his father as "Dad". His sword is "Grayswandir" (very pretty). And the whole thing's set with parallel universes (that's what "walking in the Shadow" means, you can walk between worlds and pick what you land in), and so there exist an Avalon. There's a Lancelot we meet. And Uther is mentioned by name. But we also have Ganelon, who I always associate (apart from the Kushiel's Legacy one) with the Song of Roland, the medieval epic. All these influences keep jerking me around, merging kind of confusingly.
silverflight8: 2010 Nanowrimo: text "sentences do not require verbs" (Nanowrimo 2010)
I work in a library and shelve books.

In shelving I remove the random pieces of paper that people stick into books. So far, I have found, among other things:

*Post-its, sticky colourful flags, plastic flags, etc, with and without text, sometimes shredded into small strips. Scrap paper with scribblings and paperclips fall into this category too.
*toilet paper folded over a few times (heh, obviously I am not alone in this)
*Due date slips. This is boring, except...some of them are from 1994! They're yellowing and bent and obviously no one has actually cracked open this book since '94. I am keeping track of the oldest ones (the 1994 one, properly, is a pre-printed piece of paper with the library's name, a notice saying "50 cents per day per book", and a rubber-stamped date. It's not the receipts that are computer-printed automatically when we check out books.)
*Interlibrary loan papers, complete with patron name, requesting library, date of request, a paperclip (often in colours like hot pink), and many other uninterpretable details which look like keysmashes to me.
*A "Parking Infraction Notice", with instructions saying: "If you plead not guilty then the trial will be held at [Province] Court at: [Address]" I'm not sure if they plead guilty or not, since the stub ended up in a book...
*An RBC banking receipt. Someone withdrew $100 at some point, apparently.
*A test paper on recent Chinese history, marked in red pen.
*A piece of paper with bunny stickers.

But today I found something that takes the cake:
*Someone's completed Social Security card application. With his name, address, date of birth, mailing address. Folded into eight squares. LEFT IN A BOOK.


?? election

May. 2nd, 2011 09:36 pm
silverflight8: text icon: "Go ahead! Panic! Do it now and avoid the June rush!" (Panic!)
1. We have a Conservative majority. OK, even though I'm liberalmaybe this means the government will be more efficient since they actually have adequate support.

The thing that blows me away:
2. Official Opposition Party: NDP.

silverflight8: Barcode with silverflight8 on top and userid underneath (Barcode)
I see this all the time in Support requests.

Please, if you have information that you think is sensitive, do not share it publicly on the internet. On LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, you have the option to flock or to make the entry private. Flock isn't perfect, but at least third-party search engines can't index it - they don't know it exists, period.

Do not put private, sensitive, or embarrassing information about yourself online, connected to your real name, unless you are fine with everyone around you knowing. There are people who, in high school, put all sorts of information out, and now are scrambling to delete it so that potential employers don't find it. Write it down offline. Privatize. Flock. Lock to custom friends groups.

Please do take precautions. In most cases as there are no TOS violations, LiveJournal support can't do a thing to delete your embarrassing entries if you forget your password/username. Most search engines won't delete the cache unless you delete it first from LiveJournal. There is nothing we can do.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
(article decrying Nanowrimo). The Quote That Made Me Stop and Gape: the selfless art of reading are being taken over by the narcissistic commerce of writing.


(also, that's a grammar mistake there: it should be "is", because "art" is singular, not plural). Perhaps you should write more?

The concept of having fun. Of taking up wild challenges. Of daring yourself to do something that's not dangerous but still exciting and all that. Do these concepts even register?

Edited to add: and I just got Mercedes Lackey's pep talk in my inbox, and I'm floored that she advised writing fanfiction. Floored. I think there are approximately two professional writers I know of who approve and encourage it. Wow.
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: bee on rose  (Default)
Link to misogyny and ignorance. Click with caution.

I made it halfway down the first page of comments and then gave up.

My reaction, helpfully summarized:
DEAR EVERYONE ON THE PLANET (minus those already armed with The Clues):

1. Words have meaning.

2. Words have two types of meanings: one is a dictionary (or scientific, or otherwise defined meaning). There is a second meaning, connotation. These are associations attached to words.

3. Generally connotations are the most important.

4. Pulling dictionary definitions when people are clearly talking about the connotations is neither helpful nor clever.

5. We are not separate from our history. Even if you think there's no misogyny in your world*, by using words that historically** carry misogynistic intent to describe someone you don't like, you are using the term in a way that is misogynistic. Even if you don't mean it. I'm sorry, this is the legacy we've been handed down with.

6. Live with the awareness that yes, while you wish you could totally throw around "whore" and "bitch" and all the rest without worrying about PC POLICE***, don't.

7. For the last time, the history is why words like "dick" do not garner such reactions. No, really. You're not pointing out anything that has not been brought up before in these conversations.

8. Please for the love of all that is holy stop telling anyone they're overreacting or oversensitive.

9. If you know nothing about this issue, I would advise your library or Google or another person who knows you well and this issue.

10. This applies wonderfully to just about any -ism you can think of; just change some of the words! 


**They still do, by the way.
***Someone forgot to send me the uniform, obviously; I still don't have any weapons for these things...

tl;dr: *puts head on desk and thinks of happy thing*

silverflight8: Barcode with silverflight8 on top and userid underneath (Barcode)
My life consists of school and making applications right now (and wondering about writing competitions offline, too, which is why I'm not posting). Kind of stunned on the scholarship stuff, though; my school chose my application for one of the really big scholarships to nominate and I know for absolute certainty that others with vastly higher marks than I have applied. My friend has marks ranging between 96-100% (they all tend to be 100% or just below) so I'm still kind of wondering why they didn't pick her.

Kept trying to write a post about my hate for the word "chick lit" (let's denigrate a genre of women's fiction, again! For portraying...realistic people?) but can't. I'm watching [ profile] metafandom interestedly--it's obvious, the impact that community has: one topic spreads like wildfire and many posts go up about x topic.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
I feel like I've stepped in a timewarp or something.

TMI! )

And in my mind all day was the poem (the last lines have a tendency to stick):


Frances Cornford (1886-1960)

I wakened on my hot, hard bed,
Upon the pillow lay my head;
Beneath the pillow I could hear
My little watch was ticking clear.
I thought the throbbing of it went
Like my continual discontent;
I thought it said in every tick:
I am so sick, so sick, so sick;
O death, come quick, come quick, come quick,
Come quick, come quick, come quick, come quick.

silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
Thought of the day:

Thanks to the organization of my iTunes collection (read: haphazard), in my mind the possibly-lost-to-time fifth movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is actually the Kyrie. Dido and Aeneas lead directly into the (really jarringly) happy Four Seasons, and somehow I've merged Mozart's 40th Symphony (aaaah) into Pathétique.
silverflight8: a blinking Word cursor and text: it mocks me (writing)
I wrote a long post with this title. It promptly disappeared when I switched from HTML reader to Rich Text. I haven't the heart to type it up again (it was very long, full of random side notes and strange things) so I'm just going to assume one of the fates has indicated that she does not like my post--more likely than not--and so ate my post. (Actually, I think maybe I put in the WRONG CODE FOR THE CUT *hits self on head* OH VERY SMART.) Except writing nothing would feel very strange. Hence this mutant paragraph. Heh.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
You know what makes you sound like a blockhead?

1. Admitting you have no idea about x subject (or knowledge gleaned from unreliable sources; e.g., an organization that dislikes x), then writing a piece about it.

1.a) Then proceeding to BASH SUBJECT X. Which you said you don't know anything about. Why on earth would you not do a little bit of research? Fine, a minor detail--not everyone wants to improve their writing, etc, etc. But when it's practically the whole basis for your story? And you're bashing it? Really.

silverflight8: bee on rose  (Bee)
Sometimes faily sentences are just too much to respond to. Like this one: I know he put in place a brutal policy of ethnic cleansing against the riders but how does that make him evil?


(What requirements come with evilness? Is ethnic cleansing not enough?!)

Context here; they're discussing Eragon and the whole cycle/trilogy.

Sometimes you get nice snark comms, that manage to self-police, and then sometimes they're just hostile and nothing else.

silverflight8: Canadian flag waved by stuffed dog (Poog)
Dear LJ in general:

I hope you realize that a lot of your site's users are in fandom. A lot. They also do this thing called "shipping", which basically means you pair (or put in groups of two or more) characters together and write romantic stories. These pairings are denoted by slashes: i.e., /. You do realize that by removing those from your acceptable tags, that you've just royally screwed up any community that uses them? As well as the writers, who tag their stories this way? And that many fans stay on LJ because of the fandom?

Well done, LJ. Nicely done.


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