Viy (1967)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:20 pm
alexxkay: (Default)
[personal profile] alexxkay
This film is based on a Nikolai Gogol short story from 1835. I had never previously heard of the story, but it was apparently influential enough to inspire about half a dozen film adaptations, of which it would seem that this 1967 one, from Russia, was the most faithful. It’s also a pretty good example of the folktale sub genre of horror.

It opens in a silly mode, with a Kiev seminary about to let the students out for a holiday break. The students appear to be young men in their 20s – at least physically; mentally, they act a lot like boys in junior high. Lots of pranks and little respect for authority. The local town folk view the students, quite correctly, as an emergency on par with a small army invasion.

As the student mob gets further and further from Kiev, it splits and shrinks at every crossroad. Soon, we are left with a trio, the “philosopher” Khoma Brutus and his two friends. They, not too surprisingly, find themselves lost in the wilderness with night coming on. Coming across a farm, they pound on the gates until an old lady reluctantly agrees to give them shelter for the night, albeit in three separate resting places.

Brutus beds down on some hay in the barn, but doesn’t get to sleep very much. The old woman comes in and approaches him with an extremely suggestively leer. Brutus attempts to put her off from what he assumes our sexual advances. He’s in for a surprise, though. She hypnotizes him, climbs on his shoulders, forces him to run through the countryside – and then to fly above it! Yes, the wizened old crone who looks like a witch actually IS a witch.

After some time of this, the flight is interrupted (I think by a black cat crossing their path) and they fall to earth. Brutus picks up a stick and proceeds to cudgel the witch within an inch of her life. At which, the old crone transforms into a beautiful maiden, who continues to lie on the ground moaning. This is too much for Brutus, and he flees back to the seminary, even though holiday has just begun.

The seminary proves to be no refuge for him. A wealthy landowner (and patron of the seminary) sends word that his beautiful daughter is mysteriously ill and has specifically requested Brutus to say prayers over her for three nights. Brutus does NOT want to go along with this, but no one involved is interested in giving him any choice. So, a bunch of peasants from the farm head back with him, pausing along the way to spend a night in a pub and drink a lot of vodka. There is a LOT of vodka drunk in this movie. (Digression: It reminded me of an old storyteller meeting where one of our number was discussing the lessons she had learned from reading a tome of Russian folk tales. “In a Russian folktale, if you have lost everything you own in the world, the first thing you must do is get blind stinking drunk. Corollary: in Russia, vodka is cheaper than dirt.)

Arriving at the farm, Brutus finds that the aristocrat’s daughter looks suspiciously similar to the transformed which he beat up. Oh, and by the way, before he got here, she died. Not that that lets Brutus off the hook. The nobleman insists that he will pray three nights over her corpse in the nearby church. (As Kestrell says, one of the great things about the horror genre is that you can die early in the story, but still be a major character.) If Brutus complies with this demand, he will receive 1000 gold pieces; if he refuses, 1000 lashes. And to make doubly sure, he will be locked inside the church.

The first night arrives. The church has some beautiful artwork, but on the whole is fairly run down, with lots of cobwebs in the corners. It is also infested with cats, leading to a few well done literal cat-scares. But Brutus gets over his skittishness, lights a bunch of candles, sets up his Bible on the lectern, and begins to pray aloud.

He hasn’t been praying for very long before the lid flies off of the coffin, and the beautiful but pale-as-death woman sits up, in a manner presaging Michael Myers. Brutus is understandably terrified, but it transpires that he has learned a thing or two in the seminary. He very quickly draws a chalk circle about his lectern, and proceeds with his (panicked) prayers. The circle seems to protect him both physically and visually. The witch cannot see him, though she eventually tracks him down by touch – to the extent that she hits the invisible force field of the circle. She pounds upon it with all her might, but to no avail. Brutus prays and prays and prays, and at last the cock crows, the witch returns to her coffin, and the farmhands unlock the church.

Brutus doesn’t actually tell them what happened. Perhaps he’s worried they won’t believe him. Perhaps he’s worried that they’ll blame him for beating the witch in the first place. Probably, though, just doesn’t want them to think he’s scared. After all, he is a Cossack by blood, and Cossacks fear nothing! They DO, however, indulge in a great deal more vodka before going back for night two, as well as hiding a bottle in their robe.

The second night starts in a fairly similar fashion. Only this time, instead of getting out of her coffin, the witch levitates her coffin and rides around it. After a while, she even stands up in it, thus looking a bit like an undead Silver Surfer. She alternates between zooming around the church in dizzying circles, and RAMMING the chalk circle force field with the coffin. Brutus does a lot more gibbering then praying, but manages to hold out until cock-crow. The witch has tried to curse him, with partial success. He does not go blind, but his hair does turn instantly white.

On his way back to the farm, Brutus dons a goofy fur hat, so people don’t immediately realize what’s happened to him. On arrival, he demands music at once! A peasant pulls out a pipe, and Brutus begins to do a goofy Cossack dance, presumably to prove to himself how not-afraid he is. But his hat falls off, and all the peasantry are shocked to see his white hair.

For night three, the witch pulls out ALL the stops. If he can’t beat him alone, she’ll bring help. She summons forth disembodied gray arms that emerge from the walls and the floor. She summons vampires, werewolves, skeletons, ghouls, gargoyles and all manner of unpleasantries. The level of special-effects technology is not very advanced, but the artistry with which that tech is used is pretty great. As are the practical makeup effects; no two of the monsters are identical. This out-in-the-country church is not very big, and now it is FULL of revenants. But they still can’t break the protective circle.

At last, the witch decides to summon… VIY! Even the other monsters are scared when they hear his name! The thumps of his footsteps are audible as he approaches the church door. It opens, and he strides in – an immensely broad humanoid figure, with a huge head but no neck as such. Notably, his huge eyeballs are covered with enormous flaps of skin that reach down to his chin. “I cannot see anything. Lift up my eyebrows.” Two of the vampires do so. Brutus, against his better judgment, looks at Viy. When he sees Viy, Viy sees him, which apparently breaks the power of the circle. Monsters leap upon Brutus from all sides, burying him completely beneath them.

Sadly for them, however, the monsters are having so much fun that they lost track of time. The cock crows. The monsters flee for the windows, but mostly die half out of them. The witch reverts to her crone form, and lies back upon the altar, hopefully never to rise again. Since this is a RUSSIAN story, Brutus also fails to rise, having apparently died of fright.

That’s the main outline, though I’ve certainly left out a bunch of detail. There’s some great scenery, nifty historical costumes and scenes of peasant life. The lead actors are fantastic; even without subtitles I’m sure one could follow the plot from the action and facial expressions. And the final night has some virtuoso (if low-tech) effects work. Recommended.
auntycourtney: Me (Courtney)
[personal profile] auntycourtney posting in [community profile] davis_square
On behalf of the Somerville Local First Board of Directors, I would like to invite members of the public to join us on Tuesday September 12th from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. for a candidate meet & greet. This event will be held at Workbar Union (31 Union Square) and light refreshments will be served.

With the Preliminary Elections right around the corner, it is important for us to have an opportunity to talk to those who are vying for leadership positions in our community. Candidates for Mayor, Ward Alderman, Alderman at Large and School Committee have been invited to attend. There will be a short speaking portion beginning at 7:30 p.m. where confirmed candidates will be introduced.

For a complete list of confirmed candidates, please check our Facebook invitation, Follow us on Twitter (@Local1st) or Instagram (@SomervilleLocal1st).

For candidates, this event is not for the faint of heart. Unlike fundraisers, candidates will not be given an opportunity to address the crowd, but rather engage in face to face conversations with attendees throughout the evening. This ain’t your mama’s candidate night ;)

While this event is free to attend, Somerville Local First is asking for a $10 donation to support our work and mission in the City of Somerville. We strive to bring awareness to our locally-owned, independent businesses and artists and encourage everyone to shift their shopping to help sustain our local economy. To ensure space and food, please RSVP by emailing Courtney@SomervilleLocalFirst.org. It is my hope that residents take advantage of this opportunity for conversation with candidates because at the end of the day - all politics is local!

Courtney O’Keefe
Executive Director | Somerville Local First

[story] The Statue Beneath the Sea

Aug. 22nd, 2017 02:23 pm
yhlee: Flight Rising Spiral dragon, black-red-gold (Flight Rising Jedao baby Spiral)
[personal profile] yhlee
For [personal profile] storme.
Prompt: dépaysement.

The Statue Beneath the Sea

Once upon an ocean, a statue dwelled beneath the waves. In days past the statue had been brightly painted and crowned with gilt, with jewels for eyes and jewels set in its magnificent wings. It remembered dancers crowding its plaza and lovers exchanging promise-poems beneath its benevolent gaze, parades of helmeted youths and prophetesses giving speeches in the sinuous language of time unwound.

It had never met the general whose victories it was meant to commemorate, although it knew that some statues had that privilege. But it had their smooth face and their smile, and even though the jewels of its eyes had long ago been stolen by treasure-scavengers, it had something of the general's vision. It knew the stories of the general and their honored lover the lady scholar, and how they had built the old city to a precipice of grandeur.

Those days had passed long ago, however, and the wars of weather-mages had sunk the city below the sea. No one now living remembered the city's name the way it had been spoken by its inhabitants, although it lingered in distorted whispers and siren-songs that wound through the tides. The statue remembered its people and yearned for whatever scraps of myth it could gather from the gossip of gulls and sailors.

The fish and the anemones, mindful of the statue's melancholy, spoke with it little. In truth it would have welcomed their chatter. But when it asked them for stories of war (in honor of its general), they could only share tales of cannonades and blood staining the foam, so different from the swift chariots and dust-clouds it knew of, and its melancholy only deepened.

At last an entourage of dragons, distant cousins of the Dragon King Under the Sea, visited the sunken city. One of the dragons, hardly more than an eggling as dragons reckon time, especially liked to explore vanished civilizations. She was particularly taken by the statue's eroded marble surfaces, seeing in them the litany of years gone and years to come.

The statue told the dragon of its vanished city, and its general's victories--more fable than truth by this point, not that there was anyone to correct it--and the dragon listened eagerly. She began telling the statue's stories to the sharks and the seahorses, the terns and the turtles. Soon the creatures of the sea came to listen to the statue as well, and to honor it with their tribute.

It wasn't long before the statue's old plaza was surrounded by nets woven of pirates' beards, and strands of coins marked around the rim with praises to octopus gods, and bits and pieces of filigree armor snatched from soldiers fallen overboard. The creatures of the sea, not to mention the dragons, began frequenting the statue's plaza, and carrying out their own ceremonies there.

While the statue knew that the people it had once known would never return, and that the old city was dead in truth, it found some comfort in seeing a new one arise where the old had been.

Book Review

Aug. 22nd, 2017 03:12 pm
kenjari: (St. Cecilia)
[personal profile] kenjari
The Cambridge Companion to Schoenberg
Edited by Jennifer Shaw and Joseph Auner

As is typical of the Cambridge Companion series, this volume about Arnold Schoenberg was a fascinating and often enjoyable read. Given how central Schoenberg is to modern music and how much existing scholarship there is on him, I was happy to find that this book included a very thoughtful and fresh selection of writings about Schoenberg. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Schoenberg's row tables and how he used them, his piano concerto, and his relationship to modernism and metaphysics.

calendars and Ninefox Gambit

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:29 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
Something you notice very quickly when you start reading Ninefox Gambit is the importance of the calendar. It’s the foundation stone of empire: things that subvert empire cause “calendrical rot,” and, conversely, things that cause calendrical rot are subversion, or, as the story terms it, heresy—like rebellion but even more rebellious.

This focus on calendars is a stroke of genius. Calendars **are** powerful mechanisms of cultural control. Think about how the international standard calendar for business and commerce is the Gregorian calendar, which ties its start date to Christianity. (People do use other calendars in various places and for various purposes, but the Gregorian calendar dominates for international exchange.) Less so now than in the past, but Sunday is designated a no-work day in accordance with that tradition. And think how the rest day figures for other calendars, too—the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar. If you don’t know the proper rest day, you can be in trouble—and this is even if you’re an outsider: things stop. And if you don’t stop—depending on the degree of observance—you might be punished. And if the community gradually moves away from this, it can be perceived by the more-faithful as cultural weakening. Calendrical rot is threatening!

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar that has complicated, intersecting base 10 and base 12 recurring features and indicates certain days as auspicious or inauspicious for various activities. When you combine it with geomantic principles (powers or traits related to compass directions—feng shui), which happens naturally, as feng shui is tied to the solstices and equinoxes, which are calendrical as well as astronomical occurrences, boom, that’s a whole lot of Chinese folk culture you’ve got—and, like the Chinese writing system, it spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

In Japan (and probably in other East Asian countries, but Japan’s the one I know about), magical powers were attributed to people who could advise on and manipulate the calendar—something that required some good math skills, what with those mixed number bases and various repeating units. If you’ve ever seen the film Onmyōji, you’ve seen the story of one famous example of such a person, Abe no Seimei. In Ninefox Gambit, this magic translates to the “exotic effects” that can be generated in war, relying on the calendar. These same effects don’t work if the calendar is subverted—beware calendrical rot!

There’s one notable instance in Ninefox Gambit in which the protagonist manipulates the heretics’ calendar to gain a tactical advantage—Buuuuuut I can’t spoil it.

This isn’t a review of the book—I have one of those at Goodreads, covering some of the same territory, but in less detail—it’s more of an appreciation of this one aspect of the book. It’s me saying “I SEE WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOON HA LEE! VERY CLEVER!”

Linkspam: fannish/geeky/SFF, misc.

Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:31 pm
umadoshi: (Orphan Black - Cosima 01 (teaotter))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things/SFF

"Tatiana Maslany Says Goodbye to 'Orphan Black'". [series finale spoilers]

Sarah Rees Brennan wrote "Our Winged Brains: The Appeal of Winged Creatures in Genre Fiction" for Tor.com.

[twitter.com profile] seananmcguire wrote a fantastic Twitter thread about the awesomeness of In Other Lands.

"'Atomic Blonde' Doesn’t Pretend Women Fight Like Men, And The Result Is Awesome".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] recessional, a Tumblr post about Atomic Blonde...which is really hard to describe without spoilers. It has to do with a plot point that many people have warned others about in advance of their seeing the film (a warning for which a lot of people have been grateful, whether or not it dissuaded them from seeing the film themselves), and offers a take on why the "this horrible thing happens [so the movie failed us/is bad/perpetuates the same bad things that always happen]!" warning is misleading and the event is in fact genre appropriate.

"Doorways to Fantasy: Rovina Cai Illustrates Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children". [Tor.com]

"You're screwing this up: An open letter to Hollywood from your mortal enemy (the female comic fan)".

"N. K. Jemisin’s New Contemporary Fantasy Trilogy Will “Mess with the Lovecraft Legacy”". [Tor.com]

"Library of America Recognizes Ursula K. Le Guin (and Science Fiction)". [Book Riot]

"Robin McKinley: A Pioneer in YA Fiction". [Book Riot]


Miscellaneous

"The masseuse who pulled my arm out". [BBC] "Life with a disability can sometimes give rise to unspoken questions and sensitivities, but amid the awkwardness there can be humour. The following is an edited version of a sketch by Angela Clarke who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, delivered for the BBC at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival."

"Confessions of a Costume Curator: As a fashion historian, my job is to learn from other people’s clothes—a task that is challenging, messy, and often spooky".

I think I may've linked this before--it's from last year--but I came across it again and still really like it: "24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear".

"Swan, Late: The unexpected joys of adult beginner ballet". [Note: the writer frequently uses the term "oriental dance" when talking about bellydance; I'm not sure if that's a standard term in those circles? It pings me uncomfortably, so I figured I'd note it.]

"‘Kids are gross’: on feminists and agency". "What I’ve come to suspect is that many feminists’ failure to recognise the autonomy of children is, at least in part, symptomatic of the way children have for many feminists become symbols of oppression. But when we are unable to separate the systematic discrimination that makes mothering a ridiculously difficult and often oppressive role from the fact that children are sentient, autonomous human beings who deserve dignity and respect, we are in danger of allowing glaring hypocrisies to creep into the way we construct and use feminist principles and ideas."

"INFOGRAPHIC: A world of languages - and how many speak them".

"N.K. Jemisin’s #AntiFascistSFF and Gail Simone’s #ComicsHateNazis Are the Inspiration You Need on This Monstrous Day". [The Mary Sue] (From earlier this month.)

"Eisner Nominee Renae De Liz Shares Short Guide for Artists on How to De-Objectify Female Characters". [2016]

"A Sweet Valley High Movie is Coming (from the Writer of Legally Blonde!)" [Book Riot]

"How to Keep a Roomba Vacuum Cleaner From Collecting Data About Your Home".

"A New Canon: In Pop Music, Women Belong At The Center Of The Story" and "The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women". [NPR] (Tori's Little Earthquakes is #27.)

beauty

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:24 am
sartorias: (white rose)
[personal profile] sartorias
I have been using up my birthday treasures so fast that I've changed my strategy. Yesterday's eclipse was so lovely not just in itself but the relief from the news, that when I woke up to the prospect of the orange horror playing video games with people's lives in Afghanistan I made a conscious decision to look for moments of beauty every day--moments of other human beings making art.

I found this wonderful dancer with a hoop--and this young man doing same..

An lol occurred

Aug. 22nd, 2017 10:11 am
xtina: A laughing 8-bit dog holding a duck. From Duck Hunt. (laughing)
[personal profile] xtina
Boss: Good morning.
Me: ಠ_ಠ
Boss: Morning.
Me: One day I will cure you of that bad habit. I have a crowbar at home, so that should help.
Boss: Ah, but you'd have to go through the effort of bringing it into the office.
Me: *laughing* I hate that you know me so well.

Wag the Dog

Aug. 22nd, 2017 09:28 am
jducoeur: (Default)
[personal profile] jducoeur

Mind, I largely agree with the decision, at least for now. But let's not lose sight of the obvious attempt to distract away from more contentious matters...

A Medieval Banquet at Ushaw

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:16 pm
shewhomust: (bibendum)
[personal profile] shewhomust
On the Monday of last week I received an e-mail invitation to a medieval banquet at Ushaw. Here's the pitch from their website:

Explore the sophisticated, delicate, and international tastes and flavours of medieval cuisine in a fantastic six course medieval banquet. Served in the stunning Professors' Parlour, this amazing banquet will present an array of traditions and dishes from the eastern Mediterranean and the Baghdad Cookbook to English recipes from the 15th century, via French collections and the Durham sauces.

Durham University library holds a significant copy of Richard II's cookbook Curye in Inglysch, from which a number of our dishes draw inspiration, and all of this shall be accompanied by tantalising medieval spiced wines. Local, international, timeless, and time-bound: medieval food in a nutshell.

Canapes and pre-dinner drinks will be served in the Exhibition Theatre, with a private viewing of an exciting new art initiative at Ushaw. Come and meet the artist, and some of the academics she is working with.


It wasn't cheap (which I'm guessing is why that last-minute e-mail campaign), but it wasn't impossibly expensive, it sounded interesting and Ushaw is a stunning setting (this page on their website gives some hints) so we went for it.

help! I am turning into one of those people who photograph their food! )

A Theory of Fun for Game Design

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:02 am
yhlee: icosahedron (d20) (d20 (credit: bag_fu on LJ))
[personal profile] yhlee
Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2nd ed.) has been on my wishlist for something like the past five years. I picked it up recently by ordering it through my local game store (which is technically also a bookstore and is in the process of signing on with distributors or however that goes). It is an absolute delight.

I'm glad I sprung for the hardcopy of this for two reasons: one, I like to mark up my nonfiction, and two, its formatting! The left-hand page in every two-page spread is text; the right-hand page has an illustration related to the material on the left-hand page. While the illustrations are not technically the most accomplished, they are generally extremely effective communicative cartoons or diagrams.

This book comes with a ton of blurbs, and Cory Doctorow's--"Does for games what Understanding Comics [by Scott McCloud] did for sequential art"--pretty much sums up how I feel. I've read other game design books that were insightful, or thorough, but the Koster is accessible and very interesting in its approach to what makes games games, and how to make them fun (in the instances where that's a thing--cf. Brenda Romero's Train).

One of Koster's arguments is that "with games, learning is the drug" (40)--a game that interests us is one that strikes the necessary balance of not too easy (Tic-Tac-Toe, for most adults) and not too hard (multiple failure modes possible, depending on the individual--witness me and chess or go [1]). He suggests that games (and play, which is common in a lot of young animals!) are an artifact of how we try to learn survival skills, and moves forward into making suggestions as to how to move the form forward into values/skills more suitable for the modern era than "kill things" or "jump over things" or "search for all the things."

[1] Joe gave up on teaching me go when I told him I have severe difficulty with visual patterns. In fact, I am starting to wonder if aphantasia just screws me over for this kind of game in general. :p

There's also a particularly interesting chapter on ethics and entertainment where he discusses the difference between the game system and the flavor/dressing:

The bare mechanics of a game may indeed carry semantic freighting, but odds are that it will be fairly abstract. A game about aiming is a game about aiming, and there's no getting around that. It's hard to conceive of a game about aiming that isn't about shooting, but it has been done--there are several gmaes where instead of shooting bullets with a gun, you are instead shooting pictures with a camera. (170)

The bare mechanics of the game do not determine its meaning. Let's try a thought experiment. Let's picture a mass murder game wherein there is a gas chamber shaped like a well. You the player are dropping innocent victims down into the gas chamber, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are old ones and young ones, fat ones and tall ones. As they fall to the bottom, they grab onto each other and try to form human pyramids to get to the top of the well. Should they manage to get out, the game is over and you die. But if you pack them in tightly enough, the ones on the bottom succumb to the gas and die.

I do not want to play this game. Do you? Yet it is Tetris. (172)


In general, Koster has a background in game design AND writing AND music, and he draws on all three in his analysis of games, as well as other disciplines (e.g. psychology). It makes the book a scintillating read. I can't believe I waited so long to read this--but it was exactly what I wanted to read last week, so hey. Highly recommended.
umadoshi: (W13 - Claudia crying (vampire_sessah))
[personal profile] umadoshi
When I posted about A Girl and Her Fed last week, I mentioned that [dreamwidth.org profile] davidgillon had warned me that the very beginning of Act 2 of the comic had a major spoiler for the as-yet-unwritten/unpublished Rachel Peng novels.

I did indeed press on, bracing myself for a spoiler. (And now I'm completely up to date on the comic; yesterday was the first new installment I read as a Caught-Up Reader. I think the only material I have left to read now is the handful of mixed comics/prose shorts on Spangler's store site, and I've made it as far as buying them all.) And many things happened, because there'd been a five-year timeskip since the first act of the comic, and I thought, "Okay, I don't know which of these things is the spoiler [dreamwidth.org profile] davidgillon mentioned, but many things happen very early in Act 2 that leave things in a very different place than they are as of the published Rachel books, so presumably it was one of those..."

Except then I read all the way back through the posts at [tumblr.com profile] agirlandherfed, and due to a couple of Asks there, the nature of the early-Act 2 spoiler was spelled out.

It was an offhand reference--a panel's worth of mention, at most--and so far the comic hasn't mentioned it again, and I completely failed to process it for what it was. But now, belatedly, I know.

And my heart broke a little.

Face Off through 3.1

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:21 pm
yhlee: rose in a hexagon (hxx emblem Andan)
[personal profile] yhlee
Read more... )

Also, now I have an incredible desire to watch the Clone Wars cartoon so I will have to save up for the DVDs. Maybe Christmas? XD

[hxx] [story] Sword-Shopping

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:13 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
For S.B.
Prompt: hexarchate, "calendrical sword."

Ajewen Cheris and her girlfriend Linnis Orua paused outside the shop. A banner of ink painted onto silk fluttered in the flirtatious artificial breeze. Orua had grown up on a station with less naturalistic ideas of aesthetics, and found this dome-city with its aleatory weather nerve-wracking. She still spooked whenever there was a wind, which entertained Cheris because Orua also had long, luxurious waves of hair that rippled beautifully. "We were always told to be aware of strange air currents as a possible sign of carapace breach!" Orua had protested when Cheris teased her about it.

"Blades for All Occasions," Cheris read. She had been saving for this moment throughout the first two years of academy, and practicing for it besides. Orua didn't understand her fondness for the sport of dueling, but she had agreed to come along for moral support.

"Well, no sense in lingering outside," Orua said. She grinned at Cheris and walked forward. The door swooshed open for her.

Cheris followed her in. A tame (?) falcon on a perch twisted its head sideways to peer at her as she entered. The falcon was either genetically engineered or dyed or even painted, although she wasn't sure how she felt about any of those alternatives: its primary feathers shaded from black to blood red, with striking metallic gold bands toward the tips. It looked gaudy as hell and quintessentially Kel.

Orua was busy suppressing a giggle at the falcon's aesthetics. Cheris poked her in the side to get her to stop and looked around the displays, wide-eyed. Her eyes stung suspiciously at the sight of all those weapons, everything from tactical knives to ornamented daggers with rough-hewn gems in their pommels and pragmatic machetes.

But best of all were the calendrical swords. Deactivated, they looked deceptively harmless, bladeless hilts of metal in varying colors and finishes. Cheris's gaze was drawn inexorably to one made of voidmetal chased in gold, with an unusual basket hilt. It was showy, extremely Kel, and an invitation to trouble. Only a cadet who had an exemplary record and was an excellent duelist would dare carry such a calendrical sword. And besides, the lack of a price tag told her there was no way she could afford it even if she could, in honor, lay claim to such a thing.

Cheris sighed, then looked up into her girlfriend's eyes. "I wish," she said, her voice soft.

"Let me help you pick," Orua said, ignoring the sales assistant who was watching them imperturbably with his arms folded behind his back.

Cheris blinked. "I thought you didn't know anything about dueling?" she teased. Orua paid more attention to the special effects and makeup on dueling shows than the actual dueling.

"I don't know anything about dueling," Orua said, as the sales assistant radiated disapproval. "But I know a lot about you." Her eyes turned sly, and Cheris hoped that Orua wouldn't get too specific here of all places. She grabbed Cheris's hand and tugged her along to a completely different display. "Look!"

At first Cheris wasn't impressed by the calligraphy-stroke plainness of the calendrical swords on display. Then she saw that that the metal evinced a faint iridescence, like that of a raven's feather. She particularly liked the one whose textured design incorporated the first digits of the base of the natural logarithm.

Orua stooped to whisper right in Cheris's ear, "Tonight I'm going to see how many digits of that number you can recite before I get you to--"

"I'll buy this one," Cheris interrupted, very loudly, and pointed.

Unseen, the sales assistant and Orua exchanged winks.

Eclipsnic!

Aug. 21st, 2017 08:36 pm
osprey_archer: (cheers)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
I am returned from my eclipsnic! Which is a portmanteau of eclipse + picnic, and involved eclipse cookies (chocolate cookies with white chips really, but "eclipse cookies" sounds better. I may change the name permanently in my brain), and pop rocks Oreos, and little individually sized bottles of champagne that Becky brought. We had a lovely time!

We did not have eclipse glasses, but Julie made us eclipse boxes which worked quite well enough, and also a woman stopped by the park halfway through the eclipse and called out, "Want to look through this welding helmet?"

So of course we did and it was splendid and none of us have gone blind, so that seems to have gone well enough.

The park came equipped with a Little Free Library (I would like to say this was serendipity, but in fact I looked into it before), which I raided - with great success! for I found Mary Downing Hahn’s Stepping on the Cracks. I liked Hahn's ghost stories when I was a kid. This one doesn’t look like it has any ghosts, but it’s about two best friends on the American homefront during World War II, which seems Relevant to My Interests.

And in return, I left The Railway Children, which I found in a Little Free Library in Ann Arbor. So it will continue to wend its way through the libraries of the world, like a ship upon the waves.

I am fail

Aug. 21st, 2017 06:01 pm
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
[personal profile] yhlee
I'm not going to do it but I crave to someday write a training cruise/school/dance academy/conservatory/??? mashup disaster story.

Alas, I have this novel to work on. :p 2,000 words on Dragon Pearl today! (I'm doing revisions, but I had to rip out a few chapters that weren't working and replace them with all-new ones, always thrilling.)

And I Can Move The World

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:13 pm
kiya: (shtars!)
[personal profile] kiya

Mirrored from Suns In Her Branches | Kiya Nicoll.

At the moment when the light returns, flaring bright and blinding, the breath comes back, too, all in a rush. It is not that the breathing stopped through the peculiar gloom of it, but somehow it was not enough, there was not enough air, something subliminal and only noticeable in the moment that it disappears.

The light comes back. Perhaps there is a deep and instinctual part of the spirit that holds its breath, not sure whether that would be the case.

But the light comes back. The light comes back and everything seems different, now.

Slowly, slowly the sense of normality reasserts itself. The quality of the light goes… natural… so quickly, by comparison, returning to some sense of the expected, the everyday.

But there is still the knowing. Knowing that one has gone down into the dark, through the dread of it, down into the dark and seen the wonders there, and has come back.

With the light.

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 01:58 pm
bitterlawngnome: (Default)
[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Mt. Raininer during the eclipse. Nothing dramatic.



(Sorry about the extra crap Vimeo sticks in there. Can't do anything about it/)
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass. Read more... )

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