Open Thread: Shaking the Camera


Ideally I'd probably want to show something from this year to contrast with last week's picture from the end of last year, but other than some pictures of my cat taking a nap, I don't have much from this year yet.  Thus I give you this picture taken at about the same time and in about the same place as the one from last week.

As I'm sure you can all tell, this is a tree in a public park with orange ... new years(?) lights on it.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: I Need a Hero

[Narnia Content Note: Violence Towards Infants, Violence, Slavery, Rape, Ransacking]

Narnia Recap: The party of four were attacked by a lion before stumbling into a Hermit's territory. The Hermit took in Aravis to heal her and the two horses to rest, then told Shasta to run and find King Lune. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 11: The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler

I mentioned this last time, but a real problem with analyzing Chapter 11 is that is just doesn't make any sense. Let's recap: The children and the Horses were on a sort of geological ridge that let them look down into the desert between Tashbaan and the border of Archenland. Down in the desert, they saw Rabadash and his troops racing apparently at full speed. This doesn't make a lot of sense; the "racing" part should indicate that they are within sight of their goal, but apparently they are not. So they were presumably racing because Rabadash is hot-headed and impatient, and doesn't care about wearing his troops out unnecessarily.

Open Thread: Light at the End


On the eve of the new year, at the Boston common. Early (family) show not the midnight show. Light at the end of the year. I considered "New Year; New Light" as a title, but this was December 31st not January 1st. An ending, not a beginning.

The 17 on the building confused me (Lonespark can verify this.)

It's just . . . I have previously seen (though not in person) building lights used for countdowns and such, and I can imagine such a display being put on when the new year started, but never before have I seen an announcement to anyone with line of site of which year it isn't.

Part of me wonders if they switched to "18" at midnight to remind everyone that it wasn't 2018 yet.  (Ok, it doesn't.  No part of me wonders that.  But I do think it would make sense for people who have a giant lit up "17" because it's 2016 to have a giant lit up "18" when it's 2017.)

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Time Quintet: Death of a Star

[Content Note: Death and self-harm. Cultural and Religious Appropriation. Racialized stereotypes against Romani people.]

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 6: The Happy Medium

Chapter 6 is really long and I'm going to have to break it into several parts. The latter parts, arguably the most interesting and memorable, show us life on Camazotz and a picture of fantasy-fascism in all its well-deserved horror. The first part is more theologically-thorny and runs into a lot of the usual problems we encounter when we try to answer the question of "if a loving godbeing, then why do bad things happen?"

When we left off in Chapter 5, the children were frightened by the Dark Thing they're about to face, so the three Mrs. W's brought them to the Happy Medium to show that it can be fought and overcome. Watsonianly, this is meant to steel them for the ordeal to come and reassure them that all is not lost. (Arguably, this attempt fails because the angels are too inhuman to have considered things from a human perspective.) Doylistically, and I think more important to L'Engle, she wanted to combine a fantastical theory on supernovas with her theology on death as a cycle of life.

Repost: Playful Animals, Platonic Allies

[Ana's Note: By popular demand, this is a re-post of an old deconstruction, partly to have content while I struggle with my ongoing disability challenges and partly so that newcomers can comment on old conversations.

The original post is here. I have not edited the content.



[Content Note: Classist Language, War, Deformation, Disabilities]

Narnia Recap: Aslan has been resurrected and has carried Susan and Lucy to the Witch's house. 

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Chapter 16: What Happened With The Statues

   "WHAT AN EXTRAORDINARY PLACE!" cried Lucy. "All those stone animals -- and people too! It's -- it's like a museum."
   "Hush," said Susan, "Aslan's doing something."

Open Thread: Birds and Reflection


I'm not able to connect my camera to my computer and while I could just wait until that changes . . . here: have two birds and, I'm going to say, one and a half reflections.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Check-In: End of 2016

Hi, everyone! I have been falling behind on my early resolutions to write more posts and record more videos and basically do all the things! because it turns out that there are still only 24 hours in a day. Wild, huh? But I wanted to do some end-of-year thoughts at you.

Thank you for your support. So much. Thank you for the comments here. Thank you for the donations. (I read every note that comes with them and I'm always especially touched by you donating lurkers who reach out. Bless you.) Thank you for the purchases of my books and the kind reviews (every review helps so much, I can't pound that gratitude drum hard enough). Thank you to my video-watchers and the ad-revenue that comes from eyeballs on YouTube. Thank you. You have all made an immeasurable emotional impact on my life, and you help keep this blog afloat financially.

We will survive. I know everything seems super scary right now and 2017 is looming large. I am going to live through this to the best of my ability and I hope you can be here with me. I want to believe we can get through this together. I love y'all.

Transgender and/or non-Cisgender and/or Questioning Writers! Have you seen this? It's a charity gig so it's unpaid, but you keep the rights to your work and can republish in 12 months. I am doing this so hard it hurts and I'm making a friend write with me because I am a bad friend, lolsob. ;)

Images for a Transmasculine Little Red Riding Hood

Open Thread: Shopping for Snow


Continuing with pictures of the Northern Hemisphere temperate zone season, I give you a well stocked shopping cart.

I guess the idea is to get it while it's available, because the way the climate is these days you never quite know whether any given snow storm will be followed up by horrid death-cold, which is too cold for precipitation, or a warm rainy day that seems to have missed the memo about the showers being in April and instead migrated to December.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Footprints in Slush


Slush makes for very visible footprints because, given time, the liquid component will settle a bit leaving the top mostly composed of little tiny solid bits.  What do little tiny solid bits of water look like?  They look white.  Thus: snow.  Below the top, though, it remains a sort of collodial-ish thing that shares many properties with wholly liquid water, including the color: clear.  So unless the underlying surface was already snow-ish white, you get really nice contrast.

The nice contrast makes it so visible that it kind of feels like an explicit message from the universe: "A chicken was here."

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Narnia: Beginning to Enjoy Himself

[Narnia Content Note: Violence, Slavery, Child Kidnapping]

Narnia Recap: The party of four were attacked by a lion before stumbling into a Hermit's territory. The Hermit took in Aravis to heal her and the two horses to rest, then told Shasta to run and find King Lune. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 11: The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler

Wow, it's been longer than I thought before we had a Narnia update. Sorry! Between holiday-planning over here and finishing up my latest book (BTW I WROTE A BOOK) the days slipped by me.

On a personal note, I am coming to realize that I have some weird emotions wrapped up in this deconstruction. I started these Narnia posts in 2011 and we're coming into 2017 soon. So many of you have been with me every step of the way, through my ups and downs, and I am truly humbled and grateful. I find myself not wanting this to end, which is a silly feeling; for one, there are still two more books in the Chronicles and for two, there is a world of books left to deconstruct. But you have all made this one special and I treasure our time together. Thank you. You have made me a better, happier person, and given me an invaluable gift of your time and thoughts and friendship.

So where were we?

Book Birthday: Survival Rout

~fireworks~

      ~doves released into the sunset~

              ~rainbow streamers everywhere~

This announcement is to announce that my latest Earthside book, Survival Rout, can now be purchased as an eBook at most retailers! (Links are here!!)


You guys, I am really excited and proud of this one. This is the 2nd book in the series, but if you haven't read Poison Kiss yet, you should be able to leap feet-first into this one without being too disoriented; my goal for this series has always been to make it accessible in any order, like the series fiction I grew up on. I consider this the best thing I've written thus far, and I hope you all love it.

Survival Rout is the story of a girl with scoliosis (like me!) who is kidnapped to fairyland with her genderqueer demigirl girlfriend (who uses xie/xer pronouns like me!). After their memories are torn away, they have to piece together who they are, what they mean to each other, and how to survive in a hostile world determined to destroy them. And because this is a capital-R Romance novel, you know they're gonna be okay somehow in the end.<3

The book is up at all the eBook retailers except Barnes & Noble Nook (it's been submitted to them, but it hasn't gone live there yet--it should by the end of the week, though!), and if you're interested in a review copy emailed to you, ping me! Or even just a free copy if you're strapped for cash; I know not everyone can afford a book right now, but I'd rather folks have something nice to keep them warm through the holidays. We need good things this year.

Open Thread: Frosted Grass


In keeping with the seasonal theme of last week, I give you verdant green grass covered in frost, with a few fallen leaves thrown in for good measure.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Open Thread: Snow on Leaves


I think it was the first snow of the season.  Didn't stay for long.  Still, nice contrast.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Time Quintet: Lights For Us To See By

[Content Note: Cultural and Religious Appropriation. Racialized stereotypes against Romani people. This one has some pretty triggering stuff mentioned briefly in it. I tried to mark the paragraphs appropriately so you can skip over them, but comments may deal with the topics.]

Depression looms, but have you heard this song? It makes me happy.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 5: The Tesseract

In Chapter 5, Meg asked if her father was fighting the Black Thing. This strikes me even now as a very Christian framing: she doesn't ask if he's trapped behind the Black Thing (he is), or captured within the Black Thing (he is), or any other framing. She asks if he's fighting the Black Thing.

Mrs Which affirms that he is fighting and, well, she's not wrong? I don't want in any way to undermine the fight involved in captivity and being a prisoner! But to be clear, he's not fighting in the sense of, like, hefting a broadsword or something. What we have here is a case where Meg and Mrs Which seem to be using an ambiguous word in the same meaning (fighting = "ideological resistance") which would be odd except that everyone is sort of gently background-radiation Christian in the same way that everyone in my writing these days is background-radiation Queer.

I'm okay with this! It's just one of those things that the reader kinda needs to be on the same page with. If you're coming along expecting a lightsaber fight, you are going to be disappointed! Adjust expectations accordingly. <3

Open Thread: Giant Lego Giraffe (two)


I haven't been back to see the giant Duplo* giraffe since I took the picture of the last open thread to have its name but as noted in that thread, the place where it lives was once a dirt field.  Not even grass grew there and it was a perfect illustration of what "barren" means.  Then they added a new stop to the T.  Assembly.

Where the train goes, commerce follows and buildings and businesses grew with the speed of flowers in Death Valley after a particularly strong melt water hit in spring.

To fully understand the situation, though, you need to understand the orange line outbound in the direction of Oak Grove.

In the city the orange line is a subway, but shortly after North Station it loses all sense of itself.  It goes above ground, but it can't decide if it's a ground train or an L (elevated train) between stops it flirts with being an L but comes back to ground level for the actual Community College and Sullivan Square stops.  Then it runs on the ground for a while, across the water, and into Wellington.  Just when you think it's decided to be a ground train it goes full on L, including the stop, for Malden Center.  But then it comes back to ground not long after and stays there, unless you count an ephemeral underground trip to avoid messing with traffic, until the end of the line at Oak Grove.

Assembly was added shortly before it crosses the water outbound (or shortly after if you're inbound) while this "subway" is firmly above the ground.  One can look across the distance, down the road, and see the giraffe.

It gives me something to do.  But even with my camera fully zoomed in the giraffe is small, it's only visible for a second (figurative, I haven't timed it), and the picture is being taken from a moving train.

I've been trying for ages to get a good shot.  I try every time I pass in daylight and there are few enough people on the train that I can make an attempt without disturbing other passengers.  Last time I passed that way, I finally got the shot.

Even with the camera way zoomed in, it's still really small, that combined with the "moving train" factor accounts for the blur and the grain.  This is barely scaled down, but severely cropped.

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* Duplo blocks have twice the dimensions of Lego blocks** and are primarily intended for younger children.  Mind you if you're building a giant giraffe you probably find the larger size desirable as well and they've been designed to be compatible with ordinary (system) Lego bricks so that they don't become obsolete when the child becomes old enough to deal with the greater fine motor skills, and necessity not to eat their toys, that the regular bricks entail.

** Which makes them eight times as large since there are three dimension to a 3-d object.  Twice as long, twice as wide, and twice as tall equals eight times the volume.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season is kind of over, so I guess I'll stop adding this note, but do remember that some people need a place to get away from . . . you know.  We've been keeping the open threads a space where that can be done.  If you really want to talk about such things:

The post-election thread here is still open to new comments, and I'll probably make a new thread at the Slacktiverse since "the election is coming" has entirely different concerns than "the election happened, what now?", but until I do, here's the (still open) old one.

Narnia: All Her Troubles

[Narnia Content Note: Violence, Rape, Ableist words in-text, 8-Bit Theater Spoilers]

Narnia Recap: The party of four were attacked by a lion before stumbling into a Hermit's territory. The Hermit took in Aravis to heal her and the two horses to rest, then told Shasta to run and find King Lune. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 10: The Hermit of the Southern March

I am struggling to finish out this book because everything from here on out feels so boring. I can't help but feel that this should not be the case! Shasta is trying to out-run an army in order to reach a king with a message of warning so as to avert a war! This should be thrilling stuff! And yet, for me, it isn't.

I think part of the problem is Aslan's arrival. The race across the desert worked, at least a little bit, because I was able to buy into the conceit that Narnia is in danger and only these children can save it. But then Lewis reminded us that Aslan exists and that kind of broke the tension? Because why isn't the resident deity doing anything to help his people? He clearly can directly interfere because he was able to run the horses to exhaustion and claw Aravis. So he's just choosing not to interfere in an effective way? Which, okay fine, he's Not A Tame Lion, but dude, if God himself isn't taking the situation seriously, why should I?

Then you have the problem that the manner in which Aslan interfered seems designed to slow them down! Aravis is put entirely out of action for the rest of the novel because why should an icky girl share the hero-spotlight, I guess, and hooboy can we talk about Aslan's priorities that he chose this moment of all possible moments to maul Aravis? Meanwhile the horses have been ridden to exhaustion, guaranteeing that Shasta will have to carry the plot-critical message on foot. Does Lewis know how much slower tired human boys are on foot than horses? SPOILER: They're a lot slower! The fact that Shasta reaches King Lune in time at all kind of undercuts how close Rabadash supposedly was to arrival because he pretty clearly isn't that close at all.

Time Quintet: Give Glory Unto The Lord

[Content Note: Some (mild?) cultural appropriation.]

Life is sometimes sweet and sometimes a struggle. Today is one of the struggle-y days, so I'm going to indulge myself a bit with fiction. Come with me?

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 4: The Black Thing

Chapter 4 is where we really start digging into theology and plot! Which is obviously very exciting! And I still congratulate L'Engle for having much better pacing than Lewis. I mean, for one: we have a plot. Meg's dad is missing and it has something to do with Science! and we're going to go get him!

That is a stronger and more straightforward plot than Mr Tumnus is missing and we know where he is but we can't go get him because that's too dangerous so instead we're going to a stone table where a lion-god might be and he'll fix everything... somehow. (If they ever make Narnia public domain I look forward to the gritty reboot where a stone statue of Mr Tumnus is turned into dust in front of the kids to demoralize them.) (No, you're still crying about Rue from The Hunger Games.)

Anyway! Let us leave earth and talk about original sin as it pertains to the rest of the galaxy!

Open Thread: Fiery Bush


The picture doesn't really do justice to the flame-like colors the bush was displaying.

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Friday Recommendations!  What have you been reading/writing/listening to/playing/watching lately?  Shamelessly self-promote or boost the signal on something you think we should know about - the weekend’s ahead of us, so give us something new to explore!

And, like on all threads: please remember to use the "post new comment" feature rather than the "reply" feature, even when directly replying to someone else!

Political season reminder: please take any stuff on the election to the politics space on The Slacktiverse.

Thing of the Day: Much Needed Laughter


Link.

The picture is of President Obama with his face in his hands, looking weary while Vice President Biden looks on nearby with an expression that is probably sympathy but--for purposes of the memes going around--could be interpreted as unrepentant mischief. The meme text is:

BIDEN: That went well.

OBAMA: Did you have to say you loved Trump's sons in Twilight?

BIDEN: It's what I do.

Time Quintet: Waiting To Be Contradicted

[Content Note: In-text slurs for ableism.]

The world is harsh but we still have fiction. We've already done most of this chapter, but let's barrel on and then we can get to the good stuff in a later post.

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter 3: Mrs Which

When we last left the Murry family, their new friend and adoptive child / future son-in-law Calvin O'Keefe was putting young Charles Wallace to bed. Calvin had read Genesis to him, and we need to take a moment to talk about that because Genesis is a sort of Rorschach for a lot of people.

For people raised in non-fundie and/or non-evangelical homes, the Biblical book of Genesis is often seen as high literature--something you wouldn't necessarily read for fun, but something that an intellectual person would appreciate, like Shakespeare or reading the Epic of Gilgamesh for pleasure. For people raised in fundamentalist and/or evangelical homes, it's important to understand that the book of Genesis is seen as a scientific text. Indeed, not just a scientific text but the scientific text that all others descend from.

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