Open Thread: Writer Workshop

A couple of you have requested a special monthly open thread dedicated to talking about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). So here it is!

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Open thread writing workshop below!

Open Thread: Summer Field Flowers Painting

Summer Field Flowers Painting by George Hodan

Hosted by a painting of yellow flowers.

Narnia: You Will Never Come Back

[Narnia Content Note: Genocide, Religious Abuse, Chivalry, Racism, Slavery]
[Extra Content Note: Suicide, Isolation, Loneliness, Loss]

Narnia Recap: Our heroes meet Aslan and return to England.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 16: The Very End of the World

We might as well finish this chapter (and the book itself) out today. I have a lot of feels on this because, again, Lewis has cram-packed what could have been several chapters into one whoops-time's-up-pencils-down chapter that literally feels like his publisher called and said to wrap shit up now, but is probably just a function of the fact that I care about his characters whereas he seemed to care more about his plots and theologies.

   About two o’clock in the afternoon, well victualed and watered (though they thought they would need neither food nor drink) and with Reepicheep’s coracle on board, the boat pulled away from the Dawn Treader to row through the endless carpet of lilies. The Dawn Treader flew all her flags and hung out her shields to honor their departure. Tall and big and homelike she looked from their low position with the lilies all round them. And even before she was out of sight they saw her turn and begin rowing slowly westward. 

...and off the ship goes, back home for Narnia. Welp.

I mean, I know that Aslan apparently told them to do it this way, but I just still feel like this is a terrible plan. I would at the very least wait there until they couldn't see the boat anymore before turning around, but I'm sentimental like that, I guess.

Twilight: Two Too-Permanent Solutions

[Twilight Content Note: Murder, Abusive Relationships, Winning At Patriarchy.]
[Extra Content Note: Kidnapping, Physical Abuse]

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 18, Edward kidnaps Bella because why wouldn't he.

Twilight, Chapter 18: The Hunt

When we last left our lovers, Carlisle had perfectly maneuvered Bella to be considered a threat to the regular / non-vegetarian / murdering vampires that had come into town for a visit, and had then ordered her out of sight (though not, obviously, out of mind) lest prolonged contact with the murderer-vampires cause them to personify her into someone they might not want to eat. Thanks, Carlisle!

   This whole time I’d been rooted in place, terrified into absolute immobility. Edward had to grip my elbow and pull sharply to break my trance. Alice and Emmett were close behind us, hiding me. I stumbled alongside Edward, still stunned with fear. I couldn’t hear if the main group had left yet.

Far be it from me to impugn the strategies of the Cullens, and I also realize that this would be totes immoral and also there are those maybe-exist / maybe-don't Volturi to think about, but there's a point in all this where I'm genuinely trying to work out why they don't just kill the three visiting vampires. (We need a term for them. I assert we shall call them the Traveling Trio.)

Open Thread: These fifteen *crunch* TEN! Ten commandments for all to obey.

How it was whittled down to ten.
(Apologies to Mel Brooks)

The Latest Decalogue
Thou shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipped, except the currency:
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:
At church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
Honour thy parents; that is, all
From whom advancement may befall:
Thou shalt not kill, but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive:
Do not adultery commit;
Advantage rarely comes of it:
Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When it's so lucrative to cheat:
Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly:
Thou shalt not covet; but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.
-Arthur Hugh Clough 

Someday I shall share with you the ten commandments from Deityism.  Until then, perhaps we could replace the film advertising ten comandments (for that is how they got outside of courthouses) with this somewhat more accurate version.  Cecil B. DeMille's film has been out for 58 years now, it's time to take down the movie posters.

Mostly, though, this is here for a place to talk off topic and Recommends.


Saturday 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 coming up, 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! 

 ~ chris the cynic

Narnia: Gods and Lovers

[Narnia Content Note: Genocide, Religious Abuse, Chivalry, Racism, Slavery]

Narnia Recap: Our heroes meet Aslan and return to England.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 16: The Very End of the World

I have to admit, I'm a little apprehensive about VoDT ending for us soon, because my plan is to segue into the film adaptations like I usually do, except I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work because there is no way I'll be able to fit the Disney movie into one post, as I have vast and epic feels about it.

And I don't know how long Chapter 16 will last because Lewis had kinda this habit of rushing the final chapters like whoa. (See also LWW which was like "and then they had all these adventures and grown-up things and then the end" in the space of a single paragraph.) So let's take a deep breath and dive in.

   REEPICHEEP WAS THE ONLY PERSON ON board besides Drinian and the two Pevensies who had noticed the Sea People. He had dived in at once when he saw the Sea King shaking his spear, for he regarded this as a sort of threat or challenge and wanted to have the matter out there and then. The excitement of discovering that the water was now fresh had distracted his attention, and before he remembered the Sea People again Lucy and Drinian had taken him aside and warned him not to mention what he had seen.

We've already discussed this and won't belabor the issue, but briefly: Reepicheep is a menace to all the things. He doesn't even fit the ridiculously over-enthusiastic chivalry mode anymore since, as I understand it, Chivalry absolutely had a paradigm for everyone making menacing postures in order for all the involved parties to go, yep, you're totes manly, man-guy, without people necessarily killed over the posturing. I don't remember who brought it up--and Disqus isn't cooperating--but I more and more love the stellar idea that Reepicheep is an NPC who was embraced by Peter Pevensie's player a touch too enthusiastically.

And this is probably the last time we'll get to talk about it, but it's never entirely clear to me how Lewis felt about this character. On the one hand, Lewis' love affair with chivalry seems pretty obvious to me, so in some ways this may be the favored character--the one who is allowed to act out all the chivalric impulses that sadly have to be set aside for things like Prudence and Plotting and whatnot. On the other hand, Reepicheep is a Talking Animal and therefore well-established as silly and empty-headed, so it's possible that he's some kind of cautionary tale for going overboard (literally!) with chivalry when Good Christians of course only go to the Caspian level of chivalry.

Open Thread: How're You?

Thermometer by Petr Kratochvil

So, I've been sick, which really should not be surprising to me anymore but it was kind of a shock because it felt like the exact same upper respiratory infection that I got earlier in the year. Like, March time-frame. Which doesn't seem fair because I've always internalized that, you get sick, you get immune from that sickness for a year. I know this isn't actually true, but it feels like it ought to be.

But anyway, I digress. I've been sick for a week, I'm still coughing, but it's in that Getting Slowly Better kinda of way. How are ya'll?

Twilight: How to Win Friends and Influence People

[Twilight Content Note: Murder, Abusive Relationships, Winning At Patriarchy.]

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 18, the text tries to remind us that vampires are scary.

Twilight, Chapter 18: The Hunt

Things are happening now! It's all very exciting! Maybe? When we last left our star-crossed couple, it was kinda confusing because non-vegetarian vampires were about to visit the Cullens in their baseball clearing and they were arriving at a rate that made it impossible for Edward to just carry Bella off to a safe distance, but not at a rate that made it impossible for the Cullens to go back to playing their game after talking for a bit.

It was especially weird and frustrating because we all recognize that vampires might not be okay with taking the Cullens' word on the human being okay with all this and not informing the other humans and/or the very vengeful Volturi who might not have existed at this point in the series, but the actual Cullens themselves seem incapable of figuring out that might be a possible response to introducing a human to the non-vegetarian vampires.

And, I mean, this pisses me off. Because even if they legitimately couldn't hide Bella, they could have strolled out to the visitors and said, "Hey, wait, here's the thing. We wanna meet you, but we have a human with us. She's safe, we have her enthralled, and there will be turning later, but we have to wait for the right timing because of our established-in-society cover story. So if you don't want to meet her because you don't want her to see your faces, or don't want to get in trouble with the V-men, that's cool. We'll just take you to our house from here."

You know, this might not have worked. But it would probably have worked better than what is actually about to happen. (And I really cannot parse out how Carlisle thought his actual plan could have worked at all since it hinged on the vampires not noticing that Bella is human, i.e., not noticing the one thing Edward said they couldn't fail to notice. So.) But whatever, I think we've all agreed this is just a plot device to make vampires scary again. Fine.

Metapost: Wendy Davis Transcript Update

I am happy (for a definition of "happy" that could more accurately be rendered as "exhausted joy relief thrilled excited tired jubilant" if I were being especially wordy today, ha) to announce that the transcript project is, well, if not finished then at least at a very major milestone in the sense that the book is now available in the Amazon Kindle store and the Barnes & Noble Nook store.

There really are not enough Thank Yous in the world for everyone who supported me on this, and I know that the 150 volunteers we had over the course of this project are themselves a subset of a larger group of supporters. Thank you. To each and every one of you. Thank you.

Narnia: Sweet Sea Waters

[Narnia Content Note: Genocide, Religious Abuse, Chivalry, Racism, Slavery]

Narnia Recap: Our heroes meet Sea People and start drinking sea water.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 15: The Wonders of the Last Sea

Okay! Phew! Feels like forever since we were here last, and I'm sorry about that. For a good cause, I know, but I still hate leaving everyone hanging like that. Still, I'm hopeful that being more restful and more focused will only improve the deconstruction posts, ha. Now where were we? I remember: Reepicheep had flung himself into the sea in order to plot-reveal that the sea isn't salty anymore.

   But when the dripping Mouse had reached the deck it turned out not to be at all interested in the Sea People.
   “Sweet!” he cheeped. “Sweet, sweet!”
   “What are you talking about?” asked Drinian crossly. “And you needn’t shake yourself all over me, either.”
   “I tell you the water’s sweet,” said the Mouse. “Sweet, fresh. It isn’t salt.”

And here is, of course, where the Telmarine lack of experience on long voyages becomes sadly relevant, because the point at which sailors start throwing themselves overboard in order to drink sea-water is never a good thing. What you do not want to do in that case is haul up a bucket of sea-water and hand it to your king to take a big hearty gulp, so of course that is precisely what the Dawn Treader crew does. I think we need someone to math-up how many assassination attempts this is on King Caspian at this point.

Open Thread: I get it now!

Hosted by a light bulb
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
-John Keats

Chapman's translation of Homer is mostly remembered because of Keat's poem about it.  Keats never really got Homer until he read George Chapman's translation of it.  Chapman was a contemporary of Shakespeare so for the current English reader it doesn't really serve much purpose: Chapman translated it into the English of his day, it would need to be translated into the English of our day to be understood.  (Consider the size of a gloss needed to understand Shakespeare.)

But Chapman's translation of Homer is remembered, perhaps even immortalized, because it was on reading it that something finally clicked for Keats.  The light bulb went on, and he got it.

Obviously this could be a place to talk about that sort of thing in your experience.  It also happens to be Friday.


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 coming up, 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! 

 ~ chris the cynic

Standing With Wendy

Standing With Wendy

by Ana Mardoll

On June 25, 2013, Texas Senator Wendy Davis filibustered for nearly twelve hours in order to block the passage of Senate Bill 5, a bill which would greatly impact access to reproductive healthcare in the state of Texas. Though her filibuster successfully blocked SB5, the bill was repackaged and passed in a second special session as HB2.

This work contains transcripts of almost 64 hours of debate and testimony on the Texas Senate and House floors, starting with Wendy Davis' filibuster of SB5, including the proposed House and Senate amendments for HB2, and ending with powerful citizen testimony on these bills.

Tags: Texas, Abortion, Wendy Davis

Book (eBook) Retailers
Written by: Ana Mardoll
Published: May 2014
Language: English

Available from retailers below.
Amazon Kindle
Apple Books
Barnes & Noble Nook
Angus & Robertson (AU)
Indigo (CA)
Vivlio (FR)
Book (eBook) Download
Written by: Ana Mardoll
Published: May 2014
Language: English

Available to download directly.
Patreon ($5 tier)

Metapost: Next-To-Last Transcript Update

Volunteers will have gotten the email last night, but I am basically done with the transcript project. (YAY! SO MANY TIRED YAY!) I've jammed all 266 transcribed segments into a single epub document, which was by far the bear share of the work. The only things left for me to do is to put words on the cover, finish putting in the full list of volunteers, and upload the thing onto Amazon and Barnes&Noble. I hope to have that finished THIS WEEK, at which point the following will happen:

1. I will sleep for a week. This project has been going on for, no joke, almost a full year. I have basically not been sleeping for the past month, just from wanting to get this done. (YAY!)

2. Normal posting should resume next Tuesday (5/13) and with my apologies for taking off at all.

3. I will put up a final transcript update letting people know where they can get a copy, etc. Then a part of me hopes to never talk about this again, lol, not because it wasn't a good project (IT WAS. IT IS.) but just because now I have to move forward and live with the day-to-day of being in New Gilead right now and that's a lot of feels to work through.

I know some of you have asked me about a paper version of the transcript, and I gotta go thresh out some feels on that. The PDF version of this thing ended up being, like, 2,000+ "pages" long (for a large definition of "page", probably larger than a book would use), and I'm not even sure Amazon's Print on Demand service provides for something of that scope. I'd have to research that... and almost certainly pay my POD formatter that I used for Pulchritude, and...

...I honestly don't know if I have the brain for that right now, or if there's a corresponding level of demand to off-set the cost. I could Kickstarter it, except that too has an activation energy cost--I'm not sure I'm in a peppy-enough plce for a Kickstarter right now. So, long story short, we'll see on paper and I might need to gauge interest on that but for right now we're looking at ebook only for the near future.

Open Thread: The Movers and Shakers


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample a kingdom down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration
Is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming
Unearthly, impossible seeming—
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising;
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broken,
A light that doth not depart;
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore to-day is thrilling
With a past day's late fulfilling;
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing:
O men! it must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry—
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the comers
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers;
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
And things that we dreamed not before:
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.
― Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Thursday 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 coming up, 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! 

 ~ chris the cynic