hrj: (Default)
[personal profile] hrj

There are two approaches to fairy tale retellings: ones that re-map the original story as a whole into a new setting that shifts the reader’s vision to a different angle, and ones that take the original premise as a jumping-off point then map entirely new territory thereafter. Walking on Knives by Maya Chhabra is definitely of the second type. The jumping-off point is not one of the more sanitized versions of The Little Mermaid, but something much closer to Hans Christian Andersen’s original, complete with hazard to one’s immortal soul and the virtues of physical suffering. Readers who expect a feel-good romance rather than a hard-edged tale of impossible moral choices and unbreakable magical contracts may find themselves off balance.

We have, as a given, the unexplained desire of the mermaid for the prince whose life she saved—a desire so strong she is willing to face enormous risks, sacrifices, and suffering for the merest chance of success. We have the foreign princess who is willing to take credit for the prince’s rescue. But throw into the mix a sister to the sea witch, who has her own goals and desires and is willing to make her own ruthless bargains to achieve them. And crucially, we have a tacit acceptance of same-sex attraction that needs no special pleading or justification.

The story is not about romance, but about working through misunderstandings and barriers to communication. It’s about negotiating your way out of a maze of bad alternatives and choosing which consequences you’re willing to accept. And it’s about the pain that comes from forcing consequences on other people when there is no clean way out. I found the plot delightfully unexpected and challenging. Once it diverged from Andersen’s road map, I had no idea where it was going to take me, but I was satisfied with where I ended up.

The prose style is ambitious, though not always successfully so. There is a wavering between a more formal fairy-tale style and unexpected shifts into colloquial language. Flights of description sometimes veer into excess and I occasionally stumbled over words being used outside their expected meanings. The story has the substance of a fresh and individual voice and I expect that, with practice and maturity, that voice should come into its own.

Walking on Knives may be ordered from Less Than Three Press.

Translating Yoga

Jul. 25th, 2017 03:07 pm
[syndicated profile] kategriffin_feed

Posted by KateG

My body is achy and stiff.  Some of this is too much time sitting at a computer.  Some of it is lifting lights.  Some of it is a side-effect of swimming and escrima without stretching (oops).  Some of it is… shudder… just getting a wee bit older.

Consequently, I’ve been doing some yoga.

I resisted this at first, because I associate yoga with a lot of breathy nonsense.  Which isn’t to say I’m not down with the breathing part – I like a physical exercise that also helps you get your head vaguely straightened out, that gives you a bit of a skill as well as makes your legs go all squelchy.  But I’ve always associated yoga with being a thing that belongs to the haves and have-nots.  If you do yoga, you have a secret, and the secret makes you righteous, and that righteousness may be vegan, and if you don’t do yoga then you don’t have that secret and that makes you… lesser.  Less than dudes who do yoga.  And I can’t be having that de-humanising bullshit.  It is very much not what the oneness of humanity business is about.

But hey.  A lot like organised religion, that bit is very much about people, rather than yoga itself.  It’s people who dehumanise, rather than handstands, so I figured… what the hell.  May as well learn a bit properly so when I’m an old biddy, it’s a skill set I can draw on, and if I can find classes which don’t cost more than, say, £6 a pop then it’s an investment now that may pay off later, and may as well use the cash now before the economy burns and we are, as one friend put it, eating ashes it out of a tin.

So I’ve been doing yoga.

And it’s been grand.

I mean, my whole body shakes most of the time and there are bits of steel girder more flexible than me, but hey.  It’s a growing thing.  And I do genuinely like the whole ‘getting into a zone’ vibe.  It feels like yet another tool for the growing-old-gracefully box, which is let’s face it, the box I’m interested in filling way more than the being sexy and having abs like a map of the Gobi desert thing.

So there I am.

Getting into the space.

Connecting with the breath.

Letting my senses come to life.

The whole shazzam.

Opening my mind.

Opening my heart.

Opening my ear canals and my….

Whoa, what, wait?

Opening my ear canals?

Why yes, young yogi, opening your ear canals.

And letting toxins flush from your thighs.

And allowing the neuro-plasicisty of your brain to work upon the messages you’re sending to your body.

And activating your chakras.

And hydrating your spine.


Actually, by this point, I’m probably not in the zone.  I mean, I’m working on it, but the second you told me that I was releasing blockages in my body by sitting back on my tailbone, my blood pressure began to rise above and beyond the basic pain point of ‘dear God should thighs even feel this way?’

Oddly, I have more problems with this than I do with talk of chi or chakras, because, again much like organised religion, I’m happy to embrace these as concepts which are expressing something far more nuanced and interesting than moving blobs of light.  I can work with chi as both a physiological and a mental concept and am very happy using it as shorthand for a certain experience which I’m damn sure science can express, but not in fewer than 800 words so hey, yeah.  Chi.  Let’s use that as an excellent, groovy and totally fine place-holder for a complicated construct.  Boom.

I’m also down with respecting things that come from another organised theology, so long as it’s not asking me to adjust my ethics in accordance with ancient texts of unknown provenance.

I’m less down with my language, my universe, being used to express stuff that I’ve got a real issue with.

Like hydrating my spine.  Or toxins.  Because yes, totally, stretching muscles is great, and healthy, and feels sorta ok after despite the shaking.  But if you’re gonna tell me that I’m releasing toxins, you’d damn well better have scientific data to back that up, because you’re now trampling all over ideas that matter deeply to me.

Ideas of – and I hate to throw this word out there – fact.  Ideas of physicality, identity and hey, even spirituality, I’m down with.  These express things which exist within a very personal experience, albeit one which can be communicated and shared across a society.

But don’t go trampling all over the scientific method.  Because if I were a physicist, and you told me that your yoga was causing a re-alignment of ions within your body, I’d damn well want to see which bit of my body pointed North in a magnetic field.  And if it turned out that I wasn’t in fact a human compass, I would be frustrated at being sold false claims, and frustrated indeed that ideas – big important ideas about biology, physiology and science – were being hijacked for nonsense.

And yeah, it’s harmless enough when expressed to a room of 5 ladies at 7 a.m. in North London, I guess.  But it feels like a very short step from ‘freeing the toxins’ to colonic irrigation, or from ‘hydrating the spine’ to herbal remedies for arthritis, and if you can’t prove that shit, then you are selling patent medicine.  You are selling a promise you can’t keep.  You’re selling a fib.  And you’re using the language that was built specifically for the exploration of reality, the method that was built to bring us as close as possible to some sort of understanding of our universe, to do it.

And that just pisses me off.

So guys.


With respect for the grooviness of it all.

When I come do some yoga next time, please talk to me about chi, and chakras, and the alignment of my body, and sending energy to my fingertips, and connecting with my breath – the whole caboodle.  I’m down with all of it, because all of it has a meaning that I feel I can connect with, without needing to judge or impose any sort of linguistic anxiety.

But let’s hang fire on toxin-talk, until we’ve got a control group and a testable hypothesis to see precisely what this toxin is, how it affects our bodies, and whether it’s that much of a problem at all.

[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1528: Mopey-Shtick; or, The Wail

This scene was written this way, verbatim, in our planning notes years before we got up to starting detailed work on Return of the Jedi. The allusion to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was just too delicious pass up.

As it turned out, when we got to the sailbarge fight, we came up with a better idea, and ran with it in the actual comic. I, personally, was very sad to see this one fall by the wayside. But I'm pleased that it has new life and finally sees the light of day as the final non-canon bonus strip in this extended intermission after the original six films.

As previously announced, the next strip will be the opening strip of our treatment of Rogue One, appearing on Tuesday 1 August. See you then as we continue the Darths & Droids journey into an exciting new frontier!


Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:01 pm
jpgsawyer: (Default)
[personal profile] jpgsawyer
Well well that was unexpected. I got 5th! Out of 16 (with one withdrawal)!

BIG BIG Thank you to Jenny for supporting me so well and carrying stuff around, holding horses, something she hates, and generally being wonderful. Thanks to Kylie for the advice and finding me a stables that does this sort of thing and thanks to my instructor Tammie for all the instruction.

Hope was very forward going and riding her in a snaffle bit for the first time in my dressage test was always going to be a bit of a challenge but we got round and I was happy with the 46.6 I got for the test. I wasn't the worst and I wasn't the best but hey I will take that.

Then we made a mad dash up the hill to the show jumping as the timing was tight, only the find that they where terribly late. I could have taken my time to change her bridal (back to the pelham) and to put my body protector on.

I should have got off and had a rest at this point but I stayed up as I didn't know how long it would take.... Still when we did get up again and get moving hope was full of it and great she loved the jumping and went round like a pro. I however nearly forgot about the last two jumps but after a strange look from the camera man I figure it out and completed the course with only 4 penalties for annoyingly crossing my tracks.

Then it was a mad jump off, change out of the shirt and tie, put on a long sleeve polo, realise I have left my medical arm band in the car, race back get it and then jump back on again ready to go on the Cross Country.

Did a few warm up jumps and then out on course and away we went. Weeee!!!! Hope loved it and we did really well, I had a sticky moment at one corner which was quite tight and I had to go wide but we got round and over the jump I was worrying about. At jump 14 I dropped a stirrup as I got to the jump but I managed to get over and get the stirrup back before rounding the corner past the commentary box then on to the finish! Clear!! YES CLEAR!!!!

I would have had 38 time penalties but due to some weird computer error they suddenly decided to drop that part of the score. Not sure why.

Still I got Fifth, with a basically clear show jumping round and a clear cross country. Not bad for an old bloke with basically no hips! That was so fun.

Episode 1527: Hamming It Up

Jul. 18th, 2017 10:11 am
[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1527: Hamming It Up

We had the basic idea to do this scene as a parody of Hamlet, complete with dialogue in Shakespearean verse, way back when we began work on The Phantasmal Malevolence. That was several years before Ian Doescher wrote and published William Shakespeare's Star Wars - which, together with its sequels parodying the other movies in the saga, is hilarious and well worth your money if you're in the market for more Star Wars humour.

Anyway, since we know people will mention Doescher's work if we don't do it first, rest assured that this comic was written with inspiration derived completely independently. It seems that mixing Star Wars and Shakespeare is just such a natural thing to want to do that it evolved spontaneously multiple times.

Waterstones Norwich, July 31st

Jul. 17th, 2017 04:31 pm
[syndicated profile] kategriffin_feed

Posted by KateG

Norwich!  (And surrounding environs.)

Norfolk as a whole!

I’m coming to visit… with Ann Leckie!  ANN LECKIE guys!

Because why just win a Hugo Award, when you can also grab the Nebula and Arthur C.Clarke too – and a Kitschie, I should add, as a former Kitschie judge from the year Ancillary Justice won that too.

I haven’t been to Norwich for a while – not since I used to go visit my Gran and we’d wander round the cathedral being all ‘ooooh’ and look at the ducks.  I’m looking forward to it, and hope to see people for merriment and adventures with the amazing Ann Leckie on July 31st, 7 p.m. at Waterstones.

hrj: (LHMP)
[personal profile] hrj
 I'm going back to my more usual pattern of covering thick books one chapter at a time! Velasco will take care of almost two months worth of entries, which will give me some breathing space during my summer travels.


madbaker: (Default)

July 2017

2 3 45678
9 1011 12131415
23 242526272829

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 28th, 2017 04:44 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios