shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Riza of Antinome slipped her foot behind that of the Lancastian soldier, pressed with her knee, then shoved the off-balance man hard into the wall. He sucked air in a noisy bray, the wind knocked right out of him. She laughed when she saw the next soldier rush toward her and easily tossed him over her shoulder and slammed him into the floor. She stood back, cackled, cracked her knuckles, then dived back into her fracas. She'd been stuck on board the Lancastian cruiser for too long behaving herself. It was time to let loose. With glee, she plucked the first soldier off the table where he'd collapsed mouth agape and swung him like a mallet into the second one. Both men made funny noises, now.

The soldiers at this bar felt secure with their reputations as ill-tempered thugs. Other patrons gave them deference. The bullies weren't used to resistance. They were too skilled with cruelty to expect anything from their opponents but pleas for mercy, and mercy wasn't really their forte. Riza knew of their reputation, of course. It was what brought her to this bar in particular. She wanted to stretch her legs--work out those kinks.

And so she waded into another man's fight. At the centre of the circle of sneering soldiers was a small, unarmed foreigner whose only crime was to wander into the wrong pub for a beer. He was a Marrup, from the looks of his peculiar dress. Riza didn't give half a toss about this man. She was just itching for an excuse.

The Marrup held his hands out in a placating gesture to the soldiers and screamed as one slashed at him with a knife. Riza grabbed the soldier's wrist and spun him around, smashing his face into the corner of the bar. The knife spun away, tip stabbing into the floor, hilt shuddering to stillness, and the foreigner plucked up his sarong and skittered out of reach of the soldiers.

Riza had always been an adrenaline junkie, as long as she could remember. When she was a little girl in Antinome, she'd often snuck off to go spelunking in perilous glacial crevasses much to her father's chagrin and her mother's secret pride. It had made her strong and quick on her feet. Her love of adventure was a blessing since a life of ease and comfort did not appeal to her at all. Her musculature was most impressive, with immense, sinewy thighs and a massive lat spread. She looked nothing like an average woman, and stood almost a full head taller than the average man. She was most certainly not an average anything. There could be no surprise that she should become a master of the martial arts, and a magnet for mayhem. Riza loved her life.

Five soldiers faced her now, angered that the foreigner had gotten away. She had ruined their fun. They would make her pay, or so they thought. The Antinomian slid Lifedrinker from its scabbard and took a low stance, ready for the onslaught. Her lips slid back, her nostrils flared, and her throat erupted into a terrifying battle cry. The patrons of the bar stood paralyzed, staring at the woman who dared challenge the Lancastian soldiers.

Two soldiers leapt at her with murder in their eyes, blades thrusting. Riza parried and dipped, piercing one man's throat on Lifedrinker, then smashing its hilt hard against the other man's temple.

Riza held Lifedrinker high over her head, and blood spattered down on her face. "My sword hungers for more," she growled.

The last three soldiers charged, swords swinging. Riza sidestepped, teeth gleaming with her battle rictus. From the shadows, someone hit her shoulder with a chair, and she was thrown off balance for a moment.

Taking advantage of the situation, one of the soldiers slashed downward with his sword, etching a long thin red line down Riza's right arm. Ignoring the deep scratch, Riza moved around the soldier, drawing him away from his cohorts. The remaining bar patrons fled as the two squared off, razor-sharp blades dancing through the air. Riza's war face turned into a pleased grin when she realized her opponent was a worthy one. But she wouldn't still be alive today if she hadn't already mastered every attack, feint, and riposte used on Gliese. Slowly, incrementally, the soldier was forced backward, until with a quick twist and a thrust, the Lancastian's military career was permanently ended.

With a jerk, Riza freed Lifedrinker and turned to face the last two soldiers. But instead of two, there was now only one, and he lie in a crumpled heap upon the floor where the Marrup was rhythmically bashing him about the head with a whiskey bottle, shouting with each hit. "Take that," he howled, "And that, and that!" He breathed heavily with exhaustion and righteous indignation.

Looking up, he noticed Riza and clambered to his feet taking a reverent bow. "My life is yours. Only tell me what to do, and I shall do it."

The Antinomian laughed, wiping Lifedrinker on the bludgeoned soldier. "You'd better run for the hills and pray that the gods protect you."

"Maybe we should both make for the hills," said the Marrup. "One of those soldiers got away, and I don't doubt he'll soon be back with a lot more."

Riza nodded to the Marrup, sheathed her sword, and breezed out into the Gliesean night. She sprinted down the street, pacing her breath with ease. She paused after turning the first corner, peeking back around the closed shop and down the street. Although she doubted reinforcements had arrived yet, she wasn't prepared to bet on it. But as she stopped to look, the little Marrup, sarong held high to give his legs freedom, darted around the corner and ran smack dab into her. Growling, she grabbed him by the collar and lifted him until they were eye level to one another.

"I'm through with you," she said. "Go your own way."

"I mustn't," said the Marrup. "By the laws of my people, my life belongs to you for a year and one day. Since you have saved my life, I am yours and may not leave your side."

Riza cursed and gave the Marrup a shake. "And I suppose that's why you threw a chair at me."

"My aim has never been good," cried the man half in terror and the other half remorse. "I apologize with all sincerity. I was trying to hit one of those soldiers in the head." He drooped in self-reproach.

Riza laughed and let the man go. "Maybe you do belong to me now, and maybe you don't," she said. "We'll sort that out later. In the meantime, do you know this part of the city?"

The Marrup straightened his collar. "Like the back of my hand," he said.

"Then get us out of here," said Riza.

"This way, lady," said the Marrup, and he whisked off into the shadows.

(to be continued...)
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
(I'm going to see what happens when I completely rewrite every sentence in a book I've never read, doing it on the fly.

The book I've chosen is an old pulp fiction sci-fi book called The Sword of Lankor, by Howard L. Cory.)



The Sun Ball was the size of a fat lady's ass and it hovered several centimetres over the parking lot of the Church of Kaga, the ubiquitous two-headed God of War of the planet Gliese. An hour ago, the Ball had first appeared in orbit and had spent this time descending steadily from the sky.

When the Ball showed up, people didn't know what to think. Though the faithful were in abundance, so were the nonbelievers. Rumours of the Ball's arrival quickly spread, first, from the Church itself, to the palace, shopping centres, schoolyards, and the tourist traps. Atheists and pious alike streamed to the Church parking lot. The rotund Labak, manager of a religious book and figurine megastore, who had already made a very comfortable living huckstering spirituality to the masses, hurried his way there with all due haste. If he got the drop on the other retailers, he could secure the lucrative rights on Sun Ball statuary. He could see his coffers swelling if he could just be the first to license the exact measurements and colouration of the actual Sun Ball. He sent a courier to the head of House Malor, renowned for their goldsmithing. Labak didn't doubt for a moment that the Cardinal would grant the Seal of Kaga to his Balls, especially if he promised a sizeable percentage of the profits to the Church. After all, he'd done just that with the ceremonial medallions, official Church of Kaga holy items, complete with the Malor hallmark, of course.

Labak wasn't the only one whose day had suddenly been made brighter by the arrival of the Sun Ball. Taxon, a tiny sliver of a man with a bushy beard and a wispy comb-over from the neighbouring Marrup'ska, was a Holy Speaker. If he got there in time, he'd make a fortune interpreting, with appropriately obfuscated prophetic language, the true meaning of the Arrival. While in transit, he muttered a variety of True Meanings under his breath, mentally weighing the effect of each upon his bankbook.

Captain Carpat Rom of Her Majesty's Twenty-Third Regiment also viewed the Sun Ball with joy. How auspicious that it had arrived on his twenty-fourth birthday! He made sure to appear at the parking lot in full dress uniform, his moustache waxed to needle-sharp points. He marched smartly up to the parking lot, snapped his heels, and presented arms to the Sun Ball. This was as much to impress the masses as it was to give honour to the Battle Deity. He was very handsome in his brilliant gold jacket with navy piping. His medals gleamed almost as bright as the Sun Ball itself. He went to lay his sword upon the Sun Ball itself, but something stopped the sword from touching it. Perhaps it was a force field? Perhaps it was the sudden realization of impropriety? In any case, Captain Carpat Rom's moustache began to twitch in a rodent-like fashion, and then the dashing young man transformed into a dashing young corpse.

Shelby, a seasoned thief had been casing the parking lot and contemplating the best route of escape once she'd nabbed the Sun Ball, decided at this moment to rob a jewellery store, or anything else at all, really, instead.

Koal, a bishop of Kaga, stepped out of the Church and chewed his lip for a moment. Deep in thought, he walked up to the Ball and looked at it and the dead officer. After a moment, he clapped his hands and his attendants appeared by his side. "Have that removed," he said, pointing to the corpse. He paid no attention to them as they carried the handsome body away. For several minutes, he stared at the Ball, stately and solemn in his crimson scapular. Then he exhaled slowly, as though he'd been holding his breath all that time, and vanished back into the Church.

When the bishop sighed, the crowd murmured. A leggy boy, his voice not yet changed, whispered to his mother. "Maybe it's a sign from Kaga?" She tried to shush him, but it was too late. The thing that he had said had rippled outward spreading through the crowd, and within the next forty-eight hours, through the rest of the entire nation.
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
In pop culture, Sigmund Freud is, perhaps erroneously, quoted as saying “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” (1). However, in Jack Cole's “Murder, Morphine and Me,” from the May 1947 edition of True Crime #2 (Cole, 6), the sexual nature of the visual imagery is not just a matter of reading too much into the drawings. “Murder, Morphine and Me” is a horror story, and page 6 of the story is about sexual horror in particular.

Read more... )
shanmonster: (Purple mohawk)
Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is an innovative book on many levels, including the meta-level. In a book about hacking the system, Doctorow continues the theme outward, hacking the concept of pulp fiction/serial novel into something not profit-based, but education-/literacy-based.

In programmer terms, hacking something does not necessarily imply tinkering with code. "While using hacker to refer to someone who enjoys playful cleverness is most often applied to computer programmers, it is sometimes used for people who apply the same attitude to other fields" (1). Doctorow is just this sort of hacker.

In such serial works as Princess of Mars and Herland, chapters were published with cliffhangers which would ensure readers' eagerness to purchase the next installment of the stories. In the free digital version of Little Brother (2), a similar technique is used, but not to garner profit. Instead, the story is interrupted by entertaining exhortations to provide business to bookstores of note. In Little Brother's sequel, Homeland (3), Doctorow further expands on this idea in his requests for readers to donate copies of the book to underfunded libraries.

In this way, although Doctorow is promoting the distribution of books, he is not promoting capitalism, per se. He is promoting the broad dissemination of information, no matter if money is involved or not. One of the central themes of Little Brother is that with the right know-how, even the little guy can triumph over tyranny and foment positive social change. By use of reminders and book store write-ups at the beginning of each chapter, Doctorow subverts the pulp fiction model to ensure youths can continue the informational revolution.

Works cited )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
The Taoist yin-yang symbol is the central allegorical theme of The Left Hand of Darkness, hence the title of the book. Chapter 18, “On the Ice,” contains a distillation of this theme.

The yin-yang symbol is a circle divided into black and white teardrop halves, with each half containing a small spot of the opposite colour. White is on the left side, and black on the right. The smaller spots within each half symbolize the interdependent nature of these opposites*.

Within this chapter, the tent acts as the spot of opposition within the great expanse. A physical representation of yin-yang is shown with death and cold outside the tent, and life and warmth inside. However, even this spot is a smaller version of the ying-yang symbol, for within this tiny spot of warmth, even smaller portions of opposition may be found: “needles of icy air blew in” (264), and the darkness is peppered with snow motes.

A mental representation of yin-yang is also shown. Love exists within the tent, and hatred without (268). The mental/spiritual manifestation continues with Estraven's prayer for “darkness unfinished” (264).

Mental and physical representations manifest simultaneously. Ai coalesces the physical/mental through verbal/telepathic communication with Estraven, and Estraven amalgamates yin-yang by voicing a prayer for darkness unfinished. Just as darkness unfinished contains light, light unfinished contains darkness, and the reader is given a representational description of the yin-yang symbol.

The chapter culminates with a literal demonstration of the disorientation caused by imbalance. When Estraven and Ai enter the Unshadow, orientation is restored only when darkness, the right hand of light, comes “hulking out of the void” (281). With this spot of darkness in the light, they recover their vestibular sense along with their directional bearings.

Through these examples, the allegory of the yin-yang in The Left Hand of Darkness is coalesced in “On the Ice.”

Works cited )
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a work of poetic prose. Not only is it poetic in nature, but it is also inspired by poetry. In the pessimistic “There Will Come Soft Rains,” pathos is driven home by allusions to popular poems and their imagery.

The most obvious reference is to its namesake: Sara Teasdale's poem (1) about the perseverance of nature in spite of human extinction. Both poem and story carry iconic images of warfare. The poem evokes the barbed wire fences of WWI, and the story evokes WWII's human silhouettes seared onto walls. However, while the rains in the poem are cleansing, the rain and sprinkler water in the story are irradiated. Although nature lives on in the poem, in the story, everything dies.

With its tick-tock rhymes and scurrying mice, the next rhyme evoked in the story is “Hickory Dickory Dock.” In the story's context, the rhyme invokes the Doomsday Clock, which was created in 1947 to measure the proximity of global nuclear war (2). This portentous interpretation contrasts with the cheery nonsense of the children's rhyme.

The third allusion is to the “The Work Song” from Disney's Cinderella (3) which hit the theatres two months before the first publication of Bradbury's story (4). The mechanized house and its robotic mice take the part of Cinderella in that they do increasing amounts of mopping, sweeping, dusting, and cooking. Jack's lament, “She goes around in circles/Till she's very, very dizzy,” (5) corresponds with when the dog “ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, spun in a frenzy, and died” (6). Cinderella gets a happily-ever-after ending. “There Will Come Soft Rains” does not.

From these examples, one sees how Bradbury used an ironic interpretation of poetry in the creation of his story.

Works cited )
shanmonster: (Tiger claw)
Vegetarian philosophy and Darwin's theory of evolution informed numerous authors in the Victorian era. Horror elements of The Island of Doctor Moreau have their roots in these ideas.

Vegetarian movements were popular during Wells' lifetime, and although some based their philosophies off health benefits and/or the prevention of cruelty, others employed Darwinistic reasoning: if humans share common ancestry with the animals, then eating animal flesh is tantamount to cannibalism. In 1895, Arnold Frank Hills, president of the Vegetarian Federal Union, said, “[c]annibalism is the natural consequence of a carnivorous dietary-to eat a man is the logical conclusion of devouring a sheep” (1). This sheep/man dichotomy is brought up early in the novel. It is no accident that Prendick's first meal after being spared from eating his shipmates is a disgusting one. He is given iced blood and boiled mutton (notorious for its foul stench). The meal is calculated to magnify the readers' revulsion, just as they would be repelled by cannibalism.

Moreau is a vegetarian and attempts to enforce vegetarianism on his island. This may seem ironic considering his cruelties, but his rationale has nothing to do with suffering and everything to do with survival. It harkens back to Howard Williams' The Ethics of Diet, the seminal Victorian treatise extolling vegetarianism. In it, the degeneration of society is blamed upon wholesale slaughter and the eating of meat (2).

Indeed, the micro-society falls apart when it becomes carnivorous. Moreau's creatures begin eating rabbits. Considering the chimeric qualities of Moreau's creatures, eating rabbits is certainly a form of cannibalism. It signals the onset of wholesale slaughter and the civilization's end.

From these examples, one may see how vegetarian philosophy paired with Darwinistic theory are at the core of The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Works cited )
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
In Mary Shelley's lifetime, corpse theft and dissection were pervasive. The resulting cultural phobia was instrumental to the writing of Frankenstein.

The fear of dissection was exploited as a measure to prevent crime. In 1751, the Murder Act stipulated no murderer should be buried upon execution, but should be hung in chains or dissected (1). The same year, William Hogarth distributed a series of educational engravings demonstrating the inevitable dissection of murderers (2). One 19th-century killer, referencing his body's fate, asked the attending constable, “He [the murdered boy] is better off than I am now, do you not think he is, sir?” The constable agreed (3). In Frankenstein, this cultural phobia increases the horror of Justine's execution. Dr. Frankenstein would be well aware of her fate (4, pg 87). After all, he assembled his creature from people just like her.

The number of executions could not meet medical demand. Doctors fought over bodies at the scaffold (5). “Resurrectionists” capitalized on the demand, and body theft was commonplace. Cadavers of loved ones were guarded, and, in a classic example of poetic justice, Dr. Frankenstein wades through corpse-watchers to view his dead wife (4, pg 197).

Anatomical anomalies were especially sought after. To be spared dissection, the giant Charles Byrne begged to be buried at sea. Upon his death, "The whole tribe of surgeons put in a claim for [him] and surrounded his house just as harpooners would an enormous whale" (6). This sets the precedent for the anomalous creature saying, “I shall collect my funeral pile and consume this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch who would create such another as I have been” (4, pg 222).

From these examples, the fear of dissection as cultural framework for Frankenstein is evident.

Works Cited )
shanmonster: (Zombie ShanMonster)
Lewis Carroll (née Charles Dodgson) follows in similar tradition to naturalists of his time. The whimsical pigeon scene is not only entertaining, but, much like the works of Edward Lear, Charles Darwin, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, educational. The two major elements of the pigeon scene are Alice's long neck and the pigeon itself.

Charles Dodgson may have first become acquainted with pigeons because the pigeon clubs popular in his lifetime (1). At least one club was in the vicinity of his alma mater, Oxford University (2). The scene demonstrates a common problem for keepers: snakes eating eggs (3). Carroll entertained with this while teaching something of bird behaviour.

Although Dodgson showed no particular interest in natural history, he wrote on and illustrated the pigeon, as did Darwin (4). Some critics find Darwin's research absurd and his illustrations anthropomorphic. Carroll's nonsensical animal illustrations and portrayals are anthropomorphic. Dodgson entered into a correspondence with Darwin, sharing a photograph “of an emotional expression” to him for the purposes of research and illustrations (5).

Dodgson had commonalities with naturalist Edward Lear. Until Lewis Carroll came along, Lear was considered the king of nonsense verse. Dodgson was familiar with and respected his work, for he gave his nieces copies of Lear's Book of Nonsense (6). Lear, too, made illustrations of pigeons (7).

Alice's serpentine neck has a counterpart in the work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in regards to his speculations on giraffes. Lamarck believed that as they reach up to the treetops, a “nervous fluid” is released into their necks, making them lengthen (8). Although in the pigeon scene, Alice eats a morsel of mushroom, the “nervous fluid” is reminiscent of the earlier “drink me” fluid.

In these ways, Lewis Carroll follows in the same tradition as 19th-century naturalists.

Footnotes/works cited )
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
I want to get reading regularly again. I've let it slide the last couple of years, and fear I may soon be joining the unwashed, semi-literate masses.

(I'm leaving out all the bridge books I proofread.)

Here goes...

  1. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - cut from the same cloth as the Twilight books. A piece of crap.
  2. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (unfinished)
  3. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
  4. The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric
  5. Yarn by Jon Armstrong
  6. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
  7. For The Win by Cory Doctorow
  8. Scroogled by Cory Doctorow
  9. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  10. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  11. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  12. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  13. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
  14. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  15. Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  16. The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline
  17. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  18. The Sexes by Dorothy Parker
  19. Relatively Honest by Molly Ringle
  20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  21. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
  22. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle (abandoned because it really sucks)
  23. Silverlock by John Myers Myers (unfinished)
shanmonster: (Default)
The following is taken from an 1865 children's book called The Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor. It is excerpted in the fantastic collection by Nigel Temple called Seen and Not Heard. Enjoy!
In the Island of Hayti a man and his wife stole one of their own nieces, a girl about eight years of age, strangled her, flayed her, cut her up, cooked her, and then devoured her, offering the blood to their god--the snake.

Never let us forget that 'the dark places of the earth' are still 'the habitations of cruelty.'
shanmonster: (Default)
The other day, I got a parcel in the mail. On the way home, I stopped by a coffee shop and set my parcel on the counter. An older lady in a funny knit hat was seated at the bar. She looked over at the parcel and asked, "Oh, what's in the box?"

"Books," I said.

"A present for someone?"

I smiled. "I got them for myself."

She smiled back. "I love reading. What books did you get?"

"I got a boxed set of books I loved as a child. Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time books."

"I've never heard of them. What are they about?"

"It's a kids' adventure story about children saving the world and their scientist dad. It has all sorts of interesting bits in it, with different languages like Latin, Greek, and Italian, and lots of math and physics, too. I like it because it's not dumbed down like a lot of kids' books, and it encourages the reader to think."

The woman moved forward on her stool. "I learned to read late in life, so I still don't know that many words. Do you think I might like it?"

"Oh yes! Books like this help you learn new words. When I read a book that has lots of words I don't know in it, I like to have a dictionary at hand. It helps a lot."

She grinned. "A Wrinkle in Time. I'll remember that! Thank you."
shanmonster: (Liothu'a)
I haven't been reading nearly as much lately. So I'm gonna jump on board with this one. Let's see if I can do it. Rarr!

Oh yeah. The challenge is to read 50 books this year. Yup.

First up, I need to finish reading that piece of shit [ profile] knightky gave me: Hush, Hush.

shanmonster: (On the stairs)
I've been working on a lot of things, lately. Mostly, I'm trying to improve myself in a general sense.

I'm trying to improve my cooking. That's going well. Maybe too well. The stuff I make is so delicious I might make myself fat eating it! I try to limit my baking to about once a week, although I did bake two things this week: crackberry pie and ginger banana muffins. They are both really damned good. I'll also be baking more things as Christmas presents. The curry peanut soup is delicious, and I feel less guilty about eating lots of it, because it's crammed with good-for-me: protein (chickpeas, natural peanut butter, and shrimp), and vitamin-rich veggies (sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, etc.). And it tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge. It's even better that it's [ profile] f00dave-friendly.

My knitting skills continue to progress. I'm actually pleased with the stuff I've been making. It no longer looks like something a kid might make. It looks good.

My workouts at the gym have been irregular this month because of a pull in my SI joint, but the massage therapy and stretching I've been getting has been helping a lot. I'm starting to feel like my strength is getting back to where it should be. I need to work on my cardio, but my asthma makes it difficult, sometimes. Still, yesterday I was able to do a bunch of skipping (including crossovers which are nice for working the coordination), 320 jumping jacks, 120 dragons, and the rest of my regular isometrics and weight-training. It took me a lot longer than it should have, but I finished it all, so for that, I'm grateful.

I've continued my quest of doing at least one creative thing a day, whether it be cooking, writing, dancing, photography, or crafting. And I share it with others. I think it keeps my brain limber. It certainly fills the time more productively than watching television, and it leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction that I've done something to make the world a nicer place for at least one other person, too.

What I need to work on:
  • Cardio endurance. Skipping is great for this. I should really start running the stairs in my apartment building again, too, now that outdoor running isn't a good option, anymore. It will do my legs and butt a hell of a lot of good, and will also burn off more fat, giving me more muscle definition.
  • Reading. I just haven't been reading many books, lately, and it's pissing me off. The last couple of books I read and enjoyed were Robin Hobbs' newest dragon books. I devoured them pretty fast. I stopped reading Colleen McCullough's Marc Antony and Cleopatra, though. It was getting too silly. I also want to continue to read more of the literary greats. I've been reading Machiavelli and Plato, lately. I need to do more of that, to wake up my lazy brains.
  • Latin. I miss studying it.
  • General crafting. I did a bit of papercraft today, with the skullflake, but really, that's pretty simple stuff. I should be doing much more complex work than that, considering my craft background. It would help if I had some better supplies. The scalpel I was using is pretty dull.
  • Sewing and costume design. I have rather a lot of ideas which I need to make. Everything from dance costumes to historical Viking costuming.
  • Painting. It's been too long, and I'm itching to break out my acrylics again.
  • Crochet. I suck at it. I need to not suck at it.
  • Building more muscle in my arms and chest. I'm pretty pleased with my back, abs, and legs. But they are a lot stronger and more defined than my arms and chest. My shoulders aren't too bad, but they could be better, too. I just need to rack on more weights.
  • Dance technique. I especially want to work on my armwork again. I've let it fall a bit by the wayside in favour of floorwork.
  • Photography. Now that the camera has been repaired, I'm looking forward to doing lots more photography. I have willing human and critter models, and I don't need consent from the inanimate objects I want to do macro-photography of. Mwahahah!

Edit: Look at all the high-impact stuff I've been doing, like skipping and jumping jacks. And note that my bad foot hasn't bothered me since the summer. Is it possible it's finally healed? Oh, I do hope so! Once upon a time, I couldn't do any sort of impact movement with my feet without them swelling up. This hasn't been the case for a long time. I am filled with hope.


Dec. 16th, 2010 12:56 pm
shanmonster: (On the stairs)
If I were to make a cookbook with my favourite tried and tested recipes, would you be interested?
shanmonster: (Sacrilicious)
I wanted to go for a run yesterday, but my stupid arthritis was making my feet feel absolutely dreadful. However, this morning, my feet feel perfectly fine, and so off I went on my first run since the late spring, I think. I was afraid I'd have lost all my endurance, since I haven't been doing any running at all, but it seems all those jumping jacks I've been doing have put me in good stead. I did have to walk twice on the way, but not for very long. And I was able to do two good sprints on top of the steady jog, so I'm pretty pleased with myself.

I saw lots of ducks and geese on the way, and also two cranes standing stock still in the pond. I ran through low piles of damp autumn leaves, and then took a detour through a wooded area and jumped a couple of small deadfalls, all while listening to Prodigy and Manowar. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now, post-shower, I need to get dressed up into something presentable to go and talk to a fitness club owner about teaching dance at his studio (*hope hope*). And then I'm off to the gym to lift heavy things before teaching dance tonight.

Spaced out betwixt all that is the usual housework, job search, and some reading. I just finished reading Dragon Keeper (Rain Wilds Chronicles, Vol. 1) by Robin Hobb, and have just started Antony and Cleopatra: A Novel (Masters of Rome) by Colleen McCullough. I used to read a lot of her historical novels about ten years or so ago, and it looks like she's written a few new ones in the interim.

I only have a couple of links for you, this time:

Vengeance of the Honeybees: Not the bees, NOT THE BEES!

Dancers Are Genetically Different Than The Rest Of Us: I don't know that I fit into this particular mould. I am about as nonspiritual a person as they come.

Prize-Winning Whole Wheat Bread: I think I'd like to try this out tomorrow. It's been too long since I last made bread, and if it works out, I want to start making all of my bread instead of buying it from the grocery store.
shanmonster: (Default)
So maybe the cold isn't leaving. Maybe it's just mutating. I am no longer human. Yes, forget werewolves. I am a werehouse. Or maybe I am a university campus. I am now at the stage where my lungs feel like a furnace turned low. My chest is the heating plant. My throat is the science building, or the centre for cultural studies. And my nose is the cafeteria. What else do you call the place where the workers ladle out the corn chowder? Ugh. I'd like to drop out of school, please. Or at least opt out of the meal plan.

And enough of that analogy.

Hi! How ya doin'?

I spent a few hours sprawling in my bed last night, reading Beowulf by Caitlin Kiernan. I hadn't realized, when I first got the book, that it was a retelling of the Neil Gaiman/Rogery Avary movie (which I didn't particularly like). When I found out, I was disappointed. Novelizations of movies just suck. Usually. This one is pretty good. I prefer it to the movie. My qualm is that she is pretty reliant on adverbs, but then again, so am I until I clean 'em out of my writing with the nit-comb of ruthless editing. So who am I to judge? No one, that's who!

The story does make me want to go dig up John Gardner's Grendel again, which I read in my second year of university and fell in love with.

My love is fickle, apparently. I'd best go and revisit that little monster of a book.

Today, I ordered a copy of the Victoria's Secret catalogue in for Tasselhoff the cat. If she doesn't like it, I'll look at it.

Links? Ok.

Links AND interesting video? Ok, redux!

Hewitt likes 'vagazzling' her genitals: So apparently she affixes Swarovski crystals all around her vajayjay. Why? No clue. Personally, I think it sounds awfully fucking uncomfortable. Though it must give her gynecologist a special thrill come pap test season.

Shrink Geek: Health and fitness for geeks. Level up in 2010.

Pat Robertson links Haiti quake to pact with devil: "The U.S. televangelist says Haiti's calamities derive from a purported pact rebellious slaves made in the 18th century to overthrow the French. Robertson's TV show later issues a statement." And now you know.

Terminally-ill volunteer sought for mummification on Channel 4: "Fulcrum is not offering any payment for the project, other than to meet costs. 'The advice from our compliance lawyers is that it would be wrong to offer payment.'" Because anything else would be ethically questionable, right?

Now, watch these two videos in order....

And now it is time for me to eat breakfast and once again tackle the costuming challenge.

Ta ta for now!
shanmonster: (Dance Monkey Dance!)
I have about ten minutes on this library computer, so I'm just going to start typing and see what comes out of my fingers. It's been a while since I've done this exercise. Sometimes it produces something interesting. And sometimes it's nothing more than literary masturbation. Oh baby, oh baby....

I've spent a lot of time at the library terminals since my arrival in Toronto on Tuesday. I don't have much money, so the things I can do for free while lugging around a lot of gear are somewhat limited. So I've been reading a lot. And walking a lot. And studiously avoiding the stores, except when I faltered and found myself inexorably drawn to the World's Largest Bookstore where I bought four books. Which I now have to lug around everywhere. Two of the books are by James Morrow. The other two books are blank, and will eventually be filled with my scribblings.

I have also spent a lot of time reading and writing. I wrote a few letters for Underworld which I hope will serve their nefarious purposes. Who me? Plot? Never.... I wrote a few rather autobiographical snippets, which I doubt I'll be sharing for quite some time, but which needed to be written. I also read "The Wars" by Timothy Findley, which was one of the more depressing bits of literature I've read in a while. It's an episodic portrait of WWI with a lot of equine imagery and some of the grimmest and evocative descriptions of bad sex I've read in some time. Worth a read, for sure, but I still greatly prefer "Not Wanted on the Voyage," which is Findley's blasphemous reimagining of the Noah's Ark tale, complete with a unicorn. I should read that again. It was really good.

My last dance teaching gig laid me off, and I am officially unemployed. I have four dance performances in a little over a week, and then nothing. I'm seriously considering moving to Toronto for a few months to study aerial silks, butoh, and a few other dance topics. I need to find a part-time job and a cheap place to live, though. Any ideas?

Five minutes.... Only five more minutes to write, and then I'm off to butoh class again. The workshop has been progressing, but too slowly for my liking. It just seems like we've covered nothing that I haven't already covered before. And the concepts of butoh are so ephemeral, and so very, very foreign to me, that I despair of ever "getting it". Yet somehow, while doing a short solo piece yesterday based on walking, turning, and transforming to earth and water, I apparently pulled off a remarkable ending to my dance. Or so I was told. Too bad I really can't remember what I did. Too bad there was no video made of my piece. I am mystified.

I can transform into some other element, become an empty vessel slowly filling with wind and stinging insects, and I can walk the Noh walk, but I am always present. I cannot kill the self. I am always there. And until I can leave and have my body become something else, I probably won't ever get butoh.

shanmonster: (On the stairs)
Too much caffeine. My interior is vibrating like mad. Ack!

I want to share a few print oddities with you. First up is a spam I received. Mary Atoo writes,
Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus christ.Please i really need a bible.this is my main purpose of contacting.hope my humble request will be granted.thank you and God Bless you.this is my address.
If this is a 419 scam, I don't get it. Weird.

Next up is an excerpt from an "erotic" tale called Shards down south? I'm down south in Kagome!:
Drawing one hadn out of her shirt, trailing his claws softly over her skin, Inuyasha tore each side of her cloth barrier before he plunged his head inside her craving pussy. He slowly inched into her until he felt her hymen, "This is gonna hurt," Inuyasha cautioned her before bucking into her womb and breaking her woman barrier.
Wow. Such a short excerpt, and so much that is wrong....

[A bad kiss]And finally, an excerpt from a 1936 booklet called "The Art of Kissing" written by Hugh Morris wherein we learn that short men and tall women are terrible kissers:
It is, therefore, necessary that the man be taller than the woman. The psychological reason for this is that he must always give the impression of being his woman's superior, both mentally and especially physically. The physical reason, with which we are more concerned, is that if he is taller than his woman, he is better able to kiss her. He must be able to sweep her into his strong arms, and tower over her, and look down into her eyes, and cup her chin in his fingers and then, bend over her face and plant his eager, virile lips on her moist, slightly parted, inviting ones. All of this he must do with the vigor of an assertive male. And all of these are impossible when the woman is the taller of the two. For when the situation is reversed, the kiss becomes only a ludicrous banality. The physical mastery is gone but the fact that two lips are touching two other lips. Nothing can be more disappointing.
shanmonster: (Default)
I really didn't keep last year's list going. Not at all.

But I want to do it this year.

Here's what I've read and am reading, so far.

  1. Shaman's Crossing: Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy - Robin Hobb
  2. Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2) - Robin Hobb
  3. Mastering the Art of War (Shambhala Dragon Editions) - Zhuge Liang and Liu Ji (unfinished)
  4. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) - Geoffrey Chaucer (unfinished)
  5. Renegade's Magic (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 3) - Robin Hobb
  6. The Aardvark Is Ready for War - James W. Blinn
  7. Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots (Ambrose Bierce Mystery Novels) - Oakley Hall
  8. Wanted by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones

July 2017

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