Meme in G

Jan. 4th, 2017 09:38 am
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Picked up from [personal profile] heliopausa : you ask for a letter and then think of five fictional characters whose name begins with that letter, and write your comments and ideas on them.

When I asked her for a letter, I feared I would end up with one that Czech names don't usually begin with. Of course I was given G which is exactly one such letter. Over half of the following characters' names don't involve it in Czech.

But, surprisingly, once I got started, the rest flowed very quickly.

Gordon Urquhart (I hope I spelled it correctly...), from Local Hero – is frankly a mystery to me; but that’s actually part of what makes Local Hero fun. He’s a shrewd, smooth businessman in a community where everyone has to hold several jobs; as the story progresses, one begins to think simutaneously that he’s wasted there, that he’s exactly the man this community needs, and that he'd gleefully drive it to ground for money (but then, so would the rest of the community...). And he’s played by Dennis Lawson, so you believe it all. The interplay between him and Mac, Gordon trying to butter up Mac and drive a hard bargain and Mac swiftly not giving a damn (I’m at a loss at how to describe "not giving a damn" progressively?) – that’s an integral part of the core of the story in Local Hero, and a lot of fun to watch. So Gordon has to be smooth and therefore a bit faceless; but as I said, as played by Dennis Lawson, he is all that and still very memorable. (Which is best exemplified by the fact that he was the first fictional character with a name beginning with G I could think of that I could imagine myself writing about and wasn’t my own :D). Hm, I should watch more films with Dennis Lawson. He does seem to have an inate ability to make characters memorable.


Goldberry – from The Fellowship of the Ring. Doesn’t get much space in the books, but she does make a deep and lasting impression, feeding right into stories of water fairies, to put into English the way I think of it in Czech. Which, of course, doesn’t make much sense with the way fairies are usually perceived in English these days. That was, I believe, precisely Tolkien’s point in writing about such characters.

She’s actually not dangerous like Slavic water fairies are (at least not in this story), but she certainly radiates power, in a bit of foreshadowing for the way Galadriel is portrayed later in the book. Why did I think of Goldberry before Galadriel? Probably precisely because she’s a category of character I was already familiar with when first reading the books, so she rests somewhere more firmly in my subconscious. Even though her name doesn’t begin with G in Czech. (It’s Zlatěnka in Czech.)

The impression I have of her is hugely visual. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm so visual myself, or because that's really mostly what we get. But what I get from that about her as a character is that she has a knack for making an impression. That would go a long way towards explaining how she made an impression on Tom Bombadil, who, if anything, is characterised by being above (?) things. And her hospitality shows that she's not just that.


Gimli
– and now that I’ve thought of Tolkien, there’s actually a wide choice of G characters to pick from. I chose to go with Gimli, because of Gimli and Legolas, who demonstrate one of my favourite literary moments... motifs... something; namely, the way two characters are stronger together, not just in the universe of the book (although that’s certainly also true), but even more so, for the reader.

Gimli, on his own, is mostly the token dwarf in the Fellowship (pretty much literally). He has his moments, but were it not for his friendship with Legolas – even though we actually never learn how exactly that happened! – his gradual character development would probably be passing and somewhat unmemorable. Even his devotion to Galadriel would probably be a lot less impactful, were it the only connection to the Elves he formed; but now that he springs to her defence in front of Éomer and Legolas springs to Gimli’s defence against the Riders in the same scene, the shift in Gimli’s attitude is firm and unshakable. His friendship with Legolas seals the deal, and also makes it absolutely clear that this is one of the good guys who are going to save the world and who are worthy of saving the world. (A lesson a lot of the “saving the world” genre could take a few pages from.)

Plus, Gimli’s description of the Glittering Caves is, in my personal opinion, one of the most beautiful things Tolkien’s ever written. It’s probably insulting to Dwarves to say that one passage completely humanises Dwarves, but my human readers will know what I mean.


Magrat Garlick
from Discworld – surnames count, don’t they?

Whoo, Magrat. She’s like someone I know, except I don’t really know anyone quite like her. I love that Pratchett’s able to do that. I have my problems with him, but I love that he’s able to do that.

She’s insecure and has odd beliefs (I mean, even among the witches in the books) and half the time you roll your eyes at her ideas, and you still root for her, her success against the villains, her progress in the world and her awkward romance. I'm unable to dissect this the way I was able to dissect Gimli, but I think part of the trick is seeing into her head in her Crowning Moments of Awesome. It makes her both relatable and kind of aspirational. We don't usually get this with Granny Weatherwax in her Crowning Moments of Awesome, only in what leads up to them, which makes Granny both seem even more awesome but also more distant. Granny's the shining leader (with lots of faults), Magrat is the underdog you root for.

Also, a group (Eh... what exactly is the terminology here? “Voluntary association”, as provided by Wikipedia, sounds weird.) for free time activities in my hometown, founded largely by women (including two of my art teachers), was named after her ("Magráta"). I wasn’t familiar with Magrat yet when it happened. Now that I am, I wholeheartedly approve of that choice of name. It’s exactly the sort of pursuit she would approve of.


Glimfeather
– my take on Glimfeather can be summed up thusly:

“You can't trust mammals to know a thing about Birds, tu-whoo. But you do know that female Owls are bigger than males, don’t you?”

A huge part of the reason I insist on keeping female Glimfeather is precisely because it doesn't matter whether Glimfeather as a character is male or female (aside from my hobby-horse fact above: it would presumably be even easier for a female Owl to carry a human child). Glimfeather is default; Lewis defaulted to male and the translator defaulted to female. There's a sad shortage of default female animal characters, even in books originally written in Czech (like, more tomcats than female cats in popular Czech children's books, even though cat is default female). Jill, for example, isn't as default as that. For one thing, she plays up her femininity when it suits her; the surrounding characters do treat her differently. Glimfeather, being a Bird and an Owl in particular, can be either and we mammals would be none the wiser (which is also my headcanon for why Lewis treats her as default male).

Glimfeather's obviously following the "wise owl" trope, which apparently isn't true in Real Life. But this is Narnia, so who cares. What I like is that she's shrewd and common-sense: her wisdom is practical, active (unlike the completely satirical Owl-Wol in Winnie-the-Pooh or the Owl in the Czech Little Mole cartoons, who's learned but rather out of touch as a result).

And I like that she's one of the Beasts who are very obviously Beasts.



So... if you want, and haven't done this yet (or maybe even if you have), you can ask me for a letter, too.

Also: happy new year!
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
This Tumblr conversation preserved in a picture


Although maybe it's more like a gift to Sister Serpent after all those previous mishaps?

Yeah. Maybe Anansi felt bad after his spider joke and wanted to make up for it.

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Despite the loooooong hiatus, The Peridan Chronicles keep getting subscribers. But that's not the part I need explained. (It's the part where I really should do something about it, no explanations required.)


What puzzles me is the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who read it are apparently into anime. The habit of most readers not to leave any reviews at all does not help.

Seeing as the only anime I've ever seen was Cowboy Bebop, mostly because soundtrack and western-in-space, I'm completely puzzled as to what it is about a Highlander x Chronicles of Narnia crossover that anime fans are apparently drawn to? And what it is about the particular way I go about it that makes them want to stick around?

I can't say I'm not grateful for the readers, but it is just a bit frustrating to keep getting readers I have no apparent common ground with and having no idea what they're expecting to see.
Not that I'm likely to deliver to expectations. More like, you're sticking around and I'm glad you are despite the monumental hiatus, but do we really aim for the same thing here? Could you, maybe, at least tell me?

Also, while we're at it, is there another anime of reasonable length that I might be into?


I think I'm going to stick a version of this into an author's note at FF.net when I finally get around to updating the story.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Revisited a film blog I used to read. Groggy's a cinephile, which for some reason goes hand in hand with a certain slightly (or less slightly) pretentious-sounding style of writing, especially in males, but Groggy's better than most, I think. He's down-to-earth enough not to land on the super-intellectual side, and intellectual enough not to land on the other side - I'm not sure what to call it - basically the blockbuster-consuming side that can get particularly pretentious because they're too much "of the moment". His reviews are analytical, well-worded and well-rounded. He's got a solid background in cinematographic history, he's fairly good at admitting his biases, and he's got the good sense to understand that repeated viewings can change one's mind. So all in all, I respect his opinions.

Anyway, I came across his old review of The Nun's Story (which I haven't seen, and now want to), and this:

"Even worse, a seemingly never-ending chain of Hollywood films and TV shows seems grimly determined to convince us that religion is a sham, and religious people are inherently evil - murderers, pedophiles, or hypocrites all."

Goodness gracious, yes. And it's not just Hollywood. A lot of British production is equally guilty. The overwhelming Czech agnosticism doesn't help.
It's pretty funny that I've seen the most sympathetic yet not equally gratingly propagandistic, fairly realistic in its universe, portrayals of Christianity / Catholicism in TV - beside the occasional moments in the Czech series Četnické humoresky, and beside Murdoch Mysteries, which are both period pieces - in the German series Alarm für Cobra 11, which is an unapologetic over-the-top explosions fest, and the main character is Turkish... And I'm not even Catholic. But the fact that a lot of the film world seems equally convinced that Christianity = Catholicism doesn't help...

Oh, and Groggy's glowing recommendations of A Man for all Seasons are responsible for me having seen it eventually, and on that count I'm also very grateful to him, because that's definitely one of the better films I've seen. So if you want a good film review blog that isn't overly concerned with current blogbusters and actually delves into cinematographic history, I think I can wholeheartedly recommend him.

* * *

Speaking of films and Christianity, have any of you seen, or even heard of, Risen?
That film fascinates me, because it's so utterly, utterly fanfictiony.

I realised this because the more I thought about its strengths and its weaknesses, the more I realised I'd seen those before... in fanfiction.

The greatest of the weaknesses I saw in it is the tenth walker syndrome - the fact that the outsider protagonist joins the core canon group and plays an important role for the canon story that does not mesh well with actual canon. So there it was, fanfiction! That is, actually, exactly what it is, biblical fanfiction.

In this case, the protagonist, Clavius, eventually joins the remaining eleven disciples on their way to Gallilee and plays an important role in them actually getting there. And then, at the end of it, he's kind of left hanging, because he cannot go on being in the story as we know it. The ending isn't as bad as this makes it sound, but his previous vital role kind of grated in the way "Mary Sue-ish" moments in fanfiction are wont to do. With a few exceptions, the disciples are mostly interchangeable, which is a pity.

It's also an "outsider POV" type of piece. It's a gapfiller. It is even, to some extent, a worldbuilding type of piece (because we see a lot more of the Romans than we do in the Bible).

It also firmly follows in the tradition of casting Mary Magdalene as a prostitute, which, after reading Mika Waltari's version of her, seems like a very cheap shot. Even though I think she's otherwise treated really well. She gets to be calm in the face of intimidation and have an inner strength and reassurance, without pathos, and that's a rare yet, in my opinion, probably the most faithful portrayal of actual faith.

It's pretty uneven in tone between its acts, and it's not perfect, but it's fascinating, and I have a nagging need to write fanfiction of this fanfiction. I'm actually rather surprised that there isn't any.

* * *

I can't decide if I do or do not want to see Anthropoid. It's going to be gory and I don't like the thought of that (I wasn't keen on that in Risen and it's overall a trend of contemporary cinematography I could do without, although here it's more justified than in many other cases). I also know how it ends, like any Czech remotely interested in history does. But from all other accounts, it also sounds like the kind of film I would enjoy, as much as one can enjoy a tragic drama.

Someone praised it for not using music continually, so that's one of the things it apparently checks for me. I'm fed up with continual musical background in films. It loses a lot of its impact if it's there all the time, and moreover, it often makes it more difficult to make out what's actually going on.

People also alternately praise and bash it for slow buildup. I would probably fall on the praising side, because I'm also mostly fed up with the frantic pace of most of today's films.

It basically sounds like the kind of film I would watch, thoroughly engrossed, once: and once is enough, for mostly the good reasons rather than the bad ones.

Except that I also can't shake the feeling that I don't need to see it even once.

* * *

By the way, you had also all convinced me to see Fury Road. I loved it. And most people I know in Real Life I could never ever recommend it to.

It's basically almost everything I love in Sergio Leone, only even weirder and without the highly dubious treatment of women (and a comparison like that would be a good way to explain why Fury Road is better in its treatment of women, despite stuff. But I'm not going to go there now.)
Someone on Tumblr very thoroughly explained how it's visual storytelling, and that sums it up well. Why it's almost everything I love about Sergio Leone. And also part of why I can't recommend it to a lot of people I know.

* * *
 

Random thought. When I come across the ongoing debates about the relative values of the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequels. Namely when I come across Phantom Menace bashing. (I've recently encountered a fan edit of the prequels that people praised for basically leaving the whole of it out.) I can't bash Phantom Menace. Beside other reasons to like it, it's one of the films I saw in cinema with my mother, only the two of us, and we were holding our hands tightly during the pod race, and say what you will, that's an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.
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So the assignments have been sent out, and a few days later, I have started working on an idea. I have 591 words of mostly accompanying fluff / character exposition. I love the character side of the plot already. The other side of the plot that should happen somewhere in between turns out to be a whodunnit, and will have to be a lot longer than that. I have only a vague idea about what it should actually revolve about.

It also requires research. Lots of research.


Inspiration is *insert expletive of your own choice*.

P.S. 1153 words in. More of the character plot. Only a teeny tiny bit more of the other plot.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Dear Anonymous Writer,

I would like to thank you for participating this year, and apologise for having such a specific, un-taggable request.

You see, I've been craving more stories of the smaller nameless inhabitants of Narnia probably ever since I found out there was such a thing as fanfiction. One of those is the Robin in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: it plays such a vital role (I'm pretty sure it's the same little bird that saw Tumnus' capture, too), and yet it doesn't even get a name, and is never heard of again. Add to it the fact I've learned that the Czech Ornitology Society, which has been naming Birds of the Year since 1992, bestowed that honour on the European Robin this year... I really do want to read her story now.

Hers. You see, "robin" is default female in Czech. So the Robin of my childhood is female, and I would very much like it to remain that way.

I've just learned, thanks to the Bird of the Year article, that robins are pretty fierce fighters. Even the females.

The females look the same as the males, so that's easy.

I do not insist on the story concerning what happened in the Winter. It could very well be happening afterwards. I just really, really want her to have a name.

So. It can easily be a fluffy story without a plot if that's what you do better. It can involve other characters. I think I actually would like it very much to involve other characters, because there's so much scope that remains uncovered in most Narnian fanfiction. Are there talking Frogs? Newts? What are the songbirds up to? Do Dormice get along with Squirrels? Do Squirrels pay attention to the colours of their coats? (I bet they do.) Do other Narnians complain about the noise Hedgehogs make? Do Marmots emerge from their burrows hyperactive of a Spring, and get on the nerves of those who do not hibernate, or are they sleepy and disoriented? How did the hibernating species live through the Winter?!!!

How do these smaller Narnians get along with the bigger ones, and do they pay attention to what's happening in the Big Picture? Oh, let me rephrase that - what roles do they play in the Big Picture? Or maybe the other way round - can we see that even the Small Picture is important?
 

Thank you in advance for taking all this into consideration. And don't feel bad if inspiration strikes elsewhere. As I said, what I want most is the name. To make the Robin a person.
 

Good luck with your writing, and good luck in receiving the kind of story you crave!

Marmota

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
On account of it's being Mother's Day, I've realised that I haven't posted anything about my mother here yet, which is a serious oversight.

Since I'm being rather picky in what I post on this blog, these reminiscences are also picky, but, well...

Me & mom are very different personalities, and she told me once, recently, that she had had absolutely no idea what to think of and do with my little imaginative self; that one year, when I was about three, there she was with tiny me walking next to her talking about something imaginary and being a complete stranger to her. But I think she did a pretty good job for a clueless person. ;-)

For one thing, mother was indeed the person I came to with my very first creative efforts: I asked her to draw my imaginary animals for me, and clueless or not, she did a splendid job before I could do for myself. The first one, apparently, I asked for at that age of three or four much in the same manner the Little Prince asked for his sheep; except mine wasn't an existing species and wasn't in a box. (The Little Prince is, incidentally, one of my mom's favourite books.)

She is the person responsible for the first Ransome book entering this household, and while I'm not entirely certain, I think also for the Narnia books. (She certainly gave me some of mine, the ones I got next after my older sisters' original concession of leaving Prince Caspian to me because there was an odd number of them.)
The first Ransome book to enter this household was The Coot Club. There is a Czech publishing house specialising in children's books, and each half-year or so, it would send catalogues of its new books to schools, where the children would order books through the school. Our parents were always quite supportive of this venture, so I think every time, each of us could pick up to three books or so? I do remember usually carrying more books home on the day the order arrived than most of my classmates did. Anyway, one time, there was The Coot Club in the offer, and mom convinced one of my older sisters that it was worth ordering. And she was right, of course. :-)

This goes hand in hand with mom later convincing us to listen to a radio programme for children when The Coot Club was on as a serial. We had tried listening to the programme before and pretty much hated it, but it turned out each week in the month was under the direction of someone else, and there was this man whose direction we loved; he had conversations with travellers and natural scientists and writers and all sorts of interesting people, and played music we liked, and adapted books we liked for radio plays (through which means we also discovered other books we liked). You never felt like he was talking down to you or talking about things adults think children will like: he simply talked about things he liked. (Heh, hello, Lewis' priceless thoughts on these matters.) So that was another huge, formative thing we can be thankful to mom for.

Every now and then, she has this curious ability of digging up or stumbling upon something that's just what I needed and didn't know I needed it. One year, she sent me off (with my agreement) to a weekend children's trip organised by her employer, which sounds potentially awful and was actually awesome. The person organising it was another such enthusiast who was good with children because he did what he enjoyed, and I went with them at least three more times, visiting beautiful places around this country I never would have otherwise learned of, and taking my friends with me a couple of times, too.

Mom read books to us in the evenings, and sang traditional folk songs to us, and cut Christmas cookies with us, and did other such wonderful and traditional mom things when we were little.

She likes flowers and gardening, so in a roundabout way (by planting them in the first place), she's responsible for my love of phloxes, the scent of which will forever be the scent of my childhood summers.

And she's the talkative one in the family, the one who'll strike up conversations with strangers; which is how I met my best friend at the age of three. That friend whom, these days, I won't see for months and when we meet again, we'll talk like only days or weeks have passed. How that happened I don't know, but obviously, I would not be that lucky without mom being a lot more outgoing than I am.

Her birthday's next week; sometimes, it would fall on Mother's Day, which, in a childhood logic, was only natural.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

It has emerged that I expect greater excellency in fanfiction than I do in (most) original works.

(As in, Marmota ponders stuff and comes to an explanation for her confusing intuitive thought processes.)

When stated that way, it's weird, and pretty unfair of me. But it's a fact. I go to fanfiction to have gaps filled and worldbuilding expanded upon and characterisation retained and deepened. And there are many times when fanfiction works like that; which however doesn't make my expectations any more fair. It amounts to expecting more of one's local amateur sportspeople than one would of the professionals. And I'm intentionally using this example because I think many fans of local amateur sportspeople probably unconsciously do.

Basically, I'm a fan of fandom, the way other people may be fans of TV shows or comic books or maybe book series. (Not individual books and films, that works differently, and is closer to what I enjoy as a fan in the simple sense.*) It makes me wonder how many other people approach it the same way, if maybe unconsciously (as I did). There must be more people feeling similarly; although I think the distinct possibility that a much greater majority of people probably doesn't (why should they?) goes a long way towards explaining why a lot of fanfiction falls short of my expectations. I should keep in mind that the fault is in my expectations, not the work itself.

...

Also, I feel like this is the sort of thought that could start a very interesting conversation on Tumblr. But there's no way I'm entering that cesspool myself. If you have and also think it could, feel free to share over there (but please let me know?).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* I always prefer works that are done and finished over ongoing, probably because any potential disappointment is also done and finished. And that's, um, unfair towards life. :P

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
I've just had a thought. And maybe it's wrong and putting too much stock in Lewis and his wording (which is rather unfortunate), but what if that whole sentence actually goes to show that, look, they don't have to be only one or the other, Lucy isn't limited into either being a "lady" or "more like a boy" and Aravis can still enjoy talk of clothes with a likeminded woman?

It might stink of "Aravis arrives to her destination and instantly becomes more womanly", except that Lucy's been there for years, she's the queen of that place (well, the neighbouring place), and she's clearly both. So it's more like, Aravis arrives to her destination and finds out that, phew, it's okay to be the sort of woman she is.

Because, after all, knowing our characters we do know they aren't that one-dimensional. It's kind of like Jill who's heritage of Narnia is both taking up archery and keeping the fine clothes. Or, for that matter, Susan who's a womanly woman but also good at archery and swimming (just not in a battle context).

And maybe it's obvious, but I had to write it down. :-)

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Also, in case you haven't noticed yet, there's a new Three Sentence Ficathon going on here. Thankfully, I remembered this sort of thing just in time to find this one still going on!

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