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2017-06-04 09:59 pm

The question of justice

It's a matter of musing on The Peridan Chronicles. I haven't written much in that for ages, but I'm kind of still, always, living with one foot in that world.

I have been re-reading the Peter Wimsey books (even more enjoyable this time around, which I suspect won't be a surprise to anyone), in which Lord Peter tackles the questions of crime and punishment and the carrying out of justice, and where his duty lies in that area. And I've just come across an old discussion on Lion's Call (the discussions there aren't very lively, and are of a very variant... depth? but this one was definitely one of the deeper ones) about Aravis' scarring towards the end of HHB and the reasons behind it and the whys and hows of its fairness or unfairness.

Somewhere in that discussion, aside from God's justice, which is inevitable, someone mentioned accidents and some things being "the way the world is" possibly being why Lewis would have chosen to have Aslan act directly. It made me wonder about the way God metes out justice in the Bible (I feel woefully under-read in that regard) and remember the story somewhere in the gospels, about a tower falling down on some people, and Jesus emphatically stressing it was not a punishment. I think I heard or read a sermon on that once that was rather striking. Accidents are accidents. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But also, in this context: Punishments are clear?

Punishments ought to be clear?
 

It brought back to mind the fact that in The Peridan Chronicles, the question of meting out punishment will have to be tackled sooner or later; it's the nature of the beast, so to say, as a story (I would write book, because it definitely has book proportions) that should cover the "progress" of the so-called Golden Age.

As someone had commented on it (it's too late in the evening for me to look it up; was it Heliopause?), it's something the Pevensies would have to face (namely Peter, in that case). It is rather clear that there had to be some rulings of justice, if only because Edmund had to earn his epithet somehow.

I know it was CaraLee (who apparently now goes under a different pen-name, but I shall continue to think of her as CaraLee) I told in a PM that even though it's primarily a learning experience for Methos, there's definitely a thing or two he has to teach the Pevensies.

It brings to mind Methos in "Chivalry", doing what Duncan could not bring himself to do.

There is a sort of natural impulse in me to keep all that out of the picture, to have redeemable villains and to have the irredeemable ones meet a Disney villain end; but all this accumulation of instances has brought it to my attention that it's not entirely a Narnian thing, and it's definitely not a Methos thing, either. He won't shrink from administering the killing blow or allowing someone to administer it, even when it's an old friend that is to be punished and stopped. (He seems to make an exception with Duncan, but then, Duncan is not purposefully villainous, so there's definitely a justified distinction.)
And obviously, Twinkletop has already hinted at that, too: in the Narnian setting, with the Pevensies where they are now, that's probably a trait that's going to be needed.

Leaving all this here mostly as a reminder to myself: there has to be an element of Methos in "Chivalry" in my Peridan and, as I've already quoted to CaraLee, his "Do you really think there's no such thing as evil?".

Now, how to get over the hurdle that's this more or less transitional chapter that's been defying me, and get them all to that point...
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2017-01-04 09:38 am

Meme in G

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!
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2016-12-15 03:05 pm

I feel like this should go into Kangarooverse

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.

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2016-10-12 08:21 am

Could you explain this to me?

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.
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2016-10-05 01:55 pm

All sorts of thoughts on film(s)

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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2016-07-30 01:08 pm

NFE 2016 - Take 1

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.
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2016-07-23 09:14 am
Entry tags:

Dear NFE writer, 2016 take

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

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2016-05-08 08:56 pm

Mother's Day

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.
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2016-04-26 08:01 am
Entry tags:

Marmota ponders fandom and her relationship to it

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

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2016-04-06 10:53 am

"... and all the sort of things girls do talk about on such an occasion."

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. :-)

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2016-04-01 07:05 am

Three Sentence Ficathon

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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2016-03-31 07:13 pm

A challenge from the past

This post started out as this title, because I found something I could not remember if I'd written.

Then, apparently, I deleted the whole body of the post because of reasons, and forgot about it. And now, months later, returning to this journal to let the world know I'm still alive, Dreamwidth asked if I wanted to restore the draft, so I said yes, because I was curious to know what it was I had been writing back then. And then proceeded to wonder what it was that I had found and wondered about, because at that moment, I could only remember as much, and pictured a paper but could not remember what would have been on it.

I've remembered it was actually a Word file in the short meantime. And even what it was about. It's just a single, creatively worded sentence about places in my country. I still don't know how I came by it. It doesn't sound like something written by me; for one thing, it uses the first person singular in the male form. It does, though, sound a bit like something written by one of my characters. If that's the case, I'm rather amazed at how well I'd stylised myself into that character. However, if that's the case, I have no idea why it isn't in the folder normally reserved for my own creations. It is, instead, in the one I might put things found elsewhere. Except that I have a separate Word file for those.

The mysteries of the creative process, times... how many is it even, by this point?


* * *


Spring is here, with the violets in the garden giving their best to their scent (mmmmm...), and, well, there's another challenge from the past for me; I need to move The Peridan Chronicles forward. The whole thing, after all, started when I was strongly reminded of Narnia in another spring after a long, cold, lonely winter. (If you caught the reference: sorry. I can't help myself.)

I have ideas, but I'm still not sure they're going to give me a coherent chapter to follow immediately after the last published one anytime soon. I also have ideas for later in the story: that still seems to be my main problem at the moment.

Easter was great for ideas, though. Ahem.


* * *


One of the big Real Life news I feel safe to share is that I've been to an Easter concert at the Latvian embassy in Prague. Now that's something that doesn't happen to one every year. The Latvian embassy, my sister says, is the best out of the three Baltic ones at making nice, friendly events. I have no point of reference, but as my first personal glimpse into international diplomacy, it was certainly very, very nice; not something I imagine happens everywhere, either. In Narnian terms (because this is still a fanfiction writer's journal), Narnia and Archenland? Except that in this comparison, I can't imagine either of the countries in question quite exactly as either of the countries in question.

Also, I'm getting a bit of a Real Life insight into tailoring, thanks to friends, so... in the realm of fanfiction, I guess that means more Rogin and his craft of choice in the future?

Fingers crossed.

* * *

My contemplative bunny below is still thinking of carrots. Not very imaginative, this bunny. The worst part is that hän makes me think of carrots, too. That's the Finnish third person singular pronoun, no gender need apply because Finnish. I felt finnicky about either of the English pronoun options in that sentence, so Finnish it is. And carrot for supper; there's still one left in the fridge.

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2015-12-29 12:15 pm

Václav Čtvrtek on writing

The author of many, many popular Czech children's books, animated shorts screenplays etc. (Responsible e.g. for these two.) Taken from the current issue of Týdeník Rozhlas, the Czech Radio's weekly (and one of the best Czech magazines on offer, IMHO). Where it's taken from a 2001 radio programme.

"It makes me happy when I can sit down and write something. Writing does not have to be hard work, when you are well prepared. It's the same way with everything. I don't mean, in this case, the immediate preparation, figuring out what one wants to write and how it will go, how it will end. The preparations reach deep, deep, and sometimes it happens against one's will. It's the will to read a lot, and to read good books. Because that's also a way to learn for a person who's to write something. And it's necessary not to live in seclusion, but to live with people, to live with children, to observe everything around oneself, to think about it. And all that slowly, slowly adds up and adds up, and then when there is an impulse that tells one to start writing, all this will jump to assist."

(translation mine)

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2015-12-20 11:44 am

Wine conversations with Father

Disclaimer: This duo has a fairly cavalier approach to wines. Which is definitely not the same as a connoisseur approach to wines.

* * *

I made pasta with bacon and tomatoes for lunch / dinner / you-know-the-main-meal-of-the-day-that-Czechs-have-at-noon.

Father (considering): There's a Müller opened... and a Neuburger unopened, but I'm saving that. Two Neuburgers.
Me: I think I'll really have the Müller.
(= Müller Thurgau, a dry white)
Father: It's Hungarian.
Me: It's Hungarian, but bottled in Velké Pavlovice. (...) You stopped it with a stopper from port!
Father: I couldn't push the cork back in, and the stopper from the port was just lying at hand.
Me: It doesn't even bother to say what it goes with...
Father (with conviction): Müller goes with everything.

* * *

Earlier this month:
Father (speaking of a Wikipedia article he'd already come across much earlier): Neuburger is... (blah, blah), the vine was fished out of the Danube in the 1860s. The centre of growing is in Austria, area of 652 ha. It is also grown in (blah, blah) and the Czech Republic, area of 795 ha...
Me (bursting out laughing): The centre of growing is the Czech Republic!

* * *

The lowdown: The varieties / types of wine most likely to be bought by Father are Riesling, Tokaji Furmint, Neuburger, and Müller Thurgau, probably in that order (except that Neuburger would be, without a shadow of doubt, bought much more often if it could much more often be stumbled upon). And port. With the exception of the latter and the very occasional South African red, it's all whites from Central Europe, leaning heavily towards the dry end of the spectrum.
I pretty much agree with that choice, although I also share my mother's taste for Sauvignon.
Basically, give me a dry or semi-dry white, please, and by all means, make it Central European.

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2015-12-17 10:36 pm

All bad things are good for something

Says a Czech proverb.
The little annoying and soul-searching experience from the previous post has just fed into the blasted transitional 19th chapter of The Peridan Chronicles that has been stalling my progress for over a year. Joy!
It's not finished yet, but it's much closer to finishing than it had been for over a year. I think you can expect it before Christmas. And the chapter after it soon after it, most likely, to make up for the long lack of updates to this story. Phew!

In other news, I've watched the Kenneth Brannagh / Emma Thompson version of Much Ado About Nothing, and enjoyed it very much, despite being distracted by the not-really-quite-accurate-for-any-time costumes (that's a trait of mine I'll always have to contend with, I fear) and the fact that I found the Dogberry scenes a bit lacking. In a funny way. Through being too much. I think he and his cohort are made more of a bunch of fools there than I find palatable in film form; it would probably work better on stage. Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson are both a joy to watch, though.
There might be some correspondence between Shakespeare and my bout of Narnianish inspiration. It's certainly an idea that bears further exploration; I have yet to see Branagh's Henry V, which is a shortcoming I should correct as soon as possible.

Oh, and I've read, so far, about a tenth or so of Augustin's Confessions. It's a strange book. It reads weirdly, like he's approaching it all from an angle I cannot penetrate; like I would have had to live at his time to really understand what he's talking about and the issues he's wrestling with and the angle he's going at it from. Or like he has a sort of thinking personality that's very foreign to me. But at the same time, in retrospect, I find that he addresses very timeless issues, which probably accounts for the timeless appeal of the book. Like the ways we relate to fiction and live through the tragedies of fictional characters. Which he disapproves of, I think, on the basis of the pagan-based theatre at his time being immoral. I wonder what he would have made of something like Shakespeare? (Shakespeare can be such a contrary animal.) And the claim Sienkiewicz makes in Quo Vadis via Paul to Petronius that informed Christian art would reach new heights? (I think of Gothic architecture and Tolkien and Lewis and stuff and find myself in tentative agreement with Sienkiewicz.) And fanfiction! He would be horrified at the majority of it.
The way he dismisses fiction, he reminds me of a man I had a conversation with once in the street, over a book of Chesterton's short stories he found in a trash can. (He dismissed it and I snatched it up afterwards. Ha!) I still haven't figured out how to make the case for fiction since then, but I think I believe in it even more strongly now. It's an interesting experience to disagree with such a hallowed book.

It's an interesting experience for me as a Czech Protestant who's fairly recently read some texts that are kind of the basis of Czech Protestantism and found myself so much in agreement with them that they were almost... superfluous to me? My sister reported the same experience with such texts; either they are so much the basis of what we grew up in that that happens, or - or it's pretty chilling to think just how bad the Catholic church of the time must have been for them to be necessary.
I think I should read more old texts like that to figure out just how much of my thinking is present there and how much isn't, and why. It's quite illuminating to see what changes with time and place and personality, and what remains constant.

And of course, there's still things one can learn from them.

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2015-12-07 10:46 pm

What hits a nerve. And some unrelated wild cuteness and good news.

To my readers: you don't really have to read this, I guess, it's a bit of an anthill into mountains; I just needed to get this out of the system, because it's hit a nerve on some basic level in ways that surprised me, it's late in the evening, I have no one to share with at the moment and I don't want to end the day with it rattling about in my head.

If you're inclined to self-assessment, though, I guess it could be interesting.

If you don't want to, just jump straight to the cuteness. If I've figured this cut thing out correctly.


Read more... )

 

 

And because I did say I didn't want to end the day on that note, let's end it on this: the first baby wild horse born in the Czech lands (ha!) in centuries. (Okay, technically an Exmooor pony. Which apparently recent research indicates is as close to the original wild horse as it gets.)

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2015-11-28 10:49 pm
Entry tags:

The sound of my childhood Christmases

I've been searching for this on YouTube for several years now, because I've wanted to share it with my online friends. The sound of my childhood Christmases. "The Old Notes", as I called the LP because of the cover. It was usually taken out somewhere around the beginning of Advent, I think, maybe on my birthday, or - well, I don't really remember anymore, just that it's an integral part of Christmastime for me. Tomorrow is the first Advent Sunday, so it's a good time for a repeat.

 



If you click through to YouTube, there's a list of the songs and performers in the description. I really like or love all of it, but my greatest personal favourites are 6 and 7, with 7 being the absolute favourite. (The completely instrumental 9 then pretty much encompasses that warm childhood Christmas feeling I get from the whole thing.) I still can't understand all of the lyrics, though, before you ask. It's not that I couldn't understand the language of the time, it's not that terribly different in the 15th century (unlike the writing, as the images in the video prove); I just can't understand what they're singing there...

I could not have found it even if it were on YouTube earlier than it was; the actual name of the LP is not listed. I think I seredipitiously found it now because YouTube offered it to me from a video about historical clothing.

It's probably my childhood speaking, but you just can't beat 15th century music for a really special feel.
The absolutely most popular Czech Christmas song - and I mean this, people would stand up to sing it as if it were a national anthem - also goes back to the 15th century, although it seems to have gotten a baroque makeover along the way. And with such a hugely popular song, I just can't gather the strength to dive into the deluge of versions on YouTube to find one I would like - not to mention the time.
 


(It seems my entries here tend to end up with the bunny at the bottom thinking of carrot all the time, because the entries tend to be contemplative, one way or the other, and apparently that's what bunnies think about all the time. Carrots. - This came out sounding like a double entendre. It wasn't meant to.)
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2015-11-17 06:35 pm
Entry tags:

We Shall Overcome

My father seemed to be celebrating November 17th with "We Shall Overcome"; he played it twice today.
But then he ruined the impression with other songs, for the large part Latvian. E.g. Pazudušais déls by Jauns Mēness. Followed by Prāta Vētra's Lapsa. Can't say I blame him for either. Then he completely ruined the mood with a song by a Slovak punk band. Followed immediately by another by Jauns Mēness. He finished the whole session with Something by Beatles. His song selection technique is very odd.

The first, though, was sung during the events of November 1989, in the Czech version popularised by Spirituál Kvintet. Which is why it seemed like a timely celebration.
Well, except that he chose the version by Bruce Springsteen. For reasons I don't entirely understand (see above about his eclectic musical tastes), he really likes him in the Seeger Sessions attitude.



Just so you know I'm not pulling your leg, here's the historic Czech version:



You can find nearly everything on YouTube these days.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
2015-11-04 05:14 pm

Isn't it beautiful? (various reminisces and stuff going on)

Some days ago, my father bought a mocca pot, obstinately ignored the instructions to wash it thoroughly and cook several cups of coffee in it without drinking first ("what a waste"), and then very happily pronounced the resulting coffee as tasting exactly the way it used to. The part that boggles me is that I agree with him.
We never had one in all my memory, and neither had anyone I know. And besides, I started drinking coffee only a few years ago and still don't do that often.
The only explanation I have is that grandma has always had this percolator thing or whatever - I'm really confused about all the manners in which coffee can be prepared and the translation - which father says is basically the same thing with different anatomy (not in those words, those are mine); and I may have occasionally tasted it as a child to see if I still hated it.
I don't hate it anymore. I actually approach it like a treat. I'm slightly puzzled by that, too.

But I'm still enjoying the Yorkshire Tea - that father used to bring from Britain years ago and now ordered online - much more. Much more often. We both have a thing for "common black tea", my father and me - that's what he calls it, with carefully put on British pronunciation. How I loved its blackness when he first brought it; back then, the choice of teas in Czech shops was very dismal indeed. It's got better (even the awful awful cheap Czech brand of tea has got slightly better since it's not Czech anymore, I think; in this particular case, being bought off by an international concern was not a bad thing, because the concern is Indian). But Yorkshire Tea is still a class unto itself which I love with all the calm fierceness I imagine English people might love their tea.

* * *

I wonder what my various not-Czech online acquaintances would think of the relish with which I devour bread with lard, salt and fresh onion these days, another blast from the past. (It started a few days ago with the need to consume vitamins in this autumnal time and being left with onions in the house, but by now it's just an excuse.) The trick is, it has to be processed lard, not that sticky soapy pressed stuff. And Czech or similar bread; it would not work with white bread or bread that is somewhat too sweet in taste.
Years ago, a visiting Irish vegetarian man was horrified by the relish with which I ate a similar combination in a pub. I'm not sure what horrified him more, the fact that it was blatantly meat-based, or the blatant amount of fat a young slip of a girl like me was eating without concern. With fresh onion.
 
* * *
 
I'm sewing a corset. It's my first properly boned Victorian-ish corset (corded Regency stays don't count in this context); I'm making it for my sister, and, partially due to my lack of experience, it's taking far too long. Also, grommets setting is proving highly unpredictable for me, and tiresome. I've made myself a tiny callus on my right thumb. Thank goodness for thimbles.
I have to keep mom updated on the progress, because she bought the materials as a gift for my sister. It's a roundabout gift and repayment in my family; my sister recently gave me money for a theatre performance as payment for the corset. I went to see one of the Cimrman plays with a cousin, who goes to their plays very, very often and this time she suddenly found herself with a spare ticket.

Anyway, I'm in the handsewing finishing stage, and I'd started (re-)reading Night Watch by Terry Pratchett, and was bemoaning the impossibility of sewing and reading at the same time. Because that would be the perfect thing to keep me going.
The obvious answer is, of course, audiobooks. There does not seem to have been a Czech audiobook of Night Watch published yet, but I found an amateur reading on a file-sharing site. The reader's doing voices and everything. It took me a while to get used to the voices and emphases being different than I imagined, but goodness it's good for an amateur job. Death's voice is run through an echo effect and it's perfect. It's so good they should just recruit the reader and make it official.
He's done Guards! Guards! and Wyrd Sisters as well; I think for a while, my reading vs sewing dilemma is solved neatly.

(I wonder how it works when I do have those books, just not in audio form. Okay, and Guards! Guards! is just barely glued back into book form by now.)

* * *

My father came to my room to share the excitement over the Latvian writing he's found on batteries he bought earlier today:
"'Nemest uguni.' Isn't it beautiful?"
I agreed that it was, and he left to look up the case of "uguns" used in a Latvian grammar.

It is beautiful, in an ordinary beautiful language way.

(It means "Do not throw into a fire." The case seems to be mixed up. Father still doesn't realise just how good with language he is.)
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2015-10-18 10:59 am

I'm not a whisky drinker, but...

... this may be the first time I wished I were. Because they apparently get away with stuff like this. Emphases mine.

"Hammer Head, Single Malt Whisky 1989 (Czech Republic)
Hammer Head offers an initially dry, roasted nut nose, with developing cream soda. Becoming more floral and perfumed with time, plus a note of furniture polish. More leather with the addition of water, and a hint of warm, rubber diving suits. Very drinkable, with well-integrated spices, dried fruits and worn leather. Ultimately liquorice and oak. Tobacco notes at the last, with the addition of water."

 

 
Just how much of that whisky did the writer drink before settling in to write the above?!

(The story of how the whisky came to be isn't bad, either.)