Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
Megan's JourneyMy roommate's documentary on her trip to Africa will be airing on CBC Radio One (click here for web stream) this morning at 10:06 a.m.
( 9:22 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, October 30, 2003
It's Here!!!My Writer's Week calendar arrived yesterday! Hurrah!
I love this thing (and not just because I'm in it). I've had problems with tracking and planning for a while, and this seemed like a great way to help me get my thoughts together. So I was thrilled when Karen asked me for a snippet for the calendar. :o)
And not only is it a nifty writing tool, but it's also for a good cause. Hurray!
I'm in a weird mood. Frantic pencil-crayoning of the second Caro cover last night while watching "Bowling for Columbine" did odd things to my dreams. That was a great movie, btw. Scary in a lot of ways, and sometimes excessive, but really intelligent. But getting back on topic, what the pencil-crayoning means is that there will be a new Caro story up November 1st, though it may be up later in the day if I have to head over to the University to use their scanner. If you haven't read the first story, do so now, because it's coming down when the second goes up.
I'm also thinking about putting "Variel Goes to the Bank" up permanently on the site. What do you guys think?
And in a moment of random weirdness, check out this Norse Gods cartoon. Needs to be watched on a computer with sound. And make sure that any young, impressionable children have cleared the room.
And any elephants and chickens, too.
Told you I was in a weird mood.
( 11:00 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Merghle...Working where I do, I know a flu shot is important. But that doesn't mean it doesn't suck. Flu shots always make me loogy, and this one is no exception. Two days later, I'm still shaking off the effects, including aches, nausea, and extreme fatigue. Joy.
It was enough to drive me into seclusion last night -- which didn't last long since, thanks to some crossed lines, Karina ended up on my doorstep to watch Inuyasha. Not that I was put out by such an onerous duty, mind. Heck, anything for an excuse. Besides which, I enjoy Karina's company, and it really doesn't take a lot of energy to watch good anime.
But I'm still exhausted today, and I have to clean the house tonight, since Mark's coming to talk about the lease on Thursday. Finally.
Here's hoping I still have a place to live on Friday.
( 2:44 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Nuts and BoltsSheila posted something about author bios today. I replied to part -- the "why" of writing long bios in third person. I hate writing the frelling things, so I have one big bio I wrote for Julie with everything I need, and can then pick and choose the relevant bits depending on who needs the bio, and for what.
But Nathaniel and I got to talking about it tonight, and that got me thinking about the other part -- why does anyone put so much in? I started to post another comment on Sheila's blog, then crashed the comments window when I tried to post it, and figured that meant it was probably big enough to make mention of here.
See, I like reading long bios, interviews, and whatever (to an extent -- I will loose interest if the author starts talking about his postmodernist terpsichorean philosophies). So does Nathaniel. But then, we'd both think nothing of sitting down over a weekend and watching the Extended Lord of the Rings, followed by each of its three commentary tracks.
I think there's a certain personality type that doesn't just stop at liking something -- they have to take it apart and put it back together again. I adore animals of the fuzzy petting variety, and yet I also loved the dissection components of my Comp Anatomy courses because I thought seeing how everything worked was fascinating. Hell, I spent four years doing a joint specialist in Zoology and Behaviour. Studying not just how the body worked, but the mind as well (mostly the animal mind, though sometimes the line between animal and human isn't as clear as we'd like it to be), because I genuinely enjoyed learning it.
I love movies, but I also love director's commentaries. I love to tell stories, but I also love to see how other people tell stories. I want to know what they were thinking, what they meant. Which is probably why Alexandra and I could pull frequent all-nighters to talk about writing. Some people have commented that such things ruin the object for them, because they can never take it in as a whole again and appreciate it the way they did the first time. Fortunately, that's not an issue for me.
And not everybody is part of this personality type. My Dad can't stand director's commentaries. He finds them extremely dull, gets extremely pissed when I listen to them, and can't understand how I'm not bored to tears. He gets all offended when I tell him he wouldn't understand, but in this case he can't. It's not, as he always assumes, that I mean he's not smart enough to get it. It's simply that his personality is incompatible. He has a different way of thinking, of seeing, of appreciating. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
There is a market for long bios and interviews and commentaries and things -- Nathaniel and I are proof of that. Some of us enjoy hunting through pages of websites, through warrens of DVD menus to see as much behind-the-scenes as we can. And there's nothing wrong with that, either. But it's not everyone's cup of tea. There are some people who prefer the opposite.
Fortunately for everybody concerned, these things remain optional. For those who don't like them, it's as easy as the flip of a page or the push of a button to skip them and get back to the whole, without exposing the gears and nuts and bolts and pieces.
At which point I slip quietly in with my toolbox to pry everything apart again…
( 12:19 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Home ReportFor those wondering, the surgery talk went fine. I still haven't resolved much, but I'm still better informed.
My family had an interesting weekend -- we watched Pride and Prejudice as a family, my parents and grandfather nearly killing themselves laughing. Mrs. Bennett in the film IS my aunt Jennifer. Looks, personality, and mannerisms. It's uncanny. I'm not the only one to see it. Dad's just trying to figure out now if she'll get horribly offended if he points it out to her.
Grandpa had us going through a closetful of his mother's clothes. Beautiful stuff from the 20's -- beaded flapper gowns, hand-sewn christening gowns, rhinestone handbags, a gorgeous cream velvet opera cape. Unfortunately, most of the clothes got jammed into a closet, and are now falling to pieces. I'm going to contact the museum and see if anyone wants anything, because these are amazing pieces that are badly in need of preservation and restoration.
And my Dad, attempting to transfer my favourite choir concert, the Hart House Singers' 1997 "A Magnificent Winter Celebration" from tape to CD, accidentally erased the entire concert. I know I copied that thing a half-dozen times, so now I'm frantically trying to figure out who I gave copies to. Tami and Sheila I'm positive on, but neither one is sure if she has the tape. Jen, did I give a copy to you? Oy. At the moment, I'm not panicking, but I'm going to be sorely heartbroken if I find out the concert is well and truly gone.
And Tami's convinced me to sing again. Not this weekend but the weekend after I'm heading up to Keswick to sing "Somewhere That's Green" for Mavis's retirement. I haven't sang in over a year, since the prolonged illness decimated my voice. Wish me luck.
( 12:18 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, October 25, 2003
And Peace Reigns Once Again...Oy. Everything has been set to rights. Sheila and I have talked, and while I still have no idea where this all came from, I now know it's not from her and can proceed to ignore any future trolling. Sheesh.
Now all I have to worry about is the surgery talk on Monday. You know, the small stuff. :o)
( 5:51 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
More Than Mild FrustrationsIt isn't often that something someone writes about me makes me cry. I laugh at most of my hate mail, and generally it takes somebody saying something to my face to cause me to break down. But I'm crying now, and I'm blogging about it because as I've said many times before, the primary purpose of my weblog is to get down those thoughts I can't keep contained in my head or they'll hurt me.
So Sheila commented on my blog about me (nothing nasty in her comments, either), but someone mistook my comments on trolls as referring to Sheila rather than my trolls, and she posted in Sheila's comments section something that basically stops just short of calling me an ungrateful backstabbing little bitch. And not much short of that, either. And than upsets me so much I can't keep it together right now.
People who've known me a while know that I've never had many friends, just a few very very good ones. And my friendships with people are things that I treasure more than pretty much anything else. Which is why having those friendships threatened hits me like nothing else can. That's one of the reasons why one of the most traumatic experiences of my life was finding out that my group of friends in high school weren't actually my friends.
[addendum: A couple people have told me I'm overreacting. And I probably am. But the thing is, back in high school, I was blissfully happy with my group of friends until one of them took me out to dinner to tell me that nobody liked me. I'd had no idea anything was wrong. At all. So yes, I have kind of a complex about anything like this happening again]
But the internet is a fickle beast, and misinterpretation is easy, no matter how hard I try to explain myself, which is the only reason I can think of why so many people seem to think I hate Sheila.
So let me lay this down, once and for all.
I love Sheila. At one of the worst times in my life, she was almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping me going for the six months it took to recover. She is largely responsible for the completion of Elysium during that time. I love her books and I love her more as a person, even if I do disagree with her on a lot of things. Nobody said you had to agree on The Issues to be friends. If you did, Tami and I wouldn't have lasted five minutes.
Sheila's taught me some of the most valuable lessons on writing I've received, and more, she's been a really good friend. She means as much to me as my crazy pagan godmother Peggy, and that's saying a lot. Which is why being accused of hating her hurts me so bad, and seeing that she might believe that tears me to pieces.
( 10:40 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, October 24, 2003
Oh Canada!Hinterland Who's Who is back!
( 8:51 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Mild FrustrationsBear with me today, I'm in a snarky mood.
Now, I'm not exactly miserable or anything, but enough people have been grating on my nerves over the past couple days that I need to vent or I'll snap and end up chasing helpless people down Bathurst while screaming and brandishing a frying pan. Or something.
First off, yesterday I got sent to Hostel Standards training. You know those nightmares where you have to write a really important exam, walk in, sit down, and realize that this exam is for a course you've never taken? That was my day. The stuff they teach in Hostel Standards has absolutely nothing to do with my job and never will, but there's some new policy in place stating that everyone employed in the Toronto shelter system has to have this training, so I didn't have a choice. I went, and had to endure a series of lectures, questions, and case scenarios about thing that don't even approach my job description. I kept fantasizing about commandos smashing through the window and abducting me away. By the end of the day, they were rogue Elven commandos on a quest to restore the balance of magic to the world.
It was a long day.
What made it worse was that it had become like high school. There were two women at the end of the table who whispered and giggled over the seminar leader, and acted all "aren't I cool" when she got pissed and called on them for answers to questions. And the woman beside me was convinced that all homeless people are mentally ill, that her particular experiences are the only valid ones, and you can't have an MTF transsexual sharing a room with another woman because he still has a penis and therefore a sexual appetite and will end up raping her.
Horrid day over, I came back home, went to clear out my inbox, and found that my blog trolls have been busy again. Which really doesn't bother me -- they're harmless -- but what they "know" about me always makes me worry that I'm somehow giving off the impression that I mean the complete opposite of everything I say.
A couple days ago Sheila posted another top ten list. So now, according to my favourite troll, that's new proof I'm not a real writer, because I've been to more cons than I have books published.
Ignoring the fact that this is Sheila's opinion and not The Word of God (trolls always seems to have a problem differentiating between the two), I don't go to cons because I believe it'll get me published. I go because it gives me a chance to meet up with friends I don't ever see elsewhere, I get to hang out with SF geeks who like the same things I do, and I have fun, dammit. I don't get any financial return out of going to movies or amusement parks, but nobody seems to have a problem with me spending money for those. I come back from con weekends energized, de-stressed, and happy. So what the hell is the problem?
And to the three other people who seem to have gotten the impression that Sheila is my arch-nemesis -- what the hell have you been reading?
Speaking of Sheila, her Q&A in the ROC newsletter (scroll down) had me laughing so hard I almost cried. I had this image in my head of Sheila, bound to a chair, teeth clenched, being poked with a stick by her agent until she spat out the answers to the questions, all the while entertaining homicidal fantasies about the people who'd put her in that chair.
Her comments on the interview did get me thinking, though. I'm guilty of going on at length about my writing. Seriously, if you're willing to listen, I can talk all night about it. And have. Alexandra and I used to have adjoining rooms in residence, and sometimes, late at night, if I saw her light was on, I'd knock on the door and ask if I could run an idea for Kichani past her. Several hours later, one of us would pause and say "are those birds?" We'd glance out the window, see that the sun was coming up, and scurry off to bed so we could get some sleep in before our first classes.
It's not because either of us are in love with ourselves. I think it's more that we both love our characters so much. We tend to talk about them (our own characters and each other's) as though they were real people. We love them, and talking about them is just so much fun that we really don't want to stop. Of course, we've both learned enough that we won't do it unless the person on the other end of the conversation actually wants to hear about it. Usually.
But back to the rant.
So aside from the horrible training and the mildly irritating blog trolls, there was one more thing that really just pushed me off the edge today.
There's a certain individual in a certain online forum I visit who often rubs me the wrong way. But his comments on the new Tarzan series made me want to break something.
I like Tarzan. Quite a bit. I adored Beauty and the Beast (Catherine's death had me in tears for days), so I was excited when I found out that Tarzan has some of the same people behind it. It's got enough of a Beauty and the Beast feeling to it that I'm ready to keep watching. I've never read the Tarzan books, and the only movie I've ever seen was the Disney animated one, so that may be part of the reason I enjoy it so much -- I don't have any preconceived ideas of who Tarzan should be to compare it against. I like Travis Fimmel, who plays Tarzan. Yeah, he's pretty damned cute, but what I like best about him is the primate mannerisms he uses -- having spent hours doing the orangutan project in OAC bio, I love seeing that. What can I say -- I'm a bio geek.
But the comments of this individual seem to imply that only women like the Tarzan character because he satisfies a "jones for hairless boyflesh".
Getting one thing straight: I am not a shallow, superficial twat. Yes, I appreciate that Travis is a fine looking man, but I'd like his portrayal of the character even if he wasn't, and if the show sucked, even the most beautiful man in the world wouldn't make me watch it. But I like the show and I like his performance in it, which is why I watch it.
It probably wouldn't bother me so much if I hadn't been the subject of this person's categorization of women before, both in my writing, and in person. And I know it's not just me, because Karina's commented on it, too. A shining example: after a TorCon panel I was on, in front of my boyfriend no less, he remarked that I couldn't keep my eyes off of China Miéville.
I was raised to be polite. In my family, that means looking at people who are speaking. During that particular panel, the conversation was dominated by the two people on my left, and said conversation was quite interesting, so I was looking that way for most of it. China happened to be on my immediate left. I also looked at his notes a lot, because he was doodling some pretty neat things. Now, I realize that many women find him quite attractive, but he's really not my type. However, the implication was that I was staring at him because I was enamored of him, and the only reason I can think of is because I was a girl. I'm a woman, so of course I had to be staring at him because I wanted him. Aargh. It drove me nuts.
I hate it when people assume stuff like this about me. It put me enough on edge that day that during my Hands-on Science panel, when one of the Dads remarked "Oh, I don't think my daughter would be interested in learning about bugs, she's a girl", I nearly clocked him with the 5-pound acrylic spider.
And that's not even to say that I don't fit a lot of girl generalizations. I grew up with a unicorn collection. I love getting flowers. I can't get enough of tiaras. And hell, I appreciate cute guys. These generalizations don't bother me in the least. But when someone implies my only interest in something couldn't possibly be because it has intrinsic merit that can be appreciated by intelligent people, but can only be because a pretty boy is involved, it makes me want to go and wail on something with a sledgehammer.
I think I need to go unleash Variel for a while...
( 2:37 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, October 19, 2003
HrmNot much to report, as I've been somewhat sequestered this weekend with Elysium edits and my brain is stuck firmly in Darvia at the moment. Holding phone conversations without lapsing into Mari's accent is a challenge. I don't have to worry about it around my sib (who is just as likely to join in), but around everyone else, it's tough. Ah well.
Haven't done any of these in a while so I'll close with them:
You are Form 1, Goddess: The Creator.
"And The Goddess planted the acorn of life.
She cried a single tear and shed a single drop
of blood upon the earth where she buried it.
From her blood and tear, the acorn grew into
Some examples of the Goddess Form are Gaia (Greek),
Jehova (Christian), and Brahma (Indian).
The Goddess is associated with the concept of
creation, the number 1, and the element of
Her sign is the dawn sun.
As a member of Form 1, you are a charismatic
individual and people are drawn to you.
Although sometimes you may seem emotionally
distant, you are deeply in tune with other
people's feelings and have tremendous empathy.
Sometimes you have a tendency to neglect your
own self. Goddesses are the best friends to
have because they're always willing to help.
Which Mythological Form Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
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( 11:39 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, October 17, 2003
Cavalia: An Equestrian FantasyRemember that scene in George of the Jungle (Jen, you know which one I mean), where all the women are gathered around a corral and one of the guys leans over and asks his friend "what is it with chicks and horses?" Well, setting aside Brendan Fraser in all his Brendanness, there really is something special about horses. Maybe it's the unicorn factor -- as someone raised on Legend and The Last Unicorn (along with Labyrinth and Dark Crystal -- gee, and people wonder why I write fantasy), I've always longed to see a unicorn. And for most of us, horses are as close to that magic as we can get.
Tonight, I went a step closer. I saw Cavalia.
To truly get a sense of what it was like, we have to go right to the beginning. Nathaniel and I disembarked the streetcar and wandered into the Distillery District. The district is exactly what it sounds like -- an old, abandoned distillery that has been overtaken by artists and converted into gallery space. So you step through these iron gates into a warren of old buildings and uneven bricks that could be cobblestones if you look at them right. The effect is almost like stepping back in time. A quick stop in one of the buildings for a bite (and I have to take time out to describe this sandwich -- chicken, curried mayo, lettuce, apples, almonds and apricots on fresh Italian bread -- dear God, it was worth the $7), and we were on our way.
So you're wandering through this maze of old buildings and cobbles, overhead walkways and bright art galleries, feeling like you've stepped into the pages of a book, and suddenly you turn a corner and find yourself staring down a corridor of buildings at an enormous white tent, spearing up into the night sky like some fairy-tale illusion.
Prologue: We took our seats, and found ourselves staring at a tiny stretch of sand in front of an enormous backdrop. Scattered on the sand were toys -- a rocking horse, a block painted with horses, a little horse on wheels, a hobby horse -- some spotlighted, others lying abandoned on the sand. The lights dimmed, and two horses, one white and one black, raced onto the sand.
Behind them came two acrobats, following at a sedate pace as they did the kind of tricks Cirque du Soleil is famous for, like balancing on each other's hands, raising themselves parallel to the ground supported by only one pair of arms, while behind them followed the rest of the cast in full costume. The costumes were another element straight out of a storybook -- part medieval romance, part Romany, with hints of barbarian tribe as one might see on the cover of a fantasy novel. As the horses ambled their way further down the sand, the acrobats followed as the cast moved forward in a slow, hypnotic dance. As they moved, pictures of horses were projected onto the backdrop, along with sayings about horses from novels, plays, and scripture. The one that would resonate throughout the evening (and forgive me because I can't remember the exact words) was the one about what a wonder the horse is, because it can fly without wings. Finally, when everyone was positioned in front of a toy, they bent down, retrieved it, and vanished out of the other side of the stage.
Wild Horses: The backdrop lifted, revealing the rest of the stage. The stage is circular, made of sand, ringed with canvas. In the centre of the stage are two pillars bounding a wooden stage, so that the sandy area is actually a ring circling this vaguely rectangular central stage. The back half of the stage was obscured by a curtain of abstract diamonds.
Four horses tore out of the first entrance at a gallop. Four men followed, chasing the horses around, a loose representation of man's early history with the horse.
Now, I haven't mentioned it yet, but I cannot leave it out. 50% of every Cirque du Soleil show is the music, and Cavalia is no exception. Playing live on a platform at the back of the stage and occasionally lit so that the canvas becomes transparent and reveals them, the musicians are as much a part of the show as the horses. Particularly vocalist Marie-Soleil Dion.
Caballo de Luna: The music changed, the lights dimmed, and a brown horse cantered into the ring. Behind the diamond backdrop bisecting the sage wandered a girl in a flowing brown gown. As the horse pranced and preened, she slipped through the diamonds and began to dance. The horse circled her and matched her steps. As she continued to twirl and spin, it became a pas de deux, with only fleeting moments of contact between human and equine until the dance ended.
Encounter: The lights brightened once again, and a beautiful horse (gold with a black mane) entered the ring and began to prance around (you can see the backdrop in this photo, too). From the other side of the stage entered Fredéric Pignon, co-equestrian director and horse whisperer extraordinaire. What followed was a beautiful piece as man discovers horse and the two interact. It was playtime -- he was laughing and the horse was clearly thrilled. They ran, played tag and follow the leader, until a dark horse ran to join them. With a raised hand and a word or two, Pignon had the dark horse following the gold one like a shadow as they circled and played.
Liberty: (I think -- Nathaniel and I can't quite remember which of the next three is which). The diamond curtain lifted. Through the side curtain thundered an enormous Percheron, with a man kneeling on his back. They rode across the sand at the front of the stage into the centre, and other cast members came forward to pull pieces of the central stage and the boundary dividing the ring from the audience forward, so that it formed a smaller ring front and centre. The Percheron cantered around this ring as the man on his back changed knees, flipped around, and finally gained his feet. He then performed a series of leaps and flips -- while on the back of this cantering horse -- that had me holding my breath and crossing my fingers.
Voltige: At the back of the stage a door opened, and in rode a man and a woman on a second Percheron. They entered the ring and performed a series of tricks together. He lifted her above his head as they galloped, they got on and off, and then the two Percherons galloped around the ring together, their riders performing tricks as two trapdoors opened in the stage to reveal trampolines, which the other cast members used to vault into the ring before, behind, around, and over the circling horses.
It was pretty frelling cool.
La Vida: The music slowed, the lights dimmed. The Percherons left, and into the little ring rode two white horses bearing two riders each, a man in a white blouse and a woman in a gauzy gown. The horses began to circle at a canter and the women (one in red, one in blue) rose to their feet, hands resting on the shoulders of the man in front of them. The horses continued to circle, and the women leaned toward the outside of the ring until they were nearly parallel to the ground, a one foot on the horse's shoulder and the other on it's flank. And then the women were airborne.
Didn't I say that bit about flight would permeate the evening?
They floated around the ring in an aerial ballet as the horses continued to circle, sometimes joined with the men in the saddle, sometimes flying free as the horses danced around the ring. Not trotted or cantered. Danced. I wish Jen had been with me because she'd know the gaits they used, but they were absolutely beautiful and seemed like something not entirely of this earth.
Reflections: The small ring was unfolded so that the stage was one big ring again. Down came the smaller side portions of the backdrop, framing the central stage. Onto the backdrop was projected the image of fairy wings. From the side rode a woman in a flowing mediaeval gown on a white horse, and disappeared behind one backdrop. She reappeared on the other side of the stage, and disappeared behind the opposite backdrop. She reappeared again -- on both sides of the stage. Matching women on matching horses, they approached the centre and faced each other. Each tossed a lock of hair over her shoulder. Each turned. Each horse pivoted on a single foreleg. Each woman raised a hand to meet the other's in a haunting mirror dance. At the end, the horses bowed to each other, down on one knee.
Roman Riding: The partitions lifted. Projected onto the canvas at the back of the stage was a series of arches, like a Roman amphitheatre. Three young men (or boys, it was hard to tell) called to each other from behind the canvas, lit so you could see them through it. Into the ring rode three pairs of horses, a person straddling each team, and they began to circle the ring at almost a gallop.
Not to be upstaged, the three boys entered the ring and ran to downstage centre. As the Roman Riders continued to circle, the boys began to perform acrobatics, tumbling and climbing on each others shoulders. But the riders were still upstaging them. They couldn't have that. They fetched a long wooden post and stretched it out in one rider's path. Ha ha, he'll have to stop now. Boom. The horses jumped it, the rider still straddling their backs.
Two of the riders closed in, and one transfered the reins of his pair to the other and jumped off. Now that rider was straddling one pair while the second ran in front of her, controlling all four horses by herself.
The boys wanted attention again, and one stood on another's shoulders. But this time, the third got in on it too, and jumped up onto the shoulders of the second. They were standing one on top of the other. Trick accomplished, they leaned forward until almost horizontal before they broke apart and hit the ground in a tumbling roll, springing to their feet again.
The three teams were still circling. Out came the pole again, and the woman jumped it with all four horses. The remaining rider took his team to the very edge of the stage and told the boys to raise the post. They did, until they couldn't go any higher. So one climbed onto the wall in front of the audience and another jumped on the shoulders of the third and took the pole. Finally, the pole was high enough. The rider approached -- and the horses went under the pole while he jumped over it!
Intermission: "Huh," said Nathaniel. "20 minute intermission seems to be the norm now instead of 15."
"Have you seen the lineup for the women's washroom?" I asked.
One of the women in line commented to me that they should have used both washroom trailers for the women and left the three port-o-potties for the men.
La Fête: It's party time. Everybody's having a go. As drums pounded, dancers cavorted on the sand in front of the stage, flinging handfuls in the air, and acrobats tumbled. Two dappled grey horses mounted either side of the centre stage and began to dance in place. I'm serious. It was so neat. A woman in a flowing gown mounted on a white horse rode at the back of the stage, dancing. A somewhat more elegant dance than the tap-dance the greys were doing. At either side of the front of the stage, flanking the acrobats, the aerial dancers performed tricks on velvet ropes high above the ground.
Libertad: The stage cleared -- the only time horses weren't included in a number. The aerial dancers dropped their ropes, so that all they were left with was a little loop from which they hung and dipped and spun. The vocalist emerged from the band and took the stage at the head of the cast, standing on the stage as on the sand before it, a third aerial dancer (male this time), hanging from two ribbons, soared over the sand. As the song drew to a close, he settled to the ground as the women rose into the rafters and disappeared.
Cavalia: A forest appeared at the back of the stage. Six men and women in gowns that were part-kimono, part-medieval, with flowing sleeves that draped nearly to the ground, rode into the ring on six white horses. The six horses proceeded to dance, prancing gaits, sometimes moving across the stage together, sometimes weaving through one another, sometimes circling in one long line, sometimes circling in a star pattern. It reminded me a little of an Elvish RCMP musical ride. It was extremely haunting, beautiful, and looked like they'd just ridden out of a fairy tale.
Symbiosis: One rider remained after the others left, and as the diamond curtain came down over the central stage, she and her horse danced across the stage. Around the back, behind the curtain, the horse whisperer rode on his golden horse. They rounded the stage until they were facing the rider on her white horse. The horse whisperer dismounted, as did the woman, and slowly, both woman and horse were divested of tack. The horse lost its saddle and bridle, the woman her flowing sleeves. She remounted, bareback, her only way of controlling the horse a thin white band around its chest. It made the resulting dance even more beautiful as you realized how much of what the horse was doing was a result of trust and friendship. The dance ended as the horse knelt and finally lay down, the woman draped across its neck in an embrace.
Cavalcade: In stark contrast to the duet that proceeded it, Cavalcade contained a little bit of everything. It began with six quarter horses with western saddles dashing across the front of the stage, their riders quarrelling over the possession of a white silk scarf. They jumped on and off, vaulted across, stood upside down on, lay backward across, and chased after the horses as they fought to gain possession of the scarf. In centre stage, two men held a board between them, launching at third into the air, where he'd somersault and twist before landing on the board again. Dancers danced, the pole reappeared and jumping commenced as the tumblers tumbled. The Percherons were back, their riders leaping across their backs. The aerial dancers perched on trapezes high above the stage with bungee lines attached to either side of their waists, and at opportune moments, would sail off to float across the stage before returning to the trapeze (remember the bungee ballet in the Tomb Raider movie? Like that.) Finally, the rider approached the pole for a jump. The boys just happened to be holding it right in front of the three guys with their board. The men holding their board launched the third into the air where he grabbed a hanging trapeze as the rider jumped first the pole and then their board. The acrobat dropped back down onto the board and the cast cleared the stage.
Moonlight: The aerial dancers continued their bungee ballet alone, drifting around the stage to a slow, wistful melody. Their partners from La Vida returned, and the horses circled beneath them as a gentle snow began to fall over the ring. The dancers hung over the horses, embracing their heads and kissing their noses before soaring around the stage again. The dancers glided lower and lower over the ring until finally coming to rest on the horses' backs behind the men. Freeing themselves from their cords, they rode through the snow and out of the ring.
Whispering: Perhaps the simplest and yet most beautiful moment of the night, it was just one man and three horses. All he did was talk to them, and yet he had them prancing around, twirling on one leg, lying down and rolling in the sand. At one point, he and the first horse approached the audience. The horse mounted the wall separating the ring from the audience with its front hooves, and the horse whisperer climbed up to stand on its back.
The second horse ran in, to give him kisses. The two horses danced in unison, reared up on their hind legs, bowed down on one knee while he mounted and stood on one's haunches.
Then the third horse entered, with a mane so long it nearly reached the ground. It was every girl's unicorn fantasy come to life -- without the horn. The three continued to dance, the only thing commanding them a raised hand or a word or two.
It was the closest thing to magic I've seen in a long time, this man and his three white horses.
Curtain call, for the artists with two legs and those with four, and as the audience filtered out, five horses remained alone at the back of the stage, playing, giving each other scratches, and having a great time.
Out of the tent, back over the cobbles, through the gates to reality.
This was one of the most magical things I have experienced in a long time, and if you have the chance at all, you must get out to see it. The seats start at $30-some odd dollars, and while granted the cheaper seats are pretty high up, they really aren't that bad. There are no bad seats in this venue, because it's actually quite small.
But it's something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.
( 2:02 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, October 16, 2003
On Anime, Generosity, and GreedY'know, sometimes it astounds me to see just how greedy people can be sometimes.
Unless you haven't been paying any attention to this blog, you're aware of my Inuyasha obsession. I've been sating it from two sources -- Anime-Kraze and Anime Forever/FanGirl Friday.
The two are very different -- Anime Kraze provides very literal translations and keeps as much Japanese as possible in the text. FanGirl Friday did a much more Americanized translation, which was better for the layperson, providing more of an interpretation of text than an exact translation. Example -- in a recent episode, Inuyasha showed his faith in Shippou by calling him "taiyoukai". "Youkai" is demon, "taiyoukai" are the biggest and most powerful of demons -- think about it as the difference between Galadriel and those elves who help out Santa. Shippou, in contrast, is just a kid and pretty weak, but Inuyasha's faith in him let him get the job done and showed a seldom-seen side of Inuyasha. Ani-Kraze translated it as "great youkai Shippou". FGF translated it as "big guy".
Now that I've got a handle on some of the language basics, I'm starting to prefer the AK subs, because I like the nuances created when someone calls the main character "Kagome-chan", "Kagome-sama", or "Nee-chan" (FGF tends to use plain "Kagome" for all of these), even though I find some of their typesetting distracting at times. However, I really liked the FGF translation notes they'd put at the beginning of the episodes, explaining certain cultural things without having to cover half the screen in text during the episode.
As I said, they're both different, but compared to some of the Engrish subs back at the beginning of the series, they both do phenomenal jobs. It's really just a matter of preference.
FGF has just decided to stop translating the series, and the backlash on the forums has been incredible. Instead of thanking the group for all the work they've done, some of the forum posters linked to episodes released by AK, berated FGF on backing out of a promise to translate the series to the end, moaned about inferior translations, delays in releases, etc. etc. etc. It was bad enough to prompt a backlash from a moderator, which apparently is about as "I never though I'd see the day they drove him to that" as it was when the frosh prompted Alexandra into a screaming fit in second year. In other words, you have to be pretty damned rude to get this guy to be that pissed.
And this is what I can't understand. Yes, I admit, I'm not the most patient of people. I get impatient waiting for the next episode of Inuyasha. I get impatient waiting for the next Robin McKinley book. Hell, I get impatient for the next chapter of stuff I'm writing. The point is, there's a difference between impatience and ingratitude. I'm extremely grateful that these people take time out of their lives (most are students) to translate these things, free, at the cost of great time and expense to themselves. They're doing it out of pure kindness, simply to help other people see anime that could take years to (or possible never) be released in North America.
What they face more often as more people discover their websites are people who somehow feel that they're owed these free subs, and get incensed when the episodes are late, glitchy, etc.
And this astounds me. It's not just here -- I've seen people complain that Strong Bad isn't funny enough or skipping a week, that the webcomics I read are sub-par or late or have the audacity to move their archives to a paid site, etc. etc. etc.
How can people be so incredibly greedy as to be genuinely angry when the free services of which they partake fail to meet their standards?
It's one of those things that just makes me shake my head in dismay.
( 1:31 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Thoughts on WritersI was reading E.L. Chen's blog again (note to self: update sidebar sometime this century) and a line in her bio made me think. She writes:
"She concludes that the reason why writers have an eclectic assortment of jobs and cats is because each comes with a UPC code to be mailed away for a writers' license."
Setting aside the cat thing for a moment (I managed to avoid that for years before the Wacket wandered into my life), she got me thinking about the jobs.
It's true that many writers' resumes read like some sort of employment sampler. And I got to thinking about why, when I realized that mine is running along similar paths. So this is why it's true for me.
I still maintain, in a corner of my mind, that if I can't get out of my rut soon, I'm going back to school. Once it was to do vet tech. Then it was teacher's college. I'd still be okay with either. But I keep putting it off, and not entirely because I can't afford either at the moment.
When I think about it, it's a commitment factor. Yes, I'd like to do those things, but part of me really doesn't see the point of investing so much time and money in them when I will happily abandon them forever
I'm a writer first and foremost. Everything else these days is just an afterthought.
And speaking of afterthoughts. -- I just finished Kelley Armstrong's Stolen. I picked it up yesterday on my way home from work and finished it around 9 p.m. Damn, that woman can write. And to my great glee, she has a couple of short stories and a novella-in-progress on her website. Sweet!
And another one -- all the talk today about the Chinese sending a man into space is causing extreme flashbacks of Chris Hadfield's talk at WorldCon. He was excited about the Chinese space program because he said that it's competition that drives technology forward.
But I also started thinking about his comments on the Weird Things That Happen To You In Space. He said that he has no doubt that when we colonize other planets, they'll be thinking of themselves purely as Martians (or wherever) in a matter of years, because of what he saw happening to the residents of the Space Station. He said that when you get up there, it's so life-alteringly-mind-boggling that international lines blur and fade away until you don't think of yourself as a resident of earth anymore. You very quickly consider yourself a resident of space.
Food for thought on this incredibly windy afternoon.
( 1:25 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Best Boyfriend Ever!Nathaniel is taking me to see Cavalia on Thursday. I am so excited right now I can hardly sit still. I have the best boyfriend in the whole wide world. :o)
( 10:37 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
ThanksgivingIt was a very busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
Nathaniel and I started off by going to his parents' house on Saturday, where I met a large part of his mother's family. It was actually kind of funny -- Nathaniel's family is enormous, compared to mine, and that part of his family in attendance was bigger than my entire family. But we did have a good time, though we spent much of it watching Farscape and The Secret Garden (and his cousin poked me in the eye, but that was an accident). We closed out the night playing trivial pursuit (during which everyone else got the questions Nathaniel and I could answer) and stumbled to bed after midnight.
Sunday morning, after a nice brunch and a road tour of Cambridge, we headed out to Milton for my family Thanksgiving. Nathaniel and I were the first ones to arrive at my Aunt's house, with the exception of my cousin Lucas (my uncle Steve and cousin Erin were out visiting Erin's boyfriend), so I got to give Nathaniel the tour. I still think my family is crazier than his, but in a good way.
First off the bat, my aunt Jen wasted no time in pulling out my naked baby pictures. There are four albums of them. The glee she took in this act was unlike anything I have ever seen from her -- she claims it's because she's been waiting twenty-four years to do it. My cousin Erin laughed when she found out, until I pointed out that Nathaniel had seen her naked baby pictures too. Heh. My family really likes Nathaniel, and not just because they now have conclusive proof that I am not, in fact, gay.
The one bittersweet note to Sunday was my grandmother. She got to visit for two hours for her birthday party, and the family picture, and she's slipped again. Before, she just didn't say anything. Now she never stops mumbling. She'll repeat things said to her, and make up rhymes. Though she still manages to boss everyone around. It's a scary thing to watch, and I never know what to say or do. Anyway.
The cousins spent a lot of time in the basement watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was fun, despite the fact that it was too intelligent for certain persons-who-shall-remain-nameless. And for that movie in particular (which even covered Andy's butt jokes), that's saying a lot.
It was good to have the whole family in one place for a change (even though I did get mercilessly mocked for spilling food on my shirt -- it's always been a problem, though oddly enough, it only seems to happen when I'm around my family these days). We don't have a family Christmas anymore, so Thanksgiving tends to be the only occasion where we get everybody in one house.
I did promise my sibling that I'd post links to arguments defending the Star Wars prequels, so dude, you can take a look at Jaquandor's comments, and this really impressive series of essays. I've already commented, at length, on my opinions of them, so I'll refrain from saying anything else, save that I've read and understand the above comments, found them thoughtful and quite intelligent, and I still think Lucas blew it. But enough about that.
From Morat's blog -- further evidence that George W. Bush is an agent of evil:
The Bush administration is proposing far-reaching changes to conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries.
Sometimes I just want to weep for the world.
Instead, I'll recommend a good book -- Kelley Armstrong's Bitten. It's a story about contemporary werewolves, and it's a really great read. I was talking about it with Chris at Bakka, and we decided that what gives it such appeal outside of the SF market is that everyone in the story is a werewolf, so basically it's a story about one big dysfunctional family. I enjoyed it very much, and I'm itching for this day to end so I can run to the library and grab the sequel before anyone else does.
( 11:20 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Happy Thanksgiving!I'm outta here for the weekend, but before I leave, I thought it would be nice to post a preview of "Blood Ties", the second Kesh story, on my website. The direct link is here. I hope you enjoy it!
( 11:36 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, October 09, 2003
With A Little Burglaree (Tarantara...)I spent a productive day yesterday. Karina and I broke into an apartment. But let me start at the beginning.
I brought Pyewacket home from the vet yesterday (she was in being "unmade as a woman", to quote the receptionist). She was more than glad to be home, as evidence by the thunderous purring coming from the carrier when I brought her home. She's supposed to be tired, sore, and resting (though the vet neglected to inform Pyewacket of this fact), so I set up some food and a bed in the living room where we can isolate her from Alistair (roughhousing with a cat twice your size is right out when you've just had abdominal surgery).
I got the Wacket home at 3, and had two hours before Karina showed up for Inuyasha. So I decided to finish Pye's "hotel room" and headed downstairs to the basement to get the small litterbox.
Now, you need to understand the layout of our house. It's a large Victorian affair that has been broken into three apartments. You walk in the house and are faced with a hall and some stairs. There are doors to the left and a door at the end of the hall, which lead to the two downstairs apartments. There's a third door at the top of the stairs leading to our apartment. This door has a deadbolt and a knob lock -- you know, the kind that you can lock and then pull the door closed behind you.
I went to the basement (where our storage is) to get the box. When I got back to our apartment, the door had locked.
I can only assume that it hadn't been completely unlocked when I opened the door, and clicked locked when I shut it. But I was well and truly screwed.
After about an hour of failed attempts with a leg from the Christmas tree stand and a coat hanger (our basement is sadly lacking in burglary tools), I pulled on my winter boots (the only footgear of mine in the downstairs hall) and went off to Sneaky Dee's to borrow a butter knife. All they had were steak knives with rounded ends. Undaunted (well, somewhat daunted), I smuggled it home under my shirt (yes, I had permission to borrow it, but I wasn't keen on walking down the crowded street holding a steak knife) and went at the door again.
After a half-hour nap on our landing (2' x 3'), I went at the door again. I was still going at it when Karina showed up.
She tried for a while before admitting that the damned door was not going to open. Then, in a fit of inspiration, we decided to go take a look at the back.
Our apartment is on the second floor, complete with a deck built on the roof of the first-floor extension. Our neighbours share that roof. So we managed to talk my neighbour (not an easy feat, seeing as English is not his first language) into letting us borrow his ladder.
This ladder was quite obviously a medieval relic that had no business being used by normal people. It was really just two slats of wood held together by rungs. He set it up, completely vertical, leaning not against his roof, but against the grapevine trellis attached to it (that is, at a 90 degree angle to the house. Worse, it was not only standing on concrete, but on the concrete landing at the top of some deep concrete stairs. I started up, stopped halfway as the latter began to twist like the Tacoma Narrows Bridgeuntil Karina steadied it, then crept up the rest of the way, crawled across the grapevine trellis, and made it onto the roof.
What came next was easy. I sprinted across the roof to my deck. Yes, I could hear the Mission Impossible theme playing in my head, which is probably why I ended up vaulting the rail instead of climbing over (anyone who knew my utter terror of the vault in gym class will appreciate that) and ended up smashing the terra-cotta planting tray on the deck. Wups.
So the door to the deck is always locked. No problem. I went to the window and with a grand and immensely satisfying yank, ripped out the screen (without guilt, since it's needed replacing for a year). And found myself facing the second safety window -- the one that automatically latches on the bottom like a schoolbus window. The one that was closed.
The profanity coming out of my mouth was impressive indeed, as I wilted and leaned my head against the window. Which moved up ever so slightly.
As it turns out, the Wacket (who has this thing about the combs we use to brush her) had carried a comb up to the window and abandoned it, so when whoever closed the inside window, it didn't quite close all the way. I was able to slide it up until it locked in the first position, at which point I was able to reach in, undo the latches, and slide it up the rest of the way. The second window was up in a flash, and we were in! I crawled over the dining room table and ran to let Karina in. Hurrah!
All said and done, we were in the house and watching anime by 5:30.
Having learned my lesson, I'm hiding a key somewhere so this doesn't happen again. I haven't been that frustrated in a long time. It didn't help at all that Pyewacket was sitting on the other side of the door crying for the entire time.
Inuyasha was fun, though. There are few hardships that cannot be made better by copious amounts of good anime.
( 1:58 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Ups and DownsStill smarting from my failure to get the Kids Can job, I walked into Bakka on my way home from the ROM last night. Now, I have never been able to walk into Bakka and walk out with a book. I walk into Bakka, spend an hour talking to whoever's working, and occasionally walk out with a book if I remember to buy one. Last night wasn't all that different -- I walked in around 6:15 and got kicked out for closing. But there was one notable difference from the norm.
Last night I walked into Bakka, and walked out with a job.
It's not a job job, but two of the staff are on maternity leave in December, and Chris asked me if I wanted to help out evenings and weekends over the holidays, provided I don't find a full-time job in the meantime.
I said yes, of course.
So that in hand, I went home for an evening of Firefly with Nathaniel, followed by a house meeting Megan asked for.
Mark rented the house to Megan. Erin and I are subletting from her. Megs thought she could find someone to replace her in December, switch the lease over to me, and that would be that. Nope. Mark rented to her. He said things will have to be renegotiated and if he doesn't hear from me or Erin by October 15th, we're out. The thing is, the rent break was Megan's. We don't know if he'll keep it for us (it's a $2100/month apartment we're getting for $1650). And I cannot afford any more than I'm already paying. Period. So we may just have gone from having to find a new roommate for December 1 to finding a new house.
Sigh. I'm calling Mark tonight. We'll see how it goes.
( 10:35 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Checklist For A Bad DayYesterday pretty much sucked. I endured a bad day at work so I could go to the doctor afterward because I was having muscle spasms around my heart and couldn't breathe. He gave me a great pill to relax the muscles that made me kinda high, but when I got home, I found a message waiting to inform me that I didn't get the job at Kids Can. I really wanted that job (Totally harshed my buzz, man!). So, I didn't take the news well and ended up giving myself a huge headache.
So how do you combat this kind of bummage?
( 10:04 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Not-So-Baby StepsMegan just gave our landlord her notice for December 1st. It's official. She's going back to P.E.I. Which is sad. I'm going to miss her so much. Of course, this now means we need to find someone to fill her room. So, if you'd like to move to Toronto in December (Hi Tam!), now's the time to let us know.
I have my second job interview for the Kids Can Press job today. It'd be a big step if I get this job. Huge step. But. If I don't start taking steps now, I'm not sure I'll ever get up the courage to do it. So I'm going to muster my courage and do what I have to do.
And last night, Nathaniel left me roses. Which made everything else seem not so bad anymore (yes, there was a huge girly squeak involved). :o)
( 9:58 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Rumblings For A New DaySheila had some interesting things to say today about Romance revitalizing SF and Borders' new proposal to remove the price from book covers. I can't think of anything to add to it, so I'll leave the telling to her.
Neil Gaiman also had an interesting anecdote about his presentation with Margaret Atwood that made me laugh so hard I have to quote it:
Also yesterday I presented Coraline to a group of booksellers, in company with Margaret Atwood, who presented Oryx and Crake. She told the booksellers that her book wasn't speculative fiction because everything in the book was based on a scientific speculation in a brown envelope in her research box which left me scratching my head as to where she thinks science fiction (or even speculative fiction) writers get their ideas from. ("Dear God, for years we've just been making this stuff up! And now that Atwood woman turns the whole thing on its head by basing it on scientific fact! Why the Hell didn't we think of that?")
See, it'd be one thing if Margaret Atwood's personality didn't show through in her fiction, but the kind of pretentiousness displayed above does show through, which is why I can't read her books.
And speaking of, I spent several after-hours last night at Bakka helping them do inventory. Chris coopted me, though it didn't take much persuasion, and I got $40 plus pizza and pop out of the deal. And as many ARCs as I could carry, which was just sweet. Of course, as we were doing inventory (which would have been impossible without the prices on the covers, I might add), I ended up finding books I wanted. And I discovered that I have to have the new Brian Froud Dark Crystal book, which I'm picking up next time I'm in the store. Which costs just about $40. So, essentially, I'm getting paid in books. Not that I'm complaining. :o)
And now I'm going to go watch the Return of the King trailer again...
Oh, Tami, did you get home all right? How was the meeting?
( 6:49 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
One Trailer To Rule Them AllThe new Return of the King trailer is up.
Oh. My. God. Watchitwatchitwatchitwatchitwatchit!!!!
( 8:12 AM ) Sarah Jane ~