Hi there….

So, it’s been a while since I posted. Let me tell you why:

  1. The pandemic and shift to working from home (which began properly the day after my last post) has meant what I do with my days off has shifted and I have less energy for writing & posting;
  2. What energy I have for writing things is getting funnelled either into my Twitter interactions, or other projects that I don’t want to lose steam on (fic writing, for example);
  3. And – the big one – I have this tendency to avoid stuff if I’m already late with it…the ‘pressure’ of coming back after I miss self-set deadlines is annoying, so I avoid and continue to do so, by letting 1 & 2 distract me.

Going forward: I’m going to try to aim for one to two posts a month. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

picture of a manmade creek and big bridge. There is water flowing in the creek. The creek has sloped concrete sides, with a concrete path running along each side at the top. There are trees with branches overhanging the path.  The bridge is big because it's a road bridge. It has tall sides to prevent noise from the road travelling to the creek.
The creek at the bottom of the street near where I live. These paths have been lovely to walk on during this time.

So, what have I been up to since April? Lots of things. Let’s start with work.

I was in a hands-on role prior to the lockdown, which has changed to a mostly admin/ support from afar role during this time. For nearly seven weeks (not counting the extended school holidays) myself and the team have been supporting staff, students and families by offering programs to assist regulation, ideas for things to do with household items, and most recently, info sheets about different body skills and senses. It’s been a lot of fun at times, but also a bit of a drag at others – I get my energy from working with the kids, so not being able to be with them has been hard at times.

In that sense, I’m glad that I’ll be going back to work onsite next week – the Victorian government has told all special schools to go back this coming Tuesday. Mainstream have different arrangements depending on year level. Returning to work onsite means a number of other good things – like having regular driving time again, as I work towards my licence by driving to and from school on my work days. It means a return to the physical separation of work and home, with my routines around that.

But we’ll go back to a changed environment. It’s not going to be “straight back to usual”. The rest of term – four weeks of it – will be spent re-adjusting and taking things as they come, with specific health and safety measures in place. After all, by Tuesday, we’ll have had ten weeks off – students were last onsite on Monday March 23, while staff switched to WFH from Tuesday March 24. This has been the longest that students have had off, ever. Longer than the usual summer holidays. Add that to the new health and safety measures and it makes for an interesting few weeks ahead.

A colleague reminded me that the best thing is to focus on the positives, while keeping our expectations low. Be kind to ourselves and the students while supporting our and their wellbeing. We’ll get there.

Also, big ghost/ Jedi/ virtual hugs to everyone else out there who’s worried about all the things, especially if you’re in a country overseas which is struggling more with this thing.

Picture of drawing of head and arms of person. Person's arms are open and they have a love heart in the middle of them. Person has two dots for eyes and a small smile. Text above the person reads: sending vritual hug. Underneath the person the word 'loading' is written, with a half-full bar line underneath that.
You can’t feel it physically, but it’s there!

What else have I been doing? Hmm. A few things.

This lockdown time has reinforced for me how my neurodivergent brain works and what it needs to be happy. Many, many routines were lost and disrupted with lockdown – like choir being cancelled (and possibly remaining so for longer than other things, due to the way the virus spreads). Also, work (naturally), church and not being able to go to gym/ BodyPump. I’ve had to find new ways to do things and acknowledge my hidden supports.

Like, working at a school means, in usual circumstances, I work in a really structured environment – three sessions a day, specific windows of time for morning tea and lunch, and so on. Then I’d added further routines on top of that – for example, driving the same route to and from work every day and only wearing my name-badge and visuals lanyard on school grounds. My work days were my biggest step days as I walked between office, classrooms and staff areas.

Losing all of that meant I had to create my own structure and find my own ways of getting that movement into my day. I’ve used Google Calendar and reminders on my laptop as my own visual schedule. I kept my morning wake-up routine, albeit a little later than usual. I did things like have a specific Chrome window for work-related internet stuff, only using/ opening work-related apps like Outlook and Webex during work hours. Regular walks became a thing, with plenty of pictures taken to mark the things I saw (two of which have featured in today’s post).

Picture of water in a creek. The water is almost at the height of the creek banks, where green grass is growing on both sides. There are also some trees on the creek bank and a gravel path visible to the right side of the image. The sun is shining brightly in the top left of the image, reflecting in the water. There are a few fluffy thick white and grey clouds in the sky.
Another image of the creek at the bottom of my street. Taken a day or two ago after all the rain Melbourne had this week.

I ordered some gym weights so I could keep up with that, because I find it grounding. I joined in on a couple of virtual choir events, have been to regular virtual church services and video-called people or chatted over Discord to feel connected. LaTUCS has maintained a regular Wednesday social time on Discord since we had to stop meeting in person, which has been lovely. I’ve also found lovely online things to provide good feels (though sometimes sad, too). Like this cat-cam YouTube channel, advocating for a Trap-Neuter/Spay-Adopt-or-Release approach for feral cats. There are so many kittens on the two channels right now, with the promise of even more joining them in a few weeks. I love watching them and definitely have my favourites.

Health stuff like psych appointments became virtual, too, with telehealth.

This will continue for me for some time yet – I’ve decided that how i’m going to handle the anxiety of work going back is to recognise that this acknowledges schools as essential workplaces, with staff as essential workers. I am going to still keep physically distancing myself from most things except shops and work, at least until the end of Term 2. We’ll see how it goes. But I am proud of how I’ve managed myself during this time and want to continue that.

The other thing that’s been occupying my time is fandom. In times of stress, fandom is one of the big things that give me joy and make me feel safe and happy – though it can still be its own mess, at least I can carve out my own corner and defend/ fix it. It’d be nice if there was more to claim for my corner and less to fix, but still. Taking part in fandom in a critical way makes me happy.

That’s meant that I’ve been reading and writing fic, retweeting pertinent views on Twitter and engaging with people. I also did a few nice things for Star Wars day. I wore my hair in Rey buns (I tried Leia buns but that was too tricky *sadface*), wore my BB-8 earrings and edited some photos from Supanovas past into little flipbook movies with accompanying music. Thread here. Fun!

I think photos from this year’s Supanova count as my “last normal photos”, which is a thing that went around social media last week…people posting photos from the last “normal” thing that they did before the lockdowns. It’s rather fitting that my photo is related to fandom:

A photo of Clare standing in front of a background painted to look like a Star Wars Rebel or Resistance base. She is wearing her silver headphones and her glasses, in a cosplay for Rey Skywalker - white tank top and shorts, cream scarf hood and brown belts. She is holding a lit yellow lightsabre in salute. Next to her is the droid BB-8, who is taller than her knee. BB-8 is looking at the camera, while Clare looks off-centre to the left of the image. Clare is smiling.
One of several photos from this year’s Supanova, where I cosplayed as Rey Skywalker. I wish I had a BB-8 of my own….

Stay safe, everyone. Until next time!

The Importance of Fandom and Fan Creation

Content note: we’re going to touch on transphobia, racism and sexism in this piece. Also, it’s a long post, FYI. Don’t let that deter you though. I’ve used some section breaks (***) to note where sections start and end and, I hope, short enough paragraphs for readability.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll have noticed that I love fandom. Fandom = all fans of something (in a broad or narrow sense); or the state or attitude of being a fan. This can be about anything – sports, fashion, celebrities, or fiction such as a certain book or television series or film.

I have an entire category of blog posts on this site devoted to it. Fandom was instrumental in my child and teenage years in providing me with a belonging space and a space for my creative ideas to expand. Through identifying with characters in specific fandoms and using them to explore different scenarios based on what happened in their stories, I felt connected.

Fandom has largely been a positive experience for me. However…we’re going to go a bit deeper than that today.

If you were to go look through the Fandom category of this blog I linked above, you’d find two posts where I list my fandoms: “Fandoms, or I’m a Fan of…” and “Fandoms, Updated“. I have a lot of them, some more obscure than others. There are nuances on that list, as I like to engage with my fandoms critically. Friends, it’s time for another update of those lists.

Almost three weeks ago, two Fandom-related events happened:

  1. The author of the Harry Potter series fully showed herself to be a transphobe. I discovered this on the morning of the 20th of December, AEDT.
  2. The latest Star Wars movie was released after great expectations. I cosplayed as Rey to watch it at the movies on the afternoon of the 20th of December.

***

I’m a major Harry Potter fan. It was my second fandom and one that has endured through the years. I know that it – and the fandom around it – has shaped my sense of self and how I see the world. For example, I describe myself as a Hufflepuff – loyal, hard-working, and kind. I identified strongly with Hermione and Harry in the books. I’ve spoken about this in my Fandom posts and in other posts such as Happy Birthday Harry.

However, over the past four or five years, I’ve become more aware of the uncomfortable parts of the books and fandom. See Harry Potter and the Canon-Fanon Thing for an early example. I honestly thought I’d addressed it more than this, but apparently not.

Basically: Harry’s world in the books still echoes the ‘real’ world – it’s set in a boarding school (echoes of the posh British boarding school trope), has racist undertones regarding the goblins and elves, and there is next to no representation of black or queer characters in a positive manner. Most of the representation came later, after fandom asked. (For example, if Dumbledore’s gay, which I do support, why did it have to be “hinted at” instead of mentioned?)

Also, looking at the new Fantastic Beasts movies – are the Goldstein sisters Jewish? No clue from the first movie….and the revelations about Nagini (she’s a shapeshifting Asian woman rather than a snake) turned me away from watching the second one. Also, the women in the books often don’t have the most well-rounded or fleshed out characterisations. Fandom has had to do a lot of our own exploration of these characters to “fill them in”.

We haven’t had to do as much with the male characters – though we often still do, as there are still problematic elements we want to address through exploring them. I used to think the books were “nuanced” in their character development. Now, I’m not so sure… and I feel that it’s strange that the fandom “catchphrase” is the “after all this time? Always.” line that’s taken from a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape and is actually, in context, kinda creepy.

Then there’s the author herself. Over the timeframe I mentioned above, she’s become more obvious in her biases and prejudices. (See the canon-fanon article for an example.) There have been rumours that she was a transphobe for some time, through the form of her liking things on Twitter or following certain people there, explained away by her PR team or herself. Then on the 20th December, she actually tweeted her own transphobic views and refused to back down.

I had begun to separate her from her books and the fandom for some time before that, discussing it with friends. I think it was sometime in the first half of 2018 that I made this decision, but I didn’t share it on here. Sorry about that. I think that a number of fans were hoping that she’d realise her folly at some point and back off. Or they didn’t know how to deal with the “hinted” transphobia and other concerns and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite what many trans people and other minority groups were saying. Sorry about that. There can be none of that now. She’s shown herself publicly and has in fact doubled down on her comments since.

This is particularly infuriating because – as I mentioned above – for many Potter fans, the Potterverse made us feel welcome. Including trans fans. It’s upsetting to see the creator reject that. So, we reject the creator…but keep the fandom. A lot has been said about that in the past few weeks. I stand with trans and non-binary people, especially those who are fans hurt by the recent comments. I am sorry that the Harry Potter creator has said those things and I reject her premise. Trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are people, and so on. You are loved and valued.

***

As for the Star Wars movie: I’m planning to write another post after this where I get into the good and bad stuff in a bid more detail (i.e. with spoilers). For now, I will say that – as you can see from my Force Awakens post, I was really keen on where the Sequel Trilogy was going after the first movie. The ending movie? Not so much. It was an ending that gave us one version of how those threads could’ve tied together, with Last Jedi in the middle, but to be honest I’m a bit disappointed that that is the canon ending we get.

There are multiple reasons about that. Chuck Wendig, who’s written for the “new” Star Wars in the form of a tie-in book trilogy set between RotJ and TFA, has some thoughts over on his blog that I agree with a lot. I’ll expand more on that angle in the TRoS-themed spoliery blog post. What I’m going to mention today is: SW fans, we have multiple problems within our fandom.

Namely, racism and sexism. The sexism can be seen in the way some fans have interacted with Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) over the course of the films. Fans compared Rey to a Mary Sue after TFA and got really angry at Tran after TLJ – they’ve made social media engagement so toxic that both Tran and Ridley have deleted their public social media accounts (Ridley in 2016 and Tran in 2018). Tran’s role in the films has also been impacted by racism.

The racism in the Star Wars fandom is a big problem. This is present in the people working on the films (how else do you explain how Finn’s story-arc has diminished each film, as well as the disappearance of Rose, and possibly the lack of thought about Poe’s “new” backstory in TRoS?), but it’s feral in the fandom. The fans have been absolutely toxic to Finn and his actor, John Boyega. Boyega has received so much hate for daring to exist as a Star Wars actor and be black, all through the films. To quote an article on gizmodo from a couple of days ago,

” The larger point is that throughout almost the whole of his run as one of Star Wars’ central characters, Boyega—like essentially all of the actors portraying Star Wars characters who aren’t white men—has been the recipient of an inordinate amount of what seems to be outright hatred for having the audacity to simply be themselves in public spaces.”

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/01/john-boyegas-post-star-wars-honesty-is-a-good-thing/

A lot of that negativity passed me by – I knew it was a thing, but I’d largely grumbled then dismissed it as toxic white fanboys. In the past week, I’ve been forced to realise that there are many toxic white fangirls, too. They don’t like Finn and they don’t like John Boyega. He exists and he “gets in the way of” their ship of Rey and Kylo Ren (bleurgh). He calls them out on their shit, as well. This has been present from the beginning and throughout filming (see John Boyega tells fans to stop harrassing cast and John Boyega explains his assertive stance on toxic fandom and the article I quoted above).

A lot of what I know in detail about this has come from me reading other more-well-informed fans’ posts about the issue(s), especially in the wake of John Boyega’s comments on Twitter over NYE. Please read them. They explain things better than I ever could.

We need to ‘fess up to the dark side of Fandom – how it carries the -isms of the real world into it. We need to examine that critically and call that out. Or else we risk the enjoyment of fandom being ruined for fans who aren’t cishet white people. We need to do better.

Edited to add this last bit because I acccidentally published an earlier draft:

So, Fandom can be absolutely wonderful, when we make the stories ours. I will always be grateful for that. But we need to think critically when we do so, because our own biases get in the way of making Fandom inclusive and enjoyable for all. Otherwise, participating in Fandom can suck.

Supanova

Hi all. Whoops, it’s been a little longer than I’d hoped for between posts, but that’s life.

I’m enjoying some time off right now due to school holidays, though I still have a bit of work admin to do (ahh, deadlines…).

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to Supanova. It was my first fan convention (“con”) experience and I loved it.

Below are photos of my purchases from the event, as well as a photo of me in costume. I dressed as Rey from Star Wars.

I got several books, some earrings, badges/ pins, geeky magnets and a few other things. I also got to attend a lightsaber class (think of it as theatre combat).

It was pretty fun, and my noise-cancelling headphones worked a treat (more on those in another post).

Clare stands in the doorway of a TARDIS (blue police box), wearing green pants and a grey dress underneath a white top and two belts. She is smiling and holding a handmade lightsaber (blue with silver handle). She wears silver headphones and gold glasses.

On dark carpet are a number of books, several badges, magnets, bookmarks and pamphlets.

When I’m less tired tomorrow I’ll update this post with a few links about the merch in the second picture hopefully. So much cool stuff!

Fandoms, Updated

Hi all. In the first few months of this blog, I posted about my fandoms. It’s a category all of itself on this blog because I’m a voracious reader who also watches a few different shows/ movies from time to time. I thought it was time to redo the actual fandoms post, instead of just editing the original – as I’ve done a few times.

Image taken from the header of this post via Google. Image is white writing on black text and reads: keep calm and join fandoms

Potential spoilers in the links and also a content note as I have to mention why I’m glad the Dr Blake Mysteries was removed from the ABC.

The link to the original is here. In it, I describe my love of Harry Potter (JK Rowling), Tortall and Emelan (Tamora Pierce), and a huge list of others, ranging from the well-known to the more obscure.

I’ll get to the old favourites in a minute, but first I want to celebrate two new ones. The first one is a series which has its first book in my original fandoms post. I’ve now read the second and discovered that not only is there a third book due out this month, but that the collection has a name: introducing the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. The two books so far are A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit, and the third book that’ll be released soon is Record of a Spaceborn Few. I can’t wait! Becky Chambers has a really good way of worldbuilding her stories, and the story of how she became published is interesting. Books in the series have won some prestigious awards as well.

The second series I am adding to my Fandoms wall is, as promised, The Chaos Walking. I gushed about it a bit under a month ago, but I really like the character development of Patrick Ness’ stories, and the way he asks questions about human nature.

I’m going to also promote The Moorehawke Trilogy here, because while it was first placed in the “read once, really liked it, searched for more” section of this post, seeing it on the list made me realise I hadn’t done the final part of that. Celine Kiernan has other works out too, and judging from my memory of Moorehawke, they should be good.

Now, onto the “old favourites and other things” section of this post.

I separated Harry Potter and both of Tamora Pierce’s series from the rest because I think that they’re the ones I keep returning to. HP was my first major (second remembered) fandom and I love it for that, and the depth of many characters, and the idea of the magical world existing beside our own. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to critique it, when I see ways it could be better.

Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Emelan worlds are put here because they’re fun mediaeval fantasy – that has lots of diversity, magic, and deep world-building. The Tortall world has had some new books come out relatively recently: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide and Tempests and Slaughter (book 1 of the latest series, the Numair Chronicles). I engage with her series’  critically as well, when I need to.

Some of the series on the original list I liked more when I was a teenager than perhaps now. I’ll still enjoy them if I pick them up but perhaps some of that is nostalgia.  LIke Rangers Apprentice, Deltora Quest, Rowan of Rin series, Rondo trilogy, Saddle Club, Warriors, and books by particular authors like Roald Dahl and Jackie French.

Some titles on the list, I’ll keep being involved in the fandom even if they’re not my primary ones at present. Most of the ones on the list fall into this category: Star WarsStar TrekHunger Games, DivergentTo Kill a Mockingbird, LotR and The Hobbit, His Dark Materials, Doctor WhoChronicles of Narnia* and Call the Midwife. Also to a certain extent it includes ones I read/watched once and liked, and maybe looked at the other works by the authors for a time: Earth’s Children series,  New Tricks, Vera, Dr Blake Mysteries*.

Two in that list have asterisks next to them because as I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy my fandoms with a critical eye, and for those two, in particular, there are parts of their stories that are uncomfortable. With Narnia, it’s CS Lewis’ treatment of Susan in the later books that gets my goat (as well as certain preachy elements). With Dr Blake Mysteries it’s that, while the show was fairly decent (especially series 1-3, and parts of series 5), the actor who played Dr Blake (Craig McLachlan) turned out to be Not Nice behind the scenes. (There was a big expose on that at the start of this year/ end of last year.)

 

Review: The Chaos Walking Trilogy

The Chaos Walking Trilogy is a series written by Patrick Ness. It’d been on my TBR list for a while, but this past month I’ve finally got around to reading them.

Verdict: fantastic! It’s a beautiful series which explores questions around human nature and morality – secrets, truth, family, love, integrity, leadership, redemption, good and evil… It’s brilliant.

It’s not for the faint-hearted though – it has war, death and quite shocking brutality in it.

The trilogy is set in a dystopian world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise. All except human women, that is. The two main characters are two adolescents, Todd Hewitt and Viola Eade, who are forced to grapple with various emotional and physical conflicts as their world shifts and changes.

The first novel is narrated entirely by Todd, the second is told through the viewpoints of both Todd and Viola and the third book is narrated by Todd, Viola and a third character, The Return. Each of books 1 (The Knife of Never Letting Go) and 2 (The Ask and the Answer) end of cliffhangers. The trilogy is best seen as one story told in three parts, as the narrative runs at a cracking pace throughout. It is an emotional rollercoaster and so, so good. The way Ness develops the characters is very well done.

My only quibbles were that I found the cliffhangers kind of irritating – I think if I’d had to wait for the books to come out (instead of having borrowed all from the library at once), it would have been quite frustrating. Ending the first two books at their climax point and having their resolution be the first part of the next book is jarring. It works, but it’s not my favourite technique. Also, as the books are told via first-person narration, when Todd has the POV, be prepared to see a lot of spelling and grammar oddities. It was jarring during the first book, but by the last book I barely noticed it – it’s just what Todd knows.

See Patrick Ness’ website here for more books and a detailed description of the trilogy and go get your hands and eyes on the books! https://patrickness.com/book/

A screenshot of the banner for Patrick Ness' site, reading: 'Patrick Ness, Twice Carnegie Medal Winner' to the left, the middle has images of the three Chaos Walking books and the right side says '10 Years of Chaos Walking'

And if you’ve read them, seek out the short stories – two prequels and a coda – that follow the trilogy. Wonderful world-building. Lovely! I’ll have to update my “Fandoms” post…. tbh, it’s well overdue for an update.

Reblog: Our Shallow Representation of Strong Women

Minor spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the link below. I agree with what’s said…there’s something that makes me smirk about the idea of a woman using her “feminine wiles” as a way of operating, guided by her brain. It’s not (as I first worried) that the feminine side is being used to hide the brainy side. It’s that both “sides” are one, working to achieve her aims.

https://shesallsass.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/our-shallow-vision-of-the-strong-woman/

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I’ve read it!

I largely liked it, too. In part I think because it was a bit of a nostalgia trip. There were a couple of things I was less keen on, but overall I gushed about it. As we’ve come to expect from Rowling, the book contained a number of great quotes about different things, such as pain and fear.

Anyone who doesn’t understand Dumbledore – and other characters – better by the end of the book/play, I’m surprised at you.

One thing that made it a bit different in tone to what I’m used to regarding a Potter story was that – as it was written as a play – the descriptions were a bit lighter on some things. They did include notes about characters’ expressions/ emotions, but still. Something didn’t quite sit well with me about it. Not in a bad way exactly, but – well – it’s a bit tricky at times to tell what certain characters are thinking, given that unless they have a monologue about it, their emotions and so on are usually seen through the judgement of other characters.

The story was unexpected. Overall, it was a nostalgia trip, an advice-giver and a bit of fun about family, friendship and fame.

Jenna has given a more detailed (mildly spoilery but not really) take on the advice-giving gems here.

And there’s another (quite spoiler-heavy in plot description) take. I agree with it – the play format is what makes it different. A “proper” book could’ve delved deeper into some things – but it would’ve been a different book then.

REBLOG: Death Becomes Us

Very timely.  In this past twelve months, several giants of the arts have died and gone on to that great mysterious beyond. Leonard Nimoy. Christopher Lee. Terry Prachett. Others. Now, David Bowie and Alan Rickman (!).

I say giants, because they were such; larger than life as public figures, beloved by many.
Of course, they were also people, with families and friends, who still had to do shopping and pay bills (even if these things were easier due to their fame & fortune!).

They had triumphs and made mistakes, had good times and bad.

I saw something today which resonated….some people, because they are public figures producing and acting in things, we tend to feel like they will be immortal because their works are. In a sense, that’s true. See my post last year about Leonard Nimoy’s death, for instance. I’ll paste in some of what I wrote then now (edited slightly), as it’s appropriate.

Fiction and the arts are funny things. By their very nature – stories [etc.] born of imagination – they become ways of exploring things about the world, in ways that in real life would never happen, or have not happened yet. Conversely, they may be stylised accounts of something  that has happened or is happening, which the artist or writer has formed an opinion on. Consciously or not, themes within all fiction and the arts reflect things within our world: usually, characters “fight” (physically or metaphorically) with or against these themes – themes like honour, family, love; grief, anger, sacrifice; the function of society or of government; corruption, power, prejudice; and so on.

Fiction – particularly the stories that carry these sorts of themes and explore them well – gathers a fanbase. It “becomes a fandom” so to speak. The characters of fiction are imaginary (however much some of us may wish otherwise). The people playing the roles, writing and singing about these themes, embodying the characters; and those reading or watching or listening to the stories or performances or songs are not. That’s where the power of fandom comes into play.

The themes expressed in these fictional stories speak to us. So we talk about them, their rightness or wrongness and so on. Concepts are discussed. A “what-if” game begins, spawning from our wish to see the better world of the fiction replicated in real life – or, conversely, our desire to never see the bad world of the fiction reproduced here. It changes us.

Part of that change is brought about by our interaction with the artists and writers and performers who embody the works we love. The way these public figures embody those works touches us, in different ways. Whether that’s being comfortable with being different, or being able to capture an audience emotionally in various settings and through various themes. We are made more aware of something deep within us by these greats. No wonder they seem larger than life.

In my opinion, it’s the best form of immortality, creating things to be left behind afterwards so people will remember you. Not soul-splitting things, but things that mean something good, whatever that goodness may be.

But of course, that’s figurative. In reality, no-one is immortal. It always sucks when someone is taken early – whether through disease or accident. Eventually, we’ll all find ourselves going on towards that great mysterious beyond though. Denying that does no good at all. All we can do is live life to the fullest, as best we can.

Chuck explains it better than I could (in his usual style)…. Just remember, people, it’s always better to do something and keep working towards a goal than do nothing.

Support each other and let those you care about share your burdens. We’ll all walk forward together, until our time comes. Even though we may well feel cheated by the death of these greats (cancer etc. is stupid, hmph!), we should also remember that they’ve lived great, even good lives. I’d say that they were happy. Not completely satisfied – Rickman himself (and probably others) said before that there’s always something more to do – but happy.

Isn’t that all we can ask for, in the end?

*/*
/

Death Becomes Us

by terribleminds

That dragonfly is dead.

David Bowie is gone.

So now is Alan Rickman (who probably would’ve done a bang-up job playing Bowie), too.

Shit goddamnit shit.

And also the familiar, oft-repeated refrain:

Fuck cancer. Times a thousand. Times a million. Times infinity.

Art at its core is, I think, driven by death. It’s there to help us look away from death. Art is there to help us understand it. Art is there to romanticize death — or to stare it square in the face.

And death is also something that motivates artists.

When we’re born, we’re guaranteed two things: one breath and death. Everybody who lives gets those two certain narrative beats to their story, birth, death, born, died. It is not a morbid fantasy to note that I’m going to die and so are you. It’s not a threat. It’s a promise earned by life — that grim balancing of the scales is not reserved for one person over the next, for you but not for me, for the under-served but not the privileged. We all have wildly different journeys but when our time is up it’s like game design: we are all funneled toward the same ending, the same inevitability. Some of our life is about ignoring death and pretending it isn’t there. Some of our life is geared toward trying to prevent death — or, for some, running headlong toward it.

The fear of death can destroy you.

But the epiphany of it can also motivate you.

Read the rest of the post by clicking on the title above.

Ieeee! Or: Mandatory “The Force Awakens” Spoiler-Free Debrief

I’m leaving most of this to Chuck Wendig. See below and click on the linked title for the rest of it. Warning: there are no spoilers in Chuck’s post; the comments are another matter. Second warning: in my post there should be no spoilers unless you count allusions (I squeed about any spoilerly stuff in my diary and then unexpectedly in Chuck’s comment thread) and I want the same thing for my comments. Okay? Good.
Oh yeah, third warning: for language, as by now you’d be aware that Chuck doesn’t care too much about those conventions – and the other links have a few swearwords which might annoy? Idk.

When I said I’m “leaving most of this to Chuck”, I meant that. He sums things up really well, to the point where I have a really difficult time both splitting his post below (the first four of seventeen points in Chuck’s list are listed) and saying things that won’t be repeated.

I love this movie. I think part of its charm for me, tbh, is the fact that this is the first time I’ve been in a cinema to watch it. Everything felt like a Star Wars movie – I’m not talking about plot similarities (though there are a few allusions) – but just the general feel of the film. The plot is good overall too. It rockets along at breathless pace and i wouldn’t have minded a bit more time to slow down and absorb things, but it’s very good.

Then the characters…..I really enjoy the characterisations, especially since we’ve been given bits of information while at the same time left saying, “uh, wait, what?? More, now!”
Of course, some character things feel good just because they’re expected in modern-day cinema (or should be expected, anyway) – like Rey and Finn being awesome with reasons for being so and also not being the only representations. Diverse casting ftw.

There are things – one in particular – which occur which feel brave but (while provoking feels, so many feels) also feel right, within in-universe character development and so on.

Check out these posts from others. Potential spoilers though.
http://jasonfry.tumblr.com/post/135443960661/warning-tfa-spoilers-tfa-spoilers-tfa-spoilers-i — talking of the first meeting between Finn and Rey. I second everything said, so much.
http://www.themarysue.com/the-importance-of-rey/ — Herein lie the reasons why I love Rey in a nutshell – and have since I first saw her in the movie. It’s one of those “Obviously”/ “about time” moments. Read the comments for more exposition on that front (once you scroll down slightly).
https://bitchmedia.org/article/star-wars-leia-rey-feminist-compare-watching-movie-with-daughter — generational differences in viewing Rey and Leia.
http://www.themarysue.com/our-impressions-fresh-out-of-star-wars-the-force-awakens/ – some ratings of the film by themarysue website people.

I’m excited for the next one – and nervous. I’ve been swept up into the universe and am trying to restrain myself from attempting to make too many hopeful “what-if” connections between FTA canon and Old EU Legends things.

Great job, J.J. Abrams. Glorious. Though my fandom heart does squeak, at that majorly brave-but-right decision mentioned earlier: how could you? 🙂

Remember the policy on spoilers for this, mentioned above!

One final note, for those who haven’t yet seen the film: You. Are. Not. Prepared. You think you are – but you’re not.

Come find me after you’ve seen it and we’ll talk then.

*Smiles mysteriously and walks out*

And Now We Speak About The Force Awakens

by terribleminds

This will be spoiler-free.

I cannot promise the comments will be spoiler-free.

Assume that the post will be safe.

But the area below it may be TOXIC WITH SEPTIC STORY SPOILAGE.

Let us begin simply with:

AHHHH OH SHIT I LOVED THIS MOVIE

WHEN CAN I SEE IT AGAIN

PYOO PYOO

VWOMMZ KZZZZH

BEE BOOP BLURBY DOOP

HAHAHA WHEEE

*flails around with a cardboard tube lightsaber*

*trips on scattered Star Wars LEGO bricks*

*falls down*

*pees self*

*composes self*

I’m back. I’m feeling much better now.

And now, a scattered smattering of thoughts in no particular order:

1. This is a love letter to the Star Wars universe — not just the universe, and not just the characters, but all the intangible narrative stuff that surrounds it. It is very much about how Star Wars feels. And how its stories are told. It is positively honorific of that. This is no small compliment when I say that The Force Awakens just plain feels like Star Wars from the first minute. It’s nostalgic, but not in your face about it, I don’t think?

2. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega need to be in everything together. Hepburn and Tracy, Bogey and Bacall — they had such wonderful chemistry together as these two people flung into adventure. Their characters are intensely fun to watch. You care from them from the first moment you meet each. (I would take more Poe Dameron, though — he’s awesome in TFA, but I want more!)

3. BB-8 is my master now. He is like a baby R2D2. He is like a dog and a kitten stuffed inside a roly-poly Christmas ornament. He’s super delightful and elicits pure joy from me shut up.

4. Kylo Ren is a surprisingly effective villain. Tragic and deeper than the trailers lead you to believe. He is far more than just some mustache-twirler. He is vulnerable.

5. It’s worth talking about how much fun this movie is. That is something that must be stated — fun is not as easy as you think to create. It’s certainly not the end-all be-all of the experience, nor should it be. Fun is a shallow metric. But it’s a vital metric just the same. A Star Wars movie that isn’t much fun isn’t one I want to see again. This film plays fun like a fucking symphony. It knows when to nail those moments of laughter and delight, it knows when to hit on tension and when to create those moments where you want to jump out of your seat, holding your head and screaming with fear or laughter or fear-laughter.

 

AND NOW WE PLAY THE WAITING GAME

Life, Generally….and EdiMo is (Almost) Ready to Roll

Hello again!

Well, it’s been a bit busy, hasn’t it? Last week (and the week before) was mostly scheduled posts as exam revision and then exams made me focus on them. Now, though, I’m free and ready to talk. Call this a catch-up post with a few topics. 😛

First thing – the Walk Together Event was great fun. 🙂 I enjoyed it and will certainly be coming back next year. I enjoyed meeting new people and saying hello to those who I knew already. We had quite a strong group where I was and the crowds were good at other places too.

Secondly….who else watched last week’s Melbourne Cup? I know, I know, I’m a bit late, but hey, congrats Michelle Payne, Stevie Payne, Darren Weir and the owners and other assorted people. Also, let’s not forget the horse, Prince of Penzance. That was a very special race. Ten-year-old me and her imaginary mount Mystical Moonlight (I know, what a name!) cheered when she saw Michelle and Penzance were going to win. Current me let out a cry of “Yes!” and punched the air a bit when they crossed the finish line. It’s nice when the good story wins. First female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, with quite the family story behind her (including her brother Stevie the strapper, who has Downs Syndrome), plus a down-to-Earth trainer and a horse with his own history to overcome? It’s the sort of story, I thought, that an author would dream up – made all the better because it’s true. 🙂

I backed Michelle and Penzance from before the race, though not with money. I don’t like the gambling side of racing – or the cruelty side. Those sort of discussions do need to happen, but it’s a tricky thing to negotiate at times. You can tell most trainers, jockeys and strappers etc. love their horses. Darren Weir is a good trainer to support; he employs someone to find homes for horses who can’t make the cut. It’s a shame about Red Cadeaux injuring himself, but at least he’ll live. There was an interesting article in The Age the other day which explored what really happens to horses after they retire or are injured and why they are often put down after injuries. I encourage you to read it, it explains things well. The second link is a more detailed explanation linked to in the first one.

Thirdly, did anyone see the latest Doctor Who episode (weekend of 7th/8th Nov)? Oh my goodness. I was going to geek out a bit here, but then decided it needs its own post. I’ll just say: great acting by all, especially by Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. Loved the real-world and in-world references. And oh my goodness. That Speech. 😀 More later – it deserves its own post (which I went off to write because it was swimming around in my head – a factor in why this is being posted now and not 12:00 or earlier, 😛 ).

Oh yeah, almost forgot: check out this piece from Pavowski (he used to be Pavorisms but is now ‘Accidentally Inspired’). It’s a little thought on time. Note our amused exchange at the bottom – a reminder about Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere differences. 🙂 A lot of his stuff is pretty interesting, really. Go on, check it out.

So, finally: EdiMo. For many people, November is National Novel-Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. My view on that is similar to Pavowski’s view. Some may like it, but I don’t so will not participate. What I am doing though is EdiMo. My idea is that it will be an “Editing Month” or more than a month, to try to kick-start the editing process. There are different parts to this, so if you see a post with the title “EdiMo”, it’ll be about the writing. First, though, I need to finish the first draft, which is a holey quilted thing of different parts, some more coherent than others to the overall storyline. Blame the fact I’ve been writing this thing over sixteen months in bursts lasting for an hour or so at a time on the train, with a few longer patches sprinkled in.

So, off I go!