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My life is at sixes and sevens again, but to at least be posting something here are three idle thoughts, and a question.

1. Trollope is hideously unfair to the Marchioness of Hartletop. Read more... )

2. I read a short piece in the Guardian about what is and isn't proper grammar - it was very scathing about the use of 'amongst', saying:
"How longeth wilt thou persist with “amongst” and “whilst”? Yea though thine prose doth ring fanciful, long hath the “st” lain banish’d ’pon the pebbl’d shore. (These days, it’s always “among” and “while”.)"

Bah, humbug! 'amongst' is a perfectly good word, and I will jolly well continue to use it any time I feel like it. (also, "How longeth" is simply silly.)

3. I think the science here is open to doubt, because the CSIRO say so, but it's interesting in itself, and also for a glimpse of a very country Greens Party pollie in australia: the Condamine river, famed in song and story, set on fire. (videolink, one minute.)

and the question:
Four years ago, just about, I posted my first ever fanfic to fanfiction.net. Is it worth overhauling it, smoothing off some of the rough edges, and reposting it on ao3 - or is that boring? (This is partly inspired by seeing someone asking for fics starring older characters, which this does.)
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I'm posting a lot, I know, right now, in the attempt to find some counterweights to the world's worth of bad news.  I hope I'm not wearing you all out! 

Here's the not-internet world still ticking over - fanzines live!

I was really happy to see what might be the beginning of widespread fair wages for fast-food workers in the US

I very much like this hard-edged, seen-it-all take on Emilia's speech about marital unfaithfulness, in Othello.  (video, 1:19 minutes -for some reason for me it goes to the bottom of the page - you have to scroll up to find the video) 

It only just struck me this week:  when Cockneys are written as saying "Wotcher!"  as a greeting, it's the rubbed-down, easy-going descendant of "What cheer?"  (Did everyone else know this all along?)

Meanwhile, the French are edging away from the circumflex! which feels so un-French - or so unlike the purity-of-the-language French I was threatened with, at school.  But there it is - circumflexes, wotcher- languages shift, even the inflexible French.

and something pretty to end the week on:  opalised shells.  Or pearls, the scientists do say, but they looked like shells!

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Life is getting busier and busier in the streets around me - everyone's gearing up for Tet, with frantic cleaning and gift-buying and planning to get back home (wherever home is).  Last weekend, though, Read more... )

For those interested in the diplomatic side of environmental matters: Read more... )

Fandom is bustling,too, with many challenges and fests happening - including halfamoon: 14 days of celebrating women.  I'm thinking hard about what I can contribute.  Recs? Meta? Maybe I'll seize a prompt.  Can't let the chance go by to join the celebration, anyway!

From Ethiopia - the Lion returns.  This, the dark-maned largest lion, is the kind I've preferred to write as aslan in my Narnian fanfic. 

Speaking of Narnia:  over on the NFFR site the Narnia LWW Reread has reached Chapter Twelve, with some very interesting meta, sources, questions, suggestions...

after last week's complex-character exertions ( :P to all those laughing!) it's back to the simple side for this week's character! 

and in the tiny domestic triumphs department:  the last of the missing socks has revealed itself!  My sock-bag is now only holding pairs!

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asakiyume has posted on LJ to say that Irom Sharmila Chanu has arrived in Delhi for trial on the charge of attempting suicide - but what she is actually doing is hunger-striking to protest the appalling Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 ) May she be triumphant in her long struggle for the repeal of the Act.

I saw the word 'henchman' and wondered idly what was its etymology. :)  )



I hope all Yuletiding friends all have the most gorgeous and stimulating and fun assignments!. :)


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Language affects thought.  I think... the article looked pretty convincing to me.  And I know from experience that it's really hard to see a difference when you don't have the language to identify the difference - or to see it as a real difference anyway, a significant difference, and not just hair-splitting. 

So how is my thinking tilted by the fact that I think in English with its multitudinous tense and moods for verbs?  "Would that he had been jumping!" for example.  Or even "I will have eaten breakfast."  Any ideas as to how thinking might differ in a language that doesn't put such huge emphasis on relative time and mood?  Would it be as straightforward as having a different way to view causality, or the past and the future?



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So, as I was saying, I saw the film The Sapphires. It's not a great movie, but it is a likeable, good movie. Especially I liked... well, the thing I liked first was recognising things in it -- the shower-block with corrugated iron walls and the big shower rose felt really familiar, and I guess the light, and the layout of the country town. It looked so much like rural Australia, or the bottom right-hand quadrant of rural Australia, anyway. But that was just a personal response, the warmth of recognition and I guess identification, to some extent.

The film itself - yes, I liked that, too. I liked its warmth and good-heartedness, and of course its recognition of Aboriginal women's history, and the Cummeragunja community (yes, he's a bloke, not a woman, but it's his mother's country he's singing about. This old-timey singer died last year, the same year the film was released, and is ...ah me! much missed, including by people like me who never met him). I love Deborah Mailman, who plays the group member with the least impressive voice (you know the film's about an Aboriginal girl singing group who head off to Viet Nam in 1968, don't you?) and she gives a sterling performance in this. And I really like the actresses whose names I don't know, who play the older women in the community; they give a really terrific feel for life in an ex-mission community (and also in the city, a bit) in the 1950s and 1960s. It's not hyper historically accurate, the language is more 1990s than 1960s, the Viet Nam aspects aren't really well evoked, but... it's heartening, it's got gumption, it's upbeat, it's smart as a tack (Deborah Mailman!) if not true in every particular, it's true enough in the broad sweep of things, and it's just great to see a movie about (okay, a bit fictionalised) four real and gutsy women. :)

And then there's the other stuff I mentioned in the heading. In order:

1. My, but it's hard to restart a story that has been interrupted. :( Not that I've managed to restart it. Then there's the horrible part when I read things I wrote not all that long ago, and think despairingly "I wish I could write as well as that now". Does that happen to anyone else?
2. Did you see the story about prairie dog language? We are so close to recognising that animals think and feel. And when we do - oh, there should be huge changes!
3. Some months after beginning to use "being human" as a tag, meaning things I was writing about just people being people,and the human condition and .. that sort of thing...I discover there's a television series (two! UK and US) of that name. Apologies to anyone who was misled by the tag. :)
heliopausa: (ID pic)
So... I finally got around to obtaining the four 2009 Dr Who specials which weren't in my boxed set of Seasons 1-6, and so I have caught up on what happened to the Tenth Doctor before he turned into the Eleventh Doctor... and I hated the end.
That epilogue round of pay-offs to selected old companions I thought stank! The idea that you set someone up with a sexual encounter with a third (unknowing!) party as a way to say 'thanks' is just low, as is the idea that what he did to Donna (and goes on having done) can be paid off by a big lottery win... this is so empty in both vision and decency that .... urrrhhhh.

The awfulness of that epilogue is what is staying with me now, but when I saw the 'New Doctor' episode I was depressed, as well, putting it together with 'Journey's End', and went in indignant haste and posted on AO3 to try to rewrite that history - which, apart from the three-sentences fictions, was the first time I have ventured out of Narnia in fanfiction.  That was before I saw the last special ('The End of Time') and I suppose it's now totally not possible that my story could happen.  Is that ('The End of Time') the last we see of Donna?  :(

On a different topic:  trying to get period-accurate vocabulary.   I flailed around a bit recently, trying to find a way to say something like "clever-clogs" in a way which was likely to have been said by one schoolboy (a Pevensie) to another in 1940ish as well as being understandable and not a stumbling-block to readers.  I didn't actually succeed (not a big problem) but I found that http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english has (down the bottom, RHS; it only shows up after you have looked up a word) a section which graphs usage of whichever word it is you're looking up over the last ten years, fifty years, hundred years or three hundred years!  I have just, as an example, looked up the word "spiffing",and seen that it was (apparently) first used around 1770, that it fell into disuse quickly, rose again through the first half of the twentieth century, and then declined towards the end of that century, hitting a peak (discounting an inexplicable spike in 1963) around 1950.  Spiffing!
heliopausa: (ID pic)
This one is well-known, but what the heck....

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam -
A red cockatoo. 
Colour'd like the peach-tree blossom, 
Speaking with the speech of men. 
And they did to it what is always done 
To the learned and eloquent. 
They took a cage with stout bars 
And shut it up inside.


(From Arthur Waley's translation of the ninth-century Chinese of Po Chu-I (772-846 AD))
heliopausa: (ID pic)

Sleeping in the spare bedroom/library of someone who has a great many more books than I have, I recently came across something which you all may know already, but I didn't and I loved it! 

It was John Skelton's poem, 'Speke, Parrot' -- not that I've read any more than a few bits, but the part which amazed and enchanted me was the portrait of the parrot itself, in the parrot's own voice. 

I was amazed (which I shouldn't have been, because crusaders and trade routes and 1521 being early modern anyway, really, and also because nothing new under the sun) by there being parrots and dates and almonds and parrot-cages with little mirrors at the court of Henry the Eighth!

And then, I was entranced by the whole picture presented... by Tudor England's view of the romance of the exotic bird from distant lands:

My name is Parrot, a byrd of paradyse,
By nature devysed of a wonderous kynde,
Daintily dieted with dyvers dylycate spyce,
Tyl Euphrates, that flode, dryveth me into Inde
Where men of that countrey by fortune me fynd,


And by how the parrot in a cage is so like the way people do keep birds in cages, mirror and all, and say the same things to them ("Parrot is a good bird"!).

And send me to greate ladyes of estate :
Then Parot must have an almon or a date ;
A cage curyously carven, with sylver pyn,
Properly paynted, to be my covertowre
A myrrour of glasse, that I may toote therin

(Does anybody have a lead on what "toote" means here? Any etymology or other use of the word?)
These maidens ful mekely with many a divers flowre
Freshly they dresse, and make swete my bowre,
With, "Speke, Parrot, I pray you," full curtesly they say;
"Parrot is a goodly byrd, a pretty popinjay":


And then, and most especially, by the parrot's self-portrait:

With my becke bent, my lyttyl wanton eye,
(I love that!  the "little wanton eye"!)
My fedders freshe as is the emrawde grene,
About my neck a cyrculet lyke the ryche rubye,

(Gasp!   I raced off and googled until I decided it was an African (or Indian?) Ring-necked Parakeet)
My lyttyll leggys, my feet both fete and clene,
(I loved that too, the little legs, and the feet both feat and clean.  It jumped my mind to "foot it featly, here and there".)
I am a mynyon to wayt uppon a quene ;
"My proper Parrot, my lyttyl prety foole";
With ladyes I lerne, and go with them to scole.

"Hagh, ha, ha, Parrot, ye can laugh pretyly! "
Parrot hath not dyned of al this long day :
Lyke your puss-cat, Parrot can mute and cry
In Lattyn, in Ebrew, Araby, and Caldey;
In Greke tong Parrot can bothe speke and say,
As Percyus, that poet, doth reporte of me,
'Quis expedivit psitlaco mum chaire?"


I don't know what that last line means: "who has made the parrot something something"???  The Latin would be in odd oldish spelling as much as the English, and I don't know Latin anyway.  Information gladly received!

And there's lots more, including Katherine of Aragon being called a "peerless pomegranate", and what looks like, to me, the first use of what has developed into an Australian slang expression.  But this entry has probably gone on long enough.  I really hope that someone gets as much pleasure from the scraps as I did!

(I used  https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=zJYNAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA1 ; and pages following for the text, and modernised the spelling very mildly in a few places.)

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