Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chapter 2: There are People Who Like to Get Up Early

Chapter 2 below the fold. Friday afternoon to Saturday morning. Bonus CU content: I try to make sense of the Canada Zone in CO.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pearls of Wisdom

More of my themes than one converged at a buffet table I attended on Sunday. It's banal, even disrespectful, to be struck first of three pearls of wisdom that I ate  pickled pearl onions at a memorial service, because this is why one sometimes recoils at the phrase, "celebration of life." The mind makes trivia out of solemn events, and so I was struck to only then learn that she had been christianed Pearl. Pearl is dead, and people are sad. They should be. For   all that she was born in the middle of the First World War, and that she has been slipping away from us for a very long time, she is still gone. (Better had I phrased this idea of a celebration in terms of the  niece and the nephew. Pearl was dear to me because she was precious to my cousins and it seems fitting that we all take these opportunities to give the next generation a chance to be with their cousins. Children playing. Now that is celebration.)

A second pearl; If you knew Pearl, you will be wondering why I am calling her that, and not the name that she chose for herself. It is so that you can take as much or as little intimacy as you like in the way of the Internet, but also to highlight that we can and do choose our names, if we are wise.

So I have family, and  semi-anonymity on the plate as well as my other themes. For a reason; I recall, some years ago, a relative that I will not name (as far as I am concerned, this is memory playing tricks, and there is no relative to name, or blame) telling me a story about Pearl and her son.  That story was that Pearl had finally revisited her distinguished Scottish pioneer ancestor and admitted that she was descended from his Salteaux Ojibway "country wife" and not his "white wife." (Though "white wives" are sometimes as dubious as "country wives, but that's yet another story.)

And another story, the one that her son told at the memorial. That story, told through actions and carefully-posed and mischievous photos was of a woman who played with, and hinted at, her aboriginal ancestry. It was, he said, another side of the story of his mother's life to put beside her class-conscious striving for genteel status.

But was it? Society imposes its canons of authenticity, according to which one must be one or the other, White or Indian, upper class or lower class. Each status belongs with its companion on the other side of the comma. To mix them up, to make the wrong combinations is ... well, what is it. I'll put it this way, any "or" that narrows us down into little  boxes of meaning is tyranny. And that is especially true when the subject is so tender as race. It did not suit Pearl. This the last, and best pearl, and Pearl's. It does not, I suggest, suit us.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chapter 1: The Yurt

More Champions Universe Fanfic with a more conventional format. Below the fold to save my dignity.

The backstory, more or less, via FantasticFiction.co.uk

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I See Canals!

Shamans use exhaustion and drugs to take our minds to  spooky, kooky, other worlds. I'm a year of blogging out from three years of chronic exhaustion, much of which I spent in other worlds.  One of them was K. Maria de Lane's Mars. I thought I'd blog scholarly about it, but I Googled, and she's got a book! Erik kan haz? Kan! So, scholarly later. Imagination soaring towards madness now.

Imagination soaring into madness isn't the first thing we associate with those famous "Calvinists," the Boston Brahmins. Rather, they seem to have seeking to put their heads in a much more spiritual place, even if they ended up somewhere anatomically impossible instead.

"And this is good old Boston,/Home of the bean and the cod/Where the Lowells talk only to the Cabots/And the Cabots talk only to God."

But popular culture sees  crust...

And detects too much flake. Exhibit for the prosecution:

Now, this map of the canals of Mars actually comes from an 1895 British Association publication (or, even more accurately, from a popular astronomy website) rather than Percival Lowell's slightly later work, but,  the rest of the crazy is all Lowell. Or Lowells. A lot of crazy. Perhaps more crazy than we've entirely taken cognizance of. (Does ending a sentence with a proposition signal that we're going full-bore crazy? It should.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Stories About Little People

It's one of those school holidays today in North Vancouver, so I got to hang out with the Boy and the Girl on their Friday night. The Girl had a playdate after school, so I spent less time obedient to her whims than usual --hardly a bad thing. The Boy is into his bulletin boards, grinding, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Not surprisingly, he spent a great deal of time growing Chaos in the afternoon, after correcting his uncle's painful misunderstandings. Sonic is a Sega, not a Sony character. Who knew? Everyone but uncle.

After that, the Boy launched an adventure game. Or is it the same game? Sonic Adventures 2 for Wii, Wikipedia suggests; but I might be wrong. He was complaining about characterisation, story depth, and dialogue as he did, though. There's pain there. I feel so helpless to see him going through what I went through at his age. He's already developing a callously sarcastic crust; although that might just be adolescence. Or adults modelling. Oops.

After the Playdate left, the Girl launched into a painful story of her own, of social confusion and rejection involving a bit of costume jewelry lost in the brush. I hate to be a coward, but I really want to leave the problem of raising/not raising a Mean Girl to others. That being said, the least I can do is deflect the conversation rather than validate any inappropriate behaviour. So I brought up my old stories about the Prickle People, and, Hallelujah, it worked!

Great Literature Inspires Me Every Day!
Strictly, in the story, the tiny people live in a miniaturised land surrounded by thorn forests, but ever since I read this book, I have never been able to look at a bramble patch without imagining tiny little people building tiny little cities deep within the thorns. I don't spend as much time mucking around in bramble patches as I did as a boy, but, still, thanks, Edgar Rice Burroughs, you crazy coot, you. And if I've anything to say about it, neither will the Girl.

Of course, her interests relating to very small people living under the prickle bushes are slightly different from mine, her being a girl and all. (Oh oh, indefensible gender politics alert!) I like to imagine skyscrapers a foot high, and the shepherd boys and the milkmaids herding their aphids up into the summer heights of the horse chestnut tree; escaping everyday life in the hot city for somewhere cool and green.

She, in her sweet, girlish way, plots genocide with squishings and sticky tape traps. Adorable!

Stories. Good ones make us happy. The ones that make us happiest, we make our own