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Valancy
02 March 2014 @ 05:42 pm
Hey guys, check out my amazing-brained sister tinuviellen's annual ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS PREDICTIONS POST. She is a wunderkind and is always right on many categories, but she also breaks down the tensions and politics within each category helpfully - so you know when to groan, when to ooh and ahh, and when to be surprised!
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Valancy
17 February 2014 @ 04:57 pm
Aw, that felt good. This is the kind of post I used to write on here all the time - "musings: I have them!" - but when I get any time these days, I feel like I owe it to my siblings not to make them carry the full weight of the sibling blog. So I posted it on there - but LJ, at heart this is for you:

What 'Let It Go' Is - And What It Isn't


(My belated thoughts on the Frozen Phenomenon, particularly that phenomenal song everyone is talking about.)
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Valancy
06 February 2014 @ 10:13 am
Not to just link and dash, but I wanted to share Relatively Entertaining's movie preview for this month on here, because it's a surprisingly lively month with a lot going on and I thought you guys would be interested...

>> Movies Coming Out This Month <<
 
 
Valancy
03 January 2014 @ 04:15 pm
There are now two seasons of What Not to Wear up on Netflix!!


Bebother and confusticate my need for productivity...
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Valancy
24 December 2013 @ 03:03 pm
Me: WHAT did you say?
10-Year-Old Boy: We were listening to the radio, and the Queen of England said, "Get your sticky hands out of me nuts!"
8-Year-Old Girl: It means the food, nuts.
Boy: Tee hee. Maybe. Or the other kind. Hee hee.
Me: Does the Queen of England have the other kind?
Boy, appalled at my ignorance: Everybody does!


...Hope all your Christmas Eves are as entertaining as mine!
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Valancy
"Woman can never be defined. Bat, dog, chick, mutton, tart. Queen, madam, lady of pleasure. MISTRESS. Belle-de-nuit, woman of the streets, fruit woman, fallen woman. Cow, vixen, bitch. Call girl, joy girl, working girl. Lady and whore are both bred to please. The old Woman image-repertoire says She is a Womb, a mere baby’s pouch or ‘nothing but sexuality.’ She is a passive substance, a parasite, an enigma whose mystery proves to be a snare and a delusion. She wallows in night, disorder, immanence and is at the same time the ‘disturbing factor (between men)’ and the key to the beyond. The further the repertoire unfolds its images, the more entangled it gets in its attempts at capturing Her. ‘Truth, Beauty, Poetry—she is All: once more all under the form of the Other. All except herself,’ Simone de Beauvoir wrote. Yet, even with or because of Her capacity to embody All, Woman is the lesser man, and among male athletes, to be called a woman is still resented as the worst of insults. 'Wo-' appended to 'man' in sexist contexts is not unlike 'Third World,' 'Third,' 'Minority' or 'Color' affixed to woman in pseudo-feminist contexts. Yearning for universality, the generic woman, like its counterpart, the generic man, tends to efface difference within itself. Not every female is ‘a real woman,’ one knows this through hearsay … Just as 'man' provides an example of how the part played by women has been ignored, undervalued, distorted or omitted through the use of terminology presumed to be generic, woman more often than not reflects the subtle power of linguistic exclusion."
- Woman, Native, Other by Trinh T. Minh-ha (1989)
 
 
Valancy
This book was recommended (loaned to me, in fact) by someone whose taste is very similar to mine. I've heard great things about it from others. Right off the bat, there are certain cool elements: the setting, the magical world secretly existing side-by-side with the mundane. And I have only read 4 chapters, which isn't a lot.

But the main character! She is such a Mary Sue, it's nauseating.

I know the term "Mary Sue" usually applies to author-insert fanfic, but in every other way, the protagonist Karou (yes, her name is Karou) is a Mary Sue. TVtropes.com defines the Mary Sue this way:
"She's exotically beautiful, often having an unusual hair or eye color, and has a similarly cool and exotic name. She's exceptionally talented in an implausibly wide variety of areas, and may possess skills that are rare or nonexistent in the canon setting. She also lacks any realistic, or at least story-relevant, character flaws — either that or her 'flaws' are obviously meant to be endearing. She has an unusual and dramatic Back Story."

One of the first things we learn about Karou is that "her hair did grow out of her head that color, pure as ultramarine straight from the paint tube." She's an orphan who doesn't know who she really is. She's the coolest girl at a private art high school in Prague. Her only "flaw" is being attracted to a hot-but-dumb ex-boyfriend (who she still resists effortlessly). She's an amazingly talented artist ("Karou's sketchbooks had a cult following around school and were handed around and marveled at on a daily basis"). She speaks a dozen languages. Oh yeah, and she wields magic powers.

I might overlook all this and like her anyway if the narration didn't fawn all over her.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a passage which begins with the simple observation that her best friend Zuzana is rather short:
..."whereas Karou was five foot six but seemed taller in the same way that ballerinas do, with their long necks and willowy limbs. She wasn't a ballerina, but she had the look, in figure if not in fashion. Not many ballerinas have bright blue hair or a constellation of tattoos on their limbs, and Karou had both."
That's right, folks. Karou is just as lithe and gorgeous as a ballerina, but way cooler and edgier.

Or how about this?
"Karou was, simply, lovely. Creamy and leggy, with long azure hair and the eyes of a silent-movie star, she moved like a poem and smiled like a sphinx. Beyond merely pretty, her face was vibrantly alive, her gaze always sparking and luminous, and she had a birdlike way of cocking her head, her lips pressed together while her dark eyes danced, that hinted at secrets and mysteries."
Yeah.

I won't type it all out, but this is followed by a lengthy paragraph which begins "Karou was mysterious." It details all the reasons why her fellow beings are in awe of her mysterious allure.

The final straw – to top it all off – is that the rest of the story's told in close 3rd person filtered through Karou's thoughts, which means these gushy passages jerk us out of the proper narrative just to show us how great Karou looks to other people. It's such an amateur move, it's hard to believe Laini Taylor's published good stuff before this (& she has).

So, will anyone out there convince me to keep reading? Maybe tell me this girl isn't really the protagonist, or that she undergoes an intriguing second-act transformation?
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Valancy
31 July 2013 @ 11:50 am
I love that Pope Francis seems so much less political than your average pope, but I can't help wishing he'd be... well, a little more politic.

He keeps making these statements which mean one thing in the context of Catholic teachings—if you take those teachings as a given, which, surprise! most reporters do not—and mean something very different to the average secular person.

But what I'm finding most frustrating is that, first with Francis's statement on unbelievers and now with his statement on homosexuality, the media is inventing a sort of battle between the charitable, loving Pope and the mean nasty stickler bishops, who come in and "spin" everything he says by putting it in the context of church doctrine.

Newsflash: That is Catholicism. A religion of love, charity, and lots of tough rules most people do not want to follow.

For instance, when Francis uttered the now famous words "who am I to judge" a couple days ago, it was in reply to a question about supposedly gay priests, and the full quotation was: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"

That's right: PRIESTS. What are Catholic priests supposed to be again? Oh yeah, CELIBATE. Is it reasonable to take this statement to mean that Francis is saying gay sex should proceed full speed ahead with his blessing? Or to conclude that it's only intolerant jerks like the Vatican and the Conference of Bishops who would dare to suggest that Pope Francis maybe, possibly, did not mean exactly that?

Newflash #2: Liberal secular Americans, if you don't like the core teachings of the Catholic Church, you don't like the core teachings Pope Francis promotes either. Because they're the same. His being elected head of the church should probably have been a giveaway.
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Valancy
17 July 2013 @ 04:26 pm
Gentleman and scholar steve_mollmann pointed me toward an article in the Times Literary Supplement this afternoon which he described as a brilliant act of literary detection. Having just finished reading it, I'd have to concur.

When Dickens met Dostoevsky by Eric Naiman

It begins with the occasion, reported in several biographies of both men, when Dickens and Dostoevsky had a profound chat about how good and evil characters result from the different sides of an author's personality. The writer of this piece, Naiman, is Dostoevsky scholar who found the reported circumstances of this alleged meeting strange and improbable and decided to verify that it really happened. What he uncovered is so bizarre, so unlikely, that at times the conclusions Naiman appears to be tending towards seem all but impossible until he lays down the facts he has gathered in proof. I'll tell you only one thing: Dickens didn't meet Dostoevsky. But I wouldn't dream of spoiling the rest.

Make sure you have time for a long article or be prepared to read it in two sittings, as I did. (I was so fascinated by the unfolding story, though, that those "sittings" were only about two hours apart!)
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