asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
2017-09-18 04:43 pm

Meeting an actual hero and statesman

If you're going to meet an actual hero, a freedom fighter and former political prisoner who helped birth a new nation--that's YOU, Mr. Xanana Gusmão--you would do well not to be 45 minutes late. Alas, Google maps misled me about how long it would take me to drive from my house to the Pell Center, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Mr. Gusmão and a panel of distinguished experts were going to be talking about the future of Timor-Leste. And then I made a wrong turn at the very end and got lost. By the time I was driving down Bellevue Avenue, past RIDONCULOUS mansions, I was more than a half-hour late. But damn it! I did not drive all that way just to ... go home again.

Finally I found the place. A guy waiting in a bus kitted out like a trolley told me yes, this was it.

The talk was happening in a room with gilded Baroque-style accents.


Source

between entering and **the kiss** )

I hung back in the hallway, hoping to somehow say something, anything, to Xanana. I knew I wouldn't really ask him if he could shapeshift, or if he'd like to collaborate with me in writing a story based on this experience, and I didn't want to just gush that I was a fan, but I wanted to say **something**.

And I got my chance. He walked by and saw my expectant face and stopped and smiled at me. And I started blurting out that one small thing he'd done that made me admire him was get out and direct traffic one day in Dili, when there was a traffic jam. I think I said more presidents should do things like that. But before I got two words out, he had lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it, all the while looking at me with an expression of friendly affection.

I can see why people would die for him--or better yet, live and struggle for him. He was EVERY BIT as charismatic as I thought he would be, and then some.


source
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
2017-09-12 11:32 pm

a Garnet fan

I was driving to the post office, and I noticed that the car in front of me had a sticker of Garnet, from Steven Universe, on the back of the car. Also, the car was from out of state.

Garnet



I haven't watched much Steven Universe, but I've really enjoyed the few episodes I've seen. I felt warmly toward that car. Then, coincidence of coincidences, it turned into the post office parking lot too. "Wow, someone from New York is going to the post office here in B'town," I thought, and also, "I can tell them how much I like their Garnet sticker." I followed the driver into the post office. They got in line; I had to fill out a customs form, so I was standing nearby.

"Excuse me," I said.

"Oh!" they said, startled, and made to get out of my way.

"No, no--you're fine! I just wanted to say, I really like your Garnet sticker, on your car."

"Oh!" they said again, but a pleased and happy one this time. "Thanks!"

Then it was their turn at the counter. On their way out they smiled at me and said goodbye.

I had no clue what gender, if any, they were, but they inhabited their skin and their space with a pleasant, easy charm. They looked more or less like this:

asakiyume: (nevermore)
2017-09-08 12:29 pm

slow gin

Actually it's sloe gin, after the dark berries ("her eyes were sloe black") that flavor it, but I've always liked thinking of it as slow gin, moving so leisurely, like this phantasmagoric swan metamorphosing slowly, genie-from-a-bottle style, from? I guess? the still in which the gin was made?

Wakanomori brought this bottle back--full--from England, and I did drink it slowly, in tiny sake cups, but somehow now it's gone! Maybe that means the swan is now free, but I missed its triumphant departure.

pretty label



Image from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies, this version at goreystore.com.

But was it sloe gin, Zillah? And did you see the swan's broad wings and bandit mask? Swans are bastards, I'm told, but if you fling your arms around their long necks, they may still carry you places--especially you so tiny and they so big.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
2017-09-06 11:42 am

Classrooms around the world

The British Journal of Photography has a post featuring classrooms around the world, taken by Julian Germain.

I found them so attractive and thought provoking that I went to his page for the classroom project, which includes photos not included in that article. The international photos start around image 9.

They conveyed a lot not just in what each photo contained or lacked (though my eye was drawn to the stamp "donated by Ogean Energy" on a desk in a captionless photo--donors always having to get their due), but in their side-by-side contrasts. An all-black classroom in St. Louis, followed by an all-white classroom, also in St. Louis:





A class in Peru where everyone is in uniform, followed by another Peruvian classroom where the kids are in ordinary dress:





And, of course, classrooms of all boys or all girls.

Germain says,
We are responsible for the world they’re growing up in ... Despite being absent from the images, adults permeate every corner of every image. I like to think the work is confrontational; hundreds and hundreds of children and young people looking back at us with such intensity. I find that challenging.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
2017-09-04 07:48 am
Entry tags:

La Niña: Post Two of Two

Needless to say, watching La Niña has made me curious about Colombia. My knowledge of it until now could be described by catchphrases from TV shows ("Colombian drug lords" "Cali cartel") and NPR headlines ("Colombia's FARC rebels [verb]" "Referendum on peace with FARC rebels"), plus an article on "biblioburros"--the project of a guy who acts as a bookmobile--only by donkey--bringing books to isolated communities--and the travels of someone I follow on Twitter, who visited there with her young daughter.

So first off, I wanted a better sense of where everything in Colombia is.

Here's a map, courtesy of the Rough Guide travel series:


Source

As you can see, pretty much ALL the large cities are in the northwest. What you can't see in the map is that a high mountain range extends along that easternmost diagonal of towns. Bogotá is up in those mountains, and in the show, you get a sense of its high mountainousness.

Here's a photo--not from the show--that gives a sense of that.


Source

Now here's a map, courtesy of Al-Zajeera, showing areas of guerrilla influence

Source

The peace that was signed in November 2016 was with the FARC forces. Negotiations are still ongoing with the ELN.
ETA: Wow, and breaking news today: "Colombian Government and ELA Agree Ceasefire"

I'm not very experienced with Latin American television, but one thing I noticed about this show, as opposed to 3%, the Brazilian sci-fi Netflix offering I watched some time ago, was that this show was relatively whitewashed. Here are some actual FARC guerrillas (credits below the photos).


Photographer: Stephen Ferry, for the Guardian


Girls on the eve of demobilization
Photographer: Raul Arboleda, for the Atlantic



Guerrillas and civilians
Photographer: Federico Rios, for the British Journal of Photography


Compare those photos with the actors' pics from the previous post, and you'll see what I mean.

On the other hand, it's interesting to see telenovelas' role as a vehicle of public education in action. For instance, the older of Belky's two younger sisters wants to go riding on motorbikes with boys, and Belky's mom is sure she'd going to end up pregnant. The show has them go and talk to one of the doctors at Belky's university, who explains about contraception, confidentiality, etc.

Nana, the older of Belky's two younger sisters.


And, Wakanomori noticed, *no one*--not a single person--is shown smoking. No one in the army, no one in the guerrillas, no one on the streets.

The theme song for the show is also very appealing. It's Herencia de Timbiquí's "Te invito"--take a listen.


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
2017-09-03 02:02 pm
Entry tags:

La Niña--post one of two

I was searching for something good to watch in Spanish on Netflix and had the amazing good fortune to discover LA NIÑA, a 86-episode Colombian telenovela from 2016.


Source


It's about a girl who was kidnapped by guerrillas as a child (more accurately, as a tiny child of like eight, she nobly asked the guerrillas to take her rather than her epileptic brother--so they do) but who gets demobilized and is now trying to reintegrate into society. Opportunistic former comrades are out to get her because they believe she knows where their commander hid a huge stash of cash, and a corrupt army colonel is out to get her because she was a victim of his and might expose him.* But from the very first, she has the support of brave Dr. Tatiana, a psychologist working for the Reintegration Program, and Father Rivas,** a priest who also helps reintegrate former guerrillas and paramilitaries. It's Father Rivas who suggests, after she demonstrates some impressive quick thinking and skills in that direction, that she consider becoming a doctor, and from about episode 3 onward, that's what she's embarked on: training to become a doctor.

Belky--the main character, whom we first meet as "Alias Sara"


Source

And here's a former guerrilla who may have been one of the inspirations for La Niña )

Dr. Tatiana and Fr. Rivas


Source


Source

And here's Manuel: he was sold by his father to the paramilitaries--"to make a man of him," when really what he likes to do is cook. He's been demobilized too. I suspect these two are destined for each other--they become good friends in the reformatory in the first couple of episodes-- but this is a telenovela, and currently there's some distance between them.


Source

Here's a group shot:


Source

In the upper lefthand corner, you can see two of Belky's classmates in the medical program, one on each side of her. That's Victor on the left, a super sweet guy who helped her and her father get set up selling vegetables when they first arrived in Bogotá. And that's Santiago on the right. He's the wealthy son of a doctor and is quite smitten by Belky. The reason they're both side-eying her in that picture is because she's in tears as she describes the cause of death of a woman. The threatening-looking man in the center is Col. Barragán.

One of the reasons I love this show is that all the major characters, bar none, have things about them that make you take an interest in them. Col. Barragán, for instance, is an awful man--but he really cares about his daughter and sticks up for her when his wife tries to pressure the girl about her weight. The daughter is a really interesting character, though so far she hasn't received much screen time. She lends Belky a pencil before an exam, and she's friendly and somewhat lonely. She loves her dad--doesn't realize that he's done monstrous things. Then there's Natalia--she seems to be all sharp edges and nasty words, but at one point you see her interacting with a child in a clinic sensitively and empathetically, and while she plays the part of a rich, privileged woman, in fact she, her mother, and her daughter can barely make ends meet.

Maria Luisa, Col. Barragán's daughter

Source

Natalia

Source

Oh, and here's Julie, the pampered, spoiled daughter of the dean of the medical program. Victor announces to Belky on first seeing Julie that she's the woman he's going to marry--never mind that Victor's the son of a farmer. His confidence is charming rather than offputting--he's so good natured, kind, and perceptive about people; he consistently manages to bring out the best in others.


Source is Netflix

Especially in the early episodes, you get a lot of flashbacks to Belky's life with the guerrillas. There are two kids who portray her when she's young--and it turns out these two are sisters. Helps with continuity of looks!


Source

We're on episode 27 of 86, so we still have a lot of ground to cover, but so far I really recommend this show.

*TW for flashback to scenes of rape (not graphic; suggested) and torture (also not graphic)
**Such a treat to see a priest who's portrayed as a good man, hardworking and ordinary--in a good way: another person working for human rights and a better future.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-08-31 10:45 pm

some things for the senses

Apples--they are coming ripe, and they taste good. In sunlight, they feel warm in your hand.

apples

When I doubt my contributions to the world, I look at this apple tree and feel proud.

Here are some cosmos flowers. Did you know they have a fragrance? I didn't until I tried sniffing one just today. Then it was me and the bees fighting for who was going to get to put their face in each flower ... You know, they are so much prettier than this photo. They grow by the road, but when you look at them, there's no road. When you're looking at them, they're abundant and graceful, more than this photo shows. How can I put it. The photo tells the wrong truth.

cosmos

One of my favorite views. When [personal profile] osprey_archer was here, she recognized it because (I am guessing) I take a lot of pictures of it. If I could lucid-dream on demand, I'd go flying over it.

view from the boardwalk

And a drawing! I'm not sure if it's a girl or a boy or a someone who isn't either, or who's both.

doodle
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
2017-08-29 08:36 am

B'town one-community, no-hate picnic

A few weeks ago, my neighborhood had a bunch of KKK newspapers dropped in it. Very upsetting. So, a group of us in town organized a community picnic so everyone in town could reaffirm what sort of town we want the town to be.

Here's a video** from the event. You can see me attempting a bean-bag toss I designed. (I was going to make it an eclipsed sun but decided on a sunflower instead.)



(Here's a picture of just the bean bag toss, after i finished painting it. It has a black piece of tissue paper that hangs down behind it to make the hole look black, but wind has blown it up in this photo)



And here are two views of a mural whose painting I oversaw. That was the most fun: talking to all the kids, parents, and grandparents who participated in the painting.





Last but not least, a local paper's photo essay from the event. The town, like much of the rural New England, is very white, but even very-white New England is diverse if you have open eyes. My neighborhood includes people from Cambodia, Brazil, Romania, and Croatia, and the apartments nearby include families whose first languages are Chinese and Spanish. Religiously, the town is home to people of numerous Christian denominations as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and areligious. In terms of sexual orientation and gender, my near neighbors are a lesbian couple with three teen and young-adult children, and there are several other same-sex couples in town, as well as transgender and genderfluid folks. It includes active-duty members of the armed services, civil-rights activists, people who've been in the region for generations and people who arrived in the past ten years, farmers, tradespeople, professional people, stay-at-home parents, artists, people coping with chronic illnesses and disabilities .... in other words, it's a diverse community, despite the dominantly pale faces it puts forward, and people enjoy it that way. So the KKK can go elsewhere in search of recruits or people to intimidate.


**If you have a Youtube account and feel inclined, you could give it a thumbs up--currently it's got as many negative votes as positive ones (which is to say, one each, heh).
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
2017-08-26 03:42 pm
Entry tags:

snatches of conversation

I went running on the rail trail today and caught these bits of conversation as I passed walkers or was passed by bikers:

" ... since the last election ..."

" ... nice, don't have to worry about cars..."

" ... can talk to anybody ... "

" ... was really awesome, like from the dawn of time ..."

At an area with a port-a-potty:

Mother: "No, I'm going to use the toilet."
Kid: "Then I'll just bike in circles here."

ETA: Only just remembered: two girls, one singing chords, going "Drunnn, Drunnn, Drunnn, Drunnn," and another girl starting up with Journey's "Don't Stop Believing"--"Just a small-town boy..."

The portion of the trail I was running on was lovely and shaded, with bits of sun dappling down. These were like conversation dapples, just flashing on me as I (or they) went by.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-08-22 01:29 pm
Entry tags:

calendars and Ninefox Gambit

Something you notice very quickly when you start reading Ninefox Gambit is the importance of the calendar. It’s the foundation stone of empire: things that subvert empire cause “calendrical rot,” and, conversely, things that cause calendrical rot are subversion, or, as the story terms it, heresy—like rebellion but even more rebellious.

This focus on calendars is a stroke of genius. Calendars **are** powerful mechanisms of cultural control. Think about how the international standard calendar for business and commerce is the Gregorian calendar, which ties its start date to Christianity. (People do use other calendars in various places and for various purposes, but the Gregorian calendar dominates for international exchange.) Less so now than in the past, but Sunday is designated a no-work day in accordance with that tradition. And think how the rest day figures for other calendars, too—the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar. If you don’t know the proper rest day, you can be in trouble—and this is even if you’re an outsider: things stop. And if you don’t stop—depending on the degree of observance—you might be punished. And if the community gradually moves away from this, it can be perceived by the more-faithful as cultural weakening. Calendrical rot is threatening!

The traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar that has complicated, intersecting base 10 and base 12 recurring features and indicates certain days as auspicious or inauspicious for various activities. When you combine it with geomantic principles (powers or traits related to compass directions—feng shui), which happens naturally, as feng shui is tied to the solstices and equinoxes, which are calendrical as well as astronomical occurrences, boom, that’s a whole lot of Chinese folk culture you’ve got—and, like the Chinese writing system, it spread to Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

In Japan (and probably in other East Asian countries, but Japan’s the one I know about), magical powers were attributed to people who could advise on and manipulate the calendar—something that required some good math skills, what with those mixed number bases and various repeating units. If you’ve ever seen the film Onmyōji, you’ve seen the story of one famous example of such a person, Abe no Seimei. In Ninefox Gambit, this magic translates to the “exotic effects” that can be generated in war, relying on the calendar. These same effects don’t work if the calendar is subverted—beware calendrical rot!

There’s one notable instance in Ninefox Gambit in which the protagonist manipulates the heretics’ calendar to gain a tactical advantage—Buuuuuut I can’t spoil it.

This isn’t a review of the book—I have one of those at Goodreads, covering some of the same territory, but in less detail—it’s more of an appreciation of this one aspect of the book. It’s me saying “I SEE WHAT YOU DID HERE, YOON HA LEE! VERY CLEVER!”
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-08-21 02:18 pm

dappled half-moon suns

We let the leaves be our pinhole camera and saw these suns at the half-moon stage.

half-moon suns

ETA... there are many, many beautiful photos out there of scything crescent suns dappling the ground--go take a look. Love this eclipse so much. Good job, sun. Good job, moon. Good job, eclipse enthusiasts ♥
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
2017-08-21 10:38 am

Czech'rd past

I want to do a post about the power of calendars, in honor of [personal profile] yhlee's Ninefox Gambit, which I just finished, but first I want to share with you this great beer label from a small New York State brewery:



Red-lipped woman with a smoking gun! And this text:

From behind the iron curtain comes our Czech'rd Past. We're not ashamed, and have nothing to hide. No regrets with this classic Bohemian Pilsner. Served cold, like revenge, it cuts to the chase. It's the choice to make when you can't afford any more mistakes in life.


Here's a can with the label still on:



We have one can left, which we can maybe drink as we take pictures of the crescent shadows during the partial version of the eclipse that we'll get here--or maybe not. It is, after all, still a work day. The CALENDAR tells me that. More on Ninefox Gambit and calendars anon.
asakiyume: (far horizon)
2017-08-17 10:54 pm

Jesus of the ...

This font for holy water was in a model seventeenth-century Acadian house on the grounds of a historic gardens in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

If you click through and look at Jesus up close, doesn't he seem strange? Otherworldly in an unexpected way, as if the painter had a vision of Jesus of the fishes, or Jesus as a curl of smoke, or Jesus whose body is a shroud, about to be lifted away.

Holy water
asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
2017-08-15 07:52 am

la niña juega con su sombra

Spanish Duolingo often has intriguing or provocative sentences for you to translate. This post's subject line was one I got last night:



(The girl plays with her shadow)

The child plays with her shadow
Jumping, jumping
To free her playmate
From the tether of her feet



asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
2017-08-09 10:32 pm

at the intersection

I liked the people who were waiting at the red light with me at the intersection of US route 202 and Massachusetts route 33. I was in the middle of three lanes, with my windows rolled down. To my left I could hear pleasant music. I stole a glance: the driver was large-necked, middle-aged woman with a relaxed and pleasant face. To my right was a guy on a motorcycle. He had a grizzled beard, maybe six inches long, that tapered to a point. Someone in a pickup truck driving across the intersection honked and hollered, and the guy on the motorcycle laughed and waved. The pickup truck person waved back. In my rearview mirror, I could see the guy behind me, young man with a baseball cap on and a little figurine of a rooster on his dashboard. It was a good smattering of humanity.
asakiyume: (Em)
2017-08-07 11:18 am

thanks to [personal profile] missroserose

Who found this image and story of a tiny floating shelter that, as she says, looks like it could be from Mermaid's Hands! The houses in Mermaid's Hands are made of salvaged wood and roofed with thatch, but with corrugated metal over the kitchen portion, but people living in Mermaid's Hands are adaptable and would love the painting on the side.


Source

It was found floating 180 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana. Pen Pal starts with Em wondering what would happen if she could detach her house and have it go floating free--I guess this little house was finding out! (It turned out to have been a floating dock in Key West, Florida--so that's quite a journey it went on.)

Gotta love the art ♥
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-08-04 08:30 pm

this evening, two different times

First, let me tell you what the parking lot at the supermarket was like, around 5:45 pm, on my way home. There was a smell of cinnamon, maybe from someone's discarded gum, and the sun was at the edge of a tide of rain-colored clouds, and there were goldfinches somewhere nearby--you couldn't see them, but you could hear them.

Now let me show you what the sky was like closer to home, about an hour later.

DSCN6500
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
2017-08-01 03:39 pm

A look inside a vineyard--now with a few corrections

My dad has a friend--and now I have a friend--who co-owns a vineyard and winery--the Hudson Chatham winery. I was especially interested to get a look at it because I'd just copyedited a novella by Joyce Chng in which the protagonist inherits a vineyard. It was really cool to see the actual reality.

My big takeaway was that a vineyard is HARD WORK. Here is my friend pruning the vines in a cold time of year (she gave me permission to use the photo)



Here are those same grapevines this past weekend. Lush! The Hudson Chatham winery grows both white and red wine grapes, and many of the wines it makes are what are called estate wines--made totally from grapes grown on site. (This isn't true for a lot of small New York wineries, which make wine from grapes they buy in, and even the Hudson Chatham winery buys in some grapes so it can make certain sorts of wines, like Chardonnay.)

grape trellises

Here, up close, are some Seyval Blanc grapes, for white wine. They'll eventually turn a yellow color; they're about as big as the green table grapes you get in the supermarket.

Seyval Blanc grapes

Seyval Blanc grapes

And here, just beginning to get some color, are some Chelois grapes, used to make red wine. They're smaller, only slightly larger than the wild fox grapes you can see out in woods and fields.

Chelois grapes

photos of pressers, barrels, bottling machines, corking machines, and labels )

Last but not least, the wine on display in the tasting room!

wines on display

My friend invited me to come help out with the harvest this fall. I want to give it a try!


asakiyume: (far horizon)
2017-07-28 07:28 am

The silent protest

If it wasn't for today's Google doodle, I wouldn't have learned about the Silent Protest of 1917 or the massacre of East St. Louis. It's a deeply evil streak in humanity that gets people to delight in the slaughter of the defenseless. I'm full of deep gratitude and admiration for the people, like Ida B. Wells and James Weldon Johnson, who have the courage to fight against that evil. (After seeing the Google doodle, I read this article on the Silent Protest.)
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
2017-07-26 10:09 pm
Entry tags:

between the sunlight and the air

Because yesterday and last night were unseasonably cold but the air was warmer this morning, there was mist everywhere when I went out.

Everywhere was gauzy.

misty trees

sun through mist

Up the street, down the street--ethereal

looking up the road

looking down the road

It seems that otherworldly dancers passed through, too, leaving behind their handkerchiefs, as they often do, on lawns, beside paths, and in the woods:

fairy handkerchiefs

fairy handkerchief fairy handkerchiefs