asakiyume: (man on wire)
In 2012, I was briefly a skateboarder. I loved the speed and grace and daring of it--I wanted to touch that and live that.

That time was brought back to me so vividly tonight watching Skate Kitchen (2018), which I requested from Netflix DVD because of [personal profile] osprey_archer's excellent review) of it. The film coveys the feel of skateboarding beautifully (and also the dangers of it--part of why I quit: I loved the daring but wasn't up for the injuries), and I loved the posse of girls--real-life members of the Skate Kitchen, an all-girl skate collective in New York City. The director apparently met members of the collective while riding the subway, and she used Rachelle Vinberg, who plays the main character in Skate Kitchen, in a 2016 short film, That One Day.

The scenes of New York City's skating haunts are ones I remember from a video of skateboarding I found and posted back in 2012--it made the movie feel extra real to me.

The trailer pretty accurately captures the feel of the film:



And [personal profile] osprey_archer, the quote you were trying to find is the voiceover at the start of the trailer (and the scene with the little girl is in the trailer too). You're right: it's beautiful.
asakiyume: (Em)
A friend (no longer on DW, apparently!) found this beautiful photo, part of Gordon Parks's "Segregated Story, 1956," and shared it with me. She said it reminded her of Pen Pal, and it did me, too.



(I’ve been setting out Sabelle Morning’s cup every night so it can catch the dawn light,)

The girl on the right could be Em; the girl on the left could be her sister Tammy; the house, if only it were floating, could be their house.
asakiyume: (Kaya)
In this entry, [personal profile] osprey_archer talks about short films she's watched recently, and one of them, "Lost World," by Cambodian American director Kalyanee Mam, captivated me.

It's narrated by a young woman, Vy Phalla [surname comes first here], who lives on the island of Koh Sralau. The way of life there is threatened by sand dredging: sand is dredged in Cambodia and taken to add landmass in Singapore.

Scooping up Cambodia ...



... To create more Singapore




The film's write-up at shortoftheweek.com says, "Kalyanee Mam’s film encompasses vast juxtapositions in a slow-motion lament against environmental degradation, loss, and rapacious capitalism." Yes. It is that, powerfully.

But I was also there for foraging clams at low tide, in among the mangrove spiracles:





And for hopping from prop root to prop root, looking for snails (though the kids did complain about the mosquitos).



Beautiful place to live...



... very different from futuristic Singapore**



At one point Phalla sings a beautiful song about the mangroves. "The beauty of the mangrove forest / rivals the palace gardens" So right.

mangrove seedling



And Phalla goes to see the palace gardens, so to speak: in Singapore she visits an artificially created cloud forest. "Lost World," the exhibit is called. Please do not touch, the signs admonish. "Camelia," Phalla says. "I've only heard the name. Now I see its face."



Back in Cambodia, watching the dredgers, she says, "The law has given us all kinds of freedoms. Here we only have the right to sit, shed tears, and witness the destruction." ... I would like to say something in answer to that, but I think maybe the appropriate thing is to sit, witness, and maybe shed tears.

Thanks for sharing this with me, [personal profile] osprey_archer!


Lost World from Go Project Films on Vimeo.



**Don't take this entry to be anti-Singapore. You can point out a wrong practice without condemning a country (or person or organization or....) wholesale.
asakiyume: (good time)
Andrea Johnson, The Little Red Reviewer, is having a Kickstarter to fund a book of the best of her reviews. And it's now live! You can read more about it at the Kickstarter page here, and if you want to know more, check out my interview with her here. The vagaries of postdating kept that entry out of my friends feed, I suspect, so I don't feel too bad pushing you toward it now. (It's long--but dip in--you don't have to read the whole thing. Andrea's reviews are just excellent, and I'm not just saying that because she's liked my books.)
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
Initially I hadn't been thrilled by the notion of this film; I think because I feared (completely unjustifiably) that it would be purveying trite truths of one sort or another. But several of my friends reviewed it favorably, and finally last night I got to see it--and really loved it.

It's a totally different kind of film from Winter's Bone (by the same director), a very **gentle** story, and quiet, even though elements of the story aren't gentle at all. In fact, all through the movie there were moments when, primed by what Hollywood often does, I was on the edge of my seat expecting something horrible to happen--and it didn't.

The situation is that Tom (a girl) has been living with her PTSD-suffering war-veteran father in a national park, foraging, growing their own food, collecting rainwater--and occasionally going into town to buy things (which they finance by dad selling the medication he gets from the VA to other vets). They get found out and forced to reassimilate into society. Tom is adjusting, but her dad is not, and he announces they're taking off again. Reluctantly, she leaves with him, but things are much harder and grimmer this time around.

What I loved about it most were the moments with animals and the sense of how healing and enriching sharing time and space with animals can be. There's a scene where the dad is stroking a horse, and the horse rests its head against the dad, and the dad rests his head against the horse, and they're just still together for a moment, and oh my heart! Same with Tom stroking a rabbit she finds hopping along the road and returns to its owner; same later on when an older woman shows her the miracle of a hive of bees.

The beauty of the natural world resonates through the whole film, too, but the film understands that it's beauty that will kill you if you're underprepared--and Tom and her father understand that; in fact, everyone in the movie understands the situation and everyone else pretty well: the problem is what people can live with.

Thinking about everyone understanding brings up another thing I liked about the film: there wasn't really a villain. Even the state isn't villainous: it tries its best to accommodate Tom and her dad's unique needs within a framework of what's societally acceptable. It's just that it won't work for the dad.

I think that's the saddest thing in the film--that the dad just can't feel at ease in, apparently, any situation near other people, except his daughter, whom he loves very much, whereas she's growing into a person who wants to be near other people, though she loves her dad very much. But I'd call the ending happy: it's a good one for Tom, and it's set up in the film as one that's not doom-and-death for the dad either.
asakiyume: (miroku)
[personal profile] sartorias's really moving entry on places she's lived and what became of them reminded me of a conversation I had yesterday when I went out looking for an iron. I'd been ironing, and mine had given up the ghost, just one sleeve short of a finished shirt. (You know what that means! I finished ironing that sleeve by heating up my cast-iron skillet on the stove. We need full use of all our limbs in this household.)

There were no irons at the supermarket and no irons at the CVS, but at the Dollar Store I hit the jackpot. The cashier, a woman maybe in her forties, was chatty, so I told her the story of ironing the remaining sleeve, and she expressed delight at meeting someone else who used a cast iron skillet and said it was good thinking. I said, "Well, it's what the old irons were made of, after all. My grandmother had a couple of them--she used them as doorstops."

"My great grandmother had some of those, and she used them as doorstops too! She used them to keep us out of her bedroom," the cashier exclaimed. "But I can't picture using one as an actual iron."

"You know those old cast-iron stoves? They used to put the iron right on that, and then when it was hot, you could use it."

"My great-grandmother had one of those stoves!" the cashier said, eyes shining.

"So she could have used the irons as actual irons," I said. "Where did she live?"

"Oh, over in Bondsville. You know where 'the grog shop' is? Across the street from that. It's totally different now though. After she died no one wanted the house--except me; I wanted it, but I couldn't afford it--so they sold it. The new owners totally changed it. I look at it, and it's not--it's just not the same house."

--All that's left are memories and shared stories. But sometimes those can be so vivid, like [personal profile] sartorias's, or the cashier's, and when you share them, they live in someone else's mind, too.

Here's a tailor's stove with an iron on it, courtesy of --Kuerschner 17:20, 1 March 2008 (UTC) - own work, own possession, Public Domain, Link

asakiyume: (miroku)
A friend sent me a PDF of 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Herta Müller's Nobel lecture, "Every Word Knows Something of a Vicious Circle," and it is stunning--wise on love, words, steadfastness, solitude, totalitarianism. It starts like this:
DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF was the question my mother asked me every morning, standing by the gate to our house, before I went out onto the street. I didn’t have a handkerchief. And because I didn’t, I would go back inside and get one. I never had a handkerchief because I would always wait for her question. The handkerchief was proof that my mother was looking after me in the morning. For the rest of the day I was on my own. The question DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF was an indirect display of affection. Anything more direct would have been embarrassing and not something the farmers practiced. Love disguised itself as a question. That was the only way it could be spoken: matter-of-factly, in the tone of a command, or the deft maneuvers used for work. The brusqueness of the voice even emphasized the tenderness. Every morning I went to the gate once without a handkerchief and a second time with a handkerchief.

And it goes on from there--a visit from the secret police (Müller grew up in Ceauşescu's Romania), a conversation with a former internee of a Soviet labor camp, thoughts on an uncle who became a Nazi--and through it all, the handkerchief:
Oskar Pastior had knocked on her door, a half-starved beggar wanting to trade a lump of coal for a little bit of food. She let him in and gave him some hot soup. And when she saw his nose dripping into the bowl, she gave him the white batiste handkerchief that no one had ever used before ... For the woman, Oskar Pastior was also a combination: an unworldly beggar in her house and a lost child in the world. Both of these personae were delighted and overwhelmed by the gesture of a woman who was two persons for him as well: an unknown Russian woman and the worried mother with the question: DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF.

Ever since I heard this story I have had a question of my own: is DO YOU HAVE A HANDKERCHIEF valid everywhere? Does it stretch halfway across the world in the snowy sheen between freezing and thawing? Does it pass between mountains and steppes to cross every border; can it reach all the way into a gigantic empire strewn with penal and labor camps?

This vignette spoke to me especially:
When I was a staircase wit, I was as lonely as I had been as a child tending the cows in the river valley. I ate leaves and flowers so I would belong to them, because they knew how to live life and I didn’t. I spoke to them by name: milk thistle was supposed to mean the prickly plant with milk in its stalk. But the plant didn’t listen to the name milk thistle. So I tried inventing names with neither milk nor thistle: THORNRIB, NEEDLENECK. These made-up names uncovered a gap between the plant and me, and the gap opened up into an abyss: the disgrace of talking to myself and not to the plant. But the disgrace was good for me. I looked after the cows and the sound of the words looked after me.

And whoa to the whoa-th power, this:
After all, the more words we are allowed to take, the freer we become. If our mouth is banned, then we attempt to assert ourselves through gestures, even objects. They are more difficult to interpret, and take time before they arouse suspicion. They can help us turn humiliation into a type of dignity that takes time to arouse suspicion.

I recommend reading the whole lecture; all parts of it are beautiful and strong. The link I found for it on the Nobel website is very unpredictable--50 percent of the time it seems to be down. But persevere, and hopefully you'll get to it. (Link here.)
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Sherwood Smith asked me some really interesting questions that The Inconvenient God raised for her, and she posted the questions and answers over on the Book View Cafe blog (here).

I think my favorite question was the one about whether writing words down chains them. The technology of writing is really wonderful and makes miracles possible, in terms of sharing and transmission, but the spoken word has real power too. I love thinking about their different strengths.

And speaking of spoken word (heh), [personal profile] okrablossom linked me to another beautiful spoken word poem, "Rise," by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, this time in collaboration with Aka Niviâna, an Inuk poet. Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner is from the Marshall Islands, which are gravely threatened by rising sea levels, and many of her poems deal with climate change. Aka Niviâna is from Kalaallit Nunaat--Greenland--whose melting glaciers create the rising sea levels. Her poems often deal with the legacy of colonization.

Their words, combined with the breathtaking images, is really powerful (video (6 minutes) and text of the poem available here).

--Sister of ice and snow, I'm coming to you
--Sister of ocean and sand, I welcome you





guns!

Oct. 15th, 2018 10:09 pm
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Guns and art! First was this painting, by the South Korean-born artist Mina Cheon, who also takes on the persona of a North Korean artist, Kim Il Soon. [personal profile] sartorias and I saw this at the Smith College Museum of Art. It's titled "Squirt Water Not Bullets!" The artist paints herself in North Korean military garb and paints her son in duplicate, representing Korea's current split.

painting by Mina Cheon (aka Kim Il Soon), Smith College Art Museum

And the second was this screenshot from the Sudanese film AKasha, from director Hajooj Kuka.


(image source)

The brief BBC World Service summary says, "Film director Hajooj Kuka has chosen this southern region of his country to tell the story of a love triangle between Adnan, a rebel, his long-suffering girlfriend Lina and the beloved AK47 he calls Nancy."

Soo... I'm guessing we're looking at Lina--and she's holding Nancy, who is looking mighty fetching in that rainbow colored strap.

I think it could feel mighty empowering to team up with someone like Nancy.

The screenshot was intriguing enough that I watched the trailer. If you watch through it, you'll see a moment of magic at 1:36. I'd like to see the movie one day.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
It Happened at the Ball is out--an avowedly escapist, feel-good anthology whose stories all center, in one way or another, on a ballroom. [personal profile] sartorias compiled it with the intention of providing a pick-me-up in the face of the relentless grimness of current events. Here's the table of contents:
The Şiret Mask ~ ~ Marie Brennan
Just Another Quiet Evening at Almack’s ~~ Marissa Doyle
Homeworld Stranger ~ ~Sara Stamey
Kerygma in Waltz Time ~ ~Charlotte Gumanaam
Dancing Bangles ~ ~ Irene Radford
A Plague of Dancers ~ ~Gillian Polack
A Borrowed Heart ~ ~ Deborah J. Ross
The Gown of Harmonies ~ ~ Francesca Forrest
The Dress ~ ~ Lynne April Brown
A Waltz for May ~ ~ P.G. Nagle
Sherbet on Silver ~ ~ Brenda W. Clough
Gilt and Glamour ~ ~ Layla Lawlor
Lily and Crown ~ ~Sherwood Smith


"The Gown of Harmonies" is my contribution! It's about a blind seamstress who makes a musical gown. Of the other stories, I've only read "Lily and Crown," but I can tell you: it is **excellent**, [personal profile] sartorias in top form.

I'm really excited to read the others--I will report to you about them as I do. And if you would like to read these goodies, check out [personal profile] sartorias's entry here--it has all the links. (They're for e-books, but a paperback will be available through Book View Café shortly.)

asakiyume: (God)
Here is the final cover for my novelette, The Inconvenient God, which Annorlunda Books is bringing out in October! In case you can't read the text blurb, it says,
What happens if you try to retire a god who is not ready to leave?

An official from the Ministry of Divinity arrives at a university to decommission a local god. She is expecting an easy decommissioning of a waning god of mischief but finds instead an active god not interested in retiring and university administrators who have not told her the full story about the god. Can the Decommissioner discover the true story of this god in time to prevent his most destructive round of mischief yet?


inconvenientgod


This story had its genesis in a conversation on [personal profile] sovay's journal years ago--the talk turned to exorcisms and exorcising a god from his precinct (this entry; this thread), and the idea lingered.
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Regret, sorrow, obsession, and yearning are so present in Forget the Sleepless Shores that it’s almost like they’re main characters. The human (and otherworldly) protagonists caught in their clutches often find words failing them—so light must speak, or clouds, or objects, or landscapes, but most of all, bodies must speak, skin to skin, sweat to sweat, intermingled breath, hands tangling in hair or gripping wrists. It’s sensuousness with an incandescent filament of the erotic threading through it, surrounded by the glowing unknowable.

Read more... )

The collection hits the marketplace tomorrow. That means you can still be ahead of the game and preorder now—here’s an Amazon link. Or, if you prefer, you can check out the book’s page at Lethe Press, the publisher.
asakiyume: (glowing grass)
[personal profile] osprey_archer has talked about how we need to have more gradations in how we refer to people than just "acquaintance" and "friend" (and then piling on the adjectives to explain how close a friend the friend is, or how distant the acquaintance is). I'd like also a word for a person you don't even know at all, but who you see often and whose existence brings you joy--

--like this older woman I often see walking around the time I'm finishing up a morning run, or sometimes on weekends if I'm doing stuff in my front yard, she may walk by. Her face says her heritage is something East Asian, and there's some air about her that makes me think she's doesn't speak much English, if any. Maybe it's her clothes, which seem to come from elsewhere (I can't describe why I think this--I'd need to look more closely--but they're not what you see on American sixty- and seventy-year-old women) or maybe it's her hairstyle (and again, I'm not sure I can recall it precisely: maybe parted in the middle and pulled back in a bun?), or maybe it's that what we do when we see each other is smile and nod, or sometimes, if we're on opposite sides of the street, I'll wave, and she'll wave back. We've never spoken a word to each other. (For all I know, she thinks of *me* as a non-English speaker)

Today I have the care of my neighbor's dog, so just now I took him for a walk around a housing development that's going up across the way from my neighborhood. There's one paved loop, and then a dirt-and-gravel road leading to ongoing roadworks and other excavations, and on either side of that, piles of stone and discarded water pipes and wildflowers: right now, mainly queen anne's lace, St. John's wort, and black-eyed susans. I'd completed three quarters of the loop and had my back to the dirt-and-gravel road, and heard a sound, like a tune coming from a radio somewhere, like maybe some of the workmen had a radio on--but it's Sunday evening, and there are no workmen out.

I looked back, and I saw the woman sitting on something--maybe a concrete slab or a big rock--surrounded by wildflowers, some way down that dirt-and-gravel road, just sitting, enjoying the evening. And maybe singing? Maybe it was her. Or maybe it was someone else's radio, somewhere. Anyway, I waved; she waved.

It made me so happy. I'd like a word for a person like this. Special fellow-traveler in the non-Communist sense of the word.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Look at this! I'm doing a Wednesday reading meme!

I'm reading Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning (Amusingly, for the first few days I kept thinking of as Nothing Like the Lightning. My brain was in opposite land, clearly). I started it because of Puddleshark's answer to my question about hopeful futures (and because I'd read interesting reviews of it, and Puddleshark's comment reminded me of that).

What an intriguing, absorbing book. I'm equal parts enjoying it and arguing with it (but I enjoy the arguing). I feel like a cat circling something new in its environment, fascinated, but also hissing.

There was a big reveal regarding awful crimes in the middle of the book, and it genuinely shocked and unnerved me. Maybe it was because I read it at night, but even as part of my brain was laughing nervously (because the awfulness was larded on so thick) another part of me was gasping like a fish.

And then it sort of became a problem for me, not because of delicate sensibilities but because--how can I put it without spoilers--the crimes (and other things hinted at) seem to indicate an upcoming focus that not only isn't to my tastes but that I think is a real will-o'-the-wisp that writers should avoid chasing. Except that (a) I think I'm manifestly wrong: many people are equally fascinated by this will-o'-the-wisp; in fact, I'm the odd person out for thinking of it as a phantasm, and (b), maybe possibly the plot will escape that black-hole pull. But I doubt it. Although I hadn't been spoiled for the big reveal, I do know about some upcoming plot elements that lead me to believe that I shouldn't hold out hope for (b).

All the same. Quite fascinating, with lots of memorable lines. Today's:

It was the kind of anger we create to mask our guilt.

I'm also reading an ARC of [personal profile] sovay's short-story collection. Wow. I'm two-thirds through it, and it is breathtaking. I suspect everyone who reads me also reads [personal profile] sovay and knows Sovay is a person of penetrating insights and breathtaking turns of phrase. The stories are intense and mesmerizing.

These two quotes, from a story that will be new to the world with this anthology:

Her long arms were tangled with tattoos

And this:

Perhaps he could ... leave, finally, the city that had always felt like home in the same way that his parents had felt like family, demanding, endurable, unchosen.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
The fourth and last of Jennifer Montgomery's wonderful coffee shop romances is out, Iced Coffee Dreams, starring Wynne (short for Eowyn--her parents are die-hard Tolkien fans), who's working part-time at Campus Coffee over the summer. She has dreams of opening her own cafe one day, but she's prone to anxiety ... and she finds it impossible to say no to problem-customer Shannon, who comes in all too often with a "Hey girl, hey," and a request for extra caramel, milk on the side, an extra punch to her loyalty card--you get the picture. If she can't handle Shannon, will she ever be able to manage a cafe on her own?

Enter coworker Parker, who's reserved, but friendly. In fact, he seems to want to spend time with Wynne. He's interested in her dreams and has ideas for how to build her confidence.

All the details in this story are just perfect. Every time Wynne imagines a different type of cafe, I was thinking, "Yes, I want to go there." (Traveling pop-up cafe? Check. Garden cafe in an actual garden? Check! hot-air-balloon cafe? Ooh, Check! Tree house cafe? Check check check! I definitely want to go to that one.)

And then there was the moment when Wynne's friend Kayleen describes what she expected Indiana to be like:
“Infinite corn, bonfire parties, two boys in a mud-spattered truck give us a lift to the ol’ swimming hole where we all drink beer out of red Solo cups while dancing in the headlights of a circle of pick-ups,” Kayleen said.

“Gosh,” Wynne said, all false innocence, “You must have listened to a lot of country music to come up with a list like that.”

“It’s not my fault,” Kayleen said. “My mom played it all the time.”

This is a sweet romance, where the pleasure is in watching the characters get to know each other and watching Wynne learn to face tricky situations successfully. The characters are all **very** likable and relatable--it's very fun to spend some time in summer with them, and RIGHT NOW in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway is precisely the story's setting--long, hot summer.

Highly recommended!
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today is two weeks since I posted my giveaway for Unlocked, so I put all interested parties' names in a hat....



... and have three winners:



That's [personal profile] sonia, [personal profile] nemophilist, and [personal profile] petrichor_pirate!

Please message me via DW/LJ messages with mailing addresses for the physical books and email addresses for the kindle version (mobi format). Unfortunately I don't have an epub format, but I do have a PDF if the mobi format won't work for you.
ETA: Thanks to [personal profile] sonia, I now have an epub version to offer, so [personal profile] nemophilist and [personal profile] petrichor_pirate, if that electronic format is better for you, let me know! (And thanks again, [personal profile] sonia!

Thank you, everyone, for your interest in this book! It was a lot of fun to edit, and I hope the general public enjoys it as much as I did.
asakiyume: (miroku)
I don't usually edit whole books, but every now and then it happens, and this was one such case: Unlocked: Keys to Improve Your Thinking. I really enjoyed working on this book and have used some of the exercises in it with students I volunteer with, always with wonderful, thought-provoking results.



The intention of the book is to get people thinking about how they think, to understand how things like priming and cues work, to learn about the faultiness of memory and the selectivity of attention and so on, in the hopes that understanding how we think can help us think better. In the preface the author says,
People can react negatively to complexity and to rapid social and scientific change—for example, by retreating into rigid, deeply entrenched thinking, which leads to diminished curiosity and intolerance of those who think and act differently. Still more worrisome is an unconscious, invisible reluctance to challenge our own thoughts and feelings. Thinking, it seems, is far too often employed to justify an existing position rather than to explore, improve, and perhaps change it.

This book wants to change that.

I'm imagining that people reading here probably will, like me, be familiar with some of the thought experiments and information about thinking that the author presents, but probably/maybe (like me) not all of them. And they're entertainingly presented (though my nemesis, the trolley problem, makes an obligatory appearance).

One perk of doing the editing is that I have some books to give away! Both actual, physical books, which are better for some things (like writing down stuff when you're asked to write down stuff), and ebooks, which are better for other things (like hyperlinks and seeing stuff in color--the physical book is in black and white, but the ebook is in color).

Below the cut is an excerpt from the first "Think Key," which features an ethical dilemma that's a little less high-stakes than the one in the trolley problem. It'll give you a sense for what the book is like. To enter the giveaway, just express interest in a comment. In two weeks' time, I'll put names in a hat and pull three and post the results in a new entry. I'll also try to contact winners privately. You'll get both the physical book and the ebook.

Think Key 1: To Disclose or Not )

If you want to take a further look at the book, you can visit Amazon or the author's website.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Wakanomori got some pictures that capture the spirit of wanting better and trying hard that we could sense even standing just at the edge of Egipto.

Here is graffiti saying Egipto vive, right beside the church:

Waka photo: Egipto vive

(click through to see it bigger)

And here is a shot up the hill that he got before we were warned away--you can't maybe tell, but on the right is a bright and hopeful mural, and straight ahead is a painting of a bird in flight.

Waka photo: Egipto

... And those promised thoughts. This was a comment I left in the last entry. It was saying why it took me so long to post that last entry, how life can feel just generally. One of my friends suggest reposting it as an entry itself because, she said, it might resonate for people:

It's taken a long time to post this entry. I nearly didn't last night, either. I've been (like most people I know) oppressed by the news, had my mind in a vise that won't let me think about much else. There's a not insignificant amount of self-loathing that goes along with all that, as all the people saying "If you ever wondered what you'd do in Nazi Germany... now you know" have made me pretty aware that what I would have done is only slightly north of F-all. My stories from my trip feel stale in my head, are a product of privilege, and seem irrelevant and escapist.

But mental incapacity and self loathing, not to mention obsession, are pretty useless states, and some part of me believes it's not pointless to talk about people going out of their way to be thoughtful, even if (especially if? I don't know) it's people in a rough neighborhood being kind to clueless tourists.

... This is both an apology and an apologia for this post. I know you didn't ask for either; I just am latching onto your comment as an excuse to explain. Maybe this comment is what I should have posted, but then I wouldn't have had an excuse to put in photos.

--and look, I managed to slip some photos in all the same.

I guess if people in Egipto can paint "Egipto vive" and can protect the stranger, I can keep... doing my small, small thing.
asakiyume: (man on wire)
It was a wonderful, wonderful trip--in just ten days I made some friends that it had me practically in tears to leave. It was so wonderful that this morning (we got in at 10 pm last night and weren't back at our house until 2 am), I put on my jeans from the trip because they still have the smell of Hotel Casa de la Vega, where we stayed, and I want to stay wrapped up in that. We brought home a big brick of panela (condensated cane juice), and I'll see about making agua panela this morning, like Señora Lucy did for us one morning.

I'll slowly be catching up with people's entries--very slowly.
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
Briarley retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, imagining what might happen if Beauty’s father was man enough not to let his daughter sacrifice herself for him. Instead, he stays in her place.

In this retelling, it’s World War II, and the father is a parson who’s also a veteran of the Great War, and the beast takes the form of a dragon.

You know this is going to be a different type of retelling by the parson’s initial reaction to the dragon’s dilemma:
“The curse says you must learn to love and be loved, does it not? Those are the only conditions?” The dragon nodded, his head still buried in his hands. The parson broke a piece off a roll and buttered it. “Then I suggest you get a puppy,” he said.

Nor is this mere flippancy: “I have seen shell-shocked soldiers make great, great strides when they are given charge of a dog,” he says, and adds,
“A dog is a more loving creature than man. All the things that we wish we were, dogs are: loyal, faithful, loving, and cheerful in the face of adversity.

And that’s the type of story this is: the parson musing on the nature of love, different types of love, in the company of the dragon, who’s at first haughty, vain, capricious, and entitled, but gradually becomes… well, somewhat less so. Gray resists the easy out of a dramatic personality transformation—the emotional equivalent of taking off the glasses and having a character become suddenly gorgeous. Real people are beloved despite being prickly and short tempered. In this story, the parson has reasons for feeling both deep pity for and a deep attachment to the young man that the dragon once was.

The two talk not only about love, but also morality, vindictiveness, compassion—so much. And lest I’ve made it sound like some kind of milk-soaked graham cracker of a story, let me quickly also add that it’s **funny** too, as when the dragon and the parson have this exchange:
“That’s not how you learn to love, not at all. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it does not kidnap – ”

“You’re misquoting,” the dragon interrupted. “Paul doesn’t say anything about kidnapping.”
The parson replies, “I believe the injunction against kidnapping is implied by all the rest of it.”

It’s an original, moving, surprising story—I highly recommend it. It's available on Amazon here.

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