Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Manderlay - A Review

 It occurs to me that I should probably put links to my Fission Mailure Reviews up here.

 Last week's review was late, due to hanging out with Doug during the period I should have been watching the film, but it was of Manderlay, the 2005 sequel to a film I previously reviewed called Dogville.

 Here are yon relevant links.

 Manderlay (2005)

 Dogville (2003)

Friday, 2 June 2017

The Lake House Review Supplemental

 Review here (x)

 You know, the one thing other than 'Keanu Reeves isn't that bad an actor' that was going through my head while I was watching this film was 'this just straight up wouldn't work in Britain'.

 The entire concept of the film is dependent on the two main characters being able to find letters that they leave for each other.

 The letterbox for a British house is in the front door, not on a stick outside of the house.

 Alex would find that first letter from Kate on the doormat and that would be the end of proceedings, because he'd have no way to reply unless the Royal Mail was in on it.

 While I think we can all agree that the addition of time travelling posties would only be an improvement to any film, it's beyond any normal level of suspension of disbelief that everyone in the sorting office would see a letter from the future and not return it to sender for being a bullshit merchant.

 Look, we're British. We don't do that lighthearted quirky shit unless kids are involved.

 And I think it needs to be made clear that Alex would have to put his replies in the postal system. The idea that you could leave a letter for someone else near your house and expect it to be delivered is some weird foreign nonsense, unless you have some blackmail on your postman.

 Even if the Royal Mail did deliver time travel letters (which they wouldn't, mostly on principal and because of cuts), these cutesie conversations between the protagonists would take much, much longer.

 In film, it's instant messaging with real paper, in the British version, they're glorified pen pals. Which wouldn't last for long because they'd both be spending a fortune on stamps.

 Which would be an interesting way to raise revenue, if nothing else.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

NaNoWriMo Extract

 So my sleep patterns been playing me right up these last ten days or so, and I just couldn't think of anything to post about. My apologies for both of these things.

 However, not what the post is about, this post is an extract from yesterday's NaNoWriMo efforts that I fancied showing off.

 It revolves around one of the newer characters in the story, Carwyn.

 (For reference he calls his sister Padi)

In the Shadow of the Stonehearted King

 He'd decided to name it Padikin.

 It was barely the height of his palm, standing in the awkward arms held straight out from the shoulder position that was depicted in the book on his desk.

 A small sculpture of a girl with pigtails and a long dress made from clay he'd taken from the arts rooms. Padikin didn't have much detail, except for little dot eyes and a smiley mouth on her face and tiny snakes of a necklace and bracelet.

 He'd made her small so she'd be easier to fire, but it made her harder to paint. She had a big black splodge on her right cheek from when he was painting her hair.

 Carwyn thought it made her cuter.

 He re-examined the pages concerning the ancient rites of golem animation. It was complicated, with many glyphs and a strange chant that the book was determined could not be sung.

 He was certain that the T'schdem had streamlined it since the book was written, as it did not need to be as complicated as it was.

 He drew one glyph on the desk in chalk coloured with the blood of a ram. The book called for fresh billy blood, but he couldn't get his hands on that at such short notice. The long dried blood of a similar looking male would have to be enough.

 He placed an inverted plate on top of it and carefully wrote the chant in a circle around it.

 With a knife he wedged the plate up so he could remove it without smudging the chalk.

 A few careful curves and curls to fill in some space and the cirle was finished.

 It didn't look much like the diagram, which was designed to give a general idea and not the actual circle of magic used, that was all straight lines, glyphs and the suggestion of vines. Carwyn's was all organic looking shapes that reflected no actual living thing caught between a glyph and the carefully written chant in the alphabet of the Lords.

 He admired his handiwork and gently placed Padikin in the centre of the circle.

 "Gentle Padikin, sweet child of clay," he sang trailing his finger around the circle before spiralling through it, "to you I give the gift of life."

 Once his finger reached her feet her turned her with his free hand, causing the chalk on his finger to leave gradually fading marks on her dress. At her shoulder he stopped, pressing his finger tip against her little smiley mouth.

 "As once the gods granted it to man. I wish you a duty of nothing but joy," he crooned before blowing gently into her face, some of the trace of chalk he'd left with his finger blew away.

 Her arms fell to her sides.


 She tilted her head at him before nodding.

 He smiled widely.

 "Welcome to the world little Padikin, and thank you, I'll be able to revive Southern soon thanks to you."

 Padikin pushed out her chest and put her little mitten hands on her hips in pride.

 Her pose of triumph didn't last long though, as she started trying to brush off the chalk the second she touched some with her hand.

 Carwyn chuckled and handed her a tiny scrap of cloth.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Slangebarn (Part Two - Cultural Narrative)

 Long ago in the time before the Lords, there was wise king in the lands of the north.

 She ruled well and protected her people from both invaders and the villains from within.

 Her people loved her and the gods blessed the name of King Slange.

 Like many powerful monarchs, she struggled to find a suitable helpmeet, a man who would support both her and her kingdom and be able to provide her with an heir.

 Many men approached her, but none could be what she and her people needed from a consort. Some were good commanders but little else, some were lovers who lacked the skills to rule, many sought to take her power, and many more were entirely unqualified.

 A sad few, though, they were good men with strong spirits and warm hearts, but could not provide the heirs Slange and her people needed.

 Heart broken after turning away another of these suitors, Slange petitioned the gods of her people.

 She asked not for the perfect helpmeet, but for heirs, resigned as she was to that man not existing and wishing to no longer have to turn good men away.

 The gods listened, and two descended in the form of animals, offering to give her children to bear.

 Both wished for the child they granted to be her heir, but Slange was as fair to gods as she was to men, she asked to bear both children as twins and would choose her successor from between them.

 The gods agreed, each confident that their child would be fit to rule Slange's kingdom.

 Using their magic, they granted Slange the gift of motherhood.

 The people rejoiced the announcement of her quickening, and a great feast of many days was prepared for the birth of the twins.

 When they blessed day came, the first born of the twins was a son Slange named Svan, and she named his sister Alga.

 The children grew to be healthy and strong, and Slange was happy in her motherhood.

 As the twins learned to read and write, a man came to court who caught Slange's eye.

 He was a handsome man who was also wise and caring, and saw no issue with opposing Slange when he did not agree with her.

 She grew more attracted to him by the day, and one day she invited him to her private chambers for a meal.

As they ate and drank, she confessed her interest in him, and he replied that he too was attracted to her. He'd come to her court out of admiration and had since, he believed, fallen in love.

 The two began a short and passionate courtship and it seemed to all that knew them that they would be wed within the year.

 The seasons changed, and much sooner than before, Slange felt the quickening.

 Before the sun set, the father gods of Svan and Alga descended in animal form once again to confront the pair.

 They spoke of betrayal and lies, not of Slange, but of her paramour. For he was a god in disguise.

 The lie cut Slange deep.

 The father gods of Svan and Alga presented the god with an ultimatum from their king, either the god was to return to heaven and never return to Slange's side, or he could give up his godly powers and status to live along men.

 In a heartbeat, the god gave up everything, becoming the man that Slange had believed he was.

 This act of sacrifice proved to Slange that he never wished to hurt her and she felt that she could forgive him.

 The father gods of Svan and Alga left them, their task completed.

 Once the pain of the lie had faded, the pair wed, their honeymoon blessed with Slange's third child. A son she named Earn.

 For many years the family lived happily, until the twins showed signs of adulthood, it was then that they began to compete for their role as heir. The following years saw their competition turn to rivalry and then to fighting.

 Slange and her husband tried to stem their conflict, but by the time Earn had earned his manhood it had become irreconcilable.

 Svan and Alga could barely stand the sight of each other and their skills in war and rule were evenly matched.

 Slange could not choose either of them to take her throne, and her promise to their father gods prevented her from taking the suggestion of Svan and Alga themselves and select Earn as her heir.

 Instead she split the kingdom between them, into the land of Alga bordered by Svan's kingdom.

 With no land of his own, and wishing not to choose between his beloved brother and sister, Earn struck out his own path west.

 Over the sea he found an island of two nations, with kings who fought and warred constantly, with his experience gained from serving his mother and the fights of his siblings, Earn began to create his own kingdom. He took lands as payment for fighting the northern king for the western one, and his people prospered as they claimed the land.

 Before long, he rose and army of his own and pit the kings against each other enough to take as much land as he could before he began to push them back to the north and the west. His success continued until the terrain prevented his expansion to the north and the sharp bite of magic to the west.

 His mother, father and siblings were proud of his accomplishments, and Slange lived out her life the mother of three kings.

 Her fate was not the one she had wished and hoped for, but she could not have been happier with it.

 This story is incredibly old, it was old even at the time of the arrival of the Lords, an event recorded as happening two and half thousand years ago.

 The scholars of the Slangebarn believe that the spirit of the story is true, that there was a group named the Slange and it split into the Svani, Algmen and Earnmen, with the latter striking out to establish a kingdom between the borders of Damhtir and Maharentir.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

I am a terrible person

 But aside from that, I'm gonna have to post the cultural narrative of the Slangebarn tomorrow because writing it is surprisingly hard and I am absolutely  shattered.

 I also don't have a series name like I hoped.

 I've been really tired so far this week, I'm a bit worried that I've got another case of the old insomnia.

 I'm pretty confident I'll be able to get the post done tomorrow, though.

 I'll also make sure to put up another post this week to make it up to you guys.

 Suggestions are welcome, tumblr is the preferred method for those.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Writing Eyes: My Experience With Dilated Pupils

 So I have a nevus in the retina of my right eye and it showed up there sometime in the last four years.

 Nevi are basically freckles in the eye, they can appear on the front of the eye, like in the iris, or they can be like mine and show up inside the eye. Like freckles, they are usually benign, and also like freckles, they can turn malignant.

 Due to it appearing recently and the fact that it's very close to the macula (vision centre) of my eye, my optician wanted to have a better look at it to make sure it was benign.

 This meant that she put tropicamide drops in my eyes to dilate my pupils to make it easier to see my retina.

 Yes, this stuff has the same basic function as belladonna, the fancy name for deadly nightshade.

 Since this was a thing that fashionable ladies did once upon a time to make their pupils look larger, I thought it would be a good idea to write about my experience of having ridiculously large pupils.

Is this pretty? I don't know.
  It doesn't kick in immediately, so when it started I was in Boots (regular Boots, not the Opticians Boots who put the drops in) buying vitamin pills and a new hairbrush, and the thing I noticed first was that everything between one and two arm lengths away was incredibly and unnaturally clear.

 Everything else was intensely blurry.

 I'm short sighted, so I'm used to things at a distance being blurry, but not my own cleavage being blurry and difficult to make out.

 Yes, I could not see my own boobs clearly.

 It was really weird.

 This also meant that I had a really hard time taking the picture above because I couldn't see what was on my phone without holding it at arm's length and my eyes look really dark when they're photographed in anything dimmer than direct sunlight. (I had to expose the shit out of that picture.)

 So I took about five pictures while unable to see if the camera had picked anything up.

 For the first half hour or so, I had this weird relationship with light.

 If I kept my eyes open for too long, I started getting a headache that was centralised in what I like to call 'the migraine warning area'.

 No wonder migraines show up in oldy timey fiction if people were doing this to themselves.

 The other thing that happened was that I kept getting after images of the weirdest things.

 One thing this happened with was a poster advertising half price frames where the frames themselves would singe themselves onto my retina for a few seconds. Which is odd as they were by far the darkest thing on the poster.

 I'm also pretty sure I got an afterimage of a large mirror at one point. It was very strange.

 After my appointment was over I had some shopping to do in my local town centre, which is a mid range activity most of the time, so I was too busy to really notice much for the next few hours.

 Well, apart from how weirdly difficult finding stuff in Lakeland was. Which was the first shop I went in and has been rearranged for Christmas stuff.

 Once I got home though, I found that sitting at my computer was giving me a mild headache and felt really uncomfortable for my eyes. I was about half way through the life span of the effects, so I chickened out and took a nap because everything was really bright.

 So bright, in fact, that I had to use a long sock as a makeshift blindfold because my room is white and closing my eyes only made it so that I couldn't perceive my surroundings but I could still see a lot of light.

 By the way, it doesn't look like my nevus will cause me any problem in the short term, but I have an appointment for proper eye doctors to look at it. Which may or may not change my lens prescription depending on if I need treatment and what that might be.

 So sadly I can't get new contacts for up to three months.

 Eye based drama aside, I hope this comes in handy if you want to write about Georgian era ladies or women from Italy back when this was in vogue.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Slangebarn (Part One - Etymology and Inspiration)

 The Slangebarn (Slanguhbarn, with slan rhyming with slam) as an ethnic group in the world of my Epic Fantasy Story came about due to two major factors.

 One, as I set the story in a country based on medieval Wales, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to represent Mercia. For those of you who don't know, Mercia was the kingdom that occupied most of England north of Bristol and south of Liverpool and had Tamworth as its capital.

 Like most of the kingdoms of the period, it changed borders a bunch over time, growing larger until it was eventually absorbed into the Danelaw.

 I wanted a representation of the Anglo-Saxons prior to the Norman conquest, because things changed fast and hard after that invasion.

 Two, as part of that representation of the Anglo-Saxons I wanted to concentrate on their cultural ties with Scandinavia and Germanic groups.

 These ties were essentially severed by the Norman conquest. (Personally I attribute a lot of England's cultural isolationism to this, as the Norman ruling class dragged it into line with a country with a fundamentally different language structure and different religious and cultural roots. Yes I am saying that if the Normans hadn't invaded then Brexit wouldn't have happened.)

 As I'm trying to streamline my real life inspirations to stop me from making hundreds of different countries with thousands of different ethnic groups, I've decided on two different countries to ally with my Mercia expy, those being a Denmark expy and a Sweden expy and I'm going to fold various aspects of other Nordic and Germanic countries into all three.

 Why Denmark and Sweden?

 Well, I started off wanting a Denmark because a. the Danelaw and b. I know a few Danes on social media and have swiftly learned that Danes love being included in things, so why not do so?

 As for Sweden, before the modern period Denmark and Sweden were constantly getting into fights, and that makes for good drama and political machinations.

 So, let's name these countries.

 I've decided on an animal theme for all the countries, with most countries being some variation on animal-land and most ethnic groups being some variation on animal-people.

 For Mercia I went with a silver eagle, a bird that doesn't exist in the real world but does in the fantasy one, I did this because I found it as the symbol for a regiment known as the Mercian Regiment and I wasn't sure what else to go with so I went with that.

 The Anglo-Saxon for eagle is earn (which I pronounce as 'airn', I believe this is accurate. A Danish friend says it this way too so I'm sticking with it) and Mercia itself is the Latinised form of a a name that means 'borderland' and shares a root with the 'mark' in Denmark (Hjaalmarch in The Elder Scrolls and The Free Marches in Dragon Age are also derived from this root).

 Combine these two elements and we get Earnmark.

 For a citizen I went with Earnman and for plural we have Earnmen. I did this as the word 'man' has been used as a gender neutral term for centuries and only started to not be after, you guessed it, the Norman Conquest.

 Thanks Bill.

 Why not go with a lion? you may be wondering.

 Because the golden lions on a red background you see in the royal coat of arms is, you guessed it, a Norman symbol.

 (This means that Godric Gryffindor has the same iconography as the group who invaded England and fucked over all the Anglo-Saxons about fifty years after he helped found Hogwarts, which makes the association of Slytherin with the simpering Norman descended upper classes really damn confusing.)

 Denmark, luckily has a national animal that I could find instead of flailing around for any animal I could latch onto like with Mercia.

 Denmark's national bird is the mute swan, which in Danish is called knopsvane. Since Knopsvanemark sounded weird, I went with just Svanemark (Svaynuhmark). Which is also useful because I can call the people Svanes and the people as a whole the Svani, which I derived by smashing Svane together with the name of the people Denmark is named for, the Dani.

 Sweden's national animal is the elk, in Swedish this is älg. Which is a pain in the neck for me because I don't know how to put accents on letters using keyboard shortcuts.

 Combined with the word landa (guess what that means), we get Älglanda (My Danish friend sounds like she's saying Ilglangda, but neither of us know for sure. Swedes? Some help?). I went with the Earnmen scheme to get Älgman and Älgmen. I just guessed that man is used similarly in Swedish, and if I'm wrong I'll justify it by it supplying a cultural connection between the Earnmen and Älgmen in the way Earnmark and Svanemark suggests one.

 Coming up with the name for the ethnic group as a whole was more difficult.

 For starters I needed to decide if I would go with an animal theme again for this, which in this case I decided to (it's different for the Crύbdoine).

Our animal of choice is the snake.

Why the snake?

Because of a guy named Sigurd Snake in the Eye (or Sigurðr ormr í auga in Old Norse), he was said to have been born with a mark in one eye that resembled the Ouroboros. Science of today insists on ruining our fun by telling us it was likely a common or garden mutation.

Thanks, science.

I decided to go with Norwegian for this name, but it's basically in Danish too. (See what I mean when I rant about the Normans?)

So Slange means snake, and barn means children.

So, why are they called the Snakechildren?

Well, this ties into their cultural narrative of their history, which I'll have to put into a separate post because this post is already over nine hundred and fifty words long.

Look out for that on Wednesday! (By which time I'll hopefully have a working title for the series as a whole.)