felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy (belated) Midsummer/Solstice/Litha to those who celebrate it, and happy first day of summer to those who don't.

I did my usual high-speed catch-up on LJ. Which is why some of you have spammed inboxes today :)

I keep meaning to review books I have in an ever-growing stack on my desk. One that really deserves more than the short shrift it's going to get is Douglas Coupland's Generation A. I believe this to be his best book. In fact it pretty much gathers together the best of his other work in one delicious, richly-written piece, and leaves the dross. So if you only ever read one Coupland, this is it.

It's a short, simple novel of a likely dystopian future - one where "Colony Collapse Disorder" has wiped out the bee population. Most flowers are dead. Most kinds of fruit are rare delicacies. As the novel progresses, the dystopia deepens, and even worse horrors are in the offing.

In the midst of this, five strangers are stung by the supposedly-extinct bee. They're isolated, studied, and strangely become friends. They wind up on Haida Gwaii, where they start to piece together the mystery of what happened to them, to figure out how they got there and where they're going.

After years of mid-quality and poor-quality efforts, Coupland's more than back in form with this one. He restricts his obsession with ripping plotlines from the headlines to just the bee extinction, so it doesn't feel like he's just cribbing Yahoo News to flesh out his books. The iciness and callousness of his later work isn't here. This one is sensitive, intelligent, and the themes and plot and character are all rich and engaging.

More than that I couldn't say without giving too much away. Except that it's highly recommended.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Just thought I'd stop in to wish a happy Lughnassadh/Lammas to those who celebrate it - and a happy August to those who don't.

[livejournal.com profile] em_fish and I had a lovely afternoon chez [livejournal.com profile] jenjoou today. Other than that, it's been a quiet day of writing (twice my daily quota), and cleaning the apartment (mostly) top to bottom.

I'm not looking forward to another week of lots of overtime this week, though :/
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I've been trying to review some of the books that have been sitting on my to-review pile for ages.

review continues for La Nuit Des Princes Charmants by Michel Tremblay )

In short, it's a perfect little poem of a book. There's not a word here that doesn't need to be.

In other news, it's Victoria Day Eve here in Canada. Across the country, little ones are hanging up stockings and putting out cookies for when Queen Victoria glides over in her gilded carriage drawn by pomeranians. After that, we sing the Victoria Day carols, tell the kids about the true nature of Victoria Day, and then send them all out to manufacture snuff and clean chimneys for a night.

Canadian holidays are weird like that.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I'm putting aside my usual hatred of Valentine's Day, and I'm reading A Parliament of Birds by Geoffrey Chaucer, the poem that started it all.

(Except Chaucer meant Saint Valentine of Genoa's Day, which was May 2nd, not the Saint Valentine of indeterminate origin - Rome, Terni, or Tunisia/Libya/Algeria - on February 14. Some think a dim memory of Lupercalia influenced the move.)

Here are some of the lines that made the holiday, from A Parliament of Birds, in 1382:

And in a launde, upon a hille of floures
Was set this noble goddesse, Nature
Of branches were hir halles and hir boures
Ywrought, aftir hir crafte and hir mesure;
Ne ther nas foule the cometh of engendrure
That thei ne were prest in hir presence
To take hir dome and yeve hir audience.

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foule cometh there to chese his make,
Of every kynde that man thynke may...
And in a meadow, upon a hill of flowers
Was set this noble goddess Nature
Of branches were her halls and her bowers
Wrought by her craft and measure;
There wasn't a bird born
That didn't hury into her presence
To hear her judgement and give her audience

For this was on Saint Valentine's Day
When every bird came there to choose his mate,
Of every species man might think of...


Nature then plays matchmaker for all the birds, which makes a lot more sense in May than February.

Me, like most of my friends I don't have much to celebrate today, except that chocolate will be cheap tomorrow.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Christmas to those who celebrate it, and a belated Io, Saurnalia to those who don't. It's also my fourteenth year of being a Montrealer - I arrived on Christmas Day, 1995.

This is the first year that Yule has felt bigger than Christmas. I've been Pagan more than fourteen years now, too, but it takes a long time for a new set of traditions to become visceral, if that makes any sense. The last two years, I've held rits here when everyone is asleep. I don't know a single other Pagan in Victoria, though I know the community is huge, here.

I've been visiting Sean almost every day. He and his brother have a huge collection of games. One that's really captivating is Mirror's Edge, particularly if you like the Cyberpunk aesthetic - you play a courier running information for democratic dissidents over the rooftops of a shiny corporatist dystopia. I get a little vertigo watching that game, though.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I made it in. On the trip from Calgary, I wasn't entirely sure. I suspect that plane was something the Red Baron shot down and Air Canada had refurbished, and that it gained the power of flight through happy thoughts.

I'm a slow reader, but I read all of a manga and two-fifths of Michel Tremblay's La Nuit des Prince Charmants. La Nuit is gorgeous so far, and I keep imagining it drawn by Fumi Yoshinaga. It's her style of story exactly.

(There's so much French in her manga I wonder if she reads in it? Maybe I should send her a copy?)

I'm in Victoria for two weeks. That includes New Year's Eve. Victoria doesn't have a nightlife. They used to say Victoria rolled up the streets at night. I suspect they also string up garlic, put up crucifixes, and bar their doors shut against the Nosferatu.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
It's been a chaotic week, so I've had no chance to post since our Yule party, and we had a pretty good turnout.

[livejournal.com profile] rougemacabre got me a game called Martian Fluxx, which is very strange and a lot of fun. From [livejournal.com profile] montrealais I got some excellent books, as well as some decent clothes. [livejournal.com profile] jenjoou got me Mass Effect, which I've heard great things about and I'm looking forward to as soon as I've got a new motherboard for my desktop computer. [livejournal.com profile] maidenofirisa got me a Shin Megami Tensei game, which is the series I've been playing now, and really enjoying. And [livejournal.com profile] archdiva brought his stories, which are always a wonderful gift. Thank you to all ^_^

I was going to review Shadow Hearts: Covenant in this space, but I've got to call a taxi in five minutes to make my flight to Victoria. Maybe next time. But to the Montreal crowd, I hope you have a good holiday, and we have to get together when after I get home - January 3rd this time. See you soon!
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Just thought I'd pop in to wish a Happy Mabon to those who celebrate it, and a happy spring equinox to those who don't :)

I actually had today off as a religious holiday. No static on that. As bad as my workplace has been lately, there are still some things that make it head and shoulders over any other job I've had.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Dollard-des-Victoria-Patriotes-Queen's-Birthday-May-2-4 Day to my fellow Canadians. Here's hoping you left out milk and cookies for Queen Victoria and Dollard des Ormeaux, and carrots for their eight tiny reindeer.

I've had a quiet recovery from a very nasty flu. My goal is to be halfway through the first of two short edits today.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Just thought I'd stop in to wish a happy Ostara to all who celebrate it, and a happy first day of Spring to those who don't.

March came in like a lion, then became a lamb, but that lamb now has distinctly leonine parts. I think I glimpsed a mane this morning, and I'm pretty sure those are claws.

If it further mutates to incorporate goat parts and dragon parts, someone's going to have to call up Bellerophon.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Holidays

I thought I'd pop in to wish a happy Dominion Day to all those Vorta and Jem'Hadar out there Canada turns 141 today, so it's high time we began our conquest of the alpha quadrant.

Writing

In personal more news, I finished the climax of my (fifth version of) my novel today. I'm pleased with it -- best climax I ever wrote, and better than any I had with my last boyfriend. The novel has the added advantage of still being there in the morning.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Day of the Patriotic Queen, to those in Canada.

There really needs to be a movie in which Queen Victoria and les Patriotes explain the true meaning of this holiday to a disbelieving girl named Virginia. That way, the rest of us would know.

I suspect the explanation would involve garden parties and barbecued hamburgers.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
History

I have updated by historical website, although it's just a summary of the section. Really, it's the Cole's-Notes version of half a year of research.

I have to say that researching homosexuality between the fall of New France and Confederation was agonizing -- it's the least-studied period of Canadian history, generally, and I uncovered a lot of info that no one studying this area has looked at.

Social Life

It was a great New Year's -- spent it with [livejournal.com profile] montrealais and his boyf at the drag show at Club Mado. New Year's is really the only time of the year I go out clubbing, so I really enjoyed it.

Resolutions

My New Year's resolution is about time management. As I'm only working 20 hours a week, there's a lot more time to write than I've been using, and I think that if I treat my writing as a second job -- with times and schedules rather than just a minimum amount each day -- I'll be better able to use my free time.

Currently, the border between writing-time and play-time is so fuzzy that I feel guilty for relaxing or hanging out with friends or doing other things. If I'm more disciplined with my writing during the day -- treating it like any other job -- I'll be more able to do things like hanging out with friends and going out to clubs, etc.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I've been seeing Canadians trying to explain Boxing Day to people in countries without it. Let me see if I can try.

Remember that episode of Star Trek, the original series, where a computer called Landru is running the entire planet? Remember how they arrive at the Festival, and it's a giant orgy in the streets, with people breaking windows and looting, and then the next day the planet's population returns to being friendly, contented socialists?

Ever wonder how Canadians stay so polite?

If you're ever caught in a Boxing Day special riot, keep your head down, and try to protect your eyes. Some people may try to harvest you for organs, to pay for their purchases. Use whatever force is necessary to protect yourself -- unexplained disappearances are common on this day, and a 10% fatality rate is considered well within acceptable losses.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Natalis Solis Invicti and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate them ^_^

I got The History of Private Life, the medieval portion -- which I need for my research. I have also been promised an authentic kilt at some future point, so it was a good year for gifts. Soon the floodgates will open, and four generations relatives will pour into my parents' Tudor witch's house.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
This has been a first week of Yule gifts -- I got great books on Wednesday at our Yule party (Michael Chabon's latest from [livejournal.com profile] foi_nefaste, The Monster Hunter's Guide from [livejournal.com profile] em_fish, and a mountain of books from our city's dying gay bookstore from [livejournal.com profile] montrealais -- including some works of history and one about Harry Hay).

And yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] jenjoou and [livejournal.com profile] maidenofirisa got me the DS sequel to Final Fantasy XII, which I think I'm really going to love.

Thank you everyone!

Strangely, my 9th consecutive day of work is going much more smoothly than my 8th -- I'm not quite as exhausted, and having gotten a lot of writing done this morning helps. I may even have the energy to go to the library this evening and do more research.

In much nastier news, the Action Démocratique du Québec is opposing a new religion and ethics class that talks about all religions, without the traditional Catholic bias. Mario Dumont -- scary, reactionary indvidual that he is -- is naturally opposing this move towards secularism.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I suppose there's still a little time to wish people a happy Canada Day! Hard to believe country's 140 years old.

I spent the holiday hanging out with good friends, and also researching some of the murkier depths of early Canadian history.

I'm sorry I've been neglecting journals. I've been captivated by history lately (my last entry was not great, but I've got a much better one to post tomorrow). I'll start back-reading tomorrow -- I promise.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Jesus/bunny day to those who celebrate it. In Montreal, it seems we've got a white Easter, in place of the white Christmas we didn't get. Yesterday, it was bright and sunny and snowing, which I'd never seen before.

I know April showers bring May flowers, but what do April snowstorms bring?

I'm spending this long weekend in the office. It's quite peaceful. I'm averaging 2,500 words a day now, and I'm proud of that since it's mostly new material (harder to write), and I've worked most of those days.

I'm also on the fourth branch of the Mabinogion, which is the one I've been lifting second-hand fairy-tales to weave into my novel. Since I got all those stories about Math and Gwydion and Llew Llaw Gyffes second-hand, I decided to return to the source.

There are some definite gaps in the the storyline, which is to be expected in mythology -- like, "Why does the wizard Math have to keep his feet in the lap of a virgin most of the time?" That's just dropped in, without explanation. When Aranrhod is revealed as not-a-virgin by Math's magic, I was half-expecting her to shout, "I didn't think that counted!"
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
It's Valentine's Day today. I'll spare you the full force of my bitterness -- I haven't had a non-disastrous date in about 5 years. However, I think I am adopting my roommate's name for it -- Dies Irae, the Day of Wrath.

The funny thing is, it's not even meant to be February 14th. It's supposed to be related to Lupercalia, an old Roman fertility holiday, but it actually comes from a story by Geoffrey Chaucer, on which Valentine's Day was the day on which all the birds chose their mate for the year.

Chaucer invented this tradition, and he seems to have been thinking of of May 2, the feast of St. Valentine of Genoa.

For some reason, it got moved/confused with the feast of a different St. Valentine, about whom nothing is known except that he was martyred.

So remember, Montrealers, when you're out there freezing in -25-with-the-windchill weather to go through the ritual date with your loved one -- or person you met last night online -- remember that this ritual self-flagellation for the coupled and the single could've been in May instead.

Now the only question is, why do the lovers get the chocolate when the singles need it more?
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I have been even more absent lately. So this is belated, please forgive me:

Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics
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Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics

I finally got my grades back for the semester. I've got seven A's and one A- so far, and one grad class left.

Mostly I've spent the last few weeks trying to get past writer's block. My usual trick (video games) worked, and I'm back on track for my self-imposed deadline for the novel in November.

Also, happy Dollard-des-Victoria-the-Patriot's Birthday today, to my fellow Canadians! Today we get together to celebrate Queen Victoria's valiant struggle for democracy in Lower Canada against the Iroquois! She was martyred, but she got better*

*To those of you completely lost, this is a long weekend in Canada. It's officially called Victoria Day, after Queen Victoria. It's also known as The Queen's Birthday, leading some to falsely assume that Lizzy Part II was born on May 24th. In Quebec, where the monarchy is often seen as a symbol of the evils of British empire and a form of parasite on the public purse, many took to calling it Dollard-des-Ormeaux, after the French soldier who was martyred, according to legend, killed by the Iroquois he set out to masssacre.

Of course, Queen Vic is now recognized as a symbol of racism, militarism, and prudery. And we tend not to consider would-be Indian mass-murderer heroic. So now it's called the FĂȘte des Patriotes in Quebec, for the martyrs of the 1837-38 Rebellion for democracy in Lower Canada. Which doesn't help the rest of Canada.

May I humbly suggest Three-Day-Weekendmas? We could sit around, singing Three-Day-Weekend carols, roasting chestnuts over the Three-Day-Weekend log, and exchange Three-Day-Weekend presents.

Also, I don't think the name Festivus II: The Revenge of Festivus is yet taken.

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