Dec. 10th, 2013
10:58 am - Be Our Guest Photos
08:32 am - I'm back
I was gone for a week on the first real vacation I've had in nine years. I went with my husband and a group of friends to Disneyworld. It was awesome. I got dehydrated and had vertigo, especially in the mornings and evenings, and it was still awesome. I'll try to post about a few of the highlights over the next few days.
The first was Be Our Guest in the expanded section of fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. It's a inexpensive counter service restaurant, and you have to wait in line for at least half an hour or so to get in if you don't have reservations, but it was completely worth it.
It's in a new Beauty and the Beast area. There's a square with a fountain, a little shop, and another small counter service place called Gaston's Tavern (which serves pork shank and cinnamon rolls as big as your head -- Disney does food well), and all of it looks like real-life versions from the movie. Then to the left of that is a castle wall, with a long bridge across a moat that looks like it's cut through a forested hillside, with a waterfall. Then at the end of the bridge is a mountain, and on top of the mountain is a castle. It's all forced perspective, so it looks like it's full size, just further away than it actually is. You walk through the mountain entrance to get into the castle, which has three large dining rooms, one the castle hall, one the castle ballroom, and one the scary West Wing that Belle wasn't supposed to go into. (It was almost too dark to eat in there.) One end of the hall has frosted glass windows looking "outside" and because it was December it occasionally snowed behind them. (It was 80 degrees in the real outside.) In the West Wing there is the portrait of the beast, and the rose in a glass jar, both of which periodically do all the things they did in the movie. (The rose in the jar was particularly impressive. It wasn't animated -- it looked like a three dimensional hovering magical rose that was magically losing petals due to a curse, and it was only a few feet away from you. They do really, really cool things with projections onto objects.)
They cut off the line at a certain point and don't allow anyone else to line up for a certain period (I think it was an hour and forty-five minutes) so the restaurant was full, but not chaotic or crowded, and there was plenty of room for everyone to find a table, and also lots of room between the tables for people to walk around and see everything in all the rooms, like the portraits, statues, intermittent snow, moving rose, etc. (One of my friends accidentally walked into the kitchen at one point, because it's not labeled.) You order on touch screens as you come in, then go sit down, and they bring you the food in rolling glass and wood carts that look like something from a fancy la belle epoque Paris restaurant. (To find you, they either give you a rose token (a small electronic device shaped like a rose) or you use the Disney "magic band" that comes with the meal plan, and they actually track that to your table. (Fortunately, we realized we needed to leave our bands on the table while we got our drinks.) The food was not expensive and very delicious. I got a roast beef sandwich with green beans. The deserts were these various wonderful cupcake-size things of different kinds with beautiful decorations, and were also delicious.
Even though you have to get there early and stand in line, it was totally worth it. I'll try to post som pictures as soon as I get copies.
* I'm on the the Coffee with Kenobi podcast: http://www.coffeewithkenobi.com/cof
* My co-writer on Blade Singer, Aaron de Orive, has a post on SF Signal about the kickstarter: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/1
* Athena's Daughters has a Kickstarter - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103
* The Book Fair for Ballou SR high school library has started: http://guyslitwire.blogspot.com/201
ETA: and here are the photos: http://marthawells.livejournal.com/5775
05:45 am - Athena's Daughters
I've mentioned a few times (and do not expect anyone to remember, which is why I'm mentioning it again) that I've got this fun novel idea called "Commando Bats"--basically what happens when a bunch of old women get powers.
The idea has been simmering away waiting for an excuse to start it, but with everything else going on, kept receding like a mirage, until I got an invitation to submit something to a proposed anthology called Athena's Daughters.
I really liked this interesting bunch of women and their publishing group, Silence in the Library. (One of them is a jet pilot in the military, how cool is that?) I liked the project, and since mine met the requirements--strong women, magic . . . I wrote the beginning of the novel as a short story. (Well, short for me, at 8k words). The story doesn't get much into Hera, who I always thought one of the most interesting of the mythological figures, conflicted as the stories are about her, but my key bats are definitely in it, getting a start to their new careers as superheroes.
If you've hit the link, you'll see that it's a fundraiser, so that we and the artists will get paid. As fundraisers go, it's pretty modest. I hope anyone interested with a few bucks to throw into the kitty will check it out, and be sure to watch the vid, shot in Washington D.C.
07:33 am - Democracy - a Pedant's View
I keep seeing Nelson Mandela referred to as "the first democratically elected president of South Africa", because he was the first to be elected after the franchise was extended to non-whites. By that criterion, Ulysses S. Grant was the first democratically elected president of the USA - although, since half the adult population was still excluded from voting at that time, perhaps the honour really goes to Warren Harding. The ancient Athenians, of course, were never democratic at all, despite supposedly inventing the idea.
You'll have guessed that I don't think it's very helpful to talk about Mandela in that way. Not only does it conflict with the latitude the word "democracy" is normally accorded (some people even think the House of Lords is democratic, for goodness' sake), but it narrows the scope both of his achievement and of apartheid, which was about much, much more than voting rights. Journalists have to use shorthand, I suppose, but I wish they'd reach deep into their word hoard and find another phrase.
01:57 am - Light in the dark month
Here in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, it's dark in December, and so we treasure stars and candles and other things that shine. browngirl sent me a beautiful card her friend made, of Santa Lucia--Saint Lucy, with her candle crown:
I love the light over the bridge of her nose, and her eyes full of all the mysteries she sees.
(This friend has an art tumblr here and an online shop here.)
browngirl also sent me some absolutely beautiful art of her own creating, which I want to share, but which I'll wait on, so you can enjoy each artist's work without distraction.
Dec. 9th, 2013
10:54 pm - A Religious Mystery
My Japanese teacher showed me a volume of Seinto Oniisan, a manga in which Jesus and the Buddha share a flat in Tokyo. It naturally reminded me of Jesus and Mo, in which Jesus and Mohammed (or his body double) share a flat in Britain. The latter began in November 2005, the former some time in 2006. Coincidence? I've no idea.
I suppose, being omnipresent but incarnate, Jesus may be able to justify these multiple pieds-à-terre, but do his roommates know about his complicated lifestyle?
05:15 pm - Misty Moisty Morning
This is the view across the Abbey Green, including most of Romsey Abbey, the vicarage, and my old primary school. I took it first when I was walking into town to do a bit of shopping for my mother, and again on the way back, some thirty minutes later.
02:43 pm - Merlin Conspiracy
It turns out that I have never read The Merlin Conspiracy. How this came to pass, I do not know. It certainly looked read, sitting there contentedly on my shelf next to Deep Secret, where it belonged. But, no, I had never read it. This has now been rectified. I have a vague feeling that I started it once, but never finished it. Why this should be, I do not know, since I certainly liked it this time. Maybe I tried to read it too soon after Deep Secret? Deep Secret is one of my favourite Diana Wynne Jones books (mostly because of the Con), and perhaps I was disappointed to find that although inhabiting the same fictional reality and sharing one character, it was not in any way a sequel. But surely I would have expected that, since this is just how things work in DWJ sequels and series. Do any of her books behave even remotely as a conventional sequel? The Pinhoe Egg, perhaps? I wish we could have got a DWJ style sideways non-sequel to Archer's Goon.
It struck me while reading it that I long ago got to the point that I had read so many novels based on British folklore and mythology, that all the different versions of the Wild Hunt, King Arthur, spirits of geographical features, the Queen of Elfland, white dogs with red ears, and the like, all coexist in my mind, all of them simultaneously real no matter which version I'm reading. They probably are. I bet it causes them no end of trouble at family gatherings, and leads to unfortunately unappropriate Christmas presents. "Oh, I'm sorry, you're that version of Herne the Hunter. Um... you'd probably better stop unwrapping that now before you see what's inside it." And all those different spirits of London and its rivers, bickering over who is the rightful recipient of badly addressed Christmas cards!
It has also occurred to me that I can remember nothing at all about Enchanted Glass but that it (I think) contained Vegetables of Unusual Size, so I'd better go and read that now.
We’ve finally finished watching all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’m going to go ahead and say this is one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. Here’s the official show description from the website, for anyone who’s unfamiliar with it:
Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Only the Avatar was the master of all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless Fire Nation from conquering the world. But when the world needed him most, he disappeared. Until now…
On the South Pole, a lone Water Tribe village struggles to survive. It’s here that a young Waterbender named Katara and her warrior brother Sokka rescue a strange boy named Aang from a cavernous iceberg. Not only is Aang an Airbender–a race of people no one has seen in a century–but they soon discover that Aang is also the long lost Avatar. Now it’s up to Katara and Sokka to make sure Aang faces his destiny to save the tribe–and himself. Did we mention he’s only 12?
I don’t know how best to talk about a three-season, 61-episode show, so I’m just going to randomly celebrate some of the things that made it work so well for me.
The Characters: Almost without exception, every character has his/her own personality and story arc. The Big Bad Fire Lord was pretty much the only one who struck me as one-dimensional, and that’s partly because he barely even shows up until the very end. Everyone else felt fully human. They struggle. They make mistakes. You can connect and sympathize with almost everyone, even the villains. These are interesting people, and I wanted to spend more time with them.
The Animation: This is a beautifully animated show, from the background artwork to the various spirit creatures to the different cultural styles of dress and architecture to my particular favorite, the gracefulness of the four styles of bending. It’s gorgeous to look at.
The Joy: Aang’s backstory is incredibly painful. He’s the last of his people, a hundred years out of his time, and is tasked with saving the world. At the age of twelve. Yet he never loses his joy in the world. He jokes, he laughs, he plays, he dances. He believes in people … but not to the point of foolishness. The show hits notes of both very real pain and ridiculous silliness (poor cabbage guy), and the full range in between. That’s a hard thing to do well, and incredibly powerful when done right.
I’m putting the rest behind a cut tag, because of spoilers…
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
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