This week in the Slacktiverse, December 15th 2014

(posted by chris the cynic, written by members of The Slacktiverse; sorry that this is so late)

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • This week I wrote a sort of, kind of, stream of consciousness post called, “Crows without end,” which was the result of encountering an endless progression of crows near the beginning of a two hour walk home in the snow that got me thinking about Rainbow Crow, religion, terminology, non-flocking-adapted birds that flock, and such.
    • In response to Fred Clark’s re-posting of early Left Behind posts I’ve written what is probably the beginning of Skewed Slightly to the Left.
    • I wrote about the character of Bill Towner, the electrician who carries a sword and absolutely will make it to his child’s little league night, in the otherwise execrable movie House II: The Second Story.
    • And I also wrote about what happens when you walk four hours a day and don’t have money for new clothes.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for December 12, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who would like the solution to how to get lots of people to appear at his programming efforts.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist


Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip SandiferPhilip Sandifer: Writer (formerly TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue)

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Multiple Deconstructions:


Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragonsong: The Porter Scene

When we last left Half-Circle Hold, Menolly had been acknowledged as missing. And that was about as far as her search-and-rescue operation got. Yanus explicitly gave zero fucks about finding his daughter, Mavi was anxious until she had official cover to not care, which relieved her of the fear of being blamed and punished for Menolly running away, her brother told Elgion not to try too hard to find Menolly, and the children of the Hold actively resisted giving information about Menolly. Elgion has correctly deduced that something is very rotten in Half-Circle Hold.

Dragonsong: Chapters 7-8: Content Notes: No content notes. For two whole chapters, no less!

Chapter 7 is “The Care And Feeding of Fire Lizards”, starring Menolly and her cadre of nine fire-lizards. We find out that Menolly had been paying attention to all the other things she has had to do at the Hold, and can therefore find food, whether by forage or by fishing, gather fire-starting materials, harden clay vessels in the ashes of that fire, and boil water. And teach nine fire lizards the finer points of hunting.

Menolly is also able to fashion reed pipes so that she can play and sing music again, and the fire lizards are an appreciative audience, and learn to study of harmonize with her as she makes music. Menolly treats them like people are supposed to treat dragons, and things work well for her. She also learns that the queen fire-lizard rules the nine, with commands and scolds and discipline all coming from her.

The first major test for Menolly comes when she needs to collect some sort of oil for the cracking fire-lizard skin.

The closest source of oil swarm in the sea. But she’d no boat to catch the deep-sea oily fishes, so she searched the coast for dead fish and found a packtail washed up during the night. She slit the carcass, carefully, always working the knife blade away from her, and squeezed the oil from the skin into a cup. Not the most pleasant of jobs; and by the time she’d finished, she had a bare cupful of unpleasantly fishy yellow oil. Yet it did work.

This could have been a spot for drama or to show us more explicitly how much Menolly’s mental state has improved – the packtail is the fish Menolly was working on when she sliced her hand open. Regrettably, all we get is that Menolly exercises caution with her knife in skinning the fish. It’s an acknowledgement, but it’s very much a missed opportunity to examine how well she is or isn’t doing in relation to her Hold, to any memories that might have surfaced upon seeing a packtail, or anything else. Menolly’s mental fortitude must be doing quite well, for the narrative to be so blase about this encounter.

When seeking more oil, Menolly comes across a trapped wherry and kills it, disembowels it, strips the meat, fat, and all the rest, then leaves the bones and organs as a feast for her lizards and the older clutch. Oil problem solved, as Menolly can also render fat into grease with her fire and clay vessels.

At the end of the chapter, the fire-lizards get names: Uncle (the small blue who always seems to get bullied), Auntie One and Auntie Two (greens), Rocky and Diver (bronzes, named for their hunting habits), Lazybones, Mimic, and Brownie (browns, named for their behavior), and Beauty (gold queen, named for her fastidiousness in cleaning herself).

This is a pleasant interlude, with happy entities all around and much laughter and geniality at the antics of the fire lizards. Even Shakespeare knew you wanted to lighten the mood before diving into the very tragic parts. Chapter Eight opens with Alemi suffering a broken leg and then getting cabin fever at having to rest. Yanus was unhappy about the break, but Mavi was able to turn him aside by pointing out it would be an opportunity to see if his XO could captain a ship.

Thus, bored and looking for something to do, Alemi drops in on Elgion teaching a new song to the kids. Alemi is a quick study and is soon singing along with them, to his own happiness.

“How’s the leg, Alemi?” the Harper asked when the room had emptied.
“I’ll have a weather-wise ache now for sure.
[…]
That’s a fine ballad you’re teaching.”
“That’s a fine voice you were singing it with, too. Why don’t you sound out more often? I was beginning to think the sea wind snatches the voice of everyone at about twelve Turns.”
“You should have heard my sis…” and Alemi stopped, flushed, and clamped his lips tight.

Elgion inquires after the mysterious boy with the composing talent, and Alemi can’t bring himself to say who made those songs, even after Elgion says they’re great and that he’s sending them on to Robinton. He hopes that the composer will show himself when he hears his own compositions. Elgion is dealing with a plot-mandated Idiot Ball at this point, considering how much Alemi has already slipped and the attitude of everyone regarding Menolly. He works through it as best he can, though, by delighting in Alemi’s flexibility and making a deal with him to teach him music if Alemi will teach him sailing. The mutual exchange of skills creates a friendship and Elgion uses the cover of his learning to borrow a boat and range up the coastline looking for the signs of fire-lizard eggs. Once let in on the secret, Alemi is eager to sail in close and look on the beaches. Which gives Elgion a good enough listen to hear music. Pipes, specifically.

“Alemi! That’s music! Not wind over blow holes! That’s someone playing pipes.”
An unhappy furtive thought crossed Alemi’s face so plainly that Elgion jumped to a conclusion. All at once, the pieces feel into place.
“Your sister, the one who’s missing. She wrote those songs. She taught the children, not the conveniently dismissed fosterling!”
[…]
Slowly Alemi nodded. “Yanus believed the Sea Hold disgraced to have a girl taking the place of a Harper.”
[…]
Now Elgion could understand many things about Menolly’s disappearance and the general reluctance at the Hold to discuss her or find her. Anyone sensitive enough to compose such melodies must have found life in the Sea Hold intolerable: doubly so with Yanus as Sea Holder and father. And then to be considered a disgrace! Elgion cursed Petiron for not making the matter plain. If only he had told Robinton that the promising musician were a girl, she might have been at the Harperhall before that knife had a chance to slip.

Oh, thank Prime Elgion isn’t carrying the Idiot Ball any more. His suspicion should have been roused a lot earlier than this, instead of having a flash of insight based on music, but we can finally move forward with the plot, now that Elgion is on board. If Elgion had been able to put aside his own prejudices and hadn’t accepted Yanus’s story as fact, we could have gotten here a lot earlier. Because Robinton, whenever described, is apparently really on board with the equality thing, so it’s a bit of a miss that such an attitude wasn’t instilled into Elgion before he left for Half-Circle.

Before they return, Alemi warns Elgion against divulging his knowledge, for obvious reasons. And Elgion, gifted with a free day from teaching, hatches a plan to go back and find Menolly in the caverns. Thus ends Chapter Eight.

Writer Workshop December 10th, 2014

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!

This week in the Slacktiverse, December 7th 2014

(posted by chris the cynic, written by members of The Slacktiverse)

The Blogaround

  • Storiteller‘s life has been very hectic lately.  Her son is all over the place and while he’s high energy, she actually enjoys this phase far more than she did when he was an infant, as she describes in Newborns are Overrated – Toddlers are Awesome.  To expand their living space, her and her husband recently finished a complete remodel of their basement.  Getting the project done was down to the wire, reality-show style, as recounts in Our House is a Very, Very, Very Fine House.  They needed the basement done to host both sides of the family, who visited for Thanksgiving. Between a dinner at church with an unconventional bunch and her extended relatives, she was very Thankful for All of Our Families.
  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I still haven’t written a post about the Board of Trustees meeting that students of my university took over as part of a direct action campaign (after going through channels failed, repeatedly.)  So here is video of students speaking at that meeting about economics, academics, class inequality, hard decisions, direct action campaigns, and so forth.
    • When one watches giant robots, often times built to fight giant monsters, one has to wonder, “Why?”  This is why.  And I feel very proud of that post because Fred Clark linked to it.
    • Apparently it’s been over three years since I wrote a new installment of Where Antichrists Come From (first bit here.)  So, here is our good Antichrist, Nick Andes, doing what makes sense to him in the immediate aftermath of World War III.
    • Here are a couple of scenes in Heaven set immediately after meta-Chloe confronts Left Behind God, in detail, regarding the pure evil that is the Tribulation and Hell.
    • And, finally, I wrote the fourth installment of Being More than A Simulacrum, in which Place faces her first morning as … well, herself.

In Case You Missed This

chris the cynic wrote:

My university.  A strange study in what it’s like to have to Students, Faculty, Staff, and lower level administrators be stellar while those in charge kind of, sort of, suck and endlessly try to get rid of all the previously mentioned stellar people in spite of the fact that without those other people the ones in charge can’t be paid.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for December 05, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has hurt himself and is annoyed that he does not instantly regenerate.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

  • Still cautious because of bridge-dwellers.

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist


Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip SandiferPhilip Sandifer: Writer (formerly TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue)

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging


Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragonsong: Ninety-Nine Problems

When we last left Menolly, she ran away from her Hold to live with the fire lizards, and successfully used the power of SCIENCE! and some fortuitous preparation to prevent mass casualties among a clutch of newly-hatched lizards until the Threadfall they would have flown into had passed.

Dragonsong: Chapter 6: Content Notes: Ableism, Sexism

Chapter Six returns to Half-Circle Hold, where Menolly’s prediction about not being missed is completely true – her absence is only noted because Sella has had to attend Old Uncle after his seizure, and she does not want to deal with this particular misery all alone.

“That’s about all she’s good for now, anyway,” Sella told Mavi and then hastily demurred at her mother’s stern look. “Well, all she does is drag about, cradling that hands of hers as if it were precious. She gets off all the real work…” Sella let out a heavy sigh.
“We’ve enough trouble this morning what with someone leaving the Hold doors unfastened and Thread falling…” Mavi shuddered at the thought of that brace of horrors, the mere notion of Thread cascading down, able to wriggle within the Hold, turned her stomach.

This is a more convincing portrayal of the uncaring nature of teenagers and siblings – Sella sees Menolly’s injury only in how it relates to her own workload, and understands that it isn’t particularly fair. Mavi is more concerned about the Adult Fear of a devouring parasite invading the Hold. Which is a nice way of showing the reader why the doors get barred at night. It’s a little disconcerting that Menolly wouldn’t have deduced this, but she was understandably pissed about not being able to enjoy music, so we’ll give her a pass.

Sella tries to find Menolly in all the usual haunts, but she’s not there. Which only annoys Sella more, until she considers the prospect that Menolly went out in the Threadfall. Which is enough to jar her out of her jealousy and into straight-up fear. So she goes to see Alemi, Menolly and Sella’s brother, who is also chief of the flamethrower crews.

“You think Menolly left the Hold early?” Alemi realized a strong, tall girl like Menolly could very easily have managed the door bars.
“You know how she’s been since she hurt her hand: creeping away every chance she gets.”
Alemi did know, for he was find of his gawky sister, and he particularly missed her singing. He didn’t share Yanus’s reservations about Menolly’s ability. And he didn’t honestly agree with Yanus’s decision to keep knowledge of it from the Harper, now that there was a Harper in the Hold to keep her in line.

gaw-ky. adj. Awkward, ungainly, clumsy.

Of the woman who was until recently playing complex melody and singing to fosterlings. Exactly where is “clumsy” coming from, unless it’s a recent thing brought on by the injury and having to relearn things with a different hand. And not a few sentences earlier, Alemi says that the heavy doors would be no problem at all for Menolly. Which is it, Alemi? Tall, strong, oops-I-don’t-know-my-own-strength Menolly, or tall, strong, can play complex melodies and gut fish equally well Menolly?

Second, Great Fucking Maker, the sexism is ingrained here in this Hold. Oh, sure, now we’re okay with Menolly developing her musical talent, but only if there’s a man there to make sure she doesn’t get any ideas. I really hope by the end of this book, Robinton shows us that he’s always been okay with equality and has been trying to get his Crafthall to change, too.

Third, what is it with this family showing affection and care for Menolly only when she’s not around? Is it because Yanus isn’t around, either, so everyone feels like they can voice their true opinions without it resulting in abuse? At some point, I would hope that everyone who has affection for Menolly will realize they have allies and band together against Yanus. Because that’s what it will take to break his power.

So Sella reports back, apparently taking some pleasure in it and in adding her theory that it was Menolly who left the doors open. (Apparently, whatever fear or empathy Sella had for Menolly is gone, and she’s back to her teenage self) Mavi assigns Sella to continue talking care of Old Uncle, snarking that it’s well-suited to her temperament, even if it isn’t “real work”, and goes to tell Yanus of the news.

Yanus is relieved at the solution to the mystery of the unbarred doors, and mentally blames Mavi as the cause for not keeping Menolly busy enough. Because it couldn’t possibly be his fault for beating Menolly and restricting her musical enjoyment and trying to generally make her miserable so that she’ll be pliable and obedient. No abuser would ever admit their own culpability, because that would mean they would have to change, instead of blaming everyone else. We also note that Yanus has not expressed any empathy, fear, or sympathy, or any caring at all that Menolly potentially went out in a Threadfall. When Elgion suggests that Menolly may have holed up in a cave, Yanus nods and assumes she’ll be back, finding “relief in this theory” and moving on to something else. Relief about what? Not having to expand the effort to find his daughter?

Time passes, and Menolly doesn’t return, provoking anxious speculation and directives to the children looking for shellfish to keep an eye out for Menolly, her knife, or her body washing up. Mavi’s constructed facade of not caring is crumbling in the face of Menolly’s continued absence, and Alemi shows a continued interest in Menolly staying alive. Yanus can feel control slipping from his hands, and so makes a declaration about what to do.

“If she [Menolly] were able and of a mind to return, she’d have done so. Everyone who is able is to keep a sharp eye for any sign of her. This includes sea as well as land. As Sea Holder, I cannot in conscience do more than that, under the circumstances.
[…]
Mavi, even, accepted it, almost as if she were glad if an excuse, as if the girl were an embarrassment. Only Alemi betrayed resentment.
[…]
“I’ve some time. Where would you suggest I look?” [said Elgion.]
Hope flashed in Alemi’s eyes, then as suddenly wariness clouded them.
“I’d say it’s better if Menolly remains where she is…”
“Dead or hurt?”
“Aye.” Alemi sighed deeply. “And I wish her luck and long life.”
“Then you think she’s alive and chooses to be without Hold?”
Alemi regarded the Harper quietly. “I think she’s alive and better off wherever she is than she would be in Half-Circle.”

Which leaves Elgion with the realization that he’s been really bad at his secret missions to change hearts and minds and grab the mystery songwriter for Harper training as soon as possible. Which is complicated more by his realization that he hasn’t actually seen Menolly much, despite supposedly getting to know everyone in the Hold. And his attempts to get information about Menolly and where she might have gone only widens the distance between him and the others, with a discernible fear from the kids that Elgion might find Menolly and bring her home.

At this point in time, I would hope every alarm bell Elgion has is ringing a deafening klaxon about the relationship between Menolly and Yanus and the need for discretion in his efforts, should they prove fruitful. Alemi had all but said Yanus is responsible for the problems at the Hold, and the distance of the children and their fear should reinforce that idea that Yanus is the problem at Half-Circle Hold. Plus, Yanus had basically abandoned his child to her fate. That should probably ring a warning bell or two about Yanus’s capacity for empathy and love. (Also, fuck you, Yanus, you abusive asshole, for making no effort to find your daughter, even though your wife is clearly stressing out about it.) The isolation of this Hold compared to others allows Yanus to be abusive without it really getting out – there’s only a Harper here, so no drum-communications or dragonrider assigned that could also keep an eye out for things going wrong. (It is debatable, though, based on the ethics that we have seen in action from Holders and dragonriders, whether they would object to the familial abuse, or whether they would solely object to the behavior of Yanus toward non-family members.)

The arrival of N’ton asking about fire lizards provides a connecting point to Dragonquest – the Brown Rider Rapist has impressed his fire-lizard at this point, and N’ton is asking for eyes to be kept out for eggs. No problems for the children, says Elgion, and would the sweep riders please keep an eye out for Menolly? Elgion mentions the lack of effort in searching for her, but he hasn’t quite put two and four together as to the why.

N’ton leaves, and that’s the end of chapter six.

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