Monthly Archives: March 2015

Open Thread: Television

(by chris the cynic)

Continuing in the media themed open threads, what have you been watching on television?  What stuff from TV do you recommend?  What do you want to see more of on Television; what would you like to see less of?


(And it’s posted on the proper day and everything.)

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

This week in the Slacktiverse, March 29th, 2015

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

The Blogaround

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Open Thread: Music

(by chris the cynic)

Continuing on the same sort of theme, what music have you been listening to most recently?  What music do you recommend?  Do you happen to play an instrument, sing, or otherwise produce music?  Stuff like that.

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

Deconstruction Roundup for March 27, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is learning why insurance is a headdesk in a bottle.)

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.

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Philip Sandifer: Philip Sandifer: Writer

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragondrums: The Alto’s Lament

Welcome to Dragondrums, the third and final book of the Harper Hall trilogy. In the last book, Menolly has gone from being the youngest daughter of an abusive Sea Holder to a journeyman Harper after a seven day whirlwind tour including Mean Girls and asshole teachers. Maybe now we can actually get some plot moving.

Dragondrums: Chapter 1: Content Notes: None

The chapter opens with Piemur being roused from sleep because…

…hang on.

Piemur is the viewpoint character for this story? So we spent two books spinning our wheels, plot-wise, only to have the narrative decide that since Menolly is safe and not the potential victim of abuse and drama, she’s no longer going to be the main character? Then what was the actual point of the first two books? Gratuitous violence, abuse, and damage to a female character as filler before a man steps into the protagonist role and things can finally go forward?


Cocowhat by depizan

[The Loudest Profanity I’ve Ever Heard]

Unacceptable. I’m sure Menolly will stay on as a principal character here, but the narrative will have to work logarithmically harder to convince me of the need to change viewpoint characters for this final volume.

So, Chapter One opens with Piemur roused by drum code messages sent from Ista Hold, another useful datum in his storehouse of interesting things that he obtained by being small, quiet, and a light sleeper. Piemur wonders if drum code will be phasing out because of fire lizards, which turns his thoughts to the time when he will have his own, at some indeterminate point in the future. And then there is the care and feeding of fire lizards before chorus lessons.

Under Domick’s direction, Piemur is to sing Lessa’s part in a score crafted by Menolly and Domick about Lessa and Ramoth. Normally, singing is very easy for Piemur, but the first time he tries, nothing comes out.

“Wake up, Piemur,” said Master Domick, irritably rapping his stick on the music stand. He alerted the chorus, “We’ll repeat the measure before the entrance… if you’re now ready, Piemur?”
Usually Piemur could ignore Master Domick’s sarcasm but since he had been ready to sing, he flushed uncertainly. He took a breath and hummed against his closed teeth as the chorus began again. He had tone, and his throat wasn’t sore, so he wasn’t coming down with a stuffed head.
The chorus gave him his entrance again, and he opened his mouth. The sound that emerged ranged from one octave to another, neither of which were in the score he held.

Piemur has apparently just arrived at that dread thing, puberty. After a quick diagnostic scale to confirm, Domick sends Piemur to Shonagar. Who had been expecting him, and the two chat about Piemur’s future.

I might note, at this point, that both Domick and Shonagar have been explicitly, narratively, confirmed has having sympathy and compassion in their voices as they discuss this turn of events. Menolly occasionally gets gentleness of voice from them in the last book, but here, they are portrayed as sympathetic right from the beginning, because Piemur is male. The Distaff Counterpart conversation, if Menolly started menarche, for example, would be highly unsympathetic from the Masters, but maybe sympathetic from Silvina. Which reminds me – there has been almost no mention of menstruation in these books, either. That’s good, I suppose, in that no man is complaining about it, but I have to wonder whether there’s some form of widely-available hormonal birth control or something that makes a period not a big deal.

That said, what passes for sympathy among the Masters is perverse, indeed.

“You have been without doubt the most troublesome and ingenious, the laziest, the most audacious and mendacious of the hundreds of apprentices and voice students it has been my tiresome task to train to some standard. Despite yourself, you have achieved some measure of success. You ought to have achieved even more.” Master Shonagar affected a point. “I find it altogether too perverse, if completely in character, for you to decide on puberty before singing Domick’s latest choral work. Undoubtedly one of his best, and written with your abilities in mind. Do not hang your head in my presence, young man!” The Master’s bellow startled Piemur out of his self-pitiful reflections. “Young man! Yes, that’s the crux. You are becoming a young man. Young men must have young-manly tasks.”

I’m sure, somewhere, it’s comforting that the Masters are equal-opportunity assholes, but still, if this is sympathetic, there needs to be a calibration adjustment. Shonagar sends Piemur to the Masterharper for a new assignment, although he leaves the door open for Piemur’s possible return once his voice settles. The now unsettled Piemur wonders what will happen now that his single talent, singing, is in jeopardy.

Joining Piemur for the briefing is Menolly, who is utterly immune to his attempts to pull information out of her about what Robinton wants. Robinton is trying to feed his fire lizard, Zair, and asks Piemur to take over long enough for Robinton to get caffeinated. Then he says that Piemur is going to be one of his special apprentices, Menolly casually asks about whether Piemur has sailed, and Piemur makes Robinton do what would be a spit take in a more immediately comedic work by correctly deducing what his mission will be.

“And what makes you mention the Southern Continent?” asked the Harper.
Piemur was rather sorry now that he had.
“Well, sir, nothing special,” he said, wondering himself. “Just things like Sebell being gone for a couple of sevendays mid-winter and coming back with a tanned face. Only I’d known he’d not been at Nerat or Southern Boll or Ista. There’s been talk, too, at the Gathers that even if dragonriders from the north aren’t spared to go south, some of the Oldtimers have been seen here in the north. Now, if I was F’lar, I’d sort of wonder what those Oldtimers were doing north. And I’d try to keep them south, where they’re supposed to be. And there are all these holdless men, looking for someplace to live, and no one seems to know how big the Southern Continent is and if…”
“So, when Menolly talks about sailing, I know how Sebell got south without being taken by a dragon. Which Benden Weyr wouldn’t permit ’cause they promised that northern dragons wouldn’t go south, and I don’t think Sebell could swim that far. If he can swim.”

Robinton is impressed, and then impresses very firmly on Piemur that he is not to tell others about what he has figured out, and his cover story is that he will be apprenticed to the Drummaster Olodkey, to learn drummer code and to have an excuse to be places at odd hours. First, though, he’s going to take a ride on a dragon, which Piemur deduces from being told to collect some wherhide from Silvina, earning himself another stern look from Robinton as he leaves.

Afterward, Robinton and Menolly discuss what to do.

“But, sir, you’ve been supporting all the changes F’lar and Lessa have advocated. And Benden’s been right to make those changes. They’ve united Hall and Hold behind the Weyrs. Furthermore,” and Menolly took a deep breath, “Sebell told me not so long ago that before this Pass off the Red Star began, harpers were nearly as discredited as dragon riders. You’ve made this Hall into the most prestigious craft on Pern. Everyone respects Masterharper Robinton. Even Piemur,” she added with a laugh trembling in her voice as she struggled to relieve her master’s melancholy.
“Ah, now, there’s the real accomplishment!”
“Indeed it is,” she said, ignoring his facetiousness. “For he’s very hard to impress, I assure you. Believe me, too, that he won’t be in the least distressed to do for you what he does naturally for himself. He’s always heard the gossip at Gathers and told me, knowing I’d tell you. ‘What a Harper hears is for the Harper’s ears.'” She laughed to find Piemur’s saucy quip so applicable.
“It was easier during the Interval….” […] “Boring, too, to be completely candid. Still, it won’t be that long an assignment for Piemur, will it? His voice ought to settle within the Turn, and he can resume his place as a soloist. If his adult voice is half as good as his treble, he’ll be a better singer than Tagetarl.”

Well, that’s interesting. Robinton-as-power-player hitched his wagon to the right place, it appears, and has been rewarded for that loyalty. I wonder what those conference sessions must have been like.

But also, we have a narrative confirmation that others really do believe as the Benden Weyr leaders do, since the last time we checked in with the Lords Holder, they were of decidedly mixed opinion about the idea of the Weyrs leading the planet, partially due to the great damage the time-skipped Weyrs were doing to the good feelings and faith accumulated for destroying Thread.

So, it looks like we’re relegating the story of a young woman who grows to power and prestige from nothing, based on her talents and her great empathy (on display once again with Robinton) to foreground a boy’s adventure story, starring a small but wily and smart boy who can sight-sing anything perfectly. Although that power is temporarily on hold due to puberty. Considering the boy’s adventure chapters written before, it will hopefully follow suit and contain a lot less violence and abuse than the surrounding stories. Which is a good thing, if it follows through, but it’s still a major mark against this story that it took away Menolly before her story was finished and backgrounded her so that we could have a male protagonist. Because there are plenty, almost a unanimity, of stories with male protagonists, whether plucky boys or heroic men, to choose from at this time in history. Menolly was unique in being a female lead, even though the narrative treated her like shit, and it produced two books that passed Bechdel (even if it hadn’t been described yet) without having to try very hard at all at it, by virtue of Menolly being the lead.

I really don’t understand this decision, and I don’t think there’s going to be an explanation as to why this change was necessary.

Board Business, March 25th, 2015

(posted by chris the cynic)

Irregular Business

Once again I failed to get the open thread up when it was supposed to go up.  Look for one on Saturday morning.  It’s the standard fall back time, after all.

Regular Business

There is no submission deadline for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompt suggestions.  Send them any time.

The Submission Deadline for the weekend post is 20:00 (8PM) US Eastern Time Saturday.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the weekend post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Again, none for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompts.
20:00 (8 PM) US Eastern Time Saturday for the Weekend post.  Also, if there’s a deconstruction you feel should be in the roundup, you can suggest that at any time.
In case the links don’t work: the group email is SlacktiverseAuthors (at) gmail (dot) com.
It is perfectly acceptable to use this as an open thread, should you so desire.

Writer Workshop March 25th, 2015

(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!