2007, The Year Without A Summer

For me, the defining moments of this year involve mental and physical illness, sorrow, and death chased by death. It's been one of the darker times in my life (though there have been others), and I can't say that I'm walking into 2008 unscathed and without any scars to bear. I am, however, choosing to view myself as a tarnished piece of silver that may be more interesting than something shiny and untouched by life...at least, that's what I'm hoping for.

My resolutions for 2008 are as follows:

  1. To regain control of my mental and physical health. I've already scheduled appointments with both my doctor and a psychologist to help send me on the right path, and I've been keeping a pen and paper journal that allows me to exorcise some of the uglier demons that are camping out in my head.

  1. To practice yoga or some other kind of exercise at least three times a week. This goes along with my first resolution, but it needed to be a bit more specific. I was doing this during the beginning part of the year, and it helped significantly.

  1. To learn to take time for myself and to draw personal boundaries so that others won't leave me completely drained of vitality. No has done this purposefully, but there have been a lot of needy and broken people in my life, and to a certain degree, I'm needing to step back from the role of caregiver.

I'm not sure how I'm going to accomplish some of these goals, but I know that 2008 is a year for healing and creating.

Sweeney Todd

Thank you, Tim Burton, for making such a splendid film. I'm completely smitten, and I'm craving meat pies. *grin*

Captain Mandible Says Hello

For cathartic reasons, I deleted my livejournal after keeping it for more than three years. It contained all of the darkness that I no longer wish to hold onto, and Cities Beneath the Sea is now my central location within the wires. This doesn't really change anything. I just wanted to mention it.

Currently Reading:

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Recently Watched:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Stranger Than Fiction
This is England
The Road to Wellville
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End


Night time dog walking and snow frolicking.
Good Earth Tea Original Blend
The newest Gravenhurst Album - The Western Lands


Kusudama (Medicine Ball) is a Japanese artform involving the folding of paper to create conical objects (usually flowers) which are then stitched together to form a sphere. They originated during the Heaian period (794 - 1192) and were once filled with herbs to ward off evil spirits and disease. A detailed history of Kusudama can be found at David Lister's website, The History of Origami.

They're beautiful, and I've decided that I want to make one. I found the instructions at The peace of paper, and I've been working on the individual units. This is my progress...

Kristin Hersh - Your Ghost

The work of Kristen Hersh has always resonated with me, and this song has recently been a fixture in my playlist.

Where I've Been...

Princess Haiku posted a nice note asking me to come back soon, and I just want to check in and let everyone know that I'm still here, and I do intend to post more in the future. I'm just not certain when. (Thank you, Princess H)

The past year, for me, has been filled with illness and punctuated by death. I've lost two of the most influentual women in my life, my grandmother (July 5th) and my step-mother (November 7th) and I'm having a very difficult time dealing with both of these losses. Everything is still fresh and somewhat surreal. I have no doubt that things will get better, but they're currently very different, and there's an everpresent void that's hard to contend with.

Tearwave - Lotus Flower

The Little Girl Giant

This is beautiful...


The Fountain

On Tuesday, I saw Darren Aronofsky’s film, The Fountain, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I’ve seen (and greatly appreciated) both Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and at the very least, I assumed that it would be challenging (and it was). I was also aware that The Fountain received enough bad reviews to place the film on the rotten scale at Rotten Tomatoes. Let this be a lesson to ignore collective criticism, because in this case, they don’t have their fingers on my pulse.

Film Synopsis at Wikipedia...because I don't think I need to rehash what's already been written (although my interpetation is slightly different than the synopsis. Perhaps, I'm just being lazy.)


I hung on every word of this film, because it forced me to look in the mirror and face some very personal issues about illness and dying that I haven’t been prepared to deal with…and while it didn’t necessarily ease my current anxieties, the confrontation was gentle enough to keep me from immediately sticking my head in the sand like an Ostrich. Bonus points for that.

The visuals are beautiful, and The Fountain engages in the kind of myth-making that nests nicely within my thought patterns. It’s not dogmatic, and it doesn’t feel like proselytizing. Instead, it makes use of storytelling to ask and maybe answer questions while creating a certain sense of awe. I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone else, but in my world, stories and personal myth-making allow the days to pass with a bit more color and meaning…fairytales for the soul and all that.

Sonya Taaffe

At the request of a friend, I've put together a list of Sonya Taaffe works that have been published online. Since I've mentioned Sonya several times within this blog, I'm posting it here as well.

A Maid on the Shore
Crossing the Line
Niobe Aftermath
Moving Nameless
Theagenes Remembers
Over the River
The Reliquiae
On the Blind Side
Follow Me Home
The Windfalls
Green and Dying

The Wicker Man Remake

I just wasted precisely 102 minutes of my life watching the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. It was painfully bad, and yet I watched it in its entirety hoping that some small shred of the original may have survived within this steaming pile of Hollywood blasphemy...but it didn't.

Probably, I should have let the film stand on its own, but comparisons are inevitable, especially since I'm extremely fond of the original film. If you haven't seen either version and you don't want spoilers, don't read any further...

Where to begin?

  • One of the most compelling things about the original 1976 version of the film is the soundtrack, but the director scrapped the beautiful Scottish folk music in favor of an Angelo Badalamenti score (and an American setting). That doesn't seem like a completely awful choice given some of the previous work that Badalamenti has produced, but it was completely flavorless. Give me drums, fiddles, panpipes, and penny whistles, please. Overly produced orchestral music just doesn't provide the ambiance of an isolated pagan society, particularly during festival time.

  • In the original film, the Sergeant was a solidly Christian man who arrived on an island where the locals practiced the “old religion.” The society was more accepting of sex and nudity, and they openly took part in traditional fertility rituals, most notably the dancing of the maypole and the leaping of lovers over the midsummer fires. It produced a certain amount of confusion and discomfort in the Sergeant, but it was subtle enough to allow the tension to build gradually...and it gave the film a deeper meaning that dealt with differences in viewpoints without actually manipulating the viewer into believing that one side was good and the other bad.

    The 2006 version of the film glossed over the fertility rituals almost completely, and instead of showing a society that was sexually free among both genders, it displayed an extremist matriarchal society that abused its men (which was pretty damned offensive for both genders since it was so badly skewed). Additionally, Nicholas Cage's character didn't carry the same religious strength of conviction that the Sergeant had in the original film. Instead, the conflict relied on the aforementioned gender divide which effectively destroyed the depth that was originally there. As far as creating new meaning...Remember kids...women are evil and men are stupid & cowardly.

  • There was also some added (yet supremely lame) violence, and I can only deduce that it was meant to add to the “horror” of the film. What it really achieved was making the ending less effective. The Wicker Man isn't supposed to be a slashery horror film. When is Hollywood going to learn that sometimes subtlety is the key?

  • There were some decent actors involved in the project (namely Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker, whom I will continue to adore), but the script was so bad that their presence couldn't even salvage certain parts of the film, and really...Ellen Burstyn is no Christopher Lee. In that regard, I wouldn't have been pleased even if the film had been well done. Lee was the perfect choice for Lord Summerisle, and it would be next to impossible to fill his shoes.

And one more thing before I wrap this up (because I could probably complain for several more days, and I really need to move on to more interesting things)...

If you're about to be stuffed into a giant Wicker Man and set on fire, don't you think that you could come up with something better to say than: You bitches! You bitches!? I'm not sure why that worked my nerves so badly, but it did.

So there you go. I hate the new version of The Wicker Man, and I remain a solid devotee of the original. Anyone up for a nice dance around the midsummer fire?

Second Life

I mentioned earlier that I was playing in IMVU, a virtual chat client that allows a person to design their own 3D avatar. The idea was amusing to me, but I'll admit that I didn't like the idea of being restricted to one room...so I've graduated to Second Life.

Second Life is a virtual world that, like IMVU, allows a person to have a 3D avatar, but what makes it so much more intriguing is the ability to wander through user created spaces...sometimes complete cities. Thus far, I've spent most of my time exploring some of the brilliant atmospheres that people have created, but I'm also considering the roleplaying possibilities.

A couple of places that I've enjoyed:

Babbage town – A gorgeous steampunk city that has very little traffic at the moment. That's unfortunate, because it would be a supremely fun place for roleplaying.

The Dune Project – A SIM set up specifically for roleplaying Frank Herbert's novel. It has a learning curve, so I've only wandered through as a tourist, but I'm seriously considering a more serious commitment to the game. I just haven't decided which faction I want to play. (I'm a total Dune geek)

The Wastelands – A post-apocalyptic salvage SIM. I haven't fully explored this one yet, but the atmosphere is dark and dirty...just as it should be.

Etopia Eco-Village – This place is just plain pretty to look at. It's based on sustainable living and eco-friendly building design, and it was obviously a labor of love by whomever put it together. I spent a great deal of time just playing all of the drums that are available for drumming circles.

On the downside, there's a lot of advertising, especially in the main hubs, but it's pretty easy to escape those one you learn where to go. Also, there seems to be a lot of “Gorean” roleplay, which I'm assuming is based on the Gor novels given the references to female slaves. I've tried to avoid those areas like the plague.

Anyhow...if anyone happens to play on Second Life, feel free to find me there. My character's name is Cyan Taurog, and I'm always up for good company. Exploring can be lonely trade.

Wrapped up in books

I'm sad to admit that I haven't had much time for reading this year since the mundane parts of life have commanded most of my attention. This tends to fracture my peace, and I recently forced myself to take some time out just to quiet myself with books.

The first was China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh, a novel set within a future dominated by communist China. It's a difficult novel for me to explain, because it's presented mostly as glimpses into the lives of several characters rather than as one cohesive plotline, but if that sounds like a disjointed tale...it's not. It's detailed and character driven, and I couldn't put it down. In fact, I found myself wanting more. I would have easily read another 300+ pages, particularly about life as imagined by McHugh on a Martain colony. Of course, that's generally my cup of tea. I've always thought that the most interesting job that a person could have would be as a cultural anthropologist on a newly colonized planet...or maybe a botanist.

The second novel that I read was The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper, and I'm still processing it mentally. For that reason, I don't want to go into a great deal of detail, but I will direct you to a synopis at Strange Worlds, because I can already say that the book was well worth my time. It raised some interesting questions and stirred up all sorts of conflicting emotions that I can't seem to shake...which is exactly what I'm looking for. It's not that I enjoy being disturbed, necessarily. I just enjoy indulging in things that make me feel deeply in one direction or another...or sometimes in many directions all at one time. It beats sitting around and feeling numb, which is far too easy to do.

Orpheus and Eurydice

There are certain stories that resonate with me, and I'm in a mood to indulge in obsessions.

I can't remember the first time that I heard the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but it was sometime during my childhood, later to be repeated in High School Latin classes (of which I remember very little), but the first time that it really grabbed me was when I read Shade and Shadow by Sonya Taaffe, which is a modern retelling of the story and a brilliant one at that. It's available in her collection, Singing Innocence and Experience, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

I put together a slide show of imagery related to Orpheus and/or Eurydice which can be viewed here.

The Myth
Orpheus was the son of Calliope, muse of epic poetry. While living on Parnassus, he drew the favor of the god, Apollo, who taught him to play the Lyre while his mother taught him to write verse. With such masterful teachers, Orpheus became a great musician with the striking ability to charm animals and other objects of nature, including the trees and stones. He was also an augur, foretelling the future via the patterns of birds in flight, and a patron of both Apollo and Dionysus.

Because of his skill, his presence was necessary on the journey of the Argonauts. When they passed near the Island of Sirenum Scopuli where the sirens lured sailors to their deaths with their voices, Orpheus played and sang so beautifully that he drowned out their deadly song with his own, and the sailors passed through unscathed.

Orpheus loved Eurydice with the passion of all great lovers, but like many love stories of antiquity, their romance was doomed to an early end.

One day, Eurydice was wandering with her companions, the nymphs, and a shepherd called Aristaeus made advances towards her. She fled and ran into a nest of poisonous snakes whose bite killed her instantly and carried her to the city of ghosts. Orpheus was overtaken with grief and sang songs of such sadness that all of the nymphs and the gods were driven to tears. They urged Orpheus to travel to the Underworld to appeal to Hades, and with the power of his music, Orpheus was able to soften the heart of the god of the underworld. Hades and Persephone agreed to return Eurydice to the surface under the condition that Orpheus not look back until they reached the open air.

In his anxiety, Orpheus did look back and Eurydice vanished, leaving Orpheus alone in eternal melancholy. He forsook all gods but Apollo, shunned the love of all women, and turned to the love of young boys. This angered the Thracian Maenads of Dionysus, and one morning, while he was singing and playing his lyre in a forest clearing, they attempted to murder him by casting javelins and stones. His music was so captivating that the wood and the stones would not obey, and they fell from the air before piercing Orpheus' flesh. This sent the Maenads into a wild frenzy, and they tore him to pieces, casting the ruins of his body and his Lyre into the Hebrus river where his song continued to play until his remains reached the shore of Lesbos.

There, the inhabitants buried his head and built a shrine in his honor. The remaining pieces of his body were gathered by the muses and buried at Libethra where the nightengales sing. His lyre was placed by the gods among the stars, and he was able to spend the rest of eternity with Eurydice in the city of ghosts.

D & D Alignment Quiz

I don't usually do these, but I liked this one.

Your Score: Neutral-Good

78% Good, 50% Chaotic

Plane of Existence: Elysium, "Blessed Fields". Description: The plane of peace. Notable Inhabitants: Guardinals - noble immortal humanoids with bestial features.

Examples of Neutral-Goods (Ethically Neutral, Morally Good)

Cloud Strife (FFVII)
Boogenhagen (FFVII)
Mother Theresa
Sidhartha Gautama (the Buddha)
Bilbo & Frodo Baggins
Samwise Gamgee
Indiana Jones
The Dali Lama
Ben (O-Bi-Wan) Kenobi
Luke Skywalker
Harry Potter

Often goes along with the laws and desires of the group as being the easiest course of action, but ethical considerations clearly have top priority. May pursue quite abstract goals. Often aloof and difficult to understand.

Will keep their word to others of good alignment
Would not attack an unarmed foe
Will not use poison
Will help those in need
May work with others
Indifferent to higher authority
Indifferent to organizations

Neutral Good "Pure Good"


A neutral good [person] will obey the law, or break it when he or she sees it will serve a greater good. He or she is not bound strongly to a social system or order. His or her need to help others and reduce their suffering may take precedence over all else. Neutral good [people] do good for goodness' sake, not because they are directed to by law or by whim.

This alignment desires good without bias for or against order.

Other Alignments and Tendencies (Tendenices are what you would more often sway towards; esp. for Neutrals):

0-39% Good, 0-39% Chaotic: Lawful-Evil
0-39% Good, 40-60% Chaotic: Neutral-Evil
0-39% Good, 61-100% Chaotic: Chaotic-Evil
40-60% Good, 0-39% Chaotic: Lawful-Neutral
40-60% Good, 40-60% Chaotic: True Neutral
40-60% Good, 61-100% Chaotic: Chaotic-Neutral
61-100% Good, 0-39% Chaotic: Lawful-Good
61-100% Good, 61-100% Chaotic: Chaotic-Good

Link: The Alignment Test written by xan81 on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


Yowsers! I played for over three hours on IMVU this evening. It was like stepping into a time sucking vortex...and I spent most of my time shopping for clothes. How girlie is that?

Biology Meets Technology

I'm a bit surprised to see that it's been nearly a month since my last post. Someone needs to be a bit more diligent when it comes to updating...

Two artist links today:

The first link is to Insect Lab, the homepage of Mike Libby, an artist who takes entomology specimens and merges them with parts from antique watches and electronics. I must admit that these tend to creep me out a little bit, but that's mostly due to a strong case of insectophobia. The concept is an interesting one.

The other link is to Jessica Joslin who does amazing work with animal bones, metal sculpture, and other bits of leather, beads, glass, etc.

I'm smitten.

Films I've seen recently

A couple of random observations about films that I've seen recently:

- Tideland is a great film, and now I want to read the book by Mitch Cullin. It's a southern gothic fairytale, and it's simultaneously grotesque and innocent. I watched it weeks ago, and it's still haunting my dreams.

- The Forbidden Zone is everything that I thought it would be. For years I've been hearing the soundtrack and watching frightening renditions of the film performed by friends. Thank the universe for the Elfman family.

- Silent Hill gave me nightmares. I'm not going to describe the film, because Annie does a much better job over at Joe Horror, but I will say that Alice Krige always gives me the creeps. It's in the eyes.

- I think I'm the only person (aside from my husband) who didn't think that Borat was funny. From me, it only managed to garner a blank stare.

- 300 was pretty to watch because of the way that it was filmed, but it wasn't historically accurate (which I didn't expect since it's based on a comic, and it wasn't meant to be...just saying...). What the hell was up with the nine-foot tall, pierced Xerxes? Most of the costuming was really cool, but that just struck me as being a bit silly. Oh well.

- Time Bandits inspired naughty thoughts about dwarves in goggles. I need to get out more.

The Decemberists

On Sunday night, I saw the Decemberists play at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, and it was beyond delightful. Their live performance is even better than their studio recording (which is very good, indeed), and they interact well with their audience...in fact, interactive would be the key word.

Their music is difficult to describe. Words that come to mind are: sepia-toned, fanciful, nautical, folkloric, and thoughtful. Primarily, The Decemberists are storytellers, and they compliment their tales with music that's often reminiscent of sea chanteys and/or beautiful folk compositions.

I'll admit that when I first heard the band, I was taken by the lyrics, but I had a difficult time adjusting to Colin Meloy's unique vocal stylings. I kept listening because the pictures painted are so vivid that they've made their way into my fantasies, and now I'm fond of every aspect of the music including the vocals. There's an honesty and passion here that I find endearing, and it's become a part of the musical fabric that helps to define my world.

As an aside...I rarely go to a concert where someone doesn't manage to spill a beer or some other alcoholic beverage on me, and this was no exception. In this case, it happened while I was sitting in a toilet stall (for which I waited in the longest line that has ever existed). At the very moment that I saw the splash of vodka and lime penetrating my shoes, I heard a very passionate cry of "Noooooo!!!!!!" Honestly, I don't blame the girl for being upset. The drinks at the Fillmore Auditorium were $7.00, a price tag that I didn't discover until after I ordered a beer for myself.

Seriously...Fillmore folks. This is highway robbery, especially for a beer served in a plastic cup. If I'm going to spend enough money to buy the whole six pack, I'd like to cradle the bottle for a little while. I promise not to hit anyone with it. Honest.

And to the cute indie girl who kept touching my ass: Thank you for the titillation...even if it was an accident.

A couple of design resources

I was reading a friend's livejournal, and someone replied with a fabulous resource for free fonts.

Also, I frequently use a royalty free (with some restrictions) stock photography site for collaging.

Does anyone else have any design resources that they recommend?

L'inventaire Fantôme

Jasper Morello

My friend and fellow blogger, JRC-1138 directed me to the trailer of a short film called The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello.

The story takes place in a steampunk setting, and it draws its inspiration from Victorian Adventure stories. With skies sprinkled with airships (who doesn't dream about owning their own steam-driven airship?), mad scientists, lost continents, blood-sucking beasts, and a population in the process of being decimated by a macabre plague; this is quite a lot of fun in a small package...and what's even better is that the animation is quite beautiful. It certainly deserved the academy award nomination that it received for best short film in 2005.

You can see it in its entirety on the 2005 Academy Award Short Films Collection.

Memory #1

I enjoy digital collage. It's a visual form of journaling that helps to capture certain feelings through atmosphere and ambiance when words just don't do the trick. This one is simply called Memory #1, because I couldn't be bothered to think of a better title.

The music that I've been listening to corresponds as well. The playlist for this collage consisted of: Jill Tracy and the Malcontent Orchestra, Attrition, Kolacny Brothers and Scala, and The Decemberists.

The Illusionist & The Prestige

I recommend watching both of these films, but avoid a double feature. They need to be watched and appreciated individually for what they are and what they aren't.

The Illusionist
This film begins with a love story between the son of a cabinet-maker and an Austrian Duchess, Sophie von Teschen. It’s an unusual match within a class conscious society, but the boy has a talent for illusion and from the very beginning, he enchants von Teschen with his charm and skill.

Inevitably, the characters’ respective stations in life prohibit them from pursuing their relationship into full adulthood, and the young boy leaves to travel the world and become The Great Eisenheim, a master illusionist. Sophie, on the other hand, is betrothed to Prince Leopold in a political move to gain Hungarian support for the crown. This is unfortunate for Sophie, because Leopold is not an upstanding fellow.

By chance, Eisenheim returns to Vienna to perform his illusions where he unexpectedly reunites with von Teschen. Thus begins a rather clever and well-written story about…wait for it….illusion, villainy, political intrigue, and of course, love, but I haven’t given anything away that you don’t learn almost immediately. The rest of the story unravels subtly and mysteriously.

Visually, the film is soft and warm with the occasional addition of the iris effect to add historical ambiance. The illusions created by Eisenheim are lovely, and they’re also poetic in a way that only Edward Norton could present. The poetry was in the words used, but it was punctuated by Norton’s movement and specifically his strong ability to act and emote subtly with his eyes.

I was very, very pleased with this film, and I'm also thinking about picking up the soundtrack by Philip Glass.

The Prestige
Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are illusionists who become entangled within a tale of bitter rivalry and revenge. As is often the case, the story begins with the tragic death of a beautiful woman, and it moves towards a quest by Jackman to discover exactly how Bale is staging his greatest trick.

There’s a lot of eye-candy in this film particularly where Nikola Tesla is concerned. (Did I mention that I have a soft spot for Serbian-American physicists who hold a passion for electrical currents and extraterrestrial radio signals...?) Unfortunately, while the role of Tesla makes good sense at the beginning of the film…as a diversion, it later becomes a deus ex machina for Jackman’s character, and in my opinion, detracts from the truly interesting part of the film...Bale’s method.

The Prestige is worth seeing, but honestly, I feel that the Illusionist is a finer film, and I’m a bit perplexed by the incongruity in recognition (Academy Award nomination aside) between the two films. They both came out at approximately the same time, but I’ve experienced more press and praise for The Prestige than I have for The Illusionist. Perhaps, it’s because The Illusionist contains more subtlety, and many people don’t like to work for the story.

The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells

The Martians decide to come to England for afternoon tea, but upon arriving, they realize that they’ve nothing suitable to wear. They channel Nikon and design a wardrobe that would make Thierry Mugler drool. The Victorians are aghast as the Martians flaunt WAY to much leg for polite society, and they actively shun their tentacle laden visitors. Thus begins the War of the Worlds greatest fashion war that the galaxy has ever seen.

Who will find victory on the runway? Will it be the Martians decked out in finery woven from deadly black smoke and glorious red weed or will the Victorians reign supreme in their bustles, bodices, waist coats, and top hats?

never tell, but I will say that H.G. Wells has spun a fine yarn of alien invasion, and I thank JRC-1138 for reminding me to read this book that I should have read years ago. It contained all of the anachronistic elements that stimulate me on an aesthetic level, and it truly did have moments that made my skin crawl (in a good way)…one particular scene that comes to mind is a certain Martian and its delectable human captive. I’m also quite fond of the red weed that invasively blankets the land (not unlike the Kudzu of the Southern United States), leaving the terrestrial landscape in an unfamiliar and discomforting state.

Stroh Violin

The Stroh Violin was patented in 1899 by German designer Johannes Matthias Augustus Stroh. In order to amplify the sound, Stroh replaced the standard wooden body of the violin with a metal resonator. For this reason, it was often used during the time of phonographic recordings, but in the 1920s with the invention of the electric microphone, it fell out of common use.

The sound is a bit different than the standard violin, and you can view a video of the instrument being played at the Die Stroh-Violine website.

As I understand it, Tom Waits still uses this instrument in some of his recordings.

Earth Abides

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Earth Abides is a post-apocalyptic novel about a pandemic that has wiped out the majority of humankind. It won the International Fantasy Award in 1951.

The protagonist is aptly known as Isherwood Williams or Ish. This is an anthropological reference to Ishi, the last member of the Yahi Indian tribe who emerged from the California wilderness in 1911. Ishi, in turn, was named from the Hebrew word for man, because saying one’s own name was considered to be taboo in his tribe.

While on an extended camping trip, Isherwood Williams is bitten by a rattlesnake who’s bite provides immunity to the plague. He returns to civilization only to find that entire towns have been abandoned as people either died or moved towards larger cities in search of medical care.

In these larger cities, Ish comes across small groups of people who have survived. Some have gone insane, turned to alcohol abuse, and/or simply given up their will to survive. Others have attempted to carry on in whatever way that they can, and this is what Ish decides to do.

He travels across the United States and eventually meets Em, the woman who will become his companion. He also gathers several others, and they form a tribe and begin their attempt at rebuilding the human race.

What makes this novel interesting is the lack of initial struggle that occurs for survivors during the time following the plague. Electricity continues to function for a short period, and water supplies travel through the plumbing system for even longer. There are an ample amount of supplies available, including enough canned goods to feed the remainder of the human race for years. Unfortunately, this leads to a certain amount of apathy.

Earth Abides envisions the slow and inevitable decay of the human race as nature ebbs and flows with the collapse of technology and human control. It also chronicles the struggle that occurs within Ish’s own mind about how to maintain knowledge and culture while his companions are comfortable living on the remains of the previous society.

Published in the same year as 1984, this novel is really quite brilliant. I’m surprised that it doesn’t have the same sort of following as Orwell’s dystopian scenario. Earth Abides is every bit as well written, and it presents a compelling and believable story about the end of mankind… It also says volumes about human nature.

Steampunk Forum

When I was looking for information on Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, I came across a really cool blog, Brass Goggles, and a Steampunk Forum.

So much wonderfully fun information!

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison create some of the most beautiful and haunting photography that I've ever seen. It's surreal, and at the same time, it perfectly exhibits the struggle between man, technology, and nature.

Sometimes the images immediately evoke a sense of sadness for the loss that human expansion and ambition have brought to the Earth while at other times, the ParkeHarrison's rely upon the absurdity of technology to get their message across.

There are also some interesting steampunk elements to their work, so if you're interested in that genre, definitely take a look at some the ParkeHarrisons' additional images. There's a full exhibition online entitled The Architect's Brother.

Master's of Photography also hosts a ParkeHarrison portfolio containing 23 images.

How do you like my featherbed?

I think this would be a good time for a music meme...killer of boredom and all that...

List seven songs you are into right now, no matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to

1) "Delilah"- Dresden Dolls
2) "Sinister Grains"-Anoushka Shankar
3) "Seeing Red"-Edward Ka-Spel
4) "Hospitalistische Kinder / Engel der Vernichtung"- Einsturzende Neubauten
5) "L'echange"-Attrition
6) "Matty Groves"-Fairport Convention
7) "There is a Ghost"-Marianne Faithfull

If you've taken the time to read this far, consider yourself tagged...you know, if you want to. I'm not into forced surveys.

Oh...and in case you were wondering about the featherbed thing in the title...it's from the lyrics to Matty Groves...a traditional English folk ballad that I love which also happens to be playing on my myspace profile at the moment. (Yes, I've succumbed to the evil of myspace...my nearest and dearest friend is there. What's a girl to do?)

That is all.


A while back, I was seeing an acupuncturist to deal with pain in my extremities. At the time, I assumed that the pain was arthritic but have since determined (with the help of my physician) that it’s a circulatory issue. I’m still using some of the therapies that the acupuncturist taught me, but what I’ve also found to be helpful is incorporating yoga into my daily routine…particularly the poses that require deep stretching.

I’ve been using a DVD called Yoga for Absolute Beginners by Marlon Braccia, and she has a routine for increasing flexibility. That one seems to be working the best since it generates more heat in the muscles than some of the other routines on the disk. The production quality is not very good, but the instructor has a soothing voice, and she does a great job of explaining correct posture and breathing techniques (which get passed over in a lot of beginner yoga DVDs…but they are hugely important). I also really like the pacing of the routine because it gives me time to really work the poses.

Birthday Video

I want to show off my birthday presents. Hee hee...

Paper Cranes, Pirates, and Presents!

My sister-in-law and I have been meeting on Thursdays to watch movies. So far, we've seen the Devil's Backbone, Welcome to Woop Woop, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Skeleton Key. There will be many more in the future, but last night we strayed from the course. Anneliese took me out for foo-foo chai with rasberries and whipped cream, and we had Chinese food for dinner. She taught me how to make paper cranes, and she let me play with her very cute and very hyper corgi puppies. There was a movie playing in the background, but I honestly don't remember much of it. I was distracted by the dogs, but I do know that it had Franka Potente in it. I always notice Franka Potente, because she's frelling drad.

When I came home, Christoph was wearing a black velvet pirate's hat. In his best scoundrel voice, he sent me on a treasure hunt to find eight items that he had hidden for my birthday. The first was the pirate hat which he plunked down on my head. I also found two temporary jolly roger tattoos, theatrical adhesive, two fake handlebar mustaches, a bowler hat, and...what I really, really wanted...a world war II bomber's cap! Yay!

I have a goofy grin plastered to my face, and I think there might be a need for a video in the future.

A Long-expected read

I’m finally reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I finished the Fellowship of the Ring on New Years Day, and this week I’ve been slowly working my way through The Two Towers. This is an excellent read, and I’ve grown extremely fond of many characters, especially Sam Gamgee.

The Barrow-Downs, a website devoted to Tolkien’s work, has a nifty name generator. I entered my full name, and it said that in Middle-Earth I would have been a respected Dark-Elf called Gorothchil. Other feminine versions could have been Gorothchiliel, Gorothchilien, or Gorothchildwen. I like all of those, actually, and I’m extremely pleased to be a dark elf.