Monday Muse: On Mondays We Muse

Good evening, everybody! It’s time again for a Monday Muse. Today marks another “day off” that was not meant to be… With one day off per week you’d think I would take my down time more seriously, but, alas, I am a workaholic who needs to audition endlessly to find said work. It’s a vicious cycle, but the old adage”I’ll sleep when I’m dead” often gets me through…

In other news: I’ve finally gotten back into the swing of things, editing-wise. That’s right, I’m back to re-reading Killing Mercutio. I’m closing in on the end of the final round of editing! …Assuming I read faster than my eyes droop shut. Not to worry, though! I’m in my final week of Hair and with a full 5 days of boring unemployment in sight I will have plenty of reading time.

On that note, I think I’ll take this opportunity to do some reading/editing. Today’s Muse is more of an update, letting you, our fabulous readers, know that I am alive and well, and working towards the end of our biggest project to date. Nerd Cactus will ready for beta readers in no time. Also, C and I are making pretty great forward progress on “Project Jonspeare” (details to come).

Anyway, have a wonderful Monday and maybe a glass of wine because Mondays are rough.

Cheers!

-A

Silly Sunday: DISNEY!

Hi!

Welcome to Silly Sunday! Also known as Sunday Funday!

Wee!

Did you know it’s taken me twenty minutes to write those sentences? Watching Game of Thrones while typing is no easy feat. I can do it, but I need to do it slowly.

OMG, you DICK! Be nice to Sam! He is a precious cinnamon roll and his knowledge is going to help save the world. If only just to spite you, dammit.

Before I live blog this episode, here’s today’s gem of a Disney treat:

Ursula Does the Haunted Mansion Narration

Enjoy and have a great night. A will be here tomorrow with a Muse!

C

Boozy Books: The Sarantine Mosaic

Heyo! Welcome to Boozy Books, where we stretch our minds with books and dumb them down with booze.

Let’s get going. I’m seeing A’s new show later tonight, so I am going to make this as quick as e’er I’ve made anything, barring, perhaps, a Silly Sunday or two.

I can’t recall if I’ve ever paired something by Guy Gavriel Kay or not and I’m too darn lazy to go searching right at this moment, but, if I haven’t, it’s a damned shame and, if I have, it’s been too damn long. Kay is such a master of historical fantasy, it’d be a sin if anyone went through life without ever reading anything of his.

There are a few things I love about The Sarantine Mosaic that have nothing to do with the plot or characters within. First, it’s a duology, which is incredibly rare in fantasy. Trilogies or on-going series are far more common. And second, this duology is but one piece of the mosaic (see what I did there?) that is the world in which it takes place. While these novels focus on the Eastern Roman Empire (or, rather, a fantasy facsimile thereof), others in this world deal with the Viking invasions of Saxon England, and Moorish Spain. I am a sucker for reading about a character in one book and finding out how they’ve affected the world in another, especially if it isn’t the same series. But, I mean, you all know about my everlasting love for amazing world-building; I’ve only mentioned it a thousand gazillion times.

The Sarantine Mosaic, consisting of two novels — Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors — focuses, as much as anything titled mosaic, on the mosaicist Caius Crispus, called Crispin, who is summoned from his home in Varena to the great city of Sarantium, the capital of Trakesia, to create a great mosaic for Emperor Valerius II. The first book follows Crispin as he leaves his home and makes his way to the metropolis, eventually arriving and beginning his work on the new sanctuary (basically this world’s Hagia Sophia), as well as finding himself inextricably entwined in the city’s politics. (In case it wasn’t obvious, Valerius II is basically Emperor Justinian.) The second novel continues on from the first (obviously), with Crispin working on his mosaic and finding himself ever more part of the intrigue and politics of the mighty city.

OK, so that doesn’t sound that great, does it? Did I mention there’s a smattering, however light, of magic? And that the writing is some of the most beautiful, evocative language I’ve ever had the privilege to read? Or how about the fact that, while the world is obviously based in our history, it is at no point married to it and never sacrifices the story for the sake of being slavish to historical events? In historical fiction, that’d probably be a bad thing, but in historical fantasy, it’s absolutely the right thing to do. And Kay does it masterfully. The Sarantine Mosaic deals with themes of immortality through art (which, as a writer, I approve of), dealing with and overcoming loss, journey as change, the importance of art… and all of these things are beautifully woven through characters that are sometimes lovable, sometimes disgusting, but always human. And, really, what more could you want from a book? (Or, in this case, two?)

So… what to drink? Well, I did a bit of research into the matter and it seems that wines from the Negev region of Southern Israel were tremendously popular in the Byzantine Empire. In fact, though the exact grape may be lost to extinction, Wine of the Negev was THE most popular wine in the Empire. So, to the internet I went! And discovered that the Negev is home, once again, to quite a few wineries. My choice for tonight is, then, a wine brewed in the Negev region. And, knowing the Roman predilection for sweet wines, I have chosen a Port-style fortified sweet wine. If you can’t find a wine from a winery in the Negev, I’m pretty sure any ol’ Port will do, so long as it’s the sweet variety. The Byzantines loved wine, after all.

Well, that’s it for me today! I’m off to see A’s show! She’ll be here tomorrow with the Shakespeare!

C

Monday Muse: A Trip Down Soapbox Lane

Hello. Welcome to today’s Monday Muse.

*gets on soapbox*

Yes. Today is one of C’s bonafide rambles. I haven’t done one in a while, but I’m putting on my angry historian hat and letting my fingers fly.

I’m sure all of you have heard of V for Vendetta. I mean, seriously… we’ve all heard of it. Or watched it. Or, better, read it. And we’ve all seen the effect of its symbolism upon the world.

(Note: Before I continue, if anyone from Anonymous reads this, please do not destroy my life. I’m a nice person; I just think there’s a better person’s face you should be wearing on your face… if that makes sense. A forgotten person. You guys are great.)

OK, so the story is about oppressive governments and whatnot. I dunno… I’ve never actually gotten all the way through it. I could never get past the fact that Guy Fawkes was the person Alan Moore chose as his symbol of fighting government oppression. It baffled me and took me out of the story too much to enjoy it. Because, get this:

Guy Fawkes is not a symbol of rebellion. He’s a symbol of stupidity. And the government he wanted to overthrow wasn’t really all the oppressive, especially when you understand WHY he wanted to bring it down.

Before I explain, let me tell you something about myself: when I think someone has done something stupid, I want to know WHY they did it. What drove them. And so I had to know why it was that Moore and his artist chose, of all things, Guy Fawkes masks. I mean, I understood that the visual was something instantly recognizable to British audiences, and the visual of comics is just as important as the story they tell. Which would have been a decent explanation even if I couldn’t really throw myself behind the idea that these characters chose Fawkes as their symbol. Maybe it was the idea of being willing to use terror as a weapon against tyranny? I didn’t know. But Guy Fawkes… it just seemed stupid.

Why? Because he failed. He failed so hard. And, funnily enough, he wasn’t even really the leader of the event that made him so famous: The Gunpowder Plot. He was just the guy hired because he had munitions experience.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an attempt by a group of Catholic dissidents to blow up King James I and Parliament in order to put a more conservative, pro-Catholic (or just Catholic) government in its place. Led by Robert Catesby, the ultimate goal of the plot was to start a series of rebellions in the Midlands that would eventually end with the King’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, on the throne. (Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony of English Catholics wanting to put a princess named Elizabeth on the throne. Oh… omnomnom. Delicious irony.) Catesby et al did have legitimate concerns about the treatment of Catholics in England, but simply being allowed to live and worship in a Protestant nation wasn’t enough for them: they wanted England to be Catholic again. Even as the King reaffirmed his desire to avoid religious persecution in England, they began their plot. They chose the State Opening of Parliament because, not only would the King and Parliament be there, but members of the Privy Council and even of James’ family. It would cripple the government and allow the conspirators to reform it in their own image.

It failed. Badly. An anonymous letter sent to the Lord Monteagle (possibly/probably by his brother-in-law, who was one of the conspirators) gave up the ghost and brought the whole thing crumbling down. As the man left behind the light the fuses, Guy Fawkes was the one arrested in the early hours of November 5th, but the rest of the cabal were tracked to Warwick Castle and either killed or arrested. Within a few days, Fawkes had confessed; within a month, the Catholic clergy were tied to the Plot. And rather than have a Catholic England, the Plot ended up leading to even stronger anti-Catholic sentiment in the nation.

A lesson unto you all: if you want to start a revolution, DO NOT ASSASSINATE YOUR OPPOSITION’S LEADER. All you’ll end up doing, whether you succeed or fail in killing your target, is strengthening that opposition at its lower levels. You need to change hearts and minds first, THEN work your way up to the stop.

Now. WHY, oh WHY would anyone choose Guy Fawkes as their symbol, knowing all of that?

The worst part was I found out that Moore and his artist somehow came to the conclusion that Guy Fawkes was the product of, like, government suppression of the truth. That he was actually a hero, but history had been re-written in order to paint him as a comical figure. *insert angry face* No. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but, in this case, it didn’t happen. The Gunpowder Plot was not a heroic uprising against a tyrannical government; it was just another battle in the long war of Which Jesus Do You Worship.

BUT! Let it not be said that I am a decry-er of storytelling choices without suggesting another option!

Wat Tyler.

Yeah, that’s right. You want a rebellion against an unjust government cut down and maligned by said unjust government? Then you want Wat Tyler. The Peasants’ Revolt began as a response to serfdom, taxation, and, you know, being treated as Peasants in the 1400s. It began in Kent and, initially, it was successful; they won concessions from Richard II’s government, including the abolition of Serfdom. And then, when the two sides met at Smithfield, Richard’s representatives killed Wat and forcibly suppressed the rebellion all over England, rescinding all of their promises and killing thousands.

Where the hell is his mask? This was the perfect choice for Moore and they went with GUY FAWKES?! WTF? Seriously. Does NO ONE RESEARCH BEFORE THEY WRITE?!

ARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!

OK. That’s enough for me today. I think I’ve verged into essay territory now. I apologize for that. I’ll be back on Friday for a shorter (I promise!) Boozy Books.

C

Silly Sunday: Chewbacca

Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for some silliness. If you haven’t already seen this video that went viral over the weekend, shame on you… but because I love you and want you to share in the joy and laughter here it is. We all need to join the world of happiness that Candace lives in. And if that means buying a Chewbacca mask, so be it.

Have fun laughing along!

-A

Shakespeare Saturday: Shakes in the Buff!

Heyo, and welcome to today’s Shakespeare Saturday! I realize I’m right on the cusp here, but I am absolutely determined to get this post in today!

The reason I’m late today is actually two-fold:

  1. I finally got tired of not being able to write at home, so I went to IKEA and bought a damn desk.
  2. As soon as it was assembled (am I Captain America now?!), I WROTE SO MUCH! YAY! I think this new novel of mine is finally well underway.

Anyway. Today’s a bit of a weird one. You know the Nerd Cactus adage that Shakespeare is for everyone? Well, apparently he’s for those who like to be nude, too. Yup. I give you:

The All-Woman, Nude Production of The Tempest

Do enjoy. It’s probably NSFW since there’s boobies and fannies (both meanings) running around in Central Park, but, hey, the Bard really is for everyone!

Well… I’m going back to writing. OMG, THE WRITING! YAY!

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Silly!

C