Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Settling into Life, Bringing the Old to the New

Thirty-two days until the wedding. I can hardly believe it. I'm excited and really can't wait until it happens. I do have to finish writing the ceremony, but that should be all that's left. I ordered my ring the other night, and that was about the last big thing on the list.

One thing I'm pretty happy about is the poem I wrote for the program. It's in Old English, so I'll post and gloss it.

Welige mid wynne æt wrætlicum brydhlope,
Se guma ongrataþ and his bryde singeþ,
Hiera sangdream macaþ micel myrgnesse, 
Hiera hleahtor niweþ wið heofones þanc
Þæt cyndelic diht of dreames mid geard.

Abound with joy at a wondrous wedding,
the groom smiles and his bride sings,
their music makes great melody,
their laughter renews against heavenly intent
that natural state of harmony with the earth.

I'm quite proud of it. It's only a little thing, but it represents a couple things for me. I love my partner and I just want to have a beautiful day of music and fun and love. The other thing it represents is my relationship as a writer to Old English as a language. I find occasions to use an alliterative pattern in my poems, I do entire poems in approximate Anglo-Saxon verse, I translate Old English, and I try, even in non-alliterative work, to work kennings into my poetry.

I feel a great connection with the language, and actually working within the language, writing small things in Old English, is how I feel best able to root my poetry in the history of the language. Working with Old English, both translating the language and generating the language, I am more productive. I write more and my writing is better. As a poet, Old English has expanded my repertoire.

Speaking of Old English, I begin work on translating the Riming Poem this week. Very excited about that.

Lastly, first dinner party since the move this Friday. We'll be having some of my partner's coworkers over, so I'll be making linguine. One of them is vegan and will be bringing her girlfriend, so I'll be cooking a separate vegan-friendly sauce for them. I've never made pasta sauce that didn't in any way involve meat, so I'll be interested in seeing how it works out. It's going to be a good week. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Welcome to the Sinfest

I said that I wanted to talk about webcomic I enjoy. Tatsuya Ishida, the author and artist, recently began incorporating feminist themes in his work. This strip in particular appeals to me because its message is multifaceted and ultimately dependent on the reader's position and understanding of the larger issues of male gaze, male privilege, and feminism in general.

In discussion of the inclusion of feminism in the comic, some commenters have suggested that Tatsuya is demonizing sex in general - the inclusion of Demon Slick in panels 9-14 in this strip is one citation made in support of this point.

Now the origins of Demon Slick date back to his separation from Slick, which results from Slick's lust winning out over his ability to reason, his frankly creepy urge to throw himself sexually at any available woman via, as noted in the title of this strip the most recent to that point of his attempts, free hugs.

Demon Slick, quickly enters the world proper after eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and then blowing wide the gates of Paradise, having consciously chosen to use his knowledge in the pursuit of evil. Slick begins his recovery as he recognizes that his behaviors have crippled his empathy and his ability to form meaningful relationships. And even while Slick has made efforts to better himself, his prior record is still working against him.

So Demon Slick's presence here follows very naturally from his being - Demon Slick is wanton lust personified, the dark side of sexual attraction. The whole concept of the Friendzone, originated by people like Demon Slick who cannot abide the idea of women being anything but sexual objects and who see all relationships with women as worthwhile only if they lead to sex, is being repurposed by feminists in the comic. Here the Friendzone is a safe space, where nobody is pressured regarding sex, where even romance can flourish based on mutual respect and friendship.

Our romantic example above is Criminy and Fuschia, who are looking through the telescope and painting, respectively. Fuschia protects Criminy and Criminy encourages her to grow as a person. They are in love, and it is good because it is founded in respect and friendship, not on stalking, or sexual harassment, or other unhealthy expressions of sexuality.

Now, this strip focuses ultimately on the devil girl in the first panel - her job is to play herself up to the male gaze. Her pay is garnished to support the system that supports her exploitation, she is harassed on the streets, and the revelation of the Friendzone here is eyeopening. What could be better than a space of respect, where harassment doesn't happen? This repurposed Friendzone is good for everybody.

So so far, Mr. Ishida, you're doing great. Keep up the good work and fighting the good fight. Your comic is to the benefit of humankind.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The First Week(-ish)

Would have gotten to this earlier this week, but I had a bit of stuff to take care of.

So I've begun my semester. I'm reading up about Ælfric in preparation for putting together a bibliography of recent scholarship for my faculty mentor. I'm reacquainting myself with Old English grammar in class and working on more translation outside of class - current project being the Fonthill letter. I'll go into more detail about that when I've finished translating it.

My other courses are going well too. Theory is always good, and my Victorian literature class is quite a time. We start our first novel for Thursday, and the readings have run all over the place already. Wilde's fables and parables are quite interesting, and Arthur Morrison's "Lizerunt" is depressing and really reminiscent of the Marquis de Sade.

I do, unfortunately, have quite long hours. It works out in the amount of homework I can get done at school, but it becomes wearisome.

And as the Republican party grows ever weirder, ever more disgusting (Legitimate Rape, "methods of conception", every dog whistle they can blow to say "don't vote for the black guy"), I wonder what in the world happened, and why I've signed on to stick around for the next six years. Here's hoping we don't go full on to crazy town.

I see that I get a handful of pageviews here. Most of them go to that post about Super-Aryan Hitler. But there are some of you who read more recent posts. I'd be quite happy if you said hello, maybe told me what kind of content I put here that made you interested in reading my disjointed ramblings at all. Doesn't have to be anything fancy or personal. I'm just curious, really. This weekend I promise a fun post about a webcomic I read. No idea if that'll draw any more pageviews, but it might be worth a shot.

Until next time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Mixed First Day

Well, my first day of Graduate School is behind me. I have water boiling to make the celebratory pasta dinner, and a few thoughts on the day. Overall, it's been a positive day.

I had my entrance meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies, where my path to quals and onward to comps was outlined. I also arranged a meeting on Wednesday with my faculty mentor to discuss how I will perform the necessary mentored research function of my fellowship.

Before my only class of the day, I checked my email to find that a small poetry magazine I sent some work to about a week and a half ago has decided they would like to make me their featured poet in their upcoming issue. A good pick-me-up if there ever was one.

The first day of Elementary Old English was largely concerned with letting us know about the class and finding out where we all stand on the front of language acquisition. I don't have much reading left for Wednesday's meeting, which is nice. I turned in my health and dental care paperwork, so I can have insurance again, and then walked home after class.

Not ten minutes after I get home do I receive an email telling me that one of my classes, which would have started tomorrow, has been canceled for the semester. So now I have to pick a different class, get a sheet signed by my faculty mentor and the instructor of the course, and then turn it in. Preferably tomorrow, to ensure that it is filed properly by Friday, so I can avoid getting charged $12 for registering for a class late. 

Unfortunately, this makes Tuesdays and Thursdays pretty lame for me, as it means I get to see my partner briefly before going to class again, if I come home during the interim time. So two days a week our dinners will likely not be together. I might be able to figure out a system where I cook dinner, eat some, leave some in the fridge to heat up for my partner, and take the car back to campus for my late class.

Eh, something had to go wrong, didn't it?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And so It Begins

Monday is the day that I begin Grad school. The day should be pretty light. I'll be meeting with the Grad program director to work out a prospective course of action leading up to quals at the end of my second year and doing one class: Introductory Old English. I am going to love that class.
After class I'll be meeting with the professor, my faculty mentor, to discuss my joining the Old English reading group this semester. It's something I'd like to get started with right away to help build familiarity and facility with the language, but I can understand why it might not be so good to start right off.
Other news of the weekend. The apartment is nearly completely unpacked and sorted, with only a small mess in the living room yet to be cleared up. I now have a provisional paper driver's license that's good until my little brother's birthday while the state makes and mails me my permanent license.
I will likely have many more posts as I get started with school. This will be something of a log of my journey through the PhD for the next six years, so I shan't be long in coming to my next update.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Olympic Women's Epee semifinal

between Shin A Lam of South Korea and Britta Heidemann of Germany ended in scandal.

Here's what happened.

The match was tied at 5-5 with one second left on the clock in overtime. Per the rules, in overtime the first non-simultaneous touch wins. Should the score be tied at the end of overtime the winner of a coin toss (tossed before overtime and in this case Shin) would win the bout.

During the final second of overtime, two simultaneous hits were recorded, and Shin was seconds from victory. Then, the third attack occurred. Heidermann's attack was ruled a touch despite the timer malfunctioning by either starting late, not starting until after the point had registered, or somehow totaling longer than one second between the three attacks that had occurred in that second.

Allow me to explain the first of the many failures here.

When the timer was seen to be faulty, the correct action would be to have the fencers resume their en garde stance and try again, this time with the timer issue resolved. This was not done. Instead, Shin was made to wait on the piste for forty-five minutes while the judges evaluated her appeal, ultimately deciding that nothing was to change. While all this happened, an understandably emotional Shin cried on the piste.

This video shows that the total length of time covered by the final second amounted to roughly 1.57 seconds. (the 17 is frames at 32 fps

Ultimately, Heidemann was given the fractional time necessary to execute an attack that was declared a good touch, and the appeal went nowhere, sending Heidemann to the Gold medal match where she took Silver.

Very shortly after the appeal, Shin was made to appear in the Bronze medal match. Not being psychologically or physically prepared for the bout, having had much of her prep time eaten by sobbing on the piste with no idea what her last bout's final result would be, Shin lost, coming in fourth place in London.

None of this even begins to address the ways Heidemann tried to edge her way into advantage against Shin. For those, read prototoast's post below. Overall, the match will undoubtedly become one of those matches where it becomes well-known for all of the wrong reasons.

Whatever happened here, it is definitely the most bollocksed up situation of the 2012 Olympic Games thus far. I echo prototoast's opinion of the match. If you have never watched fencing before, I hope that this was not the day you chose to start.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Well, I no longer work in a warehouse. My last day was just under a week ago and it feels great to be done. I'm not up at what, to my nocturnal senses, feels like an unearthly early hour to go do unrewarding physical labor for a multibillion dollar corporation. Instead, I get to sleep and read, relax with my fiancee, and get ready for the upcoming move. Only three weeks to go and we'll be in a new state. I'm out of town this week housesitting for a friend of my fiancee's. We spent today getting the birds inside the house because of the heat and then taking a nap with the owl. Moving can't happen soon enough. I'm ready for the change.