euphonia: (Default)

Last week we went to the Royal Canadian Ballet.  It was my first ever actual full-length ballet performance.  We saw Swan Lake.

Now, everyone knows Swan Lake is a classic.  There were bits of choreography that I'd seen in movies and hadn't even known were in Swan Lake - like the part with the four swans dancing in a hand-hold that is just amazing when you see it done live on stage.  Actually the whole thing was pretty amazing, and we didn't even see the headline cast.  Turns out at a Sunday matinee you don't even get the first understudy.  We got the third understudy, but it was still amazing.  I can only imagine how much more so with the real stars.

But what was even more interesting than that was that this was touted as an update of the classic Swan Lake.  The original plot, as I understand it, goes something like this:  Stupid prince is bored, his mother wants him to marry, but he's not so into the whole duty thing.   So he goes out walking by the lake at night and comes across a flock of swans that turn into women and dance.  He is entranced, has a lovely duet with the Queen Swan and they fall in love.  He finds out that she is held under the sway of an evil sorcerer, who arrives to stop the final pledge of love least it free the Queen from his spell.   Prince threatens to kill Sorcerer, but Swan stops him and he goes back to his castle.  The next day the Prince tells his mom he's not interested in any of the brides being paraded before him at the grand ball, and then the evil sorcerer conjures a black swan woman that looks just like the Swan Queen.  Easily fooled, our Prince has a wild dance with the black swan lady and pledges to marry her.  The evil sorcerer declares that the Prince has broken his word and can now never rescue the Queen from her spell, and he calls forth a flood that kills everyone but the Prince who runs down back to the lake.  There he finds the original Swan Queen who forgives him.  They dance, the sorcerer arrives and tells them they can never be together, and they defy him by jumping in the lake and killing themselves.   The end.

Apparently the ending was considered too dark or hopeless for a modern audience and the sorcerer's motivations too opaque, so things were changed a bit in the version we saw.  The sorcerer was now portrayed as a figure of nature, perhaps a deity of sorts who held the swans under his sway.  He has a major hate-on for the Kingdom and their defiling of the natural world.  The Prince is just as stupid, but this time we can see the bad guy setting his trap, drawing the prince in and putting the Swan Queen in his way, hoping to tempt him with her beauty.   One of the most interesting things to me was that the dancing of the 'civilized' people was wild and a bit chaotic, joyful, but very individualistic.  While the swans danced in careful, perfect precision, all dressed the same, all part of a greater whole.  It was very much portrayed as an ideal, sharper and clearer than what humanity was capable of.

So the prince dances with the Swan Queen and they fall in love, and once again the bad guy keeps them apart.  The Prince goes back to his kingdom and sulks, refusing to marry, and the bad guy turns up with the black swan lady.  But this time the implication is that in order to trap the Prince and have his revenge upon them he has sunk to their level, tainting the purity of all of the swans.  In the subsequent scenes all the swans are dressed in black and their movements are different, sharper, without the lovely grace and synchronicity of before.  Except for the Queen.  Her love for the Prince (dopey as he is) saved her, and when the Prince and the bad guy fight, she keeps trying to get between them, to stop them.  Eventually the bad guy kills the Prince, and then she stands as his protector, refusing to leave him, defying the now corrupt power that had previously held her.  She had found herself in their love, and even though the Prince was dead, she was transformed into something even stronger and more beautiful.  It was a lovely dramatic end, and I must say a whole lot better than having her kill herself for love.  In this version it is love that saves her from the fate of the other swans, and frees her from the bonds, even after the object of that love is gone.  

So why couldn't the Prince live?  Because his love was never as true as hers.  He was a flawed creature by nature.  But she was a true ideal, living far beyond the actual physicality of the two of them together.   It is the ideal of love that transforms us.

All in all an excellent experience, and one I'm glad I had a chance to have.


Mar. 21st, 2010 10:26 pm
euphonia: (alchemy)
Aries - the ram.  Masculine, cardinal fire, ruled by Mars.  I AM.  Diamond.  Iron.  Tuesday. 1 and 9.  Courageous.  Direct.  In charge.

Taurus - the bull.  Feminine, fixed earth, ruled by Venus.  I HAVE.  Emerald.  Copper.  Friday.  6 and 4.   Dependable.  Structured.  Serene.

Gemini - the twins.  Masculine, mutable air, ruled by Mercury.  I THINK.  Agate.  Mercury.  Wednesday.  5 and 9.  Responsive.  Enthusiastic.  Likeable.

Cancer - the crab.  Feminine, cardinal water, ruled by the Moon.  I FEEL.  Pearl.  Silver.  Monday.  3 and 7.  Loyal.  Emotional.  Counceller.

Leo - the lion.  Masculine, fixed fire, ruled by the Sun.  I WILL.  Ruby.  Gold.  Sunday.  8 and 9.  Exuberant.  Involved.  Regal.

Virgo - the virgin.  Feminine, mutable earth, ruled by Mercury.  I ANALYZE.  Sapphire.  Mercury.  Wednesday.  5 and 3.  Conscientious.  Discriminating.  Critical.

Libra - the scales.  Masculine, cardinal air, ruled by Venus.  I BALANCE.  Opal.  Copper.  Friday.  6 and 9.  Charming.  Understanding.  Eager to Please.

Scorpio - the scorpion.  Feminine, fixed water, ruled by Pluto.  I DESIRE.  Topaz.  Plutonium.  Tuesday.  2 and 4.  Idealistic.  Determined.  Secretive.

Sagittarius - the archer.  Masculine, mutable fire, ruled by Jupiter.  I SEE.  Turquoise.  Tin.  Thursday.  5 and 7.  Optimistic.  Honest.  Confident.

Capricorn - the goat.  Feminine, cardinal earth, ruled by Saturn.  I USE.  Garnet.  Lead.  Saturday.  2 and 8.  Steady.  Serious.  Decisive.

Aquarius - the water bearer.  Masculine, fixed air, ruled by Uranus.  I KNOW.  Amethyst.  Uranium.  Wednesday.  1 and 7.  Friendly.  Curious.  Eccentric.

Pisces - the fish.  Feminine, mutable water, ruled by Neptune.  I BELIEVE.  Aquamarine.  Platinum.  Friday.  2 and 6.  Compassionate.  Romantic.  Artistic.


Mar. 20th, 2010 09:17 pm
euphonia: (Default)
Wow, it's been a long time since I journaled. Like three years. I've imported all my stuff from LJ. I think I'll make Dreamwidth home for the nonce.

We're all on here now. Yeah!!  I'll try to update what I'm doing on my own these days sometime soon. Just wanted to post something.

Ta for now.

euphonia: (Default)
Today was update the journal day. I was waaaay behind. Like, back to Samhain behind.

I've backdated everything to the date of its occurrance, so if you're interested in what I've been writing, you'll have to check back a bit. Much of the stuff is trad-locked, so there's only a few posts for non-trad types.

But now I feel ever so accomplished. Oh, and I updated my journal style and uploaded tons of new pics as well. So I feel like I've really joined the community!

Happy holidays everyone!
euphonia: (Default)
Mistral's Kiss by Laurell K. Hamilton

Ok, so it's soft-core faerie porn. I happen to like soft-core faerie porn, so as I say, bring it on.

For what it is, it's not a bad book. The biggest problem I had with it is that it's not enough. Barely 250 pages. I literally read it in a day, and was left wanting more. For a hardcover book, that's not so great. The book was essentially 2 extended scenes. Yeah, and ok, both of them included sex. But really, for Meredith she was pretty tame in this book. Only three actual sex partners.

At least the sex has become more plot-related. Now it's all about waking the powers of the fey. But I can't help feeling that she's stretching this story out way more than it needs. And of course there's the complaints about all the impossibly pretty guys she hangs with, and how everyone she sleeps with suddenly falls for her, but hey, it's romantic fantasy.

I just wish that if she wants to write 100+ page sex scenes, she'd manage to have more than one or two of them per book. I may like soft-core faerie porn, but I'm only willing to pay so much to get my next fix.
euphonia: (Default)
One of the most promising and most frustrating books I've read lately.  Promising because the world is obviously deep and well-fleshed out, the characters are fully drawn and engaging, the plot complex and intruiging.  In short it has all the hallmarks of a truly amazing work.

Frustrating because my favorite character spends the majority of the book insane, and it really gets old after a while.  And because while it's obviously a well-drawn world, the author doesn't make the slightest attempt to explain anything for the reader, which means you spend a lot of the book trying to figure out things like septads and decads and what the map might look like if you actually understood it, how the magic really works, and how the various governments relate to each other, etc.  I have no doubt the author knows, and that I will eventually figure it out, but usually readers are offered a few more clues.  And finally, most frustrating because the whole book is really a set-up for events that will take place in later books that I now have to go out and buy, because despite the fact that the characters occassionally nearly drove *me* crazy, I want to know what will happen to them. 

The next book is The Virtu, and it's out in hardcover.  The final book is Mirador and it's out next October.  I have a feeling I won't want to wait that long, but I'm looking forward to a book where Felix isn't running screaming from his shadow more than half the time.  Just the glimpse of him we got at the end of the book is almost enough to make me run out and buy the second book in hardcover right now.  :-)
euphonia: (Default)
Best news I've gotten this holiday season.  Wouldn't it be amazing if it actually worked?
euphonia: (Default)
I've been silent too long.   So I'm going to try to get myself going again by posting about what I've been reading for the last little while.

On the reading front, [personal profile] ethaisa and I have discovered the library!  It's a great way to read books without spending $10+ for an unknown product.  So this has lead to much reading on both our parts.

Going back to November now, I read Jim Butcher's Furies of Calderon and Academ's Fury, books 1 and 2 in his Codex Alera series.  The first one we own in paperback and I thought I'd read it, but apparently not.  They are fantasy, and he has created an interesting elemental-based magic system using Furies instead of elements.  The first book takes place largely on the borderlands of the world, giving you only a peek at the larger society.  There are several major characters - Tavi, a young boy proving himself, Bernard, Tavi's uncle the steadholder with earth and wood crafting who is also ex-military, Isara Tavi's aunt, a watercrafter, who raised him, and Amara, an air crafter and loyal spy of the government who was betrayed by her teacher, and is trying to uncover his plots.  The first book is a fun romp with a bit of a darker edge and largely engaging characters (though at least one of the villians is just a wee bit too cardboardy for my taste).  It gives you enough on the society to wet your appetite for more, and the fast plotting and character interactions tend to carry you past any holes in the greater fabric.

Unfortunately in the sequel, Acedem's Fury, it becomes more and more clear that Butcher hasn't a clue how to create a realistic fantasy world.  What you could get away with in the border areas just becomes downright unbelievable in what is supposed to be a city full of complex political intrigue.  The plot drags a bit in the beginning as he clumsily tries to gather his threads and characters and set up the situations for the book, but I had issues right off the bat with an academy that would stand by and watch a student being outright tortured (near to death!) by a fellow student simply, supposedly, because that student was higher ranked.  Yeah, I get the allusion to the English boarding schools, but when you add the use of elemental magics into the mix, it's hard to believe the instructors are standing by and simply shaking their heads as their students are busily trying to off one another.  And it doesn't get better from there.  We have a ruler (King?) we are told is amazing by his loyal followers, and yet who doesn't seem to have a single true ally of any political weight (just the handful of characters sworn to his service), invading aliens that seem to be a cross between the alien monster movies, the borg, and late night B (for bad) horror movies, and a society full of magic users that apparently hasn't managed to truly integrate the use of this magic into their society for something as simple and fundamental as fast communication!  And we won't even get into the 'Butchering' of what should have been an interesting interlude delving into the politics of the world he's created.  Mostly it just made my teeth hurt.  By the end there was so much eye rolling, that I had ceased to believe any of these characters were anything but inept creations of their author running through a rat's maze of his design.  Very disappointing.  I will probably still read the third book in the series, just because I have some residual interest in a few of the characters, but I'm going to be very happy to get it from the library and give it back when I am done.

After Butcher, I moved on to a book I'd requested from the library - a political, historical romance book called Dark Angels written by Karleen Koen.  After Butcher, her deft political intrigue, rich descriptions of court settings, and complex characters woven into the fabric of true events of the time period (Charles I Restoration Court in England and Louis XIV in France) was a breath of fresh air.  The characters were interesting and involving, the plot dragged a titch at times, but she so perfectly captured the era and the attitudes of the day that I was just enchanted. 

I couldn't wait to get to the sequel book, Through A Glass Darkly, which was actually written first, in the late 80s.  I'm not quite sure what I was expecting from the book, but definitely some kind of continuation of the richness and complexity of the Dark Angels book.  Unfortunately I was sadly disappointed. The second book had none of the worldly sophistication of the first, largely because it's main character is the typical spunky heroine who wants what she wants and kicks and screams and runs away when she doesn't get it.  The author doesn't completely let her get away with it, but after showing us on the first page of the book (via the family tree) that Barbara (grand-daughter of the Alice character from Dark Angels) marries Roger Devane, we get to slog through more than 200 pages of actually getting them together, mostly showcasing the greed and high-handed desperation of Barbara's mother, Diana.  The best part of the book follows, though I found Roger's inability to understand or empathize with his new bride's issues in suddenly being dumped in the decadent court French Court without so much as his introduction to be a bit hard to believe or forgive.  But still, Roger quickly became my favorite character.  Barbara became more and more whiney as she realized that her new husband, 20+ years her senior, might have other priorities than falling in love and spending every moment with her.  In fact Roger has dark secrets of his own (he's in love with a man - the dark Prince of Soissons) that begin to take over his life, and I really, really wish that part had been better developed, as it was far more interesting to me than the perpetual spunk and winey-ness of Barbara (somehow I'm supposed to sympathize with a character who schemed and fought to marry a man she had a crush on because he was nice to her when she was a child, who she knows he wants her solely for her dowery lands, because he is merely nice to her and fond of her, but hardly the wild romance that she craves), and the author's sudden decision to kill off major chunks of her family.  When the inevitable denoument finally comes about, instead of getting to experience it, we are suddenly propelled 4 years in the future and Barbara has become a completely different person.  I understand why - she needed to grow up after all - but still, we are left with no real resolution to his 'dark secret' but a few toss-off descriptions from the author, and now there is more heartache to suffer.  The author seems to delight in killing off every person this character cares about until I'm so weary from reading it all that I can hardly stand it - death from smallpox, death from duels, death from childbirth.  So Barbara suffers, does stupid things, loses nearly everything that matters to her, reconciles with Roger, and then before they can do more than share a romantic kiss, he gets sick and dies as well.  Oh yes, and our dear Barbara who loves children has not only lost all her siblings, but finds out that she's barren as well.  So she heads off to the colonies, leaving her fragile old grandmother and the only person who still loves her (her cousin Tony) behind.  End of story.   I stayed up late to finish the book and honestly I wanted to toss it off a wall!  No book should make a reader suffer so much tragedy to so little end with no real payoff.  The basic theme of this book was that life sucks, so do what you want - it will get you into trouble, but you might have a moment of happiness to treasure before more suckage comes your way.  Blech!  What a bad taste in the mouth!  I just discovered there's a sequel to this book, called Face to Face, but I don't think I can bring myself to read it, especially after reading Amazon comments where people who thought Through A Glass Darkly was an amazing book found that one a let down.  I just can't really imagine getting through anything worse. 
euphonia: (raido)
Inaugral meeting for our 6 month rune study group.

This first meeting we honored Odin for his role in bringing the runes to us and reviewed the relevant verses in the Havamal. L wrote a prayer to Odin that I quite liked and we all toasted with mead. I got a definite feeling of a deity as we sipped our mead, watching us to see what we would do.

My knowledge and understanding of the Norse material is quite spotty so this is going to be an interesting journey for me. I knew that Odin had hung himself on the tree to gain wisdom, but I hadn't quite put that together with him learning the runes. I also hadn't quite realized that the tree was Yggdrasil, or that he hung upside down over the well of wyrd.

I found the verses of the poem really interesting - particularly that he hung upon the tree, stabbed by a spear and 'myself to mine own self given'. At first I thought that referred to an offering to his godhood (as an acknowledged god of wisdom), but upon further reflection I think it points more to a path of self-reflection, meditation if you will.

So the runes are symbols of power and might, gained by the sacrifice of a god, found by gazing into the well of wryd from the branches of the tree that spans the worlds. Not something to be fooled around with, quite obviously.

I'm quite looking forward to learning more. The Norse are the gods of my ancestors, at least some number of them, and while they haven't drawn me strongly, there are elements that I find really appeal, especially now that I am now much more familiar with the celts.
euphonia: (Default)
Behind this cut is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club.

Bold - titles I've read.
Asterisk - means I've loved it.
Italics - means I've started it, but not finished it
All others, haven't read it.

euphonia: (Default)
"Petrificate your manhood"

I don't think this word means what you think it means! ;-)
euphonia: (Default)
Judge Orders Halt to Warrantless Surveillance
Bush, of course, will appeal.

"It is disappointing that a judge would take it upon herself to disarm America during a time of war," Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Gak! A war they created that does absolutely no-one any good!