cedar_grove: (Mrs Gold)
2017-05-08 06:48 pm

Where I Become Public Enemy Number 1 (Again)

These are just a few of my current thoughts/observations on Once Upon A Time after yesterday's episode, today's 'revelations' and the upcoming season (possibly series) finale this coming Sunday.

First of all I will grudgingly say that the musical episode wasn't quite as bad as I expected it to be. Then I'll say that the much 'anticipated' (though not by me) wedding of the season did NOT move me all that much, which in my current highly emotional/hormonal state actually speaks volumes. I was given a tissue at the beginning of the episode, and I returned it unused at the end. Contrast this with the day before, my sitting in front of the Kentucky Derby with tears on my face.

Today, I saw the ratings for last night's episode, and even after two weeks of high intensity publicity and hype, the show dropped on it's demographic ratings by 11.11% on the previous episode, which had received scant and sketchy publicity which was thoroughly overshadowed by said hyped musical/wedding episode. This proves - to me at least - just which character carries the show... and here's a hint: much as they might want it to be the case, it is NOT Captain Swan.

Should I feel vindicated? I've been a staunch supporter of Rumbelle right from the off and remain so to the end. Should I feel that way? Maybe... unfortunately, in light of rumors, spoilers and other pieces of information, I feel somewhat pessimistic, going so far as to say up front here and now that if, (some would say when), the finale proves 'fatal' to the possibility of a positive outcome for the Gold family that... THAT will be proof positive that the writers simply have no heart at all.

All season long - in a season that began the year of the 25th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast (and for those that don't know the show, Belle and Rumple are OUAT's version of BatB), in fact beginning before that in the ending of season 4 Belle and Rumple's characters and their relationship to each other has been treated beyond poorly, written in some cases 'out of character' with flimsy justifications for their actions (rather trite and repetitive, unimaginative reasons in many cases too - even when the excuses were closer to 'in character.) It's a crying shame when the most promising of characters on a show begin to be written detrimentally because the writers of the show become bored with them, or can't be bothered any more because they've found a new 'toy' to play with. It happened with Michael from Stargate: Atlantis, and it seems that it has happened on OUAT as well, when the 'norm' within the writers room became to shift focus to the new 'golden' pairing once Hook came along... a character who, in so many respects, is ten times more despicable than Rumple, and yet whose 'reformation' affords him carte blanche and the promise /realisation of 'deserved' happiness. Never mind the fact that even as the 'Dark One' Rumple's actions have saved so many in Storybrooke time and time again. Has that ever been acknowledged? No. It all became... Captain Swan/Hook good, Rumbelle/Rumple-Gold no good. I've even heard (completely unfounded) rumors that someone that tried to advocate for Rumple/Rumbelle during this season was removed. (And I will stress again, this is alleged, and completely unfounded rumor)

With a week before the finale, and with showrunners saying things like, 'some people will be happy, others will be angry and upset' I can't help but offer odds as to whom those 'others' will be.... and I want to know how treating the character that truly does stand out in an ensemble cast to hold the show together like absolute crap is offering something for /every/ fan?
cedar_grove: (Storm)
2016-12-27 09:00 pm

New Year, New Journey, New Start? Hard Truths.

I have spent several weeks in contemplation of when, for me, the new year should begin, or perhaps has already begun. I tell myself this, and not that it is procrastination against the beginning of an undertaking, or perhaps the opposite, a wish for a precipitous beginning of said undertaking. The fact remains, I have questioned, and still question when a new year begins for an individual. When does it begin for me?

As a Wiccan, should my new year have begun in November, as Samhain passed us into the gathering season of winter, or did my new year begin almost a month later with the start of a journey that has led me to the threshold upon which I now stand – or may even have unknowingly passed beyond already? Did my personal new year begin as a new year of my life began with my birthday on December 11th or with the new solar year, and returning light at Yule? Or should I simply do as most folk seem to do and say my new undertaking will begin with the new calendar year as 2016 gives way to 2017?

There are so many conventions that we follow, cultural and religious, and some that fall into both categories. The notion of the ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ have never appealed to me, and not just because many (if not most of the people I personally know) give up on those resolutions soon after making them – myself included in the past. Perhaps that’s why, through this soul searching, I have shied away from that option, and why I questioned in the first place.

Through my introspection, not just of recent days, but of many months, perhaps even years – and extrospection (though Google tells me that even though technically this is the anonym of introspection, it is rarely used), I have discovered a thing or two. This is the point at which I feel I must type the disclaimer that, if you think this part of my journal entry is about you, well… that’s your prerogative, I suppose, but this is my journal, and these are my observations. However, as the saying goes, if the cap fits… or the shoe fits, then… be Cinderella if you must.

There are too many people out there who can’t, or perhaps worse, refuse to see past the end of their own garden path. Such people trap themselves in their own misery, and as prisoners lash out at those around them, transferring their misery and negativity to people who are merely trying to help them realize their own state of being. I’ve been an enabler of such behaviors for the sake of a quiet life, because the gods know that when I’ve tried to do otherwise, all holy hell has broken loose.

Loyalty, like charity, must begin at home. Blind loyalty to other people or beliefs or any other thing that one can be loyal to is often self-destructive. Loyalty to someone or something that reinforces or promotes self-deprecation or a negative self-image, no matter who or what that someone or something is; what part that person or something else plays in your life, is an act of cowardice, not loyalty, and ultimately damaging for you and for others in your life.  As with love, if you cannot love yourself, you cannot properly love others – if you cannot be loyal to yourself, then your loyalty to others is misguided at best.

Ignoring the wise words of good friends and loved ones is just plain stupid and can only lead to trouble and pain. You might think your reasons for arguing the point (inwardly or outwardly) are good and valid reasons, but experience and hindsight will always come around like a two-headed dog to bite you on the ass. When that happens, you know the people that had your best interests at heart when they spoke the advice because, while they might remind you of what they said, they’ll never say, “I told you so,” and will just be there in quiet support while you find your feet after being knocked on your smarting backside.

There’s great sadness in the realization that sometimes, people will – by their own thoughts and actions – disqualify themselves from certain parts they have played in your life, and you can fight and flail all you like to keep them there because you want them there, but if that want isn’t truly and unconditionally matched, there’s little you can do but create a negative and toxic situation for the both of you that is ultimately damaging. Conversely, people can sometimes surprise you. When you least expect it, with a single word, or a short message, people you might have once been close to, that you didn’t even realize you missed, can give you a boost when you’re at your lowest ebb, and remind you that they’re still there.

In all of the above, I’m drawn to, and feel the need to also share a story that was given to me as a ‘lesson’ by one of those wise friends many, many years ago - a wonderful man by the name of Alawn Tickhill - who told me the Story of the Sparrow – and you can find it here.

So… anyway, the conclusion I came to, is that really and ultimately, when and why I start the undertaking is entirely up to me. Also, it’s no big secret what the undertaking is.  It’s just that I’ve been wanting to do more journal writing for a very long time now, and I thought, well, with a new year, it might be time to start this journaling journey.  I’d like to say I’ll write every day. Even though that might be my intent, I know that sometimes life is going to get in the way. I also know that’s perfectly fine.

What I write, how often I write, and why I write – well, those things are my prerogative and my responsibility too.
cedar_grove: (Eirian with a smile)
2016-06-30 06:42 pm

...In Which I Set Myself Up As Public Enemy Number One.

Don't get me wrong, I love Halt and Catch Fire. I have to put that out there right at the beginning of this, because some of what I have to say is hard.

First season, the writing was smart, it was tight and engaging, and the characters - for the most part - were three, maybe even four dimensional, flawed, human... engaging.

No, the show isn't perfect. There were missed opportunities, and 'throw-your-shoe-at-the-TV, how-could-whomever-be-so-stupid/gullible etc' moments that occurred throughout the season, but it had a clear direction and compelling storylines. The ensemble cast worked brilliantly, and the storylines left you almost punch-drunk on occasion.

Joe MacMillan's oft Machiavellian struggles to emerge from the weight and shadows of his past - often in questionable ways - were almost mesmeric in their ability to pull you back to the show again and again; he was the one you loved to hate, the one you pulled for - rooted for - wanted to succeed. It was for, and because of Joe, that I watched the show.

Then season two happened. Joe's role was marginalized - and before anyone tries to say it, not because of his relationship with Sara.  The Joe/Sara arc of Season two became one of those missed opportunities, and sadly underrepresented, points of the show; one that could have been a huge strength.  Instead, we were treated to the almost weekly, pre-adolescent, tantrums of Cameron Howe - a young woman, supposedly intelligent, who frankly should have known better on most occasions, and definitely should have behaved in a more mature manner. The 'ensemble' nature of the show fractured into separate and competing story lines; not that those storylines were not good ones - they were - but the show lacked the cohesion that was one of its strengths in season one, and frankly Lee Pace's acting prowess, and his deeply emotional connection to his character on the show were sorely underused, and MacMillan's path was manipulated back onto the self-destructive-Howe-train... frankly a travesty.

Still the show remained a compelling, if somewhat specialized, drama that kept its followers and fans coming back for more... and more... because we did and do want more.

Donna and Gordon's struggles were heartbreaking and pointed, set against Donna's personal trials to mitigate the unacceptably unprofessional approach to Mutiny's self-named figurehead - how many times, after all, did Cameron insist that Mutiny had no boss, only to then play the heavy handed 'my ball' card? And in the MacMillan/Wheeler 'bulls-locking-horns' it seemed as thought Joe recognised in Jacob what he might have become if not for Sara and their love for each other - only to throw that all to the winds because... 'Cameron' (and the one 'problem' I had with the writing of the show...)  Yeah, maybe you could justify the 'breakdown/backtracking' if you really want to - and I know there are lots of Cam/Joe fans that do want to - but equally, given the strength in the rest of the Joe/Sara writing for the show, it just seemed a total throw away, to take that aspect of the show down the path it trod.

Now season three. From what I have read, I don't hold out much hope of a return to the ensemble of season one... There seem to be too many 'Meanwhiles' and 'as' in the synopsis to suggest that everything is just one big ball of ones and zeros.
"The third season picks up in March 1986, as Mutiny has left Texas for the big leagues of Silicon Valley. Founders Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna Clark (Kerry Bishé) search for the idea that will launch Mutiny as a player, but new collaborators test their partnership. Meanwhile,Gordon (Scoot McNairy) struggles to find a place within his wife’s company as Joe McMillan (sic) (Lee Pace) builds upon his empire, reinventing himself with a bold play that shocks the Valley and sends him back into the lives of his old partners."

Neither do I hold out hope for the direction of the MacMillan storyline becoming separated from his being Cameron's bitch once again, which so underrates the character who, lets face it, was the catalyst for the whole of the show in the first place... his coming to Cardiff Electric with the intent to build his computer that, "no one else had the balls to build."

Don't get me wrong, I love the show and will continue to watch it, but I must confess to being incredibly uncomfortable and very nervous about what they're going to do with the storytelling and fabric of the show, and the way each of our favorite characters become embroiled in the later half of the 1980s.

I trust the team will prove me wrong.
cedar_grove: (Eirian with a smile)
2016-05-10 09:34 pm
Entry tags:

After the Lord Mayor's Show...

So, the week before last I had a pretty awesome week, writing wise... and managed to get the first five chapters of the book written.  Those of you also following my Wordpress blog will have seen the 'sneak peek' that I posted there, but for those that done follow, you can find it...


...of course the week after wasn't quite so successful.  I got the outlines down for maybe the next ten or fifteen chapters, but I didn't actually get the writing done, and so far this week I haven't managed anything at all.... but things have been a bit insanely busy one way or another, and it's not necessarily always chorse that keep you from writing.
cedar_grove: (Work In Progress)
2016-03-31 08:37 pm
Entry tags:

A round up of all things 'writerly'

Has it really been since December that I last posted.  That's bad.  That's life though, been very busy with unwriterly things, working with an awesome team at a local elementary school to assist a deaf student (and learning ASL in the process)... taking care of another EC kid after school two days a week; minding a church nursery on Sundays - means I've been busy, but I've still been chipping away at writing things, and have a few exciting things to bring to light.

First of all, have had a major overhaul of the two websites I keep bringing them up to date. Please take the time to take a look. The first one is eirianhoupe.com.

And then there is the cedarfiction.net website here:

That's the easy part.  After that it gets a bit more complicated.

I recently made an announcement on Fanfiction.net that I was going to start pulling down the stories from the virtual season of Stargate Atlantis that I had been writing. No, I've not fallen out of love with SGA, but the thing is, I want to use the elements of those fics that were original thoughts - my own work, research and creation, and bring them into the current science fiction project I have underway, where they would be very much at home.  So, regrettably the SGA:VS5 has to go.  It wasn't an easy decision by any means, but I feel that it's the right one, especially in light of the whole spamdexing fiasco that went on recently over at fanfiction.net. So that'll be happening starting any time now, and please note if you go looking back through this journal, the links to the stories here won't work.  They're already gone from the cedarfiction website during the overhaul, replaced by links back to them on Fanfiction.net. So if you feel like a last minute read, head on over to the Worlds and Works of Eirian Houpe Atlantis Gallery.

Lastly, for now at least, I'm kind of excited at this one. In order to help support the creation of the Use'ara series, I joined Patreon. rather than me trying to explain the ins and outs of the site, head on over to see what they themselves say it's all about, and who knows, maybe you'll find a new artist, or musician, or even writer you like and help support their work.  You can find my profile by clicking the image below.

But wait!  I almost forgot, I also updated my WORDPRESS site too. That's where  you can find more specific (and different) snippets of information about Use'ara, Butterfly Raven, and Life After: Awakening.
cedar_grove: (Eirian with a smile)
2015-12-24 09:14 pm

Schedules and 'Guilty Pleasures'

I don't like schedules. They deny spontaneity and stifle flexibility if you stick to them, and if you don't,  what’s the point of having one? The other problem I have with schedules is that it's rare that life, the universe in particular, rarely respects the orderly progression of tasks that you’ve so carefully laid out so that everything gets done in a timely manner. This can manifest in things not working out the way you intended, or other people asking things of you that mean adjustments be made, and if you’re anything like me you’ll put whatever it is that has been asked of you ahead of your schedule, ahead of the things you’ve planned (read want) to do after you’re done with the chores on your list of things that must be done.

Inevitably, those desired activities/tasks remain unfulfilled, initiating a stress response, leading into a spiral of negativity and resentment - unless you’re able to embrace true selflessness… a fully enlightened state of being that few of us, myself included, reach in our lifetime.

So what’s the solution? What are  the answers or the steps to strive for at the beginning of our golden solar path? I believe it’s a matter of learning how and when to say, “no” or, “not right now,” and not being afraid to take care of self while adhering to the schedule you made; recognizing when you need a moment of and for you, and not feeling guilty for doing so.

cedar_grove: (Eirian with a smile)
2015-12-23 07:04 pm

Seeking A Path to Rebirth

As I sit here, trying to think how I should begin, to find the start of my path for the coming solar year, the rain outside is soaking the ground, the sky overhead is grumbling with thunder. The saying over here is that if there is thunder in the winter time, there will be snow a Tenday later, yet we are currently 'enjoying' record temperatures. There is something wrong with that – it's called Climate Change, and yes, it does exist.

Day before yesterday was the Winter Solstice. Mir and I were travelling on that day, back from New York City where we'd been visiting with good friends, and stopped in on the National Museum of the Marine Corp on the way back to visit the statue of Sergeant Reckless. We were surprised also to see a piece of the WTC that we'd seen transported to the museum along the New Jersey Turnpike a long while past now… and remembered the Firefighters on the bridges paying their respects as it passed. To lay my hand upon the concrete and steel was a profound moment… one right for the introspection the Solstice and winter season invokes into a life.

Perhaps that's where my coming journey begins… like a seed, buried in the dark earth, sheltered from the cold and the wet and the external pressures latent in the unfolding year, held together by the protective pressures of my own internal thoughts, like the arms of Mother, holding Her child, who has wandered.
cedar_grove: (Eirian with a smile)
2015-10-09 01:23 am
Entry tags:

That Moment When...

Take a moment to pause and consider that sometimes we don't always have the whole picture.

Today some incredible news has been marred by the knowledge that all was never as rosy as some would have us believe, and a community that, while pulling for the same end, was never as inclusive and welcoming as those same few would have unknowing members of that community believe; ego, and resultant bullying caused division and exclusion, and left a sour taste when it felt like the community cause lost its way and became more about the vehicle or facilitator, and less about the desired aim.

Blindly proclaiming everything pertinent to be 'good' or 'right' - failure to allow for criticism without accusations of damaging or deriding the community aims - weaken said community and the argument it makes and the cause it supports. Demanding that fellow voices censor themselves or recuse themselves from identifying with a community of which, by the very nature of their wishes and desires for, and enjoyment of an entity is not the action of a community secure in its unity or its convictions.

Unfortunately all this has all led to a sense of cynicism, where there should be celebration, and disappointment even amid the happiness and anticipation.
cedar_grove: (Stormcloud)
2014-01-05 12:48 pm

A Bonnet Filled With Bees

I have a bee in my bonnet, and I am not alone. There's no real point to this post, it's just an outlet, me venting to a degree... and recently I haven't vented nearly enough and I'm feeling it.

Recently I 'unliked' a fan page of a certain public figure because of what I considered to be conduct unbecoming such a site, a very hypocritical admin, and due to content being posted - family photos and such, which is where the admin hypocracy comes in, since she had gone on record saying she would never post such things and then did.

Now, one could argue that, being a public figure, celebrity, however it could be framed, that the posting of such images, not to mention speculation about all aspects of such a person's lifestyle, are simply an occupational hazard, as it were. However, this particular person is a very private person in respect of his family and personal life, and on the whole that seems to be respected by media outlets, surprisingly enough.

Then, last night, other, more reputable fan pages for the same public figure responded in disapproval to the continued practice of posting such images, which has only strengthened my disquiet in respect of the unliked page toward the anger side of the spectrum, and why? Two reasons: firstly, the pictures posted had be poached from the private page of a genuine family friend of said celeb (their page had allegedly been hacked and the photographs taken, and subsequently posted), who had since asked for the posted pictures to be removed from all sites that had shared them, and secondly - the photographs included children, (nieces and nephews of said celeb). It's one thing for family members to post pictures of their own kids, or friends with permission to do so, but random sites/pages, no. That crosses a line - and no, I don't care that the faces of the kids have been covered up by big yellow smileys. It's still no.

The unrepentant admin of the page, openly and defiantly said she (I'm assuming she), would not remove the photographs from the page and has removed all negative comments made on the page, including one very polite warning comment posted that if she did not remove the offending pictures, she would receive a cease and desist notice... anything posted in criticism of her disrespect has been deleted from the page. (We used to call these 'flames' but whatever the term is now, Gods alone know, everything changes so fast - LOL).

Are we truly such a desperate people that we must use social media in such a way? Maybe someone should report the page.
cedar_grove: (Books)
2014-01-05 12:06 pm
Entry tags:

2014 in Text

While everyone else seems to be busy looking back on 2013 to see the highlights and low points of the last year, some in quite formal ways, others via the whole Facebook thing, I've been trying to - and in some cases, 'trying' has been the operative word - set my sights forwards into 2014.

I don't do the whole New Year's resolutions thing, I rarely stick to them, because inevitably at some point they become obsolete or impossible despite all the self discipline in the world and therefore get dropped. I have made one promise to myself for this year, though - that being to finish reading The Silmarillion. The other things I have been thinking about in respect of 2014 are things I'd like to do if at all possible, a few goals one could say.

We were at the library on Friday, grabbing Mir's books for her January read, and the thought about The Silmarillion and also about my own reading for the year had me come up with a decision. This year I'm decided that I want to read a Tolkien each month. So, I made a list as follows:

The Silmarillion
The History of Middle Earth, Volumes 1 through 5
The Children of Hurin
Unfinished tales of Numenor and Middle-earth
Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
Return of the King
The Hobbit.

My reading goal on Goodreads is set to 40 book. Last year I set the bar rather too high, based entirely on how 'unbusy' I was at the beginning of the year, and then everything changed of course... I found work, DOMA fell, precipitating an awesome life change, and so reading took a back seat to so many other things, that 75 books just wasn't happening. So in addition to the Tolkien, I have a list to pull from for book to read to reach my modest reading goal, and that's one thing on the list for this year.

Writing took a major hit in 2013, with some seriously lost mojo, but I feel as if I'm coming out from behind that cloud now that a new year is dawned, and I'm staring to get a grip a little more of my new situation, so I feel that I might actually get a few more words from the tips of the old fingers this year too. I'm not setting goals - I think part of the problem last year was that I did that and so ended up putting up walls around myself - but I do have projects to switch between and keep things fresher. The two original projects, along with three Middle Earth fan fic projects make up the head of the list of projects, and I still have the SGA floating around in the back of the brain, taking a respite to gather full strength again. Writing 13 novel length fics kind of made for hitting a major wall in that regard, even if all 20 are planned. I needed a rest - I'm taking that rest in Arda.
cedar_grove: (In dreams)
2013-12-15 02:21 pm
Entry tags:

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

As I write this, I am still trying to get my thoughts and feelings together into comfortable little niches all of their own. They aren't cooperating though, resisting the almost desperate urging to settle, to let me come up with a coherent opinion on a movie I have waited for for what feels like forever I keep contradicting myself, and swinging back and forth between love, hate and a whole realms worth of emotions in between. That said, and bearing in mind that they might change even the moment I've finished writing them - that's how in flux I am: here are my initial comments on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

"The world has changed..."
For me, the whole 'Tolkien Purists vs Jackson & Co's vision' is a bit of a non starter, to be honest, but the rabid and vicarious 'turning in his grave' attitude adopted by many so-called purists is starting to make my teeth itch. Now, this is just my opinion, because I love how the franchise has been handled by Jackson et al, (and yes, I am including LotR and TH both), How can these people call themselves purists when they appear to be ignoring the wishes of Tolkien himself, that his writing concerning Middle Earth should be a kind of mythology, which are, "linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama." (J.R.R Tolkien, Letter to Milton Waldman, 1951)?

Well, isn't that exactly the point? Isn't that What Jackson and co have done? Wielded that 'paint, music and drama' and given us an expanded vision of the sketched out - though admittedly wonderful - bed time story that Tolkien offered to us in the pages of The Hobbit? In my mind, what Peter, Fran, Phillipa and co have done is taken that wish of Tolkien's and run with it... adapting the mythology presented way back... (reaches for copy of the book)... in 1937, updated it and made it resonate within the hearts and minds of a movie-going population of a different century! Tastes change - understandings change, and if tradition and mythology doesn't have the power to adapt and change with society they will become obsolete, meaningless or worse, inaccessible.

Did Peter Jackson and Co 'take liberties?' - no. Did they adapt and add to the story for a modern audience? -yes. So... if that still isn't good enough for you purists, I say, "Instead of siting their complaining and moaning about it... go and try it for yourself." Even just try writing a script... I dare ya!

"Give them a moment, for Pity's sake!"
The pace of the movie was utterly relentless, which is both a very good thing and a 'whoa-hold-on-time-out' thing too. There were times in the movie where I would have liked a moment or two to catch my breath before plunging on to the next moment in the roller-coaster ride. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, nothing could be further from the truth, but I found I had barely time to process one thing before moving on to the next, and that may go some way to accounting as to why I am still more than 16 hours later, still trying to process it all. It's all still swimming around in my head as a big ball of Middle-Earthy peril, history and heartbreak.

"Such is the nature of Evil..."
Right from the start here, I'm going to declare myself and admit that I am horribly biased. It will come as no surprise, therefore, when I felt our time spent in the Halls of the Elvenking were by far too short - a feeling I hope to see given relief when we finally get to see an extended cut on DVD. I'll also confess I've read more interviews with the actors than I can count and watched PJ's Production Blogs etc, which kind of informs a lot of my following thoughts.

Lee Pace as Thranduil was as near to perfect as any actor could possibly have been. Exquisite and painfully beautiful, controlling and powerful and yet hauntingly hurt, lost and devastated by all that he has lived through in his long years. From said interviews, and the blogs, Pace obviously did a lot of preparation for understanding the Elvenking and his motivations and within the confines of the script and cut of the movie, helped to underpin and mitigate the isolationist attitude that could otherwise have been seen as a weakness, not as the sacrificial strength of a king that does what he can to protect his people... knowing his limitations and knowing that when to act is as important as what a person does. I'm hoping that will come across more clearly yet in an extended cut of the movie, where the inner struggle with the bitterness and 'evil' lingering inside of him will be more in evidence.

Orlando Bloom 'reprised' his role as Legolas with skill and dedication. The 'devolution' of the Legolas character was well written, and was expertly acted. Easy to believe that Legolas was clearly his father's son, and being groomed as a Prince of the Woodland Realm. The action sequences involving the elf Prince were as stunning as always, and knowing that Bloom tried to do as much of his own stunt work as possible instills a new level of respect. The complaints about him not belonging hold no water in my opinion. We were in his home. He's going to be there... and the story-line presented to us by Jackson and Co in their vision of events beg his involvement, since his father is not yet ready to act.

Evangeline Lily works as an elf. Her place in the story works, though... I found myself not caring about her as much as I'm sure I'm supposed to... will need to, I suspect when There and Back Again comes out. She a young elf, and that, I think, comes across very well in the way Lily presents her character. And I think I can almost believe in the cross-species 'romance' blossoming in front of us... doomed as it is... it was very sweet. I never had a problem with the addition of a 'new' female character. The changing times and attitudes demands it, and the movie needed a woman. I didn't dislike her, and I expected to... though mostly due to conflicting rumours I'd heard about the direction her character was being taken and a worry for the way such things would be written. I should have trusted what I know of the love Jackson has for Middle Earth, and repeat my opinion that as an elf, Lily works.

Luke Evan's brought the character of Bard to life beautiful. Clearly a man with his own demons of the dark to face, his confrontation with Thorin unfortunately on a more political stage, and therefore more likely to fail than had he 'confronted' the Dwarf under different circumstances was visceral and one to inspire fear - sadly though unheard by the the people of Laketown, who remain driven by their own need, hunger and lingering hope. Evan's brought all of this to life with a sensitivity, and yet a strength that made Bard real and believable.

"I am King Under the Mountain."
Richard Armitage, as the one who would claim this throne-in-contention, in the role of Thorin delivered a solidly consistent performance - skilled and clearly showing an increasing agitation in both his words and actions. The closer he gets to his goal, the further away it would seem to become, along with his sense of reason, unfortunately... I mean, honestly - did he honestly think that his particular plan to rid Erebor of Smaug was going to work? Really? Armitage made us believe... in Thorin's conviction, in his growing desperation to reclaim what he has lost... at whatever cost.

I cannot really leave without making some kind of comment or giving some kind of voice to the thought about the titular character of the movie... though beyond 'Smaug was awesome' I don't know really what is to be said. The Mo-cap animation was second to none, and Benedict Cumberbatch did an outstanding job of both the Mo-Cap and the voice-work on the dragon. He was fearsome, he was uncompromisingly arrogant, clever and above all dangerous.

"Dragon fire and ruin..."
Martin Freeman works for me as Bilbo. There really isn't much more to be said about the hobbit than that. He made the role his own, and even his own sense of somewhat comedic style, which I don't normally care for, didn't bother me all that much. As I come to the end of my thoughts I have to commend Freeman on managing to deliver and incredibly cliche line with such delicate conviction that (had the movie theatre not prematurely raised the house lighting) would not at all have taken away from the 'shock' ending of the movie.

"I regret to tell you, this is the end... goodbye."
WHAT!! I have to wait a whole year!?

Yes, overall I loved the movie, I want to see it again... and again... and I want more. I want to see what was left behind to make the Extended Edition, whenever we are allowed to see that. (Please don't make me wait until November!) I don't care that it's 'not the book,' it is still The Hobbit to me.
cedar_grove: (Eirian in silver 3)
2013-05-19 03:05 am
Entry tags:

Onen i-Hidh Adanath...

The first time I felt this way, and had the very same thought, I was standing in the shower watching the snow fall down outside the frosted glass of the bathroom window; the second also in the shower, though this time the sun was shining - or trying to shine - outside. This third time I am once again in the shower, but this time it is dark, the temperature of the shower is far too high, and rather than watching the distorted world through the bathroom window's frosted glass, I am watching the steam obscuring my view, the condensation settling on the window, shrouding the frosted glass and the symbolism of it finally penetrates my brain as the question surfaces again: Why have I not been blogging? Why do I not post my status on Facebook? Do I truly have nothing to say?

Oh, certainly, I might share a whole bunch of photographs or inspirational quotations from other pages that I find meaningful or poignant, and sometimes I might even do more than just hit the share button, and post a word or two about why I have shared them, but little more.

I've known for some time I've been censoring myself; editing myself so that the frames come together to tell the story in another way, because... well.. frankly it's just easier that way - far less conflict.

Except inside myself.

So I said, on several occasions, that I wasn't going to do it any more, and yet here I am still doing it... and frustrating myself in that. I have ended up feeling like I have (or worse yet, should have) no voice, no opinion and certainly no feelings. The upshot of which has further hampered any sense of creativity and life that was all but stifled - as if with a pillow over the face - by a year long sojourn in Egypt.

Happily I'm out of that situation now. Still not where I truly want to be, but... what can I say? Some countries and some of her peoples are certainly backwards in their own sense of egality and in following the literal, and the meaning in spirit, of their own founding principles. So much so, that they shroud any route toward said egality in so much thorny red tape that even their own citizens do not know and cannot understand all the ins and outs of navigating it in order to gain admittance. I hate politics... and that's one thing you probably won't find me blogging about any time soon, (more than I have done just here anyway).

So what's to say, and what's to do, and definitely what's to write when all that was creative in my soul has been somehow deadened to the point where, yes - I will latch on to anything that is in the remotest bit a resuscitation, a work around, or even a leg up and over the dreaded wall of 'writer's block' that has been plaguing me for the last eighteen months or so?

The Use'ara cycle was coming along nicely, getting the Nano treatment but then was interrupted by the move to Cairo. Similarly the Life After series ground to an unceremonious halt. I turned to fandom to keep some shred of creativity alive, and managed at least to finish the 13th story of a series I had been working on before the block caught up even there.

But I digress...

As far as Facebook is concerned, I feel... uncomfortable, that's a nice gentle word, let's use that one, posting about what's going on and how I feel about it. I know I shouldn't, but sometimes, some of the posts I read on my news feed seem so much like people just airing their dirty linen in public, as it were. Do I really want to do that? Maybe it's just my overly conservative (note the small c) British nature that causes that. Should I adopt a more bolshy, forthright approach like other world citizens and just... tell it like it is, warts and all? Maybe I should try it for a while and see or feel the results for myself.

As for blogging, well, I find that the trouble with a lot of blogging is that in many cases, it tends toward political comments. I've already stated I don't really do politics. Oh, I live with them, like everyone has to because they're a sad fact of life. I have an opinion on political matters too, but in most cases that is my own and not for sharing. The trouble with political blogging is that, at least to me, it seems always to be hateful and angry. There is much to be said for exercising the option not to say anything at all, and to allow that to speak for your opinion and feelings on a matter. Is that not the basis of the advice your mother always told you: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all? Other types of blogging require... well... something to happen to inspire it. Stuck in my little hamster-wheel I usually end up feeling like the most boring person on the face of the planet. Who wants to read over and over again about the traffic on my way to wherever, and the kids (Whether hellions or angels) that I meet and work with?

Oh, I know there's more to it than that, and yes, I'm probably making excuses because - as happened very recently - when I do open my yap about something or another, it rarely ends up with me feeling any better about things and/or myself. But, since discourse is generally thought of as good, and because I have to do something to unlock this door, or take a wrecking ball to the wall that is standing between me and the creativity, which I know has to be on the other side of the wall, let this be a public affirmation of the permission to at least try... and feel free to poke me - but gently - with reminders to comply with my own wishes.

(A/N: As an demonstration of what I mean through all of this - it has taken me 3 months to write this.)
cedar_grove: (michael dream word)
2012-09-15 07:24 pm
Entry tags:

Finally! Convocation Act 4 - Complete story!

Title: Convocation
Rating: NC-17 (adult readers) due to S.L.V
Spoilers: Some spoilers for S1-4
Summary: Wraith Hives gather in a system under the protection of Atlantis and when Ronon returns with refugees, the team has no choice but to investigate. Meanwhile, Beckett returns from Michael with a treatment that could save Keller and discovers the disturbing truth behind her condition - a truth that Michael had diagnosed, and Haddad, still facing issues of her own, had guessed. When matters come to a head, who will be left standing?
Disclaimer: MGM own Stargate: Atlantis. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no revenue is being made from copyright material. No infrigement intended.

Act 1 to 4 now available.

Author's Note: Look guys, the rating says it all, but I'll spell it out. This contains explicit scenes. Many thanks [livejournal.com profile] gospikey for hard work in Beta.

Previous Episodes:
Harm's Way (1), Chain of Command (2), Enmity, (3), Mantle, (4), In Truth... Freedom, (5), Letting Go, (6), Beyond the Third, (7), Deliverance, (8), No Way Back, (9) Apostasy, (10) Crossing Lines, (11) and Revelation (12) can be accessed here.
cedar_grove: (Default)
2012-08-29 11:33 pm

Our Weight Upon the Land

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and a moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
-Revelations 11

Yet the goddess existed for eons before the god was accepted by his followers. During those many ages, humans lived lightly on the land.

My first impressions here are that I could have quoted so many parts of today's text about how man's abandonment of goddess and the divine feminine has contributed towards his destruction of the world. "Tread gently on the earth."

It's hard to move beyond the first impressions here today when surrounded by so much and so many who do not tread at all gently upon this earth. It's one of the things most difficult here. So much waste, so many not caring about what happens to their environment. So much litter and waste. It's heartbreaking.

I do what I can - those 3Rs and to be fair the school has started to recycle things - yet in the same breath have changed the printing process so that one extra sheet of paper per print job is produced: a cover sheet to tell the print room staff who sent it to the printer. What, we can't just send it to the printer and go and recognise what we printed? Of course, I'll use those cover sheet - reuse and all, as well as recycle what I can but after this being today's selected quote, I can't help but see the irony of it all.

Mother, may my steps upon the earth be those that lighten your load.
Father, where they do not, lend me your strength, that I may choose the path of least harm.
Old one's, hear your daughter. SMIB.

cedar_grove: (Default)
2012-08-28 11:09 pm

Spiritual Direction

I could not sleep.I could not quiet my mind.
Four or five times I rose and left my room,
for I could not find peace.

But I found a nun, a trustworthy woman.
She taught me of existence, the senses,
the elements, the truth.

After that, I sat for seven days silent and joyous.
On the eighth day I stretched out my legs,
having conquered darkness.

-Buddhist Therigata, Songs of the Sisters

To many women, turning to another woman for spiritual direction is difficult.

My first impressions reading this lead me to question whether this difficulty was a subconsious one, and issue of balance. Often the way that little girls favour their dad's while little boys favour their mum, in who they will go to for comfort and/or advise. I never did reach a resolution with that, in part because, on spiritual matters, I don't really have a problem speaking to either gender, it's just a matter of the person themselves... which I don't know if it makes sense.

My day today hasn't really been very much about the spiritual, in fact it's been very physical, secular and logical - organisational... about the everyday and for that reason perhaps I brought to mind frequently the thought that our wedding, Mir's and mine, was performed by a female minister. Even in that, we asked for her to avoid too much mention of "God" and it is that, I think, (the mention of god) that the text means by 'spiritual', which to me is not necessarily true. To me, spiritual is far more than just god - it is all things... it is my connection with everything and everyone... it is the inner life and harmony with the outer, which is a tough ask sometimes - often maybe, but certainly not just about God.

In a book I have just read, (The White Mare by Jules Watson) the characters are living in pre-Roman times in a culture where women were seen as a spiritual fount of knowledge, wisdom and energy. Women and especially priestesses were respected as speaking with Her voice (the voice of the Goddess/the Land), Her wisdom... whether that be in the squeak of an animal, the cry of a bird or the splash of a fish - all were valued and listened to as should be, for in my opinion, spiritual direction comes not in words only.

Woman speaks with Her voice -
Her wisdom - we are one.
Sisters of the Water, guide me
to feel Her voice in the lapping
of your waves - we are one.
Brothers of the air, guide me
to breathe Her voice in the melody
of your son - we are one.
Children of Earth and fire, guide me
to live Her voice in the burning
of your passion, in the growth
of your hearts - we are one.

May I speak with Her voice -
Her wisdom - we are one.

cedar_grove: (spaghetti)
2012-08-27 07:36 pm

Nourishment of Body and Soul

I sing a magnificent song, for she is a magnificent goddess. It is Sarasvati whom I praise with hymns and songs. Fullness, beauty, richness, bounty: that is the goddess. Fullness, beauty, richness, bounty: may she give to us. May Sarasvati send us good luck, for she has luck to spare. May she be our protector, for she has much to give.May we enjoy Sarasvati's breasts, which swell and swell. May we gain food from her, and healthy children. -Indian Rig Veda

How easy it is to forget that water and bread, taken in warmth and comfort, makes a great feast!

Patricia Monaghan. Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Goddess (p. 252). Kindle Edition.

My first impression on reading today's entry in the book was how much it reminded me of Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, which you can read about here. I think this is especially poignant today since I know that my guy and I are both experiencing many issues regarding elements of those needs, and with our separation once more, the feeling of needing security and love are especially strong.

My today today has been in many ways a succession of trying to meet some of these needs, especially the basic ones, in as much as I had to go to the store, since I had no food in my house, and having not yet eaten dinner - indeed not really eaten since breakfast - my belly is reminding me that I should perhaps eat something. Yet I have also taken steps toward fulfilling some of my spiritual needs too. I have remade my commitment to typing my meditations from this book once again. I have also set a small space aside in my room for an altar space, because a book I recently read has helped me to realise how much I miss being more active with the connection to my faith, and again I must thank my wonderful guy for both of these things, since Mir selected the book. I now have some joss sticks and a small water fountain, and use the egg lamp that was a gift from Gaile and my candle lamp that was a gift from one of my children last year to make up the north and south elements. In making this I am expressing an outward sign of the inner commitment to find myself and my way in my faith once again.

Although this entry of the book is speaking in sense of actual physical needs, I don't truly think that it needs to be limited to that. Certainly we have a need for shelter, for food, for our creature comforts beyond those basic things, but we should also look at this in a more pan0dimensional way. As food nourishes our body, so love (and compassion), both given and received, nourishes our soul/spirit. I think that is the essence of the prayer that I wrote, and I believe the essence of my current needs.

As I lay meditating on the quote I had selected, I could bring to mind only a picture of domestic and romantic bliss - a memory - of sitting on the living room floor in North Carolina, eating from dishes laid on trays by candle light. The meal was simple, but appreciated because it was one that Mir had made for me. I'm sure it's close to my mind because it's one of the things that Mir spoke about this last weekend, but it also fits, and is fitting, for the entry today because it brought nourishment to both the body and soul together. Balance.

Lady, Mother, allow my heart to awaken in love and compassion,
for as a feast of bread and water, taken in warmth and comfort
may bring peace to my body,
so love and compassion may bring peace to my striving soul,
and to those that I love,
and to those around me.

Blessed Be.

cedar_grove: (Default)
2012-06-10 07:39 pm

Balance of the Sexes

The value of a worthy woman is far beyond pearls. She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands. She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household. She picks out a field to purchage; out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. She is girt about with strength and sturdy are her arms. She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed. She puts her hands to the distaff and her finers to ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She fears not the snow for her household; everyone is warmly clothed; She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.

--Proverbs31: 10-31

Women's efforts at sustaining hearth and home are less rewarded now. When money is the measure of a task's worth, unpaid labor is devalued and even derided.

So sad, so true.. and the saddest and truest thing is that women ourselves believe this... and society upholds it, in many ways, and mostly in the name of feminism and equality.

Okay - let's start by saying first off that I'm not against feminism, and I'm not against equality... just that to me, equality does not necessarily mean men and women doing exactly the same work, for the same financial reward... and feminism is not all about burning one's bra and being militant for women's rights. Women's rights, like anything else (including the rights of men) must be earned.

So... having established I'm anti-female-establishment... let me explain myself. Men and women are equally valuable in the male/female balance within life = equality. They may do different jobs - they may choose to live their lives in different ways to the traditional/expected, but each has their own worth in their own ways. Equality. Sure if Dan and Danielle have the same job in a firm, perform the same tasks, with the same level of competence and qualification, then of course they should be compensated fairly - equally. It would not be equal if Dan got a greater level of compensation simply because he does not have breasts and does not have to sit down to pee (unless he's really drunk and just can't handle standing). Equally it is not equal if the firm practises 'positive' discrimination and rewards Danielle more simply because she does, and can... and lets face it, since when has any discrimination been positive?

Standing up with a clear voice to speak for all that it means to be female = feminism. It is certainly not about putting men down. Nor is it about bitching and moaning about the inequality shown to women. It happens. It will always happen. Get over it. It happens the other way around too. Did you know that as a male, you cannot be a daycare teacher and be alone with chidren? You cannot sit a child on your lap, or put your arm around a child to comfort them if they are crying in class... accept a hug from a child who is simply happy to see you in the morning - most inappropriate - NOT! So... let's not heap the pot'o'blame on men. Rather, actually, the 'blame' is our own if we really want to blame anyone at all....

But... I somewhat digress...

When did it suddenly become 'uncool' to be a 'housewife' and mother... even a working one? I mean whether it's the woman or the man that does the home-making, and whether they work as well or not, when did there cease to be honour and value in what is an essential part of protecting and nurturing a family.

During the summer, and at other times when I am in NC, I spend my days engaged in those domestic activities. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, sewing sometimes, shopping for groceries... and I find it very empowering. I don't feel devalued or derided by it at all, no matter what society might think. Empowered by the knowledge that I'm keeping the home, looking after my guy... it might sound small, but there's great energy and life in that... at least for me.

I wonder if society realises how much it is stifling itself, it's own creativity in destroying this balance... The balance of male and female energies within each individual, as well as within couples - whether they be heterosexual or not.
cedar_grove: (Default)
2012-06-09 01:33 pm

Reactions in Microcosm

She was beautiful in appearance,
and had a very lovely face;
she had inherited gold and silver
and cattle and fields, and
she maintained her estate
well and made it flourish.
No one spoke ill of her.

--Book of Judith

For each of us, too, our daily lives are the seedbed for the moments when we are tested.

Being tested does not have to mean huge great problems that we wonder how in the world we are meant to deal with them... but it is what most of us will think about when we are presented with the concept of 'being tested' and I am no different.

And it is my thought just now that in thinking in such a way, we - I - miss those opportunities to recognise other times in which I have been tested and have 'passed' the 'test.' Small moments where there was the opportunity to deal with something in a manner that was full of grace, or to panic and flail and be less than decorous about some small thing that crossed my way.

In missing those things... in missing those moments, I feel I somehow lessen my own engagement with my inner state of grace, and that this is perhaps one of the things that is missing from the peace of my sense of self.

Someone somewhere once said, Don't sweat the small stuff. I had a calendar that was all about that one year - one of those ones that you tear off a page for each day - kind of miss having one of those again - and while we shouldn't sweat it, I most definitely agree - we shouldn't ignore it either.

It's the small stuff that makes all the difference.
cedar_grove: (Default)
2012-06-08 01:17 pm

If It Rains...

Let us begin. Let us sing.
Singing of the small corn.
Singing of the Large corn.
Singing as the evening falls.
Singing as the light dawns.

The light dawns and finds us singing,
singing as the corn waves tassels at us.
The dark falls and finds us singing,
singing while the squash waves leaves at us.

The earth rumbles from the beating
of our basket drums.
The sky rumbles from the beating
of our basket drums.

The rain comes. The rain comes

--Pima rain-making song

When the weather thwarts our plans this summer, when weekends are rainy and evenings damp, let us recognize the rain's necessity and thank the goddess for her bounty. The lush green fields and full larders will be our rewards.

Elsewhere in the entry this talks about a balance of opposites being necessary for a healthy life - rest and activity, waking and sleeping, as well as sun and rain, and all of those things... it's a very overarching concept to me that was summed up in this meditation... that of 'disappointment' and how we behave when things don't quite go our way.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm a screaming haridan. I don't deal well with disappointment at all, on any level. I've admitted it here now, and here on several occasions in the past. I sulk like a child. I get sarcastic, I behave in a miserable way. At such times I'm horrible to be around... even when I try not to behave this way. There's a certain self-centredness embodied in this reaction and to check myself from behaving like the spoiled child that throws the teddy from the pram when things go wrong, there's a necessity to step away - outside of myself. To be self-less. I used to be much better at that than I am now, and I don't know what I've lost or what I feel I've had imposed on my that I obviously feel the need to protect sense of self...? I don't know, at this point I'm just letting my mind ramble down pathways towards answers.

So narrowing down to just the weather aspect of this, which is where it began - this summer, yes, I'm hoping for a balance of sun and rain... of all those things that are needed for a healthy world, but also in a way that does not scupper too many plans. Mir and I bought a tent to go camping and I'm very much looking forward to being able to use it - even if not a million miles away from our home... Campingpod One here we come!

On a different, but related note - I'm kind of a little bit worried about my preparedness for being back in England, even if only for a weekend. I have no raincoat - few things for colder weather at all as a matter of fact, and footwear is either trainers or flipflops, (albeit smart flipflops) - which might not be entirely appropriate for whilst wandering in some places. LOL How bizzare to move from the intellectual/spiritual considerations, to worries that are entirely practical.
cedar_grove: (Default)
2012-06-07 12:54 pm

To See and Feel the Divine

On the hillside outside the city, the Vestals encountered a humble man names Albinus, who was escaping in a cart with his family, along with other civilians, from a war. Even in danger, Albinus remembered what was due the goddess, and felt the impiety of riding with his family while priestesses walked, carrying their sacred objects. Leaving his family for a time he took the Vestals and their precious burdens all the way to safety in Caere.

--Roman author Livy

It honored Vesta, the fire goddess who was never depicted in human form because she was embodied in the flames themselves.


Do we as humans require symbols in order to relate to complex concepts? This is the question I found myself facing as I read today's meditation.

The conclusion I came to was a reluctant yes. Especially when it came to religion nad religious concepts. We find that most religions have some kind of symbol with which we identify them... the cross for Christianity, the Crescent for Islam, the Star of David for Judaism to name but three... and through those symbols we access a shared understanding of what it means to 'belong' to each and any of those faiths, (even when that understanding is not necessarily a prositive one).

Then we have the images we relate to as being representative of 'God' (or the gods in the case of polytheistic faiths, including paganism). Those images take many forms, granted, but the majority of people, if you say 'God' to them (or name a god), will more than likey see in their mind some kind of image which allows them to access their understanding of divinity. Sure it might not be the 'old man with a long white beard' or whatever 'in his image' schema represents god for us... but it's almost a given there will be something.

Why not just a feeling? Why do we have a visual? What is wrong with hearing/seeing/thinking the word 'god' and becoming filled with a sense of the universal divine? I confess this is not a question I can answer... caught personally somewhere between the two states... of 'seeing' and of 'feeling' Yes I feel that divinity in answer to the 'verbal' call of 'god' but also I'll have an image in my mind - a man, sometimes horned, sometimes not, but with a sense of presence that isn't visual, but is felt - it's hard to describe. I have a similar mixed visceral response to 'goddess' also. Female - one of four separate images, depending on which aspect of the goddess I'm trying to relate to at the time, but again, accompanied by the feeling, that sense of presence.

How was it for our ancient ancestors who saw 'fire' and felt/related to the divine in it? Or those Vestals, who knew their goddess dwelled within the flame they nurtured, and did not see Her as a separate entity from the fire? Did that bring them, or place them closer to the divine within?

And after a lifetime of living with 'images' and 'symbols' is it possible to abandon them for the simple understanding, the feeling of 'god' 'goddess' 'divine'?