A Year in Pictures – Rhodes Dolphins

Rhodes Dolphins
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By the time I went on my honeymoon, I was starting to get better at photographic composition. This one especially pleased me, with the dolphins in the foreground, the crumbling walls in the background, and the intense blue of the harbor at Rhodes to contrast with the sculpture and the sky.

A Year in Pictures – Grunwald Monument

Grunwald Monument
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This fellow stands on a monument to the Battle of Grunwald, just north of the Stare Miasto in Krak√≥w. He’s actually celebrating the victory of Polish and Lithuanian forces over the Teutonic Knights . . . but the dude looks like he’s belting out an opera aria on the topic.

Design Your Own Dragon: final week!

Just a reminder that the Design Your Own Dragon contest will be ending in a little more than a week, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 30th. This is your chance not only to win an ARC of Voyage of the Basilisk (once we have some on hand), but to have your very own creation included in the Memoirs of Lady Trent. I may choose up to three winners, depending partly on how many entries I get — so in a sense, the more of you that enter, the better your chances are!

(Okay, really I’m just selfish. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of reading the entries thus far, and am eager to see what else people come up with.)

E-mail your submissions to dragons.of.trent {at} gmail.com. You’ve got about one week left!

A Year in Pictures – Notre Dame Tympanum

Notre Dame Tympanum
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This is another one I dropped a filter on, in this case because doing so made the sculptural details more distinct. It’s one of the tympana over the entrances to Notre Dame, and reminds me oddly of the temples we visited India, which is the only other place I’ve ever seen that density and intricacy of carving over a large surface. (Though if this had been an Indian temple instead of a French cathedral, the whole building would have been carved like that.)

post roundup

Things I’ve been saying in different places ’round the interwebz . . . .

“Seeing the Invisible” — this month’s post at SFNovelists is a review of Invisible, the ebook collection Jim Hines put together of guest posts and additional essays on the topic of representation. Proceeds from sales go to charity.

“The Gospel of Combat” — an excerpt from Writing Fight Scenes, which will be familiar to long-time readers of this blog. You can comment there for a chance to get a free copy of the ebook, though!

Interview at My Bookish Ways — in which I talk about a variety of things.

“The Dreaded Label ‘Mary Sue’” — guest post at Far Beyond Reality, talking about female characters who don’t apologize for their awesomeness.

A Year in Pictures – Tulips at Filoli

Tulips at Filoli
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My mother came to town for a visit recently. Before her arrival, I sent an e-mail to her and my brother (and my husband and my sister-in-law) suggesting that perhaps we might visit Filoli . . . and sheepishly admitting I might have a photographic motive for being interested. Much to my amusement, my mother responded that she had been thinking the exact same thing! (My father: not the only photographer/pusher in the family.) Unlike my sole previous visit, this time I was there early enough in spring to catch the tulips before their glory days had ended.

Seven Souls in Skull Castle

Tonight I saw a movie which is probably the most refrackulous thing I’ve watched in ages.

Its Japanese title is Dokuro-jo no shichinin, and it’s actually a recording of a stage production, deliberately intended (so the blurb for it said) to be a blend of cinema with live performance. That much is comprehensible.

But the plot, you guys. The plot.

It just –

These characters –

I — I have no way to describe it that wouldn’t be full of spoilers. Which you probably don’t care about because the number of you who will ever see it is minuscule. But I can’t tell you why Tayu’s crew of prostitutes are so awesome. Or who exactly that one dude turned out to be (though I can say that I turned to my sister about ten minutes prior to that reveal and said “if he turns out to be X, I am going to laugh my ass off.” Of course he was X.) I just –

Okay, look, here’s an example. The story takes place in 1590, eight years after the death of Oda Nobunaga. There’s this guy who’s set up shop in Skull Castle in the Kantou region, calling himself Tenmao, the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven. (This story: it is SUBTLE, yo.) It turns out that he, along with several of the other characters, used to be one of Nobunaga’s retainers, and hasn’t really gotten over his lord’s death. I believe the technical term for his state of mind would be, hmmm, how do they put it, oh yeah — bugfuck crazy. So one of his former comrades-in-arms goes to Skull Castle, and something like the following conversation ensues:

TENMAO: See this mask on my helmet? It was made from the skull of our dead lord!
FORMER COMRADE IN ARMS: That’s a little crazy, dude.
TENMAO: That’s funny, coming from you. I happen to know those beads you wear are made from our dead lord’s bones!
FCIA: . . . okay, that’s true. <caresses bone necklace>
TENMAO: And this drink in my cup is made from our dead lord’s blood!

Whereupon he drains the cup, kisses his former comrad-in-arms, and spits the blood into his mouth, which turns out to be drugged, so FCIA also goes what you might call bugfuck crazy.

It is kabuki on crack and cranked up to eleventy-one. It also dodges the Smurfette trap (three of the seven heroes facing down Tenmao are women), swings wildly between broad comedy and rather grim drama, features some kind of amazing stage fighting, and has a character who basically figures out how to turn the fact that he can’t make up his mind which side he’s on into his superpower.

I am so buying this the instant it’s available on DVD. And then I am going to inflict it on everybody around me.

A Year in Pictures – The Last Supper in Salt

The Last Supper in Salt
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This is a wall mural of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of The Last Supper. It sits in St. Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine . . . which means that, like pretty much everything there, it’s carved out of rock salt. Which, you have to admit, is pretty impressive!

A Year in Pictures – Lamps at Kiyomizudera

Lamps at Kiyomizudera
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Most of our time at Kiyomizudera was spent wandering around outside, but there were portions of the visit where we passed through some of the buildings. I quite liked the lamps along this gallery — even if I have no idea where in the temple we were when I took the photo.

So, Okinawa

I made reference to this in my previous post; I’d forgotten that I hadn’t actually said anything about it before now.

I’m going to Okinawa in July. Every few years, on an irregular schedule, Shihan and various other people put together an intensive karate and kobudo seminar, bringing in people from a variety of countries (Germany, Spain, Denmark, the U.S.) for about a week in Naha and on Kori Island. It will be my first time going; the last one was five years ago, and I was much too low-ranking to attend. Sometimes there’s a tournament, but apparently Shihan got tired of waiting for other parties to get their act together, so this time it’s a seminar only.

I made the decision to go before I knew I was having ankle problems; I paid the fee before I got told I was going to need surgery. But honesty compels me to admit that before I went to the doctor, I told Kyle that I didn’t care what the prognosis was, I was going to Okinawa anyway. Because it’s bad enough to have to do this again: I will be damned if I let it take away my chance to experience that kind of intensive training. I’m going to be sweating to death for 4-6 hours a day in an un-air-conditioned budokan, and that isn’t exactly a thing to look forward to — but I am.

And then I’ll come home and have surgery and not go to karate for a month or more. But before then, I’ll work my butt off.