Friday, September 23, 2011

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said...

...To talk of many things.

   First, some house cleaning: I apologise for some hiccups with the last post- I initially wrote it in two broken blocks of time, both of them deliriously sleep deprived, so I went back and edited it for maximum awesome. This resulted in Blogger doing some interesting things and publishing the post like five times, and I have no idea if that means it send out the post five more times to the email subscribers. I hope not, but if so, accept my mea culpas and this springbok-colour glazed doughnut. (I had like a bunch left in the back of the fridge, so, you know.)

   Better things. I had a meeting with Brenda-Mom's offspring for the first time on Monday. That kid is seven kinds of adorable, even when he pees with sniper-like accuracy while she's changing him. Especially then. He's got more hair than I do- not that that's hard, since mine falls out like I'm Miss Chernobyl 1987, so your great-uncle has a decent chance of having more hair than I do. But baby Sam has like serious anchor man slash McDreamy hair action going on, and all of it divine. I even got to hold him while he slept serenely and I exercised my inner thigh muscles to keep both of us from sliding off the side of the sloping bed where we sat. It's like pilates, only with more butternut squash-coloured poop. Of course, I got to see Brenda whip a boob out at one point, and the people who know me well know that that's got me set for the month, yo.

   And yes, I know the angle you're getting here is boobalicious, but Brenda was in the bathroom and this was practically the only one that I could do one-handedly that got both me and the awesome-spawn's face in the picture. I shall apologise for no cleavage.
   Now here's something interesting: This child is Robin Williams after a breakfast burrito. Lying down or sleeping, he pulls these faces and contorts his little two-week old body as though Middle Earth was at stake. To look at it, one would quite reasonably suspect that the man had some seriously stubborn pipe to lay, and he was going to Little Britain the holy-loving fuck outta that monster or die in the attempt. Apparently, this is just him stretching or perhaps dreaming in his sleep, albeit like that dog that actually ran into the wall half asleep with manic determination. The faces alone are worth the price of admission.

   And he's Rambo, too. He's hardly older than the milk in my fridge, but he's already dying to be a part of the action. He lifts his head up under his own steam, but he struggles to keep it there. You can see him popping veins in his head as he bobs it around, and finally it falls back, exhausted, before he takes a deep breath and tries again. Valiant little bugger.

   In other news, I had a day of bowling. The twins and their mother took me out and put me behind a bowling ball, and like a rather plump meringue person I tottered up and down that lane. I had not done this in many moons, and the only memories I have of doing it before are vague and somehow black-lit, and even through that I remember being rather shit.


   It was beautiful. I *ahemhem* lost the first game, but won the second WINNING AT BOWLING, MOFO'S. I may have lost several fingers in the process, but I tell you, neither gold nor love can compare with the feeling you get from a strike in the last frame, except for gold. I did a fair bit of wiggly boogling when I managed to get spare, but then I'm back in a dancing sort of a mood lately. Had a good session two mornings ago as I put some music on to get dressed to, and broke it all the way down to some Hairspray tracks. I'm going to have to say this myself since there's no one besides my evil twin in the mirror (long story, I'll tell you someday), but I have some smoooooth moooooooves. I've forgotten most of them again, can't quite recall what any one of them may have looked like from the outside, but that may be a small mercy since it could render me completely 12 Monkeys. 
   I woke up this morning with the entire left side of my personal Australia- my ass- hurting like I'd been partaking in some medium-to-heavy BDSM last night. Fucking ow. As it turns out, one bowls with one's ass. I mean, I know that I was a sweaty red-faced monster by the end of the whole affair, but I just put that down to playing way too bodily and zealousy, and some of the more advanced modern dance moves. Nope. This shit, in addition to my above-mentioned pilates earlier in the week makes me feel like I'm just verging on way too healthy here. 

   I've also- massive accomplishment here- managed to finish A Game of Thrones. I know, I know, it took less time to write the Bible than it took me to read one little volume in a fantasy epic, but I'm all kinds of ADD, people. I swear I've been struggling for so long to get trough a book without simply chucking it one side (Hello, half of my room), that I feel like this needs celebrating. Luckily, tonight is Pizza Night, so I can both celebrate and also punish myself for my tardiness by feeling uncomfortable and self-hating once I eat my head's weight in carbs and cheese. It's inevitable. 
   I'm going to inflict my opinion of the book on you, since I know a decent amount of you have either seen the series or read the books as well. I actually dug it properly. In my little world, there are four kinds of fiction.
   One is the straight forward, by the books kind of story. This kind of writing uses most genres archetypes and forms fairly basically and doesn't veer too much from the expected. You pretty much know where the highs and lows hit, and who is in any danger of dying or proposing at any given moment. In genre fiction, that means that the fantasy world is developed mostly to the extent that you need it to be, so if your narrative doesn't come across something during the course of the story, it doesn't exist.
   The second is 180 degree fiction. This can be fine, if done well, but it seldom is. You can smell the desperation of the author trying to subvert your expectations and the usual course the kind of story he's busy with would take. Too often this ends up being a wild mess, and almost always over done. This fantasy world is frantically put together- the author went mad trying to impress you with how much detail he could cram into it, and he was obsessed with making everything unexpected. Expect superfluous detail bleeding everywhere.
   Then you've got your well balanced fiction, like Harry Potter. This uses mythology and archetypes of the genre much like the first kind, but subverts this just enough and is just original enough to be genuinely worth it. Here you should be able to see some of the really big arcs coming, but you shouldn't be able to tell how they're going to happen. You know at this point of the story you're coming up on the hero facing a setback of some description, but it shouldn't have been clear to you that that comes about when he finds out the mad serial killer was his godfather. This fantasy world is very satisfyingly detailed, but you get the sense that if you come across a piece of information that seems ridiculously well thought out and detailed that it belongs there, that it's right somehow.
   The last kind is what I call "2 degrees to the left." This is not someone trying to shock you, it simply is entirely different from anything you could have thought up or anticipated. It's brilliant or it's just flat, because it's genuinely born out of genius or some madman who has no idea how to plan out a long-form story. That's how it feels when it's done well, as though the hits you would expect from any other book simply aren't there, and instead you're struck when you're totally off your guard by things and in directions your mind simply would never have gone to. Diana Wynne Jones was the absolute undisputed master of this; she could weave a world that was absolutely perfect and somehow effortlessly assembled, and she never gave you more information than you needed at any one point. The result was an insanely crafted fantasy universe that did not feel like it was giving you exposition because the author felt like showing off, but simply because that's the way it was, and it would be silly to think otherwise. 
   A Game of Thrones felt to me oddly like a mixture between the second kind and the last. The world Martin has created here is dense dense dense, and at times it feels almost like too much, but the sheer beauty of it tends to just make up for the freshman-type enthusiasm immediately. The plot veers and careens in a 2-degrees-to-the-left kind of a way constantly, giving way to "anyone can die" and giving not a single fuck about the kind of plot structure any other book in the world would ask for. I love that about it, I love being taken by surprise in a very quiet and subtle way- again, as though if you brought this up to a character in the book they would look at you strangely and simply remind you that all of this really happened, and you can't expect life to follow format. But again, there really is an underlying sense that this dude has read a lot of high fantasy and has swung the bat blindly for the first time, and he gets very, very heavy handed with the medieval speak. You know, the whole pregnant girl touches her "belly" thinking of the "baby within." I admit, you need a certain language to make medieval fantasy not only believable but atmospheric and poetic, but it needs an exceedingly deft hand or it takes you out of the story entirely and you cringe a little bit. 
   But overall, truly excellent characters, world and story. Again, I love that when they mention in passing (for instance) Lysa Arryn sitting in the Eyrie with her son, you have this sudden sense that there's all of these epic stories happening in all of the high strongholds of Westeros unseen. Like even if you had not been this third person eye in the middle of this massive war and over-reaching story, these things would still be happening and would still be deeply affecting without you. 

   Night night, my lovelies. I am fading fast, and Rob Lowe is being disarmingly charismatic on Graham Norton somewhere more important in the house. I feel the need to follow up on this. And also, pizza is still making me very sorry that I need to breath regularly. 
   As someone very funny once said on Green Wing, the greatest UK comedy show of all time, "Please join us next week on Let's Make No Fucking Sense when we'll be waxing an owl."

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