Mirth Alia
02 June 2011 @ 04:12 pm
It's tough being a not!artist!  
I'm clearly too used to drawing with paper and pencil; I just erased something with my tablet and tried to dust imaginary shavings off its surface.

I also need to spend five hours tonight drawing clavicles and Indian noses. Seriously. Why can I not get this.
Current Music: Ashitaka to San . Joe Hisaishi
Current Mood: tired
Mirth Alia
18 May 2011 @ 09:49 am
My brother just got into the B Sc in Chemisty program that he's been wanting to take since high school. He has Asperger's Syndrome, and he's been working his ass off for almost six years on a reduced class load in a really crappy school system to get the grades he needs to take it.

I'm so happy for him. ♥♥♥

All of my siblings put me to absolute shame alsjkfhalsf my family is amazing
Current Mood: jubilant
Mirth Alia
10 May 2011 @ 02:32 pm
Pracrastinating is my default setting.  
Instead of finishing the Female Awesome meme or practicing drawing men's suits, I'm spending my lunch making more spring banners for my journal.

Yep, typical day.

Though I do rather like this one:
Current Mood: blah
Current Music: Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) . Florence and the Machine
Mirth Alia
02 May 2011 @ 10:20 pm
Obligatory #elxn41 rant.  
Adam: Okay, here's what I figure.
Adam: The Liberals died.
Adam: The died a horrible death. Many months ago.
Adam: It was well deserved.
Adam: BUT
Adam: Here's how that breaks down, in practice!
Adam: In Quebec! People think "Well, we have no problem voting for outlier parties. We've voted for the Bloc for years! Let's try the NDP!"
Adam: And lo, the NDP gained opposition status.
Adam: In Ontario! People think "We hate the Liberals. BUT THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS THAN CONSERVATIVE. NO OTHER OPTIONS."
Adam: And lo, what the hell.
Adam: On a very basic level, it's pretty straightforward.
Adam: I mean, it's not, actually.
Adam: But that at least makes some sense.
Adam: It's bizarre.

On top of that, apparently our voter turnout only increased by a couple of % points? I'm extremely confused about all this. None of it is matching what I've been seeing, what with the vote mobs and the outcry against Conservatives and Harper and the emphasis on strategic voting. Not all of that can have been undone by split votes, can it?

Fuck, the more I see what the first-past-the-post system does the more I hate it.

This icon has never been so appropriate.


Adam: I've basically turned the whole scenario AN ISLAND
Adam: Sorry, listening to the Harper speech.
Adam: Man, so gross. "People got tired of the threat of elections all the time! Because oOoOo, apparently we were damaging Parliamentary procedures all the time. WHATEVER. No one really cares about that."
Adam: "People really care about elections! Too many elections. So much work."
Adam: "Better to let us just do the thinking."
Adam: Apparently the Liberal members are just devastated.
Adam: Sobbing and bewildered.
Current Mood: AUGH
Mirth Alia
30 April 2011 @ 06:05 pm
More doodles. Belladonna from... Belladonna by Anne Bishop. (Late #fridayreads!)  

Just a quick thing. I kind of hate the way she looks on the cover of the book, and I've had this image of her in my head for the entirety of Sebastian that I wanted to get down on paper while I still could. She looks a tad too young for 31, I think; I'll have to practice drawing faces of different ages.

I actually don't like the Ephemera books all that much overall; I like Glorianna, and a few other characters, but I've read three series by Bishop now and they've all got the same subjects, same themes, same kinds of characters, same kinds of threat, same kind of structure... etc. There's only so much of that you can take from the same writer before it starts to get irritating, unfortunately.

I have enjoyed the extensions on the Black Jewels Trilogy so far, though, probably because they're expansions on a really strong world that I loved and which was my introduction to her work. I have Twilight's Dawn sitting on my table waiting for me to be done with Belladonna, so we'll see if that trend continues.
Current Music: Exile Vilify . The National
Current Mood: thoughtful
Mirth Alia
29 April 2011 @ 03:51 pm
Psychological issue, hypochondriasis, diabetes, or stupidity? I’ll say stupidity.  
So. I've been suffering from weird and unsettling health abnormalities for a while now. It was primarily things like fatigue and increasing memory problems, but as time went on I started showing really bad attention deficit and a huge drop in my ability to exert any kind of will or motivation in terms of actually getting anything done. Then I started getting really really cold all the time (to the point of wearing a coat indoors almost constantly), and showing a lot of depression symptoms during the winter months. I also started going through heavy bouts of unexplainable apathy where I couldn't dredge up the will to put any kind of emotional investment into my friendships, which really hurt some people before I consciously realized that it was occurring.

Finally, a little over a month ago, I started getting incredibly thirsty all at once. It doesn't matter how much water I drink, it won't go away. I've also been experiencing digestion problems and on-again-off-again food cravings, so my doctor sent me to get tested for diabetes. The tests came back negative, but I still have the symptoms, so I arranged for another appointment and now everyone's confused.

Except I just stumbled across this today, and it suddenly occurred to me that I have been averaging 4-5 hours of sleep every weeknight since the beginning of January of last year.

And then I realized that I am an idiot.

(Granted, it might still be something else, but I will definitely be mentioning this to my doctor and then trying to arrange a different schedule at my work. Clearly 9-5 is doing me no favours.)
Current Mood: stupid
Current Music: The Phantom (1930 Version) . Parov Stelar
Mirth Alia
19 April 2011 @ 03:14 pm
Look, I can do art!  
Look, drawings! Just to prove that I do, occasionally, do that sort of thing.

Some Echo Bazaar crossover fanart sketches I did at lunch; hoping to work out a pose and then make a proper drawing with background etc. )

It only took me four tries to make the fighting stance look not totally awful. I guess I’m improving?

The Scarred Naturalist arc still makes me cringe in places. Nastiest gardening gauntlet ever.

And yeah, I dropped the Female Awesome meme like a samosa fresh out of the microwave. I got stuck on a prompt and my neurotic tendencies won't let me finish the rest out of order. I'll get on it.

I also have a standing desk at work now. By which I mean two boxes and a couple of monitors balanced on PCs. There are upsides and downsides. I may start cataloging them as an experiment.
Current Music: Baby I'm Yours . Breakbot
Current Mood: chipper
Mirth Alia
02 April 2011 @ 04:16 am
30 Days of Female Awesome: Day 28  

Day Twenty-Eight: Favourite female writer (television, books, movies, etc.)

Let's go with just two this time.

Anne Bishop the cover for Heir to the Shadows, with a blonde woman in a long black dress sitting in a stone throne. A massive black dragon is coiled around the throne from behind.

Anne Bishop

Have you heard this story before?

You have.

All right, then.

Oh, you want another story...

Okay, I admit it: at first glance, most of Anne Bishop's work looks like finely crafted indulgent fantasies built around (a) Mary Sue(s). And to a degree, I suppose this is true. Having initially read her books when I was a teenager with a wild imagination and only just becoming aware of the world of sex and what it could contain, my opinion is likely to be more than a little biased.

That said, more than a decade later, I still love her books. Love them with a fervent passion. They're one of the few series that I can read over and over again with barely a pause for breath in between. The characters are strong and compelling, the relationships are intriguing and unique, and the worlds she crafts somehow manage to be intricate yet easy to understand and be absorbed into at the same time. She has a wonderful style of prose that balances itself between elegance and simplicity, making it an easy read without sounding dry or condescending. She lets dialogue carry itself, and carry itself well, and the details of her finely-shaped plots range from dark and thrilling to amusing and heartwarming.

While reading her books I have swore, gasped, laughed out loud, smiled fondly, grit my teeth, snarled, stared blankly at words while trying to gather the willpower to turn the page, and been driven by tension into skipping ahead only to flip back and read everything in between. In my younger days, her stories presented me with a different concept of honour and justice than what I was used to, a different perspective on female empowerment and the relationships between men and women (always a strong theme in any of her series), and a new notion of responsibility and protectiveness. An ideal, true, and one with its own flaws, but back then reading her books made me feel strong, like I could do anything despite being a girl — because I was a girl — and I think that feeling served me very well for a number of years.

I'm so glad that she continues to write regularly, giving me new pieces to devour and help take me back to a younger self who was a little more sure of herself and her place in the world. And while her books don't all share the same level of quality, they are all good. She doesn't taper off in plot or character development or interesting things as she continues to write within a universe, as I've seen other authors do. On the contrary, you really get the feeling that those worlds are alive, somewhere, and there's so many stories and people living within them that all she has to do is eye them for a little while and then convey what she sees to us.

And isn't that the purest form of storytelling?

(Finally, I know very little about her as a person, but just her bio alone is an inspiration and an encouragement to me as a storyteller.)

Marion Zimmer Bradley the cover for Sword & Sorceress XV, with a blonde female warrior in chainmail drawing a glowing sword from a sheath on her back

Marion Zimmer Bradley

Time for another guilty admission: I haven't read all that much of Marion's own works. Her style of writing was always a little offputting to me, and though I've tried to get into her stories, I've only had partial success on a few occasions. I was actually rather tempted to put Diana Wynne Jones in this slot.

But I can't deny that Marion was probably the single most influential role model of my life in late grade school and most of high school, thanks to one single series: the Sword & Sorceress anthologies.

Starting in the mid 1980s. Marion was thoroughly fed up with the liberal slathering of gender discrimination and cliche male protagonists in the fantasy genre as a whole. As Wikipedia states, "As she explained in the foreword to the first volume, she created the anthology to redress the lack of strong female protagonists in the sub-genre of sword and sorcery. At the time, most female characters in sword and sorcery were little more than stock damsels in distress, or pawns who were distributed at the conclusion of the story as "bad-conduct prizes" (Bradley's term) for the male protagonists. Many of the early sword-and-sorcery works featured attitudes toward women that Bradley considered appalling."

So she began collecting stories from writers across the country, with only one major submission contingency: each fantasy short story had to center around a woman. Initial contribution was slow, but by the time Marion passed away, 18 volumes were published and the series was a huge financial success. She had so many amazing submissions coming in that she eventually had to limit them to invitation only because she couldn't get through them all and was having too much difficulty choosing between them.

But back in the early days of the anthologies, anyone who could pick up a pen, write a good story, and submit it according to the publishing guidelines got in. And on top of that, Marion wrote a little blurb at the beginning of each and every story in each and every anthology.

Those blurbs were just as important to me as the stories. In them, Marion introduced all the dozens of authors (men, women, some established authors, others newcomers on the scene, and some just brilliant, inspiring teenagers as young as 14 or 16) and shared a little of their lives with us. She shared little bits of her own life as well, of her family and her pets and what sort of processes went on in the making of the anthologies. She'd note themes in the regular avalanches of submissions, and would constantly dole out encouraging, practical advice to any aspiring authors.

Read your submission guidelines. Have compelling characters. Realize that short stories are often harder to write than novels. Bizarre collections of pets (and jobs) are par for the course for an author. It takes all types. Don't ever think you need to go to school for writing — most courses will actually make it worse. Sharpen your skills by reading the hell out of everything you love. Don't flaunt your age on a submission; let your writing do the talking for you. Have a gripping opening. Apply pants to seat of chair and write.

Marion was the reason I first began to get the tentative idea that I might be able to be a writer, that I could be the kind of person who created the stories I loved to read so much. She made me believe that it didn't matter how old I was, or what my experience was, or if I had any credentials, so long as I put my head down and wrote something good and was willing to learn and improve. By the time I was nearing the end of high school, I'd finally gathered up the courage to write a short story of my own, something that I was fully intent on polishing and submitting to one of the anthologies, because by then it was pretty much my dream. Even a rejection letter from here would have been an honour.

Then I read the volume where Marion stated submissions would only be by invitation from that point on.

And then I read the one where Diana L. Paxson announced her death.

It was a blow, definitely. My story quietly disappeared to the bottom of a drawer, not to see the light of day again. I've never been a magazine subscriber (my family couldn't afford it), and everywhere else in the publishing world seemed too intimidating to try for. Marion had been kinder, and easier to reach — she'd held out a hand for us, and then it was gone. I'd taken too long.

Maybe someday I'll find another anthology that drove me to create the way hers did. Maybe I'll even manage to find that story in the bottom of my filing boxes, dust it off, and finish making it into something presentable. If I do, it'll more likely find itself on the internet instead of in a book, but I'd like to think that I'd still be able to find a home for it — among other stories of strong women, and all of the extraordinary people and events that it's possible to weave around them.

In the meantime, I think I'll read through my collection again. It still holds the place of honour on my bookshelf, and I might as well read the hell out of something I love.
Current Mood: sleepy
Current Music: I Used To Love Him . Lauryn Hill
Mirth Alia
01 April 2011 @ 01:41 am
30 Days of Female Awesome: Day 29  

Day Twenty-Nine: A female-centric fic rec

As if I could pick just one. It's been a while since I've really read fanfiction, too (these days it's all about the roleplaying), so all three are quite dated, but still quite good. All one-shots.

Mulan and Shang, from Disney's Mulan

Needle & Sword - Needles and swords are both made from iron. Honour and love are both her. (by YunCyn)

Death, from Neil Gaiman's Sandman

Das Lied von dem Todesmädchen - If Dream could directly inspire William Shakespeare, if Despair could be Edgar Allan Poe's muse, then Death can certainly commission a piece from Gustav Mahler... (by Mitya Shostak)

Riza Hawkeye, from Fullmetal Alchemist

20/20 - Quick fic, Hawkeye character study. The direction of one woman's training in the military. (by Luc Court)

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Music: Come To My Window . Melissa Etheridge
Mirth Alia
31 March 2011 @ 02:26 am
30 Days of Female Awesome: Day 30  
I'll be working my way through this meme backwards, namely because I have a hell of a time picking a favourite for anything. My choices will also be primarily anime, manga, and books, since that's... pretty much what I consume. (I'm not a movie person.)

That said:

Day Thirty: Whatever you’d like!

Let's start off big, then.

Anyone who knows anything about me at all should know that I have nothing but the greatest respect and most depthless, burning passion for the Fullmetal Alchemist series. It got off to a slow start, and I spent the early chapters drifting away from the books and then back again, but unlike a great many manga series out there, the longer it went on, the more amazingly mindblowing it got.

The plot. The art. The characters. The fights. The wars, the dozens of minute machinations and details that came together to have me on the edge of my seat, wondering how all the politics would play out, the power struggles, the mysteries and the characters' own internal battles. When the last chapter of the series came out, so many people flocked to read the scanlation that OneManga actually went down a couple of times. Arakawa is a hardworking, dedicated genius of a mangaka, and it shows in every line of her work — every camera angle in a fight, every nuance of a character's expression, every grim detail of a soldier's corpse on a battlefield.

And then there's the women. )
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: Bobby McFerrin improvisation with Richard Bona
Mirth Alia
28 March 2011 @ 12:36 am
I have some questions I need answers to. Telecommuting and auditing?  

Has anyone here ever audited classes or done work telecommuting? I have only the vaguest idea of what's involved in either, and so far I've only been able to see upsides to both, which makes me a little nervous as there has to be some kind of downside. (Aside from the obvious "you won't come out with a degree" and "regular students take priority over you for course openings" for auditing.)

I'm asking because I've gotten the idea to take university classes again while working at the same time, and I think auditing and telecommuting together would be the most efficient option. Auditing because I'm not interested in a degree, just the course material, and I wouldn't be bogged down with homework or studying for exams. Telecommuting because I wouldn't be stuck at a desk all day, would have flexible hours, and could work in class while listening to lectures, thus maximizing my use of time. (I can't think of a single course where I wasn't multitasking on a laptop through half my lectures anyway, so I might as well direct my attention span issues towards something productive.)

Telecommuting is where I'm most in the dark at the moment. I don't know how pay or bonuses tend to work, or whether you're counted as a full-time employee or a contractor or a freelancer. Is there a standard for this, or does it vary from company to company? I assume you'd have to be available either online and/or by phone during work hours, and that video conferencing would probably be expected, but I can handle both of those.

Current Music: Every Subway Car . Barenaked Ladies
Current Mood: thoughtful
Mirth Alia
26 March 2011 @ 11:57 pm
We'll all be out catching stars tonight.  
I'm going to go ahead and believe that Diana Wynne Jones only died in this world. There are 11 more that she still might be alive in.
Current Mood: sad
Current Music: Connect . ClariS (Magical Girl Madoka theme)
Mirth Alia
25 March 2011 @ 11:42 am
Thirty Days of Female Awesome Meme  
via hopesichord on tumblr.

I am calling this done because the internet needs it.

Day One: Favorite lead female character
Day Two: Favorite supporting female character
Day Three: A female character you hated but grew to love
Day Four: A female character you relate to
Day Five: Favorite female character on a male-driven show
Day Six: Favorite female-driven show
Day Seven: A female character that needs more screen time
Day Eight: Favorite female character in a comedy show
Day Nine: Favorite female character in a drama show
Day Ten: Favorite female character in a scifi/supernatural show
Day Eleven: Favorite female character in a children’s show
Day Twelve: Favorite female character in a movie
Day Thirteen: Favorite female character in a book
Day Fourteen: Favorite older female character
Day Fifteen: Favorite female character growth arc
Day Sixteen: Favorite mother character
Day Seventeen: Favorite warrior female character
Day Eighteen: Favorite non-warrior female character
Day Nineteen: Favorite non-human female character
Day Twenty: Favorite female antagonist
Day Twenty-One: Favorite female character screwed over by canon
Day Twenty-Two: Favorite female character you love but everyone else hates
Day Twenty-Thre: Favorite female platonic relationship
Day Twenty-Four: Favorite female romantic relationship
Day Twenty-Five: Favorite mother/daughter and/or sister relationship
Day Twenty-Six: Favorite classical female character (from pre-20th century literature or mythology or the like)
Day Twenty-Seven: A female character you have extensive personal canon for
Day Twenty-Eight: Favorite female writer (television, books, movies, etc.)
Day Twenty-Nine: A female-centric fic rec
Day Thirty: Whatever you’d like!

Interpret as you wish, lovelies. Have fun; I expect celebration.
Current Mood: chipper
Current Music: Deny Deny Deny . Joel Plaskett
Mirth Alia
25 March 2011 @ 01:15 am
Fuck me, I've started quantifying my online presence. I think this is my cue to devise a digital hermitage of some sort.
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Music: Raise Your Glass . P!nk
Mirth Alia
23 March 2011 @ 04:12 pm
Let's get some cherry blossoms all up in here.  
Spring journal banners on their way up! Wheee!

Same as for winter; all amazing photography is done by this guy here.
Current Mood: happy
Current Music: Bleach . SNoW
Mirth Alia
23 March 2011 @ 12:26 am
Well this one's going on my wall.  
Keep a journal, carry a notepad. Draw everywhere. Don't complain about what you do. Exercise. Go out and experience things/people, on rare occasion. Execute dumb ideas beautifully. Turn off the internet. Read fiction. Don't worry about how good it'll be; just make it and do your best. Say 'no' to people even if you like them.
Current Music: Raise Your Glass . P!nk
Current Mood: thoughtful
Mirth Alia
22 March 2011 @ 12:33 pm
Black and white tux, ain't no need for no other colours  
I mentioned a while back that Google is inordinately disappointing when it comes to providing dapper ladies on the internet.

Luckily, it seems Tumblr delivers. Admirably.
Current Music: Vanilla Twilight . Owl City
Current Mood: excited
Mirth Alia
17 March 2011 @ 01:29 pm
Kept a shine on the bar with the sleeves of our coats  

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

(For those of you who can't stand listening to live recordings, check out the pure version over here. I just like this one because you can see just how hard John Mann and Geoff Kelly rock out on stage.) (Hint: pretty damn hard.) (Seriously, how many flautists do high kicks on stage?)

(Alternatively, have them rocking out with Great Big Sea.)
Current Music: Home For A Rest . Spirit of the West
Current Mood: exuberant
Mirth Alia
15 March 2011 @ 12:59 pm
And further information on the situation in the Japan: It's not as bad as it could be!  
Just found these articles, which give a lot of good and very important details about what hasn't happened.

Why I am not worried about Japan's nuclear reactors
Some Perspective On The Japan Earthquake
Current Mood: thoughtful
Current Music: The Girl Is Mine . Michael Jackson
Mirth Alia
15 March 2011 @ 02:09 am
For everyone who wants to support Japan.  
For anyone who's been contemplating donating (or donating more), read this.

Also have the Dos and Don'ts of Disaster Donations.
Current Music: Black and White . Sarah McLachlan
Current Mood: exhausted