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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

she of the brown dusty attic-smelling wings

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

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May 4th, 2017

[personal profile] jenni_blog asked: "Did you watch the premier of A Handmaid's Tale and what did you think about it?"

Indeed I have! I have watched through Episode 4. I'll put my thoughts below the cut because I'm going to make no attempt to resist spoilers.

Thoughts on 'A Handmaid's Tale' [SPOILERS]Collapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/414211.html

May 1st, 2017

So Urloth on Tumblr asked, "What if Celegorm had managed to kill Luthien when he shot at her?" and requested the first of May, so here I am.

Two ways come to my mind as approaches to this question. First is to think about how such a narrative choice by Tolkien would have affected the overall theme of the Legendarium. Such a decision would have profoundly altered the larger theme, to say the least. Just tonight, I posted to the SWG [personal profile] heartofoshun's biography of Barahir. The whole essay is worth a read, but the final paragraph is particularly lovely and salient to my point here as well:

This sense of devastating loss, which also echoes the dark fatalism of the Norse epics of which Tolkien was so fond, is certainly central to The Silmarillion and most particularly evident in its Chapter 18, "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin."25 We move from a world wherein the shaky balance between the forces of light and darkness is directly threatened and, to steal the words from the poet W. B. Yeats, "[t]hings fall apart; the centre cannot hold; [m]ere anarchy is loosed upon the world, [t]he blood-dimmed tide is loosed. . . ."26 And yet within that smoke-blackened and terrifying world, where the center no longer holds, there remain unwavering heroes like Barahir, with his determination and his hard-won family heirloom, who project hope down through the Ages and into the eucatastrophe of The Lord of the Rings.


As I put it, more or less, in a comment to Oshun on this subject, Barahir is a cog in the larger eucatastrophic machinery: His story is unrelentingly tragic, but we are to understand that his existence ensures defeat of Darkness in the far future. Therefore, the tragedy is acceptable. If he's a cog, Lúthien is a whole clockwork unto herself. If ever there is an emblem of literal and figurative light in the midst of darkness, here you have her, and destroying her in such an ignoble way by a character depicted as all but incorrigible would hamstring the theme of eucatastrophe.

The second approach is to think about how the story would change in an AU scenario where Lúthien dies at this crucial point, prior to recovering the Silmaril. (Because I don't care who was holding the knife: Lúthien totally scored the goal on that one and Beren had the assist.) Most obviously, the Silmaril would not have been recovered, and the existence of key characters like Elwing, Elrond, and Elros would have been rubbed out. If ever you needed to see a scary albeit fictional example of how a single action can completely rearrange history, here you have it in imagining the Second and Third Ages without the peredhil.

Before I get ahead of myself, without Elwing, there is no delivery of the Silmaril to Aman, no war against Morgoth, and Beleriand is not destroyed.

But it's perhaps more interesting to imagine the more immediate consequences of such an act.

I imagine Thingol--already no fan of the Fëanorians and crushed by his daughter's death--waging all-out war against them. This is not a crisis that even the most skilled diplomacy and brother-wrangling of Maedhros could avert.

What of Beren? Unlike Thingol, we get no suggestion that he is a vengeful character. I mean, he's a vegetarian for Pete's sake. It could be that Tolkien, to preserve that innocence and goodness, would have kept Beren's hands unbloodied and allowed him a death of grief.

But in a world (use your movie trailer voice if you want) where eucatastrophe has been essentially erased as a driving principle, what need is there to preserve Beren's goodness? Perhaps he would have become vengeful, ironically healing the rift between himself and Thingol in the interest of pursuit of a common enemy.

Because we also would not have had the second and third kinslayings--no Silmarils to slay over, remember?--I think Lúthien's death would have shifted the focus from the war on Morgoth to a civil war among the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. Now that is a scenario with modern relevance: the inability to unite against a common enemy because of infighting among one's own kind. (We do see hints of this in the refusal of Thingol and Orodreth to send forces to fight alongside the Fëanorians against Morgoth but nothing so overt as actual civil war.)

It may be that there is no line to continue into the Second and Third Ages. It may be that the Fëanorians prevail and become the heroes of those ages. Or it may be that eucatastrophe reasserts itself, and from the grievous loss of Lúthien, a new and unseen source of hope arises.




If there's a topic you want me to ramble about, there's still plenty of slots open in the ramble meme!



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/413911.html

April 30th, 2017

Shamelessly stolen from [personal profile] independence1776 because this seems fun as all get-out ...

Pick a day and ask me a question, propose a topic, etc, and I will write about it on that day. This can be fandom meta, real life stuff, whatever you want to hear me ramble about! (No fic prompts, please.)

Comment with what you want me to talk about and the date you'd like me to post it.


I will put the schedule behind the cut and update it as regularly as I can.

ScheduleCollapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/413513.html

April 29th, 2017

Bobby and I went to the climate rally today that was held in Vermont's capital city of Montpelier. Oh, it was tempting to try to go to DC again! But I decided against it. I have a lot going on right now, and I always try to remember the advice I read when reigniting my political activism that one has to take care of oneself ... so I kept it local this time.

Pictures below the CutCollapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/413258.html

April 22nd, 2017

On LJ and DW ...

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I've avoided talking much about LJ's latest shenanigans. Part of this is just sheer exhaustion with the regular cycle on LJ-induced outrage that has been going on since SixApart bought LiveJournal twelve years ago. Twelve years, y'all.

I've also been posting to Dreamwidth with automatic crossposts to LiveJournal for seven years now. (Yeesh. All this looking back makes me feel old.) I would have gladly conducted most of my activity on DW--ymmv but the site is far more user-friendly and the administration actually gives a flying fig about its users and isn't evil--but most of my friends didn't move, or if they did, commented on my posts on LJ, which made me feel somewhat like the person who chooses to move out of their bass-ackwards hometown but everyone they know still lives there, and they love those people, so they spend a lot of time there nonetheless.

Anyway, not much is changing for me.

  1. I will continue to post to DW as my primary journal site with automatic crossposts to LJ. I totally get why the new skeevy-as-fuck ToS has encouraged people to close their accounts (just as I got why people left when U.S.-owned SixApart pulled their multiple bouts of fundagelical-induced stupidity) but ...


  2. I plan to ignore that anyway and continue to leave up the "gay propaganda" and the slash and all the cussing I've dabbled in over the years and to continue posting these things when I want to. I'm not even clear if the ToS applies to me, as a paid account holder (and apparently the paid accounts are still U.S.-owned?), since I don't read Russian and the person LJ chosen to answer English-language questions on their news post could barely speak English ... but whatevs. I really don't give a fuck if LJ wants to shut down my account, so I'm going to continue to post what I want without special warnings or filters or whatever.


All that said, I AM diverting much of my reading to DW rather than LJ. In reading regularly on both sites over Spring Break, I've found that most people who are still posting are crossposting, and I'd rather read and comment on DW. I do get post notifications from a few close friends on LJ, and I'll keep replying to those, but I'm not foreseeing picking up reading on LJ anytime in the near future. Because honestly? I'd love to see what remains of journaling activity move to DW, so be the change, right?

I'm also trying to track down Tolkien fandom people that I'm not following yet. If you're over there under a name other than your LJ handle, can you let me know, please?

There is one thing, brought up in a discussion by the B2MeM mods, that disturbs me: LJ accounts are now liable to be shut down after six months of inactivity? Does anyone know if that is in fact true? And does it retroactively apply, even if someone has not accepted the new ToS (as in they are not longer around to accept said ToS)? I don't see why it wouldn't ... or couldn't. If so, I foresee a massive loss of fan history, not just in Tolkien fandom but everywhere, from both personal LJs and communities.

Here is what the non-legally-binding (so take with a grain of salt) English ToS says: "6.1.1. The Administration reserves the right to delete Account and Blog if User did not access the Account or the access was restricted for more than six months due to a breach hereof."

But I haven't seen discussion of this aside from the conversation among the B2MeM mods. Has anyone heard anything about this? I found a post on the OTW that talks about some of the other implications of the ToS, but this is not mentioned.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/412543.html

April 21st, 2017

First Vermont Moose!

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When we were driving home from Maine on Wednesday, Bobby told me that he'd read a notice from Fish and Wildlife about how moose were moving through the Northeast Kingdom at higher-than-usual rates because of the season and to use extra vigilance when driving. That got me thinking about moose. Namely how I've never seen a moose in Vermont. I saw a moose in Colorado, but never in Vermont. And I had hoped that, during my first year living here, I'd see one. And I felt really disappointed that I had not.

Well! The moose heard me, yo! I went into my school today for about four hours, then Bobby picked me up and we went to the feed store and stopped for Thai on the way home. I was in a semi-food coma as we drove home, when I noticed a woman pulled off to the side of the road, taking a picture of the Barton River with her phone. Now I've taken my share of pictures of the Barton, but it's not particularly picturesque right now: the drama of the near-flood-level waters is over and everything is still mostly brown and dead-looking, and it was a drab, rainy day to boot. But as I looked closer, I realized she was taking a picture of a moose that was browsing through the tall grass growing along the river!

First Vermont Moose

So I have indeed seen a Vermont moose within my first year of living here! Score!



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/412199.html

April 12th, 2017

The crick done rose.

When we had the February thaw, the Barton rose to the level of River Road. I wanted to take pictures then, but by the time I got the chance, the water level had dropped.

It's been very warm this week, and most of the lingering snow and ice have melted, so that Barton has risen steadily every day all week. We went kayaking on it on Monday and there was still ice on the water in places, but we would not be kayaking on it now unless we parked a car at either end because the current is strong enough now that we could never paddle back. The water's right below the road again, and this time, I got out to get some pictures.

Crick Done RoseCollapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/410926.html

April 10th, 2017

Before I say ANYTHING about my video or stick and mud season, I want to wish a happy birthday to my friend and fandom partner in crime heartofoshun. I love you as an author and a scholar but most of all as a friend. I appreciate so much all you do for our little corner of the Interwebz and for me personally. Few people in my life have been so unconditionally supportive of me, and I can't express how much it means. I hope your day is as wonderful as you deserve!

Next things next: My video has creaked through the YouTube upload process on my satellite Internet. It's just the audio of me reading my paper with the slides. So this one is not 45 minutes of watching me sit and read! It's also only 20 minutes. I haven't watched it, so if there is anything egregious in the images or audio, it's a mistake--please let me know! The images are pretty crappy on my computer, but YouTube videos are usually pretty crappy on my computer--to the point that I can't always do my Drupal tutorials if it's rainy or snowy or windy because I can't see the image well enough to get anything out of it!--so I hope they're not actually that bad for people with normal Internet. If they are ... it's doubtful I'm going to have time to do anything about it, since it is basically redoing the video. But it can be used as a last resort as a sleep aid, presuming my accent isn't terribly annoying.



And! It was amazingly effing beautiful weather today. It was like Vermont said, "Fuck! It's spring!" and decided to do something about it. It was 77F/25C driving home from work this afternoon and brilliantly sunny. Most of the snow is now gone. And the river is thawed so ...

What else to do but go kayaking, right?? Bobby texted me when he got home--I was still working, of course!--and I pretty much packed up and left immediately, and he had the kayaks on the car already by the time I arrived home. We launched just a couple hundred yards/meters from our house because the river is so high that places that are normally an impossibly steep bank are only about a foot above the water now.

The Barton River flows near our house. Well, normally, it lazes past our house. It's a very calm river. In February, we had a few very warm days and a thaw, and the river rose to where River Road was, in places, just a car-wide track with water on either side. It wasn't so dramatic this time, but the river did rise to about a foot below the road on Friday. It's much lower now, but it actually has a current to it.

So going down the river was easy and fun. At one point, there was a tree fallen across the river except for a two-foot wide passage. I knew as soon as I went into it that I was going to regret it going back: With the current funneling into that tiny outlet, my kayak shot through like I was on the log flume at a theme park. It was hella fun! We rowed down to the bridge where Coventry Station Road crosses the river mostly because it was a logical turn-around point and I wanted to go under the bridge. This is our usual launch point on the Barton because it has a public access with a path down to the water. Looking at Google Maps, we paddled about 1.5 miles/2.5 km round-trip.

The row back was definitely tough, not helped by the fact that the only arm workout I've gotten since packing up the kayaks last fall is occasionally hauling wood pellets up from the barn--and Bobby does that most of the time! I almost didn't make it back through the log flume. It took two tries. It didn't help that the first time, Bobby essentially piled his kayak onto mine from behind! I let him through and tried again, and made it.

River Road runs parallel with a set of train tracks (a train came through while we were paddling, which was cool), and beyond the railroad bridge, the water was still solid ice. It was like looking through a portal into the North Pole.

We saw quite a few critters: two beavers, a great blue heron, what appeared to be a red-tailed hawk, umpteen redwing blackbirds, lots of different waterfowl. We're officially in mud season. One day last week, I stepped out of the car and sank about an inch into the driveway. But all in all, it hasn't been too bad. People always warn us first about the long winters--and we survived our first of those--and then mud season, and we're surviving that too. (It helps that we have an amazing road guy who has raked the road about weekly since the snow melted off of it. Our road is pretty scary when the traction isn't good, so I think I'd feel differently about mud season if not for our road guy. <3 to the Coventry road guy!)

It's also stick season since our trees are far from blooming or leafing out up here ... but some have buds! And I'm starting to sneeze more, which tells me they're doing their thing. And there is some green among the grass: faint and brave but there.

Right now? I'm tired. I want to stretch out somewhere and read. I wonder if my arms will be sore tomorrow.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/410413.html

March 19th, 2017

So I'm doing some preliminary data-crunching to see if I have anything worthwhile to contribute to this on the subject of Tolkien fandom and Tumblr. I'm on Tumblr but am not a heavy user, so I have the numbers but not the years of deep personal investment in the site that a lot of fanpeople have.

Essentially, I'm looking for the time when Tolkien fandom began to really shift to Tumblr. I joined Tumblr in May 2013, and there was already a huge Tolkien fandom presence there (being as this was in the midst of fandom activity for the Hobbit films).

The Tumblr article on Fanlore is surprisingly unhelpful. It does begin collecting quotes from fans in 2012, which is the date around which I've seen consensus for the big fandom shift to Tumblr. There is also this well-known post about Tumblr and fandom and this Slashcast episode, both of which would suggest 2012ish as the big year. But this is for fandom in general (although, given the fan activity surrounding the Hobbit trilogy, I'm feeling like this is a rare occasion when Fandom and Tolkien Fandom actually moved pretty lockstep with each other).

Does this seem right to you all? That 2012 was the year where Tolkien fandom as well began to have a presence on Tumblr? Any suggestions on sources or documentation for that?



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/409524.html

March 15th, 2017

Well, we got the big snow as promised. I don't know how much we got, but it was a lot. There was a lot of blowing and drifting last night, so it'd be hard to tell, even if I was willing to venture outside, which I have not so far. Schools were closed today after an early dismissal yesterday.

This was our back deck this morning. It's still snowing lightly, but we're not supposed to get more than a few more inches today.

 photo 20170315_110857_zpspw3ibvw2.jpg

Bobby took these pictures of the Wilds last night; he took them out to play in the snow. They are both like little children and get giddy when we have fresh snow falling.

Lancelot.

 photo lance_2017snowstorm_zpshox8nway.jpg



Guineweird.

 photo gwen-2017snowstorm_zpsp2s4grsp.jpg



On a completely unrelated note, I have enough fannish stuff to report that I'm actually going to use a bulleted list. Whoa.

  • I wrote an essay for the B2MeM prompt "Analyze a Chapter or Passage." I chose to compare the death scenes of Fëanor and Fingolfin, looking particularly at the evidence those passages provide for historical bias. The result: The Deaths of Kings: Historical Bias in the Death Scenes of Fëanor and Fingolfin.


  • For the personal essay B2MeM prompt, I wrote a personal essay (duh) called Mountains between the Light and the World: On Walls and Greed and the Privilege of Isolation. Warning: It gets into my personal politics, particularly my musings on why I've always been so bothered by the hoarding of light in The Silmarillion and how contrary to my political and personal values that idea is.


  • There's a new SWG challenge up. We're explicitly encouraging participants to combine our prompt with one of the other challenges going on. There's lots of challenges going on in the next month.


  • Last week, I almost died when I was Googling for a link to Attainable Vistas and, in the process, stumbled on this review of the issue of JTR and my essay in particular. The review called it "one of the best -- if not the best -- article on Tolkien written this year." What?! The writer is a Tolkien scholar, so he liked the first half--about historical bias--more than the second about fandom. Which I'd agree: the historical bias stuff is more generally interesting and relevant to an audience familiar with Tolkien. The fandom stuff is more for the connoisseurs, as it were. :D One of the things I found about traditional publication versus fannish publication is that the relative silence that meets a traditionally published work makes me wonder sometimes if what I wrote is even being read. (There wasn't absolute silence around "Attainable Vistas," but the chatter all came from fandom--go figure!) I was pleased to know that my work was not only read but clearly appreciated. It was a really pleasant surprise.


  • Speaking of "Attainable Vistas," I will be presenting the unpublished parts of that paper at the Vermont Tolkien Conference in just a few weeks. I received official registration information a few days ago, so it's really happening. No fandom stuff this time--just historical bias!


  • I have most of the rest of my B2MeM path planned out or underway. Let me say again how nice it has been to participate in B2MeM this year. I almost never get to participate outside of volunteering. But I get to listen to people participating complain about participating, feeling like the kid whose family never goes on vacation listening to her friends gripe about having to spend a week in Paris. I've really enjoyed getting to focus on my research and writing; I usually need an excuse to do this, and B2MeM has been a great excuse. It's improved my mood toward B2MeM immensely as well. I will confess that this is the fandom project where I am always the closest to burning out--thank goodness for Indy taking the reins these past few years!


  • Not really related to fandom, but while Googling my article the other night, I found that my university has also published my thesis. So you can read it if you want to. Some people said they wanted to! It's been downloaded 21 times, which is pretty amazing in itself.


Well, report card grades are due today, and I still have a little left to do to make that happen, so off I go!



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/408864.html
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