Law of the Jungle

I saw Disney’s new Jungle Book film, and it’s a magnificent experience – a beautiful, heart-wringing adventure. As one of the millions of kids who were a captive audience for the 1967 animated version, I watched it in rapt delight and breathless anticipation.

I’m more of an experiential viewer than a critic; thus I fell in love with Bagheera’s green eyes and cultured voice (Ben Kingsley.) Bill Murray as Baloo the bear was inspired. The lushly detailed environments, plants and animals is a feast for the eyes. But the story the crisis that Mowgli the man-cub brings to his jungle community is bittersweet.

Mowgli is raised by the wolf pack and mentored by Bagheera. They consider the boy one of their own. Shear Kan, the menacing Bengal tiger, claims that man is the most dangerous beast of all, and insists that the man-cub must leave, and later, die. The community erupts in debate, and Mowgli, unwilling to be the cause of such strife, agrees to leave.

For all the lush beauty of this film, with it’s depiction of vibrant life, knowing it’s all created with CGI leaves me with a hollow ache. The ‘jungle’ world that Kipling wrote of in 1894 no longer exists today, except in scraps of parkland.  So Shear Kan made a valid point: humans will bring the end of life as they know it.

Please, go enjoy the movie. It’s lovely. But then take some small action to help the creatures in the film.

To learn more about the state of the ‘jungle’ today, visit one of these organizations.

Global Tiger Initiative

Wildlife Conservation Society

World Wildlife Society

 

 

I’m a Winner!!!

Although four days ago I want at all sure it was possible, I just validated this years novel at 50,631 words and got all the fun NaNoWriMo winners goodies: Congratulations video, a purple bar, and badges, banners and a certificate!

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.35.06 PMBut the best reward is, of course, having done it. When it got boring, I wrote. When it got scary, I wrote. I even wrote in my sleep and found a subplot. (turned out to be a red herring, but actually a necessary one!) When it got hard, I wrote more.

At 60 years old, overweight with a bum knee, I can’t run a marathon, but for the 4th out of 5 years I CAN WRITE ONE.

This year’s story is a continuation of last year’s Only the Rust Remembers, a dystopian post climate disaster adventure story about three unlikely companions. The civilized world has contracted into what is now Ontario, and has rebooted the heavy industry around the Great Lakes.

In Book 1, it’s 2173 and in Gary, IN a blast furnace explodes, catapulting 2 of our 3  heroes on an unexpected journey. In Book 2, the three of them set sail on a steam tug boat across Lake Erie. But one of them is in the brig! Will they escape the Security Forces that are hunting them? Will they find Tayya’s grandfather who holds the secrets to the past? WIl Hal ever speak to either of them again?

You will have to read it find out!

I learned during this NaNo is that there is a Book 3 to this story. Tayya will need to return to the rising revolution she left behind in Salt City. Garez and Hal may not be so eager to go back. So stay tuned, the epic will continue.

And, I have made a commitment to the path…. of EDITING! The beauty of NaNo is that it’s a big crazy push to wrote a Rough Draft, ROUGH being the operative word. It is not suitable for anyone to read. Before I have a First Draft I need to essentially rewrite each one of these chapters, polishing and clearing up problems with grammar, plot, and continuity as I go.

The good news is that three chapters of Book 1 are already revised. And now that I’ve invested so more into these characters I’m committed to seeing them through to the end.

Thank you to all my Writing Buddies*** this year, for all your encouragement! I am so proud to have so many successful NaNos in my local writers group!!! We will have lots to celebrate on December 7th. 

***

Cheryl Holloway and other members of AWWG

Guest Blogger at Cheryl Holloway’s Author blog

I’m honored to be featured today at Cheryl Holloway‘s blog here:

How to Succeed at NaNoWriMo

Please go read, and give Cheryl some love. It’s the second year I’ve been invited to do thisand I’m honored.

Cheryl interviews indy authors of all types and genres, and I’ve discovered interesting writers and books. So she is a big help to authors who want to share their work. And she is a very reliable blogger – I know I will have something interesting to read at least once a week.

Cheryl writes romance, and heart-touching short stories. She’s written biography and young-adult fiction. Essentially, she understands people very well. And, she makes a great writing buddy! This is her first NaNoWriMo, so share some encouragement and share the blog too.

girl-writingBut there’s something I’m avoiding: 

Something that came up while I did this interview: I have yet to complete the rewrite of one of my NaNo novels. I’ve edited and rewritten about one half of last year’s. But the previous two stories (3 years of writing) languish unimproved. Were they terrible?  I don’t think so. I know the stories were interesting. But I have some blocks there – am I reluctant to see just how bad the rough drafts really were??

So, before NEXT YEAR’s NaNo, I will have at least one solid draft of a complete novel. There, my commitment to you!

But wait! Here’s more good news:

I have been submitting Short Stories to contests and journals, in search of prizes and publication. So far, no results. I only started in August, and the first one is a tiny one. I’ll hear about the second one much sooner – in 2 weeks! And I have a third story almost ready to go.

So I am floating my balloon out into the literary landscape.

But for today, it’s NaNo time! And I have  words to go before I sleep.

Pluto and the Texture of the Infinite

Horsehead Nebula

In ancient times, (or when I was in grade school) the planets were  very smooth, like billiard balls. We had no detailed images, only descriptions of what they might be. Images of the galaxies and nebulas were quaintly fuzzy.

This recent Hubble image of Horsehead Nebula shows a different animal.

Over the past 40 years we humans have sharpened our focus. The Hubble Space Telescope and numerous planetary explorations have yielded not only amazing data but astonishingly detailed images as well.

Dramatic view of the Pluto system as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew in for close-up on July 14; then passed behind Pluto to see the atmosphere glow before watching the sun passes behind Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Stuart Robbins

Watch this a few times and enjoy the ride: how you find the bright dot in all that darkness, spiral in, and then glory in the uniquely Plutonian landscape. This, the orb that had it’s planetary status revoked! 

(You may find it odd that I am adamantly pro science and still hark to astrology, but consider hearing me out. The following gives a cultural perspective on the ninth rock from the sun.)

Astrologically Pluto has a profound gravitas, the inescapable resonance of the everpresent but unseen, representing our own soul.

Prominant Astrologers had some interesting things to say about Pluto’s change in status.

from Rob Brezhny of Free Will Astrology:

Scientists no doubt had sound, rational reasons to exile Pluto from the traditional solar system and transfer its realm to the Kuiper Belt with the other dwarf worlds, but they were also under the influence of deeply unconscious forces too. The expulsion of Pluto marked a symbolic turning point in the triumph of scientism, a mode of thinking that values only what’s visible, measurable, and categorizable. But Pluto is more than the rocky planetoid representing it: Pluto is an essential phase of human consciousness.

The overall downgrading of Pluto is a milestone in the modern attempt to depreciate the soul’s mode of awareness and make it subsidiary to the deductive mind. To banish Pluto is to deny that living in the soul has any value to us.

See how smooth it looks? Now watch the video with actual photos.

Visionary Activist Caroline Casey offers this:

The god of the Underworld, was amused by being called “Dead as a planet.” “Of course I’m dead, I’m the god of the dead.”

And used to being dissed, exiled, albeit at tremendous cost to cultures that do so. Of course human dementors would like to stick their fingers in their ears, and say, “no, no, no, we deny the invisible. We deny the dead, the invisible, the principle of power, the abuse of power known as plutocracy, now rampant.” Death is cheap, not valued, marketed wholesale, so that even the god of death is appalled.

 

My Shadow, the Fannibal

One definition of myself holds that I’m a kind-hearted person who shouldn’t love violent and scary stories, serial killers or for god’s sake CANNIBALS.

But, due to the mysteries of fandom, I find myself on the edge of my seat tonight, and tweeting with a few hundred thousand, maybe more, Fannibals for the finale of the NBC TV series Hannibal.

I swore I wouldn’t watch it. I didn’t like the books, and Silence of the Lambs was too creepy. I don’t need a vicious killer show to watch, life is too short. I don’t remember what changed my mind, but it was only a few months ago that I watched the pilot episode and I was hooked from the beginning.

I’ll not try to sell you on the show; it’s been cancelled, (although vigorous Fannibal lobbying may have some clout) it’s about an elegant murderous cannibal and a mentally unstable profiler who have an unhealthy obsession with one another – not everyone’s cuppa.

If I did make my case, it would sing the praises of the writers and particularly their excellent gender swapping of key characters. Also, the use of myth and alternative states of consciousness is fascinating as well. The Wendigo and antler theme are amazing and beautiful.

I would also laud the art department, including the food stylists, who work under the direction of none other than Jose Andres of restaurant fame. Everything to look at in this show is a feast for the eyes.

Well, one more surprise, for me, as I am still scratching my “I’m supposed to be a nice girl” head: I’m cleaning out folders on my Mac and find a painting from 2010 called Integration, that I created for some very deep and intense therapy work.

henkelp3intergrate

It’s very Hannibal-esque. I guess I should have known.

you are beautiful

This video broke my heart. Again.

  • Why are we so hungry for approval and appreciation from others?
  • Why do we equate how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we ARE with how we LOOK?
  • Why is it so difficult to create and build our inner sense of worth?

Please tell me how this video makes you feel.

Color is Life

I’ve written about my struggles with depression; the past few weeks have been challenging, with the loss of a dear friend, a pet’s death, plus health and money woes. My faith has been tried.

Years ago, when a fellow depression-sufferer asked me, in the throes of her illness, “What keeps you alive when things get bad?”  I knew well the feeling, seeking for a shred of hope. As I gazed across the yard, and saw the shaded sky, the mirror lake, the deep green pines, the word just rose to my lips. “Color. I live for color.”

This week I arose before dawn to paint the sunrise. It was ostensibly in honor of Solstice, but in truth it was intended to wrench me out of my sucking depression.

Painting was good medicine. But the Supreme Court decision on Friday, unleashing a tidal wave of rainbows, is really buoying my spirit in splendid waves of shared joy. Hallelujah, it’s a rainbow! May your life be colorful!

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Strange Magic

Dreaming of spring, the mind turns to flowers, butterflies, fairies and… bugs? Well, yes, if you life in southern Maryland. Although it’s been frozen into silence lately, we have a buzzingly diverse ecosystem here in the coastal plains and wetlands, rich in the insect life that supports the abundant bird and fish populations we’re known for.

But fairies? for those, I still have to turn to the world of fantasy. And recently I saw a remarkable film, one that was clobbered at the box office, so you probably didn’t even notice it opening and closing at your local moviehouse.

Which is really too bad, because it is the product of at least a decade’s dreaming by George Lucas and many others in his talented sphere. The movie is Strange Magic,  a love story for pre-teen girls that uses popular culture love songs (thus the title!)

Strange Magic is a sound and vision feast directed by Gary Rydstrom, winner of 7 Oscars and 17 Academy Award nominations for sound mixing and editing.  Gary is also the son of friend-of-a-friend, and so we go to see his movies even if they’re a genre we would otherwise ignore.

The design of the Bog King is based on the praying mantis and the cockroach

Starting with Lucas’ vision, the creatives borrowed from the insect world for creature design, which includes not only the colorful and bright fairies and elves, but also the creepier denizens of the Dark Forest.

The story has delightfully modern twists: you’ll find no delicate princess here. Marianne, our heroine, doesn’t grieve lost love for long. And the ultimate hero is a surprise, upending the old ‘dark verses light’ clichés.

While it’s probably too late for the cineplex, check it out on DVD or streaming when you get a chance. It’s a gem.

 

“Nothing to Lose”

Kate Champion

Choreographer Kate Champion asked the question: what does it mean to put really big bodies on the dance stage? She premiered “Nothing to Lose” at Sydney Festival in January, 2015

Champion was inspired by watching the way larger bodies moved through the world, and dancing in clubs. It led her to ask why she never saw bodies like that on the stage.

kjdrinkwater“Dancing in a fat body is incredibly radical and controversial because it’s not done, it’s not encouraged. That’s what makes this show so interesting.”

Kelli Jean Drinkwater, fat activist

I certainly have been reluctant to dance with abandon due to my body size, and have only done so when in a safe and sacred context, where I could feel the freedom to be as I truly am. A fat body really does move differently, and it’s amazing to see fleshy dancers. I have NEVER seen fat bodies in this context before.

How does it make you feel?

Gender Swapped characters in Fanart

In celebration of our evolving idea of gender as fluid, I offer these colorful, creative, amusing, at times maybe disturbing renderings of beloved characters as you might have seen them, in a different world!

This is just a taste – follow the link at the end to the total collection.

Notice the conspicuous absence of males

 

I love this Moriarty!

 

SheHulk
CLICK for all the Avengers by Circusmayer at deviantart.com

 

isn’t he adorable?

For the complete article with dozens of examples, CLICK here.