Poetry Friday: Danish Nursery Rhyme

The Three PrincessesToday I felt like sharing a funny Danish nursery rhyme. I always liked reading this one when I was a child (it’s in a collection we had growing up). The best part was always saying the names out loud!

There once was a King
who had three daughters.
The oldest he called
Sip!

The second he called
Sip sippernip!
But the youngest of all he called
Sip sippernip sip sirumsip!

Not far away lived another King
who had three sons.
The oldest was called
Skrat!

The second was called
Skrat skratterat!
But the youngest of all was called
Skrat skratterat skrat skrirumskrat!

Now by and by
the two Kings got together,
the King who had three daughters
and the King who had three sons,
and decided that their children
should marry.
And married they were!

Sip
got
Skrat
and
Sipsippernip got Skratskratterat
and
Sipsippernipsipsirumsip got Skratskratteratskratskrirumskrat.

As simple as that!

Have a great Friday everybody! The round-up is over at Shaken & Stirred, so go check it out!

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Movie: Nancy Drew

Nancy DrewLast week my mother and I went to see the new Nancy Drew movie. My mom has a collection of original Nancy Drew books that I read through eagerly when I was a kid and I still remember Nancy and her adventures fondly. I was really worried about this movie, though, because for me, Nancy’s stories are set in the 1930s and she wears a cloche hat and often gloves. The trailers for this movie looked hardly anything like the Nancy that lives in my memory. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when Emma Roberts managed to ooze Nancy. She was everything I remembered, but dressed more modernly and with an updated vocabulary. She was still the girl who pulled no punches when it came to following clues and solving a mystery, who was careful not to break rules as she did so, and who needed no guy along to help her! I was thrilled that she got kidnapped and saved herself (Nancy was always getting kidnapped and saving herself one way or another, although the movie kidnappers seemed extra dumb to me since they didn’t even tie her up)! The mystery was interesting and the pacing of the movie was good. Best of all, this movie seems to have revitalized interest in the books. I wish the originals were still in print, rather than the sixties rewrites, but I guess I can’t have everything (and a reprint of the first book did just come out, but I’m not sure if it’s the rewrite with the original cover or an actual reprint). Anyway, it’s a highly entertaining movie. I definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the books or for anyone wanting a movie about a self-reliant girl! It’s worth watching and a lot of fun!

Poetry Friday: Birthday Poetry with Dr. Seuss

Seuss Birthday CakeAs I said in my previous post, today is my birthday. So I wanted to share some birthday poetry. But I’m in a bouncy mood so the thing that most appealed to me right now was Dr. Seuss! And of course, he has a whole book about birthdays! So I pulled it off the shelf and decided to share this passage with you! It’s only a tiny piece of the book, which is charming (as all his books are), although not really one of his best overall. It’s a fun one for birthdays, though. So here’s what Dr. Seuss has to say about birthdays from part of Happy Birthday to You!

And five minutes later, you’re having a snack
On your way out of town on a Smorgasbord’s back.
“Today,” laughs the Bird, “eat whatever you want.
Today no one tells you you cawnt or you shawnt.
And, today, you don’t have to be tidy or neat.
If you wish, you may eat with both hands and both feet.
So get in there and munch. Have big munch-er-oo!
Today is your birthday! Today you are you!

If we didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you.
If you’d never been born, well then what would you do?
If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes.
Or worse than all that… Why you might be a WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you… You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!

So we’ll go to the top of the toppest blue space,
The Official Katroo Birthday Sounding-Off Place!
Come on! Open your mouth and sound off at the sky!
Shout loud at the top of your voice, “I AM I!
ME!
I am I!
And I may not know why
But I know that I like it.
Three cheers! I AM I!”

Have a great summer day everybody! I hope it’s beautiful and you get to do something fun! I’m going to go visit a new baby (Hi Evie!) and her proud parents (congrats again Jeff and Viv!) and spend the rest of the day doing fun things being me! I AM I!

The round up is at a wrung sponge today, so head on over there and check it out!

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Birthday Presents!

The High KingToday is my 26th birthday (the 22nd of June, so it’s just barely my birthday) and my wonderful husband got me the best present! I just had to share. He got me a whole new set of the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander – all five books and The Foundling, which is the companion short story collection that I’ve actually never owned! My copies are very well-loved and very much falling apart. I recently read the books to him (because he somehow missed them growing up, which I thought was a great travesty) and it was quite a challenge, what with pages falling out everywhere and things. I’m pretty excited. I even like these new covers (mine are dreadful ones from the mid-eighties)! I’m going to keep mine because they are very special. Anything that survives forty some readings and countless tears (I sob every time I read The High King) over the course of almost twenty years definitely does not deserve to be thrown out. But now I have new copies for the next time I decide to read through the series (which, knowing me, will be in a couple of months or less). It’s interesting, these new versions have maps and pronunciation guides! Mine had no such helpful inclusions. I did discover that my internal map of Prydain looks nothing like the “official” one. I highly doubt I can handle changing it now, either, so I’ll probably just ignore the maps for the most part, but they are still vaguely interesting! Yay! Happy Birthday to me! Thanks, sweetheart!

“I Want to Play Her”: Leader of the Pack

Traitor to the BloodThis is another image that surprised me. It’s the cover of a book that I never would have noticed if it hadn’t been faced out on the bookshelves at work, but it was and the image totally caught my attention. The woman on the cover first and foremost looks in command. The man behind her appears to be looking to her to see where they are going or what they are doing next. The entire image evokes a pack mentality, with her as the leader of the pack. She is heavily armed and reasonably armored. Everything about this image suggests competence, although as I think about it all I really have to indicate that is the trust placed in her by her companion. But really, that’s probably all I need. The guy behind her is more heavily armored, but given the differences between abilities and preferences with armor (as well as possibly class restrictions), that is not actually a big deal. She’s more than reasonably well armed for me to believe that her lesser armor isn’t an indication of her being a lesser warrior. She definitely presents a desirable avatar, particularly as this is clearly a woman in a position of leadership and that isn’t something I see often in art. This is definitely an appealing piece of art and certainly made me say “I want to play her”. I can’t say I’ll ever base a character off it, but the idea of strong woman leader who doesn’t necessarily need to be also a knight in shining armor (thus justifying her position as leader) is something I could see making a character out of.

This piece of art has been added to the “I Want to Play Her” page under “Role Playing Games”.

Meme: Interview Me!

Kalinara over at Pretty, Fuzzy Paradise has an amusing meme going and I decided to participate. I let her ask me any five questions she wanted, and below are the questions and answers! If you want to participate, the rules for how to do so are after my interview!

1. If you were doing an comic book related RPG, who would you most want to play?

Hmm… I’d really want to play Batgirl (Barbara Gordon’s version – much as I like Cass, I’m not wild about playing characters who never talk) because I think it would be fun to play a character who doesn’t actually have any superpowers. If I was to play someone with powers, I’d probably go with Black Canary just because she’s not as all-powerful as Supergirl or Wonder Woman and that gives me more to work with.

2. If you were to design your dream role-playing game scenario, what would you like it to have?

That’s a hard one. I almost don’t know how to answer. I like role playing situations with lots to work with, though, so parties are good – lots of people and lots going on. It depends a lot on the game and the players involved.

3. What’s the most ridiculous storyline element you can think of in Dungeons and Dragons?

My first instinct with this one was to say “orc and pie”, but it’s way too cliche! I think anything with an ooze is pretty ridiculous. D&D lends itself so well to the ridiculous and stupid in storytelling – cities in volcanoes that then erupt (thanks again, Michael, for not letting that happen!), people who refuse to see the obvious until it literally jumps out and eats them (no, our town isn’t right outside a dragon’s cave, why would you suggest such a thing?), etc. It’s almost easier to come up with ridiculous stories in the D&D worlds than logical ones. Really, why would anyone live near a goblin village? They wouldn’t. But if they didn’t, there’d be nothing for low-level adventurers to do, so someone must live there!

4. Who’s your favorite character that you’ve played in an RPG?

Verana Telemaite, an elven rogue that I played in the first half of the recently finished Shackled City campaign that my husband, Michael ran. Verana was great. Part of the reason I enjoyed her so much was that she was not only a great character in her own right, but one of my very best friends was playing her twin brother, Maeglin, and having him to play off of was a blast. I’d never had an in-game familial relationship like that before and it was awesome. For more information about the game and about Verana and Maeglin than you could ever want, check out the very awesome wiki that we’ve made about the game.

5. Bottled or Tap Water.

Tap. I’m Midwestern and practical.

~~~~~

Ok, so if you want to join the meme, here’s how!

1. Leave a comment asking to be interviewed.
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. They won’t necessarily (in fact, they won’t likely) be the same questions that I was asked, or that I ask anyone else.
3. Then update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. At the end of your interview, include this explanation (or something similar) and offer to interview someone else.
5. When other people comment asking to be interviewed, ask them five questions!

Book: The Phoenix Dance

The Phoenix DanceThe Phoenix Dance
by Dia Calhoun
2005 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

In The Phoenix Dance Dia Calhoun retells the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” (or “The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces”, depending on the collection you’re looking at) from the perspective of the royal shoemaker’s apprentice. Phoenix, the apprentice heroine, is passionate about designing and making shoes (almost to the exclusion of anything else much of the time) and she has a lot of talent, but she also has a disease that makes it hard for sometimes. She has periods where she’s in the Kingdom of Brilliance and deliriously happy all the time. Everything is bright and beautiful and inspiration spills out of her, often faster than she can keep up with it, but eventually she reaches a breaking point and topples over into the Kingdom of Darkness where she is miserable, almost to the point of wanting to die sometimes. She can’t do or think about anything in this state. A treatment is eventually found, but not one she likes. She begins to see parallels between what she experiences and what the dancing princesses are going through and uses that to solve the mystery. It’s a very interesting approach and works extremely well.

Although the Bipolar aspect of the book originally surprised me quite a bit, it actually was probably my favorite part of the whole thing. I really felt that it worked wonderfully to explain what is often a fundamentally confusing story. The fact that the author was able to use her own experiences to write the character’s experiences so convincingly and interestingly helped enormously. It really felt like she got the whole picture, not just pieces of it, from Phoenix’s personal struggles to her frustrations with the medications to even the prejudices she faced everyday in society, it was very real. And it all worked really well with the fairy tale, which was very impressive since often this type of thing doesn’t mesh well with fairy tale stories.

One of the things that I really loved about this book was the interesting world it was set in. Calhoun didn’t actually explicitly explain a lot of things, but I gathered that the kingdom is matriarchal which is fascinating simply because of it’s rarity in fantasy literature (or really any literature). When we do see matriarchal worlds they tend not to feel natural and often seem to exist simply to make a point, but this was so subtle I am still not entirely certain of it (despite the fact that the book made it clear the crown is passed down through the female line and Phoenix’s last name was passed down through the women in her family, not the men). Simply the fact that Calhoun was able to create a world where that felt so simple and natural, where I didn’t even think about it until most of the way through, despite numerous clues, was wonderful! What a fabulous thing for girls and for feminist literature in general! What a great thing just for the variety of literature – more worlds that are realistic and dynamic, yet truly different in some way from what we’re used to! I was incredibly impressed.

I loved this book. Dia Calhoun’s writing was fantastic and her story completely captured me. I couldn’t put the book down once I picked it up and I was incredibly sad when it ended, despite the ending, just because I had to leave that wonderful world! I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future! The Phoenix Dance is well worth reading and I highly recommend it!

Poetry Friday: Puppy and I

Christopher RobinToday we’re dogsitting for my parents and their cute little five pound puffball reminded me of my favorite puppy poem from A. A. Milne! This is just the first and last verse, but I do recommend checking out the whole thing if you haven’t read it since Milne’s verses are simply marvelous! He’s possibly my favorite poet ever. This one is from When We Were Very Young.

Puppy and I

I met a Man as I went walking;
We got talking,
Man and I.
“Where are you going to, Man?” I said
(I said to the Man as he went by).
“Down to the village, to get some bread.
Will you come with me?” “No, not I.”

~

I met a Puppy as I went walking;
We got talking,
Puppy and I.
“Where are you going this nice fine day?”
(I said to the Puppy as he went by).
“Up in the hiss to roll and play.”
I’ll come with you, Puppy,” said I.

I wish I could join them too! Especially on a day as nice as today! Join the rest of the poetry round-up over at HipWriterMama today and see what everyone else is sharing!

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Avatar Imagery

Blood ElvesI enjoy videogames, but I regularly have problems with the avatars that are presented to me in them for various reasons. Anyone who’s looked at my I Want to Play Her” page might have noticed that there is exactly one videogame represented there (and I’ve never actually played it, I just liked the cover art). Believe me, it’s not for lack of looking for interesting female avatars in videogames. It’s just that if the avatar reminds me of a porn star, a Disney princess or an anime school girl, I don’t really want to play her – and that pretty much rules out most female characters in videogames these days.

Andrea Rubenstein has written a paper about the body types of avatars in World of Warcraft, the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game on the market right now. It’s not exactly anything new (I could point you to a couple of papers that say essentially the same thing about comic books), but it is quite well done and well worth reading. What I particularly appreciated about it was Rubenstein’s thoroughness in looking at how the avatars changed from Alpha to release and why those changes were made as well as the differences in the gender imagery and some of the meaning behind those differences (e.g. women are more overtly sexualized, with exaggerated hourglass figures and focus on sexual areas, while men are more focused on sexually based strength with their actual sexual features minimized). It’s a good, and surprisingly quick, read. I definitely recommend it.

What it did not do is give me any more hope for finding decent avatars in games that don’t annoy me. Take the image above, for example. It’s again from World of Warcraft. Those two are the male and female avatars from the blood elf race. Notice anything about the imagery there? Maybe that he’s about three times bigger than her? Or that he’s fully clothed while she isn’t? I first noticed that she’s hiding behind him for protection while he’s being strong and taking action. I hadn’t noticed until I was cropping the image for this post that she appears to be barefoot. Why would you ever go barefoot in a game where goblins roam around the starting zones? That seems really dumb! You start the game with free shoes! You are never, ever compelled to go without shoes! So what’s with the lack of footwear? I suppose it does set off her helpless little girl dress, but still! This is supposed to be an avatar, not an elf version of Heidi! Speaking of helpless little girl dress, I’m not wild about that either – she does have an oversexed little girl look about her, and there is something distinctly creepy about that.

My character in World of Warcraft was a dwarf. A dwarf with a very large axe. The elves bug me. So do the humans and most of the overly attractive evil races. I’m sorry, if I’m going to play a goblin, she’s not going to be “pretty”. Until I can make a goblin who isn’t fundamentally attractive (saggy breasts, hunched back, missing/rotting teeth, sharp curled claws, etc.) I’m not playing one, it’s just not right. Goblins are not supposed to be “pretty”. Neither are orcs or undead. That’s creepy. Maybe all this is part of why the game failed to hold my attention for longer and I’ve since moved on to other things.

So I’ll keep looking for some videogame women to add to my “I Want to Play Her” page, but my hopes of finding many aren’t really high. Until I can find more women with waists bigger than their heads and armor that actually seems to serve some function other than covering enough to please censors, I’m not going to be attracted to playing many videogame women just on how they look. The industry can do better, I know it. I just want to see it, now. There is so much creativity in videogames, some of it eventually has to spill over into variety in avatars, right? Besides, there are enough reasonable people making games these days that it’s going to have to occur to one of them that if they allow players to design a woman avatar who actually does look like she could kick butt not only would it be cool but it might improve sales. Maybe. Or, you know, I could be dreaming. That’s been known to happen.

I Want One!

Betsy at Fuse posted about this great blanket on her blog and after checking out the pictures on the website, I totally want one!  They don’t appear to be actually for sale (nothing this cool ever actually is), but I could make one if I could figure out a way to get the words on to the fabric.  I love that the story appears to be “Sleeping Beauty”!  How appropriate!

book blanket

It’s practical too.  The pages turn, so you can decide how much blanket you want covering you (how many pages).  If you’re cold, pull the whole book over you, but if you’re hot, just one page!  What a great idea!  This could be great for Michael and I, since I’m always cold and he’s always hot.

I may make one with pictures or something.  I could make one that tells a story through pictures and then I wouldn’t have to worry about transferring words onto the fabric somehow.  This could be an interesting project.

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