Tuesday 24 August 2021

Book Review: The Good Wife’s Guide - Translated by Gina Greco and Christine Rose

Pros: faithful translation that mentions prior work done on the text, lots of textual notes and introductory pieces to help with comprehension, lots of interesting information about life in the middle ages

Cons: medieval writing tends to be dry and I found it hard to read more than a few pages at a time without a break

This is a translation of the French medieval household book Le Ménagier de Paris. It consists of an introduction, which includes background information, what life was like in Paris at the time of it’s writing, and a gloss of The Tale of Griselda. The text itself consists of several parts talking about good conduct (prayer, behaviour, dress, chastity, virtues & vices, obedience to one’s husband, etc), horticulture, choosing servants, hawking, menus, and recipes. There are introductory passages every few sections so you have a good idea of what the book will discuss next, as well as excellent page notes (many of which detail translation decisions) and a very useful glossary of culinary terms to help with the last 2 sections of the book and a bibliography.

The premise of the text is that of an older husband writing a book for his new young wife so that she will be properly trained and able to manage a household for her second husband after the author’s death. The book goes into a fair amount of detail regarding some items (there are a lot of recipes and detailed information on the virtues & vices, breaking down the various ways people sin and how it’s important to confess). There are also some long morality tales about how it’s important to obey one’s husband and be long-suffering, even if your husband tries your patience or tests you.

I found it very interesting what a woman in 14th C Paris was expected to know, even if it’s unknown if the author’s ‘young wife’ actually existed. The cooking section mentioned where to buy certain ingredients and how much they cost. The hawking section was very detailed about how much work was involved, all of which had to be done by the person intending to fly the hawk (so servants couldn’t train the bird for you). The moralistic tales are fairly long winded and get boring after a while. The Tale of Griselda is kind of infuriating as a modern reader and even the author’s response to it implies he doesn’t agree with the husband’s actions, but thought it was worth including anyway.

I wish the author had finished his planned book and included the games and entertainments he’d intended. I think those might have been quite interesting to learn about.

There’s a lot of great information here, but you’ll probably have to read it in small doses to stay engaged. The translators did a fantastic job of keeping the language easy to understand, but medieval texts tend to be on the dry side.

Friday 20 August 2021

Audio Drama: Mission of the Lunar Sparow

Commander Rae Field is resourceful, with thousands of mission hours of experience. Then something happens to her on the Moon, something that she has never experienced before. It will change her forever.
This is the first of 9 episodes (published weekly, the first 5 episodes are already out). The audio drama was written, produced and directed by Lee Schneider for the FutureX Network (though you can also listen to it on iTunes, Spotify, etc). The story is based on a novel by H. G. Wells.

The story consists of one human (Andia Winslow) and one AI actor.

I've only listened to the first episode so far but it really caught my interest. The voice acting is solid, the dialogue is humourous and entertaining, the production values are fantastic. Each episode is roughly 5 minutes long, so it's not a major time commitment. 

Wednesday 18 August 2021

What's a skáldharpa? (music instrument video)

Pierrick Valence from the music band SKÁLD has created a series of workshop videos on youtube, explaining some of the historical - and just plain unique - instruments used in their songs. The band is inspired by Nordic mythology.

Here are a few of the instruments he introduces: the skáldharpa, talharpa, citra, and jouhikko.

He introduces the instruments explaining where they’re from and then plays a quick melody so you hear it on its own. He also mentions where you can buy one (generally specialty craftsmen online).

Thursday 12 August 2021

Shout-Out: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

In horror movies, the final girls are the ones left standing when the credits roll. They made it through the worst night of their lives…but what happens after?

Like his bestselling novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix’s latest is a fast-paced, frightening, and wickedly humorous thriller. From chain saws to summer camp slayers, The Final Girl Support Group pays tribute to and slyly subverts our most popular horror films—movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream.

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre. For more than a decade, she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, working to put their lives back together. Then one woman misses a meeting, and their worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to rip their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about final girls is that no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Video: The Forsaken Mandalorian and the Drunken Jedi Master

Createscifi has made a Star Wars fan film wherein a Mandalorian completes a bounty and runs across a drunk Jedi Master. It's two scenes that basically set up further adventures between the pair. The acting's quite good and the props are excellent. 

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Book Review: The Godstone by Violette Malan

Pros: good worldbuilding, interesting magic system, complex characters

Cons: a bit slow at times

When the artisan Arlyn Albainil receives word that his cousin Xandra named him executor of his testament he knows something’s up. The White Council wants to open Xandra’s practitioners’ vault, the place magic users keep their most important - and dangerous - work. But Arlyn knows what Xandra kept his his vault - the godstone - is a powerful artifact too dangerous to be released. So he enlists the help of the village practitioner, Fenra, to seal the godstone away forever.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and learning how modes worked. There were a few confusing moments as the characters understood what was happening as they passed between modes in a way that wasn’t explained to the reader, but I caught on quickly. I also liked the complexity of magic and learning that there were other planes of existence.

Fenra was a great character, compassionate but also pragmatic. I loved watching her relationship with Elvanyn develop. While her age is never given, it’s clear she’s not young, and her actions show the careful consideration of someone with a good deal of experience behind her.

The story was told from the three protagonists’ points of view, with the character named at the start of each section so it was very easy to keep track of whose thoughts you were sharing.

The pacing is slow but steady, doling out information at a good rate to keep you interested and with some tense scenes as the godstone comes into play.

Though the author is working on a sequel, The Godstone works as a standalone, wrapping things up nicely at the end.

I really enjoyed the book and if you like old school fantasy, you should give it a try.