Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cowardly Climbing cont.

So, my tall ship training course is now over and I PASSED MY FINAL! Which means I get to call myself "crew." It's a long way from being an "able-bodied seaman," but it's something.

The ship, alas, is still in dock, so I'm planning to get my volunteer hours up such that I can actually go sailing. When I do, I'll fill you in.

Yesterday had other milestones too. I took and passed my upper-climb test, which allows me now to venture into the tippy-top of the ship. And I crossed the cat-harpings for the first time - twice! - which is something I've been nerving myself up to do for a while. (Note: tried to find an image of cat harpings. Do you know how many illustrations of kittens playing musical instruments there are on the web? This is not that.)

See the terrified red shirt? That's a person crossing cat harpings.



The cat harpings are two thick ropes that act as a bridge between the starboard and port (right and left) sides of the lower yard. To cross from the left part of the mast "t" to the right side you swing your feet onto these two thick ropes, stand on them, and leeean sideways until your hand catches a shroud on the right side. This is a the "crucified" position. Then you swing yourself onto the shrouds of the right side. When crossing the cat harpings, you are standing on two ropes that separate you from a long fall, and you are not clipped in. This and the climb into the fighting top are arguably the two scariest climbing positions on the ship.

But climbing these in good weather wasn't actually that bad. The cat harpings were surprisingly solid to stand on, and I'm learning, yet again, that my body knows more about climbing than I think it does. I even managed to do part of the upside-down climb into the fighting-top without difficulty, so... we'll see. Upper climbing has terrors of its own.

Fun fact of the day: because so much of the ship is made from tropical hardwood, if we get a splinter, we are supposed to immediately report it. Tropical hardwoods excrete nasty insecticidal chemicals that can exacerbate a simple splinter wound and turn it into something Very Unpleasant.

Hunger Games Soundtrack

So the HG soundtrack is pretty good, if a bit bipolar. Roughly 50% of the singers heard "Hunger Games soundtrack" as, in Taylor Swift's words, ''Appalachian music 300 years from now.'' 45% heard "DYSTOPIA! I GET TO WRITE AN ANTHEM FOR A DYSTOPIA!" And a minority - say 5% - heard "This is your chance to write Hunger Games filk!" And then there's Taylor Swift, who also heard "write a generic pop song to play over the end credits!" But I'll forgive her, because her futuristic Appalachian music is pretty decent, and also, she was probably told to write a generic pop song for the end credits.

The upshot: this is a good soundtrack album. Even on shuffle, the songs flow into each other with surprising coherence. And it's a rich mine for writers looking for "I'M IN A DYSTOPIA! WITH A BANJO!" music to play in the background as they write.

I'm also amused and rather touched to hear how many artists just really, really wanted to write HG filk. Rock on, nerdy dystopian banjo players. Rock on.

A different kind of book update

The amazing Susan Gubar's Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer is being released on April 30th. A brilliant feminist scholar and (full disclosure) one of the most inspirational teachers I've had, Susan was diagnosed in 2008 with ovarian cancer. In her latest book, she weaves a memoir of her illness together with a polemic on the state of women's health care in America.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Feminist author and scholar Gubar received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2008, and the then 63-year-old author underwent the radical surgical procedure called debulking, which removes many of the organs in a woman’s lower abdomen. Gubar’s memoir is not easy reading. She recounts in detail the grotesque procedures and the horrendous pain and humiliation she endured. The author ponders why major advances have mounted up for the treatment of breast cancer, but little has changed in treating ovarian cancer. Gubar weaves her personal story into a discussion of art, literature, and statements from other cancer patients. The author recounts the strength and care she received from family and friends, especially her husband, from her diagnosis through treatment to remission. She then finds herself confronted with a choice. “Either I have a third abdominal surgery that comes with its own complications or I suffer from infections preventing future therapies that would extend my life.” Gubar wrote her memoir for one reason: “my central motive consists of a fierce belief that something must be done to rectify the miserable inadequacies of current medical responses to ovarian cancer.” Gubar’s passionate and brave polemic is critical reading for anyone concerned with the state of women’s health care in America. (Apr.)
[info]rcloenen_ruiz's post on Eastercon got me thinking about the lack of support for translated works in the N.A. publishing industry and in SF in particular.

I know that there are many hard-working translators out there who have a project on the back burner: an award-winning novel they really want to see get wider circulation, or a series of poems that they've fallen in love with. But (they tell me when we talk at conferences) they can't find publishers for these projects.

So on that front I wanted to mention Calypso Press, a new, artist-run co-operative dedicated to "publishing quality literary books of poetry and fiction with a global perspective." You can read about their projects on their website, and, if they strike you as worthwhile, contribute to their efforts.