the Life and Times of Warrior Woman

blonde recluse. nihilarian pronk.

Archive for September 2012

poetry of prompts.

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Many moons ago when I fancied myself a writer, I used to have a tonne of writing prompt gadgets on my iGoogle page.  Unfortunately, many of these gadgets are now gone, and I cannot remember the name of this particular one – but I want to share some of the prompts that it generated that I saved.  They read like poetry entirely on their own, thus creating complete visual image and story.  This makes them really bad prompts, but wonderful small pieces of writing.

Some of them make little sense as to time and place (“It is before the time of Christ or Buddha; a crowd is cheering, "vive la France!" is one example), but it doesn’t make them any less haunting.

I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!

 

Tell of a spice trader in the orient

with a yearning to die.

A rainbow is nowhere to be seen;

a woman is hissing like a roasting lamb,

while the city of Athens burns.

.

A gaunt vagabond is begging change

with three spies dressed as nuns.

An old phonograph plays ragtime tunes;

a street urchin is selling stamps,

while the sound of bombs can be heard in the hills.

.

Imagine Penelope sewing a dress

with a broken mandolin.

A choirboy is singing a hymn;

a woman screams, "Ça y est! Ça y est!"

while a man in the shadows loads a rifle.

.

You are starving and miserable

in a fever of panic.

It is before the time of Christ or Buddha;

a crowd is cheering, "vive la France!"

while a woman covers her naked skin with a quilt.

.

A man is cheating on his wife

with a girl with eyes as slender as pearls.

The air is fragrant with hyacinth blossoms;

a man tiptoes past the closed door,

while the monks are drunk on wine.

.

Describe a princess and her chauffeur

with a loaded pistol.

Such pain only comes from wandering;

there is a pound of gold in a sleeping man’s bag

while a mother wonders about her forgotten son.

.

Tell of a spice trader in the orient

in a snow storm.

A train is leaving the station;

a woman screams, "Ça y est! Ça y est!"

while the children sing and play.

.

A cook is serving stale bread and tainted meat

with a basket of salamanders.

The moon travels over a soulless stretch of sand;

the world is falling apart,

while the king hides in the woods with a shameful secret.

.

Describe a game of Russian roulette

with two tramps licking cheese.

Watching the stream of traffic on the avenue,

a clairvoyant draws the hanged man,

while two children are lost in the street.

.

Describe Adam and Eve in an argument

with a humble family of corn farmers.

A gentle snow begins to fall;

a woman is hissing like a roasting lamb,

while a monk reads Ovid in his monastery cell.

.

You are sitting in a restaurant in Barcelona

with a wet rag.

The sky is of sweet buttered cream;

and we drink tea and eat cold apples,

while the king hides in the woods with a shameful secret.

.

Imagine a Nobel Prize winning writer

with a fresh flower coated in dew.

The sky is of sweet buttered cream;

a man tiptoes past the closed door,

while the executioner sharpens his sword.

.

A man is pawning stolen jewellery

with girls in white dresses.

Then evening comes to dim the vast wilderness;

two policemen enter,

while two children are lost in the street.

.

A clown escapes from the circus

with a wet rag.

Everything is plush velvet and satin;

a woman screams, "Ça y est! Ça y est!"

while the nurse enters with a sleeping pill.

.

You are at a bar in China Town

with a pouch of garlic and salt.

The clouds are swollen and yellow;

the nurses push blond babies in strollers,

while a servant wipes up the floor.

.

A dandy is strolling down the Nevsky Prospect

with a trunk filled with heroin.

Is it not great to be alive?..

a clairvoyant draws the hanged man,

while a woman weeps over things forever lost.

.

Imagine a man who has visions of ghosts

with a yearning to die.

The sky is of sweet buttered cream;

a baron walks in with a knife,

while the subway workers are on strike.

.

Describe Adam and Eve breaking up

with a wilted dandelion.

In the soft naivety of springtime noon,

you are kissing someone twice your age,

while a servant wipes up the floor.

.

The priest is healing all of the believers

with two lovers having a spat.

such love one has at times like these!..

swindlers are planning a heist,

while two children are lost in the street.

Written by Alexandra

27 September 2012 at 7:43 pm

for the men who still don’t get it, by carol diehl.

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I found this on tumblr some weeks ago, and thought that I’d share it here as well. There’s been some criticism of this being cissexist, and it may as well be (at least the line about menstruation is), but it still needs to be said. Warning: adult in nature.

What if all women were bigger and stronger than you? And thought they were smarter? What if women were the ones who started wars? What if too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos and no K-Y Jelly? What if the state trooper who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike was a woman and carried a gun? What if the ability to menstruate was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs? What if your attractiveness to women depended on the size of your penis? What if every time women saw you they’d hoot and make jerking motions with their hands? What if women were always making jokes about how ugly penises are and how bad sperm tastes? What if you had to explain what’s wrong with your car to big sweaty women with greasy hands who stared at your crotch in a garage where you are surrounded by posters of naked men with hard-ons? What if men’s magazines featured cover photos of 14-year-old boys with socks tucked into the front of their jeans and articles like: “How to tell if your wife is unfaithful” or “What your doctor won’t tell you about your prostate” or “The truth about impotence”? What if the doctor who examined your prostate was a woman and called you “Honey”? What if you had to inhale your boss’ stale cigar breath as she insisted that sleeping with her was part of the job? What if you couldn’t get away because the company dress code required you wear shoes designed to keep you from running? And what if after all that women still wanted you to love them?

For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It, Carol Diehl

Found here (NSFW).

Written by Alexandra

26 September 2012 at 6:49 pm

mireille mathieu: five (+1) songs.

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In my weak attempts to start comprehending French, I try to find parts of French culture that please me.  Mireille Mathieu is one such part, even though I am only vaguely familiar with her music.

(My translation of French titles is questionable.)

Ne me quitte pas (Don’t leave me)

Une histoire d’amour (Love story)

I used to sing this one when I took singing lessons.  I am sure I am not the only one.

Sous le ciel de Paris (Under Paris sky)

Pardonne-moi ce caprice d’enfant (Forgive me for this childish whim)

Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing)

Очи чёрные (Ochi chorniye; Black eyes)

Written by Alexandra

26 September 2012 at 3:48 pm

a day like any other day.

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I dreamt of my grandmother tonight.

Today mum brought me breakfast of buckwheat with milk, hot cheese sandwiches, banana, ‘batonchik’, and coffee.  She made a similar one for herself, the only difference being tea instead of coffee.

I went to uni, and was late, because route taxi drivers are on strike.  As I arrived late, I wasn’t allowed to watch the activities in honour of European Day of Languages.  So I basically came to uni for nothing.  I went outside, smoked a cigarette, drank a cup of tea, and went home.

I took the 28th bus home, so I stopped by an English bookshop, and bought myself a birthday present — Pocket Oxford Russian Dictionary.

I have a lot of thoughts in my head, that need brushing.  There’s a huddle of ideas that I want to implement, but on the other hand I don’t want to concentrate any resources or energy on these things, because I’m stupidly scared that the moment I start working on them, any of them, other things, other more important things, will go terribly wrong.

I live with this feeling of dread.

I do not wish to elaborate.

I can only pray to Lord that next year, and many years after that, on my birthday my mother will be able to bring me breakfast in bed once more.  And I will be able to do the same for her.

Written by Alexandra

26 September 2012 at 3:29 pm

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"i need somebody to go to villa with me."

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Whenever I hear my mum say this, I know that in most cases my day has pretty much been decided for me.  Of course, it only happens when I’ve got a day off and no specific plans in mind, so usually the statement comes as a welcome relief.

"A two-hour trip, there to (drop, pick) (stuff, people) (off, up) [underline as needed] and immediately back again" usually means you won’t be back until the sun sets (varying sunset times notwithstanding), and when you’re back, it’s highly unlikely you’d be able to muster enough strength to do anything else, because there’s always work to be done at Villa.  Always.  Cleaning the rooms/ pool, cooking dinner, helping with whatever, hauling stuff to and fro, babysitting children and animals, feeding people and animals, calculating profit or lack of it, planning work schedule or next purchase list, conflict managing, washing dishes/ windows/ floors/ roofs, doing laundry, ironing, fixing major and minor software and hardware glitches, harvesting produce, sawing seeds, or chopping wood — name it, any of it, a single task or any combination of tasks or all of the above, it doesn’t matter, there’s always something to be done.  And if by a miraculous chance there’s nothing to be done, then the sun is blistering, the heat is relentless, and the light is unforgiving.  An hour of such weather is enough to render me useless for ten days.

Yesterday it was the sum of tasks + heat.  Not many tasks fell on my lot, however, and the sun and light were grueling but it was windy, so after hijacking mother’s comp for a bit, chatting with aunt and V., and eating a salad, I went to take pictures.

As one does.

This year we didn’t fight most of the weeds showing up on the parking zone in front of the terrace.  Perhaps it offends somebody’s bourgeoisie aesthetic, but I think I like it more.  Villa is located in a small village in a country that’s always been largely rural and agricultural.  There’s no point in having prim and proper lawns and perfectly tiled/ pebbled yards.  I’ve seen it done.  There’s a certain dissonance to that.

The side yard, too, wasn’t dug up and left plain this year.  Mum planted stuff (maize, beans, carrots, courgette…) under the trees instead.  Looks lovely.  There’s plenty of weeds there as well; wasn’t mum’s intention, she just doesn’t have any willing helpers at hand (I’m a willing helper, I’m not at hand — I’m a rare guest at Villa).  It does make a dent in the size of the harvest, but for a first year experiment, I think we’re doing OK.

Snails!  Mother tells me that a few weeks ago they were everywhere, on every surface, at every corner.  I only spotted three yesterday, all of them on the gates, oddly.

Next up:  ducks.

(This post was originally published in August 2011 in my old and obscure blog.)

Written by Alexandra

16 September 2012 at 4:11 pm

watched: nikita, s1.

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(Despite tag, this is not a review.  I don’t write reviews.  It’s just my notes.)

Nikita is a story of an ex-agent of a secret division of government, creatively called Division.  She’s escaped its clutches and now works to bring it down. 

If you’re as old as I am, then you’re probably familiar with Nikita the French film and La Femme Nikita the Canadian TV series.  This new show is based on these characters.  Nikita has now gone rogue, has placed a mole inside Division, and methodically undermines every mission she becomes aware of.

Although I could guess many of the twists and turns in the series, it is well written and quite action-packed.  I never really wanted to take a break from watching the show, which is a good sign.

the Positive

1. I really, really like the title character of the show.  Despite unbelievable skillz in nearly all areas, she’s quite… human.  Maggie Q is perfect for the role, too.

2. I don’t know who does the wardrobe for the series, but man, what an epic job.  Such a great mix of femme fatale and utility.  There was also an episode, Coup de Grace, in which Nikita breaks off the heels of her shoes – no fighting on stilettos!  Great point in my book, because, srsly.  There are entire blogs (and a thread on tFS) dedicated to Nikita style, and with great reason.  Had I Maggie Q’s excellent physique, I am sure I would’ve just copied nearly all outfits of hers in full.  (The only reason I don’t mention Lyndsy Fonseca or Melinda Clarke here is because their characters’ style doesn’t correspond as much with my (dream) style.  Both Alex and Amanda look great and are dressed really nicely.  I really wish we could’ve seen more of Jaden as well.)

3. I found Michael annoying for the first 15 episodes or so, but eventually he grew on me.  They started writing him better, thus giving Shane West more to work with.

the So-So

1. I find it hard to relate to Alex.  The girl has gone through unimaginable things, and the least I could do is be sympathetic – but I can’t.

2. I cannot stand Amanda.  I know I’m not supposed to love her, but I should at least find her interesting.  It’s odd, because I love a good female villain (forgive the oxymoron), but Amanda I just want to punch in the face.  Continuously.  Even Percy, despite all of his money-loving, broken people-using, government-overthrowing, two-dimensional self, is more likeable.

And actually, that’s the problem with the series for me.  The bad guys so far are quite two-dimensional.  They’re just that – bad.  No grey areas.

Perhaps I’m just older than the target audience.

3.  Now, my favourite point.  The Russians.  Let’s ignore the entire mafia, sex slavery and oligarchs thing (I could write a dissertation on that), and move on to finer points.

You know, earlier on Hollywood at least tried to match the (no matter how badly) spoken Russian to subtitles.  Nowadays the spoken lines and the English text don’t even match in meaning.

Why Gogol?  Why not Pushkin or Kuprin or Bunin?  Whenever I hear Gogol, the only thing I can picture in my mind is this guy:

— with a machine gun.

The ballet in Covenants was a touch too much Russianness for me.

Nevertheless, I am going to watch the second season, even though the ending of the first one felt a bit… crammed?  But then again, one can do only that much with an episode.

Written by Alexandra

16 September 2012 at 3:52 pm

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read: vertinsky’s quarter of a century without motherland.

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(This is not a book review, even though it’s tagged as such.  I don’t write reviews, rather, short (or long) notes on whatever it is that I’ve read.)

I love reading memoirs.  Diaries, letters, biographies, autobiographies, journals, notes on travels or daily life – I love it all.  When I’ve only started getting into the genre, I lamented the fact that these books are very hard to come by – only to discover over a hundred of them within one month in my family library only.

This was a book that I haven’t found – rather, my mother found it and started reading, and later, when my mother started having problems reading on her own, I read it out loud to her.  We finished it a few days ago.

Alexander Vertinsky is a Russian (later on Soviet) artist – writer, singer, actor, song-writer, poet…  He didn’t live a long life, but it was indeed very interesting.  After the fall of the Russian Empire, he emigrated.  At first to Turkey, later on to Bessarabia, Poland, and eventually France, where he stayed for the majority of his – partially voluntary, partially not – exile from Russia.

I am ashamed to admit that up to this book I’ve never even heard of the guy, even though he’s considered one of the leading masters and founders of the Russian artistic/ variety singing tradition.  Even now, as I type this, I haven’t heard a single song of his or seen him in a role.

The leitmotif of this book is Vertinsky’s love for his motherland.  He misses it dearly all through the years of his emigration, and nearly everyone he meets during his travels misses it as well.  I don’t find it hard to believe at all.  Nearly all other memoirs of Russian Empire expats are filled with the same idea.

This book is a collection of anecdotes (some funny, but most rather sad) of his interactions with artistic expat community from all over Europe.  It was an interesting read, and I discovered many names of artists and performers that I would really like to explore further.  The book seemed abridged at places – and it probably was.  His original notes were probably even edited by him before submitting it for publication.  Though it was published in late 1980s, there were still a lot of things one couldn’t just go and write about.

Another thing that was interesting to me about this book is the representation of Russians in the emigrant community – and the way the target community views the entire Russian nation on the basis of profiles of those who emigrated.  It’s a subject that is very dear to (and difficult for) me, but the more I read, the more I understand form where the general consensus comes.

I don’t think this book is available in English.  The Russian version is listed here on Google Books, but I don’t think one can read it or purchase it anywhere.

Written by Alexandra

16 September 2012 at 3:25 pm