Choreography in Battle

Men like to fight, scrap around and have a little horse-play in general. Most of it is fairly harmless. Like other large predators they have the instinct to not injure each other too badly unless it’s over something really important. Last night I watched a group of men fighting (on TV). They wore cardboard, used cardboard battle gear, it was kind of funny to watch them go at each other with plain brown cardboard boxes. They call it Box Wars.

Box Wars begin in Australia. The local Toronto chapter here in Ontario are the men I saw on TV. I’m sending the link to my 14 year old nephew. Not just because it looks like fun for himself and a group of his friends, but because I’d like to see him get into the engineering and planning of building equipment and battle gear out of cardboard. It will take some thought to figure out how to make the cardboard work, how to build effective fighting gear that doesn’t just fall apart.

What else would be interesting as material for men to slam each other with, something that isn’t likely to hurt them, too much? Could you write about a battle with this material or the cardboard as above? Have you ever written a battle scene. It takes some choreography to keep track of the arms and legs, not unlike a sex scene.

1,000 Comments Challenge

Can you leave 1,000 comments this month? Though the button says leave me comments it is actually myself who will be leaving the comments, 1,000 of them over the month of March.

Sign up on the blog, Harriet and Friends.

The only downside is keeping track of how many comments you make. If you know of a way to track them leave a note in the comments here. I can’t think of anything at the moment, other than the old fashioned taking a tally as you go along. I spent the day (a lot of it) looking for some kind of plugin or widget to track/ tally comments. But nothing was what I wanted. A couple that would have been good, did not work when I tried them out. So I am doing it by keeping tally on a piece of paper, hoping I don’t lose that in the clutter on my desk.

Happy commenting. Thank you to all those who come through to comment here as well.

Your Romantic Relationship Personal Best?

Your ideal romantic relationship is peaceful, romantic, and private.

This came up as a result from a quiz on It’s probably right. I do want something close, personal and cuddly. Not that I am all cuddly all the time. But, that is all a part of being close in mind and in body. Spirit too but that could be asking too much, besides I’m not looking for a complete clone of myself. Still, I’d never stay in a relationship where there was a lot of discord (with himself or his family/ friends).

How would you sum up your own romantic relationship personal best in just three words?

Happiness Lies in Wait

Happiness lies ahead. – Found in my fortune cookie.

Taken at face value that sounds simple enough, nice enough. But, if you think about it a bit more, doesn’t it sound kind of evil and threatening. Happiness lurks… waiting to jump out and get you. What kind of happiness is it? Also, the fortune doesn’t say I will be happy, just that happiness lies ahead. It could be that I make someone else happy when they laugh as I fall off the sidewalk into the path of a moving bus. Real friends don’t laugh when you get hit by a bus, but other people might.

Write about “Happiness lies ahead” how that is really such an ominous fortune disguised as something light and fluffy.

Have You Disabled Comments?

This topic (choosing to disable comments on your blog) came up on CMF forums from Ben Barden.

I blogged without allowing comments for a couple of years. I was just writing for myself. The blog was just for me to journal, create backgrounds and play with code. I knew I had some readers, some of them I knew from other places online. Most of them were from a couple of network sites which I wrote for at the time. I finally allowed comments when a couple of friends asked me to. (It was easier for them to jump in with a note rather than go back to the other site and leave a note there).

Disabling comments does not seem a big deal to me. Not because I don’t get flooded with them but because it is kind of nice to be blogging in silence sometimes. Peaceful to just hear your own thoughts and really, totally just write and create to please yourself, no pressure about what some anonymous reader thinks. Even though it is there for others to read you don’t have to trim your thoughts to please them or consider what they will think if you suddenly decide to indulge in a grand pity party for yourself. I could have made it a private blog but posting for anonymous readers (who may or may not read it) suited me in some odd way. Like talking to a stranger I guess.

I think of comments as an outlet for readers. If I post a contact link I don’t think comments are a necessity. Comments have become a trend. There were blogs before there were comments. There are blogs that restrict comments with so much verification that the comments may as well be turned off. I’m only going to jump through one hoop before I decide not to leave a comment. So, in that case, are the comments not turned off just as much as the person who actually does turn them off?

Sock Matching

Whenever I visit my sister I end up doing housework. She has three kids and a career, I just have me. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of housework so I get the kids to help with it as much as I can. Sock matching is one thing they can do, though it does take time and patience to get them to stick with it.

I bring out the bag of socks without partners and dump it on the table. Then sit them down and let them go to it. I make it a game. Telling them the socks are lonely and need their friends. (The little girls are 4 and 6 so this works well for them). I’m usually doing something else while they match socks. But I could take a break, sit down with them, and give them a story about socks alone in the world, looking for their match. It would be goofy cause I like to hear them laugh.

How would your story of sock matching go? Would it be funny or tragic and dramatic?

Organize Grrl Zine Workshops

Have you ever wanted to create your own small publication, in print? Whether you think of them as fanzines, zines or ezines (which are not in print) the ideas for holding a zine workshop are great for getting together with a group and trying to create something of your own on paper.

From GrrlZines and GZAGG originally:

Forming and organizing the group and workshops:

+ Find other like-minded zinesters in your city (via word-of-mouth, the library, co-ops, zines at book and record stores, music venues, and the Internet). It is best if you have enough members so that you can rotate in providing workshops (we like to have at least 2-3 at each workshop)

+Organize your workshop tools. We always bring: A typewriter, scissors (more than one pair), glue sticks, pens (ball point and sharpie), blank paper, a stapler (a saddle stapler is best), and a scrap box with a variety of newspapers, magazines, clip art, rub-on letters, decorative paper, string, and other bits that can be used in making a zine. You can ask for donations, or “borrow” stuff from work.

+ Identify organizations interested in zine workshops such as youth, women’s and LGBT centers, feminist organizations, high schools, girls clubs, festivals, bookstores etc.

+ Present your idea about doing a zine workshop at the selected venue. Asking your friends is often a good way to get started. Ask if the venue can provide some compensation or contribution of materials, and if it can provide a photocopy machine or free copies.

+ When arranging for a space for the workshop make sure it has enough tables and chairs, and that it allows cut and paste activities.

+ Decide on a time frame for the workshop. We usually allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the workshop itself and another hour for copying and stapling the workshop zine.

+ If the workshop is open to the public (and not only for a specific group), make flyers and distribute them widely in the community and among your friends. Make use of activist email lists and website in your community too. You should probably keep the number of participants under 20.

The workshop itself:

+ First we introduce ourselves and our zines. Next we talk about the definition of a zine, zine history, the current “zine scene,” our experience making and distributing zines, and the basics of how to make and distribute zines. We always have resource guides available (a zine itself) that repeat this material.

+ Most of our workshops consist of making a zine in which each participant contributes one page. We make digest-sized zines, which are letter-size paper folded in two (so that each page is 4.25” wide by 5.5” tall). We suggest you have them draw a border approximately one-half inch around their page as a guide, so that their work doesn’t get cut off when copied.

+ Be sure to point out that color can be tricky when making black-and-white copies (red becomes black, for example), and encourage image-making that will copy well. Discourage pages with a majority of solid black as this tends to create paper jams when copied.

+ Then it’s DIY time! It’s important to allot the majority of the time for them to work on their page. It can take some folks a while to get comfortable, and some do multiple versions. While they’re working on their pages, the organizers can make a cover, an ad a page for your group (and for any upcoming events – a good way to balance out the number of pages if you need to) and a contributors page. Have them sign the contributor’s page when they turn in their page, and allow them to identify themselves as they wish, but do suggest email addresses if they wish to keep in contact with your or other workshop participants.

+ Assemble the master copy of the zine as pages are submitted to demonstrate how this is done. They will give you a half-sheet of paper, which you will then glue onto a creased full sheet of paper. Do consider the order of pages when you do this, and try to juxtapose contributions in an interesting manner.

+ Before the workshop ends ask the participants to sign up for a mailing list if they want to be informed about future events. Consider using this mailing list to elicit feedback on the workshop too.

+ Remember that you may not have a copy machine immediately available, in which case you will need to make arrangements for getting the zines to the workshop participants. If your workshop is part of a conference or festival, try to schedule it early in the day so that you can arrange a pick-up point for them later. You may need to provide envelopes for mailing, in which case it’s a good idea to ask for postage costs from either the participant or the organization sponsoring the workshop. Sometimes it works out for participants to go with you to make copies, in which case they can learn about copy techniques and get their zines right away.

+ When copying a zine with lots of images, select the ‘photo’ button on the copy machine for best quality of gray tones.

+ To staple the zine it’s easiest to use a saddle stapler (one designed to reach in to the center of paper). If you need to use a regular stapler: make a pile of newspaper, open the zine face down on top of it, open the stapler and staple down through the zine’s spine, then manually fold down the ends of the staples.

Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go – is an all-women workshop group based in Southern California. Since 2002 we have been facilitating workshops in community venues and college campuses in our region. We focus on the empowerment of young women through the production of fanzines and self published works.

The L Word in Letter Form

I just sent a love letter to my nephew. He is 13, taller than I am and full of muscles from sports he has been doing. So strange to think of him as a young man versus the little towheaded boy I looked after. He is being bugged by his parents and Grandmother and family friends about what he will do this summer. I remember how much I hated that when I was his age, endless nagging and nitpicking. I still hate it actually.

So I wrote him a love letter and sent it to him in email this afternoon. Just a bit about how great it is to see him becoming a man and watch him growing up and making decisions. On and on and on in that kind of way. Of couse the L word was dropped into the mix, twice I think. I mean it all and yet I dared not read it back to myself cause I’d start feeling sappy and have tears trickling down my face. Getting emotional is sometimes silly.

Anyway, write your own love letter to a young person in your family. Pick one out of the tree from some branch or other if you don’t have a young person in the immediate family. Get mushy, give them some sincere goo about life and changes and being a good person. It never hurts to tell someone the L word, even if you can’t actually say it in person.

A Writing Group for You?

I’m not especially a group person. Too much of a loner and I like to do things my own way which is not always conventional or sensible to everyone. Sometimes it only makes sense to me and sometimes I turn out to be wrong, really wrong even. But, that’s getting sidetracked. I’ve begun looking at writing groups for myself.

Generally they fall into two groups, those which are genre specific and those which are location specific. Chances are you won’t find a group which is in your geographic area and caters to your writing genre, in the same group. (Unless you live in a large city).  If you look for your genre it is likely to be an online group. This has good and bad points, of course. A local group will meet in person on a schedule but you may find little support and information for your genre. Don’t get discouraged, the main thing you are looking for in a group is support after all. If you can find that online or in person that is the best thing.

Do make sure the group has a set goal in mind and does keep to it. A group for coffee and conversation is nice but you need more than socializing. If you want a review/ critique of your work find out what the rules are for both writers and readers and beware of handing out your work and not getting it back or having it copied. What do they have set up and are you feeling ok to trust others with your work in progress?

Overall, stick to getting support and information. Whatever helps you to stick with your writing goals and make you feel you are on the right track. A writing group is especially good for those who don’t have support from family and friends.

To get you started, I used to maintain this Dmoz category with writing groups and organizations. I no longer maintain it but it is still a good start point.

Elemental and Seasonal Only

A snow village with snow people appears on your front lawn. It’s really odd cause there hasn’t been enough snow to make all that, not anything close to it. Someone would have had to ship in truck loads of snow for all of that to be built.

Odder still, all those snow people are alive! When they notice you looking out your window at them they begin to wave at you. You wave back in a feeble, stunned sort of way.

Over the winter you get to know the snow people and spend a lot of time enjoying the winter season in that snow village. It’s awful when it all begins to melt once Spring starts. You can’t think of any way to save all your new friends. They tell you not to worry and just ask you to bring out your camera to take their photo. In that way they can be preserved forever.

Still you feel miserable watching them all melt away to nothing but puddles of water. Sure it’s great for your grass to be so well watered but you can’t see it as just water. One day a huge truck arrives with a load of magical water and a tank full of magical water people who live in sandcastles at the bottom of the tank. They all smile and wave and seem very friendly but are you really ready to develop more friendships with magical people who only live for a season? Would you be better to protect yourself or overlook the sadness and keep your heart open to new people and adventures?

Think fast, the water kids are going to keep splashing you until you decide.