koknishu: spring 1, #5

I think just the act of posting that last translation has made me dislike it.  I’m sending Spring I, #3 back to the drawing board.  Don’t look at it any more.  We’re moving on:

梅がえに
きゐるうぐひす
はるかけて
なけどもいまだ
雪はふりつつ

    the warbler
back in the branches
    of my plum tree,
singing in the spring
even as the snow falls

Japanese poetry often lacks a sense of “speaker”, due in part to the structure of the language itself.  Using “my” inserts a presence not expressly there in the original, but I find it shrinks and personalizes the scope of the poem.  “my plum tree” has a softer, smaller feel than “the plum tree”, pulling the scene of the poem into a familiar back yard, rather than a vague, open space-with-a-plum-tree.  Still not committed to the punctuation here–I played with dashes and different use of commas, even a colon, but nothing stuck, so I went with this one-comma version.

As always, comments and criticisms welcome!

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kokinshu: spring 1, #3

In an effort a higher echelon of dorkdom (Nerdvana?), I have been devoting a portion of my free time to the translation of classical Japanese poetry.  The following tanka–a short poetic form which dominated Japanese culture for quite a long time–is from the Kokinshu, specifically the first book of spring verses.  I do not claim that it is perfect, or even necessarily done, but it is the first one I think I’ve gotten to the point of “decent”.

Here we go:

春霞
たてるやいづこ
みよしのの
よしのの山に
雪はふりつつ

oh where
do the spring mists rise?
here in fair Yoshino,
in the mountains of Yoshino,
snow keeps coming down

I’m still a bit uncomfortable with the “oh where”, it’s a little melodramatic…  Thoughts, comments, and criticisms are welcome.

my fears were completely unfounded

Fifth of February, Two-Thousand and Ten: Rene Engstrom’s beautiful, sad, funny, disturbing web-opus, Anders Loves Maria, has ended.  If you haven’t been reading it, for the love of God, do not jump straight to the end.  Start here (and be aware that it is not safe for work, not safe for kids, not safe to read around your parents–sex, nudity, bad decisions, pain, and heartbreak abound).

Much could be said about Anders Loves Maria.  Much has been said.  All I will add right now is this:  it is a mark of pure artistry that, upon finishing the strip, the simple act of looking back at the title re-contextualizes everything, and makes you want to just cry (more so than you did just a second before).

Kudos, Rene.

tin roof: rusted.

I am not even kidding when I tell you that I am watching this for research for a writing project:

lepidoptera, baby

Guys…  Guys, I’m sorry for being such a blog slacker.  Here’s Jon Stewart and Peter Laufer talking about butterflies:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

… and while we’re on the subject, I’d like to mention a neat book of poetry:  Lost Alphabet by Lisa Olstein.  I haven’t had the chance to pick it up yet, but I heard her read several of the fascinating prose poems–all told from the perspective of a lepidopterist studying specimens in a remote town–a couple years ago, before the book was published, and have been eagerly awaiting it ever since.  The poetry is a wonderful mix of focused, scientific enchantment and stark human isolation.  Here’s a sample, “White Spring“.

(Apologies again for the lack of bloggery, I will endeavour to do better going forth.)

exploded in strange appendages

astray3-1

Just read through the entire archive of a webcomic called Astray3, by Eldon Cowgur–it’s excellent.  It’s the story of a young woman pulled into a fantastic (and often horrific) alternate universe populated by a panoply of monsters.  I know, I know, you’ve heard that one before, but the story is in the telling, and Astray3 is told with relish and care, not to mention talent.

The whole series has a genuine Early Marvel feel to it, from the constant chatter of dialogue, to the rollicking pace, to the never-ending stream of bizarre creatures.  Emily, our heroine, has a real Stan Lee accent, talking herself (and us) through every situation, adapting nonchalantly to her new lifestyle, and spilling our her every thought for all to see.  A lot of people have tried to imitate that classic style, but such attempts usually fall flat, reading as bland parodies or cloying nostalgia pieces–but Cowgur nails it.  The writing is sincere and engaging, holding up better than a lot of those old Marvel stories do, and the art is spot on, fulled to the brim with new and weird in every panel.  

Astray3 seems to keep a solid weekly schedule (I say, having just read it all at once), and I’m hoping it’ll stick around.  Go ahead and check it out, True Believers.

kitty hawk: chapter 2 in review

ch2review

At long last, we’re winding down the second chapter of Kitty Hawk.  I emailed Braden the scripts for the final two issues yesterday, so the end is solidly in sight.  The chapter turned out to be much longer than I expected–or at least, to take much longer to tell.  I had originally planned for it to be a quick, adventure-y episode to break up the larger plots and introduce some elements for later use, but it dragged out in the writing.  Reading it over, it’s not as slow or laborious as it felt in my head while we were putting it together, but the writing process definitely highlighted for me the drawbacks of our weekly micro-issue format.  Updating only once a week is a real hindrance, not only to audience-building, but to plotting and scripting as well.  It’s difficult to retain momentum and immediacy when you only need to be on stage once a week (also it encourages pacing breaks which are not the most sensical in the long run).

I still think there’s potential in the multi-page format, but it doesn’t outweigh the drawbacks of a weekly schedule.  If we’d had the resources to put out two issues a week, it might have been a different story, but four pages is definitely beyond our means right now.  Perhaps there will be more experiments in the future–and perhaps not.

The good news, for those of you who are still reading after all that paragraphy, is that we’ll be embracing a new format when we start chapter three, which will be not only more frequent in its updating, but more friendly for web reading.  At the same time, I plan on making a lot of changes to the plotting and pacing of the strip, making things a little more dynamic and giving the story more forward motion.

We’ll have more details over the next couple weeks, so stay tuned.  Excelsior!