Personally: Observations

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The Secret World

In December my 10+ years old computer was put out to pasture after a very long and impressive run. Elio and I had been planning new computers for ourselves for a year or two, but just not found the right time (or the right build) before then. Now I am finally using a system that doesn’t require me to switch to my laptop on the side to be able to run Second Life or do any graphics work. In fact, it can do quite a bit more as well, since Elio did want a setup that could be used for gaming. For my own part, I wasn’t expecting any beyond Second Life, seeing as the last games I played were The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. Good-old adventure games have always been my only real interest and those are rather far and few between these days. MMOs have never really been on my radar at all. Except, of course, I had read a few things about The Secret World given the connection to TLJ and Dreamfall. And then it just happened to go buy-to-play very shortly after our new computers had arrived…

Cut to a few weeks later and both Elio and I are running around with Rank 10 Templars, slaughtering assorted creatures all over the world and making steady progress with the very exciting main storyline.

Now, it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing to start with. As I noted, I’ve never played an MMO. I’ve barely played any vaguely action-oriented games at all, actually. In fact, I can only think of one, good old Betrayal at Krondor. Given this, the combat element of The Secret World turned out to be a pretty considerable obstacle at first. In fact, it still isn’t easy for me, as I don’t do well under pressure and I’ve found myself pretty sucky at firing at things and moving at the same time. However, playing as a pair has definitely made all the difference, and for the solo instances, I can always call in actual physical help from Elio. I am actually finding most of the combat pretty fun now, whereas at first I saw it as something I had to get through to get to the story. And the story does remain the highlight for me, the thing that keeps my interest firmly hooked and makes me a lot less likely to hit the “what’s the point of all the levelling up?” stage that I hit after about a month of playing MUDs back in 1995. I can’t compare with other MMOs or RPGs since I haven’t played any, but looking at something like TLJ and Dreamfall I think the story is every bit as good. Its epic, its engaging and its smart. If you know myths and legends, you will uncover additional layers to the story, and that sort of intertextual puzzle is always extremely rewarding for me. I was so thrilled when I figured out who the main antagonist during the first story mission actually is that it made me giddy for several days just thinking about it. I was even more thrilled when, during the final confrontation with said antagonist, the game stayed smart and didn’t spell it out for you.

In terms of other aspects of the game, I have no basis for comparison at all, but I am finding the skill and ability system quite interesting. The flexibility can be daunting at first, but then it feels like a lot of fun and not as artificial as having pre-set classes. The combat, fortunately, isn’t too complex, but the variety of weapons and abilities still seems to offer room for quite a few different play styles. For my own part, I like the “hang at the back and lob magic at the enemy from a safe-ish distance” style; it gives more room to deal with my adrenaline. Graphically, I think the world looks pretty awesome, especially Egypt and Transylvania; you get to kill monsters in some stunning vistas there. Coming from Second Life, I do wish I could customize my avatar a lot more—I wouldn’t mind a bit more meat on my virtual bones and hair that brushes the shoulders is NOT long hair on a woman or a man—but obviously some aspects of SLs flexibility are completely impossible in an MMO in order to keep it loading fast enough. Still, I do miss being able to make my avatar look exactly like I want her to. As a result,  I feel I relate less to my avatar than I do to my SL avatar or my purely text-based MUSH characters.

The naming system also stumped me a bit; I love being able to choose both a first name and a last name for your avatar, but then you also have to pick a unique nickname and that one doesn’t allow spaces. I would much rather have seen avatars identified by their first name and last name—you have so many more combinations available that don’t require weird spellings or numbers then—with the option of also adding a unique nickname. I knew right away what first name and last name to use, but I am not a nickname person, so that one had me scrambling. In the end, I just made my avatar “Saga Lind” with the nickname of “SagaLind” and I am not really happy about it. I may actually consider paying to change the nickname if I can come up with something better, though unfortunately you’re stuck with your first name and last name (even though they don’t seem to be used internally to reference your avatar), so I won’t be able to make a full switch if I find another combination of names that I like better with a certain nickname. That’s a bit of nit-picking, but I know I am not the only one who is picky about names.

On the whole, though, we’re having a lot of fun. A bit too much, in fact, but that comes with the territory. These things are made to be addictive.

(As a final aside, this post might have been better suited to Virtually. However, MU*sings was never intended for anything but MUSHing and Otherworldly is all about Second Life. I may have to consider expanding the scope of Otherworldly or, more likely, adding another blog if indeed this particular addiction turns out to be long-term.)

Vulture.com Profile

A touch immodest, perhaps, but when you get profiled by Vulture for your fandom involvement, I suppose a post is in order. Overall, it is pretty accurate too, which one shouldn’t take for granted when being interviewed and quoted.

Picture, btw, taken with our lovely new Canon T4i. It is kind of addictive to have a good camera.

Game of Thrones, an Adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire? Not Any More.

Of all the atrocious decisions taken in the adaptation of the second season—having Joffrey and not Cersei be the one to order the killing of the bastards, having Robb fall for a spunky and socially progressive chick from Volantis, cutting out virtually all of the poignant material between Jon and Qhorin, leaving out virtually all the dark character development from Arya’s arc, to name but a few—the utter travesty that is the show’s version of the House of the Undying takes the cake. In fact, it takes the whole dessert table.

I/we will be writing a longer piece on how poorly handled both Dany and Dany’s whole storyline have been in the second season, contrasting it with the very clear purpose of Qarth in the books, so right now I am just concentrating on the House of the Undying.

Instead of a single one of the visions that Dany actually sees, we get a vision of Khal Drogo. Talk about a cheap-ass publicity stunt to squeeze Jason Momoa back in. Now, it is true that perhaps some of the visions she sees would be too spoilery on TV as opposed to when read, but why not just compensate for that by toning down what is shown? Or going entirely to Dany hearing but not seeing things? I expect that there would be cuts and changes, in particular I expected some of the visuals to disappear. I did not expect them to just throw everything out.

We have, as of yet, not had a single mention of either the Song of Ice and Fire or the Prince that was Promised in the series. What more, not only did they cut out the visions, they cut the whole prophecy. So far, all we have gotten for Dany is an abbreviated version of Mirri Maz Duur’s prophecy.

So, they continue to cut out the past from the story and in addition to that they also cut out most of the prophecies. Both these are very significant elements of the story. Whatever the producers and writers might think, A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t just about battles and boobs.

The past still matters, it enriches and makes the present more poignant. We’ll likely never see Rhaegar now, not to mention Elia. What viewers will care about them? What viewers will care about Rhaegar and Lyanna when they ultimately have to become more important to the story? What viewers will care particularly about the Martells without any establishing of Elia?

The prophecies…well, who can deny their importance? As we see in A Dance with Dragons, even the most obscure ones do come true, just not in ways one might have expected. Magic isn’t just dragons and Others.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a multi-layered and multi-faceted story. That also means that people do read it for different reasons. Some may take in all aspects of the story with near equal enjoyment, others may favour some aspects and dislike others. The mysteries of the past and the prophecies fuel a large amount of the discussion on the forums. They are clearly important aspects for many, many fans. And the show has just ripped them out of the story almost wholesale.

Furious doesn’t come close to describing what I am today. Nor does disappointed.

I had said before the season started that for this season, the only thing I really hoped for was that they would get the House of the Undying right. If not, I would find it hard to continue watching. Since they didn’t even try to get it right, they just threw it in the trash, I have absolutely no interest in watching any more. Unfortunately, we have a lot tied up in the coverage of the show, so I’ll probably have to keep watching to some degree anyway. But I no longer look forward to new episodes because the story has been gutted of what matters the most to me and because I do not expect any of the scenes I truly care about to make it in, at least not without being butchered beyond recognition.

As far as I am concerned, it is no longer an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, it is an mainly an original story in the A Song of Ice and Fire setting. And it isn’t particularly good.

The Nail in the Coffin?

(I had a longer article on this planned and mostly written, but it fell by the wayside due to my increasing annoyance with season 2. But maybe I’ll have to resurrect it given this latest development.)

When the issue of sexposition came up during the first season, I largely defended the show’s usage of sex, except for Littlefinger’s speech while Ros and Aremca were moaning away. It felt as if it could be a fairly reasonable representation of the level of sexual content in the books, if not its precise nature.

With season two, it became more and more obvious that it just doesn’t match up. The only explicit sex is non-romantic sex and it focuses almost exclusively on naked women. In the books, the sex can be messy, awkward, gritty and in other ways explicit even between couples and not just between customers and whores. The books also do not shy away from male nudity, far from it.

On the show, romance seems to put a stop to anything more “dirty” going on; just look at Renly and Loras, for example. Or Shae and Tyrion.

And now we have the Empire Magazine interview with Neil Marshall where he says he was encouraged to go with full-frontal nudity by one of the executive producers. Who also added that he represented the “perv” part of the audience…

I guess that sort of puts the nail in the coffin?

Just one more reason to be deeply disappointed with D & D’s handling of the material.

Purist and Proud

It appears that during the airing of the second season of Game of Thrones, “purist” has become a dirty word. Obviously, since I consider myself to be a purist—and since I am proud to be one—I am not an unbiased observer, but I still find this quite baffling.

Let’s start with the word itself. I think we can probably agree that “purist” describes someone who prefers the adaptation of, for example, a book into a TV show to be as faithful as possible. Of course, each purist out there probably has a different definition of what “as faithful as possible” means. Some purists may feel that “as faithful as possible” comes with the caveat of “budget allowing”, whereas others may insist on “perfection or nothing at all”. Similarly, those using the term in a derogatory fashion probably have different standards for when they apply it. Some may reserve the label for those who are particularly insistent on the show matching the books completely whereas some may label anyone who complains at all about the show as a purist.

For my own part, I consider myself to be a purist within reason. I lamented the size of the tourney in the first season, but I accepted that there are budget constraints. I lamented the lack of purple eyes for the Targaryens, but I accepted that coloured contacts were not a good solution for various reasons. I could give many, many examples of similar changes, cuts, etc that I accept as a necessary part of a TV adaptation. On the other hand, when changes are made that make characters or the story as a whole less challenging and less unique, I am not particularly inclined to accept explanations such as “we wanted to show more of this actor” or “we felt this sequence needed more action”. Cutting and compressing the material that is already there is one thing, adding new things because the existing storylines aren’t deemed commercial enough is something else entirely.

No doubt, this sort of purism is what some people are complaining about. But on what grounds? I see arguments put forward that its ungrateful towards the people involved in the production, as if fans are somehow so indebted to those working on the show that criticism is unacceptable. For me, that is not a point of view I can at all sympathize with.  This show would not have been made at all if it wasn’t for the fans of the books. If the books had not been a success, it would never have gone into development at all. The producers have certainly recognized this in the past and thanked the fans of the books for their support.

They—or anyone else—have no right to expect that support to be unconditional. They have stated in the past that they are aiming for a faithful adaptation and that is the claim that secured the support of many fans. It is absolutely true that some fans may not care much at all about how faithful the show is to the story in the books—indeed, they may even welcome changes as “cool surprises”—but those who feel that way have no right to deny that there’s undoubtedly a significant portion of fans out there who gave their support to the show because the producers said it was going to be faithful.

Faithful is, of course, a subjective term. The producers may still feel that they are being faithful. Many fans may still feel that they are being faithful. But many other fans do feel that at this stage the show is no longer living up to the claim of being a faithful adaptation. Some of them have unreasonable demands, some entirely reasonable. Either way, for other fans to label them “purists” in a derogatory fashion is definitely quite unreasonable. Without the fans, and that certainly includes all the “purist” fans, there likely would never have been a show at all. I am not saying the team behind the show owes fans anything in particular, but this is an undeniable fact: the following of the books is what made the show a possibility. But I prefer to avoid talking in terms of debts. However, since I have seen some argue that the fans are indebted to the team behind the show for giving them the show to watch, I do think that if you insist on talking about debts you have to say that it goes both ways. The fans are certainly no more indebted to the producers or actors or anyone else working on the show than those involved in the show are indebted to those fans.

Now, I expect that even with my stated reservations about talking about debts in the first place, the above paragraph in particular might catch the attention of those trolls out there who have been attacking GRRM for years for the wait between the later books since they have tried to argue in terms of debts. My answer to this is that I am not in any way supporting or considering it reasonable for fans of the show, no matter how purist, to harass any of those involved in the show. If all that the trolls attacking GRRM had been doing was to rip the books apart, that would have been entirely within their rights. But instead they have made and continue to make personal attacks on GRRM. That is unacceptable and the same goes for anyone who is upset about the show. I expect to make a very, very unhappy post when the final episode has aired as I feel that some elements of the second season are a complete and utter travesty that has nothing to do with A Song of Ice and Fire, but I am not going to drag the personal lives or appearance of the producers and writers into the matter. Attack the product all you want, but leave the person or persons behind the product out of it.

There are certainly “purists” out there who have behaved badly by taking their grievances directly to those involved and doing so in a rude fashion, and that is unreasonable. But I am not going to apologise for—and neither should anyone else—simply posting negative opinions—even very harsh negative opinions, as long as they focus on the show itself—in public. We are disappointed, we have a right to be disappointed and we have a right to publicise that disappointment.

It Wasn’t a Puppy After All

I think I’ve finally managed to come up with an adequate comparison to illustrate the depth of my disappointment with the second season of Game of Thrones.

It is a bit like waiting for years for a puppy. You’re eager, you’re nervous, you’re really, really expectant. But you also know it is likely that it won’t be exactly as you have imagined, so you try to keep your expectations realistic.

Then you get your puppy and it is all very exciting. After a while, you start noticing that it is not all fun and games with this puppy; it is a bit hard to train and sometimes you get quite upset because it just isn’t working out. But at the end of your first year with the puppy, you are still very happy because it is a lovely puppy, all considered.

Next year doesn’t start out so well, however. The puppy is being more difficult again. There are some glimmers of hope, though, and you struggle on for those.

Then, the bombshell hits. Your puppy isn’t actually a puppy. It is revealed to be a large rat dressed up in a puppy costume. You can keep trying to pretend it is a puppy, but that will never make it one. If you like rats, you might still be able to make do with the rat, but if you don’t…well, you’re out of luck.

That’s where I am at now with Game of Thrones. I don’t particularly dislike rats, but I am not really fond of them either. And I can’t stop thinking about the puppy.

A Brief Statement

In case anyone wonders why I may still continue watching and reviewing the show as well as providing commentary on Thronecast and in other venues…

If I look just to my own enjoyment and what my personal preference would have been, I would rather have had just one or two faithful seasons that failed to capture the wider audience and ultimately was cancelled pretty quickly than a less faithful show with more mass-appeal. I have no interest in watching mangled characters or new characters, I have no interest in being surprised.

However, since I consider myself both a fan of and a friend to George, I certainly do not begrudge him the success that the continuation of the TV-show means. Furthermore, it will bring more and more fans to the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom and that is a good thing. Based on these two factors, we continue to “support” the show in the sense of covering it our site and participating in other forms of publicity surrounding the show, such as Thronecast.

So, for as long as it is still possible to review the show as an adaptation, we will likely continue to do so. But we won’t be censoring ourselves when we feel that it is not doing justice to the books; I am quite convinced that our reviews—or any even harsher comments on the episodes I might offer outside of them—will not affect the popularity of the show in such a way that we risk causing its early cancellation.

As for Thronecast, I see no problem with us appearing on it as long as they are interested in having us and as long as the show has enough of a connection to the books that we can provide relevant commentary. We are there primarily as experts on A Song of Ice and Fire, often to provide background material that is not covered on the show. We’re not there to cheer on the show’s efforts.

A Battlefield, Is it?

Oh, my site is a “battlefield” now, is it? Well, we don’t want any miserable, delusional feminazis trampling all over it, so if you think to stir up any shit, rest assured that I’ll bring the battle to you. See, now I know exactly who you are, Winterfox. You ran away from LJ, how sad. I so enjoyed ripping you to shreds there for being the cunt you are.

But hey, in the words of Bronn, “There’s no cure for being a cunt.” True enough, there’s no sorting you out. You are a rabid, man-hating crazy bitch. Actually, you’re a rabid, woman-hating crazy bitch too, towards any woman who doesn’t join your feminazi ranks. There’s plenty of evidence of you attacking female writers and female fans who happen to write or read or say things that don’t fit into your “program”.

Now, how about you crawl back under that bridge or into that dank, dark cave and stay there, like a good little troll.

Selective Reading Comprehension

I continue to be amazed at the willful blindness and selective reading comprehension that plagues people that otherwise appear fairly capable of producing and interpreting texts. Take this LJ post that presents itself as oh so thoughtful and quotes the following piece from a post of mine:

“You can’t come from a largely female community into a community where the majority of posters are male and expect the same mode of expression to be welcome.”

Taken together with the fact that we decided to close down the so-called “SanSan” threads, the conclusion this poster makes is that female fans are not welcome at our forums. Oh, and of course she also complains about the moderation against misogynistic comments. Yawn. But still, lets look at each issue.

We’ll start with “SanSan”. It is absolutely true that we do not consider speculation as such to fall under fanfiction. However, the speculation in these threads continued to move past certain limits and into more and more elaborate scenarios. We would not mind being able to allow discussion of the “SanSan” subplot, but not when the threads have to continuously be moderated. For one thing, it takes away moderator time and attention from other things…

...such as curbing rude posters, for example. Since this person does not have access to our moderator section of the forum, she has no idea how much work goes into keeping a reasonable tone on such a large forum. There’s plenty of deleted posts every day, for all sorts of reasons. Plenty of people warned and banned, too. Attacking other posters is not allowed. Wishing explicit evils on characters is not allowed. However, it is wrong to single out misogyny. I see no difference between posting that you think such and such a male character should be tortured and posting that you think such and such a female character should be raped. Its equally bad. On the other hand, saying that you hope such and such a character will die or that they will pay for what they’ve done before the end of the series is generally reasonable. The books elicit strong opinions because they are good books. The characters elicit strong opinions because they are well-realized characters.

Finally, going back to the quote from my post that the person seems so offended by. That is a serious case of selective reading comprehension. How can you not see that different communities on the Internet have different “cultures”? And, yes, some cultures are predominantly male and some are predominantly female and that does affect the tone and content of the discourse. Lets say someone who is used to posting on Tumblr wants to start posting on our forum. They cannot post images as they are used to. That is a mode of expression that is not welcome. Is that wrong? No, of course not. We also discourage short posts and one-line responses. That is also a mode of expression that (for the most part) is not welcome. Other platforms are better suited to it, quite simply. To some degree, it can be the same with shipping. They’re not part of the forum culture and yes, this is probably in large parts due to the forum slanting towards more male than female posters.

That does not mean we do not want female posters. But some types of discussions simply do not fit in.

(I am, btw, quite sure that there are more than a few male fans out there who feel we do not want male posters based on their posts having been deleted and/or their accounts banned for some of the things this LJ posts complains about, such as wishing various unpleasant fates on certain characters. That does not mean I am comparing shipping threads with threads containing explicit misogony OR misandry, but ultimately they both fall outside of the desired forum culture, albeit for very different reasons.)

 

Ugh

This? Ugh, bullshit.

No surprise either, given the comments I got from the same source when commenting on Game of Thrones. People have a right to be disappointed in something, whatever it is, and to express those disappointments.That’s an awfully high horse someone is up on and its looking ridiculous from here.

As for the particular analogy the comment linked to concerns? There’s nothing fucking wrong with it. Calling it creepy, stalkerish or bringing out that favourite complaint about “slut shaming” is just ridiculous.

Opinions

I really don’t care that there are groups of whiners out there who dislike how Elio and I run our websites, our game or anything along those lines. Are there things we could do better? Always. But I sincerely doubt any of the things we consider “better” would please any of the whiners. So, they’re irrelevant.

What does bug me from time to time, however, is the way people lump different parts of the site together. For example, saying that “westeros.org hates characters X, Y and Z”. Really? Because, the way I see it, “westeros.org” is myself and Elio and refers to the main site, westeros.org/www.westeros.org.  Nothing is posted on that site that we didn’t write or directly approve, except for the Facebook comments. Good luck finding any posts from us ranting about Daenerys (my favourite character) or Catelyn (Elio’s favourite character).

Of course, it is absolutely true that there are two subdomains on westeros.org that contain a lot of material that we did not write or indeed directly approve. There’s the wiki, awoiaf.westeros.org, and there’s the forum, asoiaf.westeros.org. The wiki is facts, not opinions, so good luck finding any rants there. So, it all comes down to the forum, which has over 30,000 total members. You’ll find a lot of opinions there. We don’t control those opinions, except when they cross certain lines (and disallowing people from saying they hate a character would be a touch draconian). But neither are those opinions “westeros.org”. They are the opinions of some members of “asoiaf.westeros.org” or “the westeros forums”.

Some opinions are widely supported, some not so widely. Some we agree with, some not. The forum isn’t a monolith with the sole purpose of advocating certain opinions. There’s no agenda, hidden or otherwise.

Community Spirit?

Internet communities, sometimes the ultimate in us vs them. From WORA to “Is Winter Coming?” to ONTD and its tumblr cliques, the similarities are interesting. Some of these communities are more directly aimed at ranting about something and/or making fun of something. Some do it more as a hobby on the side. In fact, there’s even an example of it on the ASoIaF forums in the long-running thread of Goodkind jokes.

I don’t get this, myself. Yes, there are things I will laugh at and point fingers at. But its usually jokes I share with someone in RL, not something I post on the Internet where, eventually, it may get back to the person (or other community) being singled out. Doing that sort of thing as part of a group is inexcusable. What I will do on the Internet, on the other hand, is to happily and with much enjoyment say FUCK YOU to anyone who thinks I make a good target.

Most people just put up with it, but I’ve never put up with bullying and that is exactly what it is. I just love seeing how it always follows the same patterns with these groups. If you fire back when you’re being laughed at or vilified, you’re quickly turned into Group Enemy #1 and the group acts like sharks when there’s blood in the water. They go all out to try and prove that its not worth it to try and interfere with their fun or make the point that they are the ones in the wrong. Effectively, they try to silence you, because the group is always right. Most of the time, they no doubt succeed. Not with me, though.

Ah well. Internet-anonymity has some legitimate uses, I won’t deny that, but for the most part people just treat it as a license to be assholes and turn into lynch mobs.

Then and Now

I was passing a bit of time in front of the TV tonight, and ended up watching parts of Henrik Schyffert’s “The 90’s - Ett försvarstal”. It wouldn’t, I imagine, mean much or make much sense to anyone who isn’t Swedish, though what it made me realize was that while I miss the 80’s, I missed the 90’s.

For the first five years of the 90’s, I was so busy clinging onto the 80’s with all my might that I didn’t pay what was going on at the time much attention. Then, in 1995, I moved to the Internet…which has resulted in me still feeling as if the 80’s ended rather recently.

Of course, being Swedish, I am an expert at nostalgia anyway, especially during the summer and in total disregard of the fact that its apparently very unfashionable today (or so it was claimed during the show). But I wouldn’t know much about that, because despite a very connected lifestyle in terms of the Internet, I can’t say I am very connected to here and now otherwise.

Though, we are going to a concert in June, but given that it is the Pet Shop Boys I am not sure it disproves anything about the whole “stuck in the past” thing. ;)

More Skating Stuff

Whew, the Men’s final turned out to be a very exciting affair. A lot of nerves meant less than perfect skates by most of the top 6 guys, but some of the ones further down with nothing to lose really did fabulously. Just like in the Europeans, the second-ranked of the two Swedes, Adrian Schultheiss, did better in the Long program than our number one, Kristoffer Berntsson, and placed one spot ahead of him in the final ranking. It looked like they would end up 14th and 15th, which would have meant just one skater next year in the Worlds, but then one of the favourites, Tomas Verner, fell through entirely and ended up below them. And 13th and 14th is enough for two skaters next year.

Two real surprises were Sergei Voronov and Kevin van der Perren. Voronov had done really badly in the Short, but he’s got a lot of talent and showed it all in his Free program. He placed 4th today, which in total moved him up from 15th to 7th. Pretty darn amazing, and Russia gets two skaters next year. Big yay. And Kevin van der Perren, well, he jumped amazingly. And so did Brian Joubert, who really went out there fully determined to make up for his mistakes yesterday. Amazing program, and he finished with a roar (and with a kiss for the ice, heh). I so hoped he’d take the gold again, but the last man out, leader Jeffrey Buttle, held it together. He didn’t seem to have any nerves at all, and his win was in the end with a comfortable margin.

I suppose its really nice to see Canada get a gold again, though as I said in the last post, I really wanted it to go to Europe. Buttle is also a bit of a ... bland skater. Good technique, but not a stellar jumper or a stellar performer. For soft and artistic, he can’t touch Stephane Lambiel (or really, the much improved Johnny Weir, who came in third), and for powerful and explosive, he can’t touch Joubert (who really worked on selling his program today). But still, well deserved on the day. Now I expect I will spend the evening searching for figure skating videos on Youtube. ;P

Henna

A number of years ago, I noticed that I had inherited an unwelcome family trait; early greying. I’ve always hated the idea of using haircolour, so at first I was determined not to do anything about it. That didn’t last long, however. ;P But there was no way I was going to use synthetic haircolour after reading up on them. So, I looked into henna. Red is nice, after all. ;)

However, finding accurate information about henna, not to mention good quality henna, was not easy. Eventually, however, I came across the fabulous Henna for Hair site, run by Catherine Cartwright Jones, a henna expert with long experience and academic credentials. She sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did.

Now Catherine has put together a stunning Henna bible as a free pdf download. The Henna for Hair “"How To" guide includes tons of information about what henna is and what sort of results you can get with it. It also explains how you can use additional natural dyes, such as indigo, to get brown or black instead of just red. Though Elio says he’s not sure why anyone would want that. ;)