Newsarama has put the whole of Warren Ellis’s Fell, published by Image, up on its website. The preview of this excellent little comic, written by Ellis with art by Ben Templesmith, is a good way to get hooked. The format is just sixteen pages of story, stripped to the bone to tell a tight, self-contained narrative following our hero Richard Fell (a young detective) as he tries to deal with the utter weirdness of his new workplace: the wintery, gloomy town of Snowton.
Today was the first lesson of a new semester, and as always one thing weighed heavily on my mind: the weigh-in. I wasn’t sure if I had managed to drop the extra pounds put on over Christmas, and if not I’d have to starve myself a little more until next week. Fortunately, I was in for a pleasant surprise. My weight was still within the ‘E’ range (55-60 kg), which means I’ll be able to ride Murphy even if they do drop him from F to E again. This is particularly important now that it turns out our group will be kept in this timeslot, but we’ll get four or five junior (below 18) riders added. They’re apparently all fairly young, so probably pretty small and light. If I had weighted in as an F, that might have meant missing out on Murphy more often than not.
This year, Elio and I gave each other the Babylon 5: The Complete Universe box for Christmas, and we’ve spent the last week watching entirely too many episodes a day. We’re almost through the first season already, and I expect we’ll keep going at a brisk pace throughout January. Its really very good television, and this box is pretty darn good value for money.
On 41 disks it contains all five seasons of B5, all of Crusade, and the movies In the Beginning, The Gathering, Thirdspace, River of Souls, A Call to Arms and Legends of the Rangers. This particular box is the Region 2 release, and there isn’t actually a matching set for Region 1, just two separate collections of the five B5 seasons and of the movies (minus Legends of the Rangers) .
Today I had my last extra lesson for the holidays, and again I found myself cheated out of Murphy. The instructor started saying his name, then realized she’d actually put me down for Gamir. Gah. My nerves had mostly recovered since Tuesday, but I still really wanted to ride Murphy. I requested him four times, and only managed to get him once, and that does make me a bit annoyed. Unfortunately, my mood wasn’t improved as I realized that we wouldn’t be having my regular instructor, but rather then senior instructor at the riding school. Don’t know if they changed, or if I got it wrong when I signed up, but that was definitely a surprise I could have done without. Although she’s a highly qualified instructor and and a lot of people like her, I have never been able to ride well for her. Partly because she never seems to understand just how frightened I get in some situations and on some horses, and partly because her style of instruction just doesn’t work for me.
After yesterday’s ... trials, I was feeling decidedly jittery before today’s lesson, and before the horses had been handed out I was very tense and apprehensive. Fortunately, I did get Murphy today, and that immediately settled my nerves. I knew he’d be bomb-proof even if the other horses decided to act up today as well.
Bit overdue, but I am officially knackered after a very long day. You see, I had the brilliant idea of booking two riding lessons the same day, one at 13.30 and one at 18.00, and deciding that I could just as well stay at the stable between the two. Hah. Never again. At least not in fricking December, with a bitingly cold wind chilling me to the bone, and at least not when I have two more lessons (tomorrow and Friday) to go this week.
Among our Christmas presents this year was a copy of Shaman’s Crossing, the first book in Robin Hobb’s new trilogy, Soldier Son. This book marks a departure from the world made familiar by the Farseer and Liveship Trader books, and introduces a brand-new setting which by fantasy standards is relatively "modern", with guns, canons and a strictly traditionalist nation on a path to development and expansion.
The main character (who, like Fitz from the Farseer books, tells the story from a first-person point of view) is Nevare Burvelle, second son of one of the king’s "battle lords"; men raised to nobility for their deeds. As a second son, he is destined to become a soldier, and initially he rarely questions the rigid Gernian belief that one should never question the place in life allotted to oneself by the good god. But slowly doubts start to creep up on him, and he finds himself forced to accept that the simple, straight-forward rules that governed his life as a young boy cannot—and perhaps should not—always be followed.
Shaman’s Crossing starts out a little slow, but I soon found it quite impossible to put down the book (I started it on the eve of the 24th, and finished just a little while ago). Nevare may not be as interesting a character as Fitz as he is, at least initially, a far less troubled young man, but the story he tells soon had me firmly hooked. I wanted to know more about Gernian society, the cavalla Academy and, not the least, the strange, dappled Specks who seem to be seeking a way to repel the Gernian expansion that has already claimed the lifestyle of the once fierce and free plainspeoples. And now that I have finished, I am hoping the next one will be out soon.
Kalle Anka has been watched, tons of delicious food (pickled herring, salmon, ham, meatballs, sausages, ribs, cheeses, etc, etc, etc) has been consumed, a fair amount of candy (chocolate, marzipan, ginger candies, etc) has been gobbled up and there’s still dessert, presents, another round of eating and lots of snacking on candy to go.
For now, however, we’ll settle down for a bit to watch The Fellowship of the Ring as “The Lord of the Rings” movies have become something of a new Christmas tradition for us. God jul (Merry Christmas - yes, we celebrate on the 24th) from Sweden!
No Murphy again today, as I had hoped I would get, but finally getting a chance to ride Sammy again was almost as good. Sammy, or Plain Sam as he’s properly named (his sire, btw, is Diamond Lad, who was a pretty well-known Irish stallion), is another of our Irish gentlemen (and, in contrast to Murphy, he’s actually a real gentleman), and currently the oldest horse in the stable at eighteen. He’s been at the riding school for eleven years and he’s an old favourite of mine, so I am always glad when I get a chance to ride him, as he is usually used for the lower groups these days. Partly because he’s so well-behaved, and partly because he only takes lighter riders due to some old injuries.
I always find it frustrating when I am unable to effectively recommend great books to others because of them being out of print. Such as, for example, Judith Tarr’s brilliant Alamut and The Dagger and the Cross. These prequels to The Hound and the Falcon have been pretty impossible to get a hold off for years, but now Tarr is selling copies of older books of hers via her livejournal. Including hardcovers of the aforementioned titles, which I cannot say enough good stuff about. Oh, and they’ve both got gorgeous covers by Tom Canty.
Over the last few days, I have been more than a little depressed, and today was particularly bad. If I hadn’t had the riding to look forward to, I might just have stayed in bed. Fortunately, I didn’t, and when I got the the stables I was thoroughly cheered up by being told that I’d get to ride Murphy. It couldn’t have happened on a better day, and I did not let his attempts to have my nose off with his teeth deter me even one bit. Especially not since a girl who was new to our group (she usually rides the last class of the day, and was probably only making up for a missed class) commented that she thinks we look so good together whenever she’s seen me ride him.
After finishing what I hope is the almost-final version of my paper, I was (as always after concentrating on some work for a long while) feeling very tired today, but I still dragged myself to the stable. Jumping was on the menu, and I was kind of expecting to get Murphy. But, no. Instead, I ended up getting Gamir, which admittedly isn’t such a bad deal. He’s probably the most well-schooled horse in the stable, and a pretty darn fabulous jumper. There’s just one small problem with him: he hates, and I do mean hates, being saddled.
Its that time of the year again, and we thought we’d compile a little (or not so little, actually) list of reading (and watching) recommendations for the holidays. We’ve included both some recent releases and some older favourites, and we think that most of them are great additions both to your own wish list and to your shopping list.
Today it was, unfortunately, time for a theory lesson. I haven’t been feeling great the last days, so I could have used 45 minutes of horse therapy, but at least I got to be in the stable and say hello to Murphy. Oh, and I did get some good news: there was a cancellation for the jumping lesson during Christmas, so I’m in. That means four lessons in one week between Christmas and New Year, and likely a very sore Linda.