graculus: (Default)
Finally got around to see Spider-Man: Homecoming yesterday - my cinema-going tends to be Mondays and Tuesdays, because the local cinema has a money-off scheme those days, even if it means I often end up in almost-empty screens in the middle of the day. Desperately hoping at the moment that Atomic Blonde is still going to be showing when I get back, as it opens this weekend and I'm going away.

Anyway, back to your friendly neighbourhood wallcrawler. I'd gone into this movie knowing that it wasn't yet another origin story (yay for that, because who doesn't know how Spider-Man got his powers by now?) but also concerned at the amount of RDJ the posters and trailers suggested. Anyway, in general terms I enjoyed it and it just about managed not to be an Iron Man movie instead, but it was close at times.

One of the things I really liked was that the main villain character was wearing an outfit that was clearly a reference to the costume he wears in the comics I remember reading when I was a teenager. Is it ironic that Michael Keaton has gone from being Batman to a supervillain and actually does the latter much more convincingly? Not that Batman isn't mostly just one or two steps away from that anyway, I guess...

We also almost got high school aged actors playing high school students - this is Hollywood high school, so they were 20-21 (except for one actress who's 27 and pretty much looks it imho). I always think it's funny because, through the fencing club, I spend a bit of time with teenage lads in particular and the vast majority do not look anything like Hollywood high school.

I think it also makes it comfortably into my MCU top 5 (pending, of course, the arrival of Black Panther next year):

1. Captain America: Winter Soldier
2. Iron Man 3
3. Captain America: The First Avenger
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
5. Thor

So, how about you folks? Anyone else seen it? What's your MCU top 5?
graculus: (Default)
Apologies to anyone who followed me expecting fannish stuff - it'll happen, as sure as eggs is eggs, but at the moment I just seem to have more to say about fencing than anything else. *shrugs*

The pointy end goes in your opponent... )
graculus: (coffee)
Anyway, today was competition day and I came last.

At the time it was quite frustrating to see how much better than me the other folks were, and it was definitely that, embarrassingly so at times, though I guess I should have realised something was up when people arriving for the 'nice little competition' I was promised started putting on breeches with the fencing world's equivalent of go-faster stripes and stuff with GBR on the back!

Now I'm home, I can see that three of the people I fenced were in the UK top 20 for that weapon and their age-group - one of them is the no 1 in the country at the moment. Unfortunately, she wasn't the one who handed me my arse in the elimination fight, but that's a minor detail in the greater scheme of things.

Anyway, I now think it's quite funny - I definitely hope I do better when I fight my first epee competition in a couple of months.
graculus: (coffee)
Next weekend I've got my first proper competition and I'm starting to get the jitters a little. First as in 'not just our club' and 'not just for beginners', this is anyone can enter and I could therefore get my arse kicked from one end of the competition to the other.

The frustrating thing is that fencing = learning a new skill as an adult, a new physical skill at that - it's definitely harder than I remember it ever being when I was younger and also much more frustrating at times. It's not so much a learning curve as a learning rollercoaster, one that doubles back on itself like crazy too, if I can stretch the metaphor. Usually we don't learn new physical skills past our teenage years, early twenties at least, and maybe I'd forgotten what a pain it is?

I've had a couple of sessions in recent weeks at the club where I was distinctly mediocre (that feels like a kind assessment) for no apparent reason - losing badly to folks who usually beat me, it has to be said, but against whom I pretty regularly get at least a handful of hits and who I occasionally frighten a little. Those kind of fights make me feel like I'm actually making progress and that all the effort I've put in hasn't been completely wasted. It's massively frustrating to be utterly unable to do what I know I should/can do because it's got to be me - meanwhile, in my head I know that next week I'll probably be better again but that doesn't stop me from feeling like crap about it, compounded by the fact that it's the wrong time of the month for anything to go awry.

There is, of course, no way out but through. I could really do with not coming last next weekend, though. ;)
graculus: (oh please)
There's a bit of an ongoing debate in my line of work about what you need to be able to do to teach English to people where it's not their first language - some people seem to think that it's enough that you're a native speaker as if that magically gives you the ability to help other people learn it as well. Short version: it's not. Alongside this, there's the whole 'can't it all just be done by well-meaning volunteers?' argument which makes me break out in hives. As if our learners don't deserve properly-qualified teachers who know what they're doing and are paid to do the job, just because the qualification they're doing is tailored for them and not folks who were born here.

We just got some funding to run courses for people who're not otherwise eligible to access our classes (for example, we only have a very small pot of money for asylum seekers to get access to classes each year, so when it's gone that's it) and it's to support volunteers teaching them. See previous argument and why I won't be applying for the temporary secondment to run that project, because I probably couldn't keep my mouth shut about how I feel. The question is, I guess, whether it's better for folks to have something rather than nothing?

I was asked a couple of weeks back if I wouldn't mind one of the volunteers coming to spend the morning with a class I'm teaching, which I happily agreed to. It's useful for us as teachers to see other people doing stuff differently and I have no problem with someone coming in, but then the guy in question turned out to be the absolute epitome of white hipster nonsense. I had my learners asking him questions so they could practice on him and he wants to teach 'poor children in India' but hasn't really got his head around all this grammar stuff. Ugh. Get away with your white saviour BS, 'poor children in India' deserve better than you too. Thanks too for reinforcing my previous decision.
graculus: (Default)
Well, my neighbours anyway. 8 days ago, I came home from work to be greeted by the sight of one of my neighbours approximately 10 feet up their tree with a chainsaw. It's their tree, completely in their garden except for the branches that hang over into mine, so they can pretty much do what they want with it since it's not protected or anything.

We then had a brief discussion about what I should do, or let them do, in relation to any branches that ended up in my garden as a result and that was it. Apparently it blocks too much light from their kitchen so now I also have a semi-Mediterranean garden as well and will have to see what effect it has on some of the stuff I planted which was quite happy with the amount of shade there was.

Likewise, who knows when the remaining third of a tree is going to get a chainsaw taken to it? He must have started mid-afternoon and then stopped after a couple of hours, which makes little sense to me since the job is only part-done. It's true we've had a couple of wet days since then - chainsaws and water don't really mix well - I'd kind of expected the rest of the massacre would happen sooner rather than later, though to be perfectly honest I'd rather they got up to chainsaw-related shenanigans when I'm out of the house.

I have college work to get finished this weekend, so what's the bet we'll hear the revving of chainsaws at an inconvenient time tomorrow?
graculus: (Default)
I don't know if it's just me, so here goes:

A certain fandom-notorious author has been the subject of apparent threats of physical violence at an upcoming con, with a bit of shit-posting on Twitter about how folks planned to gang up on her in the bathroom. Anyway, other well-known authors flock to her defence, posts are made telling Twitter support to delete the accounts, and so on (as you'd expect).

Now maybe I've been in fandom too long and seen too many things to take everything immediately at face value. You see, I remember the girl in SG-1 fandom who tried to tell people she'd lost family in 9/11 and then maybe she had cancer too, I don't recall the exact details.

Maybe it's genuine and we certainly know there are enough stupid folks out there on the interwebs but did anyone else think 'uh oh, could it be sockpuppetry?' or was that just me?
graculus: (Default)
A few entries ago, I mentioned someone who's recently joined our fencing club and thinks he's the dog's bollocks but who had already started to annoy me because of that and the way he has of butting in on other people's conversations. I'd already decided he was a bit of an arsehole and last night he confirmed that decision, so my arsehole-detecting powers are still good.

There tends to be a bit of an overlap between us older beginners arriving and the end of the junior lessons, so there's often a bit of chat while we wait for the whirlwind of small children divesting themselves of fencing kit to subside enough for us to get into the hall without being mown down. Somehow the conversation between me and S got onto martial arts movies and he made a comment about how he liked Chinese martial arts better because Japanese ones were for [insert homophobic slur here]. It's been longer than S has been alive since I've tolerated that kind of comment and I bluntly told him I didn't want to hear that kind of language.

Naturally, he then doubles down (because what young white guy likes to be told anything?) and starts going on about how it's just 'banter'. Which I then promptly told him was just so much bullshit, that he needed to not make assumptions about the people around him or that anyone around us agreed with him and his comments and that the concept of 'banter' was just about trying to get away with being offensive with no consequences. Equally naturally, the whole 'oh, I'm not PC' came in there, which I informed him was just shorthand for 'I don't care about other people and their feelings so long as I can say what I want'.

Gah. That whole 'oh, it's just banter' is just so much crap. That was probably the worst response he could have made, though I doubt he's got sufficient insight to see anything beyond how much he loves himself.
graculus: (Default)
We're almost at the stage of finalising my classes for September - it always seems a little odd to be thinking that I'll know my routine through to well past this time next year that far in advance, but it's the only way to do it, so there we are. From preliminary discussions, it's looking very much like a re-run of this year, two weekday mornings, two weekday afternoons and a Saturday morning class but less of them so I can enter some fencing competitions and have room to manoeuvre dates as required.

I'm starting to get disorganised in my head, because we're really on the home stretch now and I can almost taste the end of term. One more week and then it's half term and, at the moment, I don't have as many commitments in terms of invigilation as usual - I'm not quite so stretched for money and am teaching more hour, so I didn't offer as much availability as usual. At the moment I only have 3 exams for the actual half term week where previously I've worked all day pretty much every day, but I also have a bunch of stuff I need to get finished for my college course so there's plenty of reasons why I'm not so worried about that.

I also just picked up another, short-term, class through to mid-July but that's relatively stress-free as I've been given the okay to do without exams and it's easy for me to just re-use material I already have for a new audience. It's also extra money on top of my existing hours, so that's nice and will go a good way to paying for my expensive Finland trip. Of course, I made that trip (hello, WorldCon!) more expensive than it needed to be by adding on a hiking expedition beforehand and some time in Turku too, but I figure I may well never visit again so why not?

The only problem is that I also made the mistake of watching a documentary series about the Hebrides so now I want to go back and am wondering if I can squeeze a week in Scotland in there too before I start work again in September, though I may have to skip a potential competition to do it. I need to have a look at the dates and figure it out.
graculus: (Default)
Okay, so I was curious...

I have 88 stories on AO3 at the time of writing, with a grand total of 662,705 words. Guess those novel-length stories really help, huh? At the moment it works out at 27 in Magnificent Seven, 22 in the TV version of UNCLE, 18 in Stargate SG-1, 12 in the movie version of UNCLE and 9 in Wild Wild West.

Top 5 stories by hits:
1. More Than Meets the Eye - 5155, Man from UNCLE movie
2. Larger Than Life - 5129, Man from UNCLE movie
3. The Games Agents Play - 3096, Man from UNCLE movie
4. Modus Vivendi - 2945, Man from UNCLE movie
5. Exigent Circumstances - 2187, Man from UNCLE movie

Yep, I see a bit of a trend here, a short-lived flush of interest in a particular fandom just as people were wanting to read it, on trend for once! My first Magnificent Seven fic appears at number 7 on the list, the first fic for the TV version of UNCLE crops up at number 8. The big jump for hits for the first two is also probably affected by my posting them as WiP.

Top 5 stories by kudos:
1. Larger Than Life - 355, Man from UNCLE movie
2. More Than Meets the Eye - 245, Man from UNCLE movie
3. Vitality - 144, Man from UNCLE movie
4. Togetherness - 117, Man from UNCLE movie
5. Modus Vivendi - 117, Man from UNCLE movie

Another strong showing for a certain fandom. I'm quite pleased to see Vitality and Togetherness cropping up on there, because you kind of expect longer fic to get kudos more?

Top 5 stories by bookmarks:
1. Larger Than Life - 99, Man from UNCLE movie
2. More Than Meets the Eye - 49, Man from UNCLE movie
3. Obligations - 30, Magnificent Seven
4. Modus Vivendi - 27, Man from UNCLE movie
=5. Exigent Circumstances - 25, Man from UNCLE movie
=5. Three's (Not Always) A Crowd - 25, Man from UNCLE movie

Yay, a fic from another fandom finally makes it onto the list, as does my ridiculous threesome-of-convenience fic, which I had a lot of fun writing.
graculus: (olivia)
What is it about a piece of media that grabs me and makes me want to interact with it in any way? I've been thinking about this quite a lot because there's not really been anything new that's made me want to write, at least since the Man from UNCLE movie and you could possibly argue that was just an extension of an older interest, though the movie versions of the characters and the TV show versions were also different enough to argue the exact opposite!

Anyway, for me there are various levels where source material is concerned:

Level 0 - I have no interest in interacting with it, despite (or sometimes because of, I'm looking at you Firefly fandom) other people's views on it

Level 1 - I read/watch the source material and have no interest in further accounts of the characters

Level 2 - I read/watch the source material and read fanfic

Level 2a - the source material carries on but I stop reading/watching at a certain point and carry on reading (at least some of) the fanfic

Level 3 - I read/watch the source material and both read fanfic and write it myself

I'm a bit of a completist so I tend not to want to write about something till I'm sure I have a real grasp on everything about it, so that's not really a good marker for live source material, which is probably why I've more recently been writing stuff from closed canon. I'm not sure I could cope with the level of assholery often shown by showrunners any more - it was bad enough first time around and few of them seem to have learned anything from their own and other's mistakes.

The problem is, that even if I were inclined to start writing for a new live fandom, there really doesn't seem to be anything out there that I actually find engaging enough to kick me up to Level 3. There's plenty of stuff which has made me get to Level 2 but no further - for example, I love the Peter Grant books and really like reading the fic but have zero interest in trying to write my own.

There are no stories out there for me in that material. Where Level 3 is concerned, some of it is 'I've got this great idea and other people would mess it up if they wrote it, so I need to write it' - thoughts of 'I could do better' were certainly how I got started writing in the first place, even though I subsequently discovered it wasn't as easy as it looked! I wonder if also I am less inclined to have those stories if I see other people producing them and doing it well? Though that wouldn't explain wanting to write UNCLE, which always had a plethora of quality fic I enjoyed reading.

So, what makes a set of source material move from one level to the next? Well, for starters there needs to be a set of characters who I am interested in and want to get to know - usually if I find them aesthetically pleasing that also helps immensely, though that's not sufficient in itself. For example, I've been watching Legends of Tomorrow because of a couple of characters and despite a couple of others: I immediately wanted more of Sara Lance and also liked the whole Snart & Rory dynamic (I've always had a bit of a thing for bad people trying to do good things despite their nature). Sadly, there are also a couple of characters on the show who are interchangeable bland generic white bread hetero males, one recently introduced because of [something spoilery] because there weren't enough on the show already I guess?

There also needs to be some chemistry between the characters I like and of course, as with anything subjective, YMMV whether particular characters have that special something going on or not. That's probably part 2 of the previous point, really, since it goes hand-in-hand with the 'characters I'm interested in' aspect. I can be interested in the character but if there's no spark, then nada in terms of moving on to even Level 2. It doesn't have to be romantic or sexual, just something that tells me character A gives a damn about character B and then hello 50k word angst fest as character A is kidnapped and loses their memory and character B has to rescue them. Or something else, possibly involving naked sexy times but I can live without that.

The one I still don't quite get is that step between Level 2 and Level 3, whatever constitutes the tipping point between reading and writing. For example, I've been reading lots of stuff set in the MCU (including a shedload of Sam/Steve, Steve/Bucky and Sam/Steve/Bucky but other stuff too) and still have zero stories for it myself. Nothing, nada, zilch. Even though I've read stuff that was so relentlessly mediocre it made my eyes water, so it's not the 'I could do better' aspect, that's for certain!

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
graculus: (coffee)
Okay, so it was actually last week now I look at my old entries, but I knew it was somewhere around Easter that I started - yes, as of last week I've been fencing for a year!

I'm still attending the beginner's session and plan to do that until they kick me out because I'm still learning all the time. If When I get kicked out, my plan is to join another local club in addition to mine and get my extra stabbing in that way - how my club runs is that the beginners have an hour and then the more experienced folks turn up and, if we want to, we stay and fight as many of them as will agree. If I lose that first hour, I'm just going to have to make up the difference somehow and I'm also gradually accumulating kit so I'm pretty sure that will also give me more options than someone who needs to borrow everything.

I'm now also practising with two weapons regularly - the first hour is always foil, except for the week in February where our coach went 'shall we do epee this week?' and we all shrugged, so we did. Since then, I've been regularly fighting epee bouts in the second session and learning on the job (with advice as we go from other fencers and the coaches). Both foil and epee are about stabbing people, but the target area and the rules are different. The most recent advice I got from the coach was that I was getting too close and getting hit because of that, so I've got to try to hold back and watch a little more, which is completely against my nature!

I've also entered my first non-beginner's (foil) competition but I've got a while to panic about that/get ready for that. Because I've been fighting epee, I'm also thinking about doing an epee competition some time just to see how far I actually am from being competitive - there's one coming up next month I could do, though that's probably a bit soon, otherwise there's a well-attended one in October that would be ideal.

I've also met the first person at my club who completely bugs the crap out of me, which took 10 months so I suppose I should be happy about that. He's so full of himself and if he was as good as he thinks he is, then we'd have an Olympic contender in our midst! Also, I wouldn't be able to take points off him (which I do regularly), and though I haven't beaten him yet I'm pretty sure my time will come... given that I'm twice his age, I don't think I'm doing so badly. He also likes to muscle in on conversations, which is something that really winds me up - I was chatting with one of the coaches about local competitions, getting his advice about which ones to enter and which ones to avoid, and Dumbass decided we really needed his opinion too.

Anyway, minor irritations aside, a year in and I'm still enjoying stabbing people and intend to carry on doing it for as long as physically possible.
graculus: (Default)
I really don't know. I can see a bunch of folks resolutely declaring that they have no intention of shifting off LJ and others moving over here, but maybe this isn't quite as much of a devastating blow to fandom on LJ as it would have been five or ten years ago. The days of the massive communities which were the heart of any given fandom seem to be in the past, unless there's stuff going on (which is quite possible) in fandoms I'm uninvolved with to give the lie to my opinion.

For myself, I really don't know either. I'd backed up to this account so my personal stuff isn't an issue, but I'll probably end up going over to LJ and having to agree to the TOS one way or another - I have a couple of communities which are slash-heavy but also not active for years, so perhaps it's time for some housekeeping. And then there's Danielpix, which I stopped posting to in January but feel differently about because of the significant part it played in my life for so long and the sheer size of it. Because it's picture-heavy rather than written, I doubt it's in such a vulnerable position unless LJ decides to start going after people for copyright violation, I guess. I'm tempted to just archive it, by removing everyone's posting rights, because deleting it seems wrong somehow.

In other news, I have escaped being saddled with the most annoying guy on my course as we get ready to do small group presentations. Just a couple more sessions of tedium and then I'm done for the year! And an observation tomorrow, which naturally comes when I'm tackling how you plan writing, possibly the most dreary part of the curriculum. Pah.

Better news came around when I told my boss I was probably going to need some more Saturdays off because I wanted to do some competitions - I've entered the first proper non-beginners one, which is in July but on a Sunday - I was pleased that her immediate response was 'well, I believe in work-life balance' and then she suggested we just list the course as less classes overall for the year and adjust the dates as required. Naturally, the competitions are not quite spread out evenly, because I'm roughly looking at one in early November, another early February and one late March, but that's also not too close together either. We're starting to plan next year's classes, so at least I should know within the next month or so what I'm likely to be asked to do from September, even if the exact Saturday dates may need tweaking once competition dates are finalised.
graculus: (Default)
I have an assignment due in tomorrow, so of course I'm dicking around online instead. ;)

It's not too bad, I've done most of the work but just need to pull it together and then find some references to back up why I've done what I've done. It's all about using technology for learning, so I've been running an Instagram group with one of my classes and that's provided a lot of source material to talk about - they also gave me some written feedback about their experiences, since I'd deliberately chosen one of my smaller but more adept classes to do this with!

From conversations with other folks on my course, the general feeling seems to be that pretty much everyone is bored, not just me, so that's kind of a relief I guess? A number of the sessions seem to be 'research this while you're here and tell everyone else about it' which seems kind of lazy when used as a method repeatedly. Do some bloody teaching, earn your money! We're almost at the end of the first year, thank the elder gods, though I still have two observed teaching sessions to get through. Those are a pain, not because of doing the teaching but because of all the paperwork I have to provide justifying why I'm doing X rather than Y or Z, with references of course!

In terms of work, I'm rapidly heading towards the Easter break with just 2 weeks left - one of my classes finishes next week but the other two don't and I've also got exams to do for my own class and a few for other people. And then a couple of weeks off, coincidentally when my fencing club is also closed! *runs around waving her arms in the air*

I think I'm also about to make myself a little unpopular with my boss as we're heading towards the time of year when she timetables the classes for September onwards. As I'm sure you can imagine, there's not a massive queue of people wanting to teach on a Saturday morning and I'd kind of felt last year that it was my turn to do it. It didn't make much difference for me in terms of any other commitments, so why not? Because fencing competitions often seem to put women's foil on the Saturday, that's why not! Aaaargh. In the coming academic year there'll be at least 2 extra Saturdays I won't want to work and that means either finding extra dates to accommodate the replacement classes or finding someone to cover those dates but also hoping I don't have to cancel any because of sickness. Naturally, those competitions have also not yet finalised their dates for 2017-18 because why should they?
graculus: (Default)
Ugh, norovirus. Well, that was Saturday - I had lots of things planned for my class but spent pretty much all day in a small circuit between bed and toilet, which was not fun at all. I thought it was food poisoning at first, but on the rare occasions I come down with that (last time, it was eating yoghurt without checking the Best Before date), as soon as I puke I feel much better. This time, not so much. I literally couldn't keep anything down at all on Saturday and even drinking water was debatable at times.

So that means I need to try and find another Saturday to catch up that missed class, since most of the folks on it are paying for themselves, but that's a job for later this week when I can check which Saturdays the building is open. It also got me out of college tonight, because you're supposed to stay home for 48 hours, but I could have done without the reason for it!

In other news, I'm currently struggling a bit with finding good fanfic to read. I've been reading all sorts of stuff but the majority of it doesn't really strike me as good enough to rec and there's only been a few exceptions to that rule (since it's always lovely when someone whose writing you like gets sucked into your fandom, hello [personal profile] przed!). That ice-skating anime seems to have infected lots of people but I'm still catching up with Legend of Korra for the first time, so the chances of me getting that particular bug are slim to none.

However, I did stumble across some stonkingly good original fic and would like to recommend it - The Course of Honour by Avoliot. Lots of slow burn angsty arranged marriage stuff and updating regularly, currently 9 chapters in and still going strong. *sighs happily*
graculus: (oh please)
Spent much of the morning throwing up, so ended up cancelling my Saturday class and spending much of the day in bed - this coincided nicely with two cycle races, one women's and one men's, so that was lovely. Of course, the women's got significantly less coverage (no surprises there!) and while it wasn't won by someone from the team I support, the winner was clearly the strongest woman in the race.

But this isn't about the race, it's about what happened next.

It's pretty common for riders to be met at the end of the race by family members, loved ones, as well as representatives of their team. However, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like what happened this afternoon. The winning rider crosses the line, gets round to where a couple of people are waiting for her (maybe the woman was her mother, given the age difference) and her boyfriend immediately grabs her face and starts excavating her tonsils. It was real teenage 'this is my girlfriend' dominance behaviour. He couldn't have been more territorial if he'd peed on her leg afterwards.

It reminded me of that nonsense at the Rio Olympics where a male Chinese swimmer (diver?) gatecrashed his girlfriend's medal ceremony so he could propose to her.The woman just won something significant, back the hell off for two minutes! And that was all over the news with some people gushing about how 'romantic' it was, others (myself included) thinking about the kind of self-absorption required to think that was okay.
graculus: (Default)
I'm currently in my 4th trip around academia, having started a teaching qualification last September which is (alas) going to continue for another 18 months because it's technically 'part-time'. Which would be fine if I wasn't already bored out of my gourd by pretty much everything to date. I managed to get a student loan to pay for this course, since I'd never had one before, which pretty much means that it's free since the chances of me ever earning enough in the future to start paying it off aren't great.

Anyway, the course is run by a local college in conjunction with a local university (so at least the piece of paper I'll get at the end has a nice header!) and the first part of it at least seems to be serving as subsidised in-house training for their teachers who've been employed cheaply to teach a variety of (mostly) non-academic subjects. Most of it has been deeply mind-numbing, except for one exceptional session where I ended up being that gobby student who corrected the person up front because he'd come out with such utter BS I just couldn't not say something. And I know, yes, this is in character for me but I'd been trying so hard not to keep my trap shut and I couldn't help it. *sigh*

At least there's only an 80% attendance requirement, so that means if I get really hacked off (see last Monday) I can stay at home and binge-watch TV instead, thus using my time much more productively. As long as I pass the assignments and get a decent grade on my observations, neither of which should be a problem, it's just a case of doing my time. I'm reduced to crossing off sessions, like a prisoner scratching lines on a cell wall...

I have a tutorial today - another example of make-work sessions that actually don't really do anything productive but can count as 'face time' or whatever inane term is in vogue this year - and have had to fill in ridiculous amounts of paperwork in preparation for 20 minutes of a lecturer's time. I wonder if she will ask me what I was doing the other week instead of coming to class? I wonder if I will tell her the truth? ;)
graculus: (Default)
Okay, so time for a recap on yesterday's first competition - those of you reading the previous posts may recall that, in a moment of masochism, I'd signed up to do both the beginners (fencing less than 12 months) and intermediate (less than 3 years) categories and therefore committed myself to a day of jumping about and waiting about, not necessarily in that proportion. I'd been dosing myself up with cold medicine most of the week as I'd started sneezing and that seemed to work to keep me from coming down with something just in time for being inside a fencing mask for a couple of hours!

It was really nice having other folks from the club there after I'd pestered/begged persuaded them into signing up too, though the guy who was doing men's foil definitely had a tougher hill to climb - there were 4 times as many men as women signed up. Overall, it was mostly foil, a few men's epee but no women's epee at all and absolutely zero sabre, though apparently this is pretty common for this event since (according to my coach) people tend to come to sabre after trying the other two weapons first. I'm not sure whether the others enjoyed it as much as I did, so I guess we'll get a proper post-mortem on it when it's club night again on Thursday...

Anyway, there were 7 of us in the beginner women's foil, including 2 from a local university where they can apparently fence every day if they want to. I ended up 3rd in the pool anyway but lost in the semi to another student, so that was my first medal of the day. In this one, the two aforementioned students came first and second.

The intermediates turned out to be 5 of us, the four medallists from beginners and one other. I came 3rd in that pool too, having got the measure of one of the students (who I'd nicknamed Hoppy McStabbypants, as she pretty much relied on one attack, an odd hop-lunge combination) who only just beat me 5-4 this time. I also beat the fencer who'd beaten me in the beginner's semi 5-2, which I was very happy about. That pool position meant I was getting a medal anyway, but I won my semi fight this time (15-12, so it was a pretty close one) and got into the final, I did quite well for the first 3 minute period, finishing that just 9-7 down, but then didn't get back into it after that pause and lost 15-7.

It ended up with the same woman winning both beginners and intermediate, though neither victory was by any means a walkover, which also means she can't enter either competition again next year. I was a bit underwhelmed by how she yelled if she got a point against me, which I thought was a bit sad given the level of the competition - dude, it's a regional low-level competition, not the Olympics! I'm sure it was meant to intimidate me, but I just thought it was kind of pathetic.

After that, I went home with my medals and practically inhaled a greasy cheese-laden pizza, as I'd barely eaten anything all day, and then fell into my nice warm bed with a book. And now I ache all over, but not that much more than I usually do after a club night. All in all, I'm pretty happy with how I did and also that the work I've been putting in at the gym in terms of my overall stamina paid off - the issue in my final fight was with my fencing (loss of focus, I think, as much as a skill issue), rather than me puffing like a steam train, which would have been the case even a couple of months ago!

The overall verdict? Yes, I think I'll compete again but it's about finding the right event so I get more practice fighting people rather than getting annihilated early on. More practice first, though, and more time in the gym.
graculus: (Default)
Sorry, this blog is probably going to be quite fencing-heavy for a while now. *shrugs* For some reason I'm finding it hard to concentrate on books and nothing has really grabbed me, while other than the [community profile] picfor1000 challenge I've signed up for again, no writing is going on. I've started booking my trip to Finland this summer, so perhaps more on that later?

So, an update on the club competition - my team lost by one hit. I'd been told it was close but hadn't realised quite how close it was! I could have been sharing the very ugly team trophy this time around (and yes, it's really hideous, it's a glass thing of indeterminate shape rather than a proper cup or something) if not for that one hit.

The regional comp is now a week and a day from now and I've finally succeeded in my quest to get some of my fellow newbies to enter too. I'd been badgering them for weeks, as I didn't really want to go on my own (not that I wouldn't, but I'd rather have company!) and finally a combination of pleas and pestering has carried the day. So there's going to be 4 of us in all, maybe even 5 if someone else gets his arse in gear in time. \o/

Of course, since a foil competition is coming up soon, our coach decides that last night was an ideal time to start teaching us epee instead. Which is basically 'where would you like to stab your opponent today and it's okay if he stabs you at the same time, it totally still counts'. None of this ridiculous right-of-way and who attacked first business, so much easier to referee in that you just see whose light goes on. I'd been thinking about doing epee some time this year anyway, since there seem to be a lot more competitions, but I wasn't really thinking quite yet!

Anyway, more news after the competition next weekend. ;)

As mentioned above, I've also started booking stuff for my trip to Finland in the summer. As well as going to Helsinki for WorldCon, I've booked a hiking trip beforehand (including bear watching) and then a few days in Turku as well. So far I've booked internal flights and my Turku and Helsinki hotels, so just the main flight and Turku-Helsinki train to go. Though at the moment July seems a long way away and I'm currently trying to decide if I want to go anywhere before then, even if just for a few days.
graculus: (Default)
Yesterday, it was our club competition, which was a new and interesting experience for me. I realised that one of the reasons I'm enjoying fencing is that it's just about me, rather than me-as-part-of-a-team which had been my main experience of sport before - I'd also played tennis before, but only on a casual basis, no real competition. But while yesterday was technically a team competition (of which more shortly), it was also about me fighting the other beginners - three of them, anyway, since there were only four teams - as well as being part of a team.

We're a three-weapon club, so we have folks who fence foil (like me, though I'm probably going to try at least epee at some point), epee and sabre, with some fencing all three though most folks have a preference. The competition was for randomly-chosen teams of three with one person fencing each weapon. There's a coin toss to decide who gets to choose order of fencers in each bout and all the teams fence each other, with the first match being first to 5 hits, the second match first to 10 and the final being first to 15. So, for example, the final match we fought, our first fencer lost 5-2, I fought next and put us back in the lead at 7-10, and then our final fencer fought and we lost 15-13 overall.

And then there's some arcane calculations that decide which team has won overall, which I won't try and explain since I don't really get it. Anyway, we won two of our matches but lost the third and came second even though we beat the team that won. I just wish there'd been a couple more teams, since I could happily have fought a few more people!

I'd decided that the best defence was a good offence and had been fighting quite aggressively all the way through, so now have the bruises to prove it. I have a particularly fine mark on my upper sword arm which I think will be with me for a while and another couple on my legs. I know I probably wouldn't have got away with it with more experienced fighters (so that's going to be different for the real competition in a few weeks) but it was definitely effective, if only in putting the wind up the others.

The regional competition is a month away, so more time at the gym and more practices between now and then, not to mention that I'm also still trying to get a couple of other folks to enter that one too, so I'm not wandering in there on my own. Not that this is going to stop me, but it'd be nice to have company...

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