Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Monday

Washington D.C. (May 30, 2004) – Chairma...Image via Wikipedia
I went to school in DC and Memorial Day meant one thing: Rolling Thunder.

I'm not a biker girl. Never aspire to be one. But I really am awed by the thousands of bikers who show up each year to show support for POW-MIA (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action).

I've heard the ride starts in California, gathering members along the way to reach the capitol in a wave of - yup -Rolling Thunder. And let me tell you, that's exactly what it sounds like when they roll into town.

I'm thankful for the sacrifice of so many soldiers. No one likes war, but one visit to a cemetary like Arlington, Virginia or Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy and you really have to send up a prayer for all those young souls - every chance you think of it.

So today is a day when I'm thinking of it. From my ancestors who battled in the Revolutionary War, to my grandfathers who fought in World War II, to my cousin who serves today, and to any family who sends loved ones out under our flag, thank you.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yerköprü Şelalesi (Landbridge Falls)
Want a refreshing reward for your trek to Alahan Monastery - besides the panoramic view and Byzantine ruins there? Head up the road a bit to the Yerköprü Şelalesi. (Land bridge falls)

I'm a huge fan of waterfalls and I am so inspired by this place. The sheets of moss dripping with white veils of water, verdant ferns and figs surrounding the swirls of crystal water below, the ancient cavern air laced with minerals.... Hmm... Imagine what's lurking in that dark cave.

Me: Wonder to worst case scenario in under two seconds. Probably a good thing - I was heading toward thesaurus rape.

But really, it's magical. Just watch the clip below and you'll see what I mean. can I sneak a scene with this place into my manuscript?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magical Creature Must-Haves

Cover of "The Element Encyclopedia of Mag...Cover via AmazonI know I hit the jackpot when the eleven-year old boy of the house strokes the cover of a book and asks " this for me?"

Yeah. My Borders find of the weekend: The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews. (On the sale rack for $9.99!)

It's in a perilous place right now. As in, I want to read it and the boy has confiscated it while I wasn't looking. It's OK. While he was at grandma's I quickly read the main passsages I needed. And he has to go to school tomorrow. hehe.

But really, many times I've found myself surfing the net, looking for a creature that does such and such, and wishing I had the Monster Book of Monsters to give me a clue. This is that book!

Unfortunately, there aren't that many creatures from Turkey or the Middle East in the volume. I think part of that problem is that the source material is either a) passed down in rote or b) has never been translated. Still, several entries point me in a promising direction and if I find more info, language isn't going to be a barrier.

BTW, it seems there's been an alignment of the planets in regard to writer's guides this week. I read a great post on The Writer's Guide to Psychology over at Sarah Fine's, and I was researching a semi-precious gem on Holly Ruggiero's Writer's Guide to Crystal and Gemstones. Check them out!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, May 23, 2011

maNga at Istanbulive in NYC

A little background:

Istanbulive in New York city is a free summer concert in Central Park. The past two years were very well attended and caught some really good press from places like The New Yorker, National Geographic, NBC and the Lucid Culture blog dubbed it "Turkish Woodstock". Unfortunately, this year in question because of funding, but the advertising is going full steam I thought I'd let you know about it after all. (Check out the strategic tulip in the logo.)

One of the confirmed artists, Zülfü Livaneli , sings a more traditional set- which the entire crowd seems to know the words for - just hum along. He's famous enough that when U2 went to Istanbul, he sang a couple songs onstage with them. He's internationally aclaimed for his film scores and has been to Cannes. French newspaper, Le Matin, says he's a real poet. And he is.

According to Instanbulive, The New York Gypsy All-Stars (NYGA), masters of contemporary Balkan Gypsy music, is a musical chemistry experiment with explosive staying power. Living up to their name in every way, the NYGA blend traditional Gypsy and Turkish melodies with a scorching jazz and funk backbone, creating a unique sound that satisfies the brain and soul. The band exemplifies New York in the most eclectic sense possible, hailing from Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Brooklyn.

They sound pretty good, if you ask me.

But the real purpose of my post is the alternative rock band, maNga. Their title, Beni Benimle Birak is on my playlist for Burnt Amber, and I just think some of their songs are really cool. Some are a little crazy, but... they definitely have fun with manga of the other sort in their video clips.

So, if you're in NYC on Friday, June 17th, 2011, check it out!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Mersin Backyard

Narlikuku via Mersinliyibiz on Facebook
 The End of Grade exams are over and my kids are counting down the number of days left this school year. I can just feel summer creeping in between the cloudbursts.

It means less productivity on the writing front, but more days to float around in the pool, mulling over ideas. More chances to lounge in the chaise while I swallow a book whole...

In that spirit, here's a leisurely cruise up the Mediterranean coast to some villages near my old "backyard" in Mersin. (Beta readers: There's a flash of Narlikuyu and Aykar - and Kizkalesi, of course.) Enjoy!

Mavi'nin Gözünden Mersin Koyları from umut cor on Vimeo.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Attacking the evil eye: The eye is pierced by ...Image via Wikipedia
House of the Evil Eye, Antakya, Turkey

The scorpion, aka the akrep (Turkish) or aqrab (Arabic), is a lot like the snake. It has a dual meaning.

An akrep can be a symbolic embodiment of evil or sexuality. (I'll let you extrapolate what a woman might mean when she claims to be "stung by a scorpion".) Yet the akrep is also protective design embroidered into the hem of a women's dress, or worn as an amulet to keep general evil at bay.

I suppose it's like fighting fire with fire. For example, in the mosaic at right, the evil eye is being attacked by all sorts of things associated with badness - snake, dog, pitchfork, centipede, jackal (I think), crow, and of course, the scorpion. Even the little demon is pointing a strategic part toward the eye. KAI CY means "and you", so the message is : If you put your evil eye on me, I'm sending the evil back out after you.

Remember in the depictions of Mithras, there's a scorpion grabbing the sacrificial bull by his - Well, I guess evil and sexually are intertwined in both of these examples. Let's try another.
Sufi mystics like to use the akrep as a symbol of their mastery over evil. Some Sufis even claim immunity, treating bite victims and performing ritual-like scorpion handling demonstrations.

Yeah...Some people may treat scorpions like pets, but I'm still not keeping any around. Where's my lavender?

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, May 16, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine Blogfest

See photo for self-descriptive indication of today's subject matter. Thanks  for the great idea, Leigh and Lydia! Check out the others on the linky list here.

So, in keeping with my middle eastern/fantasy writer theme - here's one joke about genies and another about a parallel universe.

Three men: an editor, a photographer, and a journalist are covering a political convention in Miami. They decide to walk up and down the beach during their lunch hour. Halfway up the beach, they stumbled upon a lamp. As they rub the lamp a genie appears and says "Normally I would grant you three wishes, but since there are three of you, I will grant you each one wish."

The photographer went first. "I would like to spend the rest of my life living in a huge house in St. Thomas with no money worries." The genie granted him his wish and sent him on off to St. Thomas.

The journalist went next. "I would like to spend the rest of my life living on a huge yacht cruising the Mediterranean, with no money worries." The genie granted him his wish and sent him off.

Last, but not least, it was the editor's turn. "And what would your wish be?" asked the genie.

"I want them both back after lunch," replied the editor, "the deadline for tomorrow's newspaper is in ten hours.

ME: Guess they didn't read my post on the three wishes!

How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.

ME: Blown out of existence and co-existing? Is that possible? Wonder if Matt MacNish, Matt MacNizzle and/or Matt Rush would mind asking Orson Scott Card?

These jokes were snagged from Ginger Edwards.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Assassin's Creed - in Istanbul!
You all know how crazed I am about Assassin's Creed, right? Well, triple that and add 200% - because the next installment, Revelations, is set in Istanbul -Constantinople, circa 1400.

*Insert enormous grin.*

So today I'm sharing the teaser trailer from Ubisoft, but first you need to watch this AC parody with Johnny Depp from The Tourist. (I knew that movie was good for something. ;) LMAO!)

Here's one of the AC4 teaser trailers - no sound - that are circulating around the web. I said Istanbul/Constantinople above, because I'm not sure how the story line is going to play out. The trailer has both the Byzantine double eagle and the Ottoman Tugra of the Sultan. Also, the key date for the name change is 1453. We don't know the exact timeline the Assassin's Creed alternate history will use, even if Ubisoft gives us a few specific dates. Looks like we might get Ezio and Altair in this game too. I have no problem with that. :)

Another cool game that's partially set in Istanbul is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The main character, Nathan Drake, spends some time there tracking down the Çintemani stone. (I <3 çintemani in a big way. Maybe I should write a post about it...I'm thinking of renaming my blog after it actually. Methinks these two thoughts are serendipitous.) And maybe you didn't realize it, but once upon a time, Johnny Depp's hat found some Turkish sailors. Right before the kraken ate them. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest). Ooops!

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Šaddah & Sukūn

Dialects in the Arab WorldImage via WikipediaIn Arabic, the sign above or below a consonant indicates the required vowel pronunciation. Yeah - there are letters missing. Kind of like Hebrew. (All of a sudden, the puzzle of the Dead Sea Scrolls has new meaning to me.)

The technical term for the indicator is "diacritic", and it's probably the biggest reason I can't read Arabic. I can spot the letters sometimes, if the calligraphy is very basic, but there's too much going on for me to sit there and decipher. Speaking it is enough of a challenge.

And don't forget the many dialects and variations. See the map above? If you live in the blue zone over in Morocco, don't expect to understand the red zone of the Emirates on the other side of the map. Even relatively close countries can speak a special blend. For example, the word for Friday is Juma in many countries (including Turkey) but in Egypt, it sounds more like Goma. And chicken? Djaj. In the Emirates it's Deyay. In Jordan it's more like - I can't even figure it out in English letters. You get the idea. The middle ground is classical Arabic, which many people understand and no one speaks. That's the one that the teacher is writing on the whiteboard in Berlitz class or whichever course you're taking.

The Šaddah and Sukūn, Fatḥa, Kasra  and their various other diacritic friends are supposed to clue people in to what the words are sans an accent or dialect. These play a huge role in literature, especially when it comes to the Qur'an. Observe the chart at left showing the evolution of diacritics in Arabic.

This brings me to the word for genie.

Surah Al Jinn of the Qur'an refers to genies as Al Jinn, pronounced a'jinn because of a sukūn between the l and the j.  Folklore, which is more heavily influenced by variations of dialect, sometimes uses the Šaddah instead, which effectively doubles the j, producing a dj or dz sound.

Maybe it won't help at all, but since I want to stay as far away from religion as possible, I use the "djinn" version. So does Jonathan Stroud - and half my battle is getting people to realize a djinn is a genie, without conjuring images of Robin Williams in a billowy blue get-up.

Make sense?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, May 9, 2011

Istanbul Tulip Festival
Many people know the root of the word "tulip" comes from the Turkish word "tülbend", meaning gauze. Well, "tül" means gauze. Tülbend has more to do with the shape of the gauze, because tülbend is derived from the Persian word for turban, "dulband". Anyhoo, bulbs were wrapped in Ottoman tülbend for shipment to Europe and the rest is history. 
In Turkey, the tulip is seen as a symbol of abundance (probably because Europeans paid a fortune for each bulb) and a signature of the Ottoman "Lale Devri" or Tulip Era. (More creative than "golden age", don't you think?)

This April was the sixth year Istanbul hosted the festival, and there were 11.5 million bulbs planted in various parks around the city. Every bulb was domestically grown in Çumra or another one of the small towns surrounding Konya out on the Anatolian plain. (Why get tulips from Holland, when they grow in the backyard practically by themselves, right? My only real question: why was this only the sixth festival?)

So if you've seen the Keukenhof , the Chelsea Flower Show and every other garden event you can think of, try Istanbul. This festival has music, ebru (marbled paper - very bookish) and all sorts of art, plus a spectacular setting. The official website is in Turkish, but check out the pdf brochure  in English for all the breathtaking details, especially if you love flowers. Sigh. Next year.... - I think. It's all over the web without proper credit.
Thank you to the photographer, whoever you are! 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, May 6, 2011

See you at the mall...

Kanyon Mall Istanbul 1Image by tom$ via FlickrMalls are a distinctly American thing. For example, a visit to the cities of old world Europe will have me trotting down cobbled pavement, hunting shop to shop for treasures. Here, I can head to the Southpark Mall and call it a day. I find there are pros and cons of both methods, depending upon my mood.

Today though, lots and lots of cities all over the globe are building signature, upscale malls. I thought I'd share a few Turkish ones that are a must-see - whenever you get to town. :)

Istanbul's Kanyon Mall (at right) is home to high-end shops like Escada, but worth the visit for it's stunning, international award winning architecture. You can also catch a movie at the cineplex there.

Image by tom$ via Flickr
Istinye Park is another chic Istanbul hot spot offering western brands to eastern consumers. This summer, Hermes and Channel are joining the ranks there. Mere mortals might stick to H&M or my favorite, Mavi Jeans. (Go get a pair. Right now! From Amazon.) Istinye Park also has an Imax theater.

While these are all a far cry from the original super mall, the Grand Bazaar, I feel proud of how far fellow Americans have taken the idea. Both of these malls were designed for modern Istanbulites by US firms.

Related Articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book of the Djinn

Front of the QuranImage via WikipediaI usually stay away from religious sources to be PC, but recently I was thinking of a specific Qur'anic verse: The sea became ink for the words of the Lord. (Paraphrasing Surah Al Khaf 18:109 here. Don't quote me.)

Sometimes the verse gets mixed up with this one: If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support. (Surah Al Isra 17:88)

And it turns out like this: "If the whole of mankind and the djinn had a sea of ink, they couldn't produce the like of the Qur'an." (See how the memory plays with words?)

The mixed up version makes me think: Is it blasphemous to wonder if a sea of ink would be enough for my edits?

Anyway, I thought I'd give you a little glimpse behind my curtain, despite my inhibitions, and introduce you to one of my resources, the Book of the Djinn - Surah 72 of the Qur'an.

See - growing up, I'd always thought genies were mythological beasts, like fairies. I never realized they fell into mainstream monotheistic religion. And Islam is mainstream in many parts of the world. (Maybe not where I live now...) Of course, Zeus was pretty mainstream in his day and even Zoroaster and his offshoot, Mithras were popular guys. So take it all with a grain of salt and humor me.

My point of the day: There are many millions of people out there who believe in djinn, like people of the west believe in angels, and there's a world of lore besides. Don't we wonder what these people are thinking? Why they think it?

I guess I'm just grumbling because I feel like I'm fighting a tide of preconceived notions. When we say, for example, djinn are dangerous and live in bottles and lamps and such, we're actually mixing up the concept of djinn and shayatin. The Shaytan is the devil - and there's a verse specifically mentioning that you can find the devil in men and djinn alike (Surah Al An'am 6:112). I actually have a few words I'd like to say to that Scheherazade lady about her perpetuation of misinformation. Although, she probably didn't expect her tale to land in a Disney Studio and my djinn aren't innocent of all theological transgression. The folklore is just too tempting to ignore.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mint Tea

Thé à la menthe in MoroccoImage via WikipediaI worked all day in the garden, two days in a row, and for lack of inspiration, I'm just going to tell you what I had for dinner last night. Or rather, what I had to drink with dinner. Drinks are much more interesting...

My mint has exploded out of bounds, as it has tendency to do, so I pulled up a few miles of runners and snipped a healthy bunch. Lucky for me, some of my favorite drinks are minty: the mint julep, the mojito, lemonade with mint (crushed, in the pitcher - try it!), even plain ice water with a spring of mint is yummy on a hot day. Last night I went for mint tea.

It's not the mint tea from your grocer. It's not even the Touareg tea in the picture - although that's really good too. Moroccan Touareg tea can involve a whole ceremony. They use green tea and sugar, but all I did was grab a couple bags of lipton and three long springs of mint and steep it in a pot. No sugar for me, but I do add a little zip of milk. Purist I am not. Except for the fresh mint part. There really is no substitute.

It's a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean thing to use mint in every imaginable place besides tea salads, with meats, in soups, on pasta, in jajic (yogurt sauce). Mint is a good thing to keep in steady supply. Just remember to pot it up, or at least put it where you don't mind a minty takeover.
Enhanced by Zemanta


Related Posts with Thumbnails