Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for 2010

I need to post these somewhere, and I can copy/paste from here, but not to here, so this seems the most logical starting point.

1. I will not read my webcomics until I have both finished my homework and practiced harp for the day. I can always catch up on them later.
2. I will genuinely try to finish my homework on time--this means I may take breaks, if necessary, but not surf TV tropes.****
2a. This does not allow for checking on "just a few" webcomics, or "just one" TV tropes page, as I know full well there is no such thing.
2b. Y'know what? This extends to any wiki. The power of the Wiki Walk is too great to underestimate.
3. I will not try to write a story on such a break. Past behavior has shown that this will extend the break to about as long as a TV tropes break. Breaking to write down a story that has popped into my head is another matter.
3a. Summaries are helpful, especially for the specific types of stories. I know the ones I mean.
4. I would make this one about finishing one book before starting another, but really, this is never going to happen. So, I'll just say...I will keep all books I am reading on the shelf, directly next to my bed, save for one I will keep in my backpack for school reading. This last will probably be an encyclopedia or classic of some sort, because I tend to be reading one, and I might as well give my teachers a good impression. Anyway, they are more likely to keep a random book after class than Dracula*, Frankenstein**, Little Women*** or Pride and Prejudice***.

[At Time of Post]
* Reading
** Read
*** On list of books I plan to read
****[Later] In the interests of doing so, I should probably not set up firefox so that opening it will lead to a TV Tropes page being open.'s a bad idea.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Musings #2

Being a musing, this isn't quite breaking the hiatus.

If angels can fall, why can't they rise?

This, being the phrase that popped into my head that spurred this musing, is not actually that related to the post. Yeah, I know.

I have been thinking about stories we see. And we see stories where this ignorant person figures something out--that's a basic story, the protagonist changes for the better, or just changes. An especially common variant would be a coming-of-age story, which, given the above musing-starter, immediately makes me think Adam and Eve. They gain knowledge, and so they have to leave paradise and wear clothes and work for their food and place in the world.

And we sometimes have theses intricate stories about The Fall of X. Or The Rise of X. But unless X is a place or society, we don't see both. Or rather, we do, but the Fall is horribly oversimplified. Let's say John's an angel (don't look at me like that, Michael's an angel). John fell to the sin of lust. He will, naturally, fall in love to reclaim his virtue, and we will learn all about him and this new girl, let's call her Charlotte. Charlotte will be a well-rounded character, and so will John. We will sympathize with them, and maybe even come to think of John's banishment as unfair--it will probably at least cross Charlotte's mind, even if she's knows it's wrong while she's thinking it. But this girl he fell in lust with--even if they fell in love and spent her entire life together--this girl? Who's she? Do we even have a name for her? Oh. Hm. Says the author was considering calling her either Jessica or Diane, but decided it wasn't important.

(You can see why I told you up front the blog post was going to be pretty separate from the starting phrase.)

So it is easy to fall, and difficult to rise, as it is with all things. Makes sense, right? I mean, you see something, you want to sin, you sin, you're done. Right?


I hope not. If it's that easy, then anyone hoping to save any souls has an even harder job than it appears. If it's just see it, want it, sin it, then the soul will surely be lost tomorrow. If it is so easy, then it must be lost...

Of course, the point of the ordeal is that the person rises out of it stronger. It's supposed to be all about how John was weak enough to sin, and is now strong enough to resist. That may be the reason why the story of how he spent, oh, let's say twenty years with this other girl is left in the shadows--can you imagine making a story where the guy wants the girl for reasons of solely lust, they stay together for any amount of time, and you have to keep him sympathetic? There are things an audience will forgive, and things it won't...and there are a great many things they will forgive off-screen that they won't forgive if it happened on-screen. Imagine the Deathstar blowing up a planet where we have seen the people, the children, playing. Or there were some sympathetic characters, maybe even one that had a plan to stop Vader. It's suddenly a lot harder to stomach. How can you convince the audience he's changed if you've let him, in your story, do something unforgivable?

And so we get this vague idea of what John's done wrong, enough to know it was terrible, not enough to feel spiteful towards him (taking into account the character the author is showing us).

The other way around would actually be a pretty nice way to introduce a villain with a good reputation. Imagine: we know every detail of what John's done wrong, but his atonement is glossed over. So we know (to grab a few things out of my hat of mustache-twirling villainy) that John faked feelings for Diane--yes, she has a name now. We know that Diane was an innocent little thing he led down the wrong path that ended in her dying young, cold and alone, in a dark little alley, her throat cut by his blade, by his choice, by his coins, but not by his hands, because he wouldn't dirty them. And we know she deserved so much better. And his atonement? A little thing. He fell in love--but again, this is glossed over, so could be interpreted as lust--and got the girl of his dreams? That is his atonement? Oh, sure, he fought for her, but when compared to all those horrible things he did to Diane, how can we believe he deserves one ounce of the joy he feels with this nameless girl? Is she horrible enough to think that this is okay, or is she stupid and he's leading another innocent down this path?

So we gloss over parts of the history. Not because they're not important. Because they were very important. It was very important that they were overcome, and so it is very important that the audience acknowledges them. However, John is not that man anymore. You cannot blame him for sins anymore than you could blame a child. It's not that he was cruel, it's that he was lost, and there was no one there to lead him. He has found himself, and there have been years of atonement--or there haven't, but there have been years where he was not that person. A child is not given a pass because of age. A child is given a pass because the person you are moving against the next day is not there anymore. When John is reinventing himself, yes, he has to take responsibility for his past actions. But we do not show them because they are no longer defining character moments. If the author put something there in the story, there's a reason, so if there isn't a reason, it doesn't belong there.

This post started on one note and ended on another. It needs another phrase, and I think I have a good one:

"Keep in mind that people change, but the past doesn't."

-Patch in Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (pg. 305, hardcover)

Oh, the tropes for this are fun...
Politically Correct History (This wouldn't've happened this way, but if I show it as it would have, the audience will hate this guy!)
*The Women Are Safe With Us (The heroes' men don't rape, even if they're mercenaries in medieval times.)
Deliberate Values Dissonance (Remember my note about not showing stuff unless you want the audience to hook onto it? This is when the author doesn't do that--because, at the time, this behavior was normal.)
Good Flaws Bad Flaws ("One major exception to this trope is this: A character who has a "bad" flaw is allowed to be the hero if the experiences of their journey inspire them to cast off this flaw.")
*Good Smoking Evil Smoking

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Hiatus

In fact, not to avoid insulting people, but merely for the alliteration. I celebrate Christmas, so it's a Christmas and New Year's Hiatus if you want to get really technical (along with finals).

And so:

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah!

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Celebratory Winter Solstice!

And if I somehow haven't covered you yet (or, y'know, you just don't celebrate): Have a nice day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Revenge and Interesting Torture

My two inspirations: 1) My history teacher talking to us about how people would go out and watch executions and have what amounted to a picnic. Also bringing up the violent entertainments that seem to do so well (for instance, the Saw franchise). 2) My brother's blogpost wherein he describes the advantages humanity has over most animals. He comes up with seven, including vengeance.

And a little connection clicked in my head. Vengeance has a purpose. If we kill things that hurt us, they don't breed. So, perhaps, when we think there is a purpose behind killing something, there is a part of us that wants to see him/her/it hurt/killed. This sort of thinking could spread fairly easily to other types of inflicted pain, especially since this would make it similar to something our bodies want us to do. Or, more simply, it feels good.

The interesting thing about this is that while when this instinct is confused it causes bad things (feuds going on for eternity and such), at it's base it's for good reason. There is a threat to me/my family/my pack/my tribe/etc., and so I must remove that threat. So revenge in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is only when it is taken to the point that it controls the person that it becomes bad--just like any other drive or emotion.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Musing #1

Overeating and hyperventilating are oddly similar. Both result in the taking on of something your body needs to an extent that your body becomes confused and wants more of it, and both tend to fix themselves if you stop, either holding your breath or stopping eating (for a limited time, of course).

I thought of this and found it interesting, then tried to link it to more things. For instance, if you sleep too much you want to rest more, but if you drink (water) too much you don't want to drink more. And it can work in the reverse, too--becoming hungry the majority of the time can make you want less food, pulling an all-nighter or three can make you feel as if you have no need for sleep (until you lie down), etc. Perhaps it is simply because, evolutionarily speaking, we would pass out if we hyperventilated too long, eating too much usually wasn't an option for a long period of time, and sleeping a lot wasn't either. And if we were hungry a lot or staying up a lot, there was probably a reason we needed to do, and being distracted could end up deadly. Living in a harsh environment where food is scarce requires diligence, and nodding off or a growling stomach could hurt your chances.

So, looking at it that way, it makes sense. Sort of.

(Musings will not be summarized at the right, due to being so short.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


This has been bouncing around in my head for a while now. Both homework, and why I haven't been feeling as passionate about stopping it recently. A while back, (before I started this blog,) I was very angry about how much homework we were being given when there wasn't...well, anything to support the argument that the other side could give me. The best argument I ever got was a condescending, "You know, there's never been a double-blind test with parachutes." (Note to debaters: being condescending, regardless of respective ages, levels of experience, etc., only makes the speaker look bad.)

What I have finally come to is this: I have reached a level where I am picking many of my classes. This means that I am 1) in the correct level, 2)interested in most of the subjects I am taking, and 3)getting more free reign, since the teachers know you have to have some interest to be in this level in the first place. This results in it looking like the issue is solved, since it has stopped affecting me as much.

Yet, still, I know it's happening. My classmates, my friends in middle school, all of them are being kept up late by homework.

(Note to people who wonder why these people aren't complaining: A)they are and B)they're swamped with homework.)

This thinking has also led to me thinking about what types of homework I dislike. Because, yes, homework can be useful--but nothing about homework makes it intrinsically useful. Some teachers think it is, leading to:

Homework for Homework's Sake
This is exactly what it sounds like. It is when a teacher assigns homework, not because the class needs to memorize something or the teacher needs to make sure that everyone is caught up, but simply because it is homework.
Negative Effect: Association. This solidifies an idea that all homework is useless in a student's mind, because this homework is useless. Should s/he run into any genuinely useful homework, how much of a chance will s/he give the assignment?
Common Justifications: The arms race argument ("Well, they're doing it!"), discipline, study habits

The infamous More of the Same. Especially common in so-called 'advanced' classes that just pile on the work, hoping this increased work load will make it look like more is being taught, or that it is being taught more thoroughly.
Negative Effect: It creates a learning environment in which everything becomes boring, because it is drilled incessantly until it becomes so.
Common Justifications: "[What if t/T]hey didn't understand it the first time!", memory, "They won't practice any other way." (If they already understand, they don't need to.)

Punishment Work
This is when a student does something wrong, be it missing problems on a test, answering a question wrong in class, or stumbling over a presentation. It may be given to an individual student who has done something wrong, or the entire class. I would like to take a moment to separate this from test corrections: Test corrections are when one tells the student to look over the test and figure out how to do the problems s/he did wrong. Punishment work is when, for every problem missed, the student must complete ten problems of the same type. Punishment work may also be simpler, such as writing lines. "I will (not) x..."
Negative Effect: Association, but even moreso than HWFHWS. This is not just something the student does not enjoy--indeed, HWFHWS may be fun if the teacher knows how to work the assignment. This is a definitive "You are doing this because you have done something wrong," and gives the idea that homework--and by extension, possibly all academic work outside school--is a punishment. If you are doing everything right, then you don't need to do homework.
Common Justifications: Discipline, study habits, Spare the rod and spoil the child, "They'll know better next time." (which is a kinder way to say "This'll teach 'em," as far as I can tell).

And then we just have homework in general. If there is not a place for less priviledged students to get access to computers, good art supplies, or whatever else one needs to do the homework assigned, then suddenly we have an ever-growing gap--or, almost as bad, we don't, because the homework has no effect. Or a negative one.

Suggested Reading (for those interested):
The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn ( for some information/reviews.) [One interesting bit of information I found in this book was a connection to bloodletting. I seem to have misplaced the book, but he talks about a scientist who decided to perform experiments to see if bloodletting worked. It didn't. His conclusion? Bleed earlier, bleed heavier.]

And...I would give links on the other side, but every time I try I find someone who starts out by calling me (or rather, anyone with my position) a liar. About that insultingly. If someone can find a nice one, please share.

EDIT: Scratch the previous paragraph, the second comment on this very post is suggested reading.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Travel Log

I have been several hours from home for the past few days (Thursday Friday Saturday). Here's a summary of what happened, since I'm not about to make a normal-sized blog post right now. EDIT: Upon rereading, I suppose I was.

Wednesday-Worked on finishing up what homework I could, studying/cramming music.

Thursday-Woke up, drove to our first rehearsal place, which was a church, got a check to make sure I knew my music. People were singing outside the room, both songs they were going to be checked on (mostly in their assigned octets) and just plain randomly. I got in; we had our first rehearsal until 9:30 (breaks for lunch, dinner). Highlights: 1)More than half the room singing a song they had, which included stomping and clapping. They got spontaneous applause. 2)A group of guys gathered around the piano and started singing showtunes, with one accompanying.

Friday-Woke up at the hotel, had breakfast with the choir group in a reserved room. Went straight from there to the rehearsal, break for lunch, more rehearsing, got out for dinner and we had the evening free. Highlights: I got a solo in 'Babathandaza', one of the songs our director had arranged (he had done three out of our six). Sin nje nje nje... When we got out early we went to the movie theater (New Moon was sold out, shocker), and saw Disney's A Christmas Carol, which was awesome.
Jokes at the theater that I don't expect too many of you to get: The ice cream server was dressed up as a traditional vampire. Characters were matched up with flavors: Vanilla was Bella Swan, Birthday Cake (which was also the Flavor of the Month) was Edward Cullin [sic], and Mississippi Mud Pie was Seattle Emo Mud Pie.

Saturday-Final wrap-up rehearsals and concert performance, then goodbyes. Highlights: THE ENTIRETY OF THE CONCERT. But in particular, 'Babathandaza', 'Sto Me E Milo' and 'Aglepta'. Oh my [deit[y/ies] of choice] 'Aglepta'.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review: Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog

Yes, I'm a little late. Still. (And I ran out of things to write on.)

I suggest it. Strongly. My brother dislikes all things musical, and he suggests this. If you have not seen it, you will go see it. *Jedi handwave* If you have, what did you think? *Points to the comment section*

Points for:

* Music. Good, catchy, and sounds simpler than it is.
* Plot. It has one, and you don't need a PhD (in Horribleness or otherwise) or to be in kindergarten to follow it without feeling out of place.
* Joss Whedon. (Hey, how many bad things has he done recently?)
* Commentary! The Musical is exactly what it sounds like (better when watched with the visuals, just as a warning to any pirates..).
* Free. Very cheap. About nine bucks for the whole thing on iTunes. (I would personally suggest the DVD, but the short itself is great on its own regardless, and the DVD is probably available through any rental service you already have because it is awesome.)

Points against:

* Beginning. It drags a little. Personally, I like it, but it doesn't exactly give you a great idea of how the rest of the story is going to go. In my opinion, this means that if you don't like the first ten or so minutes, then give it a bit more time, but take this as you will.
* I can't think of enough points against to call it neutrality. So, yeah.

Links: (direct link to the video) (WARNING! Unmarked spoilers. However, it does warn you when these start. This, and associated pages, does happen to be an interesting read post-viewing, however.) (Yes, it's commentary gets it's own page.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gifted Kids

I need to stop reading these stories about gifted children from people who never were gifted children. If you're not gifted and/or close to someone who is--and I don't mean s/he's in your biology class, I mean you two are best friends and share everything--then stop it.

It's a different experience. Say you're talking about the top five percent of the population. Is five percent a good cross-section of the population? No. We can note patterns, maybe, but five percent of the water in a glass may be the five percent that's different. And if there's oil in the water, then it is certainly very different.

So say you think that children in Ender's Game are portrayed incorrectly because you didn't think that way when you were a kid, and neither did any of your friends. This is an inherently flawed position for two reasons. First of all, these kids are the cream of the crop pushed to their limits. They are supposed to be the extreme, so saying that they should fit what an average person thinks like is not going to work. And we are social animals, so the people we tend to run into are those similar to us. Opposites attract, but there has to be some similarity or else the only cause is strife.

And so we have a group of kids hand-picked for this purpose and pushed to their limits. The smartest of the smartest, and adults who will not only say but mean, "Show me what you can do." This is something that just doesn't happen much today. If I had a nickel for every time a teacher told me to slow down, that we'd get to that later, or that the question I was asking was not pertinent, I would be much richer. (Or if I just had a nickel for every time my sheet was used as an answer key.) These are teachers who will not stop you and hold you back, but push you on. It's like literacy. Go back in time, scribes are well-paid and a profession that takes a lifetime to learn. Today, if you can't read and write after four years in the American schooling system, something is seriously wrong.

[Later] Also: see child drug lords. It's not quite running a country, but wow is it close. [/Later]

Don't tell me we don't think like that. I thought like that. I think like that, with a little more advanced thought behind it. You couldn't say women or blacks or whites or men or Asians or anyone else can't be smart, so don't say kids can't be. Because, yes, we will get smarter. And we'll get even smarter when we're allowed to be. Kids are kids. But what we do have access to, we have more time to focus on.

See [addictive site]: for what happens when non-geniuses try to guess what these people would act like.

For the other side I'm referring to...
see comments in:
and read the post:


Thursday, November 5, 2009


Hi there. I'm popping back in for a moment to ask a question that I hope, someday, I will understand the answer to: What is this big deal about marriage?

I don't mean why would someone be threatened by having his or her religion invaded. I don't mean why would someone who has made up his or her mind to hate someone prevent them from marrying. I don't mean why do people want to get married. I am simply asking: why is a marriage in the government such a big deal?

We, as Americans (and sorry for the ethnocentrism, but to be honest, I have nowhere near enough of a grasp of the culture to comment anywhere else), have a separation of church and state. How effective this is varies, since it's not on the books, but it is there. It's a part of our cultural mindset. I regularly see in any code of conduct I have been asked to follow that you cannot discriminate based upon "race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, immigrant status, homelessness, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, medical condition, physical appearance or physical or mental disability." (This is taken directly from my current planner, which my school hands out to freshmen and sells to anyone else.) Would you prevent someone from marrying because he or she was black? How about because the person was sixty? Or Jewish? Poor? Ugly? In a wheelchair?

These all sound silly, don't they? Of course you wouldn't prevent Alex from marrying Sam just because Sam was black, or Asian, or whatever else, and Alex was white. Now here I am, a bisexual female. If I fall in love with Alex and I want to marry him, that's fine, no matter who he is. If I fall in love with Alex, and I want to marry her, I don't get to. Except...I do. I get to marry her in my church, or wherever you get married according to her religion. This is not stopping gays from getting married, it's just putting terminology on the books which is odd to begin with.

And then we've got the counterargument. The one that isn't religion, which I've already gone over, saying that I don't think religion and politics should mix. The other is that there is a difference between the sexes, and that men without women (bachelors, men married to men) are dangerous to society. The problem with this is readily apparent to anyone who knows a large number of bachelors or men living with their boyfriends, etc. First of all, they're not. Second of all, even if they were, the only way they could live entirely away from women would be to live entirely away from society. And beyond that, as I have already noted, taking away someone's right to marry in the government does not take away his or her right to marry.

Back to marriage. Because I am not talking about gay marriage, I am talking about marriage. If, as too many people seem ready to claim, marriage is a religious thing, why is it in our government at all? Why is anyone being married? Hey, let everyone get married in a [insert wherever people of your religion/lack thereof would get married here]. Let people get civil unions in the government, regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, immigrant status, homelessness, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, age, medical condition, physical appearance, or physical or mental disability. Marriage is marriage. The government has no place in a sacred union, because the government isn't sacred.

You, who believes people who wish to marry people of their own gender? You're right. You, who believe marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman in your religion? You're right (even if your religious leader disagrees, your religion is your religion). The government, having a place in the sacred part of anything sacred? Let's not. That can solve both sides.

Comments, questions, concerns?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Characters and Creativity

I was going to make these separate posts, but then I realized how closely entertwined they were. I don't think I could do a blog post on either without referencing the other--a lot--and they would both probably end up being short, even by this blog's standards, so here we are.

My characters tend to evolve very quickly or not at all. From what I've seen looking around at books, TV shows, movies, etc., this seems to be very often the case. If a character is the main character, by the time the story has started, you already have everything figured out about the character. For a background character, there is almost nothing figured out. If anything's there, it tends to be stereotypes.

There are exceptions, but my point is that, at least for me, characters rarely evolve gradually in my head. I come up with one or two traits, and then I have the entire personality in my head as well as a full visual. This ends up making it very difficult to communicate what the character is like, since I usually write short stories. Some of them are only five pages (Microsoft Word, Arial font size 10, quarter-inch margins). Why is it so hard to communicate? Imagine you're talking to your friends, about a friend. Now imagine someone overhearing this conversation. Does this give a good idea of the friend's personality? If I were to write a novel that showed the character in many different situations, that might be ideal, since it could be surprising, but still have a cohesive feel. However, presently I lack the patience to write a novel. Who knows? Maybe someday that will change. I already have a setting and characters and a skeletal outline if I do gain it.

Creativity works the same way for me: Stepwise. I'll have several things bouncing around in the back of my head for a while, and then something will hit--a major emotional reaction, such as anger or elation, a new discovery, whatever. And the story will all fall into place.

I would like to take a moment to distinguish between a story and, say, a manuscript. A story, to me, is all the stuff that happened. If you were there, you have the story, or at least a story. It takes someone with a fair bit of skill to come up with a good manuscript or a good story, but the difference is that you have to come up with the manuscript. You could stumble across a story, with luck and observation.

So I'm back to the same problem I had with characters. I can write the story as it happened, but will that be the best it can be? I usually write from first person, and so use a certain character's voice. That gives me some idea. But which details do I bring out? Certainly I can't describe every detail. Even if I wanted to, doing so destroys the pacing. And yet, not adding enough detail does the same thing. I solved this in one story simply by having a character tend to get lost in her thoughts--oh, they already had that conversation? Darn, I wasn't listening. [Summary] Ah. And that also allows me to have long pauses between long series of quotation marks without having to describe everything about the environment. But one way I try to improve my writing is to write many different characters, and so that it obviously not always and option. Recently I've taken to giving each of them a recurring quirk of some sort, and this helps pacing, but it still doesn't give an idea of the environment.

...Well, that and it means a large number of them are insane, one way or another. *unsettling laugh*

Hi. This is me, inviting comments. Please?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Honor Choir

Because I have to post this somewhere. If you don't want to hear about my personal life, stop now.

Solo: 18/20 (Superior)

Tone Quality: 18/20 (Superior)
* Descriptors: Dark, Open, Relaxed and Clean were circled, "BIG! SOUND" was written in the margin. Other descriptors (there was a separate line): rich, round, open & free!

Theory: 11/15 (I missed one point on the chromatic scale and all three on the major triad--I sang a minor at first. Oops!)

Tonal Memory: 22/25 (missed one point on the last and two on the third of five. They were supposed to gradually increase in difficulty)

Sight Singing: 9/20

So...guess what I need to work on? *Hunts for a sight-singing book*

EDIT: I can't believe I almost put this without saying...I got in. ACDA Coastal Women's Honor Choir, for those curious.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vampires Are the New Elves

This article will address both changes in vampire myths that makes them more similar to elves/fairies/the fair folk/the gentle folk/the fey and the original similarities.

1. Uncanny Factor: This is an essential part of vampire mythology that horror fans do not complain about (as much). The basic idea that vampires, whether friendly or not, are not like us. They are not human, they do not think like humans, they are truly a different creature.

Elves, or the fair folk or the fey or whatever else you might call them, tend to share this trait. They have their rules, and will follow them strictly and expect you to, as well. What are they? I don't know them all. This was, again, an essential part of the scary part of the fairy lore. It was what made them scary, because you might do something that to us is, at worst, a minor faux pas, and then you look up and grin sheepishly and--poof. Or worse yet, just saying thank you.

2. Glamour: Ah, yes. Who can forget fey glamour? Besides, well, anyone the Fair Folk want to forget. That just goes without saying. Vampire glamour tends to work much the same way, with the creature in question having control over it, and strength varying, without varying too much in any one story--usually. Series, of course, explore this much more extensively.

3. Holy Objects: Yes, believe it or not, these originally worked on fey. This detail is usually glossed over or forgotten in modern myth, but it was present, nonetheless.

5. Hunting You Down: Think about this for a moment, for vampires. Does it really make sense? If the person tells anyone about vampires in a world where there is a masquerade of some sort going on, no one will believe him or her. If there is no masquerade (or this would break it, somehow), and the vampire wants to stop him or her anyway, then just kill the human. Vampires are superstrong, superfast, stuperstealthy, etc. Why not?

And the usual response is either nothing or that the vampire gets bored. If that's not it, then there might be rules governing treatment of humans to avoid detection, but then we get back to the fey very easily. There are strict rules for the Fair Folk to follow in most lore, and they had to be followed exactly. Sometimes, breaking them results in them being hunted down. This could mean being tossed out or getting the Wild Hunt after you.

(Incidentally, this is totally Sunday. And if it weren't, the fact that I had a bonus update this week would totally make up for it.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Planning: Known/Unknown Knowns/Unknowns

Yes, the title can be combined in any fashion. This will be a short post explaining how, with the three traditional combinations first, then the fourth, Unknown Knowns.

Known Knowns
This is simple enough, and should, hopefully, be the basic of any plan. It means something that you know you know, essentially a truth that you know about.

Known Unknowns
These are also integral in the making of a plan. These are the variables you cannot predict--whether because of insanity, lack of information, or anything else. In other words, it is something you know you do not know--so you can prepare for it.

Unknown Unknowns
These are the things you simply cannot prepare for. There is something that could mess you up or help you, but you have no idea it exists. In short, you don't know what you don't know.

Unknown Knowns
Here is where I get the most odd looks. This is fair, since the only reason I thought of this was because I imagined known/unknown knowns/unknowns as a chart, the former on the top and the latter on the side. What is this? This is something you should know, something you either have been told or have learned, but you do not remember it. Put another way: it's true, you would recognize it, but it doesn't quite make it into your head when you're planning.

(As a side note, something I found while spell-checking this: My computer recognizes known, unknown, and unknowns, but not knowns. Weird.)

Tropes for planning (Warning: Addictive):
And when you figure everything out quickly:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Short Haircuts

For about a year previous to this, I have been looking around at short haircuts, since I wanted to cut mine. During my research, I read several sites that said that people with thick hair should not get short haircuts. I also ran across some horror stories, up to and including a woman's boyfriend breaking up with her.

Well, I was on the fence, leaning toward short hair. So I brought it up around some friends. And then:

"Girls cannot have short hair."

I don't believe I need to elaborate upon the immediate reaction of every female at the table, including myself.

Next haircut appointment, I arrive a little early, flip through some magazines, and get my hair cut from mid-back down to about an inch, with side bangs.

And the horror stories? ...Not so much. I got a bunch of compliments on my new hairstyle, and the worst comment I got was that I look like my mother. Bringing this up in front of anyone while we are both in the room is a good way to get a few laughs.

I know several girls from my school were horrified at the idea of their hair being cut short, yet everyone--everyone--seemed to like my hairstyle. So my main question is...why the terror? What is this obsession with long hair? Some justifications I hear around are that long, healthy hair takes years to grow, so it means the person has been well-taken care of, that guys grow up wanting to rescue Cinderella and Rapunzel, and none of these princesses have short hair, so guys aren't going to want to 'rescue' girls with short hair, etc., etc.

My view? My neck pain's dissipating, I'm getting fashion compliments, I'm not hiding behind my hair anymore, and I feel better after running. Short hair rocks. And anyway, I'm more of a knight than a princess.

Tropes That Occured to Me While Writing This (they didn't inspire, they're just sort of related):

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Vampires. Love 'em, hate 'em, they're everywhere these days. It's like unicorns all over again, except people seemed to just ignore the fact that unicorns used to be this powerful, wild creature. I don't mean that unicorns were all death and destruction, but most people remember the virgin capture. It was to tame a unicorn. There was a wild creature there to tame.

So, why are some people so obsessed with vampires remaining monstrosities (because yes, any smart being who is always evil is a monstrosity)? It could be because of our most basic definitions of what a vampire is: a humanoid that sucks blood. Losing blood is a dramatic and gory way to die. Strictly speaking about pain, bleeding is not the worst way to go, but it looks bad, it sounds bad, and, if you are around, it smells bad. Scent gives a very visceral reaction.

The biggest complaint I hear is that vampires are being treated as sympathetic and/or kind creatures. The explanation I usually get is that you can see clearly by looking at Dracula, Nosferatu (and occasionally Carmilla) that vampires are evil beings. Pointing to these vampires as the original undermines the point that they are trying to make, as vampires predate the printing press by a long ways. Assyrian, Babylonian, and ancient Hebrew tradition have some written examples, and vampire myths exist in enough separate cultures to suggest a fairly universal idea. Not all these vampires were good, but as to whether they were actually evil...that's not always spelled out any more clearly than it would be for a human in a story. Not even getting into a debate of what is evil...

The secondary complaint I hear, which is usually latched onto the first, is that vampires are becoming hypersexualized. This is an...interesting argument, especially when coupled with a reference to Carmilla or Dracula. Dracula is a thinly veiled "those gol derned foreigners are comin' into our town and rapin' our wimmin!" (Apologies to anyone who actually talks like that or knows anyone who does.) [Note upon rereading: I like Dracula. I've read through it, and enjoyed the book. This is not an insult to the it.] Carmilla is a precursor for lesbian vampires everywhere. Even without that, vampires' lust for blood and lust for sex are commonly combined or conflated in one way or another. If you are saying that older is better, having borderline hypersexualized vampires is all but required.

Why does this bother me so much? Because this restricts vampires to forces, like a tornado, an earthquake or a tsunami. If a vampire just is evil, there is no motivation because there is no choice. A vampire by that definition, or indeed any being with no choice in his or her morality, is not a character, s/he is a force. Even if the vampire was good, that person is dead and gone.

The hypersexualization mostly bothers me because it is a part of the original myth. It would be like calling succubi or incubi hypersexualized. It is a centerpiece of the mythology. Making them without it is completely fine, but don't tell me that doing so is better.

In Summary: Vampires have no 'original' mythology. Don't tell me you, who probably hasn't even been around 100 years, know what happened when bloodsucking humanoid creatures were created. And please don't tell me that's the only way to write them.

P.S. Did you know sunlight didn't kill vampires until very recently? Usually it just de-powered them. True story. [Later: And, of course, really old vampires tended to not physically leave their graves.]

Tropes To Look At (WARNING: This site will ruin your life, suck up all your time, and may addict you to the point that you will no longer be able to have a normal conversation without thinking in tropes. Believe this troper. She knows.)
(Oh, reading anyway? Alright.)
[Note: None of these contain an actualy continuation of my blog post, they just are some of the tropes that got me thinking.]
How addicting is this site? While pulling those links up I started browsing through. I got to non-vampire related tropes, and I almost reflexively linked to wiki walk. Gah!
(And for those of you who want more on that beginning bit: )
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