Saturday, March 26, 2011


Wrote these a while back.
The guy took off and I jumped, hitting the ground with a bang that echoed through my knees. I would run.

It’s funny.

My feet hit the ground one after the other, faster than anything and soundless, because that slap, slap we’re so used to isn’t nearly as loud when you run right, and I was just moving to move.

Vampires, elves, Vulcans, we’re so obsessed with things that go for longer than we can.

I couldn’t tell you how long I went, just keeping my sight on him, one foot after the other, hitting the ground in a rhythm that soon matched my heart and breath, cut time to common but still there, still a rhythm within me that faded as it synchronized. Everything was instinct.

And yet, and especially, when we look for what makes humans better in the animal kingdom, what do we find?

The one in front of me started slowing. He was bright; he’d avoided anywhere I could trap him. But he wasn’t agile. It was all wide open space; I could see him from a mile away. He couldn’t hide, he couldn’t dart under something, and by this point he didn’t even have time and energy to spare if he found a place, not enough to hide his tracks.

He slowed. Collapsed. I sped.

Humans endure.
The mirror was in an undesirable state of being.

Once, lifetimes ago, he had been alive. And possibly female. That would be closer in line with how the woman who had trapped him worked, but he couldn’t remember anything of his past life. His voice was masculine, so, at the present time, he was a he.

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall,

“Who’s the fairest of them all?”

He is bound to answer truth, but is adept enough at sticking only to the letter. That, the spell allows for. The mirror opens his mouth to give back her expected, “You are,” as always, and hears himself say, “Um.”

The witch glares at him.

He tries to think of a way out. Snow White is lovelier, but factor her hair in, and she was by no means fair. Her hair was black as snow-soaked stone, even as her skin was as white as her name would suggest.

The mirror panicked. Had she updated the spell? He searched for anything that was different.


Who’s the fairest of them all?

The mirror, miserable but bound to answer, lacking any outward expression so reflecting her calm annoyance, echoed out the answer. “Snow White.”

The queen was livid. She sent out a huntsman to kill the young girl. The mirror was neutral, with no one to reflect, and was left alone for so long he began to fade. There was nothing he could do, for he could not reflect a lie, anymore than he could clarify of his own will.

The fair queen hadn’t included herself.
I sucked in a breath and pinched the bridge of my nose.



“We really don’t have time to—”

“My top five priorities just died, I think you can wait two silent seconds while I rearrange my damn goals.”
Vampires can enter uninvited.

The operative word here is can. A young vampire is still learning how to regulate basic functions, and the additional focus required to suddenly need to regulate not actively rotting when you’re still learning to remember to breathe and keep your heart beating are notable. If you’re outside, or invited, then forgetting those is mildly uncomfortable, and you may gray out. No big deal, usually it’s just a few moments of diminished senses, and at the most a few minutes—given the healing factor we have, there are very few things that can hurt us permanently even given all those minutes. And very few realize they need to. Would you proceed to burn the corpse if you’d already slit the throat?*

But the young ones usually haven’t figured out that they can pass through thresholds, the older ones know they shouldn’t, and the oldest ones can fake it well enough. I’ve been told that the truly old ones can trick even other vampires into believing that they’ve been invited in, though the fact that I’ve never even heard firsthand knowledge at two hundred and thirty-eight should tell you how rare or deadly quiet they are. Regardless, I’d say your chances are better of being killed in an earthquake/tornado/insert local disaster here.

Oh, also. I don’t know about you, but I’m the sort to pick up new accents after a few weeks around new people. Sometimes I’ve even been talking to someone for a few moments and started using their accent without noticing. So this will all be fairly modern, because I have yet to give up human interaction entirely.

And if my register flips between how old I am and far too young for any adult…well, I doubt it will, because I usually have trouble passing for “gifted,” much less my age. But if it does, do keep in mind that humans do still talk to me like I’m twelve. I have to move too often for anyone to acclimate to treating me my age.
* Incidentally, the vampire population decreases significantly during plagues, because the answer to that question is suddenly and definitively, “Yes.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How I Read Reviews

In the world of the rhetorical triangle, my audience is an ill-thought-out metaphor.

So, I'm perusing Amazon. There are two items I come across, and one's ratings are significantly higher than the other. I have no other prior information on either book, and something in Amazon's algorithms directed me towards both, so I'm not even entirely sure what they're about. I read the descriptions, and they strike me as fairly similar. Both descriptions could be of a bad, textbook romance, or of a well-written tale of what "romance and intrigue" would bring to mind if it weren't so thoroughly associated with textbook romances #8-47, 89, 307-415, and 112. I pick the one with the lower rating.

Book set #2 looks almost exactly the same. If there are any differences in rating, they are in the hundredths. I was directed in the same way, and one looks textbook romance, one looks different in an interesting way. I pick the one with the higher rating.

The point of those paragraphs was to say that the average star rating doesn't factor in. Honestly, the stuff I like is probably going to do terribly in my age bracket, and the ratings say more about the advertising than the actual books--if you get a ton of adolescent males suddenly getting given Twilight books, guess whose rating drops? If the book is for an incredibly narrow audience, and no one else will understand it, but it also happens that only three people--myself included--outside that group will ever find it, then its rating will probably be pretty decent. And polarizing books have 2.5, because half the people give 5 and the others 1 (or 0). It just doesn't work for me.


I start out looking at low-rating comments, seeing if I care about them. Then I look at high-rated, same metric. Basically:

1. Spelling. Not just proper spelling--it's the internet, people make mistakes and don't edit them. Big whoop. But if I come across a review that's written in 1337 or with a bunch of random symbols in the middle...I'm not part of that demographic. It's probably not going to say anything I care about.

2. Grammar. Once again, grammatical errors happen. The ones I'm looking for here are the ones where they wear their poor grammar as a badge of pride--"I know my grammars gonna be bad, but u can just deal."--and false intelligence. The most common are putting "I" where "me" belongs, or "whom" for "who". "He got the book for me."-->"He got the book for John and me." And if the who is performing an action in active voice, that's a who. "He is there."-->"Who is there?" "Whom is there?" just tells me you're trying to sound smart and failing.

3. What are you saying? All of these have been subjective, but this is probably the most so. Say the person says that the author went too far into the background and mythology of the piece, to the point of most of the story taking place in the past. I find that fascinating. If it goes dry, "Oh, by the way, vampires can move at exactly thirty two feet per second per second horizontally, and werewolves can move a 8.6753 meters per minute while in shifted form, but..." then I'm probably not interested. But if someone is complaining about background as a bad thing in and of itself, we have different tastes. That review doesn't help me, so I move one. Positive reviews have the same thing. If the person talks about how the graphics in X game are so amazing and immersive and...sorry. Graphics, not really my bit in videogames. I want to see everything clearly, so crisp graphics are good, but I only really fall into the sun-dappled autumn leaves fluttering if I'm not worrying about winning/losing/playing.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Vivid Memories

To the muse whose face is in the shadow of memory, whose throat brought us here.

I keep a diary, and one of the entries I try to keep up on are vivid memories that pop up during the day. These aren't just me remembering, "Oh, yeah, that happened." The memory has to have some sensory element that comes back into my head perfectly. For instance, my dad bought me a pink balloon. I remember the exact shade of the balloon before and after being blown up, so the balloon is a vivid memory.

The interesting thing, that the above illustrates quite well, is that these are entirely random. I remember the shape of quite a few traumatic memories well, of course, and the shape of exciting ones, amazing moments, moments I try to remember. But the memories where I can quote and mimic inflection, or repeat the movement, or remember how the hug felt, are entirely random. From observation, I have gathered that this is true of other people, although I'm not entirely certain.

What I find interesting about this is that it means a sufficiently large audience focusing on a sufficiently small performance will have every bit of the performance. Everyone will remember the shape of the spectacle you wanted to draw attention to, a good chunk will remember this or that part that made them come to a sudden realization, but these random, vivid-as-life memories can come from any part of the performance.

"Performance" has an association with the stage, and this is not the definition I am using. Any action with a sufficiently large group of people looking at it finds its way into someone's memory.

The statistics aren't perfectly even, of course. Things people are more likely to remember the shape of that are new are tipped a little towards vividness.* Because newness makes it more likely to be remembered, younger people and people in a completely new situation are more likely to remember. We recognize that much, intuitively. "Oh, I remember because it was my daughter's birthday." "I know because I forgot my hat that day, and when I went back I looked out the window and there it was." 'Something thrust me out of my routine, so I remember everything a little better.' But true vivid memories still have a touch of random to them. If something sticks out enough to make me remember, I may remember the shape better. If something is traumatic enough to give me flashbacks, then of course those are more vivid than almost everything else.

But I also remember the shade of that balloon. That freezer of ice by the grocery door. Staring at the mirror with the big crack down the middle. Bending to the audience in 'Defying Gravity' in eighth grade. The moment I realized I liked him, followed by the whiplash realization and throwing myself out of that. The lunar rainbow.

And so any word I say can be the most important thing I've ever done, because this person remembered it, and it inspired this.

*The shaped ones that you see regularly get back into shapes, like trying to hold a camera still and taking a picture of the same landscape on the same part of the film--the superimpositions that are slightly off blur the image.
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart