A Change in Times

I did not post yesterday.

That’s the first since I decided on daily posts that I missed, which is disappointing, if only to myself. Not because I was sick, I’m healthy enough, if still a little congested. Not because I was busy—this is still small, narrow-minded USA after all. (That’s a little unfair, after all I just heard about a twice-monthly writer’s meetup.) No, I just…didn’t make it. Remembered that I should post about 6 pm, and didn’t think of it again until a quarter after midnight.

It’s just as well, what with NaNoWriMo coming up. And funny too, because it’ll be Tuesday and Thursday posts.

But I would have rather announced the change in schedule, as a matter of discipline. Funny that the post about NaNo was the one to end on, before my unintended break. But with 1667 words a day for the month, the posts here would get even shorter and I’d have to entirely surrender my tl;dr byline. And I’d so hate to do that  I also have a few fan fiction stories I want to work on at the same time (because I’m nothing if not ambitious), so keeping up a coherent blog won’t be my priority.

Slowing down the schedule a bit has actually been the plan for a while. I may have managed posting every day, but I don’t feel they’ve been as strong as they were before. This will give me more time to come up with an idea and develop it properly, instead of simply pecking at the keyboard while trying to watch Restaurant Impossible or worse, the news. That way just dilutes my focus and gives me far too many things to talk about.

I’m trying to take it as seriously as the Multicultural Lit class, way back when, where every blog post counted for a grade. And I really don’t want to get too naval-gazing, it’s unpleasant for everyone.

Besides, I know I have plenty to say, and I keep posting bits and pieces of my ideas before they’re articulated, and only afterward do I realize what I actually wanted to say. Of course figuring out connections between unrelated posts after the fact can give me new ideas, but  I’d like to have more time to properly develop them. Get several drafts in, do some proper editing and arranging before hitting the publish button. Maybe I’ll be able to learn something. And if I actually understand what I’m talking about, maybe I can even teach something to others. Keeping up this blog would feel so much less self-indulgent.

For example, the post I promised weeks ago, regarding my thoughts on the uselessness of education as a thing. Suffice to say, while I may be willing to play the devil’s advocate in a philosophical, academic (heh) debate, trying to compose such an argument during a political campaign makes me supremely uncomfortable.

Especially as, just a day or so after I’d decided to write such a post, I had to visit my former university’s website to learn more about my program having been suspended. California had one of the best university systems in the world for years. The complete and utter degradation of the same is, in my mind, as near to the scale of the destruction of our own economy. There should be far more support higher education in this country and I cannot express my disappointment in how it’s been handled over the past few years. So. You can surely see why I don’t want make even the most theoretical comment on the topic. God forbid, someone would take me seriously, and I just don’t feel up to the discussion.

On the other hand, I’ve also been meaning to write a very mean review for City of Bones by Cassandra Clare on Goodreads. It’s a book with a large, devoted, less-than-rational fanbase. Don’t get me wrong, most people who like the series seem to be perfectly rational, intelligent people. Unfortunately, the vocal minority are, shall we say, less than a stellar representation of humanity. Like with TwilightHouse of Night, Fifty Shades of Grey heck, even Harry Potter, some of its greatest fans tend to make one question the value in humanity. Unlike Twilight however, while City of Bones drives me up the wall during the reading, it makes me less objectively angry. At least, that’s the case more than a year after I read the thing. At any rate, I look forward to getting my first trolls for that review, though it may be too long after publication and hype to get much attention. 

So. That’s the news. I’m writing this in a cafe a booth over from two nearly unsupervised boys who are getting more and more hyperactive. Starting next week, I’m only going to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and hopefully it’ll be a little more organized from here on out. Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo

It’s all the writing I really want to be doing. Mainly because there will be so much of it.

While following a discussion of NaNo on a forum, I read a few people who posted what they used as rewards for finishing, say 500 words, or 1,000. Like ten minutes online, or a candy bar. Well, just as I was writing, my dad came in with the half-bag of leftover Halloween Reese’s. Surely that’s not coincidence.

And maybe I’ll eat less candy too.

But it’s hard enough keeping up with this blog without having to worry about writing a novel too. And while it’s a different kind of writing, I do blog faster than I novel. If I may be excused for turning it into a verb. But I can write more than a thousand words on a subject I’m only vaguely interested in, but making up fiction takes longer.

So I think I’ll try to keep up with this here, but now I have to go write some fiction.

Crazy, Crazy Day

Swiss house under demolition (so internal stru...

Image via Wikipedia

I pulled myself out of bed promptly at six this morning. So early that the sun wasn’t up yet, nor even the cats—though they did slink around the corners a bit. It’s a nice time, and for once I had the house to myself. This could do wonders for my mental health.

Having a goal made the endeavor far more palatable. Not that it was much of a carrot, it still gave me purpose.

I revised my short story. It’s not a good story, and never was, but hopefully it’s a little better. Got some of the little edits in, playing with paragraphs and sentence structures, that sort of thing. Most importantly, I filled in a sort of missing scene. The story itself had no indication that this scene existed, much less missing, but it builds the step between the ignorant beginning and the “epiphany” of the climax. Nothing quite so grand actually, but it’s far too late after my early morning to remember what the term I want is. Oh, the shame!

Then at 7:40 I got the call to sub. Maybe I planned the early wake up as me time, but it certainly made it possible for me to get to school that quickly. And it was the last day I needed this month to pay the bills.

And at 4:30, my brother and I had to head toward the theater to set up the movie. But brother had locked his keys in the projection room. And when he finally called other brother, he found that the other set of keys was in other brother’s car. Which my mom was driving, since other brother is out-of-state. So we went home. I remembered to pick up my jacket if it got cold again at night (it didn’t) and my glasses to focus the movie. We got back to the theater and brother got started setting up the movie, and my friend came over to hang out since we hardly ever see each other. Brother was kind enough to let me get away with this. Friend and I made fun of a certain book that she had lent me from her sisters’ collection.

Now, we could have finished the day off like this, the three of us: setting up the movie, and watching it (to check for errors of course). Except M.P.A.T. schedules “blocking” (play practice) at the theater on Thursday evenings. I forgot to inquire as to why this is so.

I had to go and walk about on stage while trying to read my lines and several actors not present.

It wasn’t much fun. I’m the only newbie on set; as brother put it, I “haven’t been in a play since kindergarten.” I told him that was a little excessive, because who could count kindergarten pageants plays? Other than possibly parents. Nothing against kindergarteners here. At any rate, I can’t enunciate and I don’t know what to do with myself on stage. As every other person in the cast has, I think, several years experience at least, I found this to be hugely embarrassing. Maybe not hugely. And even ’embarrassing’ doesn’t convey all that much, as I get embarrassed by almost everything. Although at least I can finally spell the word.

We finally cleared out the play paraphernalia (that is to say, the metal folding chairs on stage) about 8:30, at which point brother and I were finally able to eat dinner. An over-backed bake-at-home pizza. It was hot though, and dad delivered honey too, so it was almost palatable.

Brother helped me actually set up the movie—run the film through the projector and flip most of the switches. And we finished the rest of the flip switching by eleven.

Crazy, crazy day, I tell you.

Just the Last

The small class on the highlight of all Rockland High School field trips take notes as the manatees bob roundly in the water. When Molly remembers how they have those fat little fins, she wishes she could give the big one a hug, and leans over the edge a little to catch a glimpse of the cow-sweet eyes.

“Heh, look how many scars they have,” her boyfriend says, nuzzling her hair like he always does. “Bet if I had a boat I’d go fly’n if I hit that fat one.”

“You are so immature, Howard,” she answers. And pulls away.

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Writing to Prompts

This particular prompt was:

Write a 100-word story using these words: envy, manatees, and Texas.

And I don’t know that my answer is particularly awesome or anything, but today’s prompt was to write a 100-word story about ninjas and pirates, which is such an internet meme I’m positively sick of hearing about them.

Not that I didn’t love the joke in college, when my friends and I played with the idea (I was on the ninja side, by the way). But it’s not something I want to try to write one hundred words on. What would those words be? Nothing that I’m particularly interested in writing.

Not What I Wanted to Post

That would be a review of Inception, since I’ve seen it twice now, and Witches’ Children (by Patricia Clapp), because it’s simply a beautifully written novel and just…just…well, awesome is all I can say here, because I’ll definitely have to finish the review for that one: it’s too good not to. I’m going to campaign for that book.

But I’m still distracted online, reading/watching reviews of Twilight, and Harry Potter fan fiction, and also just generally looking at other web-culture type things.

Mostly because I have a two stories and two poems that I almost, kinda, sorta want to submit to Watershed, but though I reworked them a bit a few days ago, I’m rather afraid of looking at them again. I only have a few days before I have to send them off, and I can only think of what they are not. For instance, good.

And the problem is really that I just can’t evaluate my own work in any objective way…which is fairly typical as far as I can tell. But not a helpful insight. So I’ve resorted to avoidance.

Maybe I can work on them tomorrow, to distract myself from the other Big Deal, the rehearsal for The Curious Savage.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice


Teasing a Sleeping Girl

Originally uploaded by Maulleigh

Having written some 4000 words on Killing Time—a book that I can’t stand, less because I hate it, but because it has so many of my pet peeves—I’m suddenly questioning my reasons for posting it online.

Not that it isn’t practically tradition online to do so. There are several websites dedicated to nothing more than poking fun at badly written, plotted, and conceptualized stories. Sometimes published works like the Twilight ‘saga’, the two series of Laura K. Hamilton, and even the later Harry Potter books. Sometimes, and more often, the focus is on awful fan fiction or other online stories.

Killing Time wasn’t meant to be published, but it was published, so I think I’m covered. It’s started to seem kind of mean though. Which I don’t like to be, I think it’s a bad habit.

While I’ve thought before while reading some sporks that they go too far, I allow myself to be seduced by the amusingness. In some cases. For example, I generally don’t read the websites making fun of fan fictions. They aren’t as funny, to me, so I can’t claim a virtue here, but they are also generally working with avereragely bad fics. As opposed to those, say, Rose Potter. Which are well-known in sporking circles for their exceedingly awful badness and creepiness. So fandom itself will sort out the worst of the worst, and those are funny sporks.

Anyway, I think I might continue with my various reports on Killing Time, but only likely if I can continue to post more short essays about the tropes that I dislike rather than an actual spork. Although maybe later I’ll find time to do so, if on a more appropriate medium.

But this whole thought process came about because Laurell K. Hamilton recently made a blog post. Another author wrote a response. A link was posted on amazon.com and discussion continued for several pages. Naturally, this ended up on FandomWank. Well, I don’t really remember the wank report, but I was, intrigued, let’s say, buy the other author’s response.

Now I’ve never heard of Jennifer Armintrout, the other author, but I thought her blog post rather well-reasoned. As did the person who posted it on amazon, unless they intended to cause a kerfluffle (which is entirely possible). However, the thread really got going when someone, called R. Harinandansingh (R.H. and given the masculine pronoun, because the shes are confusing already), objected to Armintrout’s calling out L.K.H. Because it’s ‘unprofessional’. When I first got to his comments, I immediately dismissed them. First they were inflammatory, and secondly ridiculous. In what way does being a published author take away your right to critique? How does being any kind of career-artist (as he seemed to imply) mean you can’t have an opinion on others in your field?

Then I started feeling uncomfortable about having dismissed R. H. so readily. It’s not like the original post was an attack on Armintrout. As another poster brought up, yes, there is a long history of author’s taking pot shots at each other—see Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”, and Twain is vicious, though witty—but it’s never been nice.

Of course, Armintrout never claimed to be nice. And though L.K.H. may not have directly addressed any specific author’s in the post, she was talking about the craft of writing. And as another author, and especially a published one, she has a right to respond to a post that essentially demeans authors who don’t write the same way L.K.H. does. Also, when it’s online, it’s public. As far as I’m concerned, when it’s published (and a blog is a form of publication), it is, by definition, published. Now, if L.K.H. had written this in a protected, private journal, online or otherwise, I might take more issue with the propriety of responding like that. But she made her opinions public.

I just don’t see why the response by Armintrout, however emotional, is less than professional. R.H. makes a point of saying that only artists can’t critique each other (or he seems to) and that lawyers and doctors should because their professions actually make a difference. (Or so I recall, it’s been a few days since I read the thread.) However, I very much enjoyed the beginning of Armintrout’s first (only?) response on the amazon thread, defending her original post:

1. I did not write the blog because I have a problem with LKH’s writing. I have adored all the books I’ve read from her…My blog was not a criticism of her as a writer.

3. I didn’t write the blog out of professional jealousy or “cattiness”. I would love to have the word “catty” removed from any discussion of female authors from now on. When Nicholas Sparks routinely slams the romance genre, no one calls him “catty”. They call him “outspoken” and “opinionated”. “Catty” is a word we use to describe women who aren’t acting like sugar, spice, and everything nice, and it’s bs.

I wrote the blog because I don’t like it when people who are feeling insecure for whatever reason decide that the only way to bring themselves up is to attack others. LKH has a lot to be proud about, and other authors do not threaten the success she’s made for herself. You may find my blog unprofessional. That’s fine. I’m really, really unprofessional. I approach my career as one approaches their first year of college: too much partying and running of the mouth and not enough work. But I get really p.o.ed at the idea that LKH gets a free pass to sling passive-aggressive attacks at every other author who puts a pair of fangs in their books in order to make herself feel smarter, more successful, more like an innovator, or whatever she was trying to accomplish.

Can I say, firstly, that I love number 3 wholeheartedly? Spot on, and also, Nicholas Sparks strikes me as an obnoxious idiot. And, actually, fits the definition of “catty” to a T. So perhaps it just needs to be a cross-gender insult. But it isn’t and so should be given up.

And the only way any profession keeps itself going is by discussion. Authors don’t write in a vacuum either. Perhaps all the cutesy niceness has done nothing for the quality of writing produced. Perhaps a good challenge once in a while might do some people some good.

Fursplode

I talk about the Twilight series (saga :P) far too often for not having read any of the books–well, other than the first few chapters of the first–or having watched the movies–although now I’ve seen the first and the most recent. But I don’t really discuss the books or movies, I make fun of them…or rather, I enjoy reading about others’ reactions and critiques of the books (when it’s funny, it’s called a spork). And then I like to share those indigent and intelligent readers/watchers’ conclusions with my friends and family–who either agree with me (hey, two younger brothers who are the opposite of the ideal audience, which is helpful) or really, really don’t care (unless I’m telling my mom about some of the awful things that Meyer says, or awkward ideas in the text, like imprinting, after which I get a “wait, what?” and it’s funny).

But because my family has been volunteering at the local nonprofit theater for years and years, we get free movie tickets. The most recent movie, Eclipse, finally arrived here, so I thought I’d go see it, as it’s supposed to be the best of the movies. But I didn’t have any friends in town that weekend, at least not any I could get in touch with in time. Fortunately however, my youngest brother had just returned from working at camp, and he agreed to let me drag him to the movie, on the mutual terms that as soon as we thought of something amusing/irritating we could make fun of it at once. Also, I was not to tell other brother.

Pshaw.

So, after getting distracted by my five other open tabs, where was I? Oh, yes. I very much enjoyed the movie, actually. Although I was a little disturbed that, though there weren’t very many people there, there were several pretty young kids. Which with some of the scenes in the movie made me uncomfortable. But hey, kids these days.

About the movie itself: the first thing I distinctly remember thinking was that Frost’s “Fire and Ice” did not deserve to be in this movie. Also, sparkles! I love those little rainbows. (What happened to them in that last scene?) Why would you hang out in a meadow like that? The whole time I was thinking of the stickers, and the bugs. I’m an indoor personality, I admit.

I already can’t think of any coherent way of putting this together, but I do remember specific instances, like when the werewolves came out (when they were still guys) and all I could think about was Spoony’s review of New Moon, the movie, and the homo-erotic undertones of their interactions. Again, haven’t seen that movie myself. But he makes a good case for it, especially when you consider Jacob really isn’t the ‘chosen one’. Except for the daughter. Anyway, while I’m not going to choose sides in that “Team So-and-So” thing, other than enjoying the Burger King commercials, I like the werewolves in the movie. They’re giant and cuddly! like great big stuffed animals! although I imagine the hip surgeries would get expensive and hard to explain (did you see the way they were walking?).

My brother and I decided that Bella and Edward were boring and irritating, but if the story had been about the other Cullen vampires, it would have been awesome. Like Jasper, the one with crazy eyes and Shakespearean hair, although his backstory didn’t make any sense. (Also, I’ve spent so much time of sites making fun of it that I know all the characters. It’s very sad.) And my brother couldn’t stand Charlie’s uniform, and spazzed every time he came on screen with it on.

Bella is horrible to the poor guy, but we both thought he was cool. And, at least in the books, everyone got mad when Jacob kissed (almost typed killed) Bella ‘against her will’, which is bad, as are all the stalker-ish things he says (you know, the same things Edward says). In the movie, though, it does show Bella as very much leading him on (or that’s how I saw it) and though I don’t want to stray into blame the victim territory, because she does push him away. Yay!

Of course then she breaks her hand on his face trying to punch him–which first of all was unnecessary, I mean, she pushed him off, she should have just left–and really, she breaks her hand? I think should ought to go to the hospital to find out if she has a bone condition, or maybe cancer. That’s a really worrying symptom. But it’s supposed to be LOLclumsy, so I had no trouble with everyone else making fun of her.

Except Ed of course, but heh. And, aside from that whole “I’d rather see you dead than undead” line, where I twitched a lot, I liked Jacob. He was just really really confused after what apparently happened in New Moon. And again, I appreciated any screen-time not devoted to Bella/Ed.

Then the tent scene, which was fun to watch with a boy scout, because apparently that’s a cold weather tent and it shouldn’t be much lower inside than 40F degrees, and he said she was in a 0-degree sleeping bag (or at least a 25 as he’s just informed me). So they were well-prepared. And Bella was just faking. Sporfle. Then they have the whole argument in which Ed reveals their engagement and Jake loses it, so Bella gets him to kiss her, and how awful was that? I felt so bad for him, although he does keep falling for it.

Then we get to the battle, which I liked, because it made me think of vampire movie!football and “GAP AD FORMATION”. They certainly didn’t seem to be accomplishing much other than knocking them over repeatedly until the wolves got there. And I don’t get how Jake got injured, because the vampires move too fast to make sense.

But poor pretty captured vampire. The one the ogre vampire killed because…? Well, I have no idea. But I guess the Cullens as a whole don’t care for anyone but Bella. (Which was admittedly demonstrated when they watched the national news and all the havoc being wrecked, knowing the problem early on and moving on with less than a shrug of the shoulders.) And when they agree to save the pretty little vampire, but just give her up to the red-eyed Sith–oh wait, Volturi, because what’s-her-name asked them to. Dakota Fanning. If it had been about her and the Riley gang, it would have been a cooler movie.

Well, in addition to everything else that would have made it a cooler movie, if a less funny one.

New LanguAge

I was reading the school paper, and perused a commentary on how students on campus use language in this age of information. As an English major, I approve.

The author, as I recall, blamed the breakdown of intelligent communication on the text messaging language as it creeps into the spoken.  Many people do. I’m not sure I don’t. In fact, I was surprised at myself when I first read the article, because at first I found myself rolling my eyes. I don’t appreciate the careless use of language. Using text speak in actual speech is always ridiculous–unless used satirically. Or maybe even just used humorously. But I must admit, sometimes I have at least thought “WTF” when watching/hearing something so utterly stupid that I can’t spare the mental time to think the whole phrase–and, hey, it’s not really cursing. And there are plenty of words invented by the internet* that I genuinely  appreciate. Sheeple. Kerfluffle. Angsting.

Perhaps it’s careless to use new words, when a careful enough revision of my own writing or thoughts might be able get the same feeling across using ‘traditional’ English. But then again, as the Facebook “Flair” button says “English: A language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages, and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary,”** which I’m quite sure is stolen from someone who does not get nearly enough credit…but when you say something that awesome on the internet you tend to lose your fame for it very quickly.  Anyway, when English doesn’t have the perfect one, it tends to fill the vacuum with something new or borrowed (and sometimes blue, I’m sure). Thus I justify my internet speak.

So when I first read the article, I thought: well, really, why not use text speak in casual conversation? I’d greatly appreciate if you do so out of my hearing, but if your group understands the language, you may as well. So long as your formal communications–to someone outside of your social circle, or in written communications other than texts or possibly tweets. And if you have any acquaintances (or especially coworkers/bosses) as Facebook friends, don’t use text speak in status updates.  Nonetheless, I do feel  it has a place.

Then again, pretty much as soon as I found myself making the argument above, I realized–the problem is people don’t seem to be able to distinguish when it might be appropriate and when it definitely isn’t.

I remember, in high school, I read two ‘paragraphs,’ each written by a one person attending detention. Okay, so I couldn’t have been expecting much, but still, these would have been written in an academic context, not to mention that it was displayed on the whiteboard. Each, though, were equally terrible. You’d think they’d never learned how to write…which I suspect they did, as they had that ‘valley-girl’ handwriting, one even adorned with hearts.

And, despite the fact that I am now in my third senior semester at college, each of my professors, after the first essay assignment, still have to go over the most basic tenets of writing. For instance: spelling. When I first started college and heard this lecture, I was horrified. It was like, really people? this is college. The fact that it was a community college makes now difference. Now at least I’ve gotten used to it, though I am still saddened. While I’d like to think that people ought to be able to adjust their language based on the situation….apparently, no.

I don’t know how to solve this. I refuse to submit to writing text speak in my essays or talk to my mom that way–she doesn’t even use the computer, much less would have any idea what I’m talking about (although she is rather proficient at reading my mind when I’m particularly incoherent.)  You know what I think? I think that we should just disallow those people who can’t tell the difference to participate in any meaningful communication, because they aren’t capable of doing so anyway. First amendment be damned.

*Okay, so the internet itself didn’t actually develop the language, but it’s such a facilitator, it seems to make the spread rather faster and more creative. I likes it.

**Possibly James Nicholl, actually: “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”  Apparently he’s mostly an Internet personality, as opposed to being famous offline, which I find rather appropriate.