I Like What I Like

Some people think that your given name influences your personality. If you think changing your name will give you better fortune, these people are willing to take your money to give you the best name possible!

Or, you know, just get them free.

Anyway, if Marie is a traditional name, maybe that’s where I got all my hobbies. Or maybe I just read too much as a kid. But uncool as reading is, I managed to get even more uncool as I got older and then went to college. I love picking up the unpopular hobbies.

Not like the hipsters people always make fun of but that I’ve never actually met outside of high school (isn’t everyone in high school a hipster?). But just the quiet stuff other people are tempted to make fun of especially on the internet. and not usually to my face. Another thing about the internet though is that it’s hard to tell, because lots of people have those hobbies, even there aren’t all that many in a given area and anyway you’re aren’t allowed to talk about such things with strangers because then you’ll be really weird.

So knitting, uncommon, much like the other crafts. Reading (obsessively) more common than tv-watchers think it is. Fan fiction reading a big, big thing, and also probably one of the biggest no-nos, aside from maybe playing the Sims games (which sadly, I hardly have time for, spending so much time online—and work of course. Work takes time away from everything interesting!

At any rate I’m not skilled enough with computers or math and not into enough manga and science to be a geek. As far as playground insults go I think that leaves me with dork.

Anyway,  I’ve always been vaguely embarrassed by the fact I read fan fiction. Because it has such an awful reputation—deservedly so, in the broadest strokes. As in any other subject, 90% is crap, but there are some real gems in there. Like the rest of web 2.0 (or wherever we’re at now), you have to do your own gatekeeping. You have to find your own meaning of culture and your own framework. <- Look, another, reference to Powys! And people aren’t ashamed of reading the Star Wars continuations when they come out in hard cover. Star Trek has the same, and having read those, they can be as bad as some fan fiction (if with slightly better grammar).

So there’s my justification for fan fic.

I think the only other one I don’t tend to bring up with people is the Sims and I haven’t been playing that often lately. And I can’t really justify it.

Because I really only play to take advantage of my control-freak tendencies.

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Pretty Boys

But not always.

Samuel Vimes as he appears in The Pratchett Po...

Image via Wikipedia

Not all my favorite characters, television show or otherwise, are attractive.

Sam Vimes up there, of course, is not supposed to be attractive. Terry Pratchett builds incredible ensemble casts of the most awesome characters ever, but Vimes steals the show even when it isn’t his book. Particularly in Monstrous Regiment.

Old Stoneface Vimes happens to be the main character of the Guards series, which is something that is a little unusual for me. Most of my favorite anythings feature an ensemble casts, but especially those one television. NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Warehouse 13, even Supernatural counts, though especially for the first season or so Dean and Sam were practically one character.

Now, my favorite characters in those shows are often the geeky and/or goofy one. Spencer Reid (CM), Pete (Warehouse), sort of Sam (S). Now, Castiel from Supernatural, like Sam Vimes transcends his genre into something of a pinnacle of, of…well, coolness, at the very least.

“The Voice says I’m almost out of minutes”

or

Hooray, hooray, it’s a wonderful day, for I have found my cow!

 

Oct.31:

Image via Wikipedia

You know who fits this personal trope? Sherlock Holmes, from Sherlock. That has to be clarified to the BBC show, because in the 2009 movie, Watson definitely came out ahead. But, well, at least so far this season, I completely love Sherlock. While the dark curly hair definitely helps, it’s got to be his sheer obliviousness to, well, humanity; the intensity of his quirks, how they echo the original character; and his snark. I come from a sarcastic family, and all these British television shows make me want to live there.

So Benedict Cumberbatch has the best name I’ve ever heard, but is a little odd looking. His face is definitely dramatic—or maybe it’s just emphasized by the cinematography, which throws him into dramatic shadows at every possible opportunity.

And, rewatching the first episode (the only one I’ve seen) I must also say he (the actor) reminds me of Spock. Nimoy’s Spock. Who, considering that even in the original show, I would probably consider old—well, it is all relative! He’s definitely old now. But watching the original series of Star Trek, I confess I developed a bit of a crush. Only a little one, because he was old. Or seemed old.

Also, I’m just vulnerable to the smart types.

Going back to dear Sam Vimes, who does not consider himself intelligent at all, and really isn’t so much in the conventional IQ hierarchy of intelligence, but knows his city and its people. And has the best development of  any fictional character I’ve ever read—especially from a series character! Usually in long-lasting series, characters have to stay somewhat static so that the later books don’t leave the readers behind, so they know what to expect. Being that Pratchett writes satiric fantasy, I suppose the world has to develop

But I shouldn’t go on. Because I can. I love Terry Pratchett. If I had the stamina, I would totally have gone on to get my master’s and Ph.D. just to write a thesis and dissertation on his work. Because he is awesome.

Castiel (Supernatural)

(Castiel is played by Misha Collins, who is also awesome. In Supernatural‘s “The Rapture” he played two different Castiel’s. And overall, the character of Castiel (who is always an angel, but gets into different manifestations and alternate universes) and they are all so different, it’s amazing. Apparently his Twitter followers are called Misha’s minions. I am one. He is hilarious. And before I’d ever heard of him, I’d named my car Mesha…it’s fate! or I’m up too late.)

Fan Directions

Cover of Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887, f...

Image via Wikipedia. Sherlock's first episode? "A Study in Pink"

1 Fan fiction is not inherently evil

If you get at all attached to series characters who are so much bigger than the stories the creators actually offer, you want more. Commonest among longer book series or television shows (both where character development often happens behind the scenes), there’s plenty of room for hole patching. Or the character are just so engaging you don’t want to give them up. Some people invest enough emotion and thought into those characters and create for them whole new stories. From which the less invested fan can gain some satisfaction, while knowing it just isn’t the same…which admittedly only serves to draw her in further. Good for the original creators, not so much for the fan’s productivity.

2 Fan fiction is inherently a waste of time

At least as much as the original show. You’re not supposed to read genre fiction (which is where you find most series books) or watch television, because neither is “good” for you. Television is TEH EBAL, according to Them (those of They Say fame) and while books mostly equal good, only if they aren’t much fun to read. Odd, because most of what They consider Good, survived because such works were read for fun.

But They make it un-fun, because those are just weird dead people.

3 And fan fiction, being the creation of the commoners, is doubly worthless.

While a few gems reveal some real life hidden truths through someone else’s universe, even the majority of what could objectively be called “good” is self-indulgent gooeyness. Much like the chic lit genre.

The Colt with thirteen original bullets

Image via Wikipedia

Self-indulgent gooeyness doesn’t take up a lot of time, so I still say worth it. Last weekend, lusting after Supernatural (because I still haven’t seen the 4th season!) I read through some 100 of my “favorites list” and more than 2 million words—and I used my calculator for that, so yeah—in not even two days. But it’s approximately the equivalent of 20 genre novels. Which I can’t read that quickly. Unless they were romance novels, but I don’t enjoy reading those. If I’m reading a book, I don’t want to be reading one I can skim.

Yes, fan fiction is a waste of time. But at least it’s not drugs, however similar the effects may sometimes be.

    Originally, when I started this post, I was not planning to say more than a few words on fan fiction, as an introduction to Sherlock, the newest Sherlock Holmes BBC series, only this one is set in modern-day London.

    And Watson still fought in Afghanistan, just as he did in the 1800s!

    Hardly progress. Nonetheless, the show aired the three episode season in the UK, even offered reruns online. Which, from the UK website, is not allowed in the United States. It wasn’t airing over here either. I only found the show because after I finally saw the 2009 movie back in, what, August? September? I got enthused enough to go back and read over my fan fiction list, much as I did with Supernatural.

    And what was this? Now they keep dropping his last name, and there’s something about cellphones and sociopathy. What could it be? (What cooould it beeee/ that coooomes over meee…*)

    By the time I track down the actual show, from an interview with the actor who plays Watson (who is somehow famous, so naturally I don’t know his name) with a clip of Watson first accepting Holmes’ invitation to a crime scene,

    had me all aquiver with anticipation. Just the news of a second season, without the opportunity to watch the first sent me into paroxysms of joy. (Admittedly, I fall into paroxysms of joy on a fairly regular basis, because happy is a good way to live your life anyway.) Whether or not they’d allow me to watch through their website, I was determined to find a way. A way that was not illegal, because that’s just how I roll.

    Anyway, I figured I’d just wait impatiently for my brother’s Netflix, as I do with so many things—including Supernatural—when, lo and behold, I read my mom’s copy of Parade (the newspaper insert) in the Herald and News). In the past I refused to read in the car, because as a child it made me nauseous. Though apparently I’ve outgrown that side effect, I still tend to avoid it. But it was dreary and rainy and I got sick yesterday with a stuffed nose, so I read. And Parade has a calendar of art-type things (books, movies, etc) to look out for—PBS is showing Sherlock!

    Sundays at 9 EST, check your local listings.

    When I got home I looked for it first thing and couldn’t find it. Fortunately, Brother had his computer out and found it listed under Masterpiece Mystery or something. What can I say, I don’t watch PBS.

    Sherlock is just as awesome as I’d hoped, and funny too. I’m going to watch again, not only because of its awesomeness, but also because I was not entirely focused, due to the distraction of figuring out how to make $11/hr a living wage in downtown Sac—by the way, pleading poverty might just work with the government.

    The British just do everything better. At least when it comes to television.

    *at times I can’t mooove/at times I can hard-lyyy breeatheee

    (I used to be obsessed with him too.)

    When It’s Actually Winter…

    So Plinky asks what’s on my winter reading list. And then gives space to search for the image of one book, and not the list I was expecting. So I’ll do it here.

    • Thirty Days Hath September

    That cover is not the right book, nor do I know why it pops up. Mine (rather, the library’s) was authored by Dorothy Cameron Disney and George Sessions Perry. The library version just has green library rebinding with a nifty almost tropical pattern.

    Of course I found it when they sent me to straighten the mystery shelves, though I’ve managed to avoid them for so long. But at least I didn’t have to go far, only through the H section…otherwise my reading list would be even longer.

    “When glittering Jenny Iverson, New York career woman and owner of a successful cosmetics business, invited herself to one of the labor Day week-end parties that climax the season for summer residents along the Connecticut shore, she not only wrote her own death warrant, but also sealed the fate of at least two other persons in the group of sophisticates who were to have shared her company during the holiday.” 1942

    Powered by Plinky

    • The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm

    Written by Nancy Farmer, this is actually a Newberry Honor Book that I actually read. Way back then, I even read it twice I loved it so much. Only vague memories of what it may have actually been about remain, but I recall awesome characterizations, and then I caught a reference to it on the tvtropes page somewhere, maybe under nightmare fuel, and of course had to try it again.

     

    Cover of

    The Ear

     

    “Inspired by Shona mythology, Tendai’s odyssey in the Africa of the future—and, suspensefully, the past—crackles with action. You won’t forget its vivid cast of chracters (black, brown, white, and in on case blue), the Mellower or his mother, the rustling, shadowy vlei people, the strangely endowed detectives, or the three children themselves. And you’ll be surprised to find that a classical tale of courage can be so funny.”

    • Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment during World War II

    I want to start this off with “well, obviously this is interesting” but I have such varied reading tastes that I have no idea whether my interest is obvious or not, beyond the fact that it is a book and therefore readable.

    Anyway, I’m fascinated by history in general, which means every time I’m sent into the History section at the library I come out with a minimum of five more books to add to the reading list. So maybe I should ask for special dispensation. Except all the other librarians have the same problem, but with less time to read. I don’t think I’d get much sympathy.

    Though the Japanese internments are still a popular subject, especially in California, and I’ve at least heard about the problems German-American’s faced, I’ve never come across anything mentioning the history of Italian-Americans. When I first saw the book, I was even taken by surprise. (Which, really, I shouldn’t have been, because if there’s an excuse for prejudice for people to act on, they will find it.) Una Storia Segreta seems also to be first an anthology of original writings, too, which I like. I’m not sure if they’re primary documents or not, but since I know nothing else about it, might be more illuminating and interesting than just a textbook.

    What the Italians faced wasn’t truly like the Japanese experience of internment camps. That’s not what I find interesting. It is interesting when they aren’t mentioned hardly at all, and I’m not sure why they’d still bother to whitewash the situation like that.

     

    This sign was hung in post offices and in gove...

    Image via Wikipedia

     

    “1942, the first full year of World War II for the United States, was a time of fear and uncertainty for Americans of Italian descent. Wartime regulations required that 600,000 Italian “resident aliens” carry photo-identity cards, restricted their freedom of movement, and forced an estimated 10,000 along the West Coast to relocate. Local police searched homes for guns, cameras, and shortwave radios. Within six months after war was declared, 1,500 Italian resident aliens were arrested for curfew, travel, and contraband violations, and some 250 were imprisoned in military camps for up to two years. Even some naturalized citizens had to leave their homes and businesses because the military decided that they were too dangerous to remain in strategic areas.”

    Those are just the library books (and none I’m reading currently, library or not), and so I may well end up checking out more. But I rather hope not. Because I have lots of my own books yet to read. And a few borrowed. Those first I think:

    • No Plot, No Problem

    By the founder of National Novel Writing Month, Chris Baty. I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, only this time I fully intended to finish. I even have an idea and can’t wait to start. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in November, that is to say, a first draft. Though I’ve technically started this book (several times, even) I’m counting it, because I’m going to read the second part properly—it’s got a few chapters set by week for the writing itself. So it counts.

    • Secret Societies: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Organizations

    An oddly dull, cheap-looking book, despite the almost luridness of the subject matter, I have little to say by this particular book by John Lawrence Reynolds, because it just has a cool title and an interesting subject. Usually such a subject is going to be interesting regardless, but I’ll have to actually start first before I make up my mind.

    My books, on the to-be-read pile, are numerous. I was going to say something clever, but I can’t think of anything. But I will mention a few I want to get to first.

    • Fingersmith

    Sarah Waters wrote this novel, which I picked up because it sounded like it had an interesting storyline, and frankly, it had a pretty cover (there may have to be a separate post on that later, if I can remember whether I’ve actually written it before, and if not, I can remember to actually devote a post specifically and only to that phenomenon).

    • A Reliable Wife

    Well, a book that right on the back states the two characters want to kill each other. Or maybe only the wife does? Either way, Robert Goolrick’s novel does have an interesting premise. Can’t judge it by the back cover description though, because it does indicate (to me) that there’s a switching of point of view between the male and female characters. If it’s not first person I could probably live with it, but—well, what am I saying? I don’t want to doubt it before I’ve even started!

    • The Somnambulist

    Jonathan Barnes’ novel sounds fa-scinating! (please try to read that last word with the enunciation of a flamboyant-type television character). But my first thought on reading the description was that it sounded like a homage to Sherlock Holmes, only without any direct references. So there seemed to be clues, but nothing certain. So I want to find out if there’s an “easter egg” hunt of references behind the scenes, if it’s a deliberate play on the character, or if it’s mostly just innocent.

    What with the kind of effect Sherlock Holmes had on popular consciousness, I can’t say wholly innocent unless Mr. Barnes is completely oblivious.

    Of course, I found it when I was in the Sherlock Holmes section of my cycle of obsessions, however, references aside, it does sound like an interesting work. And in this case, no spoilers please! I actually have a sense of mystery with this one, and that doesn’t happen very often.

    And then, gosh, there are so many more. Reading is a depressing endeavor, once you get behind.

    Confession

    Another short one, on the wind up to finals.

    So I like the computer game called “the Sims 2.” (I never know how many people actually know what that is, though it sells very well.) And this game has a very large online community.  A large, dedicated community that also happens to have lots of controversy. Over everything. All. The. Time.

    Such controversies are various and sundry, and could not be possibly summarized. At least by me. As for a general overview of the categories of the controversies–at least the one’s I’m personally aware of–I will attempt. Along with outcomes and/or consensus. Again, only so far as I’m aware in my mostly former forum circles.

    The official site’s download area is known as the Exchange. Generally unpopular, and according to the cynical, made up of 12 year olds. Because/also it is the first introduction to the Sims community, it is generally looked down on.  Common fault: uploaded by members using custom content created by others, unattributed.

    Custom Content (CC): the stuff the community has created to change the game, either for better or worse, depending on who you ask. Major debate: legal or illegal.  Who owns it?  Consensus (mostly) is that the actual creation belongs to the creator, the packaging to EA. Therefore, paying for downloads should be illegal.  Other side argues that creation is creator’s and can be sold regardless. Also, EA does not generally interfere. And community is divided: Pro vs. Free.

    Generally, many creators agree (when discussing Sims, make all statements as loose and non-binding as possible) that usually, CC used in other CC should be attributed to original creators. Some disagree, and some don’t care. When this does/does not happen, more controversy.  Related to above issues, some pay content is or is not allowed on certain sites.

    Currently, the official forum, called the “BBS,” is head over heels over DRM protection (read: SecuRom or in slang, SucuRom, very much disliked), over-zealous moderators, and ah, ill-informed moderation, as well as many other things. Have often heard participants on that board referred to as “sheeples.”

    I spent more time on that than I intended, far more. Only to realize that I don’t think it covered it at all. It’s missing lots. Also, may be inaccurate. But to continue. The Sims community is very large, but also very interconnected. Much of the previous controversies are personal for the top level of participants, as they considered each other online friends, at least until such disagreements erupted.

    So anyway, the whole reason I started this post is because recently, I’ve really only been involved in one Sims forum.  It’s a lovely, small forum, very small, perhaps 12 active participants, including moderators. Part of the reason for their friendliness is the isolation from much of the overarching Sims community, and the fact that it relates to the outside world, with ideals other than “how you play the game.”

    Being so involved in this forum disconnected me from many of the other communities I used to participate in.  I ventured out today, only to realize that one of the major CC sites had imploded. Violently, and ridiculously. And hilariously. In a horrified sort of way.

    I went looking at the CC sites, and realized one major one had disappeared. So I went looking for it.  And, fortunately found Fandom Wank’s summary. Which is good, because the first explanation I stumbled across was in a forum thread over 230 pages long.  So I will link you to the summary. Which you should read, because it is funny. Wrong as that might be.

    Attempt at background explanation:

    This CC site is called, for short, InSim, and was primarily organized around one major mod or hack of the community. (If you don’t know what that is, google it, because I really don’t know how to explain it.) So anyway, around that hack were many other creations.  The founders of the site were at first active, and then not so much. All of a sudden the site is sold, apparently for several thousand dollars to someone who is not a “gamer.”

    I should note at this point that this is entirely online. I have no idea about the reality of the real-world issues/people that may be indicated.

    This man says that he likes that there are so many active people on this forum. And that it’s not profitable or efficient. To fix this, he wants another server, and people to subscribe to this site, a mandatory subscription for the “sister” adult site. Not going there.

    But anyway. People are mad. Very, very, very mad. As the Fandom Wank says: “one of the most epic wanks ever to befall the Sims 2 community.”

    That is all. Read the actual Wank here.

    Note Piscado, if you’re not easily offended

    Note 2: I should read more Fandom Wank. Extreme fans offended=fun.

    To Sleep…Seriously, No More

    So, I don’t like to sleep.  Sometimes.  This varies: often I do like to sleep.  Particularly to sleep in. However, when I am stressed about the future I cannot help remembering that any particular person will spend about one-third of their life asleep.  A whole third.  That’s, like, a lot.

    I apologize.

    Anyway I don’t think there has been one day this week that I actually went to bed before midnight…and that does not include the time spent in actually falling asleep.  Then I have, or had, my alarm set for six-thirty in the morning.  Admittedly, I didn’t actually get up until only half-an-hour before class several days, but it still overall completely ruined my sleep schedule.  I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee.

    I need my sleep. That’s all.  Of course now that I really do: i.e. school is in full swing and I need a job and I’m a procrastinator at the best of times, I’ve installed the StumbleUpon toolbar.  Will I ever sleep again?

    Doubtful.

    But I found one site there that does relate to this post (eventually).  It’s called LikeBetter (I think) and you just choose out of two pictures which one you prefer until the brain says it has something to say about you.  And then you tell it whether it was right or wrong. Generally it worked well for me…at least until it thought I was a guy.  I don’t know if I want to analyze that particular answer. Anyway, after one sequence of picture-choosing, the brain said I was a night person.  My brother’s first thought was, yeah that’s right. (He was visiting–or rather needed a place to sleep last night, so I got to see him. Yay!  And I’ll see him on Tues, twice, I think, and he’ll bring me Apartment Life.  Yay!)

    Re-railing this post.  Yes, lately I’ve been a night-owl type.  This usually happens once school starts, and I actually have to do homework.  I can’t do all my online stuff, not to mention my games, writing, knitting and other free time stuff until I get back home.  And that’s especially hard now that I actually hang out with friends.  Seriously, this has been totally screwing with my academic life.  (Well not really, actually it’s really helpful when I’m writing an essay specifically and can brainstorm with a bunch of other people who have some idea of what I’m talking about.) But it does mean that I don’t have nearly as much time to screw around in. Though I do anyway.

    And I stay up too late and don’t get up until pretty much just before I have to leave for class.

    Why don’t I consider myself a true night person then?  Because I really like to get up early.  Preferably before, say, 6:30 am.  When I do manage to get up that early, I tend to accomplish much more.  There’s more daylight to work with, and while I have just as many hours when I stay up late, I don’t have the motivation.  I love the early morning light, and the way the sun slants through the window just after eight.  And I can appreciate that so much more when I’ve already had coffee and breakfast.

    I can get kind of obsessive about not wasting time–though I continue to do so–especially when I’m stressed.  When I was really depressed my junior year in high school I didn’t want to sleep at all.  Seriously.  Mostly I just got stuck on the idea that as human beings we spend approximately a full third of our lives asleep.

    What a waste of time, right?

    This was before I’d come to the realization that sleep, is, in fact, the only the best, most useful part of the day.  So lets just say it probably didn’t help that I was depressed.  They (they being scientists, somewhere, apparently doing research, probably with federal grants) have found that the clinically depressed, are often also often chronically sleep-deprived.  And I have discovered since then that I need between eight and nine hours of sleep at night.  No matter what time of night, or what time my alarm goes off, if I go back to sleep, I will get back up almost exactly nine hours lately.  Or sometimes eight, if I did intend on getting up for something.  For example, when my brother came by he didn’t get here until after midnight, and we ended up talking until nearly two.  I woke up this morning enough to turn off the alarm and actually got up at almost exactly 10 am because I was going to help my youngest brother with his essay.

    I know I’m an English major because I wanted to take the thesis (which was very good) from his one-and-a-half page draft and turn it into an eight page paper just for kicks.  He was very grateful that I didn’t try to make him do that.

    P.S. You’re also supposed to sleep better in a dark room as well.  I’ve always preferred pitch black.  Unfortunately someone made the incredibly odd decision to install indoor office fluorescent strip lights on the walkway (where the only windows are).  They are rusting.  Then again,  the cover came loose on the light nearest the stairway, and it has killed lots of bugs.  It must be their supa-secret plan.  And so long as I don’t get electrocuted.  But at any rate, it means my room is darkest (currently) at about 6:30pm just before those lights come on.  Blackout curtains, maybe, if I ever think of them and can afford them at the same time.