Friday, May 30, 2014

I learned something new today

I was going to post a review, but then I flipped through A Jane Austen Education at work and came across this gem:

"Prim, proper, priggish, prudish, puritanical, Fanny simply couldn't deal with the threat of adult sexuality."

That's right, kids. Fanny wasn't upset that Edmund was all set to marry a woman who openly mocked his career and his religion. Fanny wasn't upset that Henry seduced and abandoned both her cousins and made them miserable merely for his own amusement. She wasn't upset that the play was not only considered inappropriate by the mores of the times, except in the spoiled upper classes, but that everyone was using it as a way to carry on illicit romances, or that it would be going directly against the wishes of the guy who owned the house. She wasn't bothered by Henry's near-stalker behavior towards her, or the fact that despite claiming he wanted to marry her, he promptly ran off with Maria, ruining her in the eyes of society and getting away nearly scot-free.

No, Fanny Price was just scared of sex.

Thank God for Freudian psychology, or we might be compelled to, you know, try to understand the nuances of a character that is widely different from the accepted personality of today's world.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Play Review: Lover's Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald

“The pause which followed this fruitless effort was ended by the same speaker, who, taking up one of the many volumes of plays that lay on the table, and turning it over, suddenly exclaimed—“Lovers’ Vows! And why should not Lovers’ Vows do for us as well as for the Ravenshaws? How came it never to be thought of before? It strikes me as if it would do exactly. What say you all?”-Tom Bertram, Mansfield Park

     Ah, Lovers’ Vows. The bane of Mansfield Park, the contention of scholars. What to say about this play? It causes as many problems for Internet forum-goers as it does for Fanny. So I took a leaf out of her book and read it myself.
     It really is a fun play. Apart from the hilarity of opening comments talking about how difficult it was for a girl to fix someone’s grammar, it’s a fairly versatile work that has a little bit of everything.
     To sum it up, Agatha is a poor, ailing woman whose son is away at war. She was left destitute after her lover impregnated her and abandoned her, and now she has been forced out on the streets to beg. When her son arrives, he learns her story and sets out to demand reparations from the father he never knew.
     The father, Baron Wildenhaim, is struggling with his own conscience regarding his desertion and debating whether or not to marry his daughter to the foolish, vain Count Cassel. Amelia, for her part, is much more interested in the vicar.
     (You’re starting to see some parallels too, aren’t you? Yes, that’s what I thought.)
     The play isn’t too long and ends, of course, on a happy note. You can read the full text here (as well as analysis regarding its place in Austen's novel). It’s a very enjoyable read, and it actually would be nice to see this take place on stage.
     With regards to Mansfield Park, I have one bit to point out to detractors who don’t see why it was such a big deal. Not only are Frederick and Agatha constantly hugging, Frederick also leans his head over on his mother’s breast.
     Now imagine the resident flirt doing that to the engaged woman who has been ignoring her fiancĂ© for several months in favor of him.

     This can’t possibly end badly.



This, however, inevitably ends in hilarity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Movie Review: Network

     “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

     Ah, the line that spawned a thousand memes. Network is one of those movies chiefly known for one or two stand-out lines, and this of course is one of them.
     The ratings for news station UBS have been steadily falling, and they must let go of one of their anchors, Howard Beale. Beale becomes unhinged by the news and behaves in an increasingly erratic manner, first threatening suicide on air, then going on a deranged rant. When the ratings spike, the news station begins to exploit Beale’s mental illness. It only gets worse when Diana Christensen, already in talks with a terrorist organization about their own show, comes on board and turns Beale into an evening sideshow.
     His friend Schumacher tries to stop the madness, but becomes obsessed with the intense Diana. Meanwhile the drive for ratings starts affecting everyone involved until it devolves into violence.
     I would call this movie a dark parody. It’s certainly a little over the top (the ending line is the kicker, as well as the credits playing over the last, tragic scene), but not to the point that you relax. The humor is the type that makes you laugh more from discomfort than because it’s funny. The audience, along with Schumacher, is invited to sit and watch the tragedy play out, with only a slight, disbelieving smile.
     The themes in the movie are just as relevant today. Schumacher calls Diana “TV incarnate”-so wrapped up in this technology that she cannot maintain human relationships. This has been a concern brought up again and again about social media and how connected the younger generations are to their phones. It’s also just as relevant to TV today-the controversy surrounding mainstream media (on both sides of the aisle) have the same flavor of saying just the thing that helps ratings, and not reporting the facts.

     So, if you want a very weird movie that makes you think, here it is. Just have something light and fluffy ready at hand.

Well-played, Harrison Ford. Well-played.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Photo Saturday: Hey, I found that picture of Granddad sleeping on the couch!


I was going to use this picture in my last post, but I couldn't find it. Then I found it right where I thought it should have been. I blame the little men that steal things from my computer. Granddad says they're the ones that steal his lighters all the time, so I imagine they'd steal my computer files too.

Yes, yes he was snoring at this moment.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Really, I promise I'll have my blog buffer back up next week. Really.

Until then, read this hilarious article about strange literature.

Post-modernism. Not even once.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My ancestors, let me show you them

Scotsmen are crazy

To sum it up, my ancestor Daniel was captured during the Battle of Preston, served in indentured servitude, then got some land and made life take the lemons back.

Also the accent is a bit wacky.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Initial Reaction to A Game of Thrones

At first I was like

I KNOW I'M READING BUT I STILL CAN'T WATCH EITHER KEVIN DURANT


Then I was like

Everything's better with dragons.

And now I'm like


Parody 5: S1, E19: A Plotpoint in the Wilderness Part 2

PREVIOUSLY, ON PARODY 5...

Varn: Help me, fully engaged viewer! You're my only hope!
____________________________________________________

Londo: Garibaldi...I'm pregnant.

Garibaldi: Quit drinking, Londo.
____________________________________________________

Takashi: There's...something on the wing! Some! Thing!
____________________________________________________

Psi-Corps: Garibaldi knows our secrets, does he?

Talia: What do we do?

Psi-Corps: It's simple. WE KILL THE BATMAN.
____________________________________________________

Draal: Tell me, Delenn. Is the hokey-pokey...really what it's all about?
____________________________________________________

AND NOW...THE CONCLUSION.


C&C

So the big ship arrives. It turns out to be an Earthforce Heavy Cruiser captained by Not!Samuel L. Jackson.

Pierce: We get to deal with the planet now so there.

Garibaldi: Wait, what?


THAT ROOM THAT IS USED FOR MILITARY CONFERENCES AND BIRTHDAY PARTIES

Pierce: Sounds like Epsilon 3 is pretty bad-ass. And you know everyone’s gonna be fighting over that planet. So we’re here to keep them from taking it. It’s gonna be bad.

Sinclair: Yeah, you just told everyone it was important by showing up in the first place.

Pierce: How’s our prisoner?

Sinclair: The PATIENT is not doing so well. And if you recall this is kind of a diplomatic place. Now GTFO.


THE LIVING DEFINITION OF DIGGING YOURSELF DEEPER

ISN: Troops are dealing with the Mars issue.

Dude: I don’t like people on Mars.

Garibaldi: K.

Dude: I mean, Mars. Right?

Garibaldi: Whatever dude.

Dude: I mean, Marvin the Martian. Who roots for Marvin the Martian?

Garibaldi: No one cares, man.

Dude: They can gas them and punch them and nuke them! I’m sure there’s no one anyone loves on Mars, because SCREW MARS.

Garibaldi: I WILL SHOVE YOUR HEAD THROUGH THE COUNTER!


OH LOOK, ANOTHER DIRE SITUATION

Ivanova: So basically we’ve got about two days before we die.

Garibaldi: And it’ll take five days to evacuate.

Ivanova: And Pierce wants to go down there again. Which was what made it worse before.

Sinclair: And there’s no one down there to make it stop.

Ivanova: So we’re screwed any which way.


YEAH, YEAH STAR WARS REFERENCE, ETC.

Old Alien Guy Voice: Draal…need help…you’re my only hope…

Draal: Whoa. That was weird. I think it came from down this way.


INFORMATION THAT COULD HAVE BEEN USED HOURS AGO

Draal: There he is. We’re going in.

Franklin: Hey, what the…you can’t…

Draal: He was talking to me.

Old Alien Guy: No…my money…Draal, there you are! Don’t go to that planet or it’ll explode.

Franklin: *facepalm*


C&C

Ivanova: So yeah, we can’t go to the planet, but Pierce, despite being told about this, wants to go down there anyways.

Pierce: I bet that guy is lying! My experts say it’ll be fine.

Sinclair: Why are the experts always saying stupid things? Anyways, if you try to go down there, I will shoot you. Seriously. Otherwise we all blow up.

Pierce: What. FINE.

Suddenly, another ship arrives! With those bright annoying halogen headlights.

Jerk Alien: So we’ve been looking for this planet for like 500 years, and now we found it. I KEEP IT NOW. Also you get ten hours to move.

Pierce: Oh yeah? The planet is ours. So there! And you only get nine hours so there!

Ivanova: They’re both pretty.


BACKSTORY!

Old Alien Guy: We told those guys where to shove it. And then I took care of the planet after the others died. The Machine and me? We’re BFFs.

Franklin: So why haven’t you talked to us?

Old Alien Guy: Plot Secrets. But you have to stop the Greater Jerks of my race.

Sinclair: But the planet is imploding.

Old Alien Guy: Cause there’s no one in there!

Franklin: I think he’s been dying for a while, that’s why the earthquakes started.


LONDO’S ELEVEN

Londo: He popped up in front of me too.

Delenn: Odd choices of people to troll.

Draal: We understand self-sacrifice more than others. You could do this.

Londo: I know! I’m just that epic.

Delenn: You know what this means, right?

Londo: Someone ain’t coming back. I’ve always had vague dreams of dying doing something epic. As opposed to the very specific dreams of being murdered by G'Kar.

Delenn: *facepalm*


C&C

Garibaldi: Dude, someone grabbed the patient and ran.

Ivanova: What.

Evil Alien Guy: WE TOLD YOU NOT TO SEND SHIPS.

Ivanova: Freaking spaz. But that ship is going to the planet.

Pierce: LET’S DO THIS, BITCH.

Sinclair: Damn straight.

Garibaldi: I’m going after that shuttle.

Ivanova: Whoever’s in charge of that shuttle is crazy.


MR. TOAD FLIES A SPACESHIP

Pilot!Londo: THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!

Delenn: Just don’t look out…don’t look out…


PLANET OF AWESOME

Garibaldi: What is this I don’t even.

Londo: We’re trying to keep the planet from exploding.
Varn: I made an air pocket so you can breathe!

Garibaldi: Helpful.

Delenn: See, someone needs to be in the machine.

Draal: And I’m doing it. It’ll be awesome, trust me.


Suddenly, a very literal Deus Ex Machina takes over the ships.

Draal: The planet doesn’t belong to you guys. Sinclair, don’t tell anyone about this. We let Babylon 5 take care of it and not let anyone meddle with it until the plot demands. And if anyone tries to meddle with it before then I WILL END THEM. See you next season.

Corwin: The idiots are still trying to take the planet.

Jerk Aliens: *die*

FYI Draal looks rather happy in the Machine


WELL THAT SUCKS

Sinclair: So Lise is wounded but she’ll be okay. Here she is.

Garibaldi: I’m sorry for screwing up I should have stayed and I love you and I will come to Mars and…

Lise: I’m married to a guy named Franz.

Garibaldi: Franz? Seriously?


WHAT IS THIS, THE ASTRONOMY TOWER?

Delenn: Staring soulfully at stars, are you?

Garibaldi: Yep. So why didn’t you tell us about Varn?

Delenn: Because Sinclair probably would have done it. And he’s needed for later plotpoints. Plus, Londo had some fun. G’night Draal.

Draal: Good night John Boy.

Sinclair: Night Grandpa.

Londo: Night Vir.

Garibaldi: All of you shut up!


Monday, May 19, 2014

So I was doing some family research and I found a Cool Thing

Sarver Cabin

That's right, Sarvers really are tough old birds.

Granddad at any given moment of the day.


...LOL.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Photo Saturday: Ironic Picture is Ironic

Apparently someone was leaving the store when they noticed their mouthwash was alcohol free, and decided to replace it with rum.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Parody 5: S1, E18: A Plotpoint in the Wilderness, Part 1

An old Minbari guy arrives looking for Delenn, and Ivanova sends shuttles to find out why the planet below is making really bad scary noises.


GARIBALDI THE OMNIPRESENT

Talia: Hi Sinclair.

Sinclair: Why are you standing here?

Talia: Garibaldi is on every elevator I ever get on.

Sinclair: He can’t possibly do that.

Garibaldi: OHAI GUYS.

Sinclair: What.


C&C

Ivanova: What happened?

Takashi: The planet EMP’d us!

Ivanova: I’ll send out the star furies. Just stay there guys.

Takashi: Where else would we go? Okay guys. Kosh vs. Batman. Go.


LONDO LOVES INTERNET MEMES

Londo: Oh fine. We’ll go on with the Noodle Trade Routes. This is so much nicer without G’Kar, right?

Delenn: He’ll get better. Eventually.

Londo: Nah. The Narns hate us FOREVERRR. They could hate us to death.

Sinclair: You don’t have to hate back.

Londo: Haters gonna hate!

Sinclair: What.


PLOTMARS

ISN: Looks like the Martians are revolting. Here’s a live feed of the HORROR.

Derek the Reporter: As you can see, there are horrible things going on. Some guys raided a military base, and they’ve started whining about killing people from Earth.

Alien Guy Hologram: Help me, Jeffrey Sinclair, you’re my only hope!

Sinclair: WHAT.


DRAAL NEEDS A NEW PLOT FOR HIS LIFE

Delenn breaks out the not-alcohol, and Draal the old Minbari crack jokes.

Draal: I can’t remember how many of my stories I told you.

Delenn: All of them. Three times. Why are you actually here?

Draal: There’s something terrible happening on Minbar. So I’m going to sea.

Delenn: But you could live for years and years more.

Draal: Yeah but there’s really nothing I can do to help Minbar. I mean, from what I’m hearing, there’s some huge story arc about to happen. What can you do?


DID I MENTION THAT THING ABOUT THE ATMOSPHERE?

Ivanova: Get the readings and get back. Also don’t go inside the atmosphere.

Takashi: No problem.

Ivanova: You got the part about not going inside the atmosphere?

Takashi: Totally.

Ivanova: And you won’t go inside the atmosphere.

Takashi: Nope.


GARIBALDI IS OMNISCIENT AND KNOWS ALL PLOTPOINTS

Talia: Go away Garibaldi.

Garibaldi: I’m sorry for being on elevators forever. I need help. See, when I worked on Mars, I had an epic girlfriend but then I screwed it up and now I want to see if she’s okay but I can’t get through.

Talia: What am I supposed to do?

Garibaldi: You can talk to the Mystical Psi-Corps Research Plot Center.

Talia: The Mysterious One that no one is supposed to know about ever?

Garibaldi: Yeah. That one. With the creepy plothings of doom.

Talia: Oh fine. I’ll try.


SPEAKING OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Takashi: I’m gonna go check the atmosphere.

Ivanova: WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT THE ATMOSPHERE?

Takashi: Hey, missiles!

The missiles are seeking heat, and the star furies can’t go in there, and…

Ivanova: Shoot the missiles!

Takashi: We’re fine! We’re okay!

Ivanova’s Actual Speech: Ivanova is always right. You will listen to Ivanova. You will not ignore Ivanova’s recommendations. Ivanova is GOD. If you ever mess up Ivanova WILL PERSONALLY RIP YOUR LUNGS OUT.

EVERYONE: D-:

Somewhere, a star goes super nova, an entire universe is reborn, and celestial beings ascend and descend upon the station.




IT HAS SECRET PLANET-Y THINGS

Takashi: Look, there’s a super secret entrance to the underground!

Ivanova: Maybe just an old defense system set off by the earthquakes.

Takashi: And it looks like the missile came from like five miles below. I bet there’s something special down there.

Sinclair: LET’S GO TOUCH IT!


LONDO GETS THE CALL TO ADVENTURE

Londo: Hey, you look miserable. Let’s drink together. I’ll tell you about my experiences at the dancing clubs.

Garibaldi: What.

Londo: I was sitting around miserable but then a dancer told me things would be better, and kissed me. So, Garibaldi, things will be better.

Garibaldi: Touch me and die.

Londo: I’m going to spread happiness and joy elsewhere. Bye.

Kat: He left you with the bill.

Garibaldi: FFFFFUUUUU—

Old Alien Guy: Help me Londo Mollari, you’re my only hope!

Londo: WHAT.


EPSILON AWESOME

Meanwhile, Sinclair and Ivanova fly into the fissure, which leads them to a glowy gateway. It’s all rather colorful. Sinclair is super excited to be doing this.

Dark tunnel is dark. And then they find SOMETHING.

Ivanova: Look, a dead alien!

Sinclair: That’s comforting. Looks like a trap. But it can go off every three seconds. Have fun.

Sinclair throws rocks and then they dart across the Trap of Doom, and fall down, naturally.

Ivanova: What next? We spell out the Great Maker’s name on the floor? Hey, what’s this?

They find a giant shiny alien machine.

Sinclair: I WANNA KEEP IT FOREVER.


LONDO MOLLARI AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Delenn: Hi Londo. This is my friend Draal.

Londo: I’m trying to figure out the Hokey Pokey. Here, let me sing it for you.

Delenn: …what.

Londo: They think the Hokey Pokey is the meaning of life! But it doesn’t make sense!

Draal: Let’s sing it together!

Not Shown: Musical Sequence


EPSIQUAKE

Sinclair: I WAS JOKING ABOUT KEEPING IT FOREVER, PLANET!

Rocks fall and their way is blocked. Then…

Old Alien Guy: Guys seriously HELP ME OUT HERE.

Sinclair: That’s the old guy from Scene 24!

Ivanova: Dude, he’s like strapped into this thing.

Sinclair: We’ll help you little dude.


CLIFFHANGER!

Sinclair: Hi guys. We’re outta here.

Then a ship comes through the jumpgate. And…


TO BE CONTINUED TROLLOLOL

Thursday, May 15, 2014

100 Themes Challenge: Foreign

     “Feller’s not from around here, is he?”
     The old man was eyeing the dark, lean stranger that had just arrived at the only hotel in town. His friend snorted and spat tobacco from the corner of his mouth.
     “Damn foreigners won’t stay away. Look at him. Where’s he from, Africky?”
     “Naw, he looks like a ‘Gyptian. What’s he doing here?”
     The stranger was now directing the bell hop as the boy struggled under the weight of box after box, all marked with odd glyphs.
     “I’ll ask Ned when he gets done carrying all that,” said the old man’s friend.
     “Yer boy ain’t got enough muscle on him to carry them boxes.”
     “Ah, shut it, Charlie. Boy was breach, he’s doing good for himself. He’ll get stronger. Just you watch.”
     Soon enough, however, Ned’s weak muscles gave out, and a box tumbled from his arms. The box remained intact, but there was a loud shatter, like glass. The dark stranger moved forward with an odd quickness, and Charlie watched as his friend tensed.
     “Easy, Jeb, let the boy take his licks.”
     No licks came; it appeared the stranger merely gave the boy a stern talking to. Then, he turned and looked at the two men.
     Charlie could never quite explain it, but for some reason he found his feet pulling him toward the stranger without even considering whether or not he should go. Jeb spit his tobacco out and followed. In a moment, they were before the man. He was tall and lean and sinewy, and for some reason Charlie thought of a coiled snake.
     “This man’s dangerous,” he thought, “no doubt about it.”
     The man regarded them for a moment, then turned to Jeb.
     “Lend your son strength,” he said. It was an odd way of saying, “help him out”, but the entire situation was so strange that in a moment the two older men were helping the boy carry in boxes without a second thought. It was the eyes, Charlie decided. You looked in those eyes and you just wanted to do what the strange man said.
     When the boxes were placed and the work done, the stranger nodded at the results, then turned to the trio once more.
     “There is a show tonight. You will be there.” The flat command startled Charlie, but he nodded anyways, along with Jeb and Ned.
     They spent the rest of the day at Charlie’s, drinking from his own special brew.
    “Man must be some kind of itinerant show-man,” Charlie said. “Heard of them types. Scams, that’s what they are.”
     “He’s some kind of hypnotist.” Jeb shivered a bit, then took another swig from his jar. “Every time I looked in them eyes, I felt like I was…falling asleep.”
     “Pa?” Jeb looked over at his son. Ned’s eyes were wide. “Pa, we ain’t going to that show, are we? I don’t want to. He’s a scary man.”
     “Naw. That damn foreigner didn’t even pay us.”
    
     But as night drew closer, the three started becoming restless.
     “I wonder what kind of show he does?” Charlie asked. “He had all them glass things.”
     “I heard my boss talking,” Ned told them. “Said the man was a scientist. He does stuff with ‘lectricity.”
     “Maybe he’ll let us in for free for our work,” Jeb said, rubbing at his scraggly beard. “You know how foreigners like to barter things.”
     “I don’t know,” Charlie began, but Jeb waved him off.
     “Come on, Charlie, we’ll just peek in and see what’s going on.” With a strange fear, Charlie followed Jeb and his boy back to town.
    
     The show was in the never-used ballroom of the hotel, and the place was packed full. Charlie, Jeb, and Ned managed to squeeze in at the very back. No one was taking money, no one appeared to be guarding the door. People just arrived.
     Charlie was uncomfortable and hot, and that fear was still tickling at his mind, like a fly that wouldn’t stay out of your ear. The stranger was busy at the front, setting up a strange contraption from all that glass and equipment they had carried in earlier. Charlie’s head spun slightly, and he wasn’t sure if it was the fear or his brew that was doing it.
     The stranger finished, straightened, and laid a hand on the contraption. Quite suddenly, the lights went out, candles included. Charlie shoved his hands into his pockets, and felt his trusty knife still there.
     The stranger began to speak, his voice lilting and smooth, and Charlie felt as though he was looking into those eyes once more.
     “I will show you,” the voice said, coming from the darkness, a voice without a body, “I will show you what you have never seen. Farther than this world, farther than the stars you use for guidance every night. I will show it all to you, and show you how it will all end.”
     The fear in Charlie grew, and as the man flicked a switch on the machine, and strange images began projecting onto the walls, Charlie rushed for the door.
     “Why do you leave?” came the voice, and Charlie froze, and he felt eyes upon him. Images of strange landscapes flickered before his eyes. “Do you fear that which you do not know?” Stars were exploding, and that voice was tugging Charlie back, and he didn’t know if it was in his head or if the stranger was still speaking. “Come back. Come back and watch the end.” Slowly, like a child just learning to walk, Charlie took one step, then another. “COME BACK!” The voice boomed in his ears, in his mind, but Charlie kept taking one step after another and he was out the door and he ran, ran into the darkness of the town, as screams began filling the streets, and he ran, back toward his own home out in the woods, where all was safe and normal and right.

     In the end, it didn’t matter. Charlie had seen more than he wanted. He had dreams, every night, of stars exploding and his house crumbling and the people of the town turned to ash. Everyone said Charlie was odd after the showman came through, odd as the people who came out of that place raving. They said it just took a little longer for him to lose it too, and when he was found in the woods one snowy night, lying on his wife’s grave and babbling about “following her soon, when it all turned to ash”, no one was surprised.

A/N: Nyarlathotep told me if I didn't write another story I'd have math problems all over my walls in the morning. And you know how I feel about math problems.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Meanwhile, on Entry #85...


Alex, Alex, you have got to get control of that phobia of yours. Seriously.

My Buffer Ran Out So Let Me Talk About My Current Reading

(Modern Mrs. Darcy saved my blog with this post.)

So yeah. I need to get my buffer built back up. I've been so busy battling flies, bees, and spiders in here (how they get in through the packing tape on the windows is anyone's guess) that I haven't written anything. Luckily, I now have something to write about! Normally I review after I'm done with a book, but here you'll get an "in-process" ramble.

1.) A Game of Thrones: You know that feeling when you instantly fall in love with a book? Yeah, I got that feeling. It's long and ramble-y in places, but I just can't. Stop. Reading. I've had the book for...oh, maybe a week, and I'm already halfway through. Martin does such a wonderful job with his descriptions, everything adding detail and color and life to this book. (Or not-life, if you're a White Walker.) The characters are so real. I feel like I know them as well as my own family, with all their virtues and vices. This is when you know the book is a success. If you haven't started on this series, do it. DO IT NOW.

2.) Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches: I've only dipped into this briefly, but already I think I'm going to enjoy it. Referring back to my "virtues and vices" comment above, the book is about writing villains and anti-heroes, and how to make them believable. We are often automatically drawn to the villains, even the truly horrible ones. Often the villains are the ones that cause the plot to happen and are the impetus for the heroes to act. Some fans try to justify this by coming up with excuses for the villains' behavior (also known as Draco in Leather Pants syndrome); but me, I'll take them bad, the badder the better. (I should note that I was abducted over on Team Pendergast and assimilated into the Diogenista Collective. I'm not sure how, but now I want to drink absinthe and look at red jewels. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.) Also, when you try to show how depraved your villain is by having him drink whiskey after having a milk shake, you just look silly. (They really need to find a way to infuse chocolate ice cream with Jack Daniels.)

3.) The Faerie Queene-I've been trying to read more poetry lately, and I got a book that shows a reprint of the original text of Spenser's Faerie Queene, complete with odd spelling and all. Allegory had fallen out of favor with poets by Spenser's time, but he felt it was the best method of conveying his ideas. I don't know much about what his allegory was meant to be (beyond Queen Elizabeth), but I think I'm going to enjoy the poem first of all and then study up on the rest of it later. It's a bit difficult reading it with the strange lettering (v's are often written as u's, etc.) but so far it's still a lovely poem.

4.) The Adventures of Robin Hood and Some Merry Adventures of Robin Hood-I discovered that much of the original Robin Hood legend had little to do with stealing from the rich to give to the poor. While the Merry Men do this, it's not their purpose. All of them are outlawed for some reason. In every story, Robin is somehow tricked into breaking the law (usually impetuously showing off his bowmanship by shooting a stag in the king's forest). I also liked that Maid Marian wasn't so much of a damsel in distress as she usually is. While she does get herself kidnapped a couple times, she keeps her wits about her, just as often helps Robin out of trouble, and is perfectly happy to disguise herself as a page and live in the forest with Robin. (Although that's more of an open secret among the Merry Men). It's fun to look back at the older legends and see how they've been changed by every culture.

5.) The Wettest County in the World-Unfortunately, I had to send the CD book back; my borrowing time was over. I'm hoping to find a Playaway version. (And new headphones.) This tells the story of the Bondurant brothers in Franklin County, VA. As I said before, this particularly interested me since I grew up so close to Franklin. (Craig County's a hop, skip and jump away.) I remember stopping at a gas station in Franklin and they had T-Shirts for sale that said "The Moon Shines Over Franklin County". (I regret to this day that I did not buy one.) Moonshine has been a big thing in Franklin, and the Bondurant brothers were part of a huge fight during the Prohibition when the local law enforcement tried to take part of the profit in exchange for protection from harassment by the law. The most interesting thing I found was that the movie Lawless wasn't that far off from the book, which surprised me. (Especially the discovery that, really, Shia LeBeouf playing Jack was far more accurate than I ever thought possible.) Also, the descriptions of the countryside in that area are spot on, and they kept talking about going to Roanoke, which is pretty much what you do when you're in those rural areas and you get bored. Go to Roanoke. (And stop by Orange Market for a giant drink and chocolate Zingers.)

Oh, Orange Market, how I miss your tiny bathroom. No, wait, I don't.

Monday, May 12, 2014

100 Themes Challenge: Sorrow

     The forecast said it would be cloudy and rainy, with winds from the northeast and an 80% chance of sorrow.
     This did not surprise the inhabitants of the town. Sorrow came every year, and they tried to prepare as best they could. They start by securing their doors and windows, making sure they were waterproof. They bought big cases of bottled water and stocked up on canned foods. Basements were cleared and made ready to receive the people that would go into them. Throughout the town, people were coming and going. From above, they would look like so many ants, scurrying around, carrying food back to their little box hills.
     Throughout it all, everyone knew that preparing only got you so far. You could build up walls against sorrow all you wanted; but when it came, it was there, and you had to deal with it the best you could.
     Late in the day, the clouds and wind arrived. The town grew dark, and the people ran into their homes. Some to their basements, others to huddle in the middle of a room as best they could. Rain lashed the windows, and the wind blew down the power lines. Some people told stories in the dark. Others talked with forced gaiety of the things that had happened that day. In the distance, a siren wailed.
     Then sorrow came at last. It threw beautiful old trees to the ground with abandon, and smashed up people’s cars. It searched crevices for animals that had no shelter, and when it could not find anything outside, it began to search the houses.
     Sometimes it took off part of the wall to peer inside. Other times, it knocked trees over onto roofs in the hopes of frightening the inhabitants into coming out. Windows shattered, and sometimes fingers dipped in and took a body. Some houses could not stand up to sorrow’s rage, and collapsed. Others stood sturdy while the inhabitants held each other and cried.
     Eventually, sorrow grew tired, and left the town. The wind died down, and the rain moved on. The streets were flooded, and rescue vehicles inched their way, little by little, to the houses, to help people recover from sorrow’s rampage. Some people went to the hospital, and some went to more fortunate neighbors’. Those who had lost others merely stood and cried. And some people just came out, and surveyed the damage, nodded tersely, and said, “Sorrow will come another day.”

A/N: The story just came to me this morning after seeing some pictures of our friend Ray helping rebuild houses in Alabama.

Also it is not about the tornado from twister that totally wasn't sentient but seemed to follow the protagonists wherever they went. That movie was silly.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Best and Worst Mothers in Fiction

It is Mother’s Day. The day you thank the woman who went through the shadow of the valley of death to give birth to you. (My mom says that’s what happened. She also said I looked like a lizard when I was born.) So I thought today would be a good day to reflect on mothers in fiction.

So let’s first look at the most terrible mothers ever!

5. Mrs. Bennett

     Mrs. Bennett and her nerves are low on the list, because she isn’t actively malicious. She even does recognize how vital it is that her daughters get married, given that they had precious few other options to keep themselves fed in the future. But she goes about this in the most obtuse, silly way possible and darn near destroys her daughters’ actual chances with two good men. She has no problem that her youngest daughter lived with a man before marriage, or that the man in question is a lying jerk who had no problem with destroying Lydia’s reputation and then taking off for greener pastures (had not Mr. Darcy arrived on the scene). She’s silly, and she’s foolish, and no mom should be that.

4. Mrs. Reed

     Now, Mrs. Reed wasn’t actually Jane Eyre’s mother, but she was in that position, and screwed it up so royally simply because…well, her dislike of Jane doesn’t stem from anything rational. She just doesn’t like the girl. She lets her own children get away with murder (John Reed was an abusive little jerk), and it comes back to bite her when her darling boy destroys his life with alcohol and commits suicide. Spoiling your kids is no better than mistreating them.

3. Lady Tremaine

     Oh, where to start with her? Really, she’s the reason we even have a Mrs. Reed to begin with. She hates Cinderella because she’s prettier than her daughters, and that is literally her only beef with the girl. Her response is to be abusive and cruel, and teaches her own daughters to be exactly the same way. In the sequels she uses some sort of Timey-Wimey phlebotinum to arrange it so that her daughter Anastasia will marry the prince, regardless of how much the girl does not want to marry the prince. Lady Tremaine’s only redeeming characteristic is that she likes cats, and she even manages to teach her cat to be a jerk. Way to go.

2. Mother Goethel

     Mother Goethel, despite her fantastic hair, is the most horrifyingly realistic abusive mother I’ve seen in fiction. She emotionally manipulates and guilts Rapunzel at every turn, is terribly passive aggressive about everything, and takes every opportunity to tear the girl down so she can keep her under her thumb. Although, if she had discovered Rapunzel’s tears had the same effect as her hair, who knows what the poor girl would have had to put up with.

1. Margaret White

     Hoo, boy. Let’s get aboard the crazy train for this one. This woman is seriously screwed up in the head. She appears to have her own bizarre world ideas of religion, constantly abuses her daughter because it is a reminder of her own “sin”, and doesn’t seem to realize that pushing around the person who can kill you with her mind is a bad idea. You can complain about people raising their children to be too strictly “religious” all you want, but if they aren’t reaching Margaret-level fanaticism, I think it’ll be okay.

Honorable Mention: I just started reading A Game of Thrones, but already Cersei Lannister is on my list of “fictional characters I want to see die really really badly”. But Cersei’s greatest crime is giving birth to Joffrey. That should earn you a place on at least five different terrorist lists.


Well, but what about the good moms? You ask. I wonder why you’re asking this, since obviously you are reading what I have already written. But whatever, I don’t judge.

5. Mrs. Gardiner

     Contrasting with Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Gardiner is the type of mom everyone wants. She can be strict when necessary, but is intelligent, thoughtful, and shows interest in her nieces’ lives. She is observant and discreet, and it is no wonder that both Elizabeth and Darcy want her and her family to be part of their lives. One can easily guess that Jane and Lizzie spent plenty of time around their sensible aunt.

4. Mrs. Sowerby

     Mrs. Sowerby is a breath of fresh air in The Secret Garden. She brings a maternal concern that both Mary and Colin have never known. We learn much about her at first only through her daughter Martha, who raves about her amazing mother. The woman may be in poor circumstances but she is bold enough to stop Mr. Craven with advice on raising children, and manages to keep her children fed and well. She encourages them to run out of doors and simply be children, and one of the most heartwarming moments is when Mary and Colin decide to call her “mother” as well.

3. Molly (Something Red)

     Molly is the extraordinary leader of the troupe in Something Red. A former queen of Ireland, she nonetheless is able to mingle with the common folk, healing their ailments and dispensing advice. Throughout their travels, she is teaching her granddaughter Nemain to take her place, and raising our protagonist Hob as though he were her own. She has strong arms and a strong head, and many characters are quite taken with her. Maternal but fierce, she is the perfect sort of mother one would want in the fantastic and dangerous landscape of this book.

2. Molly Weasley

     Molly Weasley is freaking amazing. Molly Weasley can take on Voldemort’s second-in-command. Saying the name “Molly Weasley” causes dark wizards to immediately surrender. This woman is seriously the epitome of the “everyone’s mom” type. If your mom wasn’t one of these, then you had a friend whose mom was one of these. Any young person that comes into their house gets all the coddling and all the chores that come with being this woman’s kid. Molly Weasley gives Harry the family he never had growing up, and happily accepts Hermione into their circle. She extends her motherly attentions to the entire Order of the Phoenix, providing them with plenty of food. Also, this part:



LOOK AT HER FACE AT THE END. THAT IS THE FACE OF EVERY DEATH EATER’S NIGHTMARE.


1. Lily Potter

     And what would this list be without Lily Potter? She was kind, warmhearted, and she was willing to give up her life to keep her son safe. Lily’s motherly love is the center of the entire Harry Potter series. It’s that motherly love that comes through when Molly fights Bellatrix, and when Narcissa betrays her master to save Draco. It’s the most powerful magic in the entire Harry Potter series, and in our own world.


But remember, just because your mom doesn’t fight werewolves or dark wizards doesn’t mean she’s lame. I mean, it would be cool if she did fight werewolves and dark wizards, but those are hard to come by these days. Sometimes moms just face down really stupid people at your school, or spiders that crawl up your wall. Unless you’re my mom. Then we just sit as far away from the spider as possible and wait for someone to come rescue us. Yeah.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Parody 5: S1, E17: The Girl Who Cried Telepath

THE PLOT

Sinclair: So the greatest leader of the Warrior Minbari ever has died.

Garibaldi: And now they’re taking the corpse on a tour? Is that like a threat or something?

Minbari War Cruiser: OHAI.

Sinclair: Oh God, the flashbacks…


ZOCALO

Meanwhile, a girl attempts to shoplift. It fails and then karma catches up to her.

Girl: MY BRAIN HURTS!!! *faints*

Talia: Looked like she just got mindraped by EVERYONE.

Ivanova: Ouch.


SPEAKING OF FLASHBACKS

Corwin: Their gunports are open! OHNOES!

Sinclair: What gives, Greater Jerks?

Minbari Guy: TROLLOLOL!

Delenn bursts in, skids across the floor, and nearly falls over in a fit of panic.

Delenn: IT’S OKAY THEIR GUNS AREN’T ACTIVATED DON’T SHOOT ANYONE too close way too close IT’S CUSTOM NO NEED TO START ANY WARS. I’ll see you in docking.


I THINK THERE’S A METAPHOR HERE BUT I’M NOT SURE

Franklin: So what happened here?

Talia: She got mind-bursted. Her telepathy just got activated. We’ll send her on to Psi-Corps.

Ivanova: She was thieving! She has to stay here.

Franklin: But since she’s here GTFO.


THEY HAVE GREAT INNER BEAUTY

Neroon: So, everyone has to Stay The Eff Away from the body until the viewing. No humans. Like AT ALL.

Sinclair: That’s fine, but you’re kind of on my station.

Neroon: We were in charge on the Line so there!

Delenn: Girls, girls, you’re both pretty.

Neroon: …

Sinclair: …


The Viewing happens, with Neroon wearing a Sith robe.

Neroon: Alas, poor Branmer. I knew him.

Coffin: NO BODY TROLLOLOL!

Neroon: FFFFFFUUUU—

Sinclair: What.


NEROON SHOUTS THINGS

Neroon: You lost his body! I’ll declare war. I’ll do it.

Delenn: We’d have to discuss it for six months, Neroon, we have a bureaucracy remember?

Neroon: I’M OUT BITCHES.

Ivanova: Hi guys, this kid just became telepathic but I think she shouldn’t be forced into Psi-Corps.

Sinclair: SHIP HER OFF TO THE VORLON HOMEWORLD. I HAVE TO PREVENT A WAR.

Ivanova: …do you need chocolate?


EVEN MORE FORESHADOWING!

Delenn: You know he used to be a religious caste, but then he had to become a war leader.

Sinclair: How’d he feel about the surrender?

Delenn: He was okay. Some of them hated it. Sinavel committed suicide. He was on a plotship that may or may not show up in Season 2.
.

ALISA IS A TROLLAPATH

Alisa: Psi-Corps will give me clothes!

Ivanova: And if you decide not to join they inject you with mind-raping drugs.

Alisa: But what else can I do then?

Ivanova: I’ll find some other options. Also, give me back my link you little bitch.

Alisa: LOL.


THE NARNS HAVE A LOT OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Na’Toth: You get a house and clothes and jewelry and money and it’ll be awesome.

Ivanova: What is she supposed to do?

Na’Toth: We take genetic samples so we can make telepaths. The mother of the Narn telepaths!

Franklin: And you’d be the only human on Narn.

Alisa: NARN MINDS ARE SCARY!

Franklin: It is Na’Toth.


NEROON THREATENS TO SHOOT EVEN MORE THINGS

Sinclair: We’re searching the entire station for God’s sake.

Neroon: If he doesn’t find it I’ll shoot the station. I’LL DO IT.

Sinclair: Greater Jerk indeed.


MEANWHILE, IN DELENN’S HEAD…

Delenn: Hi Alisa, having fun with telepathy, eh?

Alisa: Yep. So how about the Minbari telepathy stuff?

Delenn: Telepaths on our world don’t get paid, but people always help them out.

Alisa: Alien minds are scary though.

Delenn: I’m not scary, don’t worry.

Flashback: *TriangleFlashGuardFreeze*

Alisa: G2GFOUNDTHEPLOT.


ALSO NEROON IS KIND OF AN IDIOT

Sinclair: Seriously? They ransacked my quarters?

Neroon: *tackle*

Sinclair and Neroon fight a bit, then Neroon falls down.

Neroon: I figured no one searched here.

Garibaldi: I did. With Delenn.

Sinclair: GTFO.

Neroon: *scowl*

Garibaldi: Alisa has An Idea.

Alisa: Delenn knows who took the body and where it is.


WELL THIS IS AWKWARD.

Delenn: Uh…hi guys.

Sinclair: Shipping stuff home? Like an urn?

Delenn: …oh.

Sinclair: That was slick, actually. Why’d you do this?

Delenn: Branmer wanted a quiet funeral, and so I gave him one. But now you guys have shown up and ruined it.

Garibaldi: Neroon wanted to blow us up.

Delenn: We could have explained it away as turning into a shiny ball of light. It’s kind of a thing on this show.

Garibaldi: So how do we explain this to Neroon?

Delenn: I’ll threaten him.


WHY YES DELENN IS KIND OF SCARY

Delenn: You disobeyed your leader. So I took the body. So, to keep people from realizing you really are a Greater Jerk we’ll say he was turned into a shiny ball of light like Valen. THE GREY COUNCIL SAYS SO.

Neroon: …fine.

Delenn: Also, apologize to Sinclair.

Neroon: …fine.


NEROON ISN’T A COMPLETE JERK. JUST MOSTLY A JERK.

Neroon: Sorry about that.

Sinclair: Nah, I know you wanted to honor him. I’d like to honor him too, I thought he was pretty epic.

Neroon: You do? Sweet. You’re like a Minbari.

Sinclair: Thanks. We’re bros for life, then, right?

Neroon: BROS FOR LIFE. But I’m still a Greater Jerk NYAHNYAH.

Audience: OH SNAP.


BOARDING!

Ivanova: Have fun.

Talia: Don’t hurt yourself.

Ivanova: Talia, what…did you just cut your hair? In the course of the day while we were all arguing? How did…that’s not…you can’t…WHAT.

Alisa: LOL. Bye guys.

Talia: So, let’s go for drinks.

Ivanova: Coffee. Drunk on duty doesn’t go over well. I might wind up beating people up again.


FORESHADOWING FOR DAYS!

Sinclair: See anything else in Delenn’s mind?

Alisa: She was thinking about a Chrysalis. Do you think it was a plotpoint?

Sinclair: Probably so. Or she’s about to start singing that stupid “Decolores” song. Annoy Neroon for me.

Alisa: NO PROBLEM.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Movie Review: Catching Fire

     When I saw The Hunger Games movie, I thought it was a good example of how to adapt a novel to film. After watching Catching Fire, I’m convinced the production team knows what they’re doing. It shows that they’re really listening to Suzanne Collins and paying attention to what the core of the fanbase enjoys.
     This movie. This movie was amazing. It doesn’t tug at your heartstrings; it punches them repeatedly and leaves you lying on the floor, wondering what just happened and when is the next movie coming out?
     We open with Katniss back in her comfort zone in the woods; but things are irrevocably changed. She keeps having flashbacks, she’s about to go on the Victory Tour and see the miserable faces of all those districts that lost children in the Games, and just as she appears to be requiting Gale’s feelings for her, she discovers that she’s pretty much stuck in her relationship with Peeta. President Snow shows himself in all his calm but sinister glory when he visits her in her home, casually mentions her loved ones in that “be a shame if something happened to them” way, and leaves Katniss with the impression that nothing she can do will really help her. She’s firmly under his thumb now.
     The Victory Tour was done so well. Katniss and Peeta are supposed to stick to a script, but when they go off script, it only cements the idea of revolution in the minds of the people, and we see all the brutality of a tyrannical government that follows on the heels of the Victory Tour. Katniss is an unwitting symbol of hope to the people. Unfortunately President Snow is not very genre savvy. He is smart enough to know that outright killing Katniss would only create a martyr for the people; but he doesn’t seem to realize that constantly oppressing someone who would commit suicide just to spite him probably isn’t the best idea either. As we see Katniss’ comfortable world crumble around her, we see what she is inside, and we see exactly why Snow is so afraid.
     Every image chosen in this movie is perfect. Katniss throwing herself between Gale and the ruthless new enforcer; Peeta painting a picture of Rue to remind the Game Makers of what they’re really doing; the champions linking hands before the Quarter Quell; even crazy Johanna screaming her rage to the sky, knowing Snow will hear. This does such a good job setting up the tension for the eventual war that will result. Needless to say, it is also quite satisfying to see Snow flummoxed at the end.

     This movie has whet my appetite for the next one.  It’s fantastic, it’s heartwrenching, it will give you SO. MANY. FEELS.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mr. Darcy Expies and Why They Fail-A Rant

      Being immersed in Austenite culture, I often hear the phrase “I’m still looking for my Mr. Darcy”. In many circles, Mr. Darcy is the epitome of what a man and, more importantly, a romantic hero should be. In many respects, this does make sense. While Mr. Darcy had his flaws, he was able to overcome those flaws. He was not a bad person, but someone with the very real human flaw of pride and ego, something that we see in everyone to some degree or another.
     Due to this popularity, it makes sense that every romance author wants to follow this mold. The problem lies in a fundamental misunderstanding of Mr. Darcy, as well as in the very different morals in modern romances, as opposed to Austen’s own worldview.
     Austen was Anglican, and, judging by not only the principles we see demonstrated in her novels but also by the prayers she herself wrote, a devout one. While some may argue that “society allowed certain things”, I really can’t see Mr. Darcy, or Mr. Knightley, or any of her other heroes visiting strumpets and sowing their wild oats before settling down to a proper marriage. Yes, it happened, but that doesn’t mean everyone did it.
     In romance novels (unless they’re “inspirational” romance novels), the hero is invariably a rake of some sort or another. Sometimes the author will reluctantly make sure they aren’t known for “deflowering virgins” and whatnot, but that doesn’t stop them from sexing up all the low class girls around them. After all, they’re healthy hot blooded men, therefore they must have sex! (Perhaps the authors are confusing a human sex drive with Pon Farr. That would explain a lot.) Then, quite suddenly, once the hero falls in love with the heroine, he is perfectly happy to have only one single woman. Ah, that is the power of our heroine/self-insert. She can magically turn a rake into a respectable man! (Austen had something to say about that, too, if you read Mansfield Park.)
     Another problem with romance novels is that the authors want the heroes to be “jerks with hearts of gold”, just like Mr. Darcy, supposedly. The difference lay in that these “jerks” do more than just insult a lady (without realizing she overheard) and being generally standoffish to the public. In one novel I read, the hero, annoyed by his father’s insinuations on his heritage, promptly seduces the heroine, just to prove he can catch a high class lady.  In another, the hero makes out with the heroine, then turns around and blames her for going along with it.
     Now, you can say that they have “flaws” just like any other human being, but not once do they get called out on their behavior, not once do they ever say, “I should not have done that”. They just magically become good, and the heroine magically assumes they are good.
     Christian fiction is not averse to this trope either. In two different novels, the hero snubs and insults women, not because they’ve behaved wrong, but merely because they are admiring them. In the historical one, the hero uses his influence to screw up the ladies’ chances in high society for it; in the modern one, the hero makes sure the heroine hears his insult so she’ll stop “chasing him” (by “chasing him”, he means “she looked at me”.)
     This is completely ridiculous. It would be one thing if this was part of the hero’s character arc, and he learned from his mistakes before. But they never do.
     And this is why these cheap imitations fail. The point of Pride and Prejudice is that both Elizabeth and Darcy have flaws they must work through before they can find happiness together. They must learn to quell their pride and to be more cautious in their judgments of other people. It is only after they both learn their lesson that the novel brings them together again. In regular romance novels, no one learns any lesson, they simply get together and somehow the magic of their love will make them work. While this may be escapist fiction, it certainly is poor escapist fiction where you deliberately give your characters’ glaring flaws and then proceed to never do a thing about them.
     Dear romance authors,
     No. Just no.

Mr. Darcy disapproves of your rakish heroes.


P.S. Mr. Tilney is the superior Austen hero. He has such an understanding of muslin!

Henry Tilney is smirking. Your argument is invalid.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman



     Richard Mayhew is your average, laidback young man with a boring but secure job, a pretty but controlling fiancĂ©e, and a calm, uncomplicated life.
     Then he finds a strange young woman injured in the streets, and when he decides to help her, his entire life is turned upside down.
     Door is from the Underground. Not the London Underground everyone sees, but the strange, magic Underground, where people go when they “fall through the cracks”. When Richard goes into the Underground to find Door and try to get his normal life back, he gets thrown into a strange, complicated plot and meets a variety of odd companions: the Rat Speakers, the beautiful Hunter, the sly Marquis, and Door herself, who is much more than just an odd girl.
     Neil Gaiman does a wonderful job at drawing a variety of characters that stand out in your mind. No one gets confused with the other; even the two henchmen have their own peculiarities that help them stand out. (Apart from devouring priceless statues, that is.) Richard seems very average, and it is easy to underestimate him as the other characters do; but along with the other characters, you come to realize what lies beneath his boring exterior. The twists and turns along the way as we learn about this strange world don’t detract from the plot; they only make it that much richer. The Underground is almost a character in and of itself.

     This is an excellent example of urban fantasy, and quite a fun little trip into the London no one sees.