Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of WriMo


Ok, so it didn't go exactly as planned, but that's fine-- I doubt anyone was watching.

Two of my crazy friends made their 50,000 word quota. I didn't quite get to my 30 posts, but oh well. This makes my 11th and that averages 2-3 a week, more than I've written in a long time, so it served some purpose.

As the semester comes to ta close, I'll try to keep writing. In the mean time, I have a test tomorrow. It's soc, so it's not too bad, but I have some notes to look over and I'm tired, so I'm just gonna bring this to a close.

Thanks to anyone who was reading/watching this little experiment, and I'll be around.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Soul Eater - "Guitar vs Piano" or "Guitar FOR Piano"?


Soul Eater - "Guitar vs Piano" or "Guitar FOR Piano"?

Ohkubo Atsushi's "Soul Eater" is a stunning manga (later, anime) in several aspects. One of the area's I have a particular liking for are it's musical and sound references, puns, and analogies. (Both his series, B.Ichi and Soul Eater, are loaded with these.)

In the musical spirit of this manga, I posted to YouTube my first, and so far only, AMV (Anime Music Video) featuring Soul and Maka to the Goukisan's song, Guitar Vs Piano. It was too perfect; I just couldn't resist.

(Shameless Plug but also for reference-- The video, it's notes, and community commentary can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FjPHoQTv9A)

About two weeks ago, someone going by "Magnenntae" posted the following comment:

"I find it strange that Soul plays the Piano and that Maka plays the Eletric Guitar, only because Soul is more crazy, headstrong and overall unpredictable, while Maka seems more refined and somehow elegant, similar to the piano. I suppose it's only because I expect an instrument to resemble it's musician for some reason."

Stumbling across it again, I couldn't help but respond. But being the wordy person I am I just can't limit it to a comment-- I need an essay. Not that I mean to tear down the comment; it's a good observation and I actually appreciate the discussion. It helps when someone legitimately challenges something I just sort of took for granted and it make for a good prompt. Of course, this is all my own interpretation based on various scenes and facts set forth in the series, mainly the manga.

I have to say, the symbolism of the piano in the series has never bothered me. The piano is a versatile and classic instrument, perhaps THE classic instrument, with a proud history; Soul himself is rather similar. (The manga makes this more clear, going more into his family's history.) It can be played classically, in hard rock, or even in pop; even songs not originally meant for it sound right on it. I'm particularly fond of modern piano, keeping it's sense of class and nobility while maintaining the strength and fullness of modern music. It's also one of the few instruments on which two or more parts can be played simultaneously; one person can play a whole song, both harmony and melody. Yet it still cooperates well with other instruments. It can be featured or can be accompaniment to highlight other instruments, like voice. You get the picture.

One interesting thing is that Soul's family is not a family of weapons; there's no history of the trait anywhere. While we see Soul's piano as a distinguishing or even odd feature, in his family, it's the weapon trait, not his musical ability that distinguishes him-- they're all world-class musicians. (His brother plays the violin.) What's more, his family seems to be classical musicians, but his preference is to jazz and funk*. It just kind of goes to show that even his "cool" personality can be fitted to a piano. It's also been alluded to that his own compositions are less classical but more dark and mysterious, even disturbing. I think he kind of struggles with the disparity between others' image of a piano and his own.

On the other hand, the guitar is only slightly less classic and versatile. An acoustic guitar is only second to the piano in "gateway instruments," especially for musicians interested in or partial to voice. The only real difference for our purposes is the electric guitar, which unlike it's piano equivalent, lends it's own feel to anything played on or with it. See Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) and Savatage. (The two are essentially the same group of people, but TSO is more of an artistic project, while Savatage is more of a local circuit band. Their sound, mission, and technique are similar.) These bands use electric guitars and other rock instruments in some VERY classical music and styles (like Beethoven and Mozart classical), but the sound is very unique and the entire atmosphere is different for it. You could play "Flight of the Bumble Bee" on strings, as originally intended; on a brass band, as in the movie Drumline; or on electric guitars, as in Beethoven's Last Night by TSO. (Incidentally, I don't believe Bumble Bee is Beethoven, but homage is paid to several other artists in that opera.)

This is where Maka comes in. Interestingly enough, Maka is in NO way musical. She doesn't even APPRECIATE music, let alone "understand" it, as she puts it. She can't dance, can't sing, can't play an instrument; doesn't even really find enjoyment in listening to it. Because of this, she is particularly jealous of Soul, but it's also because of Soul that she even cares. She knows that music is important to Soul and wants to find it important as well, if even for no other reason than to understand HIM better.

We also have the guitar-vs-amp analogy. I actually found that analogy more flawed. Weapons are BORN Weapons. We're not sure if the same is true of Technicians, but other Weapons can be Technicians as well (see Liz and Pati). Weapons will be Weapons, regardless of whether or not there is anyone to wield them. At the same time, it seems that just about anyone with half an inclination could be a Technician. This makes the Weapon the unique highlight of any set but since a Weapon can't traditionally wield itself, it's the Technician's job to make them look good. In any extended sense, Soul would be the guitar in that analogy and Maka the amp (except for the fact that they were really trying to illustrate the interaction of the "soul waves" (heehee, soul waves, sound waves; it just goes on), which may indeed originate from the Technician).

Maka gets to deal with this dilemma on a regular basis. If she can't keep up with Soul, he can't fulfill his potential. You wouldn't want a really awesome guitar to sound sh__y because of a bad amp, now would you? You'd replace the amp. And Technicians are, theoretically, SO replaceable. (Yes, I know about the whole Soul-BlackStar thing, so they can't be replaced by just ANYONE, but still can be replaced.) And if Soul simply WON'T replace her, that would make her feel even worse.

In the end, it turns out being a story of Maka trying to BECOME the guitar to Soul's piano. She not only wants to be able to properly highlight him on the stage (BlackStar would be crying right now), but wants to understand him more on a personal level and loosen up a bit; become more wild and "cool" like the guitar.

*an interesting moment in translation is when the kids ask Soul to supply music for their party. Due to the Japanese alphabet and transliteration of certain English words to Japanese, he may have brought "funk" or "punk" which doesn't even amount to a whole letter's difference in sound. (funk = ファンク punk = プァンク = パンク) Interesting side note, Ohkubo seems partial to metal, himself.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kratos ga Taosenai... Just kidding, We kicked his a--

about the title: "Kratos ga Taosenai" is "I can't beat Kratos" in Japanese. It's a reference to a song called "Airman ga Taosenai" meaning, similarly, "I can't beat Airman," which is lamenting about a particularly difficult boss in the Megaman series. There is also an English rendition called "I can't Defeat Air-Man."

Kratos Aurion. Possibly one of the most EPIC characters in video game history. I mean that both literally and figuratively. He is both awesome, and belongs to a class of character highly consistent with those in epic stories. But then, when the official tagline of the game is "The epic battle for survival" you SHOULD follow an epic structure; Tales of Symphonia has NO problem with this.

Those familiar with the game, aka, having played it, you will be able to understand the significance of this post's title instantly. For those who are less familiar or have no clue what I'm talking about, yes Kratos is a party member*. No, that does not mean you won't have multiple opportunities to fight him. As an older, more experienced adventurer, he quickly becomes a mentor figure, and perhaps even more depending on how you play and how you interpret his character. At the same time, as a mercenary and the only other swordsman the main character has met, he is easily identified as a possible rival.

At multiple points in the game, you have the option, and often obligation, to fight him. Very few of these fights are you expected, or even REQUIRED to win. That's how bada__ this character is as a boss. Strong melee fighter, ridiculously fast at casting spells, and nearly impossible to interrupt. Generally your best tactic is to split up the party so he doesn't kill you all in one go, and try to hang on for dear life long enough to see some of his cooler moves before he slaughters you.

One of his more threatening moves, the bane of my existence, is a spell called "grave" (an earth spell summoning forth spikes of rocky death, not unlike FMA). It was a particular favorite of the AI that one day I had to fight him, like, six times. Go into overlimit so I can't interrupt him, cast "grave," knock me down with said "grave," and start casting "grave" again while I struggle to get up. I HATE grave. Plus, it makes me sick to think that he's using it to kill me before I can use it to kill things playing AS him.

However, as difficult as it is, Kratos IS beatable EVERY time you fight him. Last night my friend and I, on a FIRST playthrough might I add, actually defeated him. It wasn't the first time we fought that battle, but we went back a few times. Once or twice because we didn't think we'd put up a good enough fight, and once for some serious sidequesting. By the the time we got back from tracking down long lost parents, visiting graves (real graves, not the spell), helping children find their mothers, and saving princesses, we finally settled down to fight this guy, well and prepared.

We decided our goal was to get off one good Unison Attack, one which we'd built to use an attack we usually used him for (Cross Thrust, for those who know the game), and my own goal was to get off as many GRAVES as possible with our other characters capable of the spell. If we were gonna get our a__es handed to us, we were going to put up the most ironic fight ever. After all, our most commonly used characters are Lloyd (mostly her character) and Zelos (mostly mine), and my friend is a role-player (she actually went to an in-game amusement park simply to "cheer up" one of our characters she felt was depressed by recent events). Lloyd would go down fighting and Zelos only fights in style, so that's how we were gonna do it.

Being the SPEED DEMON on the field he is, Lloyd managed to reach Kratos and perform our first Unison Attack fast enough to cut off Kratos's most powerful spell in the middle. It turns out, the AI opens this battle with that spell and only uses it once. This is a good thing because that spell would have taken half our hit points within, literally the first 5 seconds of the battle. After a bit of walloping on Lloyd's part, I got off Zelos's grave spell; we were pretty happy. Though we kept taking a beating, we continued to do well.

After a bit we started using items and even life bottles (the equivalent of phoenix down). As I went to the item menu one more time, I asked her, "how much are we trying to win this?" It was then that we decided we had used too many items to not go all the way, so I pulled out our secret weapon, "all-divide."

All-divide is a classic Tales boss item. You only get about 2 or 3 a game, so use them well. They cut damage done to anything on the field in half, friend or foe. Why would you do that? Healing isn't halved, only damage. This version of Boss Kratos doesn't heal himself, but we can. We have four damage-dealing characters and he has one. Essentially, if you're going to be whittling away at his 20,000+ hit points, make sure you can survive long enough to do it.

Before long, we were doing well enough to use a magic lens and see he had about 2500 HP left. This fight was in the bag. Over all, we got off about 3 Unison Attacks and a fair number of graves. Oh yeah, and kicked his a__.

The four-and-a-half minute boss fight yielded, literally, over 9000 EXP (XP, experience points), a few choice items, including a level 4 ExSphere, and +2.72 grade. Three of the four party members on the field leveled up. Oh, and Kratos's data in our bestiary. Again, for those unfamiliar with the game, those are good spoils. Plus, the bragging rights of having defeated Kratos as relatively inexperienced gamers on a first playthrough**, that is, no "new game plus" where most people pull these kind of stunts.

No, the fight isn't as hard as your first one with him, or some other battles, but we still feel pretty good about it. And, since my friend in a writer and a RP gamer, she even decided our defeat of Kratos filled in a few subsequent plot holes. Overall, not a bad night.

~singing~I can't defeat… Kra-atos. No matter how I try to dodge of his lightning he just graves me again. Every time. Somehow, every time I lose. ~hums "I Can't Defeat Air-Man"~

*For those even less familiar with video games, that means he is a playable character. He's in your party. You get to play as him. From a literary standpoint, "party members" would be considered a protagonists or allies.

**I say "a first playthrough" rather than "our first playthrough" because I have played the game before, but I don't have the data, so i don't have "new game plus" for it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Homophobia = Sexism, plain and simple


Sociology is always a good topic to make me mad. Or maybe just a good topic to make me depressed at how truly stupid people can get. Gender and sex, specifically. It's one of my favorite topics, but it's also one of the most infuriating.

Since our main subject right now is "inequality" we get to study civil rights and discrimination. As many of us may know, one of the hottest civil rights topics right about now is not race, but sexuality. So, fittingly enough, we watched a 1996 journalism program about same sex marriage.

In this program, I think heard the possibly most blatantly and public sexist statement since the 1960's, possibly 30's. High-ranking official goes on prime-time television and says, "Raising a boy in a lesbian household is child abuse. Depriving a boy of a father is child abuse."

Wait a minute. Consider a few situations, if you will: a single mother-- a widow, no less; a woman raising her grandson; a woman helping her daughter or sister raise a son; and just about any situation that would force a boy to be raised without the presence of a father-figure, sexuality of his guardian(s) completely withdrawn from the picture. Are any of these inherently child abuse? Is this guy trying to say to us that a widow is ABUSING her son simply by CARING for him without remarrying? Basically what this pans out to is that a woman, a pair of women, or even a GROUP of women are simply incapable of responsible and HUMANELY caring for a boy without a man present. But… hold it… who's supposed to be the nurturing gender, the one who takes care of the kids? Oh, right, that's supposed to be a "feminine" role.

So a woman's place/responsibility is to raise children, but she can't do it with out a man supervising her. I can't tell if this is a double standard, a statement to how incompetent this guy thinks women are, or just clear stupidity*. Probably all three.

*(If you look over this scenario closely you find that it is a case of someone being supervised by someone who's considered to be worse at the task they are performing than they are.)

Well, maybe women just aren't good enough to raise BOYS. But, no. Mr. High-And-Mighty catches himself-- he corrects that girls raised in lesbian household are also victims of child abuse. So apparently, women aren't even capable of raising girls on their own.

But don't worry, this guy is a pig in both directions. Apparently, children can't be raised without a mother-figure either. Sorry, single dads, you're all neglectful child-beaters, too.

Honestly, when you think about it, if a child is going to be raised without a dad (or without a mom) shouldn't it be better to have two loving parents and no dad (or mom) than just one parent and still no dad (or mom, as the case may be), loving though they may be. No offense to single parents, and by no means should a child be removed from their loving parent. At the end of the day, if you're going to evaluate family structures, and claim that some are better than others, you'd better be willing to accept the implications. Otherwise, STFU.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trinity Blood: RAGE!

So I finished watching Trinity Blood with the anime club I help run. I haven't been so infuriated with an anime since Tokyo Underground; actually more so. Tokyo Underground is such a notably mundane anime, you can't even get on it's case about how bad it is. It just is, in all of it's mundane, cliche, and predictable glory. It was so average and un-noteworthy, it was a genuine time sink; It wasn't even bad enough to convince me to stop watching it. I want my nine hours back.

Trinity Blood, on the other hand, has a similar but much more pronounced problem. The issue with this series is not how bad it is, but how good it COULD be. It has the gaul to start off with an awesome first episode posing the question of the day: "if humans prey on animals, and vampires prey on humans, how terrifying must the creature that preys on vampires be? Seriously, what kind of bada-- freaking EATS VAMPIRES?! The main character of Trinity Blood, that's who. At least you'd think the show would be freaking awesome after an episode like that.

We then spend the next three or four episodes (keep in mind, this is a 26 ep series) SETTING THE SCENE in peaceful, futuristic European and Catholic hotspots-- Rome, Vatican, London, you get the picture-- and exposing an intricate religious-political drama. OK. Fine. I can deal with that; I like conspiracy theories. But I was promised vampires-- non-sparkly ones at that (well, maybe they're a little shiny, but more in an "aura of deadly crackling lightning" sort of way)-- vampires, vampire-eating monsters, aircraft with LASER BEAMS, guns, nano-bots, giant scythes, and BLOOD.

Anyway, this mini-arc has a girl-of-the-week kind of feel, mixed with a slice-of-life, and occasionally some bad guys get shot-- not by the main character, I might add; he spends more of his time smiling stupidly and asking young girls not to take revenge on those who have seriously wronged them, and more pointedly, will continue to wrong others in the form of BLOWING UP innocent cities.

Enter Rosette-- sorry, wrong nun-with-gun-- I mean, Colette-- oh, wait, that's that fail chick from Tales of Symphonia-- I mean, Estelle-- sorry, ESTER-- because that STAR-shaped birthmark on her butt-- sorry LOWER BACK-- has ABSOLUTELY NO INFLUENCE on her name whatsoever (stupid English translators).* So, now that I can remember her name (Ester, for those who couldn't decipher that), we meet Ester (this is killing me), a package deal of fail-sauce and boobs. Jing has his girl-of-the-week, Kino has hers, Father Nightroad (that's our main character) has his. I can deal with her whiney stupidity because she'll be gone by the end of the epis-- oh, it's a multi-parter. Ok, well, she'll bec=gone at the end of the ar-- she's going WITH him… Of all the girls, SHE'S the one that stays. WHY?! By the way, that whole nun-with-gun thing, her only semi-redeeming quality, you never see that again. Even though she's in more dangerous situations that ever, traveling with a priest that hunts vampires-- who, might I point out, hasn't done ANYTHING cool since the first episode-- NEVER makes a move to defend herself again.

We get a few more incidental characters-- a robotic paladin, a real paladin and his right hand lady (who's cooler than her is), a backgroundless but nonetheless badass swordsman-- and a few recurring characters-- palace guard/ex-crusader, Pope Fail, some vampire nobility, and, my favorite, the pincushion. We go through the rest of the extremely slow exposition (yes, the most of the show is exposition) and about once a disc, the show builds up to some form of fight or bada--ery, which usually comes out to a grand total of about three minutes. The build is ridiculously slow and boring (most of which I couldn't recount to any who asked by the next week), and the action, though cool, was short-lived and frequently cut short or alluded to more than seen.

By the last disc, I was ready to roll over dead. By the end of the disc, I was ready to KILL. I figured, this, at least would justify my forced patience. The first episode was epic, surely the finale would live up to that, at the very least. F--- no. Trinity Blood says "You wanted what? B---- please." It harbored the same slow build and teasing action the rest of the series but in less time. Sure, a bunch of awesome one-shot characters and few minor ones step up to the plate only to have their epicness alluded to while we get to listen to our token-vagina/kidnap-bait fail increasingly in previously inconceivable manners and then cry over said failures.

Why couldn't you have just STAYED in the bomb shelter, like he told you. Even The Child Pope Failure, grew a spine in the course of this show. Where were you? The 12-year-old Peter Pan references kicked more ass than you, and whined about it less, at that. ALL of our allies have pulled out every single stop and are off being bada--, and we're stuck watching this girl sitting in front of a coffin CRYING about what she's NOT out there doing, because she's in here, crying. WHY did we follow this character? Oh right, the crazy birthmark says she's the queen. Who DIDN'T see that coming? She certainly didn't, not that I'm surprised.

The worst part about this is how good it all could have been. The animation was pretty, not gorgeous, but it was trying. The computer graphics were kind of distracting to me, but it made for some pretty cool effects, like the lighting and blood. There WERE kick-a-- characters, even the non-martial ones, but we never got to see them in action for more than about three minutes or a few lines at a time. The intrigue and drama were genuine, but cut short and intermittent, in favor of one-shot or impertinent story arcs, no less.

People have been raving about Trinity Blood for a while. I wouldn't normally fault them; there was a good concept there, and SOME people were trying, but were quickly overshadowed. I was furious, literally throwing things at the TV. I would honestly like to see the sequel, or even the prequel; what little background was given to the true hero of the story revealed the character's younger self to be much better than his current personality and situation, and would lend itself to a beautiful drama; the story's wrap-up sends my two favorite characters, a newly resolved Father Night Road and the now spine-wielding pincushion, off on an epic man-hunt-- excuse me, vampire-eater-hunt-- out in the world withOUT the freshly crowned Queen Failsauce. I'd watch that if it were given ANY more care than it's predecessor.

*Those who don't quite get the Estelle/Ester thing: In Japanese, both Ester and Estelle would be spelled エステル. Whether this is interpreted as "E-SU-TE-RU"-- "Ester"-- or "E-SU-TE-LU"-- Estelle-- is completely up to which makes more sense; it's kind of like the Alucard/Arucard thing-- the former is "Dracula" spelled backward, fitting of a monstrous ancient vampire creature, and the latter is… nothing. Or a swordsman named "Zoro" (Zorro) having his name changed to "Zolo." I naturally assumed, because of the star-shaped mark on her and various references to a "Star Queen" that the name was "Estelle" but subtitles say "no." Even after one of the characters informs her that her name means "star" in the ancient language of their country (aka Latin or Italian), the translators refuse to budge.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"I cast Magic Missile!"


Just got back from Nano Con a small game con run by South Dakota State University's game club. My friend's dad runs the game club, so of course is responsible for the con. That's why all this is coming up late. I might just be drabbling for a while, but I WILL stay on top of my "one per day" thing.

I was introduced to D&D 4th ed. Previously, I'd only played a little 3.5. I really took to 4th though. It was fun. I have this piddly little regenerated Eladrin Wizard that I feel kicked some serious a--. I've found that I don't really like building characters (yet anyway, takes too long if you don't know what you're doing), but I can definitely have fun with a random character or a pregenerated one. I especially like picking up the Character Builder, entering class and race, and hitting "generate character."

Wizards (well, magical (or "arcane, if you prefer) classes in general) used to be really hard to play, but it seems the new system has made fighters (martial classes) more like wizards to play and wizards more like fighters in usefulness.

I enjoyed it immensely, but I refuse to ever use the words "magic missile" again; I'm coming up with a much cooler name for that attack if it's the last thing I do. Can't we just change a wizard's "unarmed attack" to the effect of magic missile. 'Cause that's basically what I did. But i also learned some intricacies of the character's other abilities and that's when it really started to get fun. But I learned that even a simple strategy can be really effective.

It was a good weekend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Best FMA FanFic Ever!

posted 11/8/2010

The bottome line: FMA fans should check out Shadow of a Doubt by Bookwrm389

So I'm going to put this here, cause it's really been on my brain and it's about all i've got. At this con, I'm surrounded by D&D and and Magic The Gathering, and I've got Fullmetal Aalchemist (FMA) fanfiction running though my head. That's what I'm doin': learning/playing 4th ed during the day and reading fanfiction at night.

Now, I know, this fanfiction thing is a little sad. I got into it around junior high or high school and I quickly learned my lesson. As a matter of fact, half of my aversion to most everything I am averse to in anime comes from my fanfiction experiences. But at that time, that's what I had: Shounen Jump and fanfiction. Every now and then, I'll get on a kick for some show or series (not always anime) and after devouring everything in my path (and some things that just weren't fast enough to get out of my way) my obsession still isn't worn off, so I end up digging through fan fiction until I eventually just get sick of the "bad."

But, for once, this tactic just isn't working. Guess why… GOOD fanfiction… Say what?! Yeah. I found it. The legends are true. More than that, I found not only a good story, but a good AUTHOR! … and she writes a LOT. The first of hers I found was a 22,000-word ONE-SHOT. Go back and read that again for emphasis; it looks stupid if I type it again. Yeah. Tell me about it. 20k words in a one-chapter story. The NaNo WriMo definition of a "novel" is 50k words. But every one of those 22 thousand words was pristine, cannon, and beautiful. Even when the characters had to be out of character, they did it in character. I won't bother to type how that works. Ask me some day and I'll explain it to you in spoken word. If anyone besides my mom ever reads this, I have Skype, iChat, and gmail; this will be worked out somehow.

Granted, a lot of my favorite series have aged, and I've noticed a lot of the fanfiction has with it, so I have been finding progressively less retarded material, as a rule. Still-- I have no idea people's major malfunction is-- but the grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and sentence structure remains as sh--y as ever. I used to look at this with great wonder insisting there was no way these writers could be over 15, until I joined creative writing classes at my college. Yes, high school graduates, and even college seniors, have just as terrible writing skills as 13-year-old fan-brats, disappointing me even more (which I seriously didn't think was possible) in the human race. But i think that's a different rant for a different time.

Anyway, I've decided that this is the best FMA fanfiction written to date. I've even started reading more of this person's stuff and this still hangs on as the best. They go by Bookwrm389 on FanFiction.net and the story that flattened me to the ground with it's crushing awesome is called Shadow of a Doubt. My fan senses, triggered by the awesome story and marvelous editing, went off on full alert when I read their bio and saw the rest of their stories. Their approach to writing, fanfiction, and fandom is right in swing with mine. I especially liked when I saw the commentary on FMA: Brotherhood and the FMA fans that like to trash it after 2-5 episodes; it completely makes the point I've been trying to get across as well, almost word for word.

Anyway, it's a brilliant, well constructed, whumping fic centering around Ed and Mustang portrayed with a really good NON-romantic relationship (omg! it exists! I'm SOOOOO happy!). If you have any interest in FMA, especially if you're sick of all the Roy-Ed slash, you should definitely check this out. It's brilliant.

Friday, November 5, 2010

F---ing Flux!

posted 11/8/2010

My friends took me to Nano Con, a small game con in South Dakota. The first night, they pulled out Flux, possibly one of the most frustrating card games on the face of the planet. The entire game is dedicated to systematically changing the rules and messing with your hand. I'd never played before, and I quickly realized there was no call for strategy; it simply does no good. Like many people at the table seemed to already know, the game is much more enjoyable when you just give up on trying to win and simply attempt to f--- with the rules in the most ridiculous and/or mutually frustrating way possible. A little masochism and a LOT of schadenfreude-- that's what takes to make this game some of the most companionable misery one can find.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The 5 R's: Recreation, Rants, Reviews, Ramblings, and Revelations


You know, I actually hate alliteration, especially first letter alliteration. You wouldn't know it looking at this blog, so far. I have my five R's, "month of madness," there's probalby more to come. Dominic Deegan (comixpedia) should be plotting my doom right about now.

I guess, I should say I used to hate it. Now, if it's used right (and by "right" I mean, according to my aesthetic senses), I can take it small doses. See, I have this thing about similar sounds or words used in close proximity.

One of my writing professors once said that alliteration and other such structures showed good sentence flow. I feel like it draws too much attention to those items. If sounds, words, or even sentence structure are similar, it feels like they belong together, even if they have nothing in common. When they have nothing in common is when it bothers me the most. If they aren't meant to stand out, they shouldn't conglomerate into a force like that.

That's just me though. My friend reaLLy Likes aLLiteration (see, that's getting too close for me). After HEL (history of english lit), I found that alliteration works really well as a poetic form; it strings together a phrase nicely, especially mid-word alliteration that plays more with rhythm, but only if it's consistent. Alliteration really does work better with English; rhyme is a much more Latin construction.

I've also found I like it when Disturbed uses it in their lyrics, or some strange form or pseudo-alliteration (see "Ten Thousand Fists" - song - lyrics). It tends to highlight the staccato rhythms of their songs. They have a habit of mixing alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm rather well (THere's THose r's again). But again, that's an offshoot of poetry, and it stays consistent.

Maybe it's the random cropping up of the form that bothers me in prose. Rhymes, repeated words, and recurring sentence structure (What's With these damn r's?) bother me, too, if the form/structure doesn't persist or have particular meaning. I think it just throws off my internal rhythm.

OK, so maybe I don't hate alliteration. I just want it to harmonize with the form around it. I don't like poetry Feeling Forced, and I don't like being jolted out of my reading rhythm… (R'S!!! ARRRGH!!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marketing Schemes: They're called "schemes" for a reason


I recently got a new phone. Nothing fancy. Just a Tr*cFone to replace my old one. (*this is where an "a" is supposed to go, but I'll tell you why it's not there in a minute.) It's three years old and the 7 key is worn out. That's not good as it is, but that also happens to be the key with "r" and "s" on it. Texting becomes a b----. I've also been having battery problems for a while.

Anyway, I went to their website and purchased one of their cheap phone packages-- something with double minutes and a 60 min card. Nice little deal. I have no need for a complicated phone. What's the battery like? Does it have a phonebook? Does it text? Can I put my phone charms/straps on it? That's all I ask. The one I picked happened to have a USB charger. That made my day. I'm loving M*torola more by the second. (*this one has an "o" in it.)

So I love these two companies pretty well. The former is the only cell phone company i've seen that i don't feel like their secretly trying to rip me off. I can literally and easily do the math and decide how much I want to be ripped off, or not. And I don't feel like their trying to sell me something I don't want. The latter just pleases me with their product more every time I run into them. My nice, good-natured Japanese company. It's difficult for a large company to gain my affections, what with my paranoias and hatred for large organizations.

So if I'm so pleased by these companies, why am I censoring them out? One word: Marketing. Not two hours after I visit the site and PURCHASE A PHONE, does EVERY add on my computer suddenly become a Tr*cFone add, some of which are the same package I purchased or one of the ones very similar. WTF?! "I've already got one!" That's why I was on their site morons! Leave me the f--- alone!

Now, despite the previous expletive "WTF," I'm actually not surprised or baffled in the least. I've known for years that marketers and other sites crawl your computer and cache for how best to lure in your soul into their clutches. I realized the extent of it a few years ago when logging into F*cebook for the first time in months, and I found a message put on my news feed telling me an everyone I had on my "friend" list about a game i had played on a DIFFERENT site three or four weeks before. It may have even had my score. That was when I knew for sure that F*acebook was evil.

And, for as much as I love G*ogle, they've gotten really good at this reading-your-personality-by-looking-at-your-browsing-history thing-- scary good. One side of me admires the technical, programing, and design genius; the other is sick with fear. You know they don't have to stop at your browsing history… or marketing. G*ogle still has some decent ethics when it comes to this kind of stuff, and I still like them-- they're geniuses-- but G*ogleChr*me? G*ogle cell phone? I think not.

I've said for a long time that I don't believe in government conspiracy theories. The Gov just isn't competent enough. Organizations, religions, and large corporations? That's an entirely different story. They have the cunning, the resources, and the malice to do it. (Seriously, women's clothing sizes. WTF? Most impractical and inconsistent measuring scheme ever devised. Why? Only they know, but it's a conspiracy, I tell you.) And if it will get them money or power, especially businesses, they will.

If I disappear in a few months, you all know why.

NaBloWriMo? Not quite as catchy...


Alrighty. I've been meaning to do a real blog for a while now. I've done it before because of my travels and stuff. My parents tell me to do it for therapy. My friends say for entertainment value. I think some of them would just rather I get my rants out so they don't have to listen to them anymore. On the other hand, some say I should sell tickets to or do podcasts of my rants or the monologue of me playing Legend of Zelda; apparently it's hilarious.

I've had quite a few snippets in my head for a while now, but no real reason to get them out, and certainly no occasion to start a blog. That is, until now.

With the advent of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), many of my creative writing friends *cough*crazy*cough* have been diving headlong into it. Being a recreational writer myself (or at least I used to be, words are kind of in my nature), I feel like I should be involved somehow too.

So, while most of the novel and story tendencies are gone from my brain, I figured I'd come forward with my own little challenge. It will hardly come to 50,000 words, but I figured a snippet of nearly stream-of-consciousness essay-lets a day wouldn't be so bad for me.

I say "nearly" SoC because I hate it as a writing style, and merely mean it as a "little bit of something i feel like talking about today." the ideas/topics are more SoC than the writing. Things usually go through my head about 5 times before they come out, so it'll be from that angle.

I won't spend too much time on what I'll be talking about. I have trends in my thinking, but that will become evident. What i will say is that this is a concept I've had around for a whole and just found an excuse to do it. Some rants, some reviews, ramblings, a few random thoughts and revelations. Hopefully all kind of short, but knowing me, we'll see how that goes. If nothing else, it should be light. Have fun as we all descend into this month of madness.