bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Madness)
So I finally got to Chanur's Legacy. I never read it before because honestly Hilfy was insufferable. And I stand by that assessment, though she seems to finally be getting the glimmer of a clue through her thick skull. And I do love getting deep into alien minds.

Definitely going to go on to Cherryh's other stuff, too--the Alliance/Union universe to find out Tully's context, and also I've got Foreigner here. (Tried to get into it once and never got very far.) But I'm wanting other sci-fi, too. Definitely on a kick. You nerds got any recommendations?

PS: LOOK AT THIS FUCKING COVER I FOUND. Suddenly I want to learn French just to find out what the everloving hell the translator who described Pyanfar THAT way to the illustrator was on about.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Map of the Shire)
I think the funniest thing about Linkara's The Hobbit reviews (which I am rewatching at the moment) is that I don't disagree with any of the critiques he has to the storyline--it's all spot-on true for how to build a good story. The extra characters, the climax, Bilbo's role in it, the second climax, etc.--none is particularly good novel technique.

--And yet, at the same time, every single thing he critiques is another reason why The Hobbit is my favorite book in the world.

Most of it boils down to one thing--that it really is Bilbo's story. It gives us his point of view, and while he's a hero, he's not a Hero. So I like that the Dwarves are kind of an amorphous mass, with one or two personality traits materializing out of it sometimes, because I have the feeling that's kind of how I'd perceive it if I was sort of accidentally dragged on this adventure. I like how he was accidentally dragged on--for all that it's nice to show him consciously deciding to change his life in the movie, I like how Gandalf actually just flusters him into joining in the book. I really like that he bitches the whole damn way--I hadn't realized how important it was that he piss and moan all the way to the Lonely Mountain until it was taken away in the movies. Yeah, he's rising to the occasion, but by god, he's not happy about it.

But what I especially like is Linkara's big complaint--the double-climax and how Bilbo plays into it.

I like that he doesn't slay the dragon. I like that his contribution was a small one--a critical piece of information that would get around to some other hero to do the job. Here in a world were we can't actually do heroic, world-saving deeds, the idea of doing a small thing that still touches off a great change is a really uplifting one.

I like the Battle of Five Armies. Aftermath is difficult and more complicated than a usual denouement is. And your friends can turn into jerks even then.

And most of all, what I like is how Bilbo tries to handle the standoff leading up to the battle. His true bravery is in his attempt to make an outcome that works out best for everyone--trying to do the right thing despite his own friends' not appreciating that. And that he tries to solve it peacefully. And that he fails--but that everyone realizes what he was trying to do, and winds up respecting the hell out of him for it. He may have changed them a little more for next time--maybe they'll try a little harder to fix things.

So, yes. It doesn't really reflect everything we're used to in a story, but it's something I really love. His story is one of the small people who don't slay dragons or move mountains. He's just the guy who flubs his way through the adventure he's dragged on, trying to do mostly the right thing as he goes. It's not the person we like to imagine ourselves as, but it's rather nice to realize that the person we actually are, for all our flaws, can be respectable, too, in our own small and admirable ways.

And that he snarks the whole time. Really, I can't overstate how important it is that he whines so much.

Book Club

Oct. 29th, 2014 10:09 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (Map of the Shire)
Back in January, my brother decided to make himself a resolution.

MY BROTHER: I am finally going to read The Lord of the Rings by the end of this year!

So he took a dive into the beloved fantasy series. In February, I asked him how it was going.

MY BROTHER: I have amended it somewhat! I am going to read The Fellowship of the Ring by the end of the year!
ME: That boring, huh?

Okay, yeah, Fellowship starts out pretty slow, what with half a book of dicking around and musical numbers. But even so, my brother's managing to exceed his new goal and called me not too long ago.

MY BROTHER: I finished The Two Towers!
ME: Whadja think?
MY BROTHER: Okay, you were right. Those last chapters in Shelob's lair?
ME: When Sam goes bugfuck?

Yes. I'm still willing to argue that overall the Peter Jackson movies told a way better story than the books and made the scenes much more interesting and exciting. But the book version of Shelob's Lair--and, god, The Choices of Master Samwise--blows the movie version out of the water. I like the movie's GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU BITCH moment, but it was in the book when I got into the fight and was all "Fuckin GET HER! YEAH!!!" when Sam just launches himself at Shelob.

Also, I'm curious to see what my brother thinks of that cliffhanger at the end of Book 1 of Return of the King. It was not really possible with the movies because the stories were told parallel to each other, but it is pretty effective when the last you hear of Frodo is "Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy" and then suddenly the Mouth of Sauron shows up with Frodo's stuff to destroy everyone's morale.* That's pretty good.

We'll have to see if my brother makes it through his original goal. Nothing quite tops Shelob, but there's some fun stuff with Return of the King nonetheless. And I want his comparison of Movie vs. Book Denethor & Sons. Those changes could keep me talking all night.

*First time I read the books I remember really picking apart his dialogue and deciding, "This guy is totally bluffing. 'He was dear to you or maybe his mission was important'? Yeah, he doesn't know shit about what Frodo was up to or he'd taunt them with that failure." I suppose Sauron could have kept it from his loyal servant, but even so you'd think he'd still say something like "Make sure to tell this little ragtag group that nyah nyah, their ploy has failed."
bloodyrosemccoy: (Sisters)
My sister is here! Hooray!

Dang, I love it when she visits. Who else can I go from discussing the publishing industry to gleefully squealing at a Let's Play of Five Nights at Freddy's* to contemplating the attributes of fairy jail in the Disney Fairyverse** with?

It's good to have people who get me.

*If you haven't seen it, I warn you that even with Markiplier's delightful self-comfort chatter in that video, that video and the game itself is fucking TERRIFYING. I haven't had so much fun watching most actual horror MOVIES as I have watching that LP.

**Have I mentioned that I LOVE the Disney Fairies? Especially the movie versions. For one thing, Peter Pan has been thoroughly bussed from the movies (I think it's technically before Tinker Bell meets him, which I'm fine with), and Tink has a much more likable personality. More importantly, though, they're girly as unicorns in a meadow full of rainbow glitter, and yet Tinker Bell is also an ENGINEER. You can totally be a girly mechanical engineer! The Fairies say so, god dammit! (And the latest movie, The Pirate Fairy, has a SCIENCE FAIRY who does experiments and alchemy and stuff! IT'S GREAT.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Random Sentences)
Woo! We have hit critical autumnal light angle!

I don't know why, but somewhere in the last week of August the sun finally hits an angle in the sky that makes my brain hit the Autumn switch. And since I goddamn LOVE autumn, I am totally cool with this. It means I can kick back and watch my mood meter move steadily upward,* enjoy the first blush of fall colors, swear mightily at my own damn allergies (not everything about fall is great), wear fluffy socks, make mulled apple ginger ale, start enjoying soup and Deeper'n'Ever Pie again, wear colors that actually look good on me, and hope that this year everyone shuts the fuck up about Pumpkin Spice-flavored drinks, because that is not a thing to give a shit about.** (The thing to give a shit about is when people fuck up delicious pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips. That's just a CRIME.)

Anyway! Fall is back! I'm gonna go make me a Fall Colors Necklace to celebrate. I only have 125 or so of them at the moment. I need more!

*I have no idea why; this doesn't seem to be linked to anything but seasons. Some kind of reverse-SAD where my overall mood shoots up starting around this time each year.

**Especially if you smugly point out that "It has NO PUMPKINS IN IT!" like you're the grownup in a '90s commercial for Apple Jacks. Dude, I always thought it was called "Pumpkin Spice" because it had the same spices in it you use for pumpkin pie. I guess that was too confusing for you, though?
bloodyrosemccoy: (Elocution)
Is it bad that I guessed every single entry on this list, and in fact my only problem was that I also had ten more guesses and had to decide which ones they'd leave off?

It's kinda fun to have your hobby be the subject of a Cracked "WTF is WITH these people?" article once in a while.

... Which reminds me. I never posed the Sprite version of "Let It Go", did I? Hmmmm ...
bloodyrosemccoy: (Bitter Bunny)
ME: Something sure smells good!

MOM: Yeah, I just made broccoli soup. It's not the cheesy kind you're used to.

ME: I can adapt! *secretly considers adding cheese*

MOM: Anyway, dinner's almost on. The soup is chilling now.

*phantom record scratch*

ME: ... Wait just a goddamn minute. "Chilling"?

MOM: The crock's in an ice bath.

ME: Oh. My. God. You've fallen for the "cold soup" scam, haven't you?

MOM: It is summer ...


MOM: It has a very active tradition! What about gazpacho?


MOM: Well, we've got plenty of other delicious food here, too!

ME: Hang on. Did you actually cook this soup before chilling it, or is it essentially some kind of broccoli smoothie?

MOM: Do I look like a barbarian? I cooked it, of course.

ME: Then it can still be saved! LONG LIVE THE MICROWAVE!

MOM: You just don't know how to expand your horizons.

ME: No, but I know the damn rules. You enjoy your crime against nature. I'm gonna heat up my soup. Incidentally, where's the cheese grater?

MOM: Hopeless.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Peach)
I've mostly been quiet on the way the internet is eating itself over this whole Guy Says He Hates Women, Shoots Up Women, And Then We Have To Convince People That Misogyny Might Be A Problem thing, because I felt I had nothing useful to add. But then [ profile] gwalla pointed me to this excellent article, which makes a lot of good points. I'm not going to go over what he's saying because, y'know, he already wrote the article, but there is one small, stupid, petty thing right in the title that I realized has bothered me for years, which is a tiny symptom of the whole big mess, and as long as we're confessing things I want to get it off my chest.

Why the hell does everyone imply that Mario is saving the princess solely so that he can bang her?

Look, I get it. This is the internet. Rule 34, off-color jokes, Grimdark Mario, I-Can't-Unsee-It searches on DeviantArt. But here's the thing: I grew up with Mario. I was introduced to him as a kid--hell, Super Mario Bros. came out the same year I did. And while he doesn't talk much, he's got a pretty definite personality and characterization. And part of that characterization is that he is a Good Guy. Not a Nice Guy--I'm not talking about the term that disparages the very disparageable group of dudes mentioned in the above article. He's not just WAITING for the princess to notice how great he is. He is a fucking GOOD GUY. He is thrown into this world that has just been taken over by hostile dragons; the princess has been kidnapped and her subjects are suffering. This is bad.

So he goes to save her. Not because she's hot and he might get see her naked, but just because it's the right thing to do. Hell, he probably isn't even doing it for the completely nonmetaphorical and quite literal cake. He's doing it because somebody's gotta save the kingdom.*

So call me silly, but he's always been kind of my hero for that.

And so it pains me to think that something I saw as heroic--yes, it's a silly story, but it's still heroic--read to other people as doing something with a selfish ulterior motive.

I guess it's because we often project aspects of ourselves onto characters, and it's annoying when you're projecting the unselfish motives onto a character and somebody else projects a baser image. And because I rather like rescue narratives but get frustrated by how often the rescuee is considered a prize rather than a person being, y'know, RESCUED. I'd like to disentangle those two ideals. And for me, starting this game as a naive little kid, Mario was a good place to start.

BONUS THOUGHTS: It occurs to me that I also have an image of Princess Peach that is slightly skewed from the normal perception of her as a Dumbass In Distress, due largely to a couple of factors. One, of course, is the greatest game in the world, Super Mario RPG, wherein she DOES start out as a Dumbass In Distress but then joins your party to wallop everyone with parasols and frying pans. The other is the Super Mario Adventures comic by Kentaro Takekuma (the one that ran in Nintendo Power back in the day). If you can track this comic down, DO IT. It is weird and funny and colorful and action-packed, and also possibly where the Marioverse's obsession with cake started, and more to the point Princess Peach/Toadstool is kind of a badass in it. She does get captured--while LEADING AN ARMY to battle Bowser. And she winds up ninja-ing her way out of prison, dressing as Luigi to rescue Mario (don't ask), and obliterating Wendy O. Koopa's tower in the process. Also, she's the one who uses the cape power-up. It ... may have colored my perception of her a bit.

*And also because he seems to be having a really good time despite the peril. You probably know my alternate theory, which actually seems to fit the whole franchise's tone better, is that Bowser, at least, and possibly everyone else, thinks that the princess-saving obstacle courses are just another form of weekend recreation with his buddies, like the tennis and golf and go-kart racing they do on other weekends. One weekend they're at the racetrack; the next one the game is Capture-The-Princess. Bowser isn't so much a villain as he is a game designer. I strongly suspect Mario enjoys these weekends, too. And Peach never seems particularly put out by them, either. Maybe they all just think it's a super-fun elaborate game.

(Also, when Mario stomps on Goombas or whatever they don't die, they just teleport to the Goomba-Reinflation Center. That's why Bowser doesn't just flatten Mario by sending a hundred thousand Goombas at him at once. There are only about 50-100 Goombas total in the Koopa Kingdom. I HAVE THOUGHT THIS THROUGH.)
bloodyrosemccoy: (Logic Fail)
Fred Clark has made this point before, but it bears repeating: Witch Hunts are Dangerous; Witches are Not.

I have enough trouble with historical fiction when it tries to be true to what happened, because my rather literal brain can't get over the fact that no matter how much research you do, there's no getting around that it didn't really happen that way. I suspect that's why I like speculative fiction so much. You don't have to believe it. It's right there in the name, like, twice. Speculative. Fiction. "Historical fiction," regardless of what they're trying for, is an oxymoron to me.

But I admit, some examples are worse than others. Like, for example, if you try to tell me that a victim of a historical atrocity had it coming. I don't know if that's what the show Salem will do, but it's pretty much what the trailer for it does, and that's just ... yeah, not great for me. It doesn't take that much to file the serial numbers off!

Plus, the actual Salem Witch Trials are interesting enough without adding bullshit to them. I was bugged enough with Arthur Miller's artistic liberties in The Crucible. The bizarreness of it was enough without adding the scandalous sexy affair, dangit! That was just stupid.

Although the timing of reading The Crucible was interesting, though. I was in high school and it was 2002. We were discussing how Arthur Miller was using the witch trials to parallel his own era's McCarthyism and Red Scare. The teacher asked if we could think of any other instances of such hysteria, and I cheerfully piped up, "The War on Terror!"--And my classmates just about jumped on me. "That's different!" "There REALLY ARE terrorists!" "How would THAT be like a witch hunt?" It was ... telling. And it illustrates the same thing Fred Clark is saying: witch hunts aren't all in the past. People just don't always recognize them until they are past.

EDIT: I seem to have picked up a troll. There's a delicious irony in there somewhere, but I can't be bothered, so don't worry y'all, I'm taking care of it.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Tea Time!)
Tried both a sassafras and a sarsaparilla (also with sassafras). I think I prefer the straight sassafras, though I'm going to have to add some vanilla to the next batch. I am pretty sure the commercial root beers use vanilla. And the sarsaparilla is better with the addition of the cherry syrup I got from Hire's Big H, the local die-hard 50's-style drive-in diner, because on its own it tastes like another kind of Ent-draught.

A big success was the recipe the book referred to as "Chinese Restaurant Ginger Beer," which is only called that because it uses orange extract and lemon juice, rather like the sauces used in Chinese restaurants. And of course there's the liquid cinnamon-roll cream soda. So yeah, I am getting the hang of this!

Next up I'm gonna experiment with tea, and also with hibiscus. We'll have to see how it goes.

In other beverage news, while tracking down that hibiscus,* I managed to locate Honeybush tea! Haven't had any since those sons of Mitch at Celestial Seasonings discontinued their Peach Apricot Honeybush, in the neverending saga of Things That Get Discontinued As Soon As I Discover I Like Them. I definitely prefer it over rooibos, but it's harder to find. Now I can experiment with mixing up blends of it myself, dangit!

I am having entirely too much fun with food chemistry. Somebody stop me.

*I'm going to have to start making my own hibiscus tea. Once again, my favorite kind of hibiscus tea was, naturally, discontinued. Since then I've been seeking out a good replacement, but every time I find a likely-looking candidate I check the ingredients and some asshole has added STEVIA to the blend. I curse the day somebody decided to use stevia as a sweetener.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Lobot!)
This weekend I managed to convince a buddy and her roommate to help me do some reconnaissance on a roller rink. I've been wanting to find a good place to practice skating for a while, and this place is one everyone half-remembers from childhood.

The problem is, it's part of a Family Fun Complex, and the reason we all half-remember it is because somebody or other probably had a birthday party there once. So I figured it could go two ways. It could be like the swimming pool I frequented as a kid and be nicely regulated so that every style of enjoying oneself was represented, perhaps with all-skates or adult-skates or kid-skates or what not.

Or it could be a calamitous riot of chaos and anarchy, with little kids darting perpendicular to the flow of traffic on Razor scooters or Big Wheels and slightly larger kids obliviously cruising against the flow and perpetually desperate junior high kids trying to impress each other.

Guess which one it was?

So yeah, it was not a good way to practice skating, what with the loud music and the constant distractions of trying not to flatten small children.* It was fun, for what it was--I liked being able to try really cruising on skates, and some of those desperate junior high kids were clearly regulars and could do fabulous gymnastics while on roller skates, which was incredible to watch--but man, if I tried to make that a regular practice place my psyche would probably explode.

And it was rather a relief to be there when I WASN'T part of a birthday party, because MAN those were stressful back in the day. You'd be self-consciously assuming that everyone else knew more about how this mysterious Fun Complex worked than you did, and anyway you wanted to try the arcade games while everyone else was skating, and the music would be too damn loud and you couldn't hear your friends' conversation,** and any minute an overly-enthusiastic voice was going to come over the PA calling your party over to a picnic bench to have a slice of miserable sheet cake and Shasta soda. I am glad those days are over.

So my buddies and I skated around for an hour, I managed to fall heavily on one knee at one point, and then we left. And as long as we were in a Doing Fifties Stuff mood, we had burgers and root beer floats at an old-timey burger joint, and since I am always pretty one-track, I scored a bottle of their house-recipe cherry syrup because SODA-MAKING DOES NOT REST. And we all agreed it was a very fun evening and let's never do that again.

I think I'll have to stick with the park's skate-track in the summer time. Then all I have to worry about flattening is ducks.

*I realize a lot of this makes me sound like an old codger, but since I've had this opinion about The Kids With Their Little Scooters And Their Loud Musics And Their Hyperactively Hazardous Self-Absorption since I was about six years old, I have to conclude that I just AM an old codger and always have been.

**What you may notice I'm getting at here is that, even when it's music I like, I really hate it when it's constantly played so loudly that conversation has to be shouted. I dislike any loud background noise. Even before I had the personal epiphany that THIS was what bugged me, I spent my life subconsciously trying to avoid being in loud places.

By The Way

Dec. 16th, 2013 09:32 am
bloodyrosemccoy: (Change)
Am I the only one who's now terribly concerned about Laketown's sanitation? No wonder the Master is so unpopular. I know they live in a ~*~fantasy~*~kingdom~*~of~*~enchantment~*~ and all, but until I get some indication otherwise I'm gonna assume germ theory still holds. They must be just festering with plagues and cholera. If Bard, as the Rightful Ruler of the city, doesn't implement a public sanitation program, I'm STILL gonna call for an election. Laketown Sanitation Now! Who's with me?
bloodyrosemccoy: (DEEP HURTING)
I think I have managed to achieve exact calibration on What Kind Of Hollywood Bullshit I Will Put Up With!

Evidently ...

... I will gush for weeks about a movie so loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" that the only things it really has in common with the original story is that it has snow and a queen in it ...

... And I prefer the Disney version of his other story, too, because what the hell was UP with the end of the original Little Mermaid?! ...

... And I can sit back and enjoy all the ridiculous padding Peter Jackson stuffed into a movie trilogy version of The Hobbit while still knowing that the book is INFINITELY more wonderful ...

... And I'll even contend that the LotR movies in a lot of ways are better than the books ...

... but I draw the line at Walter Mitty.

I could go on about all the reasons why, but basically what it comes down to is that making a movie about Walter Mitty is exactly, completely, 100% antithetical to the whole POINT of Walter Mitty.

Things you learn about yourself while groaning at movie trailers. Everything is opportunity for self-discovery! It's fun!
bloodyrosemccoy: (Santa Iroh)
Okay, so The Desolation of Smaug was mostly unnecessary, and unlike the LotR movies it made the story LESS cohesive than its source material, but it was pretty darn fun.

Especially Smaug. Most of the changes from the book, while understandable from a cinematic adaptation's point of view, made it work LESS well--but I admit I like the moment when that one thing happens ) You really get a moment of "Damn, this hobbit is in over his head and he is terrified and he will ROCK IT ANYWAY." And I know Smaug really gets more screen time than he does in the book, but god dammit they had a big CGI DRAGON and they were gonna USE it.

Mostly it was really entertaining to see how much fun Peter Jackson and team were having. I squeaked and giggled at all their nods to the Middle Earth lore. And even the super dumb moments were usually so awesome that it didn't matter that they were, in fact, super dumb.* (The audience had the funniest reaction to the movie's little nod to Legolas and Gimli's future friendship. It was this I See What You Did There groan followed by a laugh at our own response.)

Although I did want to hang out with the spiders for longer. I wanted Bilbo's moment of kickassery to last. And anyway I was looking forward to those spiders, dangit.

*And a couple that they actually managed to NOT make super dumb despite all probabilities--for example, that one thing ) was actually rather sweet and well-played. And probably not going to end well, if we're gonna follow the book.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
I actually hate the term "selfie," purely for aesthetic reasons. It just sounds dumb, y'know? But as far as being put into the OED, I really don't see any reason to object.

The only possible reason I can think of for objecting, actually, is the idea that since it's a newly-added word, the selfie must be a new concept. You get all sorts of people hollering about how this just goes to show how narcissistic we all are nowadays, or that it's a sign of tragic insecurity. (Or, somehow, both at the same time, which is impressive.)

I hereby want to point out that this is total bullshit.

The strange thing is, the Narcissism and the Attention Whore arguments seem to be exclusively used as arguments against social media. "Nobody wants to hear about what you had for lunch!" I hear. "Nobody cares what you're doing right now!" Which, aside from being totally untrue--I, for one, love hearing/reading the everyday thoughts that wander through people's brains--is exactly the opposite of what a whole lot of frustrated grownups kept trying to grind into my asocial possibly-spectrumy little head when I was an uncommunicative kid who had no idea why I was supposed to listen to other kids talking about whatever stupid shit they were interested in. Why am I supposed to show interest in conversation about What I Did This Morning in person, but when I'm online I'm supposed to just scoff at the same thing?

Social media is just conversation, chatting, socializing, and small talk in a different medium.

Same goes for selfies--it seems to be their existence on the internet that infuriates people.* It's on the internet! Therefore this interest in looking at oneself must be NEW!

To which I say, check this out.

That right there is a link to an interesting study done on those weirdly disproportionate, bizarrely lumpy Upper-Paleolithic Venus figurines. The theory the author, LeRoy McDermott, is putting forward is that their strange proportions make total sense when you assume that they are self-portraits, done by women who don't have access to mirrors--when viewed at the same angles as you might use to look down at yourself, they do fit the proportions.

So according to that theory, some of the oldest art in the world is SELFIES.

It makes me regard the argument that selfies are a product of this latest generation of degenerate self-obsessed narcissists with a little bit of skepticism.

Honestly, I just think that selfies are the latest expression of a very old human fascination with themselves. It's not necessarily narcissism. It's just that, dang, y'all, here we are, we are humans, we're on this Earth, and look at us! We're doing things! And we can watch ourselves doing things, and remember those things we did, and analyze them, and philosophize about them! It's INTERESTING, dangit! It is one of the things that humans just do, because dude, we're humans!

Of course, another thing that humans seem to do with a lot of enthusiasm is bitch about how language is changing, so I suppose I can't be too hard on the people lamenting the new words. After all, the author of one of those articles I linked to above sarcastically pointed out that the OED is "the publisher of the venerable record of the language of Shakespeare and George Orwell," and yet seemed completely unaware of the irony of citing two authors separated by radically different eras of English as an example of why changes to the language now are to be lamented. Consistency has never been our strong suit, anyway.

And speaking of which, I'd better end this article. I've defended the selfie as best I can, but dammit I still hate that word. I hereby am done using it.

 photo LittleSelfie_zpse072bfaa.jpg
That's right, y'all! Mirror Amelia and her Buford T-shirt endorse the selfie! OKAY NOW I AM DONE USING IT.

*And that they are often done by GIRLS, who have all sorts of standards to live up to, set both by The Patriarchy and, dare I say it, from the asshole breed of feminists who have very set ideas about what Girl Power has to be.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Cube Love)
I mentioned before that I wanted the OGYAFE to have Untrue Religions, because as far as I'm concerned that's how religions are in our world work. What I didn't expect was how much fun I'd be having.

Here in The Real World, I have to admit that carrying on about nonsense like ghosts and spirits and psychics and astral planing and horoscoping drives me NUTS. "You know that's bullshit, right?" is the only thing I can think of to say. And I don't actually say it; it's just all I can think of to say, so instead I just stay quiet and then later go slam my head against something.

And yet here in this world I have characters who are totally, and rather hilariously casually, invested in astrology and animism and superstition,* which has about as much basis in the reality of their world as it does in ours, and I am having a BLAST. The setting is sorta-kinda mid-20th-Century in terms of technology, so you get people who are earnestly arguing about what a site's spirits will think of a new skyscraper being built on their turf, or including demon appeasement intheir car maintenance routines, or considering the most auspicious position of the stars when closing business deals, or--well, the entire tangential story I've got loudly playing in my head right now is based on a controversy about modernizing and exploiting spirits--and I love it. Here in our hospital a chapel strikes me as silly; in their world I LOVE that there's a little spirit shrine in every room.

... Then again, I do think they are being silly in the other world; I am just more tolerant of it. And I am fascinated with silly beliefs in both worlds, but around here it's more train-wreckish. Maybe I don't mind so much in OGYAFEland because they're fictional, and thus no real people get hurt when they believe in nonsense. Or maybe I should take a lesson from my own response to my characters, and try to treat real people who carry on about bullshit with more enjoyment than annoyance.

But it is still bullshit.

*But not, they will stress, in gods. That would be ridiculous.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Deep Thoughts)
I keep trying to write up a commentary about one of the most interesting fantasy tropes: the Religion Is True trope. Mostly because I've been fleshing out some of the mythological beliefs of OGYAFElanders,* although it's also because I just read Tamora Pierce's Battle Magic and realized that I've been ... slightly disappointed with the direction the Circleverse has been going in for the last couple of books (this one and Melting Stones) on account of this specific trope.

I always liked the Circleverse because the religion, while a central part of the story, was not indisputably, unambiguously true. You had the temple dedicates praying to and swearing by and honoring the gods, but unlike, say, Tortall or Lord of the Rings or David Eddings' books or the Young Wizards or even goddamn Zelda,** in this world they don't do it because the gods regularly drop by the local waffle house for a short stack or leave helpful voicemails for the heroes or bequeath Our Heroes with Mystical Crysticals. Hell, it's entirely possible that the Circle gods don't even exist, and it's just humans ascribing random occurrences to them.

Y'know, like this world.

And don't get me wrong. I fuckin' like all the Religion Is True examples I listed up there. You can tell some great stories with a premise like that. Hell, I'm even working on a Scatterstone installment featuring some True Animism. But even then, making folklore True actually removes an important aspect from the people in your story: their unbridled creativity.

Now, y'all may know I'm an atheist. I grew up an atheist. My big adolescent revelation wasn't so much that I was an atheist as it was the realization that other people weren't. And while that did lead to a good bit of WTFing on my part--wait, you all BELIEVE this?!--and I do think there is a lot of harm to be gotten out of religion, I also think that religious mythology is fascinating. You can learn a lot about people by the myths they come up with. The stories teach important ideals. You can see the way the mind works in magical thinking, anthropomorphism, spiritism, and just-so explanations. And of course, they're really damn inventive. It takes a lot more cognition to make up a story than to report it.***

I don't think I'm the only one who finds this a bit of a gap. Terry Pratchett (of course) explores it a lot. Discworld's got a sort of symbiotic nature of folklore and humanity--like in Hogfather or Small Gods, where the fairies and gods and Anthropomorphic Personifications are real and concrete, but were born of and fueled by collective human imagination. And even Tortall suggests that the Immortals have a similar backstory, though it seems once they're dreamed up they become independent of humans. But those all still have concrete representations of those concepts. The Circle books were the first time it felt like it really was like our world, where it really was all abstract.

And that was the model I used for OGYAFEland, where there are a bunch of different religions/folklores/mythos ... es ... that are not objectively True, but that influence the thoughts and actions of the humans. It looks like how I see the world. And while it's cool for Pierce to change that around, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was a little disappointed when the Circle Religions started to leak into reality.

*And I just recently had a FABULOUS idea for a short story set in OGYAFEland, god DAMMIT who turned on the Inspiration Fire Hose?

**Or even His Dark Materials--weird, if you've read the book, but while the point is that religion is a construction, it's still not a human construction: angels are a Thing, and they are Messing With Us.

***When I was a kid, it frustrated the hell out of me that everyone was trying to figure out what might have inspired fantastical artworks. "Where could the idea of mermaids come from? Could it have been sailors seeing manatees?" I couldn't figure out why it never crossed their minds that maybe somebody just thought it'd be cool to give a human woman a fish tail. Yes, I know people had frames of reference to work with, but hell, they had fish and women. All it takes is one weirdo with a bit of abstract thinking.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Linguist)
Nobody ever gets to bitch about how the latest generation is Ruining English again.

The Fife, Lute, and Drum Edition of "You're the One That I Want" is a particularly hilarious touch.
bloodyrosemccoy: (N64)
So today George Takei shared this photo on Facebook, and it got me laughing because I totally used to do that to my little sister when she wanted to play, because when you're little you're a right bastard. (She caught on pretty quickly, though. Damn you, swiftness of child development!)

But then I got kind of fascinated by the sheer number of sanctimonious people pitching a fit about Spending Quality Time With Kids in the comments. Normally I try to avoid comments sections, but sometimes I just can't help but look because you think, "There is no WAY someone is going to get angry about ... oh, my bad." I have a whole lot of opinions about well-rounded child development and parents who terrorize their kids with the Quality Time ideal and the values and drawbacks of video games ... but better folks than I have commented on those things.

Right now I want to address one aspect of video games that doesn't get mentioned very often. I'm not sure if that's because it's an experience unique to me (because I'm guessing it's not), but here's something you never see pointed out in these arguments: video games are an avenue for imaginative play.

Sure, they're no substitute for being outside--but neither is reading a book. You've got to just balance your interests. And when we were in front of video games, my siblings and I treated them a lot like we treated, say, playing with Ponies or Legos or Transformers or any of our other toys. We invented elaborate scenarios and dialogues for the characters--Mario's trek over Dinosaur Land was filled with arguments with Luigi, chats with Yoshi,* football games, food fights, random phobias, and all-around silliness, projected by our imaginations onto levels where the goal was SUPPOSED to be just getting from the left side of the screen to the right side. We would make up explanations for some of the weirder in-game phenomena. We'd abuse the hell out of our onscreen avatars as they acted out something that was only funny because our added narrative made it so.

As for the idea that video games can't possibly allow for interaction with other people--PLEASE. All of us--me, my brother, and my sister, plus any friends sitting in that bare room with us watching the action--were actively engaged. One of us might be playing, but all of us were involved in the invention, character development, song composition (yes, really), and resulting entertainment centered around the screen.

And later on I wrote sweeping epics set in Super Mario World and Hyrule (which were in the same world, actually, so Mario and Link had crossover adventures, as they did with Donkey Kong and Star Fox and Megaman and the Pokémon). I got a lot of writing practice from video games. Hell, my breakthrough into writing conlangs came when I decided to write a sentence in "Yoshese" and realized that I'd have to give it a real structure and thought "... this is fun."

I think people who never grew up with video games don't see that. And that's understandable--from the outside, a kid reading a book doesn't look very engaged, either; they're just sitting there staring at a chunk of paper. You have to look at it from the kid's point of view. Anything--rag dolls, Lego bricks, ponies, aquarium beads, paper dolls, yarn, toy trains, American Girl dolls, the sticks and rocks those self-righteous people are so enamored of--ANYTHING can help foster imaginative play, if the kid knows how to use them right. And believe me, if there's one thing kids know, it's how to use their imaginations.

So shut up about the damn video games, already.

*I think this is specifically why I don't like full voice acting in video games--the most I prefer is the incidental Charles Martinet-type noises, because I am supplying my own dialogue.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Sweet Moves)
The last few times Dad and I have been on our own, we've spent the evenings watching the All-Westerns Channel. This time around, we changed things up a bit.

DAD: I think I have run out of westerns. Let's watch something else! Here, I've got the AppleTV all set up. Let's watch a preview and decide on a movie.

2 hours later

ME: You know, it says something about us that we can spend two hours being entertained by nothing but previews.

Finally we picked an actual movie. Unfortunately, it was The Europa Report.

ME: Maybe we should have stuck with the previews.

While he and I share many preferences for movies--we both like science fiction movies, and blockbusters, and Coen Brothers productions, and previews--in other ways we have wildly diverging tastes. I like horror movies, while Dad feels that, complex academic and psychological theories about subconscious fears and hindbrains be damned, anyone who watches horror movies is unequivocally a bad person.* For his part, he likes stupid rom-coms and pretentious French movies.

DAD: I think I'll watch some French cinema tonight. Want to join me?

ME: Are there explosions?

DAD: No, but there are other great things! They love slapstick, but then right in the middle they'll all pause and comment on the unbearable loneliness of living, and the ever-present specter of ennui that looms over even the most lighthearted of moments. Then somebody gets his head stuck in a paint bucket. It's like the Three Existentialist Stooges!

ME: ... Yeah, you have fun with that.

So for movies, we mostly went our own ways. Fortunately, we got to spend Quality Time on other projects--such as supervising thunderstorms. The Thunder Switch was on the whole time Mom was gone, and every time another shower started up, Dad would have to go outside to observe.

DAD: I think it's going to rain some more!

ME: So it is.

5 minutes later

DAD: Now it's raining!

ME: Why, yes.

DAD: I'm going out to see!

Then he would walk outside and stand under the eaves, listening to the rain.

DAD: It's still raining!

ME: Keep me updated!

When it wasn't raining, I also continued my attempts to skate.

ME: I really enjoy the feeling of getting better at this.

DAD: That cerebellum is a wonderful thing.

ME: Although we are an entertaining species, considering that we have decided to take that as a challenge. "So, you think you've learned to balance on two feet, do you? Well, what about if I PUT WHEELS ON THEM? WHAT NOW, MOTHERFUCKER?"

Other activities included making and then canceling surgeries (total flake patient in one instance, and in another a patient who called in sick), cooking, and gnawing on vague anxieties caused by the alienation of modern life or half-remembered traumatic experiences or most likely fucked-up brain chemistry (there is a reason he likes the French movies).

ME: Are you having another existential crisis?

DAD: No, it's the same one. It's pretty much perpetual.

ME: Well, all right then. Want to go watch some previews?

My only regret was that he'd already seen John Carter; that would've been a fun one to watch with him. I guess I'll have to figure out a similar movie for the next time we hang out, just me and my dad.

*Okay, I laughed it off when he said it, but later it occurred to me that it kind of hurt my feelings. You don't hear me telling him that the Doris Day movies he loves, which as far as I am concerned are grosser than Slither and infinitely less funny, make him a bad person. And anyway, fuckin' Mister Rogers liked Night of the Living Dead, so YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.

... Come to think of it, my sister and I inherited our love of bad horror from our paternal grandmother, which may or may not explain a lot about Dad's attitude toward horror.


bloodyrosemccoy: (Default)

July 2016

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