Thursday, February 23, 2017

BOOM. Shape-shifters.

Transformation
via Jason Devaun on Flickr
I presume that if you are reading this, you are doing so with a body. (If not, warmest greetings to the ghosts and/or bots perusing my blog. Please do not repossess my soul.)

Bodies are interesting—they are the interface through which you experience the world, the physical space we associate with “you.” And they give the illusion of a constant identity where there may be none. You are not reading this with the body you were born in. In fact, if you’re over fourteen, it’s an entirely different one: all your cells have been replaced at least once. You are different than you were as a baby, and different than you will be at age 80. And that goes for both your physical body and your identity. They are inconstant, for better or worse.

But even if you reside in an impermanent, changeable body, it’s still a body you must stay in if you want to continue your existence. The same is not true for shape-shifters. In fiction we meet people who can change their form quickly and unnaturally and yet maintain a consistent (?) identity. We read them as the same character, even though they might have a completely different brain! Bizarre, no?

Here are six of my favorites.

1. Solembum (Inheritance Cycle) | As a werecat, Solembum can take a more humanoid form if he so chooses. This is a pretty unsettling experience! In a way, though, it’s an honest portrayal. Shape-shifting is completely foreign to human experience, and we’d react as such. (Also, werecats can just be creepy.)

2. Wanderer (The Host) | Wanda is a parasite who has possessed various creatures throughout the galaxy. She describes the unique, even weird, experiences each host has provided her with. (Sounds obvious, but being seaweed is different than being human.) But Wanda has a malevolent power, too—she can kill other beings by staying inside them too long.

3. Orma (Seraphina) | Seraphina notices that her uncle is more harsh and bloodthirsty in his native dragon form. Possessing a human body changes Orma—he becomes more emotional by nature of its biological functions. Seraphina actually has a conversation suggesting that dragons are different people in human form. From this perspective, identity is tied to biological form and something is lost by shifting.

4. Tally Youngblood (Uglies) | Each book in this series follows the progression of Tally’s identity as it correlates to her physical form. From an intimidated Ugly to a complicit Pretty to a subversive Special, Tally’s body reflects her place in the world. I like this shape-shifting because it’s more clinical than fantastical and ties in with political and psychological questions. It’s interesting.

5. Artemis Fowl (The Last Guardian) | I was FURIOUS when I first finished TLG because I thought they’d cloned Artemis’s body, explain his life story to him, and then tote around a sad Artemis puppet until it died. After a second glance, I realized Artemis’s new body does not represent a new identity because he contains his memories and experiences within his soul. That soul will allow him to be his old self again! (Also, he could be immortal if he wanted?)

6. Iko (The Lunar Chronicles) | Unlike the other folks on this list, Iko is a droid. In fact, she is a personality chip. She’s just as much herself whether she inhabits a spaceship or an escort droid—but Iko makes the choice to keep a permanent body, like her friends. It’s interesting, because Iko envies her friends’ “permanent” bodies because they are human, but we might have something to envy in Iko, too. Iko’s personality chip contains her “soul,” giving her a self more constant than a body could ever be. I’m glad she has that.

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Six shape-shifters! Maybe not quite so dramatic as Mystique or the Doctor, but still, interesting folks, all. They leave me with questions more than anything else. Souls? Bodies? Change? WHAT IS ALL THIS? And will we ever know?


Who are some of your favorite fictional shape-shifters?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

On Liking Stuff That Nobody Else Does

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I watched Donnie Darko on Friday night and it was great.

This movie is enticingly dark and disturbing. There is a demonic rabbit, who is both soft and terrifying. It entertains obscure literary themes without being too pretentious. There is black humor. There is a very serious (if drunk) discussion of the Smurfs and their origin. And it ends with murder and time travel and tragedy, so, all in all, it was a good way to kick off the weekend.

And I kicked it off by myself because Donnie Darko is not the kind of movie my peeps would enjoy. “Peeps” being shorthand for family or close friends, even though it makes me sound twelve. (Also, we should qualify that this could change. My youngest sister is too young for R-rated films, but I bet she’ll enjoy Donnie’s story when she’s fifteen or so.)

The point is that my peeps are not the peeps who watch eerie psychological thrillers by themselves at night and laugh at the bizarreness of it all.

My peeps are also not the peeps who like Twilight. A few of my peeps disdain my fondness for Bob’s Burgers and Hamilton without cease. And I doubt my peeps would pick up The Female of the Species or Catch-22 just because. We have our differences, my peeps and I.

Those differences are actually very important to me, actually. I cling to them, because it is important to like stuff that nobody else does.

Of course, I do not mean “nobody” literally. Donnie Darko is on some people’s “movies to see before you die” list. Twilight was a huge bestseller and popular enough to get five movies. I am not alone in the world in liking those things.

(I might worry if I was alone in the world in liking something. I’d need a good old coming-of-age type story to get me into the correct bar or mall or wherever that would introduce me to the people like me. There is also Twitter for those of us who are, for the present time, grounded.) 
(Alternatively, I might worry about belonging to a community that identifies itself by its isolation from the things “the rest of the world” likes, and may thus assume it is more threatened and unliked than it actually is. But that is the narrative of their world, and I suppose it is mandatory among teenagers.)
It is good to like things that your friends don’t. It is good to like things that your family doesn’t. Also, if you like things the people you live with don’t, then they won’t try to watch TV with you when you want to be alone. That is my key life advice in this post: always keep at least one movie that you like and nobody else does so no one will watch it with you.

Liking your own stuff gives you a chance to enjoy something unique and fun just for yourself, that doesn’t come attached to any other relationships. And in some sense, tending to your own stuff is what keeps you together as an individual. And that is good, too.

What are some things you like that ‘nobody else’ does?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2016 End-of-Year Survey

You may have noticed that it is 2017.

I have noticed, too. You may also recall that it was previously 2016, and as is my habit, when a year is done I like to do a survey on what people thought. In the past I have used Google forms, but this year I am using Typeform, mostly because I think it makes me look glamorous. Which I am, if you were wondering.

Since I'm using Typeform for the first time, please note that I was a big girl and did not ask a bunch of unnecessary questions to feel the rush of having you give a star review of everything that takes my fancy.

(However, I reserve the right to bombard you with another survey in a few weeks that will ask you more interesting, more important questions like "How would you rate Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare?" or "How close to the bathroom do you trim your toenails?" And I will use whatever survey options I please.)

All jokes aside, though, it is always supremely helpful when you take a few minutes to give me some feedback. I know I've been less-than-consistent the last few months, but hopefully this will give me some direction so that both you and I enjoy hanging out in this spot. You can reach the 2016 survey by following this link to the place. Also, it is supposed to be embedded below, but since previewing options are limited, who knows what will happen?

Thank you in advance!


Powered byTypeform

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In Which "The Lying Detective" Bums Me Out

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So Sherlock season four came out.

I didn’t like it. I won’t go into all the reasons why, since spoilers are unfashionable and Sherlock doesn’t deserve that much of my energy anyway. Still, one aspect of Episode 2, “The Lying Detective” just bugged me.

That aspect is called Sherlock’s drug use.

For those who haven’t seen the episode (and in the least spoilery summary possible), the gist is that John is mad at Sherlock, so Sherlock takes SO MUCH COCAINE that he is literally weeks from death. By the end, we find out that Sherlock’s dangerous drug use was a ploy to trick John into rescuing Sherlock from the bad guy and himself. John then realizes how silly he was to be mad at Sherlock and they live happily ever after. The end.

Problematic much?

To be clear, it is not so much the cocaine that bothers me. The canonical Sherlock Holmes dabbled in cocaine, and most other Sherlocks do, too. I’m reluctant to say cocaine is “fine,” but last semester I read High Price by Dr. Carl Hart—it addressed harmful assumptions about drugs and racism in the United States, so I don’t want to perpetuate those. Suffice it to say that while cocaine can bring iffy baggage with it, there are totally ways to do Sherlock Holmes that incorporate his drug use and are still awesome. (Plenty of renditions have already succeeded—I love Elementary and the Robert Downey Jr. movies. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro comes to mind as well.)

“Sherlock uses cocaine.” Whatever.

“Sherlock uses cocaine to destroy himself and manipulate his best friend.” How ‘bout no.

There are psychological rules for what counts as manipulation. This might not meet that definition. Nor was this exceptionally odd for Sherlock. We know Sherlock nearly kills himself over his cases more than is healthy. And I’m sure there are people out there who found “The Lying Detective” perfectly acceptable—to be fair, it was much better than its predecessor. Shouldn’t we leave room for drama? Don’t we want to see Holmes and Watson at their limits?

I’m not going to say no. But I am going to say that Sherlock played with John’s brain. Even if he had good-ish intentions (don’t think Mary is off the hook for all of this), this was a plan to get what Sherlock wanted—not necessarily what John wanted, or even needed. Respect for John’s time, emotions, and even safety were thrown out the window.

Sherlock invaded John’s boundaries. Sherlock forced John to be responsible for his life—if John never stepped in, Sherlock would have died. It would be “John’s fault.” Which means Sherlock essentially threatened to kill himself to maintain their relationship. I don’t count that as a good thing.

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Friendships are demanding things. You have to give and take, and sometimes it sucks, and sometimes it is beyond rewarding. Sherlock Holmes, if nothing else, is a demanding person. Part of the joy in watching Sherlock Holmes stories, for me, is getting to see what Sherlock and Watson give to one another. Their friendship is infamous not because of their similarities, but their complementary natures. And we’ve had over 100 years to consider the ways their friendship can fail… but also why it always rises victorious.

I struggle with the end of this episode. John was mad at Sherlock for a silly reason, so some element of forgiveness was necessary. But good friends also don’t abuse drugs to resolve their disagreements. Not like Sherlock did. That was a breach of trust, and so I’m still kind of mad about what that behavior took away from the friendship. How can John really trust Sherlock after that? BBC Sherlock shouldn’t make it harder and harder for me to say that Holmes and Watson are an amazing team, but it seems like each new season proves me wrong.

What did you think of BBC Sherlock season four?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Top 15 of 2016

You may recall that last year I published my “Top 15 of 2015,” and since increasing the number of books you can highlight indefinitely seems silly to me, I’m sticking to the same pattern as I did last year. I read 201 books during 2016, but I will promote my favorite fifteen. All my reactions are confined to 100 characters or less, not including spaces.

And, as before, these are in order by author’s last name.


The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton—an adorable book about adorable warriors that kind of reminds me of Tangled, now that I think about it.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black—contemporary fantasy is my jam, and all of the romance, and the twins are so enticing. Which is why I got it for Christmas.

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duvyis—wow. This might be the most powerful book on my list, and I must reread it, because DISASTER and DIVERSITY blow my mind.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton—after six years to think about it, I still favor Darry, but I have more sympathy for the other boys now.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis—MURDER? And LUTHERANS? And FEMINISM? What more could I ask for from a contemporary?


The Host by Stephenie Meyer—this was a blast. I wasn’t sure what I’d think, but I was really impressed with the sci-fi romance vibe. And yaaas aliens.

Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer—this was actually amazing, especially because I started to see prejudices I didn’t even know I had. Also, SQUEE.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson—ALL Y’ALL MADE ME THINK NOAH DIED WHEN HE WAS THIRTEEN OR SOMETHING. This was amazing, but c’mon, “tragedy” is so vague.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath—this is a terrifying and depressing book. But Plath just writes like a bedazzling machine, and I like the shinies.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler—okay: haikus, about boobs, read by Sir Patrick Stewart. There, I just made your 2017.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby—this is probably the most interesting Hades/Persephone retelling I’ve read in a long time. And the characters rock.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo—despite potentially problematic tropes, it was fast-paced and fluffy enough for this girl.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab—Schwab is hit-and-miss with me, so I was pleased to find this book FABULOUS. Monsters and music are so delicious.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley—having written an essay about how incest is key to all the main relationships in this book, I cannot leave it off.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker—I don’t know what to praise about this book that hasn’t been praised before. Still need to listen to the musical.


Interestingly enough, my top books are all by ladies this year. And that does not bother me, even a little bit! I look forward to reading similarly awesome books over this next year.

What about you? What were the best books you read in 2016?


Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Does Your Upcoming TBR Look Like?

Books
via Jukka Zitting on Flickr

I am not the kind of person who often takes stock of her TBR—like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I have a list of titles I certainly mean to read but have not gotten around to. At least not yet.

Still, since I’m on Winter Break and I am actually powering through a lot more books than I expected, I thought it might be a good idea to think about what is on my immediate TBR. And by that I mean these are books I have in my possession or have put on hold.

The nice thing about libraries is they give you a deadline to finish things. Deadlines are my jam.

Anyway, here are ten titles I’m excited to start reading soon:

1. The Odyssey by Homer
2. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
3. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
4. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
5. The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
6. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
7. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
8. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
9. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
10. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Of course, it is also worth saying that on Tuesday I rededicated my life to Scooby-Doo, so I also expect something like seven DVDs to be waiting for me at the library pretty soon (much to the chagrin of my younger sisters; apparently I am too old for that nonsense, which is a lie).

And that leads me to today’s discussion question: What are you currently reading? What do you plan to read over the next couple of weeks? Also, if you’ve read anything on my TBR, what were your thoughts?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Does Watson Sleep So Much?

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When we meet Joan Watson on Elementary, she is asleep.

Introducing a character through his or her morning routine is nothing new—everyone does that. As the show progresses, though, Watson continues to receive an inordinate amount of characterization through her sleeping habits. Like, a lot. Joan reads in bed, surfs the Internet on her laptop, naps. Sherlock often wakes Joan up in the morning, but he’s also deactivated all her alarms so she would not wake up on time. He’s brought her breakfast in bed, and even picked out her outfit for her because he’s been so eager to leave. Joan has woken up to find Clyde (their pet turtle) crawling on her, and to find Sherlock has redesigned the entire space around her.

Like I said: a lot. This, of course, begs a question. Why does Watson sleep so much?

My first instinct is to examine the BBC’s Sherlock, which does not often feature sleeping characters. The first time I remember Holmes falling asleep is in “A Scandal in Belgravia” (2x1), when Irene Adler drugs Sherlock before making her escape. Sherlock dramatically ends up in bed and is incoherent and groggy. Sleep, in this case, is weakness. Sherlock would have been in active pursuit of Adler; she reduced him to an “inferior” state and thus displayed her own domination. The fact that she does this to one such as Sherlock communicates the real danger of Adler’s character to the audience.

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The other time I remember Sherlock and John falling asleep was in “The Sign of Three” (3x2) when they get drunk and are stupid. Lestrade yells at them during their hangover. They deserve it.

(I also remember Sherlock got shot one time, but I'm leaving that out for various reasons.)

Neither example is particularly flattering. Both suggest why Sherlock might resist sleep in general. First, sleep is a humanizing thing. It is a vulnerable state, an inactive state, and people who seem to need more of it appear to fit less in our capitalistic society (think babies and old people). The less Sherlock and John sleep, the more they are protected. They get closer to solving the crime and traditional victory. That’s the BBC.

As I’ve mentioned, Elementary isn’t much like that at all. Watson often sleeps—it is part of her daily routine. Even Sherlock has fallen asleep once or twice on the show (to his dismay), and tends to wear comfy-looking sweats and a t-shirt when he rests. Which I mention because they seem like normal pajamas compared to the aesthetic of some aforementioned programs, but why name names?

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Anyhoo. Watson sleeps. Sherlock (rarely) sleeps. And this matters a great deal to Elementary for a reason I’ve already mentioned: it is a vulnerable state. And through vulnerability, companionship forms. Sure, it is funny when Joan wakes to find a turtle in her bed, but it’s also a demonstration of familiarity. How many people do you feel comfortable around, not just in your pajamas, but in your messiest state? Hair unbrushed, drooling, unaware, unprepared. Joan doesn’t always appreciate Sherlock’s presence in her bedroom, but their confinement contributes to their closeness. They get to see each other in a way few others do.

What’s more, Joan functions better as a detective when she sleeps. As a health professional, you’d expect her to value sleep anyway. And she does. Nonetheless, Joan is still the best Joan when she is well-rested. Whether he likes it or not, Sherlock is the best Sherlock after a good sleep, too. This matters even more for Sherlock, since tiredness can trigger a relapse in an addict. Joan’s good habits don’t just improve Sherlock’s life (sometimes), but they also protect him. Heroin has the potential to ruin his life again—so Joan watches out for him.

That is the best thing. This is a detective show and a murder mystery show, but it is also a show about taking care of yourself and one another. Emotionally, physically, scientifically. Sleep is not a weakness. It’s a strength. An opportunity to build trust and to maintain sobriety. Also, it is funny.

Obviously, there’s an important message here:

Be a good detective. Get some sleep.


Do you think the media tends to portray a positive or negative aspect of sleep?


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In Praise of Louise Belcher

Howdy! I may post sporadically throughout December. I am posting today because I am officially out of homework and therefore bored.

I wanted to talk about one of my personal role models: Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. She is amazing. And this is why.

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She advocates for herself | Louise doesn’t accept things she doesn’t like. Period. Though she has questionable means of persuasion, she never lets anyone cow her into silence.

She takes action | She will pay any cost. If pooping in a swimming pool will get her out of summer school, she will not hesitate a moment.

She doesn’t learn lessons | Louise-centric episodes focus on many things: her interests, her fears, her failings. Whatever problems she runs into, though, she gets out of them through her own ingenuity and determination—none of this “learning not to lie” or “next time don’t jump off a moving train” silliness.

She has a strong sense of honor | This is a girl who takes pride in her morally-questionable shenanigans. When she is falsely accused, though, she insists upon proving her innocence. She’ll accept consequences—just as long as she’s responsible for them.

She is determined | Linda thinks Louise can’t spend a weekend at her Aunt Gail’s? Think again. Louise will tough out anything.

She is prepared | Also, when she was, like, six, she hid a duffel in a lake in case she ever needed to run away.

She transcends age | This is a nine-year-old who socializes with prostitutes and ran a gambling den. She is also afraid of the dentist and called Bob “Daddy” until she was eight.

She is morbid | Part of Louise’s appeal is her dark humor. A quote: “Nosebone! Nosebone into the brain! Then skin him and wear him like a costume!”

She is blunt | It isn’t that Louise never lies, but when she is honest, there is no beating around the bush with this girl.

She has ambitions | Louise wants to run her father’s restaurant someday, as well as be very rich. I don’t know how she will do both, but she will.

She cares | Though she doesn’t often fall for that touchy-feely crap, Louise cares about her family and siblings. She’ll definitely say so at gunpoint, but the fact that her siblings are main characters in her “Why I Love Wagstaff” story—people she wants by her side in a robot crisis—says something, too.

She is a dangerous girl | Louise wants a doll whose head comes off and it’s a knife. Physical threats are among her favorite things.

She got manicured with monster nails | I cannot put the awesomeness into words, so here is a GIF:

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Have you watched Bob’s Burgers? Who is your favorite character?


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Update: Indefinite Hiatus

Greetings, blogosphere!

This is just a general update that Sometimes I’m a Story is now going on an indefinite hiatus. I’m a little busy with school and also pursuing other interests at the moment, so it will be a while before I can devote more attention to blogging.

I still have lots of ideas I might want to pursue in the future, and I haven’t given up on blogging yet. It’s possible that I’ll start up a sporadic posting routine. We’ll find out.

Until then, stay cool, my cucumbers.

Heather

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hiatus

Hey!

Since school is getting to be a little much right now, I'm going to put Sometimes I'm a Story on hiatus for a little bit. Not to worry—I'll be back again next month (probably before Thanksgiving) with more discussions, ideas, and more.

Also, don't feel sad that I'm going away. I'm still going to be visiting blogs and sharing awkward stories on Twitter if you find you miss me.

See you in November!

Heather

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Do House Systems in Fiction Appeal to You?

Historic Milling Town of Falk
Flickr Credit: blmcalifornia
House systems make me suspicious.

I’m not against dividing students. In both my high school and university, colleges separate students so they take classes according to their desired career—STEM, business, healthcare/service, or arts. These allow students to specialize, which is a good thing in our world! Thus, I can understand why fictional schools or organizations have houses. Individuals have a personal “group” to whom they can be loyal. It forces team dynamics. It can be nice.

At the same time, at my schools we aren’t differentiated by uniforms with our house sigils. We aren’t always divided. The point is specialization, not group (read as: mob) loyalty that defines student relationships. We can even participate in more than one “house” if we want to! It happens in books, though. House systems manipulate kids. By blocking certain interactions or exchanges of information, these houses can lead to terrible, terrible things. So I thought I’d look at a few.

Harry Potter’s houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Ravenclaw
Percy Jackson’s cabins: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Dionysus [and more]
Shadow and Bone’s Grisha Orders: Corporalki, Etheralki, Materialki
H.I.V.E.’s streams: Alpha, Henchman, Political/Financial, Technical
39 Clues’ branches: Lucian, Ekaterina, Janus, Tomas, Madrigal

via Goodreads

Who is allowed to join this house?

HP| the virtuous—houses distinguish students by their value for bravery, honesty, cunning, or wit
PJO| the heirs—cabins distinguish campers by their godly parent
Grisha| the heirs—orders select students by their innate ability for the small science
H.I.V.E.| the skilled—streams divide students based on a propensity for leadership, tactical skill, social orders, and technology
39C| the heirs—branches claim talented members of a certain bloodline

via Goodreads

Do students take classes together?

HP| sometimes—younger students are more divided; older students with similar career goals intermix
PJO| yes—most activities are open to everyone, though cabins do dictate teams sometimes
Grisha| sometimes—Grisha specialize within the small science, but they might go over history, etc. in groups (we don’t really know)
H.I.V.E.| sometimes—all streams require some classes; older students take specialized classes
39C| no—family secrets must stay secret, so no intermixing is allowed (at first)

via Goodreads

Are students allowed to interact outside of class?

HP| sometimes—most of the time, yes, minus mealtimes; during an emergency or a dark wizard takeover, houses are kept separate
PJO| yes—everyone has friends outside their own cabin
Grisha| yes—everyone must team up for the war effort, after all
H.I.V.E.| yes—streams intermix in dormitory blocks, the dining room, and all other activities (the one time they separated the streams was to aid a mass murder plot and kill an entire stream)
39C| no—branches try to keep separate and when they meet it is usually to kill or betray each other

via Goodreads

What level of rivalry exists between the houses?

HP| a lot—through Quidditch and the point system there are major rivalries between G/S and H/R
PJO| some to a lot—there’s regular competition, and then there’s Greek mythology’s daddy issues made manifest on earth
Grisha| little—while there is a lot of individual competition, the orders are for the most part unified
H.I.V.E.| some—it’s mostly individual competition, but the Alpha and henchman streams do not get along
39C| a lot—they’ve been trying to kill each other for six centuries, and those wounds don’t heal easy

via Goodreads

Is there a class/moral association with any houses over the others?

HP| moral—the books characterize Slytherin as evil, period; they are Hogwarts’ general enemies
PJO| class and moral—certain houses bring great esteem (Zeus, Poseidon, etc.) while others are considered less (Hermes); some houses have dubious morality because of their values (Ares) and others because of their occupants (children of the Big Three)
Grisha| class—the Darkling and Sun Summoner are at the top of the pyramid, certain orders have more respect than others, and some individuals are considered less by their profession (like Genya)
H.I.V.E.| class—Alphas and Political/Financial students are expected to become the world’s next leaders; henchmen have comparatively little esteem or wealth to look forward to
39C| moral—some branches have a more sinister nature, Madrigals are perceived as good, and everyone is good compared to the Vespers


I don’t know if I think one of these is the “best” of them all. Ultimately, I have a lot of problems with the house system—it’s because of houses that so much injustice occurs in Harry Potter’s world, and a magical serum justifies centuries of murder between the Cahill family branches.

I mean, I think The 39 Clues branches are the worst. That’s something I’m willing to say. They are the most divisive and unjust, so. Yeah. That does it for me. And if I wanted to choose somewhere for myself, it would be H.I.V.E. Dr. Nero has structured his school like, well, a real school. And I like that best.

Which house system appeals to you the most?


Monday, October 10, 2016

Infinity Dreams Tag

Though you may know Alexa from Summer Snowflakes, she also posts for a book review blog called Verbosity Reviews, and on it she tagged me for the Infinity Dreams Award! And though you may know Victoria from Endless Oceans of My Mind… I don’t think she has  another blog. She ALSO tagged me for the Infinity Dreams Award! Thanks, ladies!
Pravidla:
  • thank the blogger who nominated you
  • list 11 facts about yourself
  • answer your nominator’s questions
  • nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

I have brown hair. | I have hazel eyes. | But my eyes used to be blue. | I wear black glasses. | My ears are pierced. | My earrings are usually the turquoise. | I have other earrings, too. | I have some red and purple and skull ones in my room. | I have a rounder head than my sisters. | I have the nose from my dad’s side of the family. | You’re welcome, police sketch artists. 

Alexa’s Questions


1. If you could pick one character to portray you in the movie of your life, who would that person be? | Franz Argentblum. We are different in appearance but alike in spirit.

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2. Pick one character from any movie, show, or book, and pick a candy to describe them. What candy would they be? | Ron Weasley would be Reese’s Peanut Butter cups because I’m allergic.

3. What’s your favorite album? | All Things Bright and Beautiful by Owl City

4. What’s your favorite soundtrack? | That for Firefly.

5. Do you use character reference pictures? | No, that’s always felt immoral to me.

6. Do you prefer a lot of descriptions in stories or just a taste of setting so your imagine can build up the rest? | Tastes of a setting spark my imagination better than the hellish info-dump.

7. If you had to choose and could only have one or the other, would you choose a brilliant plot and awful characters or brilliant charries and an awful plot? | Brilliant characters, awful plot. I’m a charaholic.

8. Do you feel like your personality type changes when you write? | Nope… I’m pretty standardly me when I’m writing.

9. Do you adore discovering MBTI types? | Rarely. They are less fun for real people and more fun for fictional characters because then they don't hurt anybody.

10. Since I’m on a roll, what’s your MBTI type? | ISTJ.

11. What’s your favorite gif/meme/pinterest post? | Simba.

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Victoria’s Questions


1. Who is your favorite superhero and why? | Captain America or Thor—they just have the best values in the MCU, I think.

2. If you had a whole day to yourself to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? | College, homework, many television shows. Pretty much what I do every day.

3. What was your favorite book of 2015? | Good news—I actually narrowed it down to my top 15!

4. If you could live anywhere outside of your country, where would you live? | Key word being could. I could live anywhere. But I don’t want to.

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5. Is there a specific piece of clothing you wear all the time/often? | Yes. All of my clothes. All the time.

6. Which genre do you write in the most? | Speculative—different kinds of fantasy, mostly.

7. What’s your favorite way to spend your evenings? | Watching Castle or Supernatural or Elementary or Leverage or Firefly or any of my favorite TV shows.

8. Which accomplishment are you most proud of? | I hate getting this question because the concept of accomplishments is dumb.

9. If you could travel back in time, when and where would you go? | Probably to the year I was born or something. Maybe the year my parents were born. Stalking my family members/baby me sounds like the most amusing way to do it.

10. Briefly describe a usual day for you. | wake up-Internet-homework-homework-homework-Internet-dinner-write-TV-read-sleep again.

11. Who is your favorite fictional character? | If Franz is not available because I already said him, Carlisle Cullen or MCU’s Loki.


I’m not tagging anybody this round, but you’re welcome to steal any of the above questions if you so choose!


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thursentary: Translated Books

via Goodreads
Reading books that have been translated into English has always been a weird experience for me.

I don’t read translated books a lot. Most of the time I read books written by English-speaking writers. Some of them are native speakers, and some are fluent in their second language, but that is the norm. This is my comfort zone.

I start to get antsy when a book that was written in an entirely different language has been translated to English. Translators have a tricky task ahead of them—Ana Castillo said it like this: “as a writer as well as a translator I do believe that translated words are not different names for the same thing. They're different names for different things” (source). Essentially, a language represents the people it is talking about and the person who is talking, and you have to try to capture that with an entirely different set of words.

Some stuff translates better than others. Also, some stuff doesn’t. Let me tell you about my strongest memories of translated books:

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke | The only Funke book I ever finished was Dragon Rider. Thief Lord and Inkheart were too boring, even though the latter is especially popular. I WANTED TO LIKE IT. I did. But I got bored all the times I tried to read Inkheart. Few people understood why I didn’t enjoy the book, so most of the time I just told them, “I think it probably sounds better in German.”

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder | This was not a bad book—it’s intellectual, challenging, and has a decent story. But the language of the book was a little difficult for me, and some of the plot points… Not to spoil anything, but Sophie has a birthday party. I think she turns thirteen or fourteen. Anyway, it’s a kids-and-parents party, and two of the kids go and have sex in the bushes and maybe get pregnant and literally no one cares. Part of that is like, the point of such a philosophical book, but part of me believes that scene made more sense to Gaarder when he wrote the book.

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marçal | Full disclosure: this is my current read. I’m only partway through so far, but it’s easy to notice a few stylistic writing differences. A good part appears in the form of fragmented sentences. It’s common for the writer to say something important. And then add on a sentence like this, when she really probably should have used a comma or started a new complete sentence. Also, the logic system they use is different. It’s hard to describe, but I feel like the system involves saying a lot of things and then looping back and elaborating on the details as many times as is necessary. I… am getting used to it. Ish.


I’m not sure if I have a definitive opinion on translations. On the one hand, they’re special because they can help you share in something that somebody said in another language. You communicate in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. But translations are tricky! There are some impossible differences to reconcile, and I know it makes me less satisfied sometimes. But that’s okay. It’s good to stretch your brain sometimes.

Have you read any books translated from another language?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Sacrifice Tag

Sacrifice
Flickr Credit: Forsaken Fotos
Liz over at Out of Coffee, Out of Mind was a cool person and tagged me for the Book Sacrifice Tag! Thanks, Liz!

Also, just because I would sacrifice these books doesn’t mean that they are terrible or you shouldn’t like them. DO WHAT YOU WANT. Let’s just not sacrifice each other over our opinions.

via Goodreads
an over-hyped book | situation: You are in a bookstore when zombies attack. Over the loudspeaker, you hear the military informing you that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness. What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies? (And remember, no body shots. Head shots only. Come on, you’ve seen The Walking Dead—you know how this works.)

I felt like Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter was a huge disappointment. And I’d heard such good things about it! Of my friends on Goodreads, all of them gave it 3-5 stars, which means all of them at least liked it. BUT THERE WAS LITERALLY NO EXTERNAL PROBLEM IN CAMMIE’S LIFE AND SHE WAS COMPLETELY PASSIVE THE ENTIRE NOVEL. Ugh, this was just a painful read.

via Goodreads
a sequel | situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour, and you’re probably the type who melts when you get wet. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne. NOOP. Noop noop noop. There’s so much to say but the worst part was definitely the screwy characterization of Severus Snape. That was unacceptable to me. Better his dialogue melts than me.

via Goodreads
a classic | situation: You’re in English class and your professor won’t stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature." Personally, you think that classic is garbage, and you decide to express your opposing opinion by hurling it at his head. What classic is that?

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Forgive me if I don’t find the overwhelming male-ness of the novel interesting or true or worthwhile. Say what you will about human morality—though I also believe a different group of boys could easily have created a very different novel. I just hate it.

via Goodreads
a least favorite book | situation: You’re hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to turn the world into a frozen wasteland. Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book. Which book would you not regret tossing onto the fire?

The worst novel I have ever read is Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. I have seen all the James Bond movies, including all three Casino Royales, so I was hoping the book might be good. No, it was boring and dumb. I will sum it up so you do not have to read it: James Bond is a spy. It is spy beach day! Yay! James Bond has sex. James Bond gambles! More sex! Then James Bond goes for a drive. Then, suddenly, there is international conflict and James Bond and his girlfriend are tortured! But then James Bond saves the day and more sex happens. The end. Blah.


So, I could tell you more strong feelings about books I didn’t like but you’re probably done now, as am I. I don’t plan to tag anyone, but please, steal this from me if you feel so inclined.

All right, let us here it. What is a book that you would sacrifice, and why?


Monday, October 3, 2016

Is Commenting Back Still a Thing?

Any Questions?
Flickr Credit: Matthias Ripp
I started blogging because of the fad.

Blogs were cool—I think there were various articles suggesting they would be good for your business, maybe your life. I didn’t know about those until later. I just made one because my friends were making them, too. For a lot of people, the formula went something like, post twice, forget for a month, try again, and then delete the thing.

That didn’t happen to me. I think I thought it would be good blogging practice if I posted often, so despite the fact that I was doing this alone, I stuck to it. I didn’t understand why people thought it was fun, but I still did it anyway.

Then I found the book blogging community and realized the entertainment and social factor were not myths. I wanted to comment on other people’s blogs, and, surprisingly, they wanted to comment back on mine.

I know that at least some of my traffic came from a project created by Readers in WonderlandBloggers Commenting Back. It’s about as simple as it sounds. When someone comments on your blog, you go and comment on theirs. Personally, I never really participated. My general philosophy is if you don’t have anything [nice] to say, don’t say nothing at all. I have my mean commenter side, but if I feel stupid compared to other people commenting or have no opinion then I don’t force myself to force a comment. Those are pretty painful.

Anyway, back to the thing: commenting back. I remember seeing people displaying the banner and feeling very curious about it. Bloggers who wrote good comments seemed to make them popular and good at making new friends. They got themselves out there. From what I’ve observed, that seems less of a thing now. Why is that, I wonder?

Blogging is less big now. Many people have realized that blogs are not the next Facebook, and nobody blogs forever. To me, this suggests there are fewer people blogging than a couple years ago and fewer people making blogs. That would contribute to the commenting back downsize.

Also, new bloggers might not know. It is always great to see new faces in the blogosphere, but they might not come in with a working knowledge of what was going on three years ago. Which is fine—how would such people know? But, it also means that people aren’t necessarily jumping on the “commenting back” bandwagon anymore.

Finally, I bet it’s tiresome. I actually struggled to find a Bloggers Commenting Back banner on blogs where I knew I’d seen it before. Some people have taken it down. But I have no judgment. Blogging is hard, and commenting back is harder. People lose the time and ability to comment back as they once had, and especially since a lot of book bloggers are in this gig for free, commenting back is an even greater toll on their time. There isn’t always enough compensation to make commenting back worth it, and I think that’s okay to admit. Like I’ve said before, you as a person are more important than your blog.


I guess I’m curious, though—has the “Bloggers Commenting Back” movement ended for good? Have bloggers lost interest? Do they only comment on blogs they really enjoy? Do they still comment back, but without identifying themselves by the banner? I don’t know. Perhaps you do.

Is commenting back a priority on your blog?