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Feb. 21st, 2017

Kitty

It's Been Awhile...

My depression and anxiety have been making *everything* hard lately, even reading. I can't concentrate on much of anything right now. Writing literally seems to make me so anxious that I've been getting nauseated whenever I try to write. I mean that literally. I feel sick to my stomach every time I sit down to write. So I don't. But the stories inside me are building up and making me depressed that I can't write. So yay for hellish catch-22's! As for reading, it has been really hard lately to even sit down to read *anything*. I can focus for a little while, but then my attention wanders off.

All I've been able to do lately is play video games like Minecraft or Sims 3, while having documentaries like Electric Boogaloo: the Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films, Crystal Lake Memories: the Complete History of Friday the 13th, and Never Sleep Again: the Elm Street Legacy. Thank goodness for Piper and our watching Stargate: SG1, or I wouldn't be seeing anything new lately.

And once again, I reach a catch-22 situation. The repetition of watching the same movies over and over again calms my anxiety down. The movies are comforting, having voices going on around me, especially when hubby isn't home. But it makes my depression worse, because I feel like I should be watching something new. I shouldn't just be watching the same thing over and over again. There's only so much time we're given, and I shouldn't be wasting it by re-watching the same thing over and over again. But my anxiety won't let me watch anything new. Since I turn movies and tv shows on for sound while I'm playing video games, my anxiety insists that I only turn on things I've watched before, because what if I miss something?!?!

*sighs* It's not fun.

In other news, I made a doctor's appointment to be put on progesterone to get a period to be put on clomid. But my contrary body decided it was going to start a period on its own, so on Monday, my period started. My appointment was on Friday, which was day five of my period. Perfect timing to be put on the clomid. So hurray for being one step closer to (maybe) having a child!

Thanks to a lot of wine, I was able to tell my mom how I feel about her attitude towards me having a child. Every time I try to talk to her about pregnancy, she always says, "Relax!" (Which makes me feel the exact opposite.) I've told her I feel like she's not supporting me. That yes, I talk about it whenever I see her. But there's usually new developments between times when I see her. So of course I talk to her about it! I also talk about dreams and fantasies I have about it. That doesn't mean I think about it all the time. It's not the only thing in my life right now, even if it is the biggest thing in my life right now. It is hard not to think about it, though. Two of my close friends are pregnant. One of my co-workers is pregnant. I'm at that age where a lot of the people I know are pregnant or have young children. It's hard not to think about it or talk about it. However, what my mom doesn't understand is that I have faced the fact that I might not get pregnant. There is a chance that will happen. If it doesn't happen, it will be heart-breaking and suck monkey balls, but I'll deal when that happens. (And there are definite up-sides to not having kids. Having more money! Late nights when I choose, not when child chooses! Not having to deal with poop, pee, vomit, and other questionable bodily fluids!) But I am going to try for it. I'm going to do everything I can, and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But at least I'll have tried.

I do feel bad, though. Apparently, my sister-in-law and brother are not doing anything to prevent pregnancy. She's scared of what will happen if she gets pregnant before me. I know I'll be disappointed and sad, of course, since I want it so badly. But I will happily welcome a niece or nephew into the world. My brother was born to be a dad. Plus, if I can't have children, at least my parents will have a grandchild or two. So if they get pregnant, it will be awesome!

I *hate* being treated like a fragile little flower. It's insulting. Okay, so my mental health is not the bestest thing ever. But I've learned to live with it, and cope as best I can. Treating me like I'll break because of disappointments and heartache makes me feel pathetic. Like I'm not as strong as I know I am. It drives me batty!
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Feb. 14th, 2017

Charmed sisters

Fifty Shades of Yuck!

With the onset of Valentine's Day this year comes the opening of the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, Fifty Shades Darker. *sigh* I don't get the popularity of these books at all. I'm not anti-romance novels or anti-erotica. Long before 50 Shades came out, I had been reading romance, erotica, and erotic romances for years. I've been reading romance novels since I was eleven years old, and erotica and erotic romance since I was around eighteen years old. I've read Old Skool romances (as the ladies at "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books" call them) that include the many rapes of heroines with alphole heroes (again, a "Smart Bitches" term meaning a "hero" who is so alpha, he's an asshole.) But none of them bother me quite the way 50 Shades does.

I think a large part of it comes from the popularity of the novels. They just exploded onto the scene after the success Twilight, of which they began life as a fan fic of 50 Shades. But 50 Shades took the absolute worst aspect of Twilight (the romance) and somehow made it worse. Bella and Edward's romance has never been particularly compelling or interesting to me. She has no other interests outside of Edward. We're *told* she has other interests, but we're never shown those other interests. And Edward just comes off as creepy.  Someone made a video called "Then Buffy Staked Edward at the End" that really shows just how creepy that character is. But for some reason, in Twilight, we're supposed to think it's sexy and romantic. *shudders* E.L. James upped the ante on Christian Grey's creepiness. (I will be fair here; I haven't actually read the books. I have no desire to read the books. But I have read plenty of articles about the books about how terrible Christian Grey's behavior is, which makes me glad I never read the books.)

From everything I've been able to gather, Christian Grey stalks Ana, emotionally manipulates her, controls her, and abuses her for his pleasure, with no thought to hers at all. How is that sexy? Or romantic? In any way, shape, or form? I know the argument is that it's just a book. Or it's just supposed to be fantasy, so what's the harm? The problem is that books and the written word do have power. Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, the Constitution, the Bible, the Koran, The Prince, all of these books have had serious influences on humankind, changing the directions the world is going in. Books have always influenced people's opinions, laws, and societal expectations. That's precisely what's been happening with Fifty Shades of Grey. There are women who talk about how Christian Grey is the perfect man. And with the way the media has run off on it, the books can create an expectation of people's behaviors. Because those books are so popular, men and women can assume that Christian and Ana's relationship is something to aspire for. That idea sends cold chills up my spine. I wish I could trust that people are smarter than that, but smart people fall for abusive relationships all the time. *I* fell for an abusive relationship, an almost abusive relationship, and one of my boyfriends turned into a stalker. I know I'm a smart person, but I still ended up vulnerable to it, three times. So I know the dangers of it. Granted, none of those guys were wealthy, and none were as gorgeous as Christian Grey, but looks don't make a monster not a monster, and wealth doesn't excuse rotten behavior either. I think that's the only reason why people excuse his behavior: because he's "hot" and he's rich. That's it. People will excuse a lot out of someone because they're good-looking or wealthy. Especially if they're white and male. o_O It's completely obnoxious.

I get people liking it. People like what they're going to like. What I don't understand is blindly defending it to the death. There is nothing wrong with seeing the problems that might be inherent in what you like. There are terrible movies, books, tv shows, and songs that I utterly adore. It doesn't make them any less terrible, and I know it. I'll defend that I like them, even if I have no idea why beyond, "I had fun watching/reading/listening to it." But I won't say they are the best things ever, because I know they're not. I know what their faults are, and I forgive them their faults. But I don't demand that everyone else agree with me in enjoying them, or say that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I wish the fans of Fifty Shades of Grey would do the same.

Feb. 6th, 2017

Love of Fairies

Book Update

This year, I have decided to keep a book journal. I'm keeping track of how many books I'm reading, from beginning to end. (A lot of the time, I will try to read just certain scenes in books, and not read the book from cover to cover.) For the month of January, I read 24 books. Seven of them were re-reads of old favorites, since I started the year re-reading the "Five Hundred Kingdoms" series by Mercedes Lackey. Thirteen were romances (either category romances or historical romances.) The seven re-reads were all fantasy. Three were YA, and one was a History non-fiction audiobook. My average rating for the books, on a five star scale based on Goodreads' rating, was 3.75. I enjoyed all of the books I read during January. The lowest ratings were 2 stars, which on Goodreads means that they were okay, but they weren't terrible.

I also decided to do the Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year. But I've had to keep upping it, which kind of makes me feel self-conscious (which is utterly ridiculous, I know, but I've always felt like I had to apologize for the things I was good at. o_O I'm crazy, what can I say?) I started with 100 books. It quickly became apparent that I was easily going to make that goal. So then I upped it to 150. That wasn't enough either. Then 200. Still not enough. I'm currently sitting at 260, which I think is a plausible goal for me, without making me feel like I have to rush around. The biggest reason why I'm able to read that much is because I only work a part-time job, and I don't have kids. So this is the final year to really see how many books I can read when given my druthers. (I'm hoping to have a child by early next year.)

One very odd thing that I noticed while I was looking at the books I read last month is that all but one was written by a woman. And even that one, The Redemption of Althalus, was co-written by a husband and wife team. I have absolutely no idea why that is. A large part probably has to do with the fact that I am utterly addicted to romance novels, and the vast majority of them are written by women. Most of the books I read are romances, especially category romances published under the "Harlequinn Presents" line of romances. And as far as I know, the majority of their authors are female (unless they write under pseudonyms, which is possible.)

It's not that I don't read male authors either. I love Stephen King, David Eddings, and have a love/hate thing for George R.R. Martin. But I do think the majority of the authors that I read and love are female. I have absolutely no idea why this is the case, lol. Even outside of romance, the majority of authors that I read are female. Mercedes Lackey, Kate Elliott, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Shelley, L.M. Montgomery, Margaret Mitchell. It's a little odd, lol.

I'm currently sitting at six books for the month of February. All but one are romances, and even that one could be considered fantasy/paranormal romance. One of them did get a one star rating. It had a lot of potential, but it didn't quite know what to do with that potential, so the book ended up being mixed and incredibly confused. (If I got with my personal star rating system on my library scale, the book would have gotten a half a star.)
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Jan. 30th, 2017

Charmed sisters

Weekend Update

The weekend was fun and full. On Friday, Piper came over to show me the "good parts" version of Stargate: SG1. She, Prue, Paige, and Saturn have been trying to get me to watch it for years. I resisted for a long time. For one thing, I loved the movie Stargate. Like *loved*! And by the time they made the tv show, I was savvy enough in television that I knew what they were going to do in order to make the tv show. The part that really killed me was that I knew that they were going to have to do something about Sha'uri, Daniel's wife, and my favorite character, in order to get Daniel Jackson to be a main character of the show. Before the show even aired, I knew that she was most likely going to be killed off. What they did was even worse. But that's for later. Somehow, I managed to not watch anything of this show at all over the years, even in spite of my father watching it pretty regularly. I think I was so against this show, I would leave the room and go do something else whenever he started watching it, so I missed all the episodes of it. Eventually, Prue showed me episodes from seasons 8 and 9 with the character of Vala, played by Claudia Black. Those episodes changed my mind about wanting to watch the show. I really enjoyed the episodes I watched with Vala and Mitchell. I was like, okay, I might give this show a chance. So I watched the series premiere, "Children of the Gods." Big. Mistake. I *hate* that episode so much. For one thing, they freaking changed Sha'uri's name to Sha're. I know it's easier to pronounce, but it was still incredibly annoying. Then what they did with that character *pissed* me off. They did everything I was afraid of them doing in the *worst* way they possibly could have. It is a very good thing that "Children of the Gods" was not the first episode of Stargate: SG1 I ever watched, because if it was, no power on this earth would ever have convinced me to watch anything else, because that episode pissed me off so bad. They ruined my favorite character. I know why they did it. I understand. They had to get Daniel Jackson back to Earth, to be a main character on the show. He wasn't going to leave his wife. Therefore, wife had to go. But they had to get rid of her that way? REALLY?!?!

*ahem*

Anyway, so Piper and I watched a few episodes of season one. I definitely liked what I saw. It is a little odd, for me, in how different Jack O'Neill is in the show versus how he was in the movie, but I get it. Back then, characters as dark as Kurt Russell's Jack were seldom if ever main characters in a tv show. It took years before they got there. Nowadays, having a show with a dark and tortured character is no big deal, but back then, it simply wasn't done. Plus Richard Dean Anderson didn't want to play him that dark either. So while the character differences are odd for me, I understand them, and they don't bother me. Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson versus James Spader as Daniel is no difference whatsoever. They did an amazing job keeping that character exactly the same. The additions of Amanda Tapping's Samantha Carter and Christopher Judge's Teal'c are great. Sam is shaping up to be one of my favorite characters. I *love* her. So I am very glad we are watching the show this way, avoiding all the bad episodes, and just focusing on the good ones.

On Saturday, I went in to work to help with my library's Mini How-To Festival. I did a "How to Write a Silly Story" table. And I had a few people, so it was definitely worth it. I had Story Cubes, two storytelling card games, plenty of paper, and pencils for children to write their stories. I had fun doing it, and talking to the children who enjoyed it. One really little one who wasn't quite ready to tell a story just had fun rolling the dice into my hand, then telling me what the picture was on the dice.

That night, we went over to hang out at Neptune's. Her child is utterly adorable! Though she did throw a few tantrums when we were there. I think I'm a horrible person, since I couldn't help but laugh when she started her tantrums. That's a leftover aspect of my childhood. My aunts and uncles did not take tantrums seriously, which is probably good since I threw them a lot when I was little.

Yesterday, hubby and I pretty much did nothing. I did do two decent-length posts in the long term online roleplay board we're doing. I was quite proud of them, especially since in one, my character is acting completely stupid, though she doesn't know that she's being completely stupid, which gives everyone else a lot to post to. While I was posting, I watched the first two Halloween movies, since I'm tired of fighting with my internet over getting Netflix. Then I switched to The Hobbit movies. They're not nearly as good as the Lord of the Rings films, but I still enjoy them. Harley made me laugh while trying to watch them. I would pick her up and cuddle with her. As soon as I let her go, she would run away. Only to return two secondds later, curl up on my lap, and go to sleep. LOL! So she likes to be cuddled, but *only* on her time. Of course.

I woke up this morning, and read Facebook. *sighs* To paraphrase a comic I saw last week, "My need to be well-informed is at war with my need to stay sane." That is all I will say about that.
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Jan. 26th, 2017

Dreamer

I had a dream...

Last night, I had a very bizarre dream. I dreamed that I woke up into the body of my fourteen-year-old self with the memories of my thirty-three-year-old self. Oy. I have to admit, if that ever happened to me, it would be a nightmare. I *like* my life the way it is. It could be better, of course, but I like my career, my husband, my friends, my family, my house, and my pets the way they are. If I had the chance to do it over, the only things I would really want to change are to do better in school and to join theatre my freshman year instead of my sophomore year. That's it. But I wouldn't want to change a single thing if it meant losing what I have. I wouldn't want to take that risk. I also would not want to have to live through my romantic entanglements again. After finding the right one, I wouldn't want to date anyone else. Yuck! But I would have to, in order to learn the lessons I needed to learn to get to the right one.

That gave me an idea. So often in stories, it's "be careful what you wish for." It's pretty common for characters to want to go back in time to change something that they think would make their lives better only to discover that they really liked their lives the way they originally ended up. Peggy Sue Got Married, Wizard of Oz the movie, Mr. Destiny, etc. But what would happen if a character, who has come to terms with their past mistakes and is happy with their life the way it is, ended up going back in time with their memories intact? How would that change the storyline? Because the character might have some things that they can change, but would they want to, if it meant they might not get the life they had in the future?

I don't know if I'll write this story, but I thought I would at least write the idea down. After all, it is a little different than most things I've heard of. And it is an example of the "fish out of water" story. After all, a character who loves their life the way it is would be paralyzed about changing things, but would end up changing things by accident, simply by having the foreknowledge. Who would they tell? Would anyone believe them?

In my dream, I did tell people. I told several of my friends what their lives would be like in 2017. And in dream logic, they believed me, without any of the consequences that can come with knowing how things are supposed to go. Just knowing what's going to happen can change the event.

It's just a dream, most likely inspired by all the references to 1984 in my Facebook feed lately. (1984 was the fall play when I was a freshman.) I think that's what inspired this dream. I really can't think of anything else that would have done it. Especially since I'm not the type who wants to have my teenage years back. I did enjoy them. I had a lot of fun in high school. But it was good that it was then, to paraphrase an old Jewish proverb. I don't want to return to it. As I said, the only things I would want to change are to take school far more seriously sooner than I did, and to join theatre sooner than I did. That's it. That's all I would have wanted to change. I had too much fun to want to change anything else. And I really would not want to change anything if it meant I didn't end up with the life I currently have. Yes, it has its problems. It's not perfect by any means. But I'm happy with it, and I'm working towards making it even better. Which is all anyone can ever do.

But I did like the story questions I came up with after having this dream.

Jan. 23rd, 2017

Charmed sisters

Star Trek: the Next Generation part two

I was going to finish the series. I really was. But I got to an episode that I couldn't bring myself to finish. "Journey's End" is the twentieth episode of season seven. Up to this point, I had been enjoying the show much better than I had in the beginning. I liked the main cast very well. They got Picard to lighten up a bit, and made the questions that dealt with the Prime Directive much murkier, where Picard couldn't just go, "Well, it's the Prime Directive, and we must stick with that." There were discussions around it, and episodes that made me think while watching. Which is one of the key components of great science ficiton, in my opinion. However, then we get to this episode, and I got so frustrated that I quit watching it, and don't know if I will ever finish watching it.

The premise of the episode begins with a treaty being completed between the Cardassians and the Federation. Unfortunately, it meant that each side had to give up some of their territories to the other side. The results of this meant that Federation colonists were going to have to be relocated. And they decided to deal with this issue in the most ham-fisted way they could, by introducing a Native American colony that has to be relocated. *sighs* I will give them credit; they really tried to be as respectful as they could with the subject. But a lot of it was off-putting. I looked up where the episode was going on the Memory Alpha wiki page. And they actually included a vision quest in the episode. *sigh*

The worst part of the episode, though, was Wesley Crusher. After watching as much of this show as I have, I don't understand the intense hatred that character got. In season one, all of the characters were awful. He was actually less awful than the rest of them. He actually had a brain and noticed stuff the other characters missed. After season one, I found myself liking him more and more, just like I did with the rest of the crew. In this episode though, he seemed to have gotten a brain transplant. Out of freaking nowhere, he is rude, sullen, and moody. It was this part of the episode that sent me off to Memory Alpha. I had to know what the hell was going on. And I discovered that Ronald D. Moore decided all on his own:"I was the one who pushed to get Wesley out of the Academy and send him off with the Traveler. I felt that there was a built-in contradiction in a character that we'd said was like Mozart in his appreciation of higher mathematics and physics, yet was just on the same career path as any Starfleet cadet. I didn't get it – if Wes is truly special and gifted, what the hell is he doing at the Helm? It seemed like he was only going to the Academy to live up to the memory of his father and the expectations of Picard, not because it was his best destiny. "Journey's End" also seemed like an opportunity to see someone walk away from Starfleet with their head held high and just say "It's cool, but not for me." I was tired of everyone in the 24th century saying, "All I want to do is wear the uniform and serve on a starship." Hey, it's cool, but it's not for everyone. So I pushed to have Wes realize his destiny was elsewhere and have him walk away."

I was like, what? First of all, yes, they did talk about how special Wesley was for the entire series. However, they backed it up with his abilities. Second of all, where is this coming from?  They spent sixth seasons building this character up to want to be Starfleet. Everything was *his* choice. He wanted to be Starfleet. There was never anything indicated in either text or subtext to show that he had second thoughts. Third, there was a way to do it that made sense. They could have shown that after dreaming of being in Starfleet, he discovered it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and having second thoughts that way. But that's not what they did. Instead, all of a sudden, he's angry that everyone is pushing him to be in Starfleet just because he is the son of two Starfleet offiicers. Um, no. That is not the way everything went down. People didn't develop expectations of him until he forced them to recognize his abilities and desires. Everything was *his* choice. To just arbitrarily decide that it wasn't makes for terrible writing.

Since this was the last episode that featured Wesley, I can see why people were left with a bad impression of the character. Here he is at his badly written worst. He's rude. He's a little whiny. And his motivations do not make any sense when compared to the character we spent the previous seasons with. It's his storyline that made me stop watching the episode, especially when I read Ronald Moore's reasoning of why he did it. And unfortunately, I had already seen them do this very storyline, only much better, with Jake Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jake was established fairly early on as a character who really wasn't sure whether he wanted to be in Starfleet. It wasn't a big surprise or out of character when he eventually did admit that no, he didn't want to be Starfleet or follow in his dad's footsteps. It made sense to the character and to the arc that had been established. With Wesley, it didn't make sense. And yes, there was a way they could have made it work, but that's not the route they chose to do, which overall, just made it stupid.

To get back to the other storyline, the beginning of the episode made me really realize why I don't like the Maquis. The Maquis are a resistance/terrorist group created by the colonists who felt abandoned by the Federation due to the treaty with the Cardassians. At the beginning of "Journey's End," the admiral makes it clear that the Native American group was warned that the colony that they wanted to settle in was in disputed territory. Basically that there was a good chance they wouldn't be able to keep it. Which is exactly what happened. The implication here is that the other colonists would also have been similarly warned. My opinion on the Maquis based on what I've seen in the myriad of episodes they have appeared in is that they are acting like spoiled children. I realize that yes, that is their home and they have been there for about twenty years or so. But, as I said, the implication is that they were warned. They knew going into it that they might lose it. They have absolutely no right to expect the Federation to fight to the death for them to keep colonies that were always under shaky ground. The Federation did the best they could in the treaty with the Cardassians, but they couldn't demand to keep everything the Federation had in Cardassian-claimed territory. That's not the way treaties work. It's not fair, but it's the way it is.

The Starfleet officers that join the Maquis are even worse. At least the colonists have an excuse. They are fighting for their homes by a government that they believe betrayed them. But the Starfleet officers are just wanting to play hero. After having come from paradise, which was the Federation was meant to be per Gene Roddenberry's order, they couldn't handle the shades of gray that existed in the universe, where sometimes, even the Federation and Starfleet had to make the best of bad decisions. That creates shades of gray a lot of them couldn't seem to handle. They were used to being the good guys, the knights in shining armor, and the heroes. They didn't like the idea that maybe they weren't always. Or even, that sometimes being a hero to one side doesn't always mean being a hero to the other. So they chose the side of the underdog, in spite of them being terrorists, and their motives being just as questionable as the Federation's. The only characters I don't condemn at all for sympathizing or joining the Maquis are the Bajoran characters. After having their home world being constantly violated by the Cardassians for fifty years, I can understand any Bajorans wanting to fight the Cardassians right out of space. I get it. I sympathize. But the rest of the Maquis and Maquis episodes annoy the living hell out of me.

After deciding to stop watching "Journey's End," I looked at the next few episodes. I realized that I remembered pretty much all of them from my childhood. I also felt that I had given this show a fresh chance to impress me, which it ultimately did. I don't regret the time I spent watching it. I love pretty much all the characters now. I have two OTP's: Troi/Worf and Crusher/Picard. The show had a lot of incredibly good episodes in it, where they asked some great and hard questions about life, society, and the universe, which great science fiction does. But I decided that since I remembered the end episodes, I would move on to the next series. Not the next in terms of chronology, which would be Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I have watched that show and re-watched that show and re-watched that show. It is my favorite Star Trek series. But right now, I'm trying to watch shows that I haven't watched a million times. So I moved onto Star Trek: Voyager.

I'm only on episode three or four, but already I'm enjoying the show a lot more than I remember enjoying it. Like my approach to Star Trek: the Next Generation, I decided I would watch Voyager with a fresh set of eyes. I threw out my pre-conceived ideas and memories of what I have seen of the show to let it give me a new chance to impress me. So far, it's working. I think the episodes "Caretaker" parts one and two are my favorite series premieres of the Star Trek premieres I have seen. I can definitely see all the lessons the writers have learned over the years from TNG and DS9 showing up. The pacing of the episode is a work of beauty. Kudos to the editors for that. The introductions to all the characters are very well done, too, showing us who the characters are and giving us an idea of the sorts of arcs we can look forward to in the future.

This entry is much longer than I expected it would be, but I have a lot of opinions, lol. 

Jan. 15th, 2017

Charmed sisters

Fairy Tales

I *love* fairy tales. I have always loved fairy tales, folk tales, myths, etc. Most of them feature female characters. (And as a child, I didn't care if said female character needed to be rescued. Just the fact that she was there was enough for me.) And no, I don't care about the Disneyfication of many fairy tales. In some cases, Disney made the fairy tale better. ESPECIALLY when adapting anything written by Hans Christian Anderson. In the original "Little Mermaid," the mermaid dies. Or "becomes sea-foam," and a "Daughter of the Air" after dying, because mermaids don't have souls, but her selfless act (in not murdering her prince) allowed her to "earn" a soul. Seriously. That is the end of the original tale. It's depressing as hell. Anderson is a bit of a downer as far as fairy tales are concerned.

The other source of modern fairy tales were, of course, the Brother Grimm. Who were prudes. They cut out the sexual imagery and situations of their stories, and seriously beefed up the violence of the stories. Originally, the oral tales that the Brothers Grimm collected were not actually tales for children, even though the Victorians eventually decided that they were, in turning the tale of "Little Red Riding Hood" into a cautionary tale for little girls rather than the coming-of-age story for girls becoming women. (In the oldest versions, the heroine saved herself. Of course, the oldest version of the tale also involved a strip tease, poop, and cannibalism.) They were stories for adults. The originals included far more details than what eventually made it to the pages of the Brothers Grimm. Nowhere is the more obvious than the tale of "Rumpelstiltskin." When I was a child, the story made perfect sense. By the time I got to be a teenager, I realized that there are so many details missing in that story that it really doesn't make much sense. Some of it does have to do with cultural context. If the character of Rumpelstiltskin is a Fae, his actions make a lot more sense, in understanding the culture of European fairies. But still, there is a lot missing from that tale.

What's really odd is how male names are the ones who are known for the fairy tales. Brothers Grimm. Hans Christian Anderson. Now Walt Disney. But for centuries before that, fairy tales were the domain of women. A woman orginally wrote the tale of "Beauty and the Beast." And there is a lot of evidence that shows she wasn't alone.

Anyway, reading an article about the 1985 weird fairy tale Legend starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, and Tim Curry, comparing the theatrical version to the Director's Cut made me think about this.

Jan. 14th, 2017

Charmed sisters

Writing Program

Thursday night, I went to an amazing writing program held at Highland's Ranch Library. It was run by local author Jessica Brody. She was hilarious! She really knew how to hold the room. She also knew what she was talking about, in that she has managed to sell fifteen books in less than ten years. That's really impressive.

The class itself focused on how to come up "high concept" ideas, and everything that goes into it. She pointed out that most popular stories (not all, there are exceptions) but most carry four ingrediants that she talked about. One of them is the fish out of water, where the character is taken out of an environment they are used to, and forced to live in an environment or into circumstances they have trouble dealing with. The next is the "hook," what makes that story interesting enough to read it. Unfortunately, I don't have my notes with me, so I can't go into detail on what all of her definitions were, and how they worked. But the class got me really excited. It also helped me in my current story idea. I figured out a high concept statement that helped me to focus the idea. I was having trouble in figuring out why my Phoenix was in the story. Initially, she seemed to already know all about the supernatural world, and seemed nonplussed by it. But I realized that while she might know about these things, she doesn't know all of it, and she really needs to accept her world and her place in it. Struggles make characters more interesting, in my opinion.

The program also focused on various brainstorming techniques. She had some really funny names for them, such as "Extra! Extra! Read All About It!" "The People Zoo," and "Mish-Mash." There was one more, but I can't remember the name for it. "Extra" is about looking at headlines, and just the headlines, and coming up with stories based on what might have happened. Jessica Brody's Unremembered came from this technique. "The People Zoo" comes from people-watching, from going someplace where it's really crowded and coming up with backstories for the most interesting people you see. "Mish-Mash" is a lot of fun. It's taking titles of two movies, tv shows, or books, and combining them to make something new. Apparently, Hollywood and publishers really like the "Mish-Mash" because it makes it easier to sell. She had us play the game by putting two titles into a bowl, then choosing two. I got "Cinderella" and "Rogue One." Instantly, I got a story idea that I could actually use (after laughing like a loon over it.) I even started getting ideas based on the two I put in the bowl, which were "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Gone with the Wind." So I can attest to the fact that the idea works! The other brainstorming method whose name I can't remember uses looking at your own life, taking your most interesting memories, the people involved, and coming up with a story based on what the other people saw. You could also think of the most interesting people you know, and come up with your own backstory for them.

All in all, I really enjoyed the class. It's making me more excited about writing than I have been in a long time. So yay!
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Jan. 12th, 2017

Charmed sisters

Scrivener, Writing, and Theatre, oh my!

For Christmas, my mother-in-law got me the writing software Scrivener. It is awesome! It does an amazing job of organizing your thoughts. It was cool, being able to create an individual file for each character in the document, even small characters that exist merely as background characters. I think I am truly going to enjoy using this gift.

I started using it for my new Phoenix story. I have expanded on some of the ideas. There's going to be a lot on family issues, particularly between the older sister and the Phoenix character. There's going to be romance. And there are going to be some of the tropes from urban fantasy, though I will try to break some as I go. We shall see. I'm just glad I have a story to work on right now.

Last night, hubby and I went to see the musical play Fun Home. I knew nothing about it, other than that it was the Tony award winner of 2015. The play was incredibly powerful, all about the relationship between the main character, Alison, and her father. The story is framed with a middle-aged Alison remembering her life at different times. Two other actresses also play Alison, one as a child, and the other as a new college student. The show is incredibly powerful, full of subtext, and centers around many different themes, some overt, some not. I would really recommend it.

I'm still obsessed with playing with Skyrim. I downloaded the special edition from Steam, which I was able to get for free, due to already having the original on Steam. The new one looks really nice, but I kind of prefer the mods I have with the original version. I've gotten used to working with that one, and it does make gameplay a lot easier. Especially Skyrim UI. I love that mod. The original interface sucks! Especially when you're putting items of different types away into drawers and chests. It makes it really hard to find anything. While playing Skyrim, I started one of the DLC packs, called "Dragonborn." It turned out to be a little...strange. I really like the aesthetic of the island the character is sent to, Solstheim. It's volcanic, and more of a sand deser than the rest of the game. However, things got really weird once I had my character start reading the crazy books for the quests. Suddenly, my character is thrust into a world surrounded by crazy black books, with papers flying up in strange permanent tornadoes, black liquid where tentacles pop out to whip the character, weird creatures called "Seekers" and "Lurkers", and then my character is faced with a giant tentacled eyeball. I'm like, when did I leave high fantasy and go into Lovecraftian horror? I knew the makers of the Elder Scrolls games (Skyrim is number 5) were influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. At least some of the super-powerful evil characters called Daedric Princes had aspects of Lovecraft to them. But this DLC embraces all of the Lovecraftian madness with gusto. It's really fun, if a bit challenging. Luckily, I have a follower called Ludwig (a modded housecarl), a creepy zombie dog that I call "Puppy," and the last two Blades who are there for a separate quest, but won't leave me alone until I finish that particular quest.

My emotions in regards to Spike are getting easier. I don't feel quite as raw as I once did. I still can't think much about it without falling into depression, though, so I don't think about it much. Right now, it still hurts too much to dwell on it.

My other cats are helping, though. Craven is a cuddly tomcat. He loves being picked up and held. He is also the most easy-going cat I have ever met in my life. He's chill with just about anything, except water, and the bed. If he is on the bed, and any human comes near it, it's kitty-cat playtime! He turns into a mini-panther, stalking, swatting, and biting. Beware your fingers, lol. Harley is just funny. She only likes cuddling on *her* time. Most of the time, her attitude is, "Pet me...with your eyes!" However, she has wanted attention from me several times today. And when she's napping on the bed, she's perfectly content to let me pet her, as long as I don't try to pick her up. She also really enjoys chasing shadows and lights on the walls. We know she's hunting when she starts meowing at inanimate objects. It is completely adorable.

Jan. 9th, 2017

Pain

Universe takes away, universe gives

On Saturday night, I didn't sleep very well, for obvious reasons. I miss my cat. A lot. But when I finally did get to sleep, I had a very vivid dream, the first I've had in a long time. (Well, my dreams themselves are always pretty vivid; it's just lately they have been either mundane or utter nonsense.) But this dream was more like dreams I used to have growing up, with a plot and a story. I think with some tweaking I could turn it into a story. It began with fairly typical werewolf paranormal romance stuff, with a male werewolf who fell in love with what he thought was a human girl. Her dad freaked, and tried to keep them apart. There was also a villain involved, who was trying to keep them apart, and working on the dad's fears. However, the werewolf pack had a very powerful ally in a girl who was a Phoenix. Her powers were fueled by people's pain, and as a result, she could read the reasons for that pain. She could read people's secrets because of that, and due to all the turmoil being caused by the villain and the dad, she is super powerful. During a battle with two of the villain's flunkies, she reveals just how powerful she is. She also reveals that the girl was not turned into a werewolf by her lover, but she was always going to turn into a werewolf because her father was one. Her dad was not an alpha male, and was a bit on the cowardly side. His wife didn't even know what he was, even after she was introduced to the world of the supernatural. I woke up at about that point. I stayed awake for a little while, long enough to think about the Phoenix character. I thought becoming a Phoenix is inheritted after a certain number of generations. The Phoenix will live for a long time, but they're not immortal. And when they die, the very next baby born to the direct bloodline will be the next Phoenix. So the Phoenix could just as easily be a boy as a girl.

I found it strange that I had a vivid storyline type of dream the night after I had one of the worst losses in my life. It feels like having a fortune ripped away, and being given a pittance in return. However, I am no less grateful for said pittance. I've been having trouble with writing ideas for the last year or so. It's been really frustrating. So just having some sort of idea is nice.

My heart is still broken. I might be in the ballpark of okay, but I'm not quite there yet. I know to some it might be silly to have this much grief for a cat, but I can't pretend I don't have this much grief for a cat. I'm incredibly angry that there was no warning, nothing. One minute he was there, the next he wasn't. I would give anything to have some extra time, one more moment, one more time to have held him, gotten a really nice kitty hug from him. Just a little more time. And I wish one of us had been able to be with him as he died. His heart had already stopped by the time the vets let us go in the back. He was gone, surrounded by strangers. At least when animals are put to sleep, you can be in the room with them! It's planned. This...fucking sucks.

I now have a lot more sympathy for necromancy and for stories like Pet Sematary by Stephen King. If it was possible, I don't know if I could ignore the temptation. I want him back so much. He wasn't in pain. His skin condition had even cleared up over the last few months. There is no reason for it, other than the universe just arbitrarily decided it was time.

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