Friday, December 31, 2010

Button Pushers

"We're having hot lesbian sex. And by 'lesbian sex,' we mean 'tea,' but it's still pretty hot." - my friend's Facebook's "favorite quotes." Not sure who actually said it.

Ha, I will laugh if that, which was added solely for laughs, ends up bringing in a bunch of views via Google searches. And I will know, via my beloved stat feature.

The following are the lyrics to a song I wrote based upon the first few episodes of Season 2 of Lost, because I'm a geek and do stuff like that. Happy New Year, guys. I hope this one's better than the last for you, regardless of how good this one was.

“Button Pushers”
A Song

I don’t know what happens if I don’t push it but
I can’t risk it, so yeah, I don’t get out much
I don’t know how long I’ve been here despite the tallies on the wall
I can’t leave until you come so to the button I crawl

Is it real
Is it not
Everyday I have this thought
What if it’s all in my mind?
What’s your name?
Hello, John.
Are you the Island’s pawn?
Take my place? Wow, you’re so kind

I’m a button pusher
Button pusher
Button pusher
Button pusher

4 8 15 16 23 42
Type it once every 108 minutes then I hit execute
Wake up, work out, make some breakfast, wait for alarm to sound
Monotony until I see three outsiders sneaking around

Is it real
Is it not
Everyday I have this thought
What if it’s all in my mind?
What’s your name?
Hello, John.
Are you the Island’s pawn?
Take my place? Wow, you’re so kind

I don’t know what happens if I don’t push it but
I can’t risk it, so yeah, I don’t get out much
I don’t know how long I’ve been here despite the tallies on the wall
I can’t leave until you come so to the button I crawl
To the button I crawl

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Growing Up Digitally"

“Every year, many many stupid people graduate from college. And if they can do it, so can you.” — John Green

The thing I hate most about that article is that it brings up many good points that are applicable to many people, so that I can't really rant about it and feel justified. It may not apply to me (for the most part), but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its merits.

More after the jump... Note: Very long post. Beware. I will most certainly not be offended if you don't feel like reading all of it. Just read the article I linked to and form your own opinions.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Voicing Emotion

“That for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts. There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.” - Nietzsche

For the most part, I agree.

Then there's the other part.

I think that for which we find coherent, make-sensy, easy-to-read, everyday words is already dead in our hearts. If we're going to verbalize our feelings and be understood, we have to analyze them, which means we aren't really feeling them anymore.
However, if we speak/write in the language of imagery, metaphor, and poetry, we can make ourselves understood. Audrey will know what I'm talking about. I'll send her some of the weirdest, emotional emails, just because I need to express myself to someone I know well and trust and also know will read it pretty quickly. Upon later re-reading, they seem cheesy and forced, or "pushing the envelope through language," to tie it into the WGWG posts, but they weren't at the time. They were the best representations of how I felt at the time, and if I have to traipse through all sorts of ludicrous metaphors and images to do so, then so be it.

That being said, at our most basic, we are experiencing creatures. When we are born, we have no language. We learn to speak out of necessity (and because society requires it, and because it is in our nature to learn). 
We can understand language. We created it, after all. What we don't understand is the complexities of the brain and just how much our DNA controls us. What we cannot fully understand, we cannot fully verbalize.

Will Grayson: The Counter x5 Post

And so it continues here. I'm out of quotes at the moment.

"I also think that David Levithan should be the super famous one and not, as he told me when I ambushed him in a hallway at ALA, "The half of Will Grayson who isn't on TV all the time.""

David Levithan may correct me if he wishes, but I think he was just making a joke.

She then wrote "I never said that all of his characters and all of his plots are really alike"

Um, actually you did, "The summary of a John Green book: Somewhat nerdy teen with a specific quirk and lovable friends confronts an issue that is easily related to by teen readers through humor and character-recognized metaphor.
Either you like that plot line, or you don't. I do, and therefore I don't mind that the books are the same." and "Yes, Pudge, Colin, Quentin, and Will all share traits. They all sound somewhat the same within their minds."

"Really alike" is different from "can be generalized so that they can be summed up as one." 

Harry Potter books: Harry returns to Hogwarts after another summer at Privet Drive. He continues to thwart Voldemort's rise to power, while also trying to grow up as a normal kid.
Hunger Games: The Capital throws obstacle after obstacle at Katniss Everdeen, and she attempts to overcome them with the help of friends both from her District and others.
Tamora Pierce: Strong female character fights male-created stereotypes and kicks major butt in combat and intelligence.
Sure, those are series (with the exception of Ms. Pierce), but I haven't read a lot of authors who write only stand-alone books, so I can't really use them as back-up, can I?
Both of these quotes of mine--especially the second-- were in reference to voice/writing-style alone, and therefore do not apply.

I did not mean to diss Tiny Cooper and I also did not mean anything by saying that he was created by John Green. I was attempting to be snarky and funny and obviously my point was lost. I apologize.

I don't think you had much to apologize for there, so apology...understood. I can't "accept" it because I don't feel that you did anything to me that you need to apologize for.

If the main character is not likable and he was supposed to be then that is a sign of a bad author. I am not saying that Will was supposed to be likable, I was just making the point. And he was somewhat likable I just didn't like the way he treated Tiny.

Yes, if he was supposed to be. I'm just not sure that Uppercase Will was supposed to be likable at the onset of the book. Lowercase Will certainly wasn't. Perhaps UW just started out more likable to carry people through to the parts where LW becomes easier to sympathize with. 
To make a reference to Catcher in the Rye again, I found Holden to be incredibly unlikable throughout the course of the book, and Salinger is generally acknowledged to be a literary genius. Or at least, Catcher is well-liked across the board.
I haven't read it in a couple years, though. Maybe my opinion would change upon re-reading now.

""You keep blaming flaws within the book on John. David Levithan worked on this book as well, and you can't attribute only the good parts of it to him." I didn't/don't. I enjoyed the play stuff and John Green can be both laugh out loud funny and touchingly romantic but I believe that he is overrated."

He's a video blogger with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Of course those people are going to love his work more than they would otherwise. I am one of these people, therefore I know it to be true. There are a lot of inside jokes and references that endear the books to us that others don't get, for one thing, plus, as I said in my first counter post, we are biased.

Elfarmy concluded by writing "I will think about this and most likely see that you are correct once I've written those short stories for my deadline. Who has author credit now? I do. In YOUR face."

Ok, congrats on the deadline and whatnot but it is author cred, not credit.

I was under the impression that "cred" was shorthand for "credit." My mistake.

This is sort of unrelated, as it was a point I made in my last counter post. 
About how characters should be different from the author. 
That's true. However, the narrators are not necessarily duplicates of the author (although Pudge may debatably be so, as he won't admit to just how much of Looking for Alaska is true. The school itself is certainly very similar to his own boarding school, and he and Pudge share a fondness for famous last words.) When I write, I steal certain aspects of myself and apply them to my characters, and do the same to other people I know. You stole our names for The House
I am a big believer in the idea that writing novels is a fantastic form of psychotherapy. Some such novels are well-disguised and good enough that you can work through your own issues and still entertain others. Some (such as my own When the Sun Was In Your Hair) are most definitely not and should never see the light of day ever ever ever.
So maybe John takes "I have doubts about the afterlife" and writes a book about it.
Takes "Why can't romance be quantified?" and writes a book about it.
Takes "I have trouble imagining people complexly and apparently so does the rest of the world" and writes a book about it.
Takes "Sometimes I am a selfish coward" and writes a book about it.
Key word: Maybe.
He doesn't need himself as a character. Only the aspects of himself that involve those fears or worries.

Then there's the "If all the books are the same, why read the new ones?"

Why watch new episodes of Doctor Who? The Doctor arrives in a new place/time and is excited about it. Something bad happens. Perhaps evil aliens are trying to take over or kill all life on Earth. So he does something cool to fix it. (This is over-simplifying. I know there's so much more to each episode and the overall plot of the show than that. The point is that even when something is really predictable, we still enjoy it because there are uniquely enjoyable and/or interesting things within each one.)

I find it interesting that we've ended up agreeing on a lot of things.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will Grayson Will Grayson: The Counter Counter Counter Post

"Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim." - George Santayana, the same guy who said those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

Rock4ever95 has had the audacity to call me audacious in countering his review, and therefore I must counter it once again. Or through some form of skewed reasoning like that. Here is his post.

He says "The real way to push the envelope is to give readers a plot that makes them question things and is clever and new and edgy and progressive. If only someone had written a book like that. Oh, wait, someone has. It was called Boy Meets Boy and it was written by David Levithan."

Looking for Alaska, and Paper Towns did make me question things. Maybe they're not new or edgy or progressive, and maybe they are, but they succeeded in the questioning category. WGWG didn't so much make me question, but it made me think, but the things I am referring to are rather personal and probably don't apply to you/most other people. Maybe it's not progressive or new or edgy. However, I enjoyed reading it a lot. 

I loved Boy Meets Boy. I will not dispute its quality. But when did this turn into a competition between Green and Levithan? I agree with you that Levithan is an excellent author. You might remember that collaborating on a book is not a competition. They each wrote their own chapters about their own characters, but that doesn't mean they didn't work together on the character development or the plot. More on this later.

"If the characters are very similar,the style is the same, and the plots are really alike then why bother reading the new books? Why don't you just reread the old ones? Why bother writing anything new? What's the point? If a writer is just writing the same thing over and over then how can you say that they are still a good writer? I used to love Caroline B Cooney but recently she is basically writing the same plot over and over and over again trying to get a hit and she isn't very good anymore. A good writer actually, again not to be flippant, but a good writer writes. They create new things, they don't just reinvent the wheel. The stretch and create characters who are different from each other and different from the author. So if the author were, say, a gay man, he might write a book about two straight brothers. And he might call it Are We There Yet."

I never said that all of his characters and all of his plots are really alike. I said the plots of Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska are similar, and that Quentin and Uppercase Will are similar.
I will repeat my point that there are different lessons to be learned from each of the four books. Some elements are similar, but that does not mean that the books are.
As I said, sharing similarities does not mean they are clones. We share 97% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and 99.9% of my DNA is identical to yours. Yet we are very different people.
Before I Fall is the same thing written over and over and over again. That is why it is not a good book. (And for those who liked it, yes, it has its merits, but that is a discussion for another time).
A good writer is a writer who writes well. A good career novelist shouldn't write the same thing over and over. 

Now the "different from the author" bit. That is a good point. 

Yes, the gay man might write a book about two straight brothers and call it Are We There Yet. That book might be a very good book. That does not mean that a different book the gay man writes with someone else isn't also a good book in different ways.

"Elfarmy went on to write

""Nothing happens in this book." I guess it depends on what you want to happen. It's a book about teenagers doing stuff. There aren't any vampires, or evil governments, or parents who are Greek gods. There's nothing to make them unique. They're just people. Some like to read such books, and some don't."

Interesting thing about that, I do like to read those books but normally something happens, there is a point. And looking back at WGWG here is what happened: lowercase Will struggled with his sexuality and went out with this weird character Green created and fought with this weird girl. And that was about it. 
Uppercase Will had problems with the weird character who Green created and wanted to go out with a girl and a school play. So all of that could have been interesting if it had been done better."

First off: Don't diss Tiny Cooper.
Here is something the authors agree on: Tiny Cooper was raised by two dads. John's just the one that "birthed him." And that's almost a direct quote. Again: this book was a collaborative effort. Tiny Cooper was introduced in an odd-numbered chapter. That doesn't mean he belongs solely to the odd-numbered chapters.

What happens in The Catcher in the Rye? A guy leaves school, talks to some nuns, thinks about metaphorical ducks a lot, feels lonely so he calls people, but no one wants to talk to him, and he decides that he wants to spend his life metaphorically standing in a rye field making sure kids don't fall off cliffs. Not much happens there either. It's just that lots of people identify with Holden and get stuff out of the book.
Maybe there's nothing inherently special about WGWG. I quote from John Green: "My part of the book is only half the conversation." I agree that he didn't make Quentin and Will the same to show that everyone is the same. But guess what: that's something I learned. Something he inadvertently made me think about. Therefore even if the merits of the book aren't intentionally placed there, it is still a good book.
Now, if they aren't intentional, what does that say about the authors? You're going to say it's lucky chance and I'm looking for stuff to learn to prove my point. I'm going to say that in this case (Will and Quentin being similar), it was a lucky chance, but for some other things, it was subconscious skill.
Then, of course, there are the intentional ones, which can be attributed to conscious skill.

 "And I have to say, Uppercase Will is kind of a jerk. I mean, the way he treats his supposed friend is pretty shameful. If he had been nicer and gotten more involved in the school play the book would have become way way way way way way better. But no, John Green did not do that for whatever reason. He apparently did not realise that the school play could make for a really really good main plot and the other stuff could make for an acceptable sub plot."

Yeah. Uppercase Will is a jerk. You're a jerk sometimes. I'm a jerk sometimes. You can't say a book or an author is bad just because the main character (or one of them) annoys you. That just means you didn't enjoy the book. 

You keep blaming flaws within the book on John. David Levithan worked on this book as well, and you can't attribute only the good parts of it to him. 

The play could have made an excellent main plot. But that's not what the book is about. The book is about learning to deal with people, which is something Uppercase Will isn't very good at, nor is Maura.

"Elfarmy then wrote

"You can't give good author-cred to someone just because they mention musicians you like."

My response: Heck Yeah you can, and I just did. IN YOUR FACE!!!!!!"

That's complimenting the person, not the author.

"Also, on a side note, Eragon and Eldest are almost scene for scene rewrites of Star Wars. Think about it and you will see that I am right (I spent a lot of time thinking about this)."

I will think about this and most likely see that you are correct once I've written those short stories for my deadline. Who has author credit now? I do. In YOUR face. ;)

Yes, those of you who aren't in my writing group, I have a deadline. However, I won't be saying for whom or with what yet, since it's not official and I don't want to announce it online and then have it not happen. It's not for The Clockwork Experiment, though. I'll tell you that much. 
Those who do know, please don't leave details in the comments. Thank you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dark YA Fiction

"I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it." - Steven Wright

"There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward." - Khalil Gibran

I just read a bunch of articles on the NY Times website regarding the trend in dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. The link above is to one of them, and the others are in the left-hand sidebar of that page.

I don't know why I love dystopian/negative uptopian/post-apocalyptic books. I just know that I do. 
So I'm not going to speculate about that.

What I really find interesting is how in the article linked to above, the author says that there is a very liberal ( "in every sense of the word" ) trend in YA literature. Except I just read the first pages of her book, and it says in there that there is an awful lot of conservative literature that is growing increasingly popular.

Which is true, and why is it happening?

Will Grayson: The Counter-Post

“Love is hard and love is messy, and it can hurt worse than fire and sometimes it makes you want to tear down a building with your bare hands. But it also happens to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I’m obviously not a big fan of hyperbole.” - Hank Green

"Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling." - Edna Ferber

This is a counter post to this one on The Liberal Rocker, so please read that first. Yes, we all know that I am rather biased on this topic, but I am going to try to be as fair and objective as possible, so don't toss aside what I say just because of that. I've been meaning to write this post for awhile, and now seems like a good time to do it.

WARNING: Some spoilers of Looking for Alaska.

"Going into this book I had one problem with John Green, I felt that he had appointed himself the savior of YA Literature and saw it as his duty to push the envelope."

I'm not exactly sure what this means, nor do I know what this opinion is founded on, therefore I can't really refute it. However, I will say that there is a difference between believing you made YA better and believing you are the "savior" of it. 

"Coming out of this book I have another problem with him, all his characters are the same. Seriously, Will Grayson is almost exactly the same as the main character from Paper Towns. "

"All of his characters," no. Will and Quentin? Yes, they are similar.
I suppose that this is a matter of taste. I am predisposed to like anything John does, granted, so maybe if I weren't, I would also have a problem with it. I do find both Quentin and Will to be thoroughly entertaining narrators, though, so I don't mind reading two books from that perspective. 
As for whether or not it is a mark of a good novelist, well, not really. It could be argued that he's pointing out that all people are essentially the same on the inside and it's only our situations and backgrounds that make us different (which is something he's frequently talked about in videos), but I doubt that philosophy was behind it. I think it just turned out that way, and some people will find it annoying, and others will not.
Also, just because their voices are the same doesn't mean that they are the same. Outside of themselves, they are completely different, if that makes any sense. It's not just the personality that makes the person. Our surroundings determine our actions just as much as our "selves" do. I believe that the "soul" is just half of the person. Just like how when you get married, you're not marrying one person. You're marrying an entire family. Your new spouse is only half the package.

I believe you also once said that "all of his books read exactly the same."

My question is this: If they do read exactly the same, is that a bad thing?

Yes, Pudge, Colin, Quentin, and Will all share traits. They all sound somewhat the same within their minds. However, they are in totally different situations, battling totally different aspects of life. Pudge struggles to come to terms with the death of a friend. Colin faces the unfortunate fact that love cannot be treated as a science. Quentin realizes that he isn't the only complex person in the world, while Will learns to be brave and Lowercase Will deals with people.
Even if the books were all based around one narrator, there are different things to be learned from each one. There are different things to laugh at, different characters to love, and different issues to deal with.
Even with Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, which I think are the most similar in plot: 
Pudge thinks about life, death, and religion, while Quentin ponders how we view each other and ourselves.
If you mean they read exactly the same in regards to style, well, don't all authors have a style? That's what makes you like an author, as opposed to a book by that author. 
The summary of a John Green book: Somewhat nerdy teen with a specific quirk and lovable friends confronts an issue that is easily related to by teen readers through humor and character-recognized metaphor.
Either you like that plot line, or you don't. I do, and therefore I don't mind that the books are the same.

But back to Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

"There is no reason for the characters to meet (though it was handled well) as it doesn't really do much for the plot. Really, nothing happens in this book. And don't even get me started on the ending. "

The characters don't meet because they are the main characters. They are the main characters because they meet. 
The entire basis of the book was two people with the same name coming together. They started with that, and then built the plot around it.
David Levithan's best friend is David Leventhal, and either Levithan or Leventhal's college roommate was a different person named John Green, although I don't think that last bit was a factor in their deciding to work together on the book.
The Levithan/Leventhal coincidence prompted Levithan to want to write a book with a similar meeting, and that's how the book grew.

"Nothing happens in this book." I guess it depends on what you want to happen. It's a book about teenagers doing stuff. There aren't any vampires, or evil governments, or parents who are Greek gods. There's nothing to make them unique. They're just people. Some like to read such books, and some don't. 

The ending... all right. You have a point there. 

"David Levithan is one of my favorite writers and he has actually saved YA Literature (namely by editing the Hunger Games)."

I'm not the only biased one in the house tonight, folks.
(Yes, David Levithan is an excellent author and The Hunger Games was beyond fantastic, but I will not let you get away with that.)

"(John Green) also put in some cool band references as he has done in at least one of his previous works (Billy Bragg was referenced in Paper Towns)."

You can't give good author-cred to someone just because they mention musicians you like. Christopher Paolini watches Doctor Who. There's even a reference to it within Brisingr.
That doesn't mean Eragon doesn't copy a ton of stuff from Lord of the Rings (and if anyone wants to contest that, I literally have pages of notes I wrote in middle school -- when I was obsessed with the Inheritance Cycle and had nothing better to do -- of comparisons between it and Lord of the Rings. Who's a geek? Yeah, I'm a geek).

"This Year David Levithan has another collaboration coming out called Dash and Lilly's Book Of Dares which is far far far superior."

I have requested this book. We shall see. I'm actually afraid that I will end up agreeing with you.

"Three and a Half stars out of Five"

Oddly enough, I don't give it much better than that: 4 for book-quality, and 5 for how much I enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cheer, Presence Thereof

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers." - Daniel J. Boorstin

As soon as I published the post I wrote yesterday, I began to wish I hadn't. I could have deleted it with none of you any the wiser. However, it was how I felt at the time, and I wanted to be honest with all of you.

That being said, my mood has improved considerably over the past 20 hours.

I will admit that I was unfair yesterday, but I maintain that I did have some good points. Both of you in the comments were also right.

So here's a summary:

We went to my aunt's house for a traditional Polish Christmas Even dinner, ate more gingerbread than should ever be consumed in one sitting, and met my cousin's girlfriend of more than one year.

Christmas Eve is the one day that I enjoy going to church, and the fact that so many of my neighbors were there to support my sister singing her solo of "O Holy Night," well, it was even better than normal. 
After she finished, the pastor lit a candle from the altar, and the ushers lit theirs from his, proceeding down the aisles to pass it along to all of us at the ends, who then handed the flame to our neighbors. The lights were turned off. After Nicole finished, the entire congregation sang "Silent Night" in the darkness with candles illuminating all of our faces. By the last verse, our organist had stopped singing and it was just a bunch of people singing a-capella. It was beautiful, and I loved it.

We went home and messed around for awhile and opened our one Christmas Eve Present each (despite it being after midnight), and then went upstairs to go to bed-- all in the bonus room, as is our tradition. I've slept in some interesting places by being required to be in the same room as them. We agreed that if two of us were awake post 6:30, we could wake the other up (which means that they agreed to wake me up). 

Cut to morning. Dad was next door until almost 4 helping them mount their new TV on the wall, get the PS3 set up and all of the games installed, and Mom always has trouble sleeping. We take our stockings into their room and open them there (during which I manage to spill a cup of water all over their floor). Chocolate oranges, flash drives, and loads of socks each, plus a writing magazine for me and one or two other things. We're all joking around with each other, not arguing, not angry, not spiteful, just happy and together and whatnot.

Enter living room where the rest of the presents are.

The award for the Most Creative Wrapping goes to Dad, for using all of his Crystal Light tubes from the past year taped together in twos to make tubes.
The award for Best Present (so far) also goes to him, having made me a wand on his lathe. Then, upon seeing how much I loved it, he began to tear up. I ask him why, and he says "because I spent so much time working on it and thinking about how much I love you." So that makes it The Best By Far I Don't Care What Other People Did. That is what Christmas is about, people. 

Right now, my grandma and 9 year-old cousin are over, and we're getting ready for our Fancy Christmas Breakfast, with bacon and pancakes and goodness. Then it's off to my other aunt's for more presents and cookies and stuff.

For Sarah (who is 11), I decided to give her my copies of a series she likes. I own(ed) 5 of the books, and wanted to wrap them separately. To make it more entertaining, I included scraps of a poem called "You Know."
Book 1: "You know it was Olivia when the poem is slipped in post wrapping."
Book 2: "You know it was Olivia when the present is badly wrapped."
Book 3: (which came with a shirt inside a hat box) "You know it was Olivia when the present is in a container that doesn't match its shape."
Book 4: "You know it was Olivia when it has WheezyWaiter references." This had a picture of Craig Benzine himself drawn by me (which means a stick figure with a beard) and a speech bubble on the cover of the book with Wheezy-isms written in. This she found very amusing.
Book 5 (wrapped just as a book without a bigger box): "You know it was Olivia when it's a book."
Then, as an afterthought, I wrapped up my copy of Twilight with "Actually, you know it was Olivia when it was a book you didn't want" along with some wooden stakes for stabbing vampires. I have a history of giving them books I don't want anymore, so as to make space on my shelves for ones I do want. I have limited shelf space.

So in conclusion, I'm in a good mood, I like Christmas again, and it's time for me to go because while I love my laptop, that's not what the holiday's about. :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Cheer, Lack Thereof

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." - H. L. Mencken

If you're in a fantastic Christmas mood, don't read this post. It will only depress you. Also, it's just a big rant so I won't hold it against you if you don't read it.

I have very little Christmas spirit. I haven't for about 5 years.
I don't want to be one of those "Christmas is so commercial wah wah wah" people, but I sort of am. I'm not even one of the ones who say "Put the Christ back into Christmas!" No, I don't think that's the problem. Secular Christmas can mean something to those above the age of 9-10. It just doesn't. Not to me.
Christmas is either about presents, family, decorations, or (according to South Park) ham. 

I don't mind people wanting to give me stuff. I just hate when people feel obligated to give me stuff. So you're my relative. You barely see me. You don't know me. So don't bother.
Then there's the idea of the Christmas list. When you're writing to Santa, sure. But when your mom just says "email me your Christmas list," well, I'm getting what I want instead of random stuff I'll never use, but the magic and the fun is gone.
That's why my dad never asks for our lists. He figures he knows us well enough to buy stuff we'll like, and we'll still be surprised. That is what Christmas should be. Finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones and then surprising them. That's why I'm most excited for whatever it is Emily ordered me from ThinkGeek. I know she'll have found something I love, and I know she's not buying it out of obligation, and I have no idea what it is. Hey, I found some Christmas joy there. SCORE ONE for Dad, and SCORE TWO for Emily.

Meet Obligation once more. There's a difference between getting together because it's Christmas and you have to, or because it's Christmas and you're normally too busy to see each other and wish you got together more often so christmas gives you motivation to make the time.
But is it Christmas, or the stuff surrounding it? Dad didn't want me to go up to NY with my cousins on Sunday because he wants us to spend time together as a family. That's nothing to do with the holiday-- it's just that we don't have school and he and Mom don't have work.
I'd love to spend some time with my friends--the family of my own choosing-- but where are most of them? Away, seeing relatives, or I don't bother to ask because the holidays are supposed to be with family and I don't want to tear them away from that because it would be...I don't know, rude or something.
SCORE THREE for this afternoon, SCORE FOUR for all of our neighbors coming to church when they usually don't to hear my sister sing, and lack of score for any hanging out I do with friends because it won't be because of Christmas--just the lack of school.

I hate Christmas cards. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them.
That being said, I know they mean a lot to some people, and when I receive them from those people, I feel no animosity. Also, I love the "Christmas letters" that update the recipients about the goings-on of the family and their kids. But the ones that just have a cute little saying or a Bible verse and a picture on them? They're pointless.
Lights on a tree and on the mantlepiece? All right. Candles in the windows? Gorgeous. Luminaries? Love them. But some people...go overboard. It's like when we see a car with a fish or cross sticker on the back and my dad yells "OH YEAH? WELL I AM WAY MORE CHRISTIAN THAN YOU!" which is funny because he's totally not. Those houses are practically shouting "We like Christmas more than you! Nah nah nah nah nah!" Whoville grosses me out. 
Also, I hate all of the modern Christmas music they play on the radio. Partially because of the style, and partially because it's on the radio. Let's have some CDs playing, please. 
(Speaking of Christmas music, this is a Christmas song that I love)
SCORE FIVE for my neighbors and my ex-neighbors, who have candles in their windows. SCORE SIX for my dad's cousin, who sent us a Christmas letter.


Basically, what I want is for us to observe Christmas traditions not because that's just what you do, but because it means something to us
I am about to write a Christmas letter on behalf of my family, because my mom didn't see the point.
And I'm sorry that I haven't made all of you anything for whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year except for a pessimistic rant. Some present that is.
I said most of this to my dad earlier, and he said, "Well, if Christmas isn't doing it for you, we could do some pagan rituals."
So we talked about pagan solstice rituals for awhile.

My total score of Christmas cheer was a 6. Not the greatest, but higher than 0, which is where I was at when I started this post.

Enjoy yourselves, and make this holiday worthwhile for you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


"Follow your own star!" - Dante Alighieri

As you could probably gather from the title, I just finished watching a movie called TiMER.
In that world, you become eligible for your timer at 14. Once your supposed soul mate gets his or hers, your timer begins counting down. Midnight of the day you are supposed to meet him or her, it "zeros out," and then beeps when you make eye contact with that person.

The heroine, Oona, is nearing her thirtieth birthday and still has a blank one, so she's continually bringing boyfriends into the clinic to get theirs. Her step-sister and best friend, Steph, has over 5,000 days left on her timer and couldn't care less about her Mr. Right, flirting with every young guy who comes by the retirement home where she works and then more at her night-job at the local bar. Oona, on the other hand, has difficulties being with anyone with a timer. Then she meets Mikey, grocer by day and drummer by night.

My favorite quote:
(After an old woman has repeatedly addressed her as "Margaret.") Steph: Yeah, Grandma, it's me, Margaret. And you know what? I'm GAY.
(Old woman looks shocked and appalled)
Steph: Yep! Gay! Gay! Gay! And you know what? My girlfriend? She's black.
(Old woman nearly faints)
(boss yells at Steph)

I definitely recommend this movie, unless you have issues with language, in which case, don't watch it. That's the only reason it's rated R, though.

I won't tell you the end, but the story raises the question: If these were available, and you believed that they worked, would you want one? What if you were already married (or if you are married, what if you weren't)?

My initial thought was yes, most definitely. Then I remembered just how incredibly awkward it was when Oona's younger brother, having just received his timer, met his "One."

 How does a parent react when their teenager comes home and says "Hey Mom, this is the guy I'm going to marry. I don't know him at all, but our timers went off this morning." 
What do you and said guy/girl say to each other, especially if you weren't already friends or at least knew each other (as would be the case with some of the first generation to get their timers)?


In other news, I received another couple of rejection letters this week. Yaaaay. At least today's addressed me by my name.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


"True change takes place in the imagination." - Thomas Moore

I have not played World of Warcraft since maybe the beginning of middle school, and I only stopped then because we sold our accounts to me cousins. 
Every now and then, one of my sisters will download a 10-day free trial just to play a bit. This time, two expansions since I last played, I made a new character on one of their computers to play for a bit.

See the title of the post.

There used to be challenges. You had to work for stuff. You'd have to climb all the way to the top of an enormous tree to get your spells. You'd have to walk across the entire area to turn in your quest.

But now? Oh no. By the time I finished killing a moonsaber, another one would have already re-spawned. I didn't even have to move. Quest givers were positioned at the exact location of where the quest took place. Barber shops allow you to change your appearance if you don't like it. More ports and gryffon points eliminate travel by foot. Night elves can be mages (you don't have to deal with the disadvantages of a certain race). Hunters start out with their pets instead of having to wait until level 10. You can get a mount at level 20 instead of 40.

There aren't any challenges! Everything is just handed to you now! The game isn't fun anymore! I worked my butt off when I was 10 to get to level 40! Getting a mount was a big deal! It cost almost 100 gold! Now, we sold the accounts shortly after I made level 38 so I didn't actually make it there, but I was putting forth effort.

What's the point of playing if I get instant gratification and don't have a goal to work towards? 

On a mostly unrelated note: Hannah, REALLY? Did Stephenie Meyer REALLY only write to 5 agents and then get a $75,000 ADVANCE? For her first book? That's...incredibly aggravating.

My dad says that I should write a parody book involving vampires, werewolves, a boarding school that children start at age 11 that teaches magic and ONLY accepts kids into their school IF AND ONLY IF they are children of the Greek gods.
I told him that was a fantastic idea but I didn't think I'd be much good at writing parody fiction.

I was supposed to go get my permit today. Then my dad forgot and slept the entire morning and my mom was feeling miserable because of her acid-reflux medication that she's still getting used to and didn't feel up to taking me to the DMV. So hopefully I'll go tomorrow.