Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I have passed through clumsiness and found new grace.

I am clumsy.
Very clumsy.
In spite of six years of ballet, which one might think would lead to an instinctive poise and grace, I find myself routinely stubbing toes, ramming elbows into walls, tripping over nothing and generally being a danger to myself and everyone around me. I knock books off the corner of my bed, stab people with a carelessly-swung outstretched finger, drop celery and chicken everywhere when making chili, spill tea on my laptop, drop my laptop on tiled floors (one panel on the bottom still doesn't fit quite right), practically anything you can think of.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I pass through to the other side of clumsiness and become unbelievably graceful.
It's rare, but amazing to watch.
For example, a few months ago I was rushing about the house for some reason or another at five AM, a time some three hours before my usual wake-up time. I somehow managed to trip over my own feet, tiny as they are, and plummeted towards the kitchen floor. Astonishingly, I managed to catch myself with an enormous step, though I should have already passed the tipping point. I was left with a feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day.
Something similar happened to me this very evening. I realized that a show I wanted to watch was on, slammed my computer shut and leaped off the couch, turning a tight corner. I was very overbalanced, and should have fallen, but by grabbing and bouncing off of various objects I managed to reach the stairs completely intact. Am I proud of myself? Of course.
I can't really think of any other examples right now, which is actually kind of sad. But yay, me! I didn't fall down! :D

...I'm going to go back to writing that stupid novel. Why can't I just skip to the tiger mauling?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writing is hard, you guys. :(

Hey, so, I'm writing a novel.
It's a nice little fantasy novel, and it and I get along pretty well, for the most part.
I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the year, actually...
That is, the first draft.
You see, I've been working on this novel for two years, give or take. I had about 30 pages at one point, but then I decided to change the setting, which meant I had to scrap the whole thing.
That was draft 0.5, because it doesn't really count as a first draft (imho) unless you actually finish it.
Anyhoo, I'm about 37,000 words into draft one, but I'm beginning to suspect that I'm a bad writer.
I don't mean in the sense that I can't write a good story - I like to think that I'm fairly skilled in that respect.
No, I mean that I can't seem to realize that writing takes work. My first draft has to be perfect, apparently, which means that I just wander off and let my book get lonely for weeks on end if I'm not struck with a blinding flash of inspiration. If I had a publisher, said publisher would be quite out-of-temper with me by this point.
I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm ridiculously lazy. "January?" I think to myself. "That'll never get here! I have plenty of time before my self-assigned deadline! Let's go watch 'Dumb Ways to Die'* again!"
I wrote all of 1,300 words today. That may sound like a lot, but since I'm shooting for somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 words and this is the most I've written in weeks, I'm getting the sinking feeling that it's entirely inadequate.
I have all of two plot points for the second half of my book.
I still haven't ended Chapter IV.
I was severely tempted to skip over this whole 'romance' thing so I could just kill the love interest already (TIGER MAULING! :D).
In short, I have a loooooot of work to do.
And then, when this draft is finished, I get to send it off to the unwary friends and family members I've coerced into editing duties, fix it up a bit, find a literary agent, get this book published and start on that trilogy I've been bouncing around in my head for so long.
Oh, hey, life, what's that? I've still got to sort out the rest of you?
...If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hide in my pillow fort and watch Disney movies. Adieu (and yes, I know it means goodbye forever)!

*Oh, hi! Did you follow me all the way down here to see where the asterisk led? Well, this is the video that's been slowly taking over my life:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To my little Teflon pot

Dear pot,
I'm sorry for your traumatic adventure of the other night. You've always been a good pot to me, boiling water and steeping tea without a care in the world. Without you, I would likely still be spending a dollar a day buying sweet tea from the convenience store down the road. But you saved me from that! You help me to make tea of my own, enough to last several days.
But the other day, I let you down.
I'm so sorry I left you boiling for an hour. My memory was never very good, you must understand. It wasn't until I smelled smoke that I realized my mistake. There you were, smoking on a hot burner, all your water gone, your Teflon coating melted on the bottom. Your once-silver outlines were blackened with soot. I poured water in you at once, but it was too late. You'd been in agony for far too long.
And so, my dear little pot, please forgive me for my inadequacies as an owner. I managed to clean you up yesterday, and you still made tea for me, as patient and industrious as ever.
I'll try to be kinder to you in the future.

Your apologetic owner,
~Miss Monday

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why French is better than English

French is a very... interesting language.
Its rules for adjectives are all over the place (some even mean one thing when put before the noun and another when put after it); their term for 'bra', when translated literally, means 'neck-brace'; and while 'grapefruit' is certainly not the most educated word for something that resembles a very large orange, is calling it a 'pamplemousse' making things any better? Oh, and while I'm on the subject, how is 'babyfoot' any better than 'foosball'?
And yet, for all its quirks and faults, I would far rather make casual conversation in French than in English.

For one thing, there's the issue of 'pants' or 'jeans'. We pluralize them because there are two legs, and say things like 'a pair of jeans'. This leads to awkward situations where one tries to communicate jean plurality, and must say things like "I bought two pairs of jeans," since "I bought jeans" is rather ambiguous. Or, when put into a sentence, it seems awkward at best to pluralize 'jeans', but not any of the other words ("A two-year-old tried to use my jeans as a hankie").
The French have it figured out. Their reasoning is that it is, after all, one item of clothing, and they sensibly leave it at that. While the hard 'J' of 'un jean' is rather at odds with the 'zh' sound other 'J's make, it is much easier to fit it into a sentence. "J'achete un jean," meaning "I purchased a jean," is much clearer than "I bought jeans."

Another issue that French handles much better than English is its use of multiple terms for the concept of love. For us, 'love' is the only word we have - and, in today's culture, it has been cheapened to a horrifying degree. One uses the same word to express a fondness for cheese danishes, or to confess a deep and abiding affection for another human being! How can that make any kind of sense?
In French, though, you have different kinds of love. 'Aimer' means to love a person or to like an object. So far, quite similar to English's 'love'. 'Adorer' means to love to do something or to adore a person, which also comes pretty close to our word. But after that, French goes deeper. They have 'aimer bien', to like someone, 'aimer beaucoup', to like someone a lot, 'aimer fort', to love someone a lot, 'aimer tres fort', to love someone very much, and 'aimer enormement', to love someone enormously.
French isn't the language of love because it sounds really pretty - it's the language of love because it keeps a love of a person separate from a love of cheese danishes.

And so, because of 'un jean' and all of the 'aimer's, I must regretfully admit that French is a language far superior to English.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go move to Canada, eh?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I have a love-hate relationship with my toaster oven

My toaster oven is a thing of beauty.
Most of the time.
Actually, come to think of it, it's not that pretty on the outside. It's old and crusty and rusty and the front window is covered in some kind of grease. But it has a good heart. I think.
You see, the two of us get along quite well, for the most part. It heats things up beautifully! It's easy to control, and doesn't require any time at all to preheat. I can roast hot dogs in it without needing a grill, cook fish sticks without firing up the stupid oven (which is like "I need at least half an hour before I can even start cooking, missy!"), toast bagels with ease... Pretty much anything you can name.
Unfortunately, it isn't always benign.
I think it might have all started when I accidentally set it on fire.
"How do you 'accidentally' set something on fire, Miss Monday? That sounds pretty intentional to me!"
All right, smarty, I'll tell you.
See, when I was younger, I would toast bagels in it with a paper towel under them. I don't know why I thought this was a good idea, or even necessary. Anyway, most of the time it worked okay... Then, late at night, as I opened it and reached for my delicious bagels...
The paper towel caught fire.
I shrieked and ran around some and had enough sense to douse the flames with a glass of water, but my bagels were ruined. It was very sad. The toaster oven was okay, but I don't think it ever forgave me for setting its mouth on fire.

A toaster oven is a subtle appliance. It gets its revenge in ways that are not easy to recognize as malicious. For example, I will occasionally assemble a tasty row of frozen fish sticks inside and turn it on, then wander off for about ten minutes, waiting for when I have to turn them over. Upon my return, I find them still frozen, and realize that the toaster oven has somehow unplugged itself!
This probably has nothing to do with the certain someone living in the household that considers the toaster oven dangerous and likely to explode if left plugged in. No, it is clearly a plot on the part of the toaster oven to delay my dinner!
Sometimes, though, it lets them be cooked. This is only a ploy to trick me into being harmed, rather than just inconvenienced. You see, there is a strange little metal slat just inside the door, right at the top. It is positioned in such a way that if someone jerks their hand back suddenly (say, when their fingertips are scorched by the tinfoil), they will come in contact with a superheated mass of metal. This makes every attempt to retrieve or turn food incredibly perilous. Why, the other day, I burned, actually burned my pinkie finger! In two separate spots! There was sickening white skin over worrying red and everything... It hurt like the dickens, too!
Fortunately, the day was saved by a magical burn lotion left over from a long-ago visit to the beach. It turns out that it works just as well on regular burns as it does on sunburns.
Foiled again, toaster oven!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cooking with Miss Monday

Cooking is not something I do on a regular basis. Most of the time, if I'm hungry, I'll do something with bagels or soup, or just go to the handy-dandy gas station, about a mile away, that sells tasty hot dogs and huge cups of tea.
But I digress.
Today, I found myself making a large-scale meal: rice fried with chicken and little chunks of egg. If I ever hosted a cooking show, it wouldn't be to instruct people on how to make delicious meals - it would be purely for the comedy that follows me when I set foot in a kitchen.
I spent what felt like half an hour picking apart what was left of a chicken. I fear I would not be allowed to come near any restaurant's kitchen, ever - I was a terrible, terrible, lazy chef. After rinsing off my hands, with no towels (other than the one sitting on the floor, soaked in homemade tea, which is a story for another time), I used myself as one instead, and transferred most of the water to my clothes.
The same problem arose when I got egg all over my hands, and my solution didn't change.
I'm so glad my slightly germaphobic little sister wasn't there to see it.
Anyway, the eggs took forever to scramble. They sat there for far too long, all smug and runny, and when I got bored and fetched a book, all of a sudden they were smoking and I spent the next few minutes furiously stirring them with a spatula, attempting to keep them from turning into a charred/runny mess.
Finally, though, I got them reasonably under control, and, since I didn't remember how my father usually did the next part, I just dumped in all the chicken and hoped for the best. I wanted to do the same with the rice, but unfortunately, it had other ideas... It huddled in its pot in a sticky mass, and didn't respond to my increasingly frantic attempts to scrape it out. All I got for my efforts was a few little lumps, and I was terrified that my other ingredients would begin to burn.
Thinking fast, I turned the pot upside down, held it over the frying pan, and shook it as best I could (pots full of rice are heavy!). All at once, it slithered out and fell in one clumped mass on the pan, exactly the way it always comes out of those little take-away boxes they give you at Chinese restaurants.
"YES! Who's a boss?" I cried. "I'm the boss!"
I sat there for a moment, looking at the mountain of rice.
"So... What now?"
The next few minutes were spent smashing it and cutting it with my spatula, and then mixing the whole mess together. My arms were exhausted (I have the upper body strength of a sickly hamster), but I was triumphant. I'd cooked my very first family-sized meal!
Now I just have to figure out what I'll do tomorrow night...

Blue Ridge, GA... Why are you so obsessed with bears?

 This is a post I wrote several weeks ago, then forgot about. I figure I might as well post it now. Enjoy!

Today, Saturday (the older sister) decided we were going to have an Adventure. After a morning of math and Minecraft, we hopped in the car and drove an hour and a half into the mountains of Georgia. Our destination: Blue Ridge, chosen for its mountainous location and its reputed 'cute little downtown'.
I'd like to say that the trip was filled with witty banter, but alas, I have nothing all too humorous to report there. Here's our travel montage instead:
Weeeee are the CHAMPIONS, my friiiieeeends! Laaaaaa! Lalalalala! Lalalalala! Lalalalala! And there's a creepy doll! That always follows you! It's got a ruined eye, that's always! Open! And there's a creepy doll! That always follows you! It's got a pretty mouth... To SWALLOW. YOU WHOLE.

Finally, the car trip was over. We had reached Blue Ridge.
At first glance, it seemed to be a bit of a disappointment. There were a few buildings along the highway, but nothing like the nifty downtown area we'd been promised. We visited a local diner, then headed back to the car and made our way to a place called something along the lines of "Huck's Mine".
There was no mine.
Fortunately, there were several nifty shops, which we visited systematically. They weren't all that similar, except for one strange thing...
All of them featured bears in some way.
This one had bear jewelry, that one had a few stuffed bears here and there, one place had some bear book-ends...
And one shop was devoted entirely to bears. Bearskins, teddy bears, bears statuettes, bear paintings, bear signs, bear cards - anything remotely bear-related that you could possibly ever want. It was an ursidaeophile's heaven. Tuesday (the younger sister) was convinced that the owner was the descendent of the witch from Brave.
I think everyone would be just fine with it if they renamed the town to "Bear". Not "Bear Ridge" or "Beartown" - just "Bear".

A few other highlights:
- One shop featured a display of poop, along with a sign that said "Our poop now costs a nickel. You can't buy _ _ _ _ that cheap!" (sic). Immaturely, I spent a solid minute giggling over that one.
Really, how many swear jokes do you expect to see in a small town in the deep south?
- In one antique store, a red-headed ventriloquist dummy was prominently displayed. That's not a legitimate purchase, Store Owner - that's the start of a horror movie.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When I get a phone, it'll be an iPhone. So there!

My older sister's Droid is out to kill me.
It sounds improbably, but it is completely (and horribly) true.
Here is my case against it:
Last year, I was staying with this sister (who we'll call 'Saturday', to protect her identity). We decided that we wanted to visit an amusement park, so she entered the request into her Droid, and we hopped into the car and took off.
It was a half-hour drive, and finally we arrived somewhere in the center of the downtown area. The Droid told us we had arrived, but when we looked around... No sign of an amusement park.
Well, we drove in circles for a little while, until we realized that the phone had brought us, not to an actual amusement park, but an ordinary sort of walking-around park in the downtown area. Nothing daunted, we found a parking spot and wandered off to explore.
While we were walking around, two separate creepy hobo (or hobo-like) guys wandered up and started talking to me, but they were easily dodged. We took pictures at several landmarks (including a monument to Truett Cathy <3), and then Saturday decided that we should explore the nearby campus. The streets around it were dark and kind of icky, and I (being much younger and more foolish one year ago) started to freak out. Finally, we went back to the car.
Saturday told the Droid to take us home. We started off, and made a turn...
And nearly smashed into another car, head-on (apply directly to the forehead!).
The Droid had tried to take us down a one-way street. The wrong way.

Not convinced yet?
Well, just a few months ago, Saturday, Tuesday (another sister) and I were riding on down the interstate. Saturday was pretty sure she knew the way, but she had her phone telling us what to do, just in case.
Suddenly, we hear the grating voice.
"Make - a U-turn."
All of us got a good laugh from that. Obviously, we weren't foolish enough to follow its advice.
Then, we hear it again.
"Make - a U-turn."
This was starting to get a little unnerving. A one-way road could have been a fluke, but how could it have been confused about whether or not one may simply make a U-turn on the interstate?
"Make - a U-turn."
 No doubt about it. It was trying to kill us.
I've been told that it only does that when I'm in the car, which leads me to suspect that, for some reason, Google (or simply that particular Droid) wants me dead.

That's why I'm going to get an iPhone. I couldn't care less about peer pressure... But I'm not about to let myself get assassinated by a hunk of circuitry and plastic!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Phobia time!

Some fears are easy to understand. For example, a fear of spiders is perfectly rational (they are ugly and creepy and will lay eggs in your mouth and there's a spider behind you RIGHT NOW). So's a fear of clowns (I've only read a plot summary of 'It', and I'm still scared of Pennywise), or a fear of heights (as long as by 'heights' you mean 'more than two feet off the ground').
There are other fears, however, that defy explanation. Fears that are completely, utterly irrational... And, what's more, absolutely ridiculous.
Here are some of my favorites:

Ephebophobia - fear of youths






Paraskavedekatriaphobia - fear of Friday the 13th




Pteronophobia - fear of getting tickled by feathers






Anablephobia - fear of looking up







Anthrophobia - fear of flowers





 Arithmophobia - fear of numbers





 Barophobia - fear of gravity




Dextrophobia - fear of objects on the right side of the body





 Euphobia - fear of hearing good news





Geniophobia - fear of chins





Pogonophobia – fear of beards





Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia – Fear of long words.


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Hop 'n' Chop: World's worst battle tactic.

Skip to 1:45 for an example of the Terrible Hop 'n' Chop. Watch the rest for an example of terrible sword-fighting.

The Terrible Hop 'n' Chop: a favorite move of the Seeker, and often seen in other movies or shows that care more about spectacle than effectiveness. It's far more likely to injure you than your enemy, especially if your enemy has more sense than to stare in awe at your fantabulous jumping skills. Allow me to demonstrate with the help of hastily-constructed stick figures:

The jump:
  Our hero scrambles up onto the nearest convenient log/staircase/tall rock. Then, with a mighty yell, he throws himself down upon his foe, sword raised on high for a single, terrible chop! With so much power behind it, surely this must be a brilliant move?
Unfortunately, no.
Even if your enemy is too slow-moving to get out of your way while you climb up on top of something and jump off, or too panicked to think of merely raising his sword a few feet, you'll come out of this jump with a lot of wasted energy and power. Sure, if you manage to hit him, you could probably chop him in half... But let me put it this way:

A simple chop on the noggin, without climbing up on things and throwing yourself around, would kill a man as easily as cleaving him in twain. It's a little harder for him to dodge, and you're not giving him nearly as many opportunities to kill you in the meantime. How many enemies are going to wait politely for you to climb up on top of the nearest thing, then position themselves within easy reach and wait for death to descend?
Would you?
I didn't think so.

Probable outcome:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hail, Hydra!

The scariest story ever

Wolves howled in the night.
A man with a goatee chuckled in a dark room.
Elsewhere, it was raining; lightning flashed, and thunder rolled in the hills.
A skull grinned as a raven perched on it.
A doll slooooowly turned its head and smiled, and its eyes were nothing but black sockets.
The man raised a knife above his head, and blood dripped from its blade.
A banshee wailed in the walls of an old, old house.
Smiling, the vampire advanced, its fangs glistening in the moonlight.
There was a child's quiet voice, eerily singing from the shadows.
Yellow eyes glowed in the darkness.
A music box plinked and plonked in a minor key.
The clown raised its rusty scalpel, baring sharp teeth in a satisfied smile as it reached for the young girl's eyes.
The skeleton shifted.
Two shadows stretched away from Tommy, where there should only have been the one...
 A rotting hand shoved its way out of the moist earth of the grave.
The mummy lurched forward.
The werewolf looked up from his gruesome feast.
A crypt door slooooowly creaked open...
The phone call was coming from inside the house.
And then...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stream-of-consciousness driving

Today, I got behind the wheel of a car for the first time ever, and remained behind it for a solid three hours. Does anyone else think like this when they drive?

In the parking lot:
Okay. Starting off. Pull away from curb... All right. Driving around the parking lot in circles. Circle around... Where did that curb come from? Don't hit the cop car. Turn again. Brake! Gas. Brake! Turn... Okay, driving in a straight line. This is hard. I'm only going, like, five miles per hour! This is going to be terrifying at speed! Turn again... Don't hit the cop car! Switching directions? Okay, Mister Teacher. Right turns are harder than left turns. Now we stop before every turn? Sure. Slowing... stopping... turn signal... driving again... Don't hit the cop car! A few more turns... Easy-peasy! I'm getting good at this - Gah! Cop car! Good thing he has a brake pedal, too... Three-point turn? I don't remember that! Oh, good, he's telling me what to do. No! Curb! Cross to the other side... Back up... Gah! Where are all these curbs coming from? Now drive... Another one? Okaaayyyy... Oh! Now we get to drive around more of the parking lot! Nifty! There's a person behind that car, getting her stuff out of the trunk. Don't hit the person! She's going to run out in front of me or something, I just know it! Okay, past the person. Just keep driving... Wait, we're turning onto the actual road? Am I ready for that? What if there's a biker?

On the road:
This is not so bad. Just have to stay in the lane... But it is so narrow! There is a person there that wants to turn out onto the road. Please do not turn, lady in car. I do not want you to hit me. Okay, past that. Now we are on a narrower road. There are trash cans, and holy crap a dump truck! Whew. It missed me. I just know I am going to hit someone's mailbox. Keep more to the right. I would rather hit a trash can than a car. I would rather hit a trash can than a car. I think I am getting used to this! Maybe I should go a little faster. Why are you riding my bumper, Mister Car? I know I am going very slow, but I am just a student and you are making me uncomfortable. Stoplight up ahead. Release gas... break... Will the car ever not jerk when I stop? Oh, look! I know this street! So close to home... What is that you say, Mister Teacher? Turn onto the highway? If you say so. I will just check over my shoulder for oncoming traffic and... NO! Not off the road! Sorry about that, Mister Teacher. I will let you tell me when to shift lanes from now on. I have to go fast now... This is not so bad. They called me the wild roooooooose.... Da-da-da-dum~ Cool! I know the whole song now! Sort of. Time to get onto a different highway, Mister Teacher? All right. I will just check my rearview mirror, and - No! I almost went off the road again! Sorry, Mister Teacher. It is hard to see the mirror when you have to lean around to look in it, and then I have to lean to see past your head. Oh, I guess you are still telling me when to shift lanes, then... I wish there were more speed limit signs. What is the speed limit now? Sixty-five miles per hour? Goodness! I am only going forty! I think I should speed up. I will talk to that fellow at my new group next time we meet. He is just a boy, after all, and I am interested in somebody else. You did not signal that you were going to switch lanes, Mister Car! Shame on you! How fast am I going now? Almost eighty?! Slowdownslowdownslowdown... All right. Safe. How fast am I going now? Fifty? Too low. Rats. Speed up... My speed is constant when I keep my foot riiiiight here. But now we have to turn off onto another highway? All right. More highway, more highway... Seventy miles an hour! I think that is too fast! Slow down.... Speed up! Slow down... SPEED UP! This is hard. Next time I will not wear a clip in my hair - I cannot put my head back against the seat, which would be much more comfortable. He told me not to grip the steering wheel so hard. Maybe I should loosen my grip. Flex fingers... Deathgrip again! Oh well. Slow down! Okay, turning onto this rural road... Driving along, lalala~ It is so much easier to keep a constant speed when I am not going so fast! Why are there so many cars behind me? I am not going that slow... Oh, look! A large truck! I will get behind you, and everyone will think we are going slow because of you, not because of me. I am so clever. Do-de-do... Just another victim of slow traffic. Trucks, amiright? Oh, now I am far behind the truck... Rats. How did it get so fast? You are on the wrong side of the road, Mister Biker... But I did not hit you, so yay! There is a person that wants to turn onto this road. Please stay right where you are until I pass you, Mister Car... Oh, left turn? Wheeee! Stop light. Release the gas... brake... Brake! Jolt! Turn right. Back at the school. Park... I just sat in a car for three hours, and I wasn't bored at all! Cool!

There was, apparently, no room in my head for contractions. And soon I get to relearn all this with a stick shift car... Hooray for more complications!
Also, to anyone who rides the bumper of a student car (with a sign and everything!)... Shame on you! You know who you are.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Worst Character Types Ever

As you may have guessed from the existence of this blog, I enjoy writing. And, since I'm a writer (of sorts), I also enjoy reading - especially medieval fantasy. Not just books, either; there are hidden gems in the online roleplaying community, too.
Unfortunately, medieval fantasy seems to be one of those poor genres that attracts newbies and terrible writers like flies.
There are certain character types that have me screaming at my computer screen and, now that I've (hopefully) attracted your attention, I'm going to vent the pent-up rage of years uncounted.
Of course, there's no sense in ranting without suggesting a better way of doing things: I'll also be sure to suggest how these terrible, terrible characters can be redeemed.
There will always be exceptions to these, though - a good writer can pull off almost anything.


Terrible Character Type the First: Elves = Humans x 10
Explanation: Elves tend to run rampant in medieval fantasy stories. Sadly, they're all exactly the same kind of elves: badly copy-pasted from J.R.R. Tolkien's famous trilogy. It's the same with most elves one finds in roleplays, and it has begun to wear.
You see, most writers treat elves as a sort of "Humans 2.0". They can do anything and everything better than humans, simply because of their race. It's taken as read that they were born with a bow in their hands, and they're usually faster, stronger, tougher and stronger than humans, too. This worked in "Lord of the Rings" because Tolkien's elves mostly keep to themselves, and though they have untold power, they rarely make use of it to meddle in the outside world.
In other books, though (such as the "Inheritance" trilogy), elves run amok, waving their bows and swords and whatnot. The mystery of them is stripped away, and you are told exactly how much better at things they are than humans. It doesn't talk about years and years, an elf's long lifetime, full of training - they can just do things, with no explanation other than "We're elves, baby!"
Redemption: The only way I can see of redeeming these characters is to rip off Tolkien completely (which I don't recommend). Failing that, at least give some indication that they've been working to hone their skills.

Terrible Character Type the Second: Twinsies!
Explanation: I mostly only see this in roleplays, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. A lot of new roleplayers create twin characters, and this almost never turns out well. Either they turn into two copies of the same character, or they're stereotypically 'opposites'. When people make a set of twins, they have to divide their attention between the two characters, which means that they have that much less attention to give to the personalities. Most twin characters are one-dimensional: a list of generic traits and not much else. They often act in tandem, which just compounds the problem.
Redemption: Work hard to develop separate personalities. Maybe even make them fraternal twins, rather than identical. Create two complete characters - not just a pair of empty shells.

Terrible Character Type the Third: Free-range princess
Explanation: I don't have a problem with princesses in general. Really, I don't - some of my favorite characters are of royal lineage! No, the ones that really get my goat are the 'free spirits'. Rebels to the core, these princesses hate their privileged status, hate that they can have everything they want and more, and they hate that princes are lining up at the door to meet them. They wish they'd been born to lead the 'free' lives of peasant maidens, who get to marry men much older than themselves and work themselves into an early grave. These princesses tend to think that it's unfair that they have to do princessy things, such as dancing or courting, when they could be out riding around and swordfighting and whatnot.
It's not just their attitude that annoys (though, really, they're nothing but typical teens times ten), but the very fact that they've had reason to develop such an outlook on life. Being a princess should, logically, be the only lifestyle they know - they would have been raised to see marriage as a duty, a business arrangement. Raised to the somewhat confined life a princess leads. When would they have had an opportunity to realize 'Hey, wait, I think I'm being oppressed'?
Redemption: This character type might work if the young lady had had a lot more freedom in her early years, to provide some contrast. It would work even better if the character managed not to rebel at every turn, but kept their feelings hidden as long as they could.


Those are all the character types that come to mind right now. Go ahead and comment if you have any suggestions.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Movie Survival 101

A Complete Guide to Surviving in Action Movies

Rule Number One: If you come across a long, narrow, flimsy-looking wooden bridge, do not stamp on it, jump on it, or bounce on it to prove how 'stable' it is. The best thing to do is to just run across it as fast as you possibly can... Either that or avoid long, narrow, flimsy-looking wooden bridges altogether.

Rule Number Two: Do not, under any circumstances say "Well, at least things can't get any worse," or any variation of that phrase.

Rule Number Three: Never drink anything given to you by your enemies. Ever.

Rule Number Four: The secret to sneaking into an enemy base is silence. If you come across gruesome dead bodies, bugs, or other nasty creepy-crawlies, do not scream. This goes double for girls, as their screams tend to be loud, shrill and piercing, sure to alert any nearby guards.

Rule Number Five: If you go into any sort of ancient temple, don't touch anything. Never lean against the walls, or step on suspicious tiles on the floor, or mess with anything because it looks interesting. Screaming is permissible, but only if you don't back away while you're doing it.

Rule Number Six: Shortcuts are a bad idea. You will get lost, fall into some sort of trap, get captured by savage enemies or possibly even die. Even if the shortcut looks harmless, never take a shortcut. EVER. If one of your buddies takes a shortcut, abandon him to his fate and take the longer, safer path.

Rule Number Seven: If there is a large stone wall, ball, or other item trying to crush you, push you off a ledge or trap you, do not try to stop it with your bare hands. You will not succeed, and you will dramatically reduce the amount of time you have to figure out a legitimate way out of the trap. This will likely lead to a cinematic, last-minute escape, but it is still not advisable.

Rule Number Eight: Always watch your back. And, if you've got that down pat, don't forget to watch your front, too. Your enemies will love sneaking up on you.

Rule Number Nine: If you are in the middle of stealing some sort of treasure (whether you're taking it from a museum or an ancient temple), do not pause to admire it. This is a bad idea, and will probably lead to your capture and/or death.

Rule Number Ten: It is never a good idea to leave your buddies behind while you go on ahead. Either they, you, or the whole group will be captured. It's best to stay together (unless, of course, they are violating Rule Number Six).

Rule Number Eleven: If you are in a dangerous situation (a cave-in/enemies rushing toward you/a trap about to grind you to bits/etc.), do not take time to kiss your Significant Other. It is unnecessary, and will take away time that you could be using to save yourself from said dangerous situation. Wait until you are safe, in a private room and clean before you try to eat each other's faces.

Rule Number Twelve: Screaming is a waste of breath. It is usually not a good idea, and it will make it harder to get away from whatever you're screaming about, as you will be short of breath and making a great deal of noise.

Bonus: A Complete Guide to Surviving in Horror Movies

Rule Number One: If you are told there is a curse on a certain place or thing, avoid it at all costs. If you are in a horror movie, it is probably true, and if you ignore common sense and go tra-la-laing off into the big spooky mansion, you and/or all your friends will die horrible deaths.

Rule Number Two: If you are under a curse that spreads itself by contact, keep yourself quarantined to keep your friends safe. Allow yourself no human contact, not even by calling people. It will probably make you go insane before you die a horrible death, but hey! At least you've saved your friends!

Rule Number Three: Talking to your friend/Significant Other/casual acquaintance will not cure them if they have been turned into a horrible monster. Your best bet is to run as fast as you possibly can and get out of there, or just shoot them in the head.

Rule Number Four: Never wander off alone. You will die a horrible death.

Rule Number Five: Never go into a haunted place. You will die a horrible death.

Rule Number Six: Never think you are safe. You are never safe in a horror movie. You will die a horrible death.

Rule Number Seven: If, indeed, you are in a horror movie, you will probably not survive unless you are remarkably lucky. Acclimate yourself to the idea of dying a horrible death or living with the scars of a traumatic experience for the rest of your life. And, if you survive, there will be a sequel. Horror movies always have sequels. You will get more traumatic experiences or you will die a horrible death.

Rule Number Eight: Do not, under any circumstances, become trapped in a horror movie. You will die a horrible death.

The Man-Eating Unicorn

Bears are all the rage.
I can't draw bears.
I thought, "What's fast, deadly, and something I can draw?"
The obvious answer?
Man-Eating Unicorn.

You're welcome, Internet.