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.