Category: thoughts


Review – The Legend of Korra


  Last weekend I was flipping through the channels, looking for something to put on as background noise, and stopped on Nickelodeon because they were showing cartoons. While I was halfway paying attention, a commercial came on that made me stop what I was doing. It was for an upcoming show and there was something about the music that was very familiar, so I used the DVR and bounced back a bit to see the whole thing. It was for a show called Legend of Korra, a sequel to the very successful Avatar: the Last Airbender series that ended back in 2008. Intrigued, I looked it up and set my DVR to record it. (I love DVR.)

 

Holy smokes, it’s like Avatar plus! The animation style is very similar, with the same subdued palette and matte-finish look of the original, but it is much more dynamic. Like the original, the season is called a Book and the individual episodes are Chapters; this first episode was two chapters run back-to-back. Like most first episodes in a new show it was more “Let’s get to know the characters” than any real story, but it was still very entertaining.

 

It begins seventy years after the end of the first series according to the beginning narration. It is later revealed that the narrator is Tenzin, the son of Aang and Katara from the original series. (Two other ofspring are also briefly mentioned but as Tenzin is the only airbending master they are either non-benders or waterbenders like their mother.) He recounts the founding of the United Republic of Nations and the capitol city of Republic City (very original) in what was once the Fire Nation’s colonies after the war as sort of a perfect, balanced society, but after the death of Aang the balance began to crumble. There is then a jump to the home of a Water Tribe family where members of the White Lotus Society have arrived to investigate claims that the couple’s young daughter is the new Avatar. The mother calls for her daughter Korra as one of the elders expresses his doubts, only to have a portion of the home’s wall fly past them. In what is possibly the best character introduction ever, a little girl of about four stomps in shouting “I’m the Avatar! You gotta deal with it!” and proceeds to earthbend rocks up out of the ground, sets one of the elders’ robes on fire, and then puts it out with waterbending.

Pictured: pure badass.

There is another jump forward to what will be the show’s present day showing a teenaged (seventeen or eighteen is my guess) Korra completing her firebending training and awaiting the arrival of the airbending master. When he arrives he tells her he cannot stay because there is some unspecified trouble in Republic City – her training will have to wait. Being strong-willed and determined, Korra runs away, sneaks aboard a ship with her pet polar bear-dog (who is the size of a bison) and goes to Republic City.

Republic City with Korra in the foreground.

Even though it has an almost identical appearance, the show contrasts nicely with the original. Where the original series took place mostly in rural areas or wilderness,Legendis set mainly in the metropolis of Republic City.  The city is huge and there is evidence of more widespread technology – the streets are packed with vehicles called “satomobiles” that resemble early cars and there is evidence of advanced mechanical and electrical devices including radios that broadcast the wildly popular pro-bending matches. This sport is really interesting to watch and accounts for most of the action sequences in the second half of the premiere. The playing field is an elongated six-sided polygon divided into six zones and raised above a pit filled with water. Two teams of three benders – once each for earth, fire, and water – attempt to knock their opponents backwards through the three zones and ultimately off the field and into the water below. Through a series of events, Korra joins the pro-bending team of a pair of brothers, the Fire Ferrets.

This is a fire ferret, a red panda-ferret hybrid. I want one. Why are all the animals in the Avatar world so frickin’ adorable?

It’s too early to say if the show is going to be as good as the original, but so far it is very promising. Instead of rehashing the old they have developed what feels like a very good continuation of the story. The world isn’tidentical to the first, which is completely believeable given to progression of technology, but has what I’d call an Asian-inspired steampunk flavor added. I can’t wait to see more.

I will make a grounds-less prediction that there will be some sort of romance in Korra’s future, probably with one of the brothers on her pro-bending team. Since one is easy-going and a bit goofy and the other is taciturn and brooding, I also predict it will be the brooding one who doesn’t seem to like her very much. I’ve seen enough romantic comedies to recognise a “I hated you but now I love you” plot line.

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Blogiversary!


It’s my blogiversary!

Well… Technically it was yesterday but as I am terrible at remembering dates I thought it was today. Sorry for not sharing my special made-up holiday with everyone. I kinda wish I had because sweet mercy did I get a ton of hits yesterday – 203 when it’s usually around fifty on a good day. I couldn’t figure it out until I went to Google something and saw that they had a doodle up for Eadweard Muybridge’s birthday. Sure enough, most of my hits were for the weekend picture-post I did featuring his work a while back. (It got more hits than my tooth cleaning stick review, which has been my most popular post of all time.) Mystery solved.

So should I do something fun and spectacular for my one year aniversary, which I honestly thought I would never achieve, or just continue boring everyone with the meaningless minutia of my daily life?

:flips coin:

Boring minutia it is!

Ummm …

:twiddles thumbs:

Let’s get out my old friend, the Wheel o’ Topics, and see what he has for me instead.

:WHIRRR!:

“Ten things that irritate me about vinegar?” It’s an acid, it’s supposed to be irritating. I call do-over.

:WHIRRR!:

“One of my favorites is Arkansas?” Dude, I think I left you in the closet too long. Let’s try one more time.

:WHIRRR!:

“Heres what infuriates me about Dog Food?” That it’s speciest (and also bad grammar.) Once more.

:WHIRR!:

“My opinion on lying to kids.”  Well, I don’t have kids so I don’t have any problem lying to them. I did tell Fearless that she was the smartest kitty in the world the other day, which we all know is a lie. She thinks plastic and cardboard are part of a complete breakfast.


So we all know my brain works a bit wonky at times, right?

The other day Mother Dearest and I were digging through the big bins of toys at one of our favorite thrift stores and I found a naked porcelain doll with a stained cloth body and a broken foot. I fished it out and showed it to MD, who gave me The Look until I wondered out loud how much she could sell the head and hands for. (Hint: they are expensive.) She spent the twenty-five cents and scavenged the head and hands, throwing away the body and both feet.

I happened to look in the trash can, saw the good foot and decided to keep it.

I now literally have two left feet.

I was fiddling around with the leg and trying to think of something I could do with it. Make tiny shoes? Use it to model wee socks? While I was thinking I cruised over to eBay to do some browsing.

I like to type in random words into the search bar to see what comes up, one of my favorite to do is “haunted” because the weirdest crap comes up. All kinds of jewelry claiming to contain various spirits (and not the good kind) with all sorts of odd claims like the trapped succubus will turn you gay if you wear a particular “spirit vessel.” (Or turn you straight if you are already gay, I guess. Succubi seem to be equal opportunity specters.) Several sellers sell identical items that conveniently seem to house the same sort of spirit despite the ads claiming they are either Rare, Unique, or One of A Kind, and at least one is running a BOGO sale.

Which got me thinking … Why not sell my extra foot on eBay? With an appropriately outlandish story, of course.

Like the tiny bottle of googly craft eyes being sold as an “aid to open yur 3RD eye!” that claims to come from the estate of a real witch (All of these supposedly haunted items seem to come from the estates of real witches, they must be dropping like flies.) or the rock that the seller claims will allow you to create “healing water” on command. (Get back to me when you find a rock that will make some gin to go with that tonic water.)

Say it with me, children - "Seventeen dollars for THAT?"

There are numerous items being sold as haunted that I know for a fact that I’ve seen in bead and jewelry catalogs or websites, some are even being sold on eBay without the backstory for a quarter of the price.

At the bottom of every listing, after the seller has spent many badly-structured paragraphs attempting to convince you that this geegaw, for real and for truly, contains some mystical force, there is always a disclaimer at the bottom.

This is the one from the Googly 3RD eye bottle auction:

Legal Stuff:——— Law requirement states that paranormal objects are for entertainment purposes only; and you must be at least 18 years old to purchase. You agree that your purchase is subject to your own interpretation. This is a paranormal item that has been tested as active and we cannot be held accountable or responsible for its behavior .

So if it takes your car out for a joyride and impregnates the dog, it’s your own damned fault.

There is no law that I know of that specifically states that a “paranormal” item must be sold for “entertainment purposes only” – that’s just a fancy way of covering your ass so someone won’t try to sue you (or eBay) when the cheap piece of jewelry or Wal-Mart brand doll you sold them does absolutely nothing. There isn’t an age limit to buying dolls or jewelry, it just makes it sound that much more serious and give it a veneer of respectability.

Before someone makes a comment along the lines of “UR sew terribul!” because I’m contemplating using a fictional story to sell a doll’s foot on eBay, I’d like to point out that all of the stories selling these things are fictional. There is no such thing as vampires, or werewolves, or djinn  – all of these things are fictional creatures. I do believe there are more things in Heaven and Earth, etc – but you can’t download a fictional creature (or a real one for that matter) into an object like it was some sort of metaphysical iPod.

That said, if anyone has any ideas for a backstory for my leg, I’d love to hear it. I’m thinking a unicorn, I didn’t see many unicorns, or possibly a fire-breathing giraffe.

Holy shit, Google - really?

 

Book Review: Dead Until Dark


When my recent cold left me home with little to do besides drink hot tea and watch too much Doctor Who (which is silly; there’s no such thing as “too much” Doctor Who) I decided to read one of the books that came on my Kindle. The one I chose was Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, the first of the Southern Vampire Mysteries – the books that serve as source material for the show True Blood. I’ve never seen the show so I was unfamiliar with the characters and the work in general.

For those unfamiliar with the book, here is a brief synopsis –

At some unspecified point before the beginning of the book, vampires “came out” and have started living openly in human society. This is made possible by the widespread availability of synthetic blood and the existence of vampire groupies (called “fang-bangers”) willing to serve as live donors.  The main protagonist is Sookie Stackhouse, a young waitress in a small Louisiana town who has what she considers a “disability” – telepathy. Her ability is widely known in the small town, but on par with a bad habit – people ignore it to be polite and rarely ever speak of Crazy Sookie’s eccentricity. One of the vampires, Bill Compton, has returned to town to claim his family’s home now that he is legally able to do so and he shows up at the bar where Sookie works. She surprised to discover that she cannot read his thoughts and finds him fascinating, partly because of his vampirism and partly because of the silence she hears around him. Shortly after his first appearance in the bar she saves him from a pair of “drainers,” humans who drain vampires of their blood and sell it as a street drug. The two begin a romance that oscillates off and on for much of the book. Sookie’s boss, Sam, also begins displaying feelings for her, something Sookie calls him on when he starts acting jealous by pointing out that he had plenty of time to ask her out before Bill arrived in town. Laced within this rivalry/love story is the mystery of who is killing local girls, the fact that they were all fang-bangers leads many to suspect that the killings are the work of a vampire.

The author attempts to blend together a love story with a mystery and in trying to balance one against the other they both suffer. Sookie falls very quickly in love with Bill, even though he acts remote and distant at times, in a way that reminds me unpleasantly of Bella from the Twilight series. However, Sookie is a much more dynamic character than that wet piece of cardboard and is quite likable. Bill is very stoic, revealing very little of himself, but there are hints of a deeper character underneath. When Sookie reveals details of what her “funny uncle” did to her, he remains outwardly calm but the next morning the uncle is found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a broken neck. Since this is the first of several books, I hope there is more character development in the future.

There were enough hints as to who the murderer of the fang-bangers is well before the identity is revealedthat it is more of a “Of course it was [***].” moment instead of a “I can’t believe it was [***]!” moment. I like a little more suspense in my mysteries.

I am impressed with the author’s depiction of Sookie’s telepathy, which is perhaps the most realistic interpretation I have read. Instead of being able to pluck thoughts from people’s heads and read them like books, she gets shattered fragments; words, phrases, a image, a vague feeling, a swirl of colors, or a memory playing out like a snippet of film. This is closer to how people really think, in cobbled-together bits and pieces, than the neat and orderly fashion often depicted in fiction. Sookie isn’t always able to interpret what she sees and feels from others, since it often lacks context, and her frustration over this at pivotal times lends to the believability of her character. Instead of being an omnipotent mind reader able to probe your innermost recesses, she is stuck adjusting the rabbit-ears on an old analog TV in an attempt to pick up anything that makes sense.

My final grade for the book is a C; the plot was muddled and forced at times, but the characters have potential and there are some very unique aspects to the world the author has built. I am curious to see what the second book will be like.

:sigh:


My brain is not cooperating with me anymore.

I think of really great blog topics while I’m driving back and forth to work, but as soon as I sit down and start typing, the thoughts vanish.

Damn stupid useless brain. I should poke you with a Q-Tip.

When I’d doing something else –  driving, crocheting, doodling – my brain responds with “Hey, you’re not busy! Here’s a bunch of random shit people might find interesting!” As soon as I sit in front of the computer where those random thoughts might actually do some good, my brain changes gears. “Oh, you’re busy now! We’ll just stuff all this interesting stuff in this closet so you aren’t distracted. Except for this thing about Smurfs. You can keep that.”

So I’m left with a few stray thoughts about Smurfs – mainly how Jokey Smurf should be considered a terrorist, since his only “job” in the communist society of the Smurf Village is to blow things up – and nothing else.

While I’m sure that there is some dark corner of the Internet where people argue all day about such things, I’m not really interested in becoming a part of that community.

The Good Ship … AHHHHHH!!!


I’ve been interested in Fanfiction for a while – I’m one of those people who want to know what happened after the “… and they lived happily ever after.” My involvement with the Library of the Damned – where my friends and I riff on the worse fics we can find, (and I happen to have a post up today) has only strengthened one of my core beliefs;

People are fucking crazy.

Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of the Shipper.

Shipper comes from ship, an abbreviation of worship, and is used to describe someone with an unnatural and unwholesome attachment to a particular fictional character or character pairing. This obsession is always sexual in nature and is really, really creepy.

There are many things I consider myself a fan of, and there are even somethings that I could be considered a rabid fan of, but I have never been so intensely interested in a fictional character that I plotted out every moment of their intimate lives.

Graphically plotted out. In disturbing detail that makes me want to dig a bunker under my house. And it’s always subjects that you would never think would lend itself to that sort of fiction. SpongeBob and the various My Little Ponies feature in a number of works that would land their authors in a psych ward in a heartbeat.

I am refusing to link any examples that would prove my point, because I don’t think anyone should be subjected to them. I’ve read a couple and I really wish I hadn’t.

If you are interested in reading a poorly-worded description of two of your beloved childhood icons engaging in the sort of behavior you normally need a credit card to see online, head on over to fanfiction.net. It’s packed with the stuff.

If fantasizing about cartoon characters is what does it for you, fine. Dress up like Wonder Woman and have your wife tie you up with your magic lasso – so long as you are consenting adults there is really no harm in that sort of thing.

When you vomit your personal fantasies onto the Internet and start crafting entire fictional worlds that revolve around your characters fucking each other, that’s when you need to step back and take a look at your life.

Ummm…


I enjoy writing.

For the past few years I have done the NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month – in November, where writers from around the world try to write a fifty-thousand word novel in thirty days.

Just typing that number makes my hands hurt.

I’ve managed to “win” so far every year, but I have developed a little cheat that I use.

There are times when I’m chugging along, really pounding away, when a roadblock gets thrown up. Some little niggling detail I didn’t think of when I did my outline pops up and it breaks my train of thought. It’s frustrating and pulls me out of my groove. Until I came up with a solution to my problem – the Snoopy.

Most of what I write for pleasure can be considered fantasy – very rarely do I write things in a modern setting. I decided that I needed a word that would be easy for me to remember but wouldn’t pop up on a regular basis as I wrote – so I picked Snoopy. If I come to a scene that I haven’t fully plotted out, or that I think should be improved upon by adding foreshadowing for an event that I haven’t written yet, I’ll type Snoopy and continue on. When I reach the scene I want to reference in the earlier scene and figure out what details I want to add, I’ll do a word search for my Snoopys, find the one I need, and rewrite the scene.

This came about from my chronic inability to think of good names.

I used to use simple boring names – I have one story where all the good guys are Bobs (Bob1, Bob2, Bob3, etc…) and the bad guys are Garys. When I finally picked a good name, I could do a search-and-replace to remove the boring name and put in the new one. It was easy for me to keep track of, but kind of dull. So I started using comic book characters.

And then things got weird when a minor female character, Batman3, had an affair with one of the evil henchmen, Dr. Doom8. I didn’t plot it that way, it was just something that developed from the characters’ interaction.It’s hard to explain.

Some of the scenes read a lot like a slashfic if you don’t take into account that the names would be changed later.

His fingertip brushed against her skin, fainter than a moth’s heartbeat, tracing the lines inked into her pores that marked Batman3 as one of The Chosen. Dr.Doom8 knew that she had only to give the alarm and his death would be slow and bloody. At that moment, such things were inconsequential; his world had narrowed to a patch of skin no bigger than a promise.

Yeah, I’m not proud of that.

Yarn Blossom


(Be sure to catch the last four chapters  of ITS MY LIFE, posting today over at The Library of the Damned)

I’ve been going through some stuff recently and when I start getting overly anxious, I like to have something to do with my hands. That’s why I’ve been signing up for so many swaps – it gives me something else to occupy my thoughts than what I have been focusing on.

I wasn’t feeling well on Wednesday so I stayed home. I finished up on what I had the supplies to do and found myself at odds. I felt too bad to actually do anything active, but not so bad that I wanted to go to bed.

To the Internet!

I had some bright orange yarn that I was using to make small pumpkin cat toys for a swap partner, so I decided to look for a new flower pattern. Several random clicks later I found The Crafty Tipster’s free pattern for a spider mum. It looked easy, so I started it.

And, after what felt like ten thousand skinny petals, I finished it!

It's either a spider mum or a tribble with dreadlocks.

Now I have to figure out what to do with it. From petal tip to petal tip, it’s about seven inches wide, the circular base the petals attach to is only about 2.75 inches across. So far all I have the following;

  • Use it as a pot scrubber (tawashi) – it’s a rough acrylic yarn so it would work well
  • Make another one, stitch the two together, fill the middle with catnip and turn it into a cat toy.
  • Add googly eyes and turn it into my new blog mascot,  Miss Twinklelocks.
  • I don’t know, some sort of hat? Is there going to be another royal wedding soon?

I’m leaning towards cat toy, but that’s mainly because I’ve got a drawerful of tawashi that I rarely use.

(Tawashi is the Japanese word for a sponge or scrubbie – it has come to mean any crocheted or knitted scrubbie. They are usually cute and/or colorful, in different shapes like fish, fruit, or animals.)

The pattern works up pretty fast and it’s really easy – the only stitches used are a single crochet, a slip stitch, and a magic ring in the center. Repetitive, but easy.

I’m thinking if I make one in a smaller scale, maybe using sock yarn, I’ll have something that’s more useful. I might have to scare up some of my 100% wool and see how the pattern looks after it’s been felted.

 

WAHOOO!


I have finally finished my critique of ITS MY LIFE for The Library of The Damned and I cannot tell you how relieved I am. I will never do a fic that long by myself ever again – I didn’t like how angry it made me. Every time I worked on it I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier, until I just wanted to choke someone – preferably the author.

I’m like GhostDad in that respect – we both tend to hold onto our anger, letting it build until the pressure valve breaks and there’s a rupture. It takes a sustained effort to piss me off, but once the fuse is lit there is no stopping it.

Mother Dearest (and to a lesser extent GhostSister) is the exact opposite – she gets mad, expresses her emotions – in MotherDearest’s case that usually involves cussing and throwing things – and then the anger is all used up.

She doesn’t stew over her thoughts and emotions, examining them like a miser counting his pennies. I wish I could be like that.

I have a few days before I have to submit another fic, but I have a few in my Possibles pile that I’m mulling over. None are very long, I’ve learned my lesson.

Halloween Conundrum


Most people who do various crafts will know that you don’t wait until the holiday season in question to start doing whatever it is you are going to do for that particular holiday. If you make your own Christmas cards, you might start making them in September or October, that sort of thing.

Swapping is very similar – there is usually a long lead time to allow people to sign up, to get partners assigned, to actually make or buy the items, that sort of thing. It all takes time. You can trim this time by having it be sender’s choice – the swap has a theme and you know what it is ahead of time so you can go ahead and find or make what you’re going to send before partners are assigned. But there are some that are partner-specific and you have to wait until you get assigned a partner before you can do anything.

I will eventually get to a point, I swear.

I am thinking about signing up for a large swap, The Thirteen Days of Halloween. The idea is simple – you send a large package containing thirteen individually wrapped and numbered small gifts with a Halloween theme. You open one each day for the thirteen days leading up to Halloween. (You could open them all at once, but that’s not the point.) You normally see swaps like around different holidays – Christmas is the big one, there are usually several big Advent Calender swaps during the Christmas season that you have to sign up for as early as October.

I love Halloween – if it was socially acceptable for a thirty-mumble year old woman to do so, I would dress up (possibly as Batgirl) and go trick-or-treating every year. I collect witches, bats, etc all year-long. The Nightmare Before Christmas  is my favorite movie.

I really want to sign up for this swap, but I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with big swaps in the past. I’ve had swaps where I put in a lot of time and effort, really worked extra hard, and either got back utter crap or absolutely nothing. Having been burned, I’m hesitating on whether I should do it.

There are two versions; one where every gift has to be something hand-made ( like a bookmark, an ATC, or other small craft) and one where the gifts can be a mixture of hand-made and store-bought. I can sign up for either one, both, or neither. I really want to sign up for both, I can probably think of thirteen (or even twenty-six) different Halloween things while standing on my head, but I’m just not sure. I have until the 23rd to decide, so I’m mulling things over.