Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back in 2009

Before I had the Blog, I wrote Vent Pieces.  This is the one I wrote when I finished NaNoWriMo in 2009.

It is not revised.  Straight copy-paste from the original WordPad document.  I just reformatted it a little when I put it in the blog-entry window.

Reflections on NaNoWriMo 2009
November 27, 2009
J. C. Verdin

On November 24, 2009, approxmately 12:32 am, I completed my NaNoWriMo 2009 by both getting the word count--50,018 words--and finishing the story.  Those last 890 words were the hardest I had ever had to write in my life.  Believe me.

This was my fourth year participating, however, this was the first time I ever registered for any of the groups or even on the website.  It was fitting that this was the year I got the word count--no matter that I breezed by.  The story was done.  And quite frankly, I was tired of writing it.

Some days when the word count was particularly hard to get, I wondered how I would feel if I did become a full time writer and that was what it would be like.  I was truly questioning if writing was what I really wanted.

Seriously, there were moments when I was thinking, "What was I thinking?  Wanting to be a writer?"

However, there were other moments--particularly at the end--when I felt I was doing exactly what I should have been doing.

When I finished, I was tired and I had a headache and I was just ready to go to bed.  I was about to leave for Texas the next morning--well, in a few hours.  I started out wanting to get as much done as I could before I left, but I wound up finishing.  I was really proud of myself.  Writing 50,000 words was hard--especially when I try to be as concise as a writer as possible.

Oh, I can't tell you how much fun it was to break every rule!  Adverbs, run-on sentences, and those lengthy descriptions about the characters!  It was fun and it boosted word count.

I've been trying to re-write my last year's NaNo, for the past year.  This year's was actually supposed to be a bit of a prequel, but the story shifted completely and the two stories wound up--while drastically changing what happened last year--intertwining, though Brennie was the main character and it was all about her, her relationship with Henry, and whatnot.  Cynthia and Marcus were major players, though.  I don't know if I'll ever go out and do their story now, other than the one from last year.

NaNoWriMo this year reminded me why I love writing anyway.  It was like going on a second honeymoon with the love of your life.  I got to learn more about these people and share in their life.  They'll be like long-lost friends every time I revisit their world.

So I'm glad I did it.  This is my last year in high school, and if I'm in college next November, I may not be able to do it again until I'm out in the world.  And even then it will be difficult.

So, here's to what may be my last NaNoWriMo!  At least for a while...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wait...I Have to Care?

My Phi Theta Kappa certificate and some other goodies came in today. A pin thing, a catalogue to get some PTK-branded stuff like t-shirts and medallions, and a member card.

And this is doesn't even require me being an active member.  Although, I want to be, certainly.

I just have to keep my GPA up and maintain a good appearance.  No arrests, no misbehavior.  Easy stuff.  It's not like I was ever a bad kid or anything.

Honors College at Perk and PTK overlap a lot.  We talk about PTK at Honors Forum.  I've never been to a PTK meeting except the orientation, but I still know all what's happening because we go over it in Honors Forum anyway.

If I expect to continue on in college, I have to get scholarships.

Apparently, colleges like community service as a good reason to give money.  I don't know exactly why, but I don't think they like the idea of giving money to someone who, thus far, hasn't made much of a difference, and may not ever.

People who care, people who have made a difference in their community are a good investment.  They will make the college look good when they become a famous philantropist.  Oh, and they're changing the world and all.

Before I went to college, I did very little.  My community service before college was a few volunteer jobs every blue moon, and most of it was stuff I hadn't wanted to do.  It would cut into reading and writing time.

My mom's friend the librarian worker asked me to come with her read to special needs kids over at Perk Elementary--which is right across the road from Perk College Campus.  (Yes, this is where I went to elementary school.  So much has changed since I was there!)  It's certainly an experience.  

It's through Friends of the Library.  Some of them are the librarians from Perk College, the President of the college, and a few other do-gooding middle-aged and older ladies and gentlemen of the community.

It's a lot of fun watching their interactions.  Oh, and the stuff they bring in for the kids!

The instructor from the youngest group that we go to says the kids love being read to.  They LOVE it.  Like, they go through a few books each reading time.  However, because they're special needs, people are reluctant to go to them because they're not sure what to expect.

Ironically, this group was the best behaved, the cutest, the sweetest...

It's the older ones you gotta watch out for.  ;P

So, let's see, to be a good person, you actually have to care?

What do I care about?

I like animals, and I'm comfortable around them.  However, I'd make a bad activist.  I'm sorry, but I am more important than a rat and if that rat's gonna help somebody fight cancer or AIDS, well, I'm not arguing.  And I bet those Johnson & Johnson rabbits like being tear-free too.

I'm pro-human, but I'm not much of a people person.  Although, I like being with the special needs kids.  They're cute and sweet and I think already said all this...

The only problem is that Friends of the Library only goes to Perk Elementary once every semester.  Although PTK is doing some reading programs too, for which I have enlisted.

I actually have to care now.  There is a standard and all that.

Oh ka-rap.  I am no longer allowed to be apathetic. 

*cue bad announcer voice* Will she survive?  Will she crack?  Stay tuned...

Plots and Plans

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

That is by far one of my favorite writing quotes.

Getting up, getting well, getting over. Getting happy!

I wrote a Vent Piece a few nights ago. Since I started the blog, the VP has become pretty much an obsolete thing. Well, after I started writing more on the blog...

I wanted to get my feelings right, and it was too personal for the blog, but I wanted to sit at my computer and type. Something about a WordPad doc open with the title size 14, the date and my name in size 12, and then my opening line... The stark familiarity of what my Vent Pieces were. Familar and lovable, and the blank page is always listening.

Yeah, that's where it was. That's where it is.

I got a bunch of stuff to do before NaNoWriMo, and quite frankly, I'm looking forward to the craziness of it. If it's important, you make time for it.

So, no reading too many books during NaNoWriMo. Sleep will be cut back on. No Facebook, Twitter, maybe no blogging...

Maybe I should just disconnect my computer from the Internet during November. I mean, it's not like I can't Google stuff up on my phone. And I can play on the Internet between classes because NaNo is strictly an at-home-on-my-PC type thing. Although with Zoho and Google Docs maybe I can do a few things between classes...

And besides, I won't have to do THAT much research. Remember the paper I'm doing on "The Traveling Companion"? If I ever did a fairy tale retelling, that's the one I want to do.

That's the one I want to do for NaNoWriMo this year. I've already done some of the plotting because I've been wanting to do it for a while.

Now, I have an excuse to start it and, more importantly, finish it.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Jadi's Library Scrapbook

I had about two and a half hours to play in the library today instead of the usual one. One of my classes didn't meet, another one was cut short, added to the usual time I spend every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the library.

Lately, in case you haven't noticed, I've been exploring the library. So, today, I took some snapshots of what I found. 

I wish I had known there were Creative Writing books in the library. Now I do.

Speculative fiction, anyone?

That one closest to the left wall?  How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy, and
Science Fiction
?  I checked that one out today!

Look, there's a 2011 market guide...too bad I have nothing worth selling at the time.

Character-Naming Sourcebook, and then two books later,
there's stuff about King Arthur.  Awesome.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is on my to-read list.  Now, I know it's available
at Perk Library.  YAY!

I just thought this looked kind of cool.  Isn't everyone guilty of being innocent,
eager, or cool?  I don't think anybody could be all 3--can you?--but I guess it's
got an Everyman appeal.

I have an idea of who Groucho Marx is.  Another good find for me today
at Perk Library.  Jadi's curiosity has been piqued.

Is that all women are good for in literature?  To either be a seductress (or to be
seduced) or to betray (or betrayed?)  Actually, I looked inside if it, there's
mention of the Bronte sisters.  I guess it's older fiction?  Anyway...

Speaking of Seduction:  Sex Ed-type books

Child-development.  Look, there's a Bill Cosby in here!
(I'm thinking there's a step-by-step here)

My personal favorite:  POTTY TRAINING!!!
(Farthest to the right)

Art!  A support system for life or some such.

Um, what does egregious mean?  I'll be needing to look that one up myself.

Back in the Creative Writing section.  Fantasy and Horror.
I'm easily fascinated.

And, of course, history.  It was near this section, Lacey and I were scoping
out for her a new book.  Since I write pseudo-medieval (at make an attempt
to do so) this one called to me particularly.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

[Mis]adventures: Be a Pet

At first, I didn't know what I was going to blog today. Not that I have to blog, but I just didn't have an idea.

That's not true. I was going to share a passage from The Ragamuffin Gospel that I particularly liked. However, I couldn't type it and leave out the preachiness of the story. Considering my spiritual status at the moment, the last thing I should be doing is preaching to anybody or advocating any preaching.  Not at the moment.

Lacey has to do a 10 page paper on a historical figure that wasn't too recent. At first she was going to do Anne Boleyn, but her book that had to be used the most, sucked., Lacey found herself in the library, looking for a new book.

She found one on a pirate from Nawlins and another on a queen Emma, great-aunt of William the Conqueror of Normandy. The one on the queen looked really interesting.

So, we headed down the hill, toward her World Civ prof's office.

He had a coconut pirate head! It was so cool, I took a blurry pic of it.

I wouldve taken a better one, but I think I embarrassed her for the first pic.

Lacey told her prof, "She likes to take pictures of everything."

As we were leaving the building, Lacey told me I was like the pet she had to make excuses for.  And then she was scandalized for saying out loud what she was thinking.  And then she felt bad.

It was really hard to stop laughing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I didn't know that about myself

We took the color code personality test in honors.

I scored red.

I am not to look a yellow for a spouse.

For the most part, the test was pretty accurate.  There was some things where I was, "I'm not like that!" but when I got honest with myself, maybe I was.

A little.

I got a lot of the bad qualities down pat.  ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DinoPaper, Thou Shalt Be Smote

I spent several hours (from like before 8 to 11-something, 12?) working on the 14-page paper for Biology II for Honors.  I lovingly dubbed this endeavor, "DinoPaper" or "Dino-paper" depending whether or not I'm in a dash type of mood.

Dinosaurs...when talking about dinosaurs, words like 165 million years, 65 million years, evolution, birds, etc all go through the mind.

Last night, knee-deep in research, I typed in, "pro-evolutionist arguments about dinosaurs."

All I got was creationist arguments against evolution.  Um, great and all, but not what I wanted.

I had a lot of creationist sources.  I mean, a lot.  And they all basically say the same thing:

Dragon legends appear in every culture.  These respectable people (such as Alexander the Great, Marco Polo, Herodotus) saw dragons.  They recorded those facts. 

These accounts have been banished into the realm of legend.  They may have been firsthand accounts of dinosaurs.  Then we go into how the Flood was the perfect catastrophe to fossilize all those beasties...

Creation theory in a nutshell.

Most of my evolutionary sources say the same things, and a little more, that they were saying since I was in elementary school:

Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 165 million years.  They started 200-something million years ago.  They died out 65 million years ago.

None of this is new information.  Although, I did learn that, according to evolutionary standards, T-Rex and Stegosaurs never saw each other, separated by 80 million years.

There is more time between Steggy and T-Rex than there is between T-Rex and us.

Actually, there is very little, if any, new information being published by evolutionists at all.  Creationists have taken over paleontology.  All my newer sources, bar one, have been creationist.

I guess one's thrown up their hands saying, "We don't know.  We'll never know."

The other side is saying, "We can prove this.  We can learn at least a little more."

It's interesting how things change like that.

DinoPaper is in it's first, crudely, messily written first drafts.  I'm hoping to finish it BEFORE November 1.  One less thing to worry about during NaNoWriMo.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I didn't participate in National Novel Writing Month last year.  I was in my first year of college and I doubted I'd have time, probably wouldn't feel like it, excuse, excuse, excuse...

November passed by and throughout the entire month I thought to myself, "I probably could've pulled it off."

This year, I really, really want to do it.  I have an idea that's been simmering for a while.  If I can do my Dino-Paper BEFORE November starts...

And, this is the most embarassing part:  NaNoWriMo is the only time I ever finish the novels I start other than the one I've been working on since 2005.  All the other stories?  Unless it was a NaNoWriMo novel, I didn't finish it.  Or those NaNoWriMo rewrites.

Epic fail.

So, I'm trying to figure out if I could pull it off timewise.  *makes calendar*

Figuring NaNoWriMo out is the only time I ever have any sort of math skills.  *pulls out calculator*  

Let's see, there's 720 hours in a 30-day month.  Wait, what about daylight savings?  Oh, never mind.  720 hours.

Church:  ~12 hours (IF we go every Sunday morning and not any other time.) 
College: ~91 hours (Including my free hours in the library)
Farm:  ~50 hours (this is the stretch.  It's always different.)
CMAs:  ~3 hours (I can write during commercials?)

So, that's ~156 hours taken.

That leaves ~564 hours.

Minus 7 hours a night for sleep.

I'm down to ~354 hours.

So, 354 hours for NaNoWroMo, living at Vin's beck-n-call, and the odd errand Mom has me run.  Oh, and maybe studying.

I think sleep should be optional in the month of November.  That's 210 hours I could spend much better.  For anything.  I envy Napoleon Bonaparte.  I learned that he could go on 4 hours of sleep.

So THAT'S why he was a short little psycho!

Jadi's Grand Realization aside, I may actually be able to pull this off.

Friday, October 14, 2011


At the black end of the character spectrum, you have the villain.

Okay, so the Hero has his Best Friend, his Lover, his Mentor, and maybe an Antihero tagging along on a Grand Journey.

So, who brought them together and made them a team?  Who ruined the world and needs them to fix it?  Who gave them a purpose to be bigger than themselves in their world?  Who game them something to do! for crying out loud?

That's right.  The villian.

Who's my favorite villian?  That's a tough one.

A good villian I can think of would be Keeper from Entwined by Heather Dixon.  (I have a review of her book here.)

He's charming, debonair, dashing.  You know the type.  About as seductive as a Regency Rake.  I think he was even described as good looking.  Or perhaps striking or handsome was used?  (Someone's borrowing the book, so I can't check.)  No matter, our heroine liked him, or at least saw that he was good for something.

But he was also manipulative, sadistic, and a thief.

For a villian, I think he was well done.

*cue pyscho music*

I never like villians.  They're villians, after all.  But I love what they do.  Without them, the world would be really boring.

Villians, the presence of conflict, make our heroes heroes.  If not for villians, our heroes would still be farmboys, poor saps, and pathetic.

Thank your villians.  Without them, there's no story.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mentors and Other Old People

Mentors are crucial to real life.  I hear a lot, "Find a mentor."

Old people (cut me some slack, I'm nineteen!) are full of wisdom and knowledge and experience that us young people (and what may be the age of the people we read) just have to wait to experience.

They are also important in fiction.  Especially in Speculative genres.

How far would Luke Skywalker have gotten without Obi-Wan?

How much more floundering would the Fellowship have done without Gandalf?

Would Arthur really have become king without the help of Merlin?

I'm trying to think of a mentor in the horror genre.

Well, that little kid and that adult writer teamed up in 'Salem's Lot.  Although, the kid knew more about monsters than the writer...

That's not important.

Mentors and Old People are important, though, especially for today.

From 6 cliches to avoid:

1. Receiving tutoring from the old wise man.  (It made #1 on the list!)

The 'Merlin' gambit, as used in Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Dragonslayer and innumerable King Arthur clones. A stable boy or other similar seemingly low-born type is taken under the wing of the local eccentric. There's usually a beard involved, and a pair of blue eyes piercing from beneath some spectacularly bushy eyebrows. He'll say things like: 'All of nature is one', 'Use the force' and 'You have a great destiny, my boy.' Try not to give him a grey cloak and an elven sword. Maybe you could try having the youth tutoring the old man for a change? Or, more radical, how about having the teacher as an old woman?

There is a wonderful example for a woman mentor in SRL's King Raven trilogy.  Angharad, in the tradition of Merlin, is the last True Bard of Britain.  She takes in Prince Bran after a deadly wound and nurses him back to health.

Had not for Angharad, Bran would've never 
1 - survived
2 - become rightful king of Elfael
3 - been a good king
4 - glimpsed what true wisdom really is

This is more historical fantasy/fiction than hardcore fantasy, but it's a great example.

Old People are awesome.  The world has changed since they were our hero's age, they're not the same person they were when they were the hero's age, but there are certain universal truths that never change, everybody, no matter how different the world is, has to grow up and there are a lot of things most people experience.  They know this and share it.

...speaking of which, why don't you ever hear (unless it's in a satire or parody) an old person in a fantasy novel say, "That wouldn't have happened in my day."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Love Interest

We've talked heroes, anti-heroes, and now I'm at love interests.

Love interests can go either way.  They can annoy or draw the reader closer to the story.

It is also very, very difficult to find books without a love interest of some sort.  This probably has something to do with the genres I read.  I mean, I can only name a handful of books where there wasn't some sort of romantic tension going on.  Maybe if I switched genres?

In non-romance fiction, where there is only one central character and not two, usually we figure out the love interest fairly soon.

In High Heels Mysteries, it was Jack Ramirez.  There was a little bit of a love triangle (which I hate) with Tabloid Boy, but it was mostly Ramirez.  Oh, and there's going to be another book and our Maddie's preggers.

In Study series, there was Valek.  He was probably my favorite love interest in fiction.  The man was totally kick-butt:

“Out of nowhere, Valek appeared before me, yelling in my ear, shaking my shoulders. Stupidly, belatedly, I realized he was the drunk. Who else but Valek could win a fight against four large men when armed only with a beer mug?”
― Maria V. Snyder, Poison Study

There was no love triangle.  Valek wasn't this over-protective, sexist macho-man.  He was moody-broody at the beginning, and Yelena thought he was a psychopath, but...well, the series ends pretty well in a close-the-curtain kind of way ;-).

Most importantly, the romance didn't take override the plot.  The characters had a mutual interest and worked together, they just happened to be lovers.  Surprisingly (or not), this was published by LUNA, the fantasy imprint of Harlequin, and then MIRA, their mainstream division.  Before I knew exactly what LUNA was (I have the LUNA book of Poison Study and then the MIRA editions for the rest of the series), I really didn't know what to expect.

“He pulled my arm out to expose my bracelet. "When I carved this my thoughts were on you, love. Your life is like this snake's coils. No matter how many turns it makes, you'll end up back where you belong. With me.”
― Maria V. Snyder, Magic Study

My heart melts every time I read that passage. Not that they don't have their ups and downs:

"You can join the 'I Want to Kill Yelena Guild.'....Valek is president since he had wanted to kill me twice."
― Maria V. Snyder, Magic Study

The Love Interest is something I've pretty much grown to expect in books I read and movies I watch.

My least favorite?  That's a difficult one.  I guess Edward and Jacob would be too cliche.

Okay, I'll pick 2 more Snyder characters.  Kade and Ulrick from the Glass series.  They were both horrible and I'm glad Opal wound up with neither.  The one she did wind up with...well... I see why Snyder did that, but... 

I like the way it ended, but there's just a lot of heaviness, lot of forgiveness, lot of history in that relationship.  You'd have to read that series.  And the Study series too, since they take place in the same world.

The Love Interest is a weighty role, about as important as the Best Friend.  If you're reading about the protagonist from their love's POV, you'll get things that maybe the Best Friend won't mention.

Personally, I like Love Interests about as much as I like Best Friends.  It's amazing how the Protagonist is never the favorite character.  It's always the Best Friend for me or the Love Interest.

And sometimes, it's the Mentor, which I'll be getting to shortly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Best Friend

The best friend is usually my favorite character.  Or, you know, the characters that play a major role but not the central character?

In the Study series by Maria V. Snyder, it was Ari and Janco.

In the Protector of the Small quartet by Tamora Pierce, it was Neal.

In the High Heels Mysteries by Gemma Halliday, it was Dana.

In the Dragon King trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead, it was Toli.

I need to think up more books.  All of these are series, and only one isn't a fantasy of some sort.

Oh, got one!  In The Wedding Bargain by Victoria Alexander, it was Cynthia.  That's not a fantasy, although it is apart of a romance series.  Egh, close enough.

Ethel to Lucy.  I Love Lucy.

Gerald to Arnold.  Hey Arnold!

How could I forget the most famous best friend probably in all literature?  Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

The Best Friend is the character that, in time with providing comic relief, will make sure the goal gets reached even if the hero (or anti-hero) fails.  They will see this through.  They are loyal to a fault.  In some cases, they're the voice of wisdom.

In some cases, a family member will serve the position as the Best Friend.  Our protagonists would be pathetic people if they didn't have friends.  Who would help them with their struggles?  Their anxieties?  And everything else that the creators of the story throw at them?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heroes vs. Antiheroes

Since I'm knee-deep in learning about heroes in World Lit, I decided to Google up some qualities of a hero, and, because, while I've heard about anti-heroes, and I've learned quite a bit about them, I decided to research them a little more too.

So, without further ado, here's what I found.

  1. Heroes tend to be idealistic.  They want the absolute best of a situation.
  2. Anti-heroes are realistic.  They want whatever they can get.

  1. Heroes are conventional with a strict moral code.  They never waver.
  2. Anti-heroes' morals are a bit quirky.  This was the BIGGIE when I first learned about anti-heroes.  Their moral compass didn't always (if ever) point north.

  1. Heroes are out-of-this-world extraordinary.
  2. Antiheroes are your average Joe.

  1. Heroes are pro-active.
  2. Anti-heroes may be a bit passive.

  1. Heroes are decision-makers.
  2. Antiheroes may get pushed into something against their will.  They go with the flow.

  1. Heroes are motivated by higher callings such as virtue and honor.
  2. Antiheroes are motivated by lower things such as greed and lust.

  1. Heroes are refined.  They are the pinnacle of a good guy.
  2. Antiheroes are rough around the edges.  They curse and drink and dally.

So, basically:
Hero:  Knight in shining armor
Antihero:  Lovable rogue

Heroes are, well, heroes.  They're the ones we cheer for because they deserve it.  They are good and honest and everything we know we should be like.  People respect Beowulf because he deserves it.  We cheer him on and want him to succeed.  He's the hero.  He appeals to what we can only aspire to be. If everyone could be that great, we wouldn't need heroes like this.

But we love antiheroes.  They're human, just like us.   They're flawed and selfish and usually horrible people.  People love Jack Sparrow because he's a kick-butt scoundrel.  This man doesn't have a scrap of honor, but he is adored and idolized by people everywhere.  He appeals to our human side.  This would be more our speed when we play heroes in everyday life, I think.

That's interesting.  One gets our respect, the other gets our love.

Going through this list, I'm trying to figure out what my protagonists would be considered.  Obviously, the lines are going to get blurry after a while.

I think the conclusion would be, "It depends."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hellfire, The Sparkles, and Screwed-up Spirituality

“If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is ‘God is crying’. And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is ‘Probably because of something you did.” ― Jack Handey 

We have the dubious pleasure of reading The Inferno in World Lit.  This was one book, while I may have wanted to read it a few years ago (05-06), I'd decided I didn't want to after all.

Back in the good ol' days when I was young and innocent and not so cynical, I read this collection of romances, Beyond Perfect.

In the first story, the title story, our heroine is asked whether or not she's saved.  She answers:

 "Well, of course I'm saved.  I don't want to go to hell.  I made sure I told God I was a sinner and begged for his forgiveness.  I did that when I was six years old.  My mother had me scared out of my little mind, that sometime in the middle of the night, the world would end, and if I wasn't right with the Lord, my little body was headed straight for the fiery lake."

Have you ever heard the term, "scared out of hell"?

She believed that in all of the major choices we had in life, we only had one shot to make The Right Decision.  So, she waited for The Sparkles.  That sense of rightness.  No do-overs.

When you grow up in church like I did, this scared out of hell thing is really common.  To be perfectly honest, take out the age, and that could be the story of my spiritual life.

I didn't get saved because I thought God loved me.  I got saved because I was afraid of going to hell.  Period.

Brimstone preachers tend to leave out the part that God loves you and that it does hurt when we fall, that it does grieve Him when we reject Him.  Some make it sound like He wants us to go to hell so He doesn't have to deal with us anymore, that this wonderful thing called grace is something He begrudges us instead of giving it freely.

After I read The Ragamuffin Gospel, I lost a lot of respect for the brimstone sermons.  I never liked them, but I had respected them.  Not so much anymore.  They only tell half the story.  (And we wonder why I hold the Church in so little esteem?)

I'm not overly fond of the classics as it is, and I've even less enamored of a classic about hell.  I'm sure you can see why.  Maybe if we read all three parts to The Divine Comedy, maybe I'd feel differently about it, but considering my spiritual background and spiritual hang-ups, I really didn't want to read it.

I live vicariously through the books I read.  I'm trying to avoid going to hell in real life, and I don't want to experience it vicariously either.

Although, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I kind of liked how the Pilgrim met Virgil, Ovid, Sophocles, and Homer in hell.  I also know that some prominent figure in the Renaissance is in one of the deeper circles.  That might make it worth the read.  O__O

Something else I wrote about this:  Do Not Laugh/It's Not a Joke

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gods and Dogs

I love how one of the first things we notice that "god" spelled backwards is "dog."  It's one of those things we're aware of, but not quite thinking about all the time.  But we all know, right?

I'm certain plenty of people who've gone before me know why.  I'm learning why that is now.

In World Lit, we've read selections from The Iliad (which I hated), and Metamorphoses (which I liked).  We've also read all of Oedipus Rex (which I hated even more than The Iliad.)

Everything that goes wrong in the world, everything bad that happens to you, can be blamed on the gods.  They only use you when it's convenient for them and then they return to Olympus.  They will rape you, turn you into things other than human, give a piece of your future that'll make people try to keep it from happening, but then it happens anyway.

Oh yes, we had some really fun discussions about this in World Lit.  Especially where Metamorphoses was concerned with how terrible the Roman gods were to people.  Ovid held them in low esteem.  He didn't invoke the muse in a reverent way like you're supposed to, none of the stories formed a coherent larger work.  They're not connected, it's just a collection of stories.  I think that's why I liked it so much.  You didn't have to read the whole thing to understand a portion of it.

From Wikipedia:  

From the Poseidon Article:  Poseidon also had sexual intercourse with Medusa on the floor of a temple to Athena. Medusa was then changed into a monster by Athena. When she was later beheaded by the hero Perseus, Chrysaor and Pegasus emerged from her neck.

Well, that puts a new spin on Clash of the Titans.  Wasn't Pegasus in there already BEFORE he kills Medusa?  Clash of the Titans is a great movie, but it deviates a lot from the textbook myth.

From the Medusa Article:  In a late version of the Medusa myth, related by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors," priestess in Athena's temple, but when the "Lord of the Sea" Poseidon raped her in Athena's temple, the enraged and jealous Athena, choosing not to punish Poseidon, transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. In Ovid's telling, Perseus describes Medusa's punishment [....] as just and well-deserved for the so-called crime of being raped.

For gods, they were surprisingly human.  Strike that, they were dogs.

It's always a god making trouble for a human, like Hera with Heracles (well, he was sort of human), or a monster like the kracken (dragon?) in the Perseus story.  Not to mention what Poseidon did.

Rules of Thumb When Dealing With The Greco-Romano Gods:

1 - If you're a virgin, run. (Daphne and Europa)

2 - Keep your mouth shut.  Don't draw attention to yourself.  (Cassiopeia)

1 - The gods will tell you to "Check your temper" but will go right back to Olympus. (Achilles)

2 - They're going to see their prophecies fulfilled, so you're out of luck if you hear a bad one. (Oedipus)

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Lion King

Lacey and I went see The Lion King in 3D Saturday night at 11:20.  We got out a little before 1 Sunday morning.  This version took out the number that they added in, "The Morning Report."   I hate when Disney adds to their classic films, and I'm glad this version left it out.  Other than the 3D part, I could pretend I was a little kid and watching The Lion King in theatres like it was 1994, how it was the first time it came out.

This film has won numerous awards.  Best picture, best music, voice acting...

I think, just about anything you can win an award for.  

I was born in '92, so when I say I grew up watching this, I mean it.  It's been several years since we owned the VHS, so it's been a while since I'd watched it.  I know the story, but it seems no matter how many times you watch something, you always catch things you didn't the first scores of times.

For a kid's movie, it's a tad brutal.  I've never watched all of Bambi (or I have once and it was a loooong time ago), so I can't make the comparison to when the hunter kills Bambi's mother, but when Scar murders Mufasa, it's always hard to watch.  One, the lion murders his brother.  Two, it's sad when Simba's crying for help and nobody comes except Scar and the hyenas.  I HATE that whole part from where Scar leaves him in the gorge to where Scar tells him to run away and never return.

I always knew The Lion King was a great story.  I mean, I've heard about all the awards a long time ago.  When you're a kid, you think it's cool, but you don't care about the why.  You like it and that's all that matters.  If somebody liked it enough to give it an award, well, you had to like them.

Simba's character arc, the story itself's arc, and all the little touches that reinforce what's going on make a brilliant work.  Plus, you know, it has a great ending ;).  Disney reached an all-time high with that film and they've come up short in a lot of their following films.

I'm excited that The Lion King is coming out again, and I can't wait to own it.  Again.

Now, my favorite moments (other than the previous one):

Nice touch there, Simba seeing just how small
his paw is compared to his father's and just how
big a paw print he has to fill someday.

"Pinned ya!"

Mufasa!  Mufasa!  Mufasa!

And she can still pin him when they're adults

Does nobody like "It's A Small World After All"?

I think everybody liked this part

Mr. Pig

I thought the skull washing away was another nice touch.  The end of 
the terror reign and the beginning of the glorious one.