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OMG, IWSG again?

Published December 5, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Where did November go?

Oh, right, it went to NaNo and my final paper.  Bummer.

Well, anyway, NaNo was good.  I had a lot of fun writing out three sets of mythology, loosely inspired by Greek, Roman and Celtic, in that order.  When I finished up with the Celtic (and a very abbreviated inspired-by-Arthurian-legends saga) I contemplated going on to one inspired by Norse/Teutonic myth, since the country based on 19th century Prussia/Bavaria is going to be in the next book and I actually know Norse myths (unlike whatever the heck I’m gonna base the mythic traditions of the France-like country on) but ended up not doing so because I didn’t have any names ready.

And why would that have stopped me, when I once very giddily wrote a sentence containing a character named “Derek Imtootiredtobethinkingupnames”?  Well, because the naming process turned out to be super-important to the other three.  I totally let the meaning of the names dictate how I used the associated characters, and I think that’s going to be really useful when I rewrite the first book (again) to work in all these new cultural details, because it’s let me separate the fictional countries from the real ones that inspired them.  (Of course the France-like country’s revolution is still way too much like the French Revolution for comfort, but…yeah, I’ll figure that out later.)

A few things really stand out that I’m most proud of in writing these mythic structures, particularly for the Greece- and Rome-like countries:

  1. Unlike in reality, where there’s almost no difference between Greek and Roman myths other than the names of the gods, there’s almost nothing the same between the two sets of myths in my fictional world.
  2. Though for the most part I based the personalities of the gods on my perception of their real world counterparts (there are exceptions to that), their relationships to each other are different, to the extent that, for example, the equivalent of Apollo and Hermes are twins, instead of Apollo and Artemis.  (Actually, though, Artemis still ended up having a twin, only it was Athene.  That culture ended up with like three sets of twins among the gods.)  The generational order is radically different from the real Greek and Roman one, which will help to let the reader see the countries as more than just Sparta and Rome under other names.  (Especially important in the latter case, since the previous Imperator is very obviously Hadrian.  Well, insofar as the whole Antinoos thing goes, anyway.)
  3. There are way more goddesses than gods.  Like, to the extent that in the one based on classical Sparta, the equivalent of Hera thought she had given birth to a monster when she gave birth to the equivalent of Ares, because after so many daughters, she didn’t understand that a son was a possibility.
  4. There’s so much less sleeping around, particularly by the Zeus/Jupiter equivalents.  (Although the lack of sleeping around is also kind of a problem, because the Aphrodite/Venus equivalents don’t do much of it, either.  To the extent that there had to be a footnote explaining that the Venus-type was the goddess of love, despite that she pretty much only has the one lover.  Who’s actually her sister.  Sometimes in the form of a man.  Because I thought Hermes/Mercury didn’t get to be enough of a trickster in the real myths, so I let the Mercury-type have transformation powers.)

Anyway, after I finished with the myths, I focused more on my paper (not that I wasn’t already working on it, mind you!), and in my off-minutes, I went back to a fanfic project I’d been working on in October…and ended up gutting and overhauling it mid-writing.  Which is kind of a first for me, but the old version was so much a repeat of another fic I’d written before, so…it’s working out better now.

However, overall, I’ve become aware of a stagnation in my writing.  I’m not sure if it’s because the fandom I’m currently obsessive over doesn’t allow much variety, or if there’s something else wrong, but I have a plan to fix it, which will coincidentally also fix my near-dead blog.  (Hey, two for one special!)

I’ve backed a few games on Kickstarter that are supposed to be party games where everyone sort of improvs a story or parts of one or whatever, but I’m going to use them as writing prompts.  This is especially the case for a game called “Pitchstorm” that arrived during November.  The actual rules of the game are that you draw three cards, one for a character, one for a “plot” and one for really bad notes from studio executives, and then you pitch the movie they would add up to.  What I’m going to do is to pull one of each of those types of cards, and then write a piece of brief fiction that answers those conditions as best I can.  Possibly in some cases it would still be more of a summary than proper fiction, but…the idea’s to get the creative juices flowing, yeah?  And I’m going to post the resulting stories to the blog.

And when will I start this creative new endeavor?

Not sure, actually.  The pinched nerve in my shoulder has come back, along with what feels like a pulled muscle in my right arm, so now that NaNo and class are over, I need to try and let them rest.  I’m trying to find time around work to go get a recliner I can sleep in, which should relieve some of the strain on the shoulder (I hope!) but I won’t even have an opportunity to go shopping for one until next week.

I’m also trying to hurry my way through a cheap-and-dirty finishing of this year’s goals on the Read Harder Challenge, and I’ll be posting capsule reviews for the rest of those books (or as many of them as I actually get through) at some point this month.

As soon as I post this (since it’s after midnight, I may as well just hit “publish” instead of scheduling it for a few hours from now, right?) I’m also going to see if I can change the title of my blog, because I don’t feel like it’s quite right for me anymore.  I mean, yeah, I’m still a graduate student, but only for one more semester.  (Finally, the end is in sight!)  And, well, I dunno.  It just doesn’t quite feel like “me” anymore.

 

Oh, but before I do!  I mentioned my NaNo novel having footnotes without explaining.  See, I was writing out those myths as part of a “book” on world mythology being written by a scholar who’s a character in the first novel in a series I’m working on.  (Said first novel’s first draft having been last year’s NaNo project.  Which I’ve probably said several times over the last few IWSG posts, but…)  So said scholar turned out to be the type to write extensive informational footnotes.  Because that let me add in all sorts of fun little details that weren’t part of the “symplified myth” narrative.  (Things like how there’s an archaeological site purporting to be where a particular myth took place.  Or historical details, especially the vast changes in the world situation between the first and second editions of the book.  Stuff like that.)

I had quite the shock when I went to validate my win, though.  My 57,575 word novel (yeah, I finished almost every day with a palindrome, because weird) went through the validation process and came out at about 49,500!  My mind boggled at the idea that I had so many words connected by a double-dash that it would have dropped by 8k words.  Until I suddenly realized that it wasn’t counting my footnotes.  (Which, I should admit, were also the footnotes to the first draft of my paper, because I suck like that.)  So I had to re-copy it into the validation box and then go in and manually copy every single footnote.  Then it came out at like 57,300.  And I then edited the total to what Word had told me it was.

I am, however, a bit shocked and appalled that I ended up with 8,000 words of footnotes.

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Sorry about yesterday

Published February 6, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m sorry I totally dropped the ball and didn’t do a “Missing Letter Monday.”  (I really need to start getting those up in advance again…)  I’ll just pick up again next week.  I’d like to briefly explain what happened, but in the interest of laziness, I shall copy-and-paste the explanation I just posted on my other blog:

It starts out, of course, that it is that time of month, and a particularly bad one.  So, I’m a bit more hormonal than usual.  And when I was at the bookstore yesterday, I happened to find a new volume of one of my favorite manga, which I decided to read in the bath…and on the last two pages of the volume, it looked like my favorite character got shot in the face.  (Such violence is not super-common in that manga, but not as uncommon as I’d like.  However, the victim has never been such a long-standing character before; normally, if a good guy is killed, it’s someone who’s only just been set up in that arc.)  For the first time ever, I went to the publisher’s website and followed their links to buy a single chapter of the next volume (they publish them online now within days of their release in Japan, but at $2 a chapter for digital only, that more than a little sucks) because no way was I going to wait goodness only knows how long to find out if the author was just screwing with us and he was fine, or if it was a horrible, horrible, evil thing and he’d been killed.  It turned out to be a little of both:  he wasn’t killed, but over the process of that chapter his closest friend (my second favorite character) was brutally slaughtered, giving up his own life to protect him.  After I finished sobbing like a little child, I called my brother and went over to his place for pizza and light, funny stuff to distract me.  On getting back, I wasn’t in the right state of mind to try and communicate like a human being, so I forwent my Monday features on both blogs.

was going to follow that explanation up with more a more detailed reaction to Persuasion, or to get going on my next review (though I still haven’t finished the book) only I don’t really have enough time before I have to leave to get lunch before the movie (tryin’ to make the most of my weekend, here!) so I’ll just post this as-is and do another post for those things.  (Or just edit the Persuasion post when I have a chance.)

Book Report: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Volume 1

Published January 19, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

And it’s another fast one!  Because this time I’ll be reporting on challenge #8, “A comic written or illustrated by a person of color.”  And my comic of choice was written and illustrated by not one but four Japanese women, the manga master-team known as CLAMP.  (This would also work for challenges #15, 18, and 19.)

Of course, in a way this is me cheating, because it was a no-brainer that I would be reading this.  A) I read almost every CLAMP manga translated into English and B) I follow Cardcaptor Sakura with an almost religious zeal.  (Though I admit I haven’t started watching the new series (based on this new manga) yet.  Largely because that will involve signing up for Crunchyroll, and I’m notoriously slow about signing up for new things, particularly if I have to pay for them.)  Actually, the only surprise about me reading this now is the fact that it was published almost a month ago, and I only found out a few days ago.  (Amazon failed me yet again!  They’re supposed to notify me every time a new CLAMP book is listed!  And yet I still only find them by browsing the manga shelves.  I think they’ve only actually notified me once since I signed up for those notifications like two years ago…)

The original Cardcaptor Sakura manga (and the television show and movies based on it) was back in the late ’90s, so this is a twentieth anniversary sequel, but it takes place soon after the original.  (Sort of.  I was really thrown off by the sight of Eriol-kun talking on a freakin’ smart phone.  Those hadn’t even been invented yet when the original series ended!  So it’s like…the entire world of the manga jumped over nearly twenty years and no one noticed…or something.)  CLAMP has been doing some direct sequels to finished manga lately (Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (which starred alternate versions of Sakura and her love interest) and xxxholic both got them, and Wish sort of got a stealth sequel) so the appearance of a new Cardcaptor Sakura manga isn’t as surprising as it might be.  From watching the trailer for the anime, I thought it was just going to be a series-length adaptation of the second movie, but that certainly isn’t the case with the manga, though it does seem to be borrowing at least one theme from that movie.

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Oh, Bai, Dine-in Movie Theatre!

Published December 19, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, so I finally got to go see The Disaster Artist, which I’ve been anxiously awaiting ever since I first heard about it.  And yes, it’s fantastic.  Definitely see it, especially if you’ve seen The Room.  (I have no idea how well it works if you haven’t.  Seems like it ought to work, though.)

But for some reason every theatre chain in this city decided it was “an arthouse flick.”

Which means it was only showing in the two artsy theatres — one located in a shopping mall (this close to Christmas!) and possessing the tiniest seats ever, and the other located in a hard-to-deal-with shopping district and only open at night — and in the “dine-in” theatres of the regular chains.  You know, the ones with the La-z-boy seats and the double price tickets.

The one in the shopping mall was absolutely out.  That’s a last resort theatre even when it isn’t Christmas-shopping season, just because it’s so uncomfortable to sit there.  And the one in the shopping district really wasn’t appealing as a prospect because their first showing of the day starts at 4-something, and trying to park there is a nightmare.  And Tuesdays are half-price ticket days at the major chains.  (Possibly only for their frequent viewer members; not sure about that.)

So we decided to risk it and went to what used to be a really nice theatre, packed with viewers.  In fact, that might be where I first saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with a lobby so crowded that it’s giving me agoraphobia just to think about it.  (Thank goodness I was less mentally fragile as a teenager! (Yikes, that’s a terrifying sentence.))

The place was deserted.

Clue one that closing it down for a year to re-fit the entire interior to “dine-in” viewing was a mistake.

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Book Report: A History of Blood and Glitter

Published September 21, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

Wow.  This is…I have no words for what this is.  No single words, that is.  I should be able to string together a lot of them to give some vague idea of what this is.

One thing I can say simply, though, is that I sure picked a doozy to finish up the challenge with!  This was my pick for the last remaining challenge, #14, “Read a book about war.”

So, let’s start with a simple idea of what this book is about.  It’s about a war in the fairy city of Ferrum, though the fairies aren’t fighting it:  the gnomes and the tightropers are.  Now, before I get to answering the question you’re undoubtedly asking yourself (i.e. “what the heck is a tightroper?”) let me first dispel a few misconceptions you’re undoubtedly harboring.  First off, that image you’ve got in your mind right now of Tinkerbell?  Wipe it out.  These fairies have no wings, naturally grow glitter in their skin (which flakes off like dandruff), and they’re immortal.  So immortal, in fact, that they can never really die, and are fully capable of feeling any bits of them that become detached from their bodies (including that oft-falling glitter!) and even controlling those bits, if they’re large enough.  So at the start of the book, the heroine Beckan takes her father with her everywhere, because he’s just an eye and an ear in a jar.  And as to those gnomes, if you’re thinking of saccharine little garden statues with pointy hats and long beards, forget them.  Forever.  These gnomes are more like a cross between Tolkienian dwarves and Gollum, only with pointier teeth and long mole-claws for digging.  And they love to eat fairy; nothing is more nourishing to a gnome than fairies, and even a small mouthful will support them for weeks.  As to the tightropers…we never get a very clear description (because our very unreliable narrator already knows what they are and what they look like) but they seem to be very spindly people with a spider-like ability to produce “ropes” out of their mouths.  (And yes, I know that’s not where the webbing comes out of a spider.)

As you may guess from that description, this book is set in a very unusual and rather disturbing world.

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Missing Letter Monday No “J” – Characters Running Away with the Scene

Published January 30, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

What I’m about to quote to you (with one mild edit for language of the sort I don’t use on my blog) comes from the story I was writing in late October, to which my NaNo novel was a sequel.  I’d been working on the same scene (a press conference being held by a rock star and his boyfriend, whose relationship had recently had recently been exposed (in every sense of the word) by a sleazy paparazzi-type in a tabloid) for a while, and had started to lose touch with it, I suppose…

            “You better believe it!” Curt laughed, before kissing him passionately.  Arthur could hear the flashbulbs going off, but he couldn’t force himself to break away from the kiss.  It felt too good.  And, deep down, a part of him hoped that maybe photos of them kissing might help other young men accept themselves the way photos of Curt and Brian had helped him.  Even having that thought made Arthur hate himself for putting on such airs.  That he would have the nerve to compare himself to Brian — to imagine that he could ever be even a quarter as important to Curt as Brian had been — shocked and disgusted him.  No matter what Brian had become since, he had been the love of Curt’s life, and Arthur knew that wasn’t going to change for someone as pathetic as he was.

The reporters were already shouting more questions by the time they parted.  “What else are we supposed to be asking you, man?  This scene is growing tedious!”

“You’re telling me?  Let’s get the f*** out of here.”

As you may have guessed, they weren’t supposed to say any of that…but yes, I really did find myself typing that as I realized I didn’t remember what else I needed the reporters to ask them.

(Yeah, I’m still hooked on writing Velvet Goldmine fanfic.  Actually been posting this one to AO3, in fact.  Though I haven’t gotten this far in the posting yet.  Oh, uh, spoiler warning.  If anyone happens to see this who’s been reading it.  Which seems unlikely at best.)


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Subtitle Oopsy

Published September 6, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

I think I just won the “stupidest title for a blog post ever” award.

If there is such an award.

(I’m not sure if I’d actually want there to be one or not.)

Anyway, I just wanted to post about something stupid that actually tied in to my somewhat estranged “Greek mythology” theme.

So, I’m sorry to say that my birthday was last month, and as usual I couldn’t convince my family to pretend it wasn’t happening.  But at least they had the decency to only give me one present.  In this case, it was the Blu-Ray of the movie Iphigenia, based on the Euripides play Iphigenia at Aulis.  (But without the dea ex machina ending that scholars have been arguing about for centuries.)

I saw the movie years ago in a class, and I’d been trying to get my hands on it for a couple of years to see it again, but the DVD was long out of print, and apparently someone stole the Netflix lending copy.  (Seriously, it’s been on my brother’s queue for years.)  But it was finally released on Blu-ray recently by Olive Films (at least, I think that’s what the logo said) so I was finally able to see it again.

I hadn’t read the play yet when I first saw the movie, so I was surprised at just how much material there was before the start of the play.  (Must have been at least ten to fifteen minutes.)

The point of this post, though, is to tell you about a little goof they made in the subtitles.  (And yes, I only just got around to watching it yesterday.  On account of I have a slight problem with my television, and currently have to take Blu-rays to my brother’s place to watch them.)  For those who don’t know the story of the play, the only pertinent detail you need for my anecdote is that Agamemnon sent a letter back to Mycenae, asking that his eldest daughter, Iphigenia, be sent alone to Aulis, in order to marry Achilles.  Of course, his wife, Clytemnestra, wasn’t about to let her daughter go off alone, so she’s come to Aulis with her.  And when she’s talking to Agamemnon about the proposed marriage, she’s asking about what kind of man Achilles is.

And Agamemnon tells her that he’s “descended from Aesop.”

And I’m sitting here going “Um, what?”

Because I know that’s not what it said in Euripides.  Because while Aesop is one of those writers that — like Homer — has a partially (or entirely) mythologized life story, he’s still a real person.  (Probably.)  And lived in historical times.  And was a slave.

But the movie was going on, and I forgot about the line until after the movie was over.

Then I was suddenly like “Oh, duh!”

What the line actually said was that Achilles was descended from Asopos, not Aesop.  Asopos, of course, being a river god and the father of Aegina, who was kidnapped/ravished/impregnated by Zeus, giving birth to Aiakos, who was the father of Peleus, father of Achilles.

Now, it still strikes me as weird to pick Asopos rather than Zeus in order to talk about Achilles’ divine lineage (not to mention what about his mother, Thetis, the most powerful of the Nereids?) but presumably that was either because pretty much everyone in the mythic nobility is descended from Zeus, or — more likely — for metrical reasons.

But writing Aesop instead of Asopos…

…it’s hard to find rhyme or reason for that one.

Words Crush Wednesday – The Reason Why

Published June 29, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Been a while since I did a Words Crush Wednesday, huh?  Well, I hope I remembered the title correctly on the book I’m quoting here!  It’s not a book I own, you see, but one I came across as I was cataloging the museum’s library on Sunday.  I seem to recall the title being The Reason Why, but it might have been the plural “Reasons” or…well, this is the general idea, anyway.  It was a book of “scientific facts” explaining all sorts of things like why a bubble is round, where condensation comes from, et cetera.  The stuff a five year old asks.

Anyway, this one was so funny I had to take a photo of it so I could quote it here.

977. Why do tears form in the eyes?

Because, under the emotions of the mind, the circulation of blood in brain, and in its nearest branches, becomes considerably quickened.  The eyes receive a larger amount of blood, and the secretion of the lachrymal glands being increased, the fluid overflows, and tears are formed.  The use of tears is probably to keep the eyes cool during the excitement of the brain.  They are formed also during laughing, but less frequently. [Emphasis in original.]

Yup, this allegedly scientific document just claimed that you cry to keep your eyes cool ’cause your brain is overheating.  Because that’s such a scientific explanation.

(Actually, while I understand that the main purpose of the tear glands is to keep the eyes moist and to wash away dust and other particulate matter that accrues on the surface of the eyeball, I have to admit to some curiosity about why emotional distress causes tears in most people.  Primarily because this put the idea in my head; I’d never really stopped to think about it before.)

wcw

Missing Letter Mondays – No “D”

Published June 20, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Listless

My house mostly no longer stinks.
(It’s just a hint in the hallway now.)
But I’m listless now.
I’ve been off-line for a week.
(38 posts to check out!)
It’s going to be onerous,
Trying to resume on-line life.

I may start posting excerpts,
From my current Work-In-Progress.
It’s been going more slowly,
Because of the excessive heat
(The problem of having only a laptop)
But I feel like some of it’s fun,
Maybe even worthwhile.
(Only maybe, though.
It must not be forgotten that I suck.)

This heat is the biggest issue, though.
My AC is…well, not broken.
It runs.  It runs just fine.
(Much better than the neighbors’!)
But it has this thing going on.
If I run it too long,
Water seeps through the vent,
Soaks the filter,
Softens it,
Until the filter is a knot
Halfway into the furnace.
But I can’t call for a repair.
Not right now.
So I have to let it got hot in here,
Saving the AC for short bursts.
I have ceiling fans, but…
They only go so far.

Writing is mostly out,
Gaming is having trouble keeping my attention.

I can’t help it.

I’m just listless.

(Also, I seem to obsess about sex more than usual in the past week…)


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Forget the format:  this is a genuine report on my current situation.

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