laughingman A:TLA, avatar, laughingman
I'm writing fanfics again. This time, the series is "Avatar: The Last Airbender", an anime-esque show from Nickelodeon.

Ride Ten Thousand Days and Nights
Prologue: The Governor of New Sozin

This story is based on characters and situations created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.

Crown Prince Zuko slept only fitfullyCollapse )

NotesCollapse )


kh - sora - moonlight
"For one shining moment, each of us saw the city, a glittering jewel under the moonlight, a city that held the soul of all the world. We saw that which was, and might be again, and then the vision faded. But the understanding remained. We found each other, for we can all recognize those who have seen the city. Together we fight to reclaim joy, together we work to rebuild hope. And together we call back the soul of the city and make it real once again."

I'm not terribly familiar with World of Darkness (having little taste for the 'Darkness' bit). But Princess: The Transfiguration is an interesting approach to the magical girl genre.
starry batnight
It came as some surprise to me that there was a large conversational event[1] regarding racism, unwitting and otherwise, occurring on The Entire Interwebs, or at least LiveJournal and associated island-blogs. Because I came to it so late, I'm not going to try to talk much about it here, there being little return on that investment that I can foresee.

Instead, I want to revisit the topic that I understand sparked off this whole mess: writing the Other. I'm a heterosexual male American of German ancestry and Protestant Christian upbringing. I'm well educated and politically liberal. I take home a larger paycheck as a young single man than many families in this country, let alone other countries. I have no disabilities unless you count mild social awkwardness and occasional bouts of blunted affect. Just about every group of power you can identify, I belong more in that group than in the non-empowered groups.

I'm also, from time to time, a fanfic writer[2]. As a general rule, I write in universes derived from Japanese (anime and manga) sources; what Western universes I write in are science fiction and fantasy. Nearly all of these characters qualify as Other; the ones that don't are still not like me, for very good reasons. There's a standard term for what happens when a fanfic writer puts himself into the story, after all, and it rhymes with Jerry Blue.

So how do you write the fictional Other? With the anime universes, I can immerse myself in Japanese culture to an extent. I frequently worry that I'm like WALL-E, collecting shiny things without regard for what they are and, sometimes, tossing out the diamond ring in favor of the nifty jewelry box. I have to be careful not to substitute verisimilitude for getting the culture right. That's a common failure mode, judging by what's out there. And of course this breaks down completely with fictional cultures; there's nowhere I can go to learn more about Colonial society in order to better write Kara Thrace. (Though here the writers of the show admittedly have the same problem.)

Another tactic I often use is to find a "bridge" character that's more like me. For example, Ayanami Rei was raised in a lab, as a tool. This has made her withdrawn and suppressed her emotions, but it also means that many aspects of Japanese culture -- Tanabata, to pick a hypothetical (Tanabata is often the festival featured in festival episodes) -- are as foreign to her as they are to me. I'll likewise focus on Saotome Ranma in stories in that universe.

That's a couple of tactics, but I think most of what you have to do is develop an "ear" for the proper cultural characterization. When I first started playing the ukulele, I couldn't tell if any of the strings were out of tune. Now, I can (for some of them), though I still don't trust my ear yet for tuning them without aid of a pitchpipe. It's a process.

I'd like to hear how you go about it in your writing, if you have anything to offer.


[1] I really am not too sure what to call it. "Drama" seems to imply denigration, though I think some parts of it have been too dramatic. "Flamewar" is also mostly not accurate. Indeed, the most reliable characterization I can see is that a lot of the time, communication has NOT been occurring.

[2] I do not, however, identify as a part of "fandom". I also don't identify as part of the "German ancestry" group or the "American" group; it's not an essential part of my identity. I am wondering if this is a trend. ("Male", yes, that is part of my identity; biology will out.)

Found while packing

starry batnight
Found this old Shadow Play Girls scene in a notebook.

BrainmeltCollapse )
kh - roxas - startled
It's been a bit over a month since I moved to Hawaii. Wonderful place. And yet, yesterday the old depression came back.

Relatedly, I invented a new term: "Haruhi Syndrome". It's named after Suzumiya Haruhi, as in the lead character of the anime series "The Melancholy of [same]". Haruhi wants desperately for her world to include "aliens, espers, and time travellers" (in short, she doesn't want to accept that she lives in a mundane universe), and never gives up hope or stops looking for them. (The fact that they're right under her nose is irrelevant to this.)

Some days the Haruhi Syndrome is really strong.

Today's feeling better, though.

I am an idiot

classic blunders
I decided to take apart my MacBook Pro keyboard to clean it. An hour later, I had it back together again, and I had only broken two of the keys.

Replacement keys cost $9 each, plus $14 for overnight shipping.

I hope I have learned my lesson.

I ran the Democrat caucus for my precinct

kh - timeless river handshake
Both the Republican and Democrat caucuses in Mankato were poorly organized. They were at the same high school, and way more people turned out than were expected.

So at first they couldn't find the envelope for our precinct, and even when they did, it was missing a third of the names, so we just had people sign back up anyway. And of course there were a lot of new people. I got elected as caucus chair, so I tried to run the thing. I've never been to a caucus before in my life; I just like to try to organize things. I think I did a decent job of it.

We did our votes (in Minnesota, it's a secret ballot) and then counted the votes, with two people counting for Clinton, two people for Obama, and two people for everyone else. It came out to 53 Obama, 14 Clinton, 1 Undecided. A lot of people actually seemed to want some Irish dude named O'Bama to be president, but we threw those in with the guy who had a similar name.

Then we had people sign up to be delegates to the county level caucus. We had 14 slots, and at first had trouble getting enough people, but we eventually got them, and about 5 alternates.

Then it was time to propose and vote on resolutions for the party platform. The local priest had three; minimum wage increase, mental health counseling for inmates, and immigration reform. Some woman had one on promoting art. This girl I know who works at Noodles and Company put forward one about freezing tuition at state universities, and her partner had one about repealing the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act". And then I had one calling the state legislature to condemn waterboarding and other torture methods. They all passed.

Then we made sure everything was in the envelope, and went home. It was pretty fun. My kid sister (this was her first election and first caucus) is gonna be a delegate to the county caucus. She's really excited.

Knowing you are about to die

oldskool Ico and Yorda
This is the first time that I can remember a dream wherein I knew that I was about to die. As usual for my dreams, it didn't involve any sort of normal danger. No, it involved a Terminator.

After being chased through the German Airport (I guess they only have one in dream-Germany, and all the signs there are in English.) I was basically cornered and unarmed. Some other guy (probably John Connor) tried attacking the Terminator with some form of heat-seeking missile that moves incredibly slowly, can make hairpin turns, and is about the size of a football. The Terminator caught it, and then they had a mexican standoff.

Around this time I decided that if I was going to die, I would at least go out fighting. So I tried throwing my wallet at the Terminator to distract it and give the other guy an opening. It didn't work, but we won anyway, by getting about five huge dogs to jump on the Terminator and tear it to shreds. And then I woke up.


What I did today

Wander and Colossus in sketch
Woke up at about 9:30. Half a minute after waking up, decided to log into WoW to check things I was selling on the auction house. Remembered that I'd cancelled my WoW account because I play it too much. Briefly considered reactivating, before remembering that that'd be stupid. Went back to sleep.
Woke up at about 10 am. Read RSS feeds. Discovered that Wal-Mart was selling pre-orders of the new Super Smash Brothers Brawl for Wii for only $20. Pre-ordered. Listed excess Broadway ticket on eBay. (Long story there.) Bought two domain names.
Exercised for the first time in months (by which I mean the first time I'd done exercise for exercise's sake, rather than in the course of something else). Got three textbooks and a ceramic heater in the mail. Considered eating breakfast. (It is now about 12:30.)
Wasted time on the internet, and did an Alice and Bob cryptography explanation about RSA signatures. Desired to own a Turkish Van cat.
Went to work at 2 pm, much later than I'd originally planned to. Dicked about with RSpec a bit and decided that our database schema was, while fairly correct from an objective standpoint, ass-backwards from Rails's standpoint, which was contributing to our difficulty in writing tests properly.
Went home at 4pm. Made dinner (first meal of the day! It was sweet italian sausage tortellini). Tried to do some research for a programming project. Bought $45 worth of cologne samples. Wrote this blog post.

A new coat

kh - roxas - startled
This was on sale for about 75% off on Amazon, so I only paid $90 for it. It is made of awesome. And wool.

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October 2009


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