A writing meme, the ashamed edition

via zmediaoutlet:

  1. What are some writing tics that persist in your work but that you dislike?

  2. What does your id want? Do you ever give in?

  3. You have to erase one of your fics from existence forever. Which one and why?

  4. How much do you trust the reader?

  5. Have you ever written anything you would’ve backclicked if it’d been written by anyone else?

  6. What’s your guilty pleasure as a writer?

  7. Be honest: are you mean to your faves, or do you go easy on them?

  8. What parts of writing a fic do you think are a chore?

  9. Are there any unintentional trends in your writing?

  10. Have you ever intentionally written a character as OOC to fit with a kink/prompt/story idea?


Review: Murder on the Nile

This weekend I went to see a quite enjoyable college production of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Nile". I heard a few complaints afterwards from audience members about the over-enthusiastic accents (English, Scottish, Arabic, and unidentified Slavic), but I thought it all contributed to a convincing sense of somewhere else, as did the production's somewhat elaborate single set. It felt very much like an actual location, and the set and lighting crew did an excellent job of creating scenes outside the back wall of windows to create the sense of a boat traveling down the Nile.

But the whole thing got me thinking a bit about stage productions, and what sort I tend to find most effective--and this one was actually more of a counter-example. Generally, the performances that have stuck in my memory over the years are those verging on bare stage, with almost everything sketched out by the actors and then fleshed out mentally by the audience as they're carried along by the force of what's happening onstage. A few boxes, a simple chair and table, steps or scaffolding that can be moved around as necessary: the magic of live theater is that these few things can become an entire world simply through the skill of those interacting with them.

Which isn't to say I dislike elaborate sets and costumes--if done correctly, they're also effective. But the difficulty is in doing them correctly, especially for a modern audience member who is used to the meticulous detailing that's now expected in films and television. Really, a stage production can't be expected to compete, and usually they can't. The sets wind up feeling cramped, the costumes awkward, and the acting artificial in comparison.

That's why bare stage often works better, I think. Live threater's strength is in the liveness of it, in the shared creation of a story, with the audience reacting to the actors and the actors feeding off that reaction; in the space to improvise according to who's sitting in the front row, or to slowly tweak a scene over a week of performances. The artificiality of it also allows things that simply don't work within tendency towards realism in the medium of film. An actor can speak a soliloquey to his audience because the audience is right there in the room with him; he's talking to actual people, and the people are responding directly, and it feels natural despite the obvious contrivance of it all.

I have a good friend who can't stand most live theater because of the contrivance; she can't help but be distracted and annoyed by the larger style of acting required by the physical separation of actors and audience. It's a shame, because stage can do things film can't, just as film has its own set of advantages. But then, I struggle when watching film sometimes, due to ham-fisted musical scores or overuse of close-ups, so perhaps we're simply different sides of the same coin.

All that to say: live theater is nifty, and I'm glad it's still around and doesn't look to be going away anytime soon. Also, go see "Murder on the Nile" if there's a production near you. It's an excellent meditation on love, envy, and the nature of evil--and a fun mystery to boot.

from Elliot's "The Rock"

Why should men love the chuch? Why should they love her laws?
She tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget.
She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.
She tells them of Evil and Sin and other unpleasant facts.
They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be.

- T.S. Elliot, choruses from "The Rock", VI
Indexing: ,

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Hail, true body born of the Virgin Mary,
Who truly suffered, sacrificed on the Cross for man,
Whose pierced side overflowed with water and blood,
Be for us a foretaste In the test of death.

Eh, why not

via zmediaoutlet, an odd little meme:

  • where you live - Not gonna name the town, but about an hour north of Philadelphia, where farm country and the suburbs meet

  • the language you speak most often - 99% English; occasional French and Latin phrases

  • what you call a tiny, overpriced grocery store on a street corner where you go when you just need a carton of milk or a candy bar or something - Convenience store, although around here they're rarely a standalone. So you've got Wawa, which is gas/convenience or CVS, which is pharmacy/convenience, or local delis which also sell a smattering of things that just aren't worth making a separate trip out for (like, I just bought batteries with my lunch earlier this week). There are still a few old-style Wawas and 7-Elevens that are purely convenience shops, but all the new ones being built follow the hybrid model. (And they're mostly Wawas. Wawa is wonderful. Wawa is life. Everyone around here loves Wawa.)


Review: Slime Rancher

I know, the name's ridiculous, but the game itself is a lot of fun. Maybe a little too much fun, as it's tempting to do nothing except play it.

So, the conceit's simple: you corral slimes and collect the gems that, uh, appear when you feed them--and then you can either cash the gems in to buy equipment, or save them to make stuff once you've purchased an extension to your original ranch plot. Although there are things that would like to eat you, there's nothing that can actually kill you--worst case scenario is that you're 'knocked out' for a day in-game.

Along with the ranching aspect, exploration is also a big part of the game, and the world is definitely visually engaging and fun to maneuver through (especially once you get your rocket pack so you can reach some of the higher rock ledges). And with the music turned off, the background ambient noises are a nice nature mix.

I think I watched about 10 minutes of gameplay on YouTube before concluding that I had to play it for myself.

The one caveat I'll offer is that because the slimes function as living animals, there's a fair bit of feeding/cleaning up after them that you have to do on a regular basis. I was talking to a friend about the game, and when he heard about that aspect of it, he immediately declared that he'd have to get a machine to manage all that so that he could focus on the exploring aspect. But that's really missing part of the charm of the whole thing--it's a game about working, but working at your own pace, in a pleasant environment that you can control (once you have enough materials, you can start creating trees and gardens and things around your originally desert-like ranch), with minimally-onerous tasks, and very appreciative "animals" that you're taking care of.

It's really kind of relaxing.

(...And I think I can go squeeze in 20 minutes before I have to go back to the regular grind of my actual job.)

Poem: Putting in the Seed

You come to fetch me from my work to-night
When supper's on the table, and we'll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea);
And go along with you ere you lose sight
Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a Springtime passion for the earth.
How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

- Robert Frost