Archive for December, 2011

from here to there

December 26, 2011

I really enjoy the details of how a universe works, and the internal logic.  That means in protagonists, I want to see their weaknesses and how the author gets around those weaknesses while still being true to the universe they created.  If you push the line of what is logical in universe, you get a lot of cries of BS from me, but if you do it well, I’m impressed.  It’s an interesting exercise.

So that means in Naruto, no ninja can fly.  Sure, they have jutsus that can effectively do this, or some technologies (mostly in the movies), but given that the schizoid tech of that world, that’s not a problem for me.  They still have to walk to get to places, or hop trees, or whatever, and you see them do it.  Or that Harry Potter’s world, nothing can be created from nothing – which I find really interesting.  Because it shows the limits of whatever power there is – a power which might solve problems without other kinds of effort.  (For the record, I am not a Potter-head.)

My favorite, in theory if not in actual execution, is Dune.  Because the whole saga is based around acquisition of the spice, which is their way of getting around.  It is actually the oil equivalent of their universe.  (Almost literally – using the analogy of the desert people and all that.  I don’t know enough about it to comment further, but I am really impressed by this.  Although, to paraphrase themightygodking, you don’t have to read much further to get the point.)  But a civilization is based on exploitation of this spice, which is the lynchpin of their moving around the universe.  Without it, nothing goes.  Everything else, the family sagas, the technology, the religious cults, is secondary to this spice.

I am myself working on several pieces which involve these little details.  One story is basically halted because of the problem I am having in getting a reasonable fix on how this civilization would transport mail/messages.  Because if you’re crossing galaxies, you’re wanting mail/news from all the corners of your empire, right?  How can you do that in a way that doesn’t seem dated by the standards of the technology you’re already getting up there?  Couriers?  Some hyper-light mail?  Which I can’t buy because of the problems of the physics, not that I know anything about it, but it is a stopping block.  How fast would it have to be to be reasonable?  Would you just set up mini-wormholes/mail drop boxes everywhere?  That’s crazy.  That would work with crack fic, but not a serious piece.  (I know lots of works just handwave it (looking at you, George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry), and I probably could too, but it seems like something really key to the story right now.  It’s probably kind of dumb that I’m stuck on it, but this is one of my Problems.)

I can’t help but think that the things that add to/halt a civilization’s communication/travel say a lot about it, and because of my need to Say Something Important Occasionally, it’s sort of blocking-making.  No wonder people start to write fantasy, if only so they don’t have to deal with it.  It’s all MAGIC, then.   Because this theorizing can sometimes feel like BS all by itself.

No, please

December 19, 2011

In my reverse-engineering of trying to recapture of the Korean of my toddlerhood, I have really tried to figure out ways of saying things politely.  In English, that is captured by “Please,” “Thank you,” and “You’re Welcome.”

There is no ‘please’ in Korean.  It was driving me crazy for a while, because I couldn’t figure out if it was my piss-poor Korean or just the language itself.

I had a long conversation with my father about it.  He thinks it’s funny – of course, there is no ‘please’ in Korean.  Duh, daughter.  Going to English and learning to say ‘please’ was a weird thing for him.  The implied ‘please’ is sort of embedded in the way the sentence is phrased.  Also, I have terrible literal translator-head, where one might be asking, very politely, for something might come out as bluntly as “Give it to me.”

The ‘please’ things makes me wonder if that’s a small semantic step in the stairs of what people might consider rudeness in Koreans.  Which I find ridiculous.   Koreans aren’t rude, especially to people they don’t know.  People are always talking about how polite my father/mother are (as opposed to me, I guess) or their Korean friends are (again, as opposed to me).    There are tons of different politeness levels in Korean, and it is one of the most polite-aware countries I’m aware of (or at least, you get called out a lot if you’re rude and parents are deeply ashamed for raising rude children).   Of course, there’s always going to the exceptions.  But I find most people are pretty polite anywhere you go, if you’re not an asshole.

Anyway, there is no ‘please’ in Korean.  There are, however, many ways to say ‘excuse me’ and ‘sorry.’

fulfillment center

December 16, 2011

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think I’m largely done with holiday shopping.  Mostly online.  It feels a little – I don’t know – sterile.  There’s something not quite right about sitting in my kitchen clicking away for less than an hour.  (Maybe twice that if you count the annoying period a while ago where I fought to make a holiday card and bought chocolate.)  It helped that my sister and I talked on the phone at the same time and she told me what to get her kids and what she got mine.

It’s just not shopping if there’s no parking hassle, or inability to figure out how much stuff costs, or waiting and being pissed, or yelling at your shopping buddy about something inane because of the stress, because then there’s the relief of being done.   I’m just sort of ‘eh’ about the whole thing really.  Because it makes it so much a bare exercise of commercial excess, stripped down to point, click, credit card, done.  It’s so easy.  It’s even shipped directly to the place where it needs to go – anything I can do in there would only get in the way.

I don’t know why I’m all nostalgic about it – I don’t really want to go back to that place of crowds and all, but it’s sort of weird.  I’ll get over it – I mean, I’m not complaining.  It’s just odd to me.  But, look, I still have to buy some clothes for various children which will take me into the vicinity of other people and I’ll get my “shopping sux” emotional thing on then.   Thank goodness none of the kids actually have to try things on.

pasta with sausage

December 13, 2011

Last night, I was making this dish here:  – but trying to lighten it up.  Yeah, I know.  I’m already eating a sausage pasta dish – isn’t the fat a given?  But all that cream… plus, I didn’t have any on hand.

Then I figured something out.  Add a little flour (~1Tb) while cooking the sausage and then add milk (fresh or evaporated) and the sauce doesn’t break!  Woo!  It’s sort of rough and ready not-quite-bechamel.  Thank the Internet – you have saved me again!

Yes.  It is delicious – but you got to buy the good sausage.   Now go forth and eat the yummy!  (Now, with less fat!)

Naruto Shippuden 4 Movie Review

December 12, 2011

Hey!

I just finished watching the Naruto Shippuden 4 movie.  It was okay.  Standard good guys vs disposable bad guys to save a princess.  With time travel and mysterious source of Never-Ending Chakra.  And puppets!  The trailers were full of their terrible teasing about the meeting of Minato and Naruto (father and son who canonically never really meet).  And yes, they did meet, but the movie danced around the issue terrible.

There was a little bit of waste about the side characters – but given the time constraints of the movie, the writers obviously decided to go with one group of characters over another, and that makes sense.  (When one is in the Naruto fandom, one gets used to having one set or another shafted, so it really doesn’t matter.  I didn’t have any real favorites in this, so I feel sort of even-keeled about it.)  I liked the distinct lack of ship material here – which is sort of nice.

Then there’s the ending – which had me all full of sadness and melancholy for what might have been had Naruto and Minato been able to remember their meeting.  It came out of nowhere, which might have been part of its power.  (Where Minato might have mouthed something?  What is it?!  Trying to lip read an animated movie in a language you don’t know is stupid, but I still tried.)  No lie, my eyes went sort of damp.  But I’m a huge sap like that.

Also, I am a complete and total sucker for the melancholy of “what might have been” sorts of stories.  You know the one where the love of your life takes the stairs instead of the elevator – that same elevator where you’re supposed to meet in some other universe.  I suppose that’s why I write the fanfic.  Especially for the series I do, because it is full of the “what might have been” scenarios.

A while ago, I remember reading a review for “The Lion King” and it said something about the hunger for father figures, so even though Mufasa was in there a short period of time, he was such a strong, ideal figure of a father that it made a huge impact.  I think that is what the bits of Minato in this movie did for me, really.  Because honestly, the Naruto manga is sort of crap for mother figures, but it does father figures okay, and then they all *spoiler* die or disappear somehow.  And Minato is totally Mufasa – a wise, strong leader who dies for his people/son.

There is a huge hunger in the Naruto fandom for a father figure who will stay around.  I believe so, anyway.  Partly because of the amount of fanfic for Minato, and partly because of the gasps of horror and shock when yet another important parental figure disappears.  (*Shakes fist over Jiraiya’s passing and Iruka’s virtual drop down the elevator shaft.*)  Partly because of the slow acceptance of future teacher/father figures – the readers have been sort of scarred by now.  It’s hard to love again.

Which is sort of how I’m taking the movie.  I didn’t love it, but I liked it okay.  It’s worth the time, if you’re sick and don’t have a lot to do and your expectations were suitably low.  I did like it – don’t get me wrong.  I just don’t think it was worth a lot of hype.  And yes, I’d see more like it.  But I’m a fan, and fans do stupid things all the time.

shutting down a thread

December 8, 2011

I am sort of infamous for shutting down conversations.  I either say the wrong thing, go off in an awkward direction, or say nothing at all.  I am spreading this tendency to the internet.  Here, in semi-redacted glory, is my finest attempt yet at communicating like a regular person.  (Things in <> are redacted.  Everything else was as posted.)

Friend is talking about not wanting to go to one of those parties that are covers for selling you stuff you don’t want.  Then the discussion gets onto those “lingerie” parties – I shall call it “Intimate Touch” but you all know what I’m talking about.

(And for the record, I was just trying to be funny.)

ME:  “Dear Saleslady, I’m afraid I shall have to decline going to your “Intimate Touch” party. I am looking for a venue more suited to my tastes. If you should become a purveyor of something like a F*ckin’ Freak Show, come back and I will be more than happy to attend. Thank you very much. 🙂 ”

ME:  I mean, honestly. Just call it like it is and you might actually have a chance with me. “Intimate Touch.” My ass. Yes. That’s right. I said it. (Although I have bought some nice things at a <Cooking Stuff> party once. But I am a cooking gadgets whore.)

ME: Although I probably would also attend something like a F*ckin’ Freak Show. Even though it might be hard to find babysitters. (ha.)

FRIEND OF FRIEND:  It sounds like you are more than just a cooking gadgets whore….

ME:  If one is attending a “Intimate Touch” party, I should imagine that one is also a whore. But perhaps one calls themselves “an escort.”

FRIEND:  <MKONGLISH7>, I heart you. Meet <FRIEND OF FRIEND>. I imagine the two of you would get along quite well.

ME:  ‎(Rant Here – please skip if you are easily embarrassed.) Late on television (which I watched an ungodly amount while my children were infants) there would be shows – young women dressed very nicely with good manicures who would try to sell things to you that were clearly adult materials. But then they’d go on and on about how nice the case is, and how-well known the manufacturer is. Are You Kidding Me? WHO CARES ABOUT THE CASE? I don’t care if it’s made from genuine nauga-vinyl from elf ears – okay? Sell THE THING! It’s your job – work it! Stop giggling and acting like you don’t know what it’s for. I have babies – I know what those things are for. SELL IT!

ME:  Oh, hi <FRIEND OF FRIEND>. Nice to meet you.

Aaand cue the crickets.  Oh yes, I have killed the thread.  If I went about it now, I’d probably mention something about only caring about the color of sale item if it glowed in the dark, say, or the necessity of mentioning battery life.  Sigh.

I always do this.  I mean, I think it’s funny, but it’s also sort of awful, because maybe they don’t think I’m funny.  Maybe they just think I’m an-honest-to-swearword freak.

It’s hard not knowing if people think you’re funny or they think they need to back away from you slowly when you approach them.

EDITED to fix redacted bits.

EEEEEEE!

December 6, 2011

The fansub for Naruto Shippuden Movie 4 is out!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  (cue crazy Ozzy Osbourne-style laughter)

Why has no one told me?  I really needed it yesterday, when going home early from work seemed really exciting, even though all I’d probably be doing is cleaning the toilet.  (Because some days, people, cleaning the toilet is better than doing work.  Most days, it’s not.  But there are those days…)

This just really made my day.  Smiles all around.  Just thinking about it is making me bust with happiness.  Can’t wait to get home and watch movie about animated historically inaccurate teenage ninjas who might be traveling through time in this movie.  And he might be his own father.  (Just kidding.)  YAY!

six copies

December 5, 2011

Oh, I forgot to mention!

My mother-in-law has stated that when Somebody We Know published a book, she went out and bought six copies to give to friends.  (Even though she couldn’t finish the book, which I have to say, I couldn’t finish either.  It was really depressing.  Sorry Someone.  Not that I’d ever tell you.   Seriously.   Lovely writing, but gah.  I got half-way through and it was a real downer.)

I joked that when I wrote my book, my mother-in-law would have to buy six copies.  She agreed, not knowing that I might actually do it one day.  W gave me a funny look and said, “As long as it’s not gay pron.”  Well, you can quibble all you like, W.  MIL likes romances – and almost everything I write is a romance.  If she discovers it is (well, it might be) m/m, then so be it.  I’ll still have had my six copies purchased and she wouldn’t have to read it, so it won’t be very different from the situation with Someone.  Ha.

Why, Cap, why? Oh, the scientific humanity!

December 5, 2011

Just finished watching Captain America.  Which was fine, although I was a little “eh” about it.  Lots of nice things to recommend it – but honestly, more stuff about fighting Hitler and the Red Skeleton would have been nice.  The romance didn’t do very much for me.  (I’m not that sentimental about my action heroes, sorry to say.)  Also, the ensemble fighting force should have kicked more ass, harder.

My final processing thought on the movie is this:  Why the hell do they always kill the perceptive scientist that first spotted the possibilities in the 90-lb weakling and then created the super soldier serum?  Damn it.  They’re killing off my people!  That’s how much you know that character in particular is really frickin’ important.  Because of how early they’re killed off.  They are the thing by which the plot revolves.  Yes?  *Nods emphatically.*  Yes.

If they didn’t kill off the scientist, Captain America would be merely one of many super soldiers and we’d be doing a science-fiction alt-reality of World War II.

And with that delusion safely tucked in behind my ear, I’m off.

(I suddenly remembered a story Julia Sweeney, comedienne, told on the radio.  Something about how her mother makes movies all about people who are most like herself.  Am I doing that?  Nah.  I’m, uh, just imposing alternative hypothesis.  That’s right.  *walks off, whistling innocently*)