11 September 2011

So Today Was My Birthday

I had spent my entire weekend at Geek.kon, so I was already there when I woke up. My friends and I signed up for a Tea Party where we had to solve a mystery. The Tea Party was on an airship with a time engine. The Time Engine broke so the airship can only go back in time and not forward and the professor who created and manned the airship disappeared into the time stream. So it was up to us, the guests, to figure out where and when the professor landed. I take pride in the fact that I was the one who guessed correctly.

What made it better was my having my sonic screwdriver on me. People asked why I couldn't fix the engine with that, and I said it didn't work on gears. Even so, I felt like the Doctor. And the family sitting next to me agreed. It was a good way to start the morning.

Then we went to the boffer room, where we got to hit people with foam weapons. Hitting people with foam weapons = all sorts of fun. Enough said.

Earlier in the weekend, my friends and I were oogling Tasty Peach Studios. I had my eye on three pairs of earrings but could only buy one. My friends bought the other two as presents for me.

Aren't they all sorts of adorable?

Other cool things at the con involved my playing Mega Man II in the game room. Mega Man is the video game of my childhood, so it was all sorts of nostalgic (and an excellent distraction for my friends to sneak away to buy said presents). Then there was a concert by I Fight Dragons which was fun. This was cut short by our need to return to campus.

Upon arrival to my room, I found several things. The first was my Computer Actual, with printing capabilities and a DVD drive and a really big screen and kind of in need of a new keyboard. But I love it even though the webcam is glitching. I didn't realize how much of a luxury a  large screen is until I was using a Netbook for a long time. Mom and Dad also sent along an antique tea set from Japan they got as a gift when they got married. You could call this a form of regifting, but I think after so many years it becomes a moot point. Either way, I had half a pot of green tea as I read for creative writing after dinner. It was good tea in a good pot. And now I have to host a tea party.

My roommates also gave me a few presents. I love my roommates. And I love my friends. But most of all, I love my family. We know each other so well.

07 September 2011

In Answer to the Question at the End of This Video

The thoughts expressed in the following video pertain to my answer so please watch it before you read my answer.

Is my quest heroic?** First, I will define these terms as I think of them, and then I'm going to answer my question based from those definitions.

I think of a quest as a great adventure that takes place throughout the life of a character. At the end of their life and beyond they have achieved greatness, which is a position of great personal respect for themselves and the people in their lives. Harry Potter is an example of a contemporary quest. The Odyssey is an ancient quest. Quests can also come in small forms. In Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, the quest of the main character is to find a place to call home. Gatsby's quest in The Great Gatsby is to be happy and go back to the time of innocence when he first met Daisy before the war. The quest of Magpie in The Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer is to rid the faerie realm of the Blackbringer. By bringing in these different stories, I can now identify a quest as a personal goal to which I aim to achieve. At the end of my quest, I hope to grow as a person and hopefully earn the respect of my peers and anyone else with whom I interact with.

I have several goals in my life. I want to implement a blog about writing to be maintained by my creative writing group. When I settle down in a city with a career, I want to buy a Mac desktop and run the latest version of Windows on it. I want to buy a parrot and teach it tricks and have it sit on my shoulder as I write. I want to live on the West Coast solely because I've never been there before. I want to intern at a literary agency and hopefully start a career as a literary agent. I want to work in the science fiction sect of the publishing world.

Now, is my quest heroic? I think of a hero as someone who saves a life not because they had a social obligation but because they had the opportunity to do so and they took it. From that alone, I say my quest is not heroic. For one thing, I dodge calls from the American Red Cross who want me to donate blood every three months or so. I do not interact with people in need on a regular basis. Neither do I actively seek out charities and charitable organizations for which I can be a part of. If you do not think this disqualifies me as a hero, then please say so in the comments. But I do not think of myself as a hero.

Is my quest heroic? No, my quest is not heroic.

I feel no shame in this. My personal goals are my own and are created based on what will make me happiest. The fact that I do not do charity work does not mean that I am a bad person. I smile and say hi to people I know on the street. I apologize for doing something wrong. I feel guilty for something as innocent as spitting from a tall building (there were no passersby directly underneath. I checked.) I assured a police officer today that I will spread the word to my roommates to be on the lookout for terrorists. My roommate gave me a weird look, but I still passed the word even though I thought it was ridiculous as well. (Who would want to attack a UW football game? If you're going to attack Wisconsin, you attack a Packer game or Sturgeon Bay. That is, those are the places I would attack.) Also, I had a dog approach me while I was on vacation and plop down on my foot. I figure if a dog likes me that much, I can't be too bad. Can't I?

In any case, I am confident in my goodness as a person and I do not think my quest is heroic. That is the answer to my question.

** I didn't exactly finish The Great Gatsby so I feel unqualified to answer the other question. 

05 September 2011

My Current Favorite Authors

If you ask me my favorite author, I usually say an author whose book I recently read, or I'll say an author whose latest book is coming out soon. And because I'm talking about this now, I'm going to give you a list of authors who I've either recently read or who have books coming out soon. Therefore, the following are now my favorite authors until they are no longer. All book titles are linked to their page on Goodreads and series names are linked to the first book in the series. In no particular order:

Laini Taylor
Ms. Taylor wrote The Faeries of Dreamdark and Lips Touch Three Times. I loved Dreamdark because of the dialogue and the simple language that said so much in so few words. The descriptions were beautiful in their simplicity. Furthermore, you might as well have plucked the land of Dreamdark from the edge of your dreams because it probably was. But my favorite parts were the dialogue. The faerie slang was so natural I found myself saying "Jacksmoke" every time I needed to swear.

I'm currently reading Lips Touch and it's just as fabulous. Lips Touch is a series of three novellas about kissing. The creativity behind the magical worlds baffles me. These are the sort of worlds that make you think "This is so obvious. Why didn't I think of it first?" Like the Dreamdark books, the descriptions are simple and beautiful and the similes barely expand more than five words. But those five words tell so much.

Ms. Taylor's latest book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, comes out later in September. I'm very, very excited to read it.

Holly Black
Ms. Black writes the Curse Worker series which includes White Cat and Red Glove. Both are about Cassel Sharpe, a young man whose family works closely with a mob crime lord. Cassel's voice in both books sucks you in and keeps you there. He is real, rounded, knowingly makes bad decisions, looks at girls, critically thinks about the mysteries surrounding his life, and really needs a hug. His love life is the most painful and defining part of his character. I also love the world of the Curse Worker series and how the world is defined through Cassel's actions. Small things like his feeling of vulnerability when his gloves are off really sets the tone for the rest of the world.

Sadly, the third installment Black Heart won't be released until April 2012.

Scott Westerfeld
Author of the Midnighters and Uglies series, Mr. Westerfeld's latest series follows two teenagers in the middle of an alternate World War One. The moment you crack open Leviathan, you don't look up until you finish Behemoth. The characters might as well jump out of their illustrations. Their worries are worries one would legitimately have while on board an air vessel made out of a whale. And the illustrations are beautiful --- detailed and expressive and able to be stared at for long periods of time without tiring of them. If you're going to read anything by Mr. Westerfeld, read Leviathan and it's sequel Behemoth. The world is believable and riddled with English slang and German curses. You won't be disappointed.

The last book in the series, Goliath, is released later in September.

John Scalzi
I recently read Fuzzy Nation, which is a reboot of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy written in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I haven't read the original, but I highly enjoyed the remake. The main character was such a jerk to everyone he met, and his character was consistent throughout the entire novel. His character was what really made the connection with me. Another part was the actual storytelling itself. No detail was left unresolved. When a character is mentioned, he bears no significance until later in the story even if you don't realize it. Those kinds of details always fascinated me, because the author is introducing you to a fact that you'll probably forget until later when it is brought up again. It is my dream to write a story with something like that in it.

Also, John Scalzi has my dream job. He is a freelance writer with a weekly column at Filmcritic.com about science fiction movies, has several novels out including the Old Man's War series, Agent to the Stars, and The Android's Dream. He's president of the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America -- which nominates and votes for the Hugo Awards). AND he maintains the blog Whatever, which has been running since 1998. Dude does a lot. I want to be just like him when I grow up, down to the famously geekly best friend. (No, really, he's close with Wil Wheaton.)

03 September 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Drive Back Home

I grew up with a mother where anything less than ten miles over the speed limit was normal. It was a weird time during the summer when I went back. Apparently, the cops in my hometown have started cracking down on speeding. Mom did everything in her power to stay at the speed limit, and here's why.

My older brother is riding in the passenger seat with my mom driving. They get pulled over and my brother is cracking up. Mom being pulled over isn't really big news especially since she's always let go with warnings. But not this time. By now, the cops should at least recognize the car and the license plate. He thinks she's in for it, and I admit that it is pretty funny.

So the policeman comes and asks to see my mom's license. She shows it through her wallet, and the policeman asks her to remove it so he can take it back to the car. 

Here's another anecdote about my mother --- her wallet is stuffed to the rafters. Don't ask me what's in there, but there's a few cards from various places, membership cards, cash, coupons, receipts. She almost needs a mini-purse to fit all the things she wants to carry in her wallet. Instead, she usually gets the biggest wallets she can find. And they're still hard to zip closed.

So it doesn't really surprise me when Mom can't pull her driver's license from her wallet. My brother tries, and fails. And the policeman tries and fails as well. Finally giving in, the policeman goes back to the car to get a pad of paper to copy mom's information. No, she wasn't getting away just because her license was stuck. Here are ways around that.

The officer returns and copies the information, and then he goes back to his car. Mom and my brother sit in the car for a while. A few minutes later, the policeman returns.

But he doesn't have a ticket.

He says the printer in his car isn't working, so he's going to let her off with a warning. I think my brother balked or something because, dude, mom gets away with everything. She's just that awesome.