Thursday, January 3, 2019

10 Things - A New New Year's Tradition

Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, and Happy Solemnity of Mary to all of you! I know that all of you are probably a bit occupied for blog-reading at present, but I figured that I'd post this just in case. So - getting down to business. I'm starting a tradition for this blog here and now. What sort of a tradition? I'm going to suggest to you 10 things that you should try in the new year that I discovered this past year (and feel free to post about your results with them!), and in the comment, you guys suggest any (up to 10) new things that you think I should try this year. They could be movies, songs, activities, books, new genres of anything, snacks, or whatever pops into your head! I'll do my best to try them and post the results as the year goes on, and well as a summary and 10 more new things at the end of the year! Hopefully the tradition catches on! Here goes!
 New Thing #10 - Polyphony
If you've never tried to sing or listen to polyphony, I suggest trying it (and trying it seriously) now! It takes some time to appreciate it, but when you do, you really come to love it, and you realize that it is some of the most beautiful music there is! I had sung a little bit before, but when I joined probably one of the hardest Church choirs I've ever seen this year, I was in way over my head. But I still love it - having to learn it, and absorbing this beautiful music, even for so short a time, has given me such an appreciation for it. There's really nothing like it!
New Thing #9 - Ballroom Dancing
Okay, I know that this is a bit of a commitment, so I totally understand for anyone who doesn't do it - but, honestly, even just looking up a video and imitating the steps is pretty fun, and it gives you such a new scope on dancing in general. It is one of the single best hobbies I can think of, actually, and I'm sad that it took me up until late this past year to finally learn it! (Also, as a side note, not all ballroom dances need a partner, so don't worry if you're not sure who to call!)
New Thing #8 - Edward Feser and His Books
Even if you just read his humorous and profound blog posts, Edward Feser is a genius and his writing is a serious broadening of the mind. He really writes to make you think, and I wish he was better-known. His book on the mind (Philosophy of Mind, which I blogged about a while back, here) was amazing, and he has so many invaluable books on subjects that most authors can't even tackle. Hey, even if you're not big into philosophy, you can pop into his blog (here) and read his philosophical and superhero-comic-spattered thought posts.
New Thing #7 - Silent Movies
Honestly, silent movies are under-appreciated in this day and age. We think they're cheesy merely because they don't have the same special effects of now or the same acting of their near predecessors. They're such a milestone in history, though, and they are enjoyable, even if only for a laugh with some of them. Some of my favorites that I discovered and watched this year were It, Nosferatu, and Lon Chaney Sr.'s Ace of Hearts. I strongly encourage the spread of silent movies - some aren't worth keeping for morality reasons, it's true, but on a whole, they're a very neglected art.
New Thing #6 - Quote Battles
I'm sure, with close friends, everybody's done some bit of movie and book quoting before. But as a whole conversation? Trying to make a conversation that more or less makes sense merely out of quotes is not only usually hilarious, but very fun. It's one little thing I'm definitely not sorry I tried this past year.
New Thing #5 - St. Louis de Montfort
St. Louis de Montfort wrote a lot of incredible books, and I'm honestly ashamed that I didn't get around to reading any of them sooner. My family and I are finishing up his Secrets of the Rosary presently, and copies of his book on consecration to Mary were at Church for most of the school year, so I did finally remedy the situation a bit this past year, but still. I plan to read a lot more of his work in this new one. 
New Thing #4 - Singing and Playing
If you don't (and don't plan to) play an instrument, that's fine. But if you do play one that is compatible with any form of singing, let me recommend this extremely helpful brain exercise that not only boost one's playing and singing abilities, but coordination period. Even just learning to play and sing one song is quite a challenge!
New Thing #3 - A New Movie Genre
I never watched Horror movies, or Thriller, and absolutely not Martial Arts movies. But I tried some of those this past year, and was, in some cases, impressed. I'm still not a big Horror or Thriller fan - I can't stand gore, and intensity makes me anxious or bored - but I still found a couple of movies I don't regret watching in the genre. (I did not enjoy every movie I saw, but I don't regret trying the genre.)  I definitely never really liked Martial Arts movies - they were always so cheesy, overdone, and violent, not to mention stupid in my own haughty opinion. But I tried a new one this year and actually ended up loving it (in fact... expect the movie Ip-Man to come up in another posts...). And I realized something from it - even if you don't like the genre in general, there's usually at least one movie in every genre that you would like, and you could be missing out on that movie just because of the genre. Besides, there are so many movies out there that totally don't fit the usually genre they're put in - you could be really missing out because of a fault label!
New Thing #2 - Tyrone Power Movies
Okay - this is easily one of the best non-religious things I discovered this year. I love Tyrone Power movies! Not only is he possibly one of the best-looking actors I've ever seen, but his acting is amazing, and most of his movies have great acting throughout them. Not to mention that a large chunk of them are thoroughly pro-Christian and pro-Catholic, as well as being dramatic in story, artistic in romance, and refreshing in their variety of setting - anything from romantic comedy to drama to action/adventure to mystery. The quality level of all of his earlier movies is also extremely skillful, with usually good sound, script, photography, and costumes (as well as, like I said, good supporting actors, including oldies but goodies like Orson Welles and Dana Andrews). I know, I know, I'm recommending a lot of movie things, but, honestly, even if you don't try a new genre or watch a silent movie, watch a Tyrone Power movie, please. (I will willingly recommend a few if you ask!)
New Thing #1 - The Traditional Latin Mass
So... I guess I didn't discover it this past year, but it definitely felt like it, because I haven't been going for very long. It really is just splendiferous, I'm telling you. Even if you're not a Catholic, the Latin Mass is a beautiful, culture-filled experience, as well as a prayerful and historical one - after all, even if you're not a Catholic, this is the way that Christians have celebrated the Mass almost since the time of Christ! Want to see how the Church Fathers and the Apostles saw the Mass? This is as close as you will probably get without a time machine. Again - even if you are not a Catholic, this is easily the one of the most culturally profound Christian Rites, and it is definitely an experience worth having. And what better way to start the year than to explore a beautiful, traditional way of glorifying God?
Well, that's all for now, folks - what did you think? Have any plans yet for things to try this year? Do any of the things on this list sound appealing to you? And now for the big question - what would you have me try this year? List up to ten things in a comment, and I will do my very best to try them and post the results up on this blog! Get creative - recommend anything you like, and I will hear the suggestion no matter what it is. I can't wait to see what you say!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

10 Terrific Tropes (That Are In Serious Need Of Revival!)

A while ago, I posted another list of ten tropes, but that one listing tropes that were either commonplace, cliche, unrealistic, or just plain bad writing in general (a phrase which here means 'all of the above,' to paraphrase Lemony Snicket). But, of course, nobody likes a dark cloud. Not in writing advice, and not anywhere else! Especially with how easy it is to despair nowadays with how many things, even culturally, and in writing specifically, are at a low. So I'm going to offer a constructive opinion as well on the matter - I'm going to share some of my favorite tropes that I haven't seen in a while as my afore-promised part the second. Some of them are related to the clichés, and some are quite their own matter, but hopefully you'll see some that you recognize. (There is one thing I must note first, though: with the first post, I had a factual guide as to which of the tropes to put on there - I simply put those that were undeniably, technically bad writing - but with these, there are far too many tropes that are technically good writing out there, so most of these are chosen by my own opinion; just tropes that I personally enjoy that do not have serious writing flaws and are unfortunately uncommon now. Just so no one feels bossed around by my - well-meant, I assure you - writing advice.)
Terrific Trope #10 - The Brothers
My goodness, but this has to be one of my favorite things to see in a book or movie - brothers (or brother-figures) that are just friends, amazing friends, but go through tough times and have to - despite this original friendship - pit against one another, ending back in friendship. Even if they don't start out friends, too, that's also pretty interesting. It makes for a brilliant conflict, I can tell you, and it serves for character development, and a creative twist on a story (as well as solving the age-old 'how to involve siblings of the MC' problem in novels). I put it at the bottom of the list merely because it's slightly less uncommon, though still far too uncommon. I'm not saying that everybody should do it (after all, that's what makes a trope commonplace), but if it's useful to the story, go ahead and use it, because there are plenty of readers who like it! I've talked to plenty of other readers (and writers) who feel quite the same about the trope, and want to see it get bigger. Some good examples are some of the Thor movies, the movie, In Old Chicago, and the book Enemy Brothers (which... I have long wanted to read due to this, but haven't been able to get my hands on for more than an hour).
Terrific Trope #9 - The Hidden Thorn
Everybody loves a character who suffers. But what about one who doesn't rub it in people's faces, doesn't go crazy/evil/outwardly damaged because of, and doesn't even mention it themselves? When all the suffering of a character is kept from you until a time when nobody can do anything about it, readers' hearts bleed all the more for the character. The character who suffers and still stays steady (at least on the outside) is something rarely seen now! A character who suffers silently is not only a good role model, but an instant favorite for readers who like conflict. Good examples of this are Percy Blakeny from The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Rogue from the old X-Men cartoon.
Terrific Trope #8 - Pa and Ma
Parents who not only have character, but have likable character are invaluable in fiction nowadays. Parents and parent-figures so often get jipped nowadays, being only reserved for the sentimental and the sappiest films wherein those character still at least start out in the wrong. How many parents do you know who are actually as stupid, malicious, or just strange as the ones commonly depicted on television? Some good examples of this trope are (as much I personally don't like him for other reasons) Mo Folchart from Inkheart (the books), Ma and Pa Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series (for whom this post is named), and King Gris from Medallion.
Terrific Trope #7 - Symbolism
I only didn't put this one as #1 because this is not a particular trope, per se, but rather a general aspect of writing. It seems like symbolism, allegory, and metaphor are so neglected in fiction nowadays, being reserved only to tell the shallow-most political and ideological messages. The last mainstream mention of symbolism in a story I heard of was the homosexual agenda thinly veiled within Frozen and Zootopia. Is that what symbolism's come to? Good symbolic books are The Lord of the Rings (obviously) and just about anything else by Tolkien, mostly, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and John C. Wright's sci-fi short stories.

Terrific Trope #6 - The Villain From Below
Again, this has to do a lot with allegory and metaphor. So few villains nowadays are actually respectable or scary - mostly they're sympathetic or rather pathetic now. If they're scary at all, it's only because of creepy makeup in their screen representation, their creepy hideout, or their gory habits. What about villains that actually scare the heck out of you? Villains that represent (or even are) something deeper than some creep in a costume or a robo-suit... Those are the villains that scare you the most, because those are the ones that are real. Some very good examples are Dracula, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and, of course, the Silmarillion (actually, I hesitate to say it merely because of some other personal bones I have to pick with the villain, but Davy Jones from the PotC movies has some of these qualities, for sure).
Terrific Trope #5 - The Friends
Unfortunately, I must confess, I too am guilty of neglecting this trope. When a guy and girl are best friends in a story and don't end up together, it's so refreshing from the constant romance bombardment of today's culture (and I am by no means anti-romance!). It's not only refreshing, but realistic. Opposite genders can be friends, after all, without being in an erotic relationship. And writing should, at least to a certain extent, reflect reality. To simply end all male-female character relationships in some sort-of awkward romance is just a tad laughable. It's true, however, that, just because such friendships do realistically go both ways, this trope should be exercised with moderation, and friend-to-romance character relationships shouldn't be discouraged either. Some good examples are Beorn the Proud, Nya and Cole (after the sixth season!) in Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, and Dracula.
Terrific Trope #4 - Traditional Gender Roles
I'm quite positive that all of you have heard me rant about traditional gender roles at some point or other. They're the foundation of inter-gender relations! Enough said. Some good examples are Pride and Prejudice (and most Jane Austen novels, for that matter), and most old movies before the 1950's.
Terrific Trope #3 - The Artsy One
Imagine some of the most famous and long-beloved characters in fiction. Most of them have some sort-of quirks, right? And the ones who all seem to have the most distinction of character are the ones who have some sort-of art or task that they devote themselves to passionately. Think of Sherlock Holmes with both his logic and his violin. Think of Zorro with his fencing. Or think of Jo March and her writing. Having your characters care about something deeply that isn't necessarily a part of the plot gives them more personality and makes them more of a relatable person than just words on a page or an actor in a movie. Besides the ones I already mentioned, some good examples are Hercule Poirot from his self-titled mysteries, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit and LotR, and Flambeaux from the Father Brown Mysteries.
Terrific Trope #2 - The Wit
Don't you just love it when you read a book and there's one character who always has something to say for every situation? The one who makes you look up from the book and laugh out loud when you realize what they just said? I don't know about you, but I always love those characters whenever they're around. They're not only entertaining, but they're intelligent, and often are as much help to the main characters as they are comic relief. Two birds with one stone - that's good writing. Some good examples are Gambit from the old X-Men cartoon and Pyle's Robin Hood.
Terrific Trope #1 - The Conversion
I just love it when characters reform and redeem themselves, don't you? But isn't it even more satisfying when they convert right to the top? There are so few stories now that center around religious conversion, but it's such a beautiful and touching thing! So many people who are converts have told me how amazing the process was, and how much it took to make the decision. If those doesn't sound like qualities that make up a story, I don't know what does! It really is such a wonderful and real topic, I don't know why it's so neglected. Honestly, it's so rare now, I can't even think of a good example.

Well, that's all for now, folks. What did you think? How do you like these tropes? Can you forgive me for taking so long with this post? Have you any more tropes to add to the list?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Pain of a Memory - Part XII

I apologize for being gone so long - I was celebrating my birthday this month and totally forgot that this blog was also (yay! Bloggie's two years old now!). Hopefully you can forgive me for my absent-mindedness once again!
            Echo dismounted from his horse. He turned around a signaled his men. "Time to camp," he said to them, getting his satchel out of the horse's saddle pack.

            At his command, the other men in the party dismounted their own horses and began to get their packs out. Some of them began to set up a camp. Good, Echo thought. Everything is taken care of.
            Echo opened up his satchel. He looked inside. There was some of Lania's bread inside. She had packed it for him, and put some of the fresh-baked loaf in there. Echo smiled. Now this was traveling food. It was certainly far better than what he usually got, which was also traveler's bread. But the real difference was that one kind reminded him of home, and the other only reminded him of the journey. Echo sighed a little, still smiling to himself. Soon enough, he would be home again.
            With these thoughts in mind, Echo turned back to his men. The camp was all set up, and a good fire was blazing in the middle of it. He walked towards the center of the camp. Then he sat down next to the fire. Echo tore a chunk off of the bread from his satchel and ate it. Then he put the rest back. He looked into the fire's resplendence absently.
            Then one of his men sat down next to him. Echo looked over. "Hello, Evern," Echo addressed the knight.
            Evern nodded. "Captain"
            Echo smiled. "It's Echo when we're alone, Evern. And aren't you hungry?"
            Evern shook his head. "I'm a bit unsettled about this journey, Echo. I've heard plenty a thing about this robber band from some Nistrian travelers. There are supposed to be a hundred score of them, so I'm told"
            Echo laughed. "You listen to travelers too much. If there are a hundred score of them, then why has no one before gone after them?"
            Evern shrugged. "You tell me, Echo. You're the one who's been in this area before"

            Echo nodded and sighed a little. "Yes... But it's been a long time since I've had to be here. The last times I was here it was for a mission"
            "And it is so once more"
            "Yes..." Echo looked off into the distance. "But in particular, we're going to a place I haven't ever been to for a mission"
            Evern looked over at Echo. "I thought you'd been there before?"
            Echo nodded. "I have. I was there about fifteen years ago, back when I was a infantry man in the war"
            Evern laughed. "Has it really been that long?" He shook his head. "It doesn't seem like the war was that long ago, does it?"
            Echo shrugged. "Well, in all hopes, it will be very long before any such thing ever happens again"
            "That could be accomplished, so long as Nistria would be compliant"
            "Well, they'll have a new king soon enough, so that may help things, Evern"
            Evern nodded. "And I've heard rumor that Ingrecia is considering an alliance with Nistra, which would also help things"

            Echo looked back at Evern. "Really? What kind of an alliance?"
            Evern shrugged. "I have absolutely no idea"
            Echo smiled. "Well, you're the one who talks to travelers all the time - haven't you heard something from any of them about it?"
            Evern shook his head. "Not a thing"
            Echo laughed. "Well, why'd you go and hear the beginning of the rumor if you weren't going to have the decency to hear the end of it?"
            Evern joined him in laughter. "Well, you know, I cannot choose what I hear or don't hear, Echo"
            "Yes, but you can choose what you begin to tell me and what you keep silent. Why did you even tell me the beginning? You know I hate stories without an ending, Evern"
            Evern smiled. "Well, I'm no storyteller such as yourself, Echo. But at least all of my stories are true, whether they ever are finished or not"

            Echo chuckled. "Was that jest a jab at my truthfulness, Sir Evern?"
            Evern shrugged nonchalantly. "Perhaps. But if you have a story to tell, it often is one, well, of your own fancy"
            Echo shook his head smilingly. "I at least finish my little fairytales, which is better than having an unfinished real event to tell"
            Evern nodded in defeat. "I suppose so" After a moment of silence, Evern just laughed. "We are rather ludicrous knights, now aren't we, Torriven? All we've done since the camp was up is discuss foreign politics and storytelling, when we have a mission five days ahead of us"
            Echo shrugged. "You forget that you were the one who started both of those so-called ludicrous discussions, Evern. And the mission is ahead of us. We have not reached it yet"
            "Yes, I know, but surely we must put some measure of focus on it?"
            Echo laughed. "You are the ludicrous one really, Evern. We went over it when we were in the town" At Evern's comical expression, Echo laughed again. "Don't worry, Evern. I was only jesting. Believe me, I have been thinking about the mission"
            Evern nodded and stood up smilingly. "Good, because I don't want to follow a distracted captain into a mission. I mean, it wouldn't be quite ideal to follow an absent-minded knight, who's only constantly thinking of his little village and little family the entire mission, would it, Echo?" And with this, he promptly left, still smiling, with a hint of sarcasm in his tone and expression.
            Echo merely burst out laughing. Evern knew him perhaps a little too well...

What did you think? Any critiques? Comments? Suggestions? I would love to hear any feedback, especially since this story's now being prepped for longer roads, so speak your mind!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Meet the Books! - My Land, My Heart

Belle is back! *resounding 80's theme song plays throughout area quite voluminously* Yeah! Ahem. Anyways. Now that Camp NaNoWriMo is done, I am back to blog again (what? Camp ended months ago! I know, I know, but I just finished that project that I was working on in Camp, so Camp just ended for me!). Which is a relief, I can tell you (as much as I complain about never having anything to post, I wouldn't trade this thing in for a bag of gold). But. Now that I'm back, I face the same dilemma. What to post. So - I am going to use one of my classic don't-know-what-to-post-yet tricks and do a link-up. So, without further ado, the next Meet the Books! feature. (Btw, for anyone who doesn't know, Meet the Books! is a link-up instigated by me to introduce WIPs on your blog - anyone can join, and the only rules are to answer the questions, and link back here so that I can see... you can also take the picture if you want to.)

What is the genre?
Drama. Easily Drama. However, there will be a fair amount of action going on in the story's main body as well, so it could maybe qualify as an Action/Adventure.
What is the title? The time period?
The title is My Land, My Heart (I'll explain that oddity later). As for the time period, it is early Middle Ages, but in the same made-up world as the rest of my stories.
How is it written (point of view, MC, etc.)?
It's quite predictably in my favorite writing mode - third person limited, with a couple alternating POVs. The MC is kind-of Selena Veritore - speaking of whom...
Who are the characters?
Maid Selena Veritore is the youngest daughter (aged 17) of a most prominent lord in the Nistrian court (about a generation or so before the Nistrian court seen in The Pain of a Memory). Rather exceptionally quiet of nature, few really know her well, even in her own family, for she keeps to herself quite thoroughly, though for no particular reason other than preference. She has for a long time been enamored of another younger, foreign nobleman of the court, Anselm (whose last name I have re-made a million times because I can never remember it).
Sir Ronan Something-or-Other is yet another character that I cannot remember the last name of. You guys all can probably tell by now that this is very recently thought-up story (it's been around for just barely a year now), for I know very few of my character's full names by heart (I only remembered Selena's because it always annoyed me). He is Selena's best friend, and probably the only person in the story who really knows her well. He is a gentleman and musician in the court, but has the status more of a nobleman because of his popularity there. He is really the main character, and most of the book is in his POV (don't ask why I put Selena first. Perhaps it is because she is the only character whose last name I can remember).
Lord Anselm (whose last name is absent...) is a half-Tresintan, half-Nistrian courtier in the Nistrian court who has an unusual quiet about him... not unlike Selena. He is a very cold man, and most people do not know him at all - the only people he is seen to often speak with are Selena's father, an older courtier called Hernand, and
Veren... whose last name also has been mysteriously burnt up by my brain pyromaniacs, a much younger courtier, closer to Selena's age. He is perhaps slightly stuck on Selena - it's hard for Ronan to tell due to Veren's rather patronizing manners, and Selena never pays attention. Veren is a slightly unsure person, and so often seems patronizing to many people, though his intentions are generally good. Young, and fair of face, but bashful, he rather annoys Ronan, who quite sincerely dislikes a fop (though Veren really isn't one). He is also supposedly stuck - this with more measure of truth in his actions - on Selena's older sister, Beliña. Many of the other courtiers rather ignore him because he is young and slightly awkward.
Selena's family consists of her three older sisters, Odeza, Delita, and Beliña, her father, a courtier, and her mother, Damara.
Lord Dorion Hernand isn't too well-known to either Ronan or Selena, except as a friend and colleague of both Anselm and Veren. He is a respectable, and likeable, though grim, old man, and is one of the most trusted courtiers despite his unfamiliarity with the Veritores personally.
And that about covers it so far!
What does the plot consist of?
Three main things:
  1. Selena's rocky and distant relationship with Anselm
  2. The ever-nearing rumor and threat of war with Belestine
  3. Ronan's own family breaking apart
And all of these are fused together through Ronan/Selena.
What is the setting?
The setting, as I said above, is my made-up country, Nistria, about twenty years or so before Anwynne comes there in her book.
What gave you the idea?
Well... at least for the title, my misinterpretation of the lyrics to a Josh Groban song, lol. The real words were 'around my heart,' but I thought that it was 'my land, my heart.' And the other lyrics to the song were the inspiration for the plot, so I thought it fitting that the song's final lyrics (or what I thought they were) would be the story's title.
Who are the favorite characters so far?
Well... This is actually my only story that nobody has read so far. So nobody has any favorite characters. Except me. But telling who my favorite character is would possibly give something away, so I shan't. :)
What is the favorite scene so far?
Same case as above - only scene that's been read by anybody is the original prototype scene, which has since been edited.
Any themes of music for this work?
Selena and Anselm (because it's no spoiler that they are married, though the affection is on Selena's side) have a romantic theme - specifically Il Divo's verison of Can't Help Falling In Love. Other than that, not really. Though Ronan's character was originally inspired by the Toreador Song in the opera Carmen, weirdly enough.
Any drawings?
Nah. This story's pretty new - it doesn't merit any pictures yet. :)
Any snippets?
I know I've been really, really bad about snippets in the last few Meet the Books! features, but, unfortunately, I must disappoint again. This time, though, I have a legitimate reason rather than just a stupid lost notebook or procrastination. The story in question only consists of the beginning and three ahead scenes, all of which but the former contain rather large spoilers, and the former of which needs revised greatly. So... I will have to apologize yet again, it seems.
Strong point in story?
Probably the lack of dependence in plot. Sad to say, I'm not that great at original plots - most of my plots just turn out as a vector for characters or allegory, and not really good plots in and of themselves. This one, however, is different, in that the biggest main plot is quite independent of the characters.
Weak point in story?
The lack of writing. As this book is mostly a channeling for when I am irritated or depressed, I don't write in it terribly often - just in weathered moods. So there is very little of it.
What are your plans for them?
Not much. Maybe it'll get published eventually if I polish it up - as for now, I just kinda use it to scribble out frustration with stuff.
Any particular writing habits for it?
Just keeping to the same notebook, really. Other than that, not much.

If it were made into a movie, what would be your ideal cast for it?
Well, were he still about, Leslie Howard would be a good Veren. And Harrison Ford would do well as Hernand at his present age. Joan Fontaine would be a good Selena, and Errol Flynn would've been a good Ronan. Robert Taylor would be good as Anselm, though with lighter hair.
That wraps it up! What did you think? Are you planning on joining the link-up? Would you read My Land, My Heart if it were published someday? (By the by, I apologize for all the wildflower/lavender pictures - for some reason, lavenders are just this story's thing, and my Pinterest board is bespattered with them.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Me and the Moon and the Music - A Poem

Me, and the moon, and the music
Share our one company tonight -
Just me, and the moon, and the music -
Rememb'ring when things were right...
One summer's dance, one fine evening,
Beneath silver light of moon pale,
A melody floating around me,
Like winds 'round a ship's ready sail,
Just me and my love stepping softly
Around a half-deserted floor -
Just us, and the moon, and the music -
How could I have ever wished for more?
Me, and the moon, and the music
Remember that time long ago,
When we, and the moon, and the music
Had times lit with Love's golden glow.
One sits at this table for two now,
While the moon and the music do thrive.
Me waiting alone here for someone -
Someone who will never arrive...
But still, all the same, I wait lone here,
Gazing up at the stars in the sky,
This night, and its moon, and its music
Recalling the stars in her eyes.
Me, and the moon, and the music
Know in vain that here waiting we stay.
Still I wait with the moon and the music,
Before both do fly far out away...
I: Aesthetics                                                       … 
The stars in the sky now are fading,
The moon is on the hilltop's rim,
The last harmony of the music
Is slowing and growing now dim.
The silver light reflects before me,
Right before it lowers its head,
The melody's last few small notes
Now into night's silence have bled...
Me, and the moon, and the music
All but flee at the sunlight's first tear.
Now I see not the moon or the music -
They both have abandoned me here.
Only echoes are playing inside me,
Like the fragrance of flowers now gone.
The light remains just in my memr'y,
For, it too vanished with come of dawn.
Still one at this table for two,
This one fool who waited in vain.
I know that the second won't come,
But somehow to this spot I am chained...
For me, and the moon, and the music,
All but the mem'ry has flown.
I, abandoned by moon and by music,
Linger on, forever alone.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fear and Fiction

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked a philosophical question for fun, so another friend and I could try to answer it. The question was "What is fear?" I attempted to answer the question, but my answer was rather pathetic and I was pretty clueless and dissatisfied with it. My other friend took a crack at it, but was also stumped. The event stuck in my mind. For one thing, it was a humbling question because, being philosophically-minded, one of my greatest flaws is a sort-of intellectual pride in being able to answer many such questions. But it was more than that. It was an interesting question - one that I've gotten close to in thought many times, but never actually broached anywhere. It took forever thinking about it to finally find an answer, but my thoughts were of a sort that I wished to share here, as eventually - like in so many topics - they came to writing.
Fear is perhaps an honesty with oneself - a morally neutral sort-of humility. By itself, it means nothing, but, as with many human emotions, the action taken for it gives it meaning.

Fear branches into two paths - cowardice and courage. Courage? Yes, courage; to quote that repetitive old favorite line from Newsies, "courage does not erase our fears; courage is when we face our fears," and it is not courage to have to fear in the first place. You are probably not afraid of PB&Js, but this does not mean that eating one is having courage. You are probably not afraid of swimming, either, which is certainly more dangerous than PB&Js, but this does not mean you are being courageous every time you swim. Courage is only present where fear is.

On the other hand, cowardice is taking one's fears and refusing to have courage; it is allowing one's fear to overpower one's higher motive or goal. This is the contortion of fear, while courage is the completion of it. To be fearful is no wrong; to let those fears go above one's reason is. Courage is keeping one's mind even whilst one's knees quake.

At this point, I have to stop. If these are true, and fear can be completed or contorted - because I am no authority, not marvelously intelligent, and may be completely wrong, no matter what my own mind wishes to think, this is debatable - then fear exists. What does this mean? Well, it means fear must be good. Nothing that exists is evil; evil is always merely a contortion of lack of good things. And if fear is good, this leads me to the writing part after a terribly lengthy introduction...

Why Do We Make Fear Our Enemy?

Think about them - all the stories, particularly recent ones, where fear is the enemy of the tale. Frozen; Rise of the Guardians; the Hotel Transylvania movies, and Harry Potter to a certain extent - all of them make fear the enemy of humankind (or... modified humankind in a few of those characters). Why should fear be the enemy? Why is it so unequivocally condemned in society nowadays?

Well, think about what's boosted in its place. Confidence, acceptance of everything (usually masquerading as 'love,' despite the unloving treatment of characters who are not accepting), and belief in oneself. Overall, the opposites of humility. Why? Because that's what fear is a part of in its truest sense: humility. And society has long hated humility; we all know this.

People hate humility now because it shows them to be what they are: weak, stubborn, sinful, worthless beings. And it makes them admit that, to have worth, they have to rely on something or Someone else. Fear does the same thing. It tells us that we cannot do everything ourselves, we cannot face anything, we cannot be invincible or omnipotent, etc. And because the only alternatives are fearlessness and cowardice, the latter a universally despised flaw even in these days, they promote fearlessness.
But fearlessness is not only unnatural, it is impossible. If you are a human being, then you will have fears (perhaps this is why so many people in these anti-fear movies are not plainly human...?).

It is also arrogant. If one takes away fear of any kind, then one becomes sure that one is the all-powerful center of the universe, capable of anything with enough effort and motivation and belief in oneself, and dependent upon no one, not even God, which is exactly what fear admits; "Without God, we're helpless," fear admits to us.

Modern society dislikes fear because they dislike God. Fear forces them to admit their reliance on God, so they shun it. Not only this, but fear can be an element of conscience, making one reluctant to do what one knows is wrong, and that's strike two for fear in their book. It also disrupts those lovely little 'happy vibes' that they worship as an idol in social media. It can also be a virtue, in fear of the Lord, which is the chief factor in our admittance that Someone is more powerful than us.

So... What Do We Do?

Well, stop making fear the universal enemy in stories, for one thing. For another, write characters who are afraid. Sure, make them face their fears, but don't make it seem like they have none, or that they reject it. Yes, every human being would like to reject fear, no doubt, but truly mature characters will realize that it is not about what they like or don't like in saving themselves, their loved ones, the world, or whatever they're doing. What might even be a good idea is to start making fear's opposite the enemy - arrogance. Just to shoot an idea out there, you know. I know that many of you probably already have neatly-planned little novels and everything, and adding something like this just doesn't fit. Okay, fine. But don't write against it. Please. Fear is not your enemy; it's not anyone's enemy. So stop making it the enemy.
What do you think? Have you seen any movies or read any books like this? Have you ever thought about fear's representation in fiction? Do you have anything to add? Any comments? Arguments? Perhaps better definitions? I want to hear all your thoughts!

Monday, October 29, 2018

I Did It!!!!!

Tutti! Fine - finalmente! To all my lovely readers who are ever-patient with me, and are humoring me in my rants - I finally finished a book!!!
And now? I AM GOING TO TELL EVERYONE!!!!! What book? When? Why'd it take so long? Answers, answers. First of all, I would like to thank everybody for being patient with my horrendously long hiatus. Secondly, I would like to thank everybody for being patient with all my sporadic ranting. And finally, I'd like to thank you all for reading. Without  readers, there's no way this story would have ever gotten this far, especially this soon. Because the story is one that you've all helped on, with your amazing commentary, critique, and just general encouragement - I finished The Pain of a Memory. Granted, from about the climax up until the end, I only wrote the barest bones of the events in, and I will have to edit and rewrite for ages to ever get it polished. But that's the next step. For now, all I can say is thanks to everyone who read any part of this story, or even this blog - your support wrote this book! And now - I am going to go and faint from writing/ranting exhaustion! ;P