ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem is spillover from the March 6, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] mashfanficchick. It also fills the "short temper" square in my 2-28-19 card for the Meet Ugly Bingo Fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Dancing is a bonding activity that makes people feel good and enhances connections.

Most cultures have their own dances, although the importance of dancing varies from one culture to another.  Modern America values it very little.  We used to have lots of dances at all kinds of social occasions, and almost everybody danced themselves instead of sitting around watching other people  dance.  What little we have left is not structured and cohesive dancing; most of it is individual freestyle club dancing.  This shift correlates with people being less fit and feeling less connected today -- really not a good change.  >_<

So watch for opportunities to dance.  If you coordinate events, look for a way to incorporate dancing.  It doesn't have to be fancy, just frisky.  It helps to include a basic lesson in whatever dance you offer so that novices can join the fun.  Pay attention to local culture and feature dances that match your audience.  Ballroom dance, African folk dance, European folk dance, Latin dance, belly dance, break dance, hoop dance, etc. will all appeal to different folks.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
We went up to visit my parents today.

We stopped at Common Ground for gluten-free muesli.  I forgot to look for the edible flowers, drat.

We went to a music store for Doug to pick up a music theory book with a jazz theme, which unlike the "theory" book I had growing up was actual theory instead of just technical stuff.  It took some shuffling around to get it, but we got it.

For supper we went to the Olive Garden.  They have a couple of viewscreens in the lobby showing, not commercials, but scenes from Italy.  <3  A little slice of Terramagne!  I got mushroom ravioli, quite excellent.  Doug's salmon came with slabs of baked zucchini, which was definitely some of the best zucchini-as-vegetable I've had.

Then we went to Krannert for Dorrance Dance, a tap and modern dance troop.  The first act had kind of a retro approach and a lot of different things going on.  The second was a lot less interesting.  The third was a much longer collage of smaller pieces.  My favorite was one where everyone was in office dress, but some of the others were good too.  I especially applaud the combination of breakdance and tap.  One guy in particular could ambulate across the stage in almost any configuration -- bipedal, quadrupedal, butt-shuffling, hand-walking, you name it.  I wouldn't be surprised if he can brachiate. 

Intermezzo was out of cakes.  >_<  But the afterparty had a very nice spread including cheese and fruit.  I was very surprised to find that the raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries were all perfectly ripe at this time of year.  The cheese was good too, and I snagged a hazelnut truffle for dessert.  Okay, problem solved.  :)

We went to Harvest Market, but they were out of the cape gooseberries.  :,,,(  We did find some raspberries, a yellow dragonfruit, and some beef steaklets though.  I have a Moroccan dry rub that I want to mix up for the meat tomorrow.

All in all, a pretty good day.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Magician Johnny Thompson has passed away.  He was the most knowledgeable magician of his time.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
My partner Doug watches more entertainment than I do.  Often when I walk through the living room, something is playing on the television screen.  Fight scenes are pretty common.

It occurred to me that I can't always tell which side the characters are on from a quick glance.  That is, the characters assigned as "good guys" and "bad guys" aren't readily distinguishable by fighting style.  If they're not flagged as Obviously Evil or Obviously Good with costuming or other features that designate their politics, it's difficult to detect.  Even some of the historic trends are fading somewhat -- the costumes used to be much more distinct.  Now it's pretty common to have both sides dressed in black urban combat outfits or something similar.  Distinctions between fighting styles are long gone in most cases.  About the only thing that commonly remains is color-coded blaster fire.

I think it's an effect of the slide toward Grey and Gray Morality.  That is, the primary distinction between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" is not their ethical framework, goals, methods, or other objectively observable aspects.  It's which team the author is rooting for.  In which case, you know, they really should use different-colored shirts so viewers can tell the teams apart.  I wind up thinking that many contemporary entertainers are lazy, sloppy, ignorant, or all three.

As a consumer of entertainment in any form, I find it unfulfilling when I can't really relate to or sympathize with any of the characters, when they all seem pretty much the same.  They're just some jerks I don't know smacking each other around. It's not my idea of fun.  Conversely, when both sides are sympathetic but they're too  balanced, I don't enjoy that either.  It means the only way I'll be satisfied with the ending is if both sides somehow win, and very few writers are creative enough to resolve that kind of conflict without it being obvious from the start and therefore pointless.  If a side I really sympathize with loses, I am unhappy with the ending, even if another side I also sympathize with has won.

I do love complexities, though.  I like exploring how messed-up people still have things they care about, and how well-meaning people can screw up.  Most of life is complicated; few issues have simple solutions.  Most people have a mix of positive and negative traits; it's the balance  that matters.  Figuring out which way someone tilts is vitally important to surviving and thriving in life.

So then, if you're writing characters, think about why they have the ethical framework they do and how they show that.  What are their good or evil traits?  What will they do, what won't  they do, and why?  How long do you have to watch them before you can peg their alignment?  The closer to the middle of the spectrum, the longer it tends to take.  The farther toward either extreme, the faster and easier it gets to clock them as Good or Evil -- or Lawful or Chaotic, or Superhero or Supervillain, or whatever other spectrum you choose.  The gray hats may look white or black depending on context, but an Unsullied Hero or Diabolical Villain should pop out pretty quick.

What do you think?  How easy is it for you to distinguish characters based on traits and behaviors?  How well do you think authors convey alignment through action?  What are your preferences in entertainment?
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Behind most heroes, male or female, is an injured or dead woman.  This is a problem.

It is not, however, a problem we need to keep expanding.  It is okay to have some heroes with this kind of background.  It is, after all, an actual reason why people go out and raise hell.  But there are other reasons, and other kinds of heroes.

An Army of One has a bunch of characters, assorted genders, and none of them have a specifically fridge motivation.  There was one big massacre, but I think everyone was already involved somehow before that happened.

Beneath the Family Tree is largely nonviolent, aside from period-typical threats from animals and weather.  Mostly they're inventing tools and civilization.

Clay of Life has one male and one neuter lead.  No females were harmed in inspiring these heroes.  Yossele simply ran away from an abusive master.

A Conflagration of Dragons is rather the opposite: lots of characters of various sexes, but no heroes. The dragons have pretty much wiped them out.  The survivors are the ones who ran like hell.

Feathered Nests has genders all over the place, but the only person who gets seriously hurt is male.

Fiorenza the Wisewoman is a female lead with a life of average-type tragedy.  Her female relatives died while she was a teenager and left her as the herbalist of the village.  Her father didn't return from sea until considerably later.

Frankenstein's Family -- amusingly, Victor is lying  about his "dead wife" to conceal Adam's true origins.  Some women have come to harm in the series, most notably Csilla, but she's not particularly heroic.

Hart's Farm empties the whole QUILTBAG.  Most of the characters are healthy and happy.  Auduna gets off to a rough start but is soon fine.  It's a great place to heal.  I think the most fucked-up person is Ragi, who is a gay man.

Kande's Quest most definitely has a hera.  She is inspired by the kidnapping of her baby brother.  Stuffed in a clothes dryer!

Kung Fu Robots has Eastern-type heroes.  They are questing for enlightenment.  Almost all are neuter, and I don't think any females were harmed in this series.

Monster House has a family of humans and monsters of various genders.  Some of the harm is dark fantasy stuff, but little of it drives anyone to heroism.  There was that time the bogeyman ate a couple of people for abusing their daughter, but that's about it.

The Moon Door is based on a women's chronic pain group, so all the women have been or are being hurt terribly.  It doesn't drive them to heroism.  It drives a bunch of them to lycanthropy.  Problem mostly solved.

The Origami Mage has two female leads who are rivals.  Aside from the paper magic it is a pretty ordinary rivalry with no heinous happenings. They're just arguing over the One True Way.

Path of the Paladins features a world in ruins.  Two female leads, one inspired by vocation and the other by rape.  Johan and Althey, both male, are also heroes.  There are assorted other characters too.  Real live heroes!  But only one with a fridge-type background.

P.I.E. has a female lead and a male sidekick.  Brenda uses a wheelchair after a serious accident.  It doesn't slow her down or make her unhappy.  She just likes to solve weird crimes.

The Steamsmith features a genderqueer lead.  Her mother died as an infant.  That's sad, but it's not driving her to heroism.  She's the daughter of a nobleman, hence her leadership training; and she loves alchemy.

The Time Towers has various gendered heroes seeking to make the world better through time travel.  No fridging involved.

Walking the Beat has two female leads, one of them a retired  hero for medical reasons.

Polychrome Heroics has heroes of all kinds and genders.  Most are not driven by a bad past.  But look at the supervillains.  Quite a few of them are, and some of those involve injured or dead women.

So out of that whole pile, only a handful have anything close to the background that everyone else seems to be writing.  Hey, that means less competition for me.  :D
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article talks about the impact of one's culture and its tools of thought on the interpretation of creative works

What I have to say about this is ...

*dumps whole trunk of stuff*

Look, I have Celtic threes!  Lakota fours!  Sumerian fourteens!  Chinese elements, Greek elements, that faerie set I got from some friends.  Cherokee color symbolism, Japanese, European.  Myths!  Legends!  Heroes out the wazoo!  Don't drop the Aarne-Thompson Index on your foot, that fucker's heavy.

Analyzing entertainment is so much more fun when you have ALL THE TOOLS.  There is no such thing as too many tools!  You can have fun explaining the same show six different ways.  \o/

If all you have is a hammer, then every story looks like a nail, which is ... really fucking dull, why would anyone keep watching.  Oh wait, maybe that's why some people don't read books.  0_o

I'll just be over here enjoying my toybox of cultural everything.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
New Barbie releases for 2019 include the Fashionistas line with over 100 looks, including nappy hair, a doll with a prosthetic leg, and a wheelchair accessory usable with a wide range of posable dolls.  The body shape is slightly more realistic too.

FIN-AL-LY!  \o/ 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
We got the card game Illusion for Yule this year.  Watch a video of a review with a sample game in play.

This is overwhelmingly a visual-spatial game; once you read the rules, the only other thing you need to read is the row of percentages on the back of each card.  The front has abstract art in red, yellow, green, and blue.  (Obviously, this is not a game for colorblind people.  Those who can see color and shape but not read fine print might do fine.  YMMV depending on how your eyes work.)  First you draw an arrow card to indicate the color in play.  Then you place cards with increasing amounts of that color in the direction of the arrow. So if the card is blue, you put down cards based on increasing blueness. 

There are many different shapes in play -- squares, triangles, circles, question marks, flowers, letters.  You have to look at the abstract art and try to figure out the proportions of the target color.  This is a lot harder than it looks, because often the colors are only one or two percentage points apart.  If you think the lineup is incorrect, you can challenge it.  Flip over the cards and check the percentages.  If you're right (and the line is wrong) you get the arrow card; if not, the previous player gets it.  The first person to collect three arrows is the winner.

I'm only somewhat good at it, but I love just looking at the different shapes.  Plus, once you know the concept, it's very portable -- you could play this with any set of images, or make your own.  T-America probably has a jillion different decks of this, including ones for famous abstract artists.  Hell, now I want a Frank Lloyd Wright deck. >_<  The tricky part would be calculating the actual percentages to put on the back of each card.  The original deck is huge, though; you won't run out of cards soon.  As another variation, you could play solitaire just by seeing how far you can get before you make a mistake.

If you are looking for a game to enjoy with less verbally oriented people, Illusion is a great choice.  It really stands out from the usual run of games based on words or dexterity.  Artists and other visual thinkers will love the hell out of this.  (Be prepared for distractions talking about the art itself.  As an alternate activity, it's a terrific tool for discussing color and composition in art.)  English language learners and small children can play as soon as they understand the basic concepts of "more color" and "going in this direction."  We really had fun with it, and I think that other folks in our community will enjoy it too.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Today's plans got dropped in a blender, but it turned out great anyway.  :D  My parents couldn't make it to the Krannert event, so we had to rush out early to get the tickets from them, but then we had lots of extra time to kill.  So ...

* We had lunch at Core Life.  They always have different stuff.  Today I noticed they had fresh ginger root and fresh basil, and I was having beef with purple rice and some other stuff.  Let me tell you, fresh grated ginger and chopped basil is magical  as a bowl topping.  I usually use them dried, or cooked fresh, not raw.  But now I plan to make a batch of quinoa (another option there, and I don't have a source for purple rice, drat it), grill some beef, chop it, and top with the fresh herbs.  It will be awesome.  :D  Well, for hardcore ginger fans.  The fresh root has far more bite than most people like, but I lick my fingers after grating it, so.  This is my idea of fun.

* We bought candlemaking supplies for Imbolc.  Bulk paraffin now comes in a block with divisions about soap bar size, not a giant slab that has to be busted up with a hammer and screwdriver for 10 minutes to fit in the melting equipment. \o/  Seriously, a blessing on whomever got a clue and made that change.

* We visited a music store and made note of some things Doug will want to buy.  And I fell in love.  :D  It's called a sea drum, and I bought one on the spot.  I picked it up out of curiosity and was instantly mesmerized.  It's a drum with two clear synthetic heads and in the middle are many tiny steel balls rolling around.  This is a fantastic fidget if you like watching, feeling, and hearing things move.  As a musical instrument, it makes rain or ocean sounds, along with more normal drum sounds.  I'm only so-so as a drummer.  But it only took me a minute to figure out how to make a good rain sound and quiet surf sounds.  I will need a little more practice to make crashing waves without stopping the balls -- that's tricky -- but I'm confident I can do it.  This is a musical instrument I can play  and not feel like my remaining musical ability is trying to walk on a broken ankle.  I pick it up and feel normal.  I got the 12" version, which sounds fantastic and is a comfortable size for me to use.  There are larger and smaller ones, including some with natural heads.

* We went to World Harvest looking for pear white tea, which they did not have, but they had a couple others I wanted and haven't seen in a while, so I got those and was well pleased.

* Supper was at Merry Ann's Diner.  I tried the turkey swiss grilled sandwich, which was pretty good, but saltier than ideal for me.  I still love the place because it's right across from the Krannert Center where we go fairly often.

* Krannert performance tonight was the ballet Sleeping Beauty.  Now I've seen Russian ballet in Moscow, and while the technical performance there was a bit higher on average, there was no pageanty -- just different colored leotards and a bit of lighting.  Tonight there were spectacular costumes and gorgeous sets.  Some of it was very subtle, like a lace curtain representing the wall of thorns around the castle.  All of the dancers were capable, the animal actors were hilarious, and the lead couple were definitely as good as the Bolshoi Teatre.  The male lead was extremely callipygian.  He could walk away from me all night and I would love the show.  :D  If you love the male form, you would love this show, because some of the men are costumed above the waist but below it are wearing nothing but tights and shoes so you can SEE EVERYTHING.  We also did some Ayyam-i-Ha shopping: I bought Doug a DVD of the performance and he bought me a paper quillwork card of a squirrel.

EDIT 1/24/19: My partner Doug reminded me that after the show, we stopped at the Intermezzo to share a slice of Swiss Chalet cake.  That was chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and a vanilla cream filling between them.  I love their layer cakes that have multiple flavors like that.  Fancy-dancy desserts!  :D

I'm really glad that I made the effort to scramble out of the house several hours early today.  Totally worth the trip.  \o/
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)


Day 3

In your own space, share a favorite piece of original canon (a TV episode, a song, a favorite interview, a book, a scene from a movie, etc) and explain why you love it so much. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so
.

Among my favorites is the episode "Darmok" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It presents an alien race whose language is untranslatable because they speak in metaphor and allusion.  Within seconds I was yelling possible translations at the screen.  Some of these turned out to be accurate.  I'm pretty good at picking up languages on the fly, and I love xenolinguistics.  Other people have subsequently explored Tamarian grammar and vocabulary.  

I love this episode because it's one of the few that truly conveys a species that "thinks as well as a human, but not like  a human."  It leaves us with questions, not answers; puzzles, not solutions; and yet at the end of the episode ... Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel.

If you haven't seen it, watch it.  This episode works pretty well even out of context, and it's one of the greatest pieces of science fiction ever made.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
As I expected, the changes at AO3 caused password decay.  But to my amazement, resetting the password actually worked!  I think that's the first time the automatic fix ever has.  See, this is why geeks should make things.  They do it better.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I say "Tell all the stories" a lot. In general I'm in favor of telling as many stories as possible. But among the range of stories that are possible to tell, some do more harm than good. We saw a trailer for one today, a movie about a boy who drowned and revived after 20 minutes underwater. There was the usual talk about God, overlooking all the people who are prayed over and die anyway, which happens all the time, in favor of that one time the victim pulled through. I see the temptation -- everybody loves a rescue story -- but this kind can get people killed. Or worse than killed. As a storyteller, that bothers me.

EDIT: Thanks to [personal profile] gingicat for identifying the movie as Breakthrough.  As a reviewer, I dis-recommend it, EXCEPT for use in classes about medical ethics, writing/filming ethics, water/ice rescue or other first responder training, or other cases where its discussion value exceeds its damage quotient and can be presented with appropriate warnings beforehand.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
We watched "Into the Spider-Verse" today. The storytelling was great. The characterization was very interesting. I loved the movie. But it gave me a headache to watch. The art kept doing a red-blue split like for 3D, but it wasn't supposed to be a 3D show. >_< I couldn't tell that from the trailers. Sadly, it's not a movie accessible to people with vision issues, and not one I can watch again.

EDIT 10/27/18: [personal profile] capri0mni adds this accessibility patch:
But I've been warned about the visuals in this movie, thanks to the Disability community on Tumblr, so I'm waiting until I can watch it streaming on my computer -- a smaller screen, in a brightly lit room, where I turn off the screen, if I have to, and just listen to the dialog during the worst of it.

That should help, but it won't substitute for a genuine description track. A lot happens in the visuals that is not audible, but based on comic book tropes, such as thought bubbles.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
... an excellent list of reasons.  Much of which boils down to: because writers don't really know what a healthy relationship looks like.  I try to do better, but a lot of time I wind up writing non-het relationships because they get less coverage, making it easier to do new things with them.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Ricky Jay has passed away.  He was an actor, magician, and card manipulator.  You may have seen his card-throwing routine. He has left behind many students and deep footprints in the magic field.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer has posted "Uncanny Beginnings."  Shaun goes to day care for the first time.  I love this one because it introduces color dominoes that use the Feelipa symbols.  By incorporating those into games, not only is it inclusive, it enables everyone to learn the system.  So if a person loses their color vision, or all of it, the impact is slightly less because they already know some adaptive resources to compensate.  As shown, games like this work great in any language learning context because they encourage people to use vocabulary like "red," "square," "play," "next to," and so on.   
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
William Goldman has passed away.  Among his more famous works are the movies The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

He arrives at the Great Con in the Sky, juggling a GOH packet and a life-size stuffed ROUS.  "Could someone get the door, please?  My hands are full."

The doorman leaps to obey.  "As you wish!"

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