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The Coffin’s Occupant

They all wiped quiet tears from their eyes,
Wishing the old lord had not died,
And sent for a coffin with teak sides
From India, no cost they shied,
The casket had a trail of flies.
A maid, without family ties,
Found the coffin was occupied.



Read on! )
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There's a lot of critiques of the genre that focus on the creepy stuff that the harem genre in Manga and Anime (one man, a lotta women) as it relates to what's happening to the girls and/or women in such series, but there's something else about it that bothers me, that I don't think gets enough attention. Oddly enough, it's a flaw that the reverse harem genre (one woman, a lotta men) lacks.

One of the sexist stereotypes of men is that they want sex all the time. Therefore, they can't be raped by women. Only women can be the victim of sexual violence. If a woman rapes a man, then he should go along with it because he secretly wants it.

In harem stories, there always is a bunch of pretty girls who force themselves on an unwilling male protagonist. The idea is that if he isn't pursuing them, then he isn't victimizing them. But, it's actually just been reversed. The protagonist is the one being assaulted - often graphically, with a ton of violence. And we're supposed to find it funny, because a man couldn't possibly be sexually assaulted, and he secretly wants this, right?

A prime example in the plight of the protagonist of The World Only a God Knows, Keima Katsuragi. He's pretty high up in the Asexuality/Aromantic scale. He also is intensely uncomfortable with physical contact. Even in the dating sims he plays, he doesn't really think of them as romances, and he isn't getting sexual gratification out of them, he sees them more like strategy games. In the series, a demon crashes to earth and tricks him into making a contract to help her catch runaway evil spirits. The catch is that they're in young women, and to get the evil spirit out, he has to seduce them. If he breaks the contract, he will die horribly. Let's think about what this actually means: He's a sex slave, forced to prostitute himself under pain of death. As creepy and gross as what he's doing to all of these women is, it's no where near as horrifying as what's being done to him. We, the readers, are expected to think: He's being sexually assaulted, LOL. Now he's being beaten up for being sexually assaulted, LOL. It also was this series that triggered this rant.

There a lot of other creepy things about this genre, but I just wanted to point out this particular one, because people seem to forget that sexual violence isn't restricted by gender.
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This essay/rant is mostly based off of an essay by a friend of mine whose website vanished from the internet because she's moved on. Or died. I have no idea, she's just gone. Farewell Nurvingiel, you were a great writer and your essay on using foreign languages in story-telling was one of my favorites.

Whether you're writing about Middle-earth or the Beika district of Tokyo, you'll be dealing with foreign languages that you may or may not know. You may be tempted to work in some of the native languages to give your readers a greater feeling of immersion in the world. There are several things I'd like you to keep in mind though.

  1. Don't assume that your readers will know as much about the language as you do. Therefore, use the same language you use for the narration for all of the dialogue. Any term not in this language should be clearly defined for the reader. This also applies to honorifics, titles, and terms of address, like Mr./Mrs./Mz./Miss/Lord/Lady. Translate them or leave them out entirely.

Say someone is jumping into a fandom for the first time, and doesn't speak any Elvish or Japanese or Na'vi. They click on a fanfic that looks interesting, but they can't read the dialogue because it's a word-salad of languages they don't know. They give up and go away.

  1. Write the dialogue from the point of view of the characters whose point of view you're using. You can use a different language to reflect the characters' inability to understand what is being said to them, immersing the reader more into the characters' perspective.

So, you've got a Japanese character in a Japanese setting, and you're writing in English. They'll be able to understand everything said to them in Japanese, so write all of the Japanese dialogue in plain English. But, if the character doesn't speak English well, or at all, you could phonetically transcribe the English into the Japanese phonology, so it seems just as foreign and bizarre to your English speaking readers. Here's an example:
“Ah, I didn't see you there; forgive me,” Kogorou said, stepping aside.

The woman with a long nose and carefully fluffed brown hair looked confused a moment, then said, “Aimu sari, ai dina kachi za. Kudju ripii za?”

Kogorou blinked, uncomprehending. What was this strange amalgamation of sounds this woman was spewing?

Conan sighed loudly behind him and answered the woman. Ran tugged him aside and whispered, “It's English; Dad, they're speaking in English.”
As you can see, it is as confusing and incoherent as Kogorou would find it.

For another example, say you're writing in English; your POV character only speaks of Westron in Middle-earth, and they meet an Elf, who only speaks Sindarin.
I stood back, surprised. To me, it'd looked like the tree and sprung to life, but now, I realized I was looking at an Elf. A real, live elf. The elf backed up a step, hands up to show she wasn't holding any weapons. “Goheno nin. Ú-ethilen dhe thostad.”

I blinked. What was this “thostad,” and did it hurt?
Another situation that you may come across is a bilingual character. You need some way to distinguish the fact that they're speaking another language, but it needs to be in plain English. I suggest putting the dialogue in the other language in italics (no more than that though, too many layers of italics, bolding, and underlining can be distracting) or simply mention in the narration that they're speaking this other language now.
Ah, I didn't see you there; forgive me,” Kogorou said, stepping aside.

The woman with a long nose and carefully fluffed brown hair looked confused a moment, then said in English, “I'm sorry; I didn't catch that. Could you repeat that?

Kogorou blinked, uncomprehending. Conan sighed loudly behind him and answered the woman, “He just apologized for bumping into you. He's very sorry.
In scenes such as this, using the foreign language in the dialogue makes sense. Most of the time, just don't.

  1. Make sure that the translations you use are accurate. Bad translations could end up annoying or insulting everyone who does speak the languages in question. Or rather, it's a pet peeve of mine and it drives me up the wall.

This is so bad in Anime fandoms. The Fan-Japanese is so... so... *tears hair out, flails uselessly at the screen for a few minutes, mouth starts frothing* MAKE IT STOP.

  1. Using foreign terms in the narration is the most effective, and could lead to using them in the dialogue.

This is pretty simple to do, actually. You have a character think about or discuss the term. Here are a few examples:
Ran scowled down at Shinichi, hands on her hips. “Stop using my name without honorifics. Little boys should call older girls 'Neesan.' I'm older than you.”

Shinichi looked down, inspecting the floor. He hated being reminded of his condition. “Yes Ran-neesan,” he mumbled to his toes.

“I don't think I heard you. Say it again.”

He glared back up at her. “I wanna go home, Ran-neesan!”
Now the reader will know the significance of Shinichi addressing Ran as Ran-neesan when in his child-form, and they get some insight into Shinichi's situation and personality.

My fingers brushed across the net the Elfwoman had tucked my hair into. I'd never seen such a device before, but it was holding in all of the stray hairs with ease.

The Elf tugged gently on the net. “Cathrae,” she said, clearly pleased with my reaction.

“It's a cathrae.” I said, tasting the word.

“Ma!” she said grinning. “Cathrae.”
In the scene, we get a taste of Elven hair-styles by having the elf character teach our human about Elven hairnets.

Once home, she absentmindedly stuffed her shoes into the kutsubako, a small shelf by the door that they put their shoes away in.
Or, it can be as simple as this.

In conclusion:
Write in whatever language you're writing in.
Don't expect everyone to know as much or as many foreign languages as you do.
Use foreign languages from the perspective of the characters that you're telling the story through.
When introducing foreign terms, define them carefully and creatively in the story.
Make sure the translations are correct, because this little linguist and translator is driven insane by bad translations.

Thank you.

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Christianity is a weird, exotic religion in Japan, one which has a pretty marriage ceremony and has something to do with a slow torturous murder of someone on a cross… and that’s about all most Japanese people know about Christianity. So, it sticks out like a sore thumb when the Japanese characters use references to Christianity, even in passing. And, it pisses me off when people just replace “god” with “kami” as though they mean the same thing… but that’s a rant for another day.

I think it is worth it though, to look at the religious themes that are in the Detective Conan universe. I think that a lot of Westerners, not having in Japanese cultural heritage, may not pick up on these subtleties. The reason that I know a bit about this is that I took a class on Japanese religion and philosophy (mostly a literature class, goodness, the Buddhist monks were prolific!) and a class on ancient Japanese literature, which included the Nihonshoki and Kojiki, so I’m not working off of pop-culture notions of what Shintouism and Buddhism are.

It’s been noticed before by many that the Magic Kaitou series is in a world with magic, and Detective Conan is in a world of science-fiction. But, the supernatural does exist in the Detective Conan universe, and it is powerful, and it is very, very Shintou.

Both Ran and Kazuha are shamanesses of sorts… or witches? Psychics? There isn’t really a direct translation into English, and the term “miko” conjures up completely different images, thanks to pop-culture. Either way, they both have supernatural powers. Kazuha made an omamori (a protective talisman) so powerful it stopped a murder attempt on Conan. She has a reputation for making powerful omamori, and she makes them for other people. Ran is psychic intuitive, meaning that when she guesses, she guesses correctly. She also has supernatural luck, winning at lotteries easily. Both Ran and Kazuha are extremely superstitious.

Conan/Shinichi is a Skeptic and an Atheist. Being an Atheist is likely tied into him not believing in the supernatural, which is a result of him being a Skeptic. Shinichi is an extremely outspoken Skeptic as well, living his life by it. He’s not very tactful about it either, often mocking Ran for believing in Youkai or ghosts. The Skeptism movement is based on using evidenced based reasoning to figure out what to believe. No evidence for something, no belief in it. Shinichi has had very little experience with genuine supernatural things, so he doesn’t believe in them. His ability to sense when someone is looking at him with malicious intent he likely explains to himself as his subconscious noticing something and warning him about it.

Heiji is also a Skeptic, but he does have some supernatural beliefs. It relates to his prophetic dreams. He has direct experience with it, and seeing Kazuha’s power, he’s proved to himself that his dreams are real, and that Kazuha’s omamori have some sort of effect on the world. He hasn’t however, started believing anything and everything supernatural, and joins in with Shinichi in mocking the girls when they freak out over a possible ghost or vampire. He’s debunked many faked supernatural events as well.

Interestingly, anyone who tries to profit off of something supernatural, either blaming a murder on it or making money off of it, in the Detective Conan universe, is a fraud who is exposed in the episode. The supernatural here doesn’t come to those who want it, it does whatever the hell it pleases, neither being good or evil, like nature itself.

I keep saying “supernatural”, but in Shintouism, there is no such thing. Kami are part of nature, not outside, or above it. Shintouism also doesn’t have very much to say about any afterlife, other than death being ritualistically impure and something that invites bad luck, which is why Buddhism and Shintouism can coexist so easily. Buddhism is concerned with the afterlife, and it supposedly grants ordinary people purification superpowers – as though living your life in a particular way and holding a specific set of philosophies can make you able to purify away the bad luck gathered by impure things like blood and death. It’s very common in Japan for people to live according to Shintouism – gathering blessings they’ve bribed from various kami at shrines and using the divining services of a psychics to help make big decisions, but to use Buddhist death ceremonies and mantras for funerals or other unlucky events. In fact, it’s hard to see anymore where Shintouism ends and Buddhism begins in Japan. Yin-yang philosophy (called “Onmyou” in Japanese) also has blended itself comfortably into Japan’s unique religious blend, making Duality a common theme in Japanese literature.

Then, we look at Shinichi. He’s soaked in blood and death, as part of his daily life. Shinichi is ritualistically impure, so he’s plagued with bad luck. Even with Ran besides him, horrible things happen around him, sometimes to him, constantly. He even brings his impurity into places that should be able to purify it; people die in shines and temples when he’s there. In that universe, it’s no wonder that the evil organization was drawn to him and ended up trying to kill him. Heiji is similarly plagued with bad fortune, but he has Kazuha’s omamori to offset it, so he hasn’t ended up hounded for years by an international crime syndicate. When Heiji and Shinichi are together though – there will be more than one murder. Though, that might just be the fact that Heiji is a popular side character they like to milk the appearances of…

One idea that’s been borrowed from Buddhism and is omnipresent in the Detective Conan universe is Karma. Bad things happen to people who deserve them. It has a story-telling convenience too – you don’t feel so bad about the horrible deaths of characters that you don’t like. It can be a fun little game – spot the asshole, and bet that character will be dead by the end of the episode. But - the moral themes of the show often directly contradict the Buddhist focus on the afterlife. Many times, either Conan or whatever detective solves the case lamented that people weren't focusing on loving and living their brief time in this life, which is a very important value in Shintou.

There is one other very strong influence on this series, something that was a lot stronger in the 90's, when it first started being published. The evil organization that Shinichi is fighting is likely some kind of Transhumanist cult. The search for immortality, the interest in digital security, hacking, and computer simulations add up to Transhumanism. Then, their members are members for life, secrecy is more important than money making, and the raising of children to be useful for them sounds very cult-like. It also puts Gin's obsession with betrayal into context, doesn't it?

There you have it: a very basic look into the religious/ideological themes of the Detective Conan universe.

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There are several types of gender-bending characters, but only 2 are common in the Detective Conan universe. I'm going to talk about some ground rules for proceeding for both of them, and cover them both individually.

The Detective Conan story has plenty of female characters, but they are mostly side characters. Th main actors are almost all male, so genderbending them female is a very understandable urge. In fact, I think it's pretty cool. The two main types of genderbending that I see in the Detective Conan fanfiction zeitgeist are:

1. Genderbent from birth.
2. APTX4869 (or similar evil organization drug) switches one's gender, instead of turning one into a little kid.

But, there are several important things to keep in mind:

Gender Identity has very little to do with one's personality. Women aren't more emotional; men aren't all perverted creepers. Don't change the character's personality. What does change is the way society acts on the character. If a woman is emotional, it's expected, but if a guy is emotional, he's ridiculed. If a guy is a perverted creep, it's usually brushed off as "boys will be boys", but if a woman is a perverted creep, she must be a whore - or the victim, because women don't actually have sexualities, right? You get the picture: toss the sexist stereotypes.

Some examples:

Heiji is hot-headed, brave, and self-sacrificing at the drop of a hat. He values saving lives over punishing people. He's incredibly intelligent and has very good intuition, and capable of laying complex traps for criminals. If you write Heiji as female (and labeled such from birth), she'd still have all of those qualities. Looking at her mother, she'd probably have been trained in polite, traditional Japanese lady-like behavior, but if someone might be in danger, she'd charge in to save them no matter what. She also might not be given quite the access to crime scenes, even with her father being Oni-Heizo.

Ran is caring, competitive (she's some kind of karate champion, after all), extremely brave, and slightly introverted. If someone is in trouble, she'll charge in to save them, no matter who they are. If you write Ran as male from birth, he'd keep all those qualities. He'd still end up taking care of his useless father, but he'd probably speak a lot less politely, picking up his father's rough speech, and probably be a little faster to react physically, as it's more socially acceptable for him to as a guy. As a female, Ran's violent outbursts are contained for a few seconds more, before concrete starts crumbling. He'd still be terrified of the supernatural; and he still would beat the crap out of a random pervert on the subway who groped Sonoko.

The main point out of all of this is that when you genderbend these characters, they need to still be recognizable as those characters.

Which leads into what is probably my most important point:

Gender identity, sex, and sexual orientation are not the same thing.

None of them are binaries either; they're sliding scales.

Gender identity can be girly girl, uman-uman (giving Vermouth a section of the scale all to herself), Tom-boy, female, male, genderfluid, genderqueer, fem, butch, manny-man-Mc-manface, and on and on and everything in-between. One's gender identity is in one's brain. Since it develops at a different time from the genitalia, it's possible that what the brain thinks ought to be down there and what is down there could end up different things.

Sex is the what the doctors assign at birth. It has to do with what genitalia are present. But, this is a sliding scale, and it is possible to have genitalia so ambiguous that the doctors can't decide, which makes the label Intersex put on one at birth. So, sliding scale, yet again.

Sexual orientation is what parts of the gender identity sliding scale one is attracted to. You could be attracted to the most feminine far end of the scale, or the entire scale, or a large chunk towards the end of the masculine end of the scale. I'm pansexual, and am pretty comfortable with the entire scale, as long as they're a gentle, talented, intelligent, and a nerd, like my spouse is. See this essay on being Bisexual/Pansexual for more details. My spouse, however, is only attracted to the more female end of the spectrum. Even people who are "straight" are attracted to different sections of the gender identity scale.

Now you've got Shinichi force-fed a poison that transforms his physical sex, while leaving his brain untouched. His gender-identity and sexual orientation are left unchanged, because they are in the brain, not in the genitalia.

There are so many things that could be explored here, that I haven't seen even touched upon, other than what society defines gender roles as being. Shinichi is still in love with Ran, but now pursuing her looks like lesbianism, and that could lead to some pretty fierce discrimination and bullying at Teitan High. Does Shinichi suffer from Gender Dysphoria, or discover that his gender identity wasn't as masculine as he thought it was? Does he conceal his poison-induced sex, or does he use it to hide?

Whatever roads you take - do a ton of research. There are a lot of people from all over the gender identity, sex, and sexual orientation spectrums, and many of them have blogs. They are only a google search away. Go find out what they have to say about themselves, and don't make assumptions based on popular media stereotypes. You could end up sounding incredibly ignorant and bigotted if you don't, and the research you do may change your own perspective on yourself or on someone you know. Have fun researching!

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So, over the past few months I've been wallowing in the Detective Conan fandom. It's kinda nice. It's not very active, but it's cozy. The fan theories are a ton of fun to read and come up with. The source material is excellent. It's a very long running fandom (since 1994!) so there is 20 years' worth of fanfiction, fanart, and AMVs.

So, I just spent the past few months reading hundreds of DC fanfics. I've gotten a pretty good sense of the trends and tropes, as well as some of the more annoying habits that sometimes border on bigotry and/or pedophilia... holy shit does this fandom have a darkside. It doesn't have the vast numbers that the Harry Potter fandom did to explain it; it comes from the canon itself, which lends itself to a particular type of darkside that.... that will have to be one of my rants.

This will be an index of sorts for my rants. Hopefully this will result in something useful for my new fandom. We'll see.

Eat

Nov. 14th, 2013 07:51 pm
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I'm sitting across the table with my darling spouse. There's a plate of good-smelling food in front of me. I'm in agony.

I have no appetite. No idea why (doctors said, "Let's see how the tests come out!" after doing the vampire routine on my arm) and it scares the hell out of me.

When I say, 'no appetite', I mean absolutely none. I've lost the ability to feel hungry. Getting myself to eat involves setting a series of alarms on my phone, and forcing down whatever I can.

Forcing yourself to continue eating when you feel full after a single bite... it is exhausting and painful. Try it sometime. Sit down with a mountain of food before you, and try to make yourself finish it all. I feel nauseous after the third bite. My body says, "What are you doing? We're done here!" and rebels against my consciousness. My consciousness tells me I've only had a bowl of ramen today, and two bowls of soup the previous day, one corn dog (took me three hours to finish) the two days before that, nothing but water. I need to eat more than this, or I'll starve to death.

It hurts.

I finish another bite, and let my spouse have a shot at my plate (they've already finished theirs) then take the leftovers home. Then I sit down to write out my feelings, try to make sense of it.

A few days ago, I put on a pair of jeans that should fit snugly. They were baggy. "What the hell?" I thought. "I've been doing nothing but sit on my ass doing homework." Then it dawned on me. I hadn't eaten anything that day. I thought back. The day before either. Not much the day before that... when did this start happening? I analyzed my eating behavior over the past few months.

Late September... that's when I think it began. It was slow at first. Difficulty finishing meals. Then after a while, just skipping them. After a few weeks, down to one small meal a day. After that, I just stopped. And I didn't notice. I didn't feel it. I went for days without eating and didn't notice.

I'm terrified.

It feels like a betrayal of myself. I always took pride in my ability to know my body and emotions. How could I miss this? I should have noticed this sooner! Then again, I wasn't in pain, so there weren't redflags until I put on my jeans. I see how it happened, but feel ashamed that it got so bad. It's a betrayal of my personality in another way - I love food. I love making it; I love eating it; I love trying out new foods. Not wanting to eat is a foreign concept to me. I still think, "Me? Unable to finish a meal? Ridiculous." Then I see the low-blood sugar shaking my hands, and feel the looseness of my jeans. This really is happening.

I loathe having to obsess over meals. One day and I'm already hating it. I've never obsessed over how much of what goes into my body before. I've always gone by trusting my body to tell me when it needs refueling. And up until a few months ago, I could go mad with hunger if I skipped a meal. I couldn't think or function hungry. And that's a good thing. It made me stop and refuel, and enjoy doing it. Probably the worst of this is that I can't enjoy eating anymore.

My body isn't doing what it's supposed to do.

I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm longing for the ache of hunger right now.

At least that ache would keep me alive and functioning.

Eat. Eat another bite. You'll get sick and die if you don't. You feel like you're going to puke? Quit whining, Fiona. Eat.

Update:
Doctor says it's a combination depression-depression medication that wiped out my appetite. My meds are used to help smokers suppress cravings, so any craving for food I had left vanished. A medication's been added that will knock me out and make me hungrier. So, no *fun* things like organs dying. We don't have to worry so much, oh blog that no one reads.

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I always could see gods. They are shadows, vague shapes, but sometimes they’ll take the form of something from my memory. If they are dangerous, they’ll take the shape of something that frightens me. If they benevolent, they’ll take the shape of something that comforts me. They each have their own personalities too… some are mischievous, some are shy, some love attention and being doted on. They like to live in statues and shrines. Other’s care little about humans. They have important jobs to do, like moving clouds and making goats mate. 

I was eight years old when I realized I was seeing gods. I was traveling with my family, taking fresh wool from the herders on the mountain, to the River City. We stopped to pay homage to the local gods, as one must do when traveling through their territory. (if you don’t, they might become vengeful) and I saw a man who looked like a king that I’d seen a glimpse of being carried by a dozen slaves. He wore bangles and fine skins, and jewels were everywhere on him – even strung on wires that ran through his skin. When he saw us coming to pay homage to the great statue, he became very excited, and started kissing the dying flowers in the offering bowl. To our amazement, the flowers came back to life and blossomed anew. My grandmother, who also is our shaman, told my father that this was a good omen. This god would protect us through its land. We gave it offerings of dyed wool. 

I thought differently.  Hadn’t they seen the king-magician kissing the flowers? While they told me there was no such man, and that the king I spoke of was far, far away from us, he stepped between us to stare at me. Instead of hunching over to get a better look, he simply shrunk to my height. 

“I look like a king to you?” he asked. 

I nodded. My grandmother took it as a sign that I’d been corrected, and they went about getting the great ox to move again. 

He puffed out his chest and grinned wide. “Most people see only my house,” he said, pointing at the statue.

I looked at my parents, who were busy snapping at slaves. They still didn’t notice him. 

“It’s solid wood,” I whispered, turning away so they couldn’t see me talking. “There’s no space for someone to live.” 

“I don’t need space,” he said. Then he slipped into the statue, and out of sight. I could still feel his presence though. “I am Nagoy, the Road Guardian!” he shouted in his most mighty voice. “I give flowers their perfume!” 

“How does that help guard the road?” 

“It doesn’t,” he popped his head out of the statue, “but it’s fun.” 

“Does this mean that you are the god of the road then?” I asked. 

“Of course I am! I live in the statue, don’t I?” 

“My family is traveling through your land, will you take care of us?” 

He paused a moment, and chewed on his lips. “I might miss more offerings. And my home is here, not the entire road.” 

“What if I gave you a new home?” I scurried over to the cart with the bag full of woolen dolls from the mountains, and pulled out a doll with wool jewelry stitched into it. “It looks like you.” 

His eyes widened with glee. “You’ll carry me with you? Will you show me lots of flowers?” 

“We travel everywhere. My mom says that we have traveled to every place with a name in the world!” 

With that, he left his wooden statue and jumped into my doll. “I am Nagoy the Caravan Guardian!” he shouted in his mighty voice. “I give the flowers of all of the named places their perfume!” 

Never had we had a sweeter smelling journey.



Index | Next Chapter

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See that mountain there?

A powerful witch lives there.

She stops death there.

Her valley is fruitful there.

Her people never die there.

All you need is to get there,

With a token of your God there,

Learn handspeech and live there.

Forever.


Part 1 - The Witch
Chapter 1 - The King
Chapter 2 - The Merchant

 
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I composed this poem in IPA. English Orthography version below. I think it looses something that way though... oh well. Enjoy!

C
o:
ˈʤrægnˌflaj
wɛr ˈʤu go:
wɛn ˈju daj

A
aj
ˈgo tu ˌɚθ
ðə ˈsem ples
əv ˈmaj bɚθ

C
waj
ˈkæn ʧuˌsi:
maj ˈgadz ðæt
kn ˈnat bi:

A
aj
ˈno: mor ˌbaut
ðoz ˈdæm gadz
ðæ ˈʧu taut
o:
ˈju por ˌfuɫ
ˈhu gev ˌju
ˈrajt tu ˌruɫ

C
maj
ˈon gad ˌgev
mi ˈpawɚ
for tu ˈsev
ju:
ˈpɪtɪˌfɫ
ˈsɪnɚz ˌaɫ
jɚ ˌʤʌst ˈfjuɫ
for
ˈgadz straŋˌræθ
ju ˈʃʊd rʌn
frəm ˈgadz pæθ
ðɛn
ˈkloz jɚ ˌa:z
ˈfalo ˌgadz
ˈju diˌspajz

A
don
ˈθrɛʔn ˌmi
ˈfir kn ˌnat
mek ˈmi si
fʌ:
kɪŋ dɪsˌgres
ju ˈkænt pruv
jɚ ˈdʌm kes
so:
ˈʌntɪɫ ˌðɛn
liv ˈmi bi
fɚˈgatɛn
aj
ˈwont hɚt ˌju
tu ˈmi ðiz
ˈrajts ɪmˌbju
rajt
tu ɛgzɪst
tu
nat falo

riliʤn
ai
grænt ju ðiz
rajts aɫ ðə
tajm, so pliz.
aj
dont biliv
dont hoɫd ɪt
əgɛnst mi


C:
Oh
Dragonfly,
where d’you go
when you die?

A:
I
go to earth,
the same place
of my birth.

C:
Why
can’t you see
my gods that
cannot be?

A:
I
know more ‘bout
those damn gods
that you tout.
Oh,
you poor fool.
Who gave you
right to rule?

C:
My
own god gave
me power
for to save
you
pitiful
sinners all,
you’re just fuel
for
God’s strong wrath.
You should run
from God’s path.
Then
close your eyes;
follow gods
you despise.

A:
Don’t
threaten me.
Fear cannot
make me see.
Fu
-cking disgrace!
You can’t prove
your damn case.
So,
until then,
leave me be,
forgotten.
I
won’t hurt you.
To me these
rights imbue:
Right
to exist
To
not follow
your
religion.
I
grant you these
rights all the
time, so please.
I
don’t believe.
Don’t hold it
against me.
dreamingfifi: (Default)

I really haven’t been keeping up with my weekly writing regimen, but oh well. I’ve been swamped with homework and barely been able to breathe at all this semester. As I write now, we are in Seattle for SakuraCon - our yearly Spring Break adventure. Trevor (my husband) and I watched the premier of the Dragon Age animated movie. The creators of Dragon Age worked with Funimation to put it together, so we were pretty stoked. Right after that we went to a panel about sexism in the geeky-nerdy community and how we can fight it – so that definitely has colored our review of it. After the feminism panel, we went to a fantastic Indian restaurant called A Taste of India. As we waited in the incredibly long line to get in, we discussed the movie at length and jotted down notes for this article. Therefore, it really is from both of us. This will be heavy in spoilers.

 

Spoilers! )

 

Voice Acting

It was kinda obvious that there hadn’t been much in the way of directing of the voice actors. They were supposed to be so-totally-not-French accents, but the voice actors’ accents were all over the place. Many of the actors ended up blending accents or going back and forth between three or four different accents. Some actors gave up and just went British or their American accent. Other than that it was pretty good.

Animation

Definitely a low-budget production. The motioncapture looked great, but there were a few times that they didn’t use it which ended up looking really bad – especially with the horses. They cut a lot of corners, including almost never animating facial expressions. In fact, Cassandra’s face was left in a blank, emotionless state for most of the movie, which jarred with the voice acting often. The design of the scenes went for wow-they-were-in-a-hurry to Oh COOL!!!!, and there’s a lot more cheap shots than nice looking ones.

The animation of the magic was sometimes awesome, and sometimes lazy. The fire spell was really, really cool. The fight scenes – not so much. It basically consisted of throwing balls of light around like water balloons. We’d thought that the magic they’d use for fighting would involve making the environment fight for you, since the Templar can shrug off magical attacks with ease. Things like making the ground turn into quicksand to impede their movement or making lightening strike them or pieces of buildings fall on them. That would have been so cool! But, we get magic glowing water balloons instead.

In Conclusion

The cheapness doesn’t bother us near so much. Cheap movies can be awesome if the rest of the movie is well done, and this wasn’t. It really feels like a lazy, last-minute slapped together project built to cash in on Dragon Age – but it could have been a lot cheaper and a lot more offensive as an addition to the canon. This was mediocre, but at least it had a great main character and an a few admittedly awesome fight scenes.

dreamingfifi: (Default)
I composed a prose poem while I was bored between classes. I composed it using IPA, and for some reason, I prefer it that way.

I’ll give the English orthography version below it, but I really like how I can give a sense of me reading it to you. The transcription is very broad, not marking the differences between allophones and more turning IPA into another sort of orthography. If you can’t read IPA, then just read along, guessing what the words are, and check to see how close you were in the English version.

aj ˈdrɛmt ðæt ˈaj wəz ˈtræpt ɪn æn ˈɛg. ɪt ˈwʌznt ə ˈbæd ˈtræpɪŋ. ˈaj wəz ˈkalm n ˈhæpi. maj ˈlɛgz wɚ ˈkɚɫd əˈgɛnst maj ˈʧɛst, m maj ˈarmz ˈʤɛntli ˈhɛɫd ðɛm ˈðɛr ɪmˈples. ˈnʌθɪŋ kʊd ˈgɛtɪn. ðə mɛmˈbrenz əv ðə ˈtɪʃuz əv ði ˈɛg wɚ ˈfʌn tu ˈplej wɪθ.

bət ˈsloli, ˈsloʊli ðə ˈlɪkwɪd ˈkʊʃn̩ɪŋ mi ˈdrend əˈwej, n ðə ˈstrenʤ ˈwaɫz ˈklozd ɪn. ɪt biˈkem ˈmor m ˈmoor ˈdɪfɪkɫ̩t tu ˈbrið.

wɛn ˈaj kʊd ˈstænd ɪt ˈnow ˈlaŋgɚ, maj ˈfit, ˈniz, m ˈpaɫmz ˈpʊʃt əˈgɛnst ðə ˈwaɫz wɪθ ˈaal maj ˈmajt. ðə ˈwaɫz ˈkwekt ŋ ˈgroʊnd, m ˈwɪθ ə ˈskrim, riˈlist mi.

aj ˈlej ə ˈmomn̩t, ˈdezd ŋ ˈgæspɪŋ əˈmʌŋst ðə ˈʃardz əv maj proˈtɛktɪv ˈsfir. ðə ˈgraund aj wəz ˈspraɫd an wəz ˈhard, bət ðə ˈɛr ˈfɪɫd maj ˈlʌŋz. aj ˈgæðɚd ðə ˈʃardz əv maj ˈɛg, n ˈtɚnd ðɛm ˈɪntu ə ʃiɫd.

aj ˈstʌmbɫ̩d ɪnˈtu ðə ˈwɚɫd, tu ˈgow ædˈvɛnʧɚrɪŋ.

English Orthography )

ði ˈɛnd!
dreamingfifi: (Default)
Internet was down, so I missed a week. I'll try to be better about this though. I want to keep writing through the semester, no matter how busy it gets.

This article should be read along with The Healing Arts of Middle-earth by Tinw.

In this essay, we shall explore the Elven views on healing versus killing, and learn about Aragorn’s magical wedding gift and namesake.

In fanfiction and Role Play alike, I see many Elven healer-warriors adventuring. They’re all fashioned after Aragorn, Faramir, and Éowyn, who are human, not Eldarin. (Aragorn also had the Elessar, a magic green stone given to him by Galadriel as a wedding present.) This analogy seems to be built on an apparent lack of information. But, since Morgoth’s Ring was published, we have known what the Eldarin views about making and ending life. It was described for us quite clearly in the Laws and Customs of the Eldar.

“For instance, the arts of healing, and all that touches on care of the body, are among all the Eldar most practiced by the nissi; whereas it was the elven-men who bore arms at need. And the Eldar deemed that the dealing of death even when lawful or under necessity, diminished the power of healing, and that the virtue of the nissi in this matter was due rather to their abstaining from hunting or war than to any special power that went with their womanhood. Indeed in dire straits or desperate defense, the nissi fought valiantly, and there was less difference in strength and speed between elven-men and elven-women that had not borne child than is seen among mortals. On the other hand many elven-men were great healers and skilled in the lore of living bodies, though such men abstained from hunting, and went not to war until the last need.” (MR 213-4)

Let’s examine the relevant points of this section.

  1. Healers are most often female, but men can be healers too.
  2. Dealing in death weakens the ability to be a healer. (or that is the superstition of the Eldar)
  3. Healers are the very last to go to war. 

So, what does Elven healing entail? It’s spoken of as a “power” as though there is some sort of magic behind it. There likely is, but not the “magical glow for a few seconds and you’re good as new!” sort of magic as seen in Avatar: The Last Airbender or in Charmed or any number of fantasy series. It likely works through singing, and can only help the healing process, not magically reattach limbs or heal wounds with no scarring. An Elven healer at work is most likely singing while they stitch you up, and you’ll be able to remove the stitches a few days earlier. 

Elven healing also likely differs from our healing in that they don’t have treatments for things caused by viruses or bacteria. If you don’t get sick from them, then there’s no need to treat them. So, Elven healers are more like surgeons: trained to set bones, remove slivers/arrows/pieces of daggers from the body, and stitch up wounds. 

By the way, even warriors know at least a little first aid. Glorfindel and Aragorn (pre-Elessar) were able to help keep Frodo alive during the dangerous trek to Imladris. When throwing yourself in dangerous situations – it’s best to know how to get yourself home alive. 

The Elessar

Yes, Aragorn’s Kingly name. Aragorn was named after the Elessar, which is a magic gem. It has an interesting history though. It is detailed in the Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn – The Elessar. I will give a basic overview for you here. 

The Elessar was made by a jewel-smith named Enerdhil. He loved green, growing things, especially when looking through leaves at the sun. So, he made the Elessar, (called Edhelharn in Sindarin) which was the captured green light that he loved. This gem had incredible power. 

The jewel was given to Idril, who kept it safe from the destruction of Gondolin. She gave it to Eärendil, who used it to help people in Sirion’s Haven. The Elessar vanished from Middle-earth along with Eärendil. 

Where then, does Aragorn’s Elessar come from? No one knows. Some people in Middle-earth believe that Aragorn’s wedding gift is actually the one that Enerdhil made, returned to Middle-earth by Gandalf. Others think that it is a new gem, made to mimic the original one by Celebrimbor for Galadriel. Either way, Galadriel had an Elessar and she gave it to Aragorn as a wedding present. Thus, the prophecy that Ioreth speaks of in the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith came true: the hands of the King are the hands of a Healer. 

Here’s the section describing what the jewel is capable of: 

“For it is said that those who looked through this stone saw things that were withered or burned healed again or as they were in the grace of their youth, and that the hands of one who held it brought to all that they touched healing from hurt.” (UF 249) 

From this description, it’s hard to tell if it works like rose-tinted (leaf-tinted?) glasses, and makes you view the world around you as more healthy than it is, or if it actually heals what you look upon. Again, it doesn’t seem to be a magical complete healing tool. Look on the way it works when Aragorn uses it. He still has to do actual medical work. The Elessar just seems to make sure that the methods that he uses are effective, not make injuries magically disappear in a moment.

To conclude:

If you write about Tolkien-Elves who are warriors and have magick glowing hands that magickly heal all they touch, I will track you down and beat you with my copy of Morgoth's Ring until you gain a magick revelation of your own.

Once I get this edited up, it'll go on my website!

Bullying

Aug. 17th, 2011 09:07 am
dreamingfifi: (Default)
No matter how I try, it seems to have scarred my mind in ways I can't escape.

I was always a weird kid. I over analyzed everything, and through my analysis I found may things superfluous that others clung to as social norms, and ended up denied access to society for that reason.

When I was little, I wore dresses even though everyone knew it was fashionable to wear pants. I was constantly teased for it. But I liked long flowy skirts, and pants had a way of pinching the backs of my knees in most uncomfortable ways. So, I wore dresses all the time.

When I got older and my aptitude for languages and linguistics started showing itself, I had no languages to learn around me, so I started talking to my chickens and turkeys. One day in 4th grade, around Thanksgiving, the teacher did the normal schpiel about "gobble gobble goes the turkey", and I raised my hand and corrected her, presenting my findings and research. This forever marked me as the girl who talks to chickens and turkeys; and sealed my fate as an outsider.

The teasing got far worse. I got into fights on the bus and the playground. The physical stuff wasn't too bad though. I was tall and strong, so anything they could dish out I could counter. It was the girls and their practices of ostracizing and ridicule that hurt.

I didn't see the world like they did. I didn't organize my views of the people around me by their places in society, but by the ways they treated me. To them, I didn't fit into society, so I was a blemish on their surroundings. They were also starting to reach puberty, and the hormones running through them confused and frightened them. To comfort themselves in the face of their insecurities, they lashed out at the blemish in society.

Oh did I hate being their scapegoat.

It didn't help that I mentioned on the bus that I wasn't Christian and neither was my family (except for my Nonna). Now, not only was a weird, but I was a heretic as well. The brat on the bus cornered me on the playground and threw rocks, shoes, and woodchips at me while screaming "burn the witch".

I spent most of those years, 9-12 years old, angrily grinding pebbles into dust on the playground all by myself.

My little brother Jethro entered Intermediate school too, and the bullying he faced from fellow boys was pretty terrible, and I often ended up stationing myself by him whenever I could to protect him. At one point, I ended up ripping bullies on the bus off of him who had his neck pinned to the window, strangling him. It got so bad that he spent more time protecting himself than learning, so my parents pulled him out of public school to homeschool him.

Junior high was surprisingly peaceful for me. I found a few other outcasts, and we banded together. I finally had friends that I could sit with at lunch. I wasn't spending every moment of recess and every bus ride protecting my little brother. Classes finally got interesting as well. They picked up the pace, and I found myself, for the first time, facing challenging and interesting classes. I headed toward highschool with a positive outlook, because my teachers said that classes would be far more challenging.

Highschool was challenging for other reasons.

All of a sudden, they were fighting tooth and nail to find a place in society for themselves that they were certain would be their place for the rest of their lives. I just didn't get it. I entered puberty very late, so I didn't feel the same rushes of emotion that they did. Anyways, I wanted no part of their struggle, but they were adamant to make me part of it. Since I wasn't on the attack, they figured they could make certain that I inhabited the lowest rung of society, and made me and my little group of friends their punching bag. Metaphorically of course. I didn't suffer any physical attacks in highschool, just psychological ones.

And oh, were those brutal.

During gym, they'd make endless jokes about the weight of one of my friends. One nasty little wanker made it his business to call me "chicken-fucker" every day on the bus. At one point, we were surrounded in the hallways by those little brats chanting "Freak! Freak! Freak!" Seeing if they could bring us to tears seemed to be their sport.

It didn't help that I discovered that I was bisexual and lived in constant fear of being found out.

All this left me really, really messed up. I wish I could say that it made me stronger. It didn't. It left me angry, cynical, and fearful of my fellow man. I keep finding the scars on my consciousness.

When I was struggling with depression a few years back, part of it was unearthing old fears that their is something wrong with me... that my strange outlook on the world meant there was some sort of mental disability that made it difficult for me to connect with my fellow man, but no. I'm just, as the psychologist put it, scientifically-minded, and that's a good thing.

I often wonder if the abuse I suffered at their hands made my imagination so much darker than normal. I look at my book collection, and I see a lot of horror and tragedy. My manga collection exhibits this particularly well. When I was fresh out of highschool, and just discovering manga, one of the first series I picked up and loved was Angel Sanctuary. The plot is apocalyptic and displays angels that are twisted and screwed up as humans - the main characters being a fallen pair of lesbian angels that were trapped in the mortal coil - endlessly reborn in human bodies, then hunted down and murdered by angels over and over and over... I connected with it so strongly because I recognized the shame towards my own sexuality, and the pain of persecution from my peers that I grew up with. In manga, the themes of simmering social injustice and fear/stifling of one's own sexuality are common, so I felt quite at home in Japanese literature.

In my own stories, it's been noted that I enjoy torturing my characters. It's rare to see them not being trapped and ostracized. In one of my first attempts at novel writing, I wrote about a girl whose skin sucked the life out whatever had the poor chance of touching her.

The anger is the most destructive of the scars. I found myself lashing out on the internet in the form of parody and ridicule. Starting at 15, I drifted through the Pit of Voles, finding bad stories and ripping them apart in every detail. I joined a group of similarly angry people, Godawful Fanfiction (GAFF) and we licked each others' wounds while clawing and kicking at our imaginary foes. It took a long time to realize that I was trying to lash out at the kids who hurt me, but only striking little girls posting their sexual fantasies online for everyone to read.

What is the point of this long ramble?
Bullying changed me. It left me in a lot of pain. Healing myself is taking a long time, and I still suffer flashbacks of it from time to time. If you see someone being bullied, step in. If you're an adult, goddammit you dolt, it's your responsibility to step in. These kids are riding a wave of irrational fear fueled by hormones and weird changes to their bodies - they don't have complete control over their actions. You have to shut down their attacks and remind them of human decency. Tell them that they are doing something wrong. If only the teacher "in control" of that hallway where me and my friends were cornered had stepped in - it could have stopped. Their argument, that we were freaks, could have been disqualified by the authority. But no, nothing was done to help us, and it appeared that their argument was given validity by the lack of action.

Now I'm in college. I isolate myself from the aggression-fueled social structures (sports), and I am happier. Bullying is a thing of the past. My friends all have suffered the same wounds, but we heal together. There is nothing wrong with us. We're just different. It's a state of being, not an affliction.

A few weeks ago, I finally came out to my family and friends as being bisexual. It unearthed a lot of the old fears of ostracization, and I found myself suffering many flashbacks and painful memories. But, I also found that those fears no longer apply to me. I'm not trapped 7 hours a day with a bunch of hormone-addled children. I choose my friends, and the friends I chose accept who I am. My family might not all understand, but I know that they love me enough to let me explain.

It got better.

/ranting

July 2015

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