Sunshine Blogger Award: Fantasy Thoughts

The Sunshine Blogger Award 1 Attempt 1

Several weeks ago, the ever-incredible Jenelle Schmidt tagged me for the Sunshine Blogger award! To be honest, I did not see her tag until recently because finals has kept me in a dark abyss that even my obsession with blogging could not alight. But with only one final left, the sun is beginning to brighten my finals-abyss so I’m blogging again! (get it? brighten? Sunshine Award? …yeah, I’ve been studying too much. I’ll stop)

Anyway, here are the rules!

A. Thank the person who tagged you.

Why, thank you Jenelle! If you (“you” referring to any non-Jenelle human) have not visited her blog, I definitely suggest you do so! You can check it out HERE. Also, this tag was created by Liv Fisher, who admittedly, I don’t really know, but she made this neato tag! And her blog seems really cool! Check it out HERE.

B. Copy and answer the eleven questions provided.

C. Tag up to eleven new bloggers to complete the challenge.

…yeah, as much as I love blogging, I can’t really select eleven bloggers yet. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I want this blog to BE, you know? So, if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged!

D. Write eleven new questions for them to answer. 

I’ll do that at the end of this post! I will also have all of the rules at the bottom of the post for your copy-and-paste ease!

Now, let’s get to Jenelle’s fantastical questions!

1. What mythical creatures do you wish were featured in more fantasy books?

This is a hard question! Personally, I’m partial to mythological sea creatures, such as hydras, leviathans, and hippocampus (hippocampi??). There is a lot of unused potential in these sorts of creatures.

2. If you had to spend a month in one dangerous fantasy location (Mordor, the Forbidden Forest, the Evil Queen’s Castle… etc) which one would you choose and why?

I would probably choose the Lord Ruler’s palace, Kredik Shaw, from Mistborn. I don’t think it would be that hard to survive- I could shave my head and tattoo my face to look like an Obligator. I’d have to avoid being too awesome though, cuz I don’t really fancy being made into a Steel Inquisitor… the whole spike through the face thing just doesn’t appeal to me.

3. You suddenly find yourself as a side-character in a fairy tale. Which fairy tale are you in and what is your side-kick role?

This isn’t exactly a fairy tale, but I immediately thought of Vivien from Howard Pyle’s King Arthur tales. Morgan Le Faye, upon seeing how powerful the talented sorceress Vivien could become, takes Vivien under her wing and trains her. She eventually asks Vivien if she will aide her in destroying Merlin, and Vivien agrees. Don’t get me wrong- I love Colin Morgan to pieces, but the Merlin in these tales is an old man who is constantly lusting after teenage women and yeah, yeah, I know it was the time, but that’s no excuse. I’d be all for destroying him. So yeah. Vivien.

4. What is your favorite flavor of fantasy? (Fairy tale retelling, Epic/High Fantasy Adventure, Quests, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Coming-of-Age, etc?)

I love High Fantasy, but I think my favorite stories don’t necessarily fit into a genre, but into a theme. I love incredibly different, quirky stories. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke is a new favorite, and I have also recently discovered the amazingness that is The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. Both of these break common cliches while also offering incredible characters and plot.

5. Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine? Why?

Hermione Granger, easily. She’s brilliant, she’s bossy, she’s unapologetic about who she is and what she wants, but she’s also relatable, insecure in her own strengths, and often ruthless. I love everything about her.

6. You are granted one fantasy ability or “gift” from a fairy godmother. What is it?

I’d probably ask for the ability to shapeshift in order to begin my life as an elephant. Sounds cool.

7. You find yourself the hero/heroine of a fantasy story. What is your profession and how will it help you on your adventure?

Crime scene investigator/ detective! I’ve noticed that my top 5 favorite TV shows (Sherlock, SupernaturalDoctor Who, Jessica Jones, and Person of Interest) all involve crime-solving in a fantastical setting or with fantastical powers (and yes, Sherlock too, because the method of loci does not work in the way that his mind palace is depicted as working, hence, the fantasy of it). Also, I’m studying anthropological forensic science in order to BE a crime scene investigator, so I suppose that explains both my desire to be one in a fantasy reality, and also my taste in entertainment.

8. Who is your favorite fantasy villain? Why?

Currently, it’s Gaston from the live-action Beauty and the Beast. I absolutely love the darker, sociopathic angle they took with him. Luke Evans played him wonderfully.

9. Fantasy steed of choice?

Thestral!

10. If you suddenly found yourself transported to a fantasy world, what weapon would you hope to be wielding?

Probably a pistol, since I’m a decent shot with one. If we’re talking a medieval fantasy world where I would have no chance of finding bullets, then probably a bow.

11. (I’m stealing one from Jenelle!) You are holding a very pretty book in your hands. Describe it.

It’s minimalistic, with the title of the book written in simple font, taking precedence in the center. The author’s name is smaller, almost hidden, possibly not even on the front cover. The colors are gray-toned, except the use of a single striking neon color. There’s only one image on the cover, and it is aesthetic in it’s ambiguity. If it’s an object, it’s meaning can only be discovered through reading the book (it’s meaning is not made clear by the title or by the back cover synopsis). If it’s a person, the face is definitely obscured/mostly obscured.

Now for my questions!

1. List your five favorite TV shows. Why are these five your favorites?

2. Which do you prefer: romances or bromances? Why? (bromances do not necessarily have to be between two guys, btw)

3. If you could adapt any book/series into a well-made TV show, which would it be and why?

4. If you were a villain, what would be your goal(s) and motivation(s)? How could you be turned “good”?

5. Who is/are the fictional character(s) you relate to most, and why?

6. What was your favorite childhood TV show? Why did you enjoy it?

7. Alas, Peter Capaldi is soon to be leaving Doctor Who. Who do you think ought to be cast as the Doctor? (If you have not seen Doctor Who, which actor/actress would you cast as a time-traveling reincarnating alien obsessed with saving humanity, running, and screwdrivers? Also, what are you doing with your life?? Watch it!)

8. Pick your favorite TV show and gender-swap it. How would this effect the characters and plot, if at all? How would you recast the show?

9. What do you think is the future of television programming in light of the rise in original content being produced on Netflix, Youtube/ Youtube Red, Hulu, and other such sites?

10. If you could adapt one TV show into a well-written book/series, which would it be and why? In particular, how would you handle POV?

11. Movies, TV shows, and books all have different systems for ratings (movies have the MPAA rating system, TV shows have the TV Parental Guidelines, and books have age levels). Should all of these rating systems be combined into one rating system for all forms of entertainment? Why or why not?

And, as promised, here are the rules!

A. Thank the person who tagged you.

B. Copy and answer the eleven questions provided.

C. Tag up to eleven new bloggers to complete the challenge.

D. Write eleven new questions for them to answer.

If you do the challenge, definitely link to it in the comments because I would love to see your answers! Also, if you have already done the challenge, feel free to answer any of the questions I created in the comments; I’m really interested in everyone’s thoughts.

Have a lovely day, nerds!

Second City Beginnings

Have you ever had a friend who was the Sarcastic Friend(c)? You know the one. It’s the friend who always pipes in, no matter the conversation, with helpful exclamations like, “Awesome! Wow!” or “Thanks a lot!” or just simply “no.” When speech is inappropriate, they still manage to mumble dry comments beneath their breath, or at least to compensate with exaggerated facial expressions. I’m the Sarcastic Friend(c) to a lot of people. But I’ll let you in on a Sarcastic Friend secret. It’s a deep, emotional struggle that every Sarcastic Friend is forced to face at some point in their life.

Ready to know the inner turmoil of your favorite bundle of snark, memes, and nihilism?

It’s hard for the Sarcastic Friend to find their own Sarcastic Friend.

Fortunately for me, I settled the issue years ago. God is my Sarcastic Friend(c). And I’m actually not being sarcastic about that, I’m completely serious. Want proof? Here’s some dialogue throughout the last year of my life.

***

January 2016

Me: I’m going to study abroad in England. Deal with it.

God: You do that. I’m sure it’ll be great. You’ll go there in an attempt to quell your wanderlust, but instead, you’ll just be faced with the reality that your life is pointless and vaporous everywhere in the world, not just in your current boring reality of America. Have fun!

great_gatsby

Me: >_>

God: Lol. Or, I dunno, you could do City Project.

Me: I don’t want to.

God: You know? You’re right. You’d only be spending your summer growing closer to me and the community I’ve placed around you. You’d finally see that the change you’ve been trying to make in yourself can, and will, only come from me. You’d only get to share the Gospel with the lost instead of just sitting around and talking about it like the good Pharisee that you are. You’d only get to finally realize that I love you.

ce2

 

Me: Fine! I’ll go!

God:

Me: —well?

God: What, are you expecting a “well done good and faithful servant”? That’s cute.

Me: Shut up.

God: No.

September 2016

Me: Well, that was an awesome summer! Thanks for making me go, God. I learned a lot, grew a lot, completely changed the trajectory of my life, and learned to trust you in everything.

God: k

Me: That’s not really fair. I went, didn’t I?

God: Did you? I thought you just randomly found all of those minimalist Christian T-shirts and merch from South Asia.

Me: Okay, you’re clearly in a weird mood. I’ll just be over here working on my study abroad application…

God: You do that. I wouldn’t waste the time though, if I were you.

Me:

giphy

God: Oh, did I not mention? You are not going to study abroad this summer.

Me: Of course I am! You can’t stop me!

God: Ah, there’s that infamous ‘trust in everything’ you became an overnight expert in.

Me: Okay, hypothetically, if I weren’t to study abroad in England, where would I go? What would I do this summer? There’s nothing else really available, other than summer school or an internship.

God: Second City.

A Snape Reaction Gif Obviously - Imgur

Me: But, God, I already gave up one summer and now you want this one too?

God: ‘But, Father, I already washed their feet now I have to die too?’ quoth Jesus, in the Message Bible, probably, circa never A.D.

Me: Don’t bring Jesus into this!

God: Oops, right, I forgot about the “don’t bring the guy who saved me whom I then voluntarily asked into my life” clause in this, apparent, democracy.

Me: Look, I’ll admit, I really want to go back to South Asia. I want to spread the Gospel, I want to live my life missionally, and I want to obey you. But I’m scared.

God: —do you want a sappy spiel that includes the “never shall I leave you”, “hope and a future”, etc. verses, or do you want an Aladdin reference?

Me: Aladdin reference, please.

God: Good choice, fam. Do you trust me?

Me: Uh, not really. But yeah, kinda.

God: I can work with kinda.

***

My relationship with God is unconventional, but I love it. I have friends who talk about how God is gentle and comforting to them. I have friends who talk about how God is fatherly and wise to them. I love hearing their stories, but honestly, if God had tried to approach me as some cuddly, quiet friend or as one of those dads always giving good advice, I would have run screaming. But that’s not how he saved me. He first proved his existence, then he proved my sin, and then he basically said, “I’m here. I love you. I died for your sins and you can accept the free gift of grace, if you want. It’s your choice.” 1 John 4:19 says “we love because he first loved us.” It’s so strange and so wonderful that God knows the best way to love each person. The family and friends with which I am closest are the ones who treat me with bluntness and humor. Needless to say, God loves me more perfectly than anybody else ever could.

Which is why I am returning to South Asia this summer!

Last summer, I participated in a program through my church called City Project. City Project taught me how to spread the Gospel in local, national, and international contexts (North Carolina, NYC, and South Asia), it taught me how to leverage my career for the glory of God, and how to live on mission. I took theology classes, had my first internship, and learned what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Without a doubt, it was the best experience of my life.

My church offers a follow-up program to City Project. It’s called Second City.

During Second City, I will spend the entirety of my summer in South Asia. I have the privilege to return to the exact city I was in last summer. I can not share all of the details of the trip, but essentially, I will be partnering with Christians in the city to better spread the Gospel among a people group in which over 90% of individuals have never even heard of the Gospel. I’m so excited, and so blessed, to be a part of this incredible trip.

You might be a bit confused at the last part. After all, I did not sound very excited during my little dialogue with God. Do you want to know why I was scared? I was scared because going to South Asia means I’m going to get sick again, I’m going to be rejected, I’m going to navigate an enormous city, I’m going to be immersed in a culture utterly foreign to both me and my personality, and I’m going to be completely denying the American culture that insists I will be a failure if I don’t get a job RIGHT. NOW.  It will be stressful, people will break my heart, and I won’t see my family for the entire summer because I’ll be on the freaking other end of the world.

When God first tells me to do anything, doubts and insecurities flood my mind. Excuse after excuse try to drown out the truth. All of the excuses essentially say the same thing: you can’t, you can’t, you can’t. 

They are right. I can’t. God can. That’s the whole point.

I don’t go on mission trips to do stuff for God. I don’t go on mission trips to earn anything. Both are impossible. God doesn’t need me for anything. As Mordecai told Esther in Esther 4:14 “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise…from another place. …And who knows whether you have not come to kingdom for such a time as this?”. If I did not go, God would raise up someone else. If they did not go, God could make a rock declare his truths, as Jesus said in Luke 19:40 “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”. He doesn’t need humans to do anything for him, because we can’t. We are too weak. Strangely, paradoxically, that’s why God wants to use us.

When I went to South Asia last year, I was struck with how weak I truly am. I had spent years studying apologetics and memorizing logical arguments and researching scientific evidence, but this particular culture had no interest in my pretentious Western thought. I was ripped of every strength I thought I had, forcing me to pray ceaselessly for God to provide me with the words to say because I had none on my own. He did more than I could have ever asked or imagined. He let me see people understand and accept the Gospel. He let me see my own sinful heart, arrogance that I did not know was there, and he changed me. He taught me how to love and how to finally believe that he loved me.

I don’t go on mission trips to be a “good Christian” or to prove something to God. I go on mission trips because God knew I was weak, yet he still loved me and sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross, the punishment that I deserved, so that I would not have to. He offered to give me Jesus’ perfect record as my own so that God might be able to have a relationship with me. Then, he pursued me so bluntly, so relentlessly, that I came to believe in him and I accepted his grace. Now, he has given me a purpose, and that purpose is to go. To go where God calls me to go and to do what God calls me to do. I don’t do this out of obligation or fear; any attempt to make me feel either emotion immediately makes me feel and do the opposite. No, I go because I love my God and I love what he has done for me. I go because I trust that his intentions are for my good. I go because I believe God desires all to know him, but how can they know him if they are not told?

Which leads me to the point of this entire blog post (yes, yes, I DO have a point, stop rolling your eyes, you wannabe Sarcastic Friend(c)!). I would love to have the privilege to partner with you in this mission. My final support deadline is April 9th, and I need roughly $800. If you believe that God is calling you to monetarily support my mission, click on the link below. It will lead you to a contribution form. I will not be able to see the amount donated, but I will be able to see your name (if you so choose), so that I can write you a thank-you note!

www.summitrdu.com/supportsecondcity

More importantly, if you would partner with me by praying for me, I would be extremely grateful. Here are some prayer requests during the weeks of preparation before leaving for the trip:

  • Pray for unity in the team. Missions are joyful and loving, but they can also be stressful and difficult. Pray that my team will be unified in Christ, that we will keep our focus on Christ, and that we will treat each other as Christ treated his team of disciples.
  • Pray for the people. God already knows exactly who we are going to meet. Pray that each individual we speak to will already be searching for truth, for meaning, for Christ, before our plane even lands.
  • Finally, praise God for the undeserved blessing of this opportunity. As I said above, God does not need us to do things for us, but in his kindness, he allows us to be a part of his mission. It’s like a dad baking cookies, and his toddler child begs to “help”. The father joyfully complies, even though he could accomplish the task without the “help”. Yet, he still holds the daughter’s hand to help her stir, or he patiently teaches the son how to properly measure ingredients. The cookies would be made regardless of the child’s involvement, but the child benefits because they learned something about the world, and more importantly, something about their dad.

Thank you in advance for your support. I cannot wait for this summer!

LeFou

A few days ago, Disney announced that LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast is the first openly gay character in the company’s film history. Though I will not go so far as to say I have an issue with it- I’ll have to see the film first- I will say that this decision and announcement leaves something to be desired.

I’ll start with the announcement. Disney seemed to imply that they had planned this all along, but Josh Gad, the actor who plays LeFou, recently stated that the script never said ‘LeFou is gay’ (SOURCE). Perhaps I am reading into this too much, but this seems like Disney is distancing themselves from committing to representing the LGBTQ community. From a business standpoint, this probably makes sense. There will no doubt be a lot of opposition from traditionalists. However, why announce it at all if the company would prefer to leave Josh Gad with the “blame”? It’s an almost two-faced approach to the idea of a gay character- they announce it just enough to gain acceptance and notoriety from the LGBTQ community, but leave the actual creation of such a character to the actor, rather than the company. My issue with this type of announcement lies in the non-committal standpoint on the part of Disney. Either represent LGBTQ people in your films, or don’t. Pick a stance and commit to it. Perhaps my frustration stems from the fact that whenever I decide on a belief, I am more than willing to sacrifice anything for it. Businesses aren’t like that. The bottom line is the bottom line, and I doubt that will ever change. This situation has caused me to realize my frustration with greed more acutely than usual.

However, my frustration with greed does not come close to comparing with the frustrations I feel towards thoughtless writing.

I can think of three scenarios for how LeFou’s sexuality can be incorporated into Beauty and the Beast, and only one of them is positive.

Scenario 1: LeFou is openly gay for the entirety of the film, and is in a relationship/ wants to be in a relationship with a character that is NOT Gaston. His sexuality is of little note or mention within the film- it is, apparently, commonplace within the context of the film.

If homosexuality is accepted within the world of the film, it completely contradicts one of the driving forces of conflict within Beauty and the Beast. The “poor, provincial town” in which the first part of the story takes place thrives on enforcing traditional gender roles- Belle is ostracized and mocked for being intelligent, showing no interest in marriage, and in being assertive while Gaston is lauded for being extremely masculine, brutish, and domineering. If the town’s people can’t handle seeing a woman with a book, how much less so a man with a man!

Problems with this scenario: Sloppy world-building, halfhearted pandering to the LGBTQ community, and inserting sexuality/romance when it does not benefit the plot.

Scenario 2: LeFou is secretly gay for the entirety of the film. He is in love with Gaston.

This scenario would, frankly, just be insulting. LeFou, at least in the animated film, is habitually mocked, abused, and hurt by Gaston (In the same article I cited above, Josh Gad implies that his abuse at the hands of Gaston is significantly lessened. However, “lessened” does not mean the same thing as “removed”, so my point will still stand). Yet, LeFou continues to cower and obey upon Gaston’s every word and deed. In the animated film, the audience attributed this to LeFou’s stupidity, desire to be like Gaston, and just general cowardice. If the live-action film implies that LeFou has feelings for Gaston, then this quivering and submission will be attributed to LeFou’s sexuality. Since LGBTQ characters are so rare, audiences often misinterpret an LGBTQ character as being a representation of ALL LGBTQ people. This is an unfortunate reality, but it is a reality, and one Disney ought to be well aware of. Audiences will illogically assume that gay people are willing to put up with anything, even abuse, because they are slaves to their desire. Not only is that assertion completely and utterly false, but it’s also dehumanizing.

Also, the verbal abuse directed at LeFou from Gaston was, in the animated film, often perceived as comedic. If LeFou is gay, audiences may interpret the abuse as “acceptable” and “funny” when directed towards a gay character, rather than the actual meaning of “villains verbally abuse people”.

Speaking of villains, do I really need to explore the implications of the first openly Disney character being a villain? Do I? Because it seems fairly obvious to me.

Not only would this scenario dehumanize the LGBTQ community, but it would also affirm a common, and illogical, argument often made by traditionalists in opposition to LGBTQ marriage: homosexual marriage will ruin heterosexual marriage. Towards the end of the film, Gaston and LeFou attempt to blackmail Belle into marrying Gaston, which would by extension, effectively ruin Belle’s relationship with Beast. If LeFou is gay and the live-action plot progresses comparatively to the animated film, then a gay man will be attempting to destroy a heterosexual relationship to satisfy his own goals (gaining Gaston’s approval).

Also, this scenario would add nothing to the plot.

Problems with this scenario: It dehumanizes the LGBTQ community, implies that abuse directed towards gay people is acceptable, vilifies gay people, affirms illogical traditionalist arguments, halfhearted pandering to LGBTQ community, and inserting sexuality/romance when it does not benefit the plot.

Scenario 3: Scenario 3 is the same as scenario 2, BUT there is a scene in the film where LeFou expresses his turmoil to a sympathetic/good character- ideally Belle, who gives guidance on the right course of action.

This is the only scenario that would redeem the problems I listed for scenario 2. If, towards the end of the film, LeFou explains the attraction he feels towards Gaston, his hurt upon being abused, and his fear of the town’s people to Belle, or perhaps to Beast or Maurice, and also apologizes for the role he played in hurting them, it would solve all of the problems I listed above, and then some.

Instead of dehumanizing the LGBTQ community, it would humanize them. It would show the struggles that some people may face, and the internal conflict that comes with it. It will put an extremely sobering twist on all the abusive “jokes” at LeFou’s expense, causing the audience to feel bad for laughing and to rethink the gay “jokes” they might tell on a regular basis. LeFou would have  a redemption arc, effectively making him an anti-hero rather than villain. The traditionalist argument would be turned on its head because, after this scene, LeFou would essentially be turning against Gaston and seeking to help Belle and Beast. This would no longer be halfhearted pandering, but instead, would add a final, poignant twist to the theme of grace, diversity, and acceptance that is so sweetly demonstrated in Beauty and the Beast.

I hope this is the route Disney takes. I hope this is the “openly gay scene” they have hinted at. However, I am not optimistic. For this scene to exist, Disney would have had to have planned LeFou’s sexuality. It would have been scripted, but Josh Gad has said that LeFou was not intended to be gay. It could have been added later though, so there is still hope.

There are probably other scenarios that I have not thought of, but these three seem the most plausible to me, with scenario 2 being the most likely, especially since Josh Gad has confirmed that LeFou has feelings for Gaston and the fact that Disney did not write LeFou as gay.

With all of that said, what do you think about the reveal that LeFou is gay? Are you excited about Beauty and the Beast? I know I am!

Note: I plan to do a follow-up post explaining my stance, as a Christian, on representation for the LGBTQ community within fiction. I know I made no mention of it in this post, but that’s because I did not want to bore you with even more of my opinionated verbosity! If you have any questions that you want answered now, I am more than happy to discuss it with you in the comment section.

Note Number 2: Here’s an interesting article on LeFou’s sexuality from TeenVogue. Surprisingly, considering it’s source, it is one of the more thoughtful articles I have read on the subject. Disney Making LeFou Gay Isn’t The Representation I Need

 

Standards for Fictional Romance

I intend to review fictional works on this little blog, but before I do so, I need to thoroughly define some of my standards. My views on fictional romance are the least nuanced, so I’ll start with those.

There are five questions I ask about any particular romance. If the answer is ‘yes’ to all five of the questions, odds are, I will enjoy reading the romance. If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the questions, I probably won’t like the romance. It is as simple as that.

  1. Do both characters fit my main character standards (blog post coming soon)? Are they likable?
  2. Are they logically compatible?
  3. Does the romance add to the overarching plot/conflict?
  4. Does the romance add to the character arc of at least one (but preferably both) of the characters?
  5. Do the characters prioritize the plot/conflict over their relationship?

A few romances that fit this standard (and, coincidentally, are some of my favorites) are: Eowyn and Faramir from Lord of the Rings, Vin and Elend from Mistborn, Remus and Tonks from Harry Potter, Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre, and Leia and Han from Star Wars.

I’m going to clarify some of the finer points of these standards.

Likability: Obviously, this is a subjective term. However, I think it is still appropriate to include because I can think of few subjects more subjective than romance. Likability will vary from reader to reader, but likability is actually very easy to achieve with me. The character has to simply be well-written. When I say I like a character, I do not necessarily mean I agree with the character’s actions, beliefs, morality, etc. It simply means that there is something human, something fascinating, about the heart the author transcribed into the character. This standard for likability is a bit odd: I don’t like Katniss or Peeta from The Hunger Games, so their romance did not make the list at all. However, I DO like Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights, so their romance MIGHT have made the list, except…

Logically Compatible: Heathcliff and Catherine are not logically compatible- a statement that is almost literally the entirety of the plot of Wuthering Heights. This is, again, a very subjective term, even with the inclusion of “logic” in the defining statement. In this instance, “logic” simply means that it follows naturally to a conclusion. If, in my mind, the personality traits, friendship, and history of the characters follow logically to love, then they will pass this standard. This standard actually rules out quite a few romances. It barred Aragorn and Arwen from Lord of the Rings, Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter, and Gatsby and Daisy from The Great Gatsby. These romances are illogical, which, unfortunately, causes me to lose respect for both characters despite the fact that I do like them. Sometimes, this is the author’s intention, as in the case of Gatsby and Daisy or Heathcliff and Catherine. In those cases, I will probably enjoy the book all the more.*

Overarching Plot: This next paragraph will cover the implications from both 3 and 5. The implication being, of course, that there IS an overarching plot, and that the characters involved in the romance recognize that the plot/conflict is more important than their own relationship/happiness. This bars nearly every couple from a romance novel. Some people might say this is unfair, but bear in mind, these standards are my own and should by no means be the standards for everyone. Personally, I don’t like stories where the main focus is the romance itself- the implications and principles behind that concept trouble me. I will likely expound a bit more on this idea in a later blog post. For now, suffice it to say that it is unlikely I will review any novels from the romance genre on this blog, simply because I have negative presuppositions towards them. My standards for romance are made to fit the romances that are, essentially, subplots.

With that in mind, the implications of standard 5 are that the characters recognize that their feelings are less important than the main plot. This is why I get irritated when characters, such as Spock and Uhura (one of my absolute favorite couples), take time in the middle of an action sequence to talk about their feelings (which they did in Star Trek Into Darkness). It’s. Not. Important.

This seems fairly straightforward, but another implication of standard 5 is that the author recognizes that the romance is less important than the plot. This is the reason I dislike Tauriel and Kili from the movie adaptions of The Hobbit. Peter Jackson ignored LOTR canon in a theme and plot-damaging way, focusing relatively large portions of the film on a romance that adds nothing to the overarching plot and, worse still, minimizes the story of Legolas and Gimli, thus taking away from the overarching plot.

Character Arc: Well, now that I have finished explaining the more complicated standards, allow me to end with a simple definition. The romance has to impact one, but preferably both, of the characters in a profound way. That’s it. Pretty simple, but it is sometimes hard to incorporate into the story. Take Harry and Ginny from Harry Potter, for example. I love both of the characters, they are logically compatible, their romance adds to the story and they both prioritize defeating Voldemort over their relationship. The only reason I feel kind of “meh” about their relationship is because it is difficult to pinpoint any definite changes or growths in their character arcs from it, at least within the narrative. There is evidence of mutual growth post-plot, but within the story, their romance does little to change them.

*If the author’s intention is for readers to dislike the romance between two characters, I will NOT judge the romance based on my romance standards, but on my plot standards. Books like The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights do this, and they are two of my favorites.

What do you think, Reader? What are your standards when it comes to fictional romance?

I Love Fantasy Because…

  1. Fantasy is any Time. Fantasy is medieval kingdoms or wizarding boarding schools or ancient pantheons among men or urban sport cars crashing through a magical countryside. It does not have the pretense of era-boundaries.
  2. Fantasy is magical.
  3. Fantasy is thematic.
  4. Thematic magic illustrates intangible morality (what if Power was a Ring?), it enables symbolic conflict (Expelliarmus or Avada Kedavra?), and it delves into philosophy (“If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”).
  5. Fantasy has taught me to view the world with sympathetic eyes. Could that sullen girl, always glaring, be a princess forced from her kingdom? Could that loud and obnoxious boy, always seeking attention, be a minstrel who hides his pain behind a smile? Could that flirtatious person, always seeking romance, have been forced into this personality by a primeval society that makes them believe it is their duty to act in such a way?
  6. Fantasy is fun.
  7. Fantasy is absurd.
  8. Fantasy is ridiculous.
  9. I want to ride fire-breathing dragons. I want to turn my enemies into ferrets. I want to wear a tasseled cloak and soar through misty nights. I want to speak friend, and enter. I want to believe the world was named because Adam said, “Well, here we are”. I want to live in the fun, the absurd, and the ridiculous. I want to, because I need to escape.
  10. Fantasy is anywhere. Fantasy is frozen tundras or grass-danced hills or volcanic wastelands among ash heaps or mysterious jungles teeming with supernatural forces. It does not have the boundaries of reality’s science.
  11. Fantasy is horrifying
  12. Fantasy is scary
  13. Fantasy is dark
  14. I don’t want to catch myself considering, even for a moment, if I would create a Horcrux. I don’t want to admit that my obsessions might have caused a two-sided personality to emerge within me. I don’t want to catch myself hoping for the villain’s success simply because he’s charismatic. I don’t want to read about the death of good people. I don’t want to think about the evil parts of me. I don’t want to admit that horrors, fears, and darkness plague reality as well as fiction. Yet I need fantasy, because I want to learn.
  15. Fantasy is any Thing. Fantasy is pure unicorns or riddle-prone dragons or elephants! but bigger! with two more tusks! or Rodents-Of-Unusual-Size? I don’t think they exist. It may not be scientific, but it is extraordinary.
  16. Fantasy has taught me to approach the world with an adventurer’s mind. A long night of homework is no different for me than it is for Kvothe- it’s the stepping stone to get where I want to be. A boring shift at my job does not define my life just like the years Aragorn spent wandering the Shire-outskirts did not define his. Eowyn broke rules, Hermione never changed, and Lucy’s faith saw her through to the end. I can do the same.
  17. Fantasy is heroic.
  18. Fantasy is a story.
  19. Heroic stories- stories about good, evil, and everything in between; stories about internal dialogues manifested in outward conflicts; stories about people but with the masks of reality torn apart- are meaningful.
  20. Fantasy is anyone. Fantasy is Chosen Ones and dark-cloaked rangers and oppressed women turned warriors and all of the intricacies and complexities of the human soul described through elves, dwarves, fairies, mermaids, orcs, nobility, orphans, and dragons and so much more. It is Extraordinary manifested with no hindering pretense.

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Textual Production Analysis

Note: This post is an assignment for one of my classes. I was required to record and then analyze all textual production within a two day period. I was also required to use a unique and textual medium for the analysis. I chose my personal blog for reasons explained towards the end of this post.

I began logging my textual productions as soon as I woke up on Tuesday. Unfortunately for me, my Tuesdays begin at 4:30am due to my early morning work shift. The first few texts were work-related, which then shifted into several written descriptions for items on Pinterest. After another text written for my employer near the end of my shift, my textual production log is empty for several hours.

At 10:45am, I finally log another text. I made several notes throughout the following hour- one was a written prayer, the next was note concerning the Bible passage I had studied, and the final one was a verse written down to help me memorize it.

At 11:41am, I began writing critiques for the students in my Fiction Writing class. I did this for an hour.

The afternoon went on. The only textual productions I made were class notes (few in philosophy, lots in fiction writing) interspersed between doodles and outlines for future novels (lots in philosophy, few in fiction writing).

At 5:00pm, I returned to work, initiating a few more work-related logs. I also worked on a blog post during the quieter times of my shift. Finally, my day ended by texting friends and family for over an hour. Interestingly, I had not texted throughout the entirety of my day until this point. I will analyze this further, but first, on to Wednesday!

Far less happened Wednesday than on Tuesday. Despite the fact that I was awake at 6:30am, I did not produce any texts until 11:50am, when I texted a few friends. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the same way as my Tuesday afternoon- taking notes and doodles in my notebook throughout my classes. Finally, I worked for another hour on editing/critiquing the student work, sent a few more texts, and then went to sleep.

When I began to analyze my log, the first thing I noticed was how few of these textual productions were intended for anyone other than myself to view. My class notes, my journal, and my novel outlines and doodles were all created with no intention to be seen by anyone other than myself.

I also noticed the sporadic habits I have when it comes to texting. I have been told by friends that I am difficult to communicate with, and I have agreed with them, but it is interesting to see it so plainly, and literally, spelled out. I forgot to check my phone all day on Tuesday, which caused me to end the day by spending well over an hour texting, something I dislike doing. My texts throughout Wednesday were short and sporadic, though they were scattered throughout the day rather than left until the evening. These two observations- the textual productions I create privately and my terrible texting habits- have further emphasized my inclination towards solitude.

I also noticed that when I produce text, it tends to either be very short or very long. For example, a lot of my texting and my work notifications only took me 15 seconds to write. However, my notes, outlines, and homework would all take at least an hour to complete. This fits with something I already knew about myself- I prefer to focus on one task at a time, and when I have to multitask, I want to get that done as quickly as possible so I can return to my single task. This is something I do purposefully, because I have read numerous articles relating the lack of focus among my generation with the overuse of multitasking, especially multitasking on phones or the Internet. At the end of this post, I have cited one such article.

It is interesting how my textual productions habits seem to reflect aspects of my personality. However, I do wonder if I am merely drawing these conclusions because I know my own personality. I think it would be interesting if a complete stranger were to analyze these texts. Would they come to similar conclusions as I did, or would they interpret the findings completely differently because they did not know me personally?

As you can see, in the audience pie chart, a lot of the productions are intended for myself. After that, they are intended for only friends and family to see. I definitely prefer to remain private.

The categories, interestingly, were all fairly even in their distribution. School-related texts were the most common, but only slightly, with texting being nearly equal.

Overall, I have learned a lot about myself as a text producer. I can see areas that I am proud of and areas that could use some more work. I like the fact that I tend to focus and spend a lot of time on my homework. However, I do think I need to be better about communicating with my friends.

In the article I cited, the author describes how compartmentalization, setting aside time for specific tasks, helps to focus when multitasking. To improve my textual production habits, I think I will try to implement his advice by setting aside specific time to text, so that I might reply to my friends more efficiently.

Textual Production Log

4:58am- package count, log- work-15 seconds

5:32am- Pinterest description, Pinterest- social media- 10 seconds

7:02am- blog post draft, blog- social media- 30 minutes

7:43am- employer note, log- work- 15 seconds

10:45am- prayer, journal- personal- 2 minutes

11:00am- Bible notes, journal- personal- 20 minutes

11:25am- memorization, journal- personal- 3 minutes

11:41am- fiction critiques, Microsoft word- school- 50 minutes

1:30pm- philosophy notes, notebook- school- 5 minutes

1:30pm- novel ideas, notebook- personal- 1 hour

3:00pm- fiction writing notes, notebook- school- 1 hour

3:00pm- novel ideas, notebook- personal- 10 minutes

5:00pm- package count, log- work- 15 seconds

6:10pm- equipment update, log- work- 15 seconds

6:11pm- edit blog draft, blog- social media- 20 minutes

7:15pm- text family, text- social media- 45 minutes

8:15pm- text friend, text- social media- 20 minutes

Wednesday

11:50am- text friend, text- social media- 15 seconds

11:51am- text friend, text- social media- 15 seconds

12:45pm- text friend, text- social media- 15 seconds

1:30pm- writing theory notes, notebook- school- 20 minutes

1:30pm- novel outlines, notebook- personal- 10 minutes

2:50pm- critiques, notebook- school- 10 minutes

3:13pm- literature notes, notebook- school- 1 hour

8:00pm- Bible notes, journal- personal- 2 minutes

10:30pm- critiques, notebook- school- 1 hour

10:55- text friend, text- social media- 15 seconds

11:35pm- text friend, text- social media- 15 seconds

Reflection

When I was trying to decide which medium to use for this analysis, I absolutely did not want to use my blog. I did not want to use my blog because I did not want my “worlds to collide”, so to speak. I did not want the people I know on the Internet to actually see one of my assignments from school, and I did not want my professor to see my personal blog.

This caused me to, again, reflect on my analysis. I discovered that most of my textual productions are for myself and not for other people. However, when they are for other people, they tend to be for a very specific person. I complete assignments for professors, I write notifications for my employer, and I text my friends and family. I rarely use social media, and when I do, I am typically just recirculating something someone else made, be it a Facebook post, a blog post, a tweet, or a pin. I like to have a lot of control over my textual productions.

I did not want to use my personal blog because, suddenly, I would lose some of that perceived control over my productions. However, this caused me think of how futile it really is to keep everything private, especially when so much of modern-day life is both textually produced and on the Internet. All of the texts that I want to keep private are written, physically, into journals and notebooks. It’s unlikely that a large amount of people, if anyone at all, could read those. This blog is on the Internet. If my instructors or employers wanted to find this blog, it would only take a Google search. It is not hard for school and work to find my personal life. They all exist very close to one another on this tenuous thing we call the Internet.

So, I decided to move past the fear of my worlds colliding because, the truth is, I don’t have “worlds”. I only have one, and everything is connected to everything else in that world. I need to accept that fact and adapt to it. I can’t kid myself into thinking that I can retain control over texts I voluntarily send out into the Internet.

However, there was another reason I did not want to use my blog. I did not want to lose credibility with either my blogging audience or with my professors. I wanted to write this post like an essay. I wanted to use a lot of impressive jargon, clean formatting, and to sound like I know everything about the subject of which I am speaking. This assignment called for me to use a different format other than that of an essay because that sort of language is inappropriate for a personal blog. I had to adjust. to attempt to write something academic in the familiar tone I use when blogging. This feels very awkward to me, but I think it is a good exercise. It has made me more conscious of the difference tones I use when writing in different contexts.

Citations

Cohen, Gary. “Career Coach: The best way to multitask is to focus one priority at a time”. Washington, D.C.: WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post. Nov 4, 2016. Accessed Feb 13, 2017.

For Freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Hello Reader!

This is my first post on this shiny new blog, but, as some of you may know, this is certainly not my first time voyaging into the swirling black hole that is the blogging universe. When I was twelve, I started my first blog which I dubbed The Peanut Gallery. The Peanut Gallery, my brain dump of rants, reviews, and middle-school rambles, was my wonderful home for two years. At fourteen, I bid adieu to my polka-dotted themes and angst-ridden posts for the sleek clearness and come-learn-with-me! posts of The Pink Cave. There, I learned to love blogging for the sake of blogging. I met young writers like myself. I experienced the struggles and joys of publishing through the amazing Five Enchanted Roses experience. The Pink Cave will always hold a dear place in my heart, just like it’s namesake.

Its namesake was my childhood bedroom. As a young teenager, I went through a phase of intensely trying to prove that I could be feminine. My room is painted bright pink, decorated with translucent pink curtains, a pink bedspread, pink furniture, pink polka-dots that would put even The Peanut Gallery to shame. It is so pink that when the door is shut and the lights are on, a pink glow shines beneath the crack beneath the door. And the door is often shut. As a quiet and bookish girl, I spent many secluded hours reading, writing, and blogging in that pink room- which effectively became a cave once it attained such a hermit.

I don’t live in The Pink Cave anymore. I’m almost twenty years old. I’m almost halfway through college. In the past two years, I have lived, for various lengths of time, in two dorms, an apartment, an apartment on the other side of the world, and in the pink cave, which is more of a pink hotel at this point. Living in new locations changes you, but not nearly as much as the experiences the changes in location imply.

Put less eloquently (obnoxiously?), The Pink Cave does not reflect me anymore.The subjects that fascinate me, the purpose of my writing endeavors, even my own voice have so drastically changed that I could not find a way to remedy the discrepancy between the girl obsessed with personality quizzes, the girl writing novels to discover her thoughts, and the girl who was cautiously peering into the ever-endless pool of Christ’s grace with the woman memorizing syllogisms for fun, the woman writing short stories with intentions to submit to magazines, and, most importantly, the woman completely in awe of the mystery and glory and depth and danger and reflections of the Gospel.

I would not change the pink cave, or The Pink Cave, for anything. Though I prefer my adultish blues and browns to pinks and purples now, I would also prefer my childhood bedroom remain as is. It’s comforting and lovely to feel like a girl every once and a while. Though I love the community and hours spent with The Pink Cave, it’s time to move to a new location and start a new adventure. The subjects I want to write about, the purpose and medium of my writing, and even some of my beliefs on various topics are all different. It’s exciting to let go of the past and move on because there is freedom in the beginning of something new.

As with all subjects, God knows this best. We were set free through the gift of grace offered to us through Jesus Christ. There is new life and new beginning. The old is gone, the new has come. Believe me, I fully intend to expound on this subject throughout the course of this blog. It’s my favorite subject now.

Other subjects of interest which you, Reader, if you brave the thoughtful, subtly dramatic, sardonic, and arguably unhinged mind that is me, will have the privilege (unfortunate happenstance?) of exploring are stories, philosophy, logic, feminism, geek culture, politics, art, science, and the connections between any and all of the above. So, prepare for everything. It’s going to be fun. I hope you stay with me, especially if you have stayed with me through The Pink Cave, and maybe even through The Peanut Gallery (you know who you are!).

I have posts in mind that I hope you find as interesting and exciting as I do. I have adventures in mind that I hope you find as compelling and purposeful as I do. Most importantly, I have freedom that I hope you, either already or someday, come to find as marvelous and indescribable as I do.

All of that said, I would love to hear from you! How are you all? What have you been up to? Have you have any unexpected parties, Starfleet graduations, or texts from 221B Baker St.? Please, let me know!

P.S. This is my first time using WordPress instead of Blogger. I like it so far, but I’m still learning how to navigate and arrange this blog. If you have any tips or suggestions, please tell me!