snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
Looking at the bill for the surgery, I found myself thinking, "Well, I guess it's good that I'm over my out-of-pocket limit on my insurance for the year, anyway! I can go to the dermatologist and only have to pay the copay."

See, it would be better never reach my out-of-pocket limit in the first place. Yet my brain sees it as a good thing - because, I guess, I get some kind of serotonin hit when I get an EoB and it says "patient responsibility = $0"? It's only $0 because I already paid $3,000*! It's not a good deal!

I resent this error on the part of my brain's math node. I'm sure there are scams that make use of whatever makes it happen.


* Or, rather, Mom and Dad are paying this bill, which is the big one, so I personally have only paid about $1,000.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
And haven't for more than a year now! It's kind of sad.

On the bus the other day I had a conversation with a baby. I was speaking English and the baby was speaking, I think, Mandarin. This made me feel very nostalgic for my toddler classes. "日本語わかるの?" "English time! English! What's this?" "Monkey. ね、僕、英語わかんないよ! 日本語わかるの? 日本人なの?" *

Since I wasn't teaching a DC Metrobus-based immersion class and there was nothing to stop me from speaking something other than English, I started repeating after the baby, which amused him. His mother translated some of my new vocabulary words for me as she was getting off: "He called you "little sister.""

"Hey! I am "big sister," thank you very much!" I'm guessing I was "little sister" because I needed to be taught how to talk.

-

* "I don't know English. Do you speak Japanese? Are you Japanese?" Some of the really little ones had not yet developed much racial consciousness, and therefore honestly were not sure whether or not I was Japanese. It's intimidating to be the first white person a kid's ever talked to! There's all this pressure on you not to, you know, shoot anything, or accidentally put on a ten-gallon hat, or shower everybody with roses or something.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
Middle-schooler Miaka is Basic Clumsy Shoujo Heroine version 1.0, and her best friend Yui is the Cool-Tempered Genius Foil v. 1.0. They find a Chinese book called "The Universe of the Four Gods," and are transported into its story, where they are immediately attacked by slave traders, but rescued by a rude young thief named Tamahome.

Miaka ends up trapped in the book alone, and is told that she is the Priestess of Suzaku - basically, the book's heroine - and must gather the seven Celestial Warriors to summon the god Suzaku and gain three wishes. Tamahome is one of them, as is the narcissistic Emperor Hotohori, and his equally narcissistic concubine Nuriko. Seeing no other choice, she sets out to find the other four warriors, planning to wish to return home.

Wacky antics ensue! Miaka eats too much and Tamahome is greedy and Hotohori is vain! And then the love triangle starts! More wacky antics ensue - oh, look how mean Nuriko is, ha ha! Angst starts showing up! It's a love quadrilateral now! Someone has a tragic past and an alarming scar! Pentagon! Everyone has a tragic past now, and somebody just got raped! Hexagon! People are dying! Painfully! I think it's a love nonagon at this point! Dead babies! All the doomed characters from Please Save My Earth show up and are like, mannn! HALF THE ORIGINAL CAST IS NOW DEAD AND THE REST HAVE BEEN RAPED oh god

This manga is possibly a little more ruthless than you might expect from the first volume. I've been trying to think of another shoujo artist who's quite this cruel, and I can't.

Like you expect from long-running shoujo series, Watase spends the first few volumes on slapstick romantic comedy, with hints of darker things in the future. The darker things in the future turn out to be unusually dark. She puts a lot of energy into making her characters sympathetic, and she uses that to break your heart. When Kaori Yuki kills everybody off, she at least gives the possibility of resurrection as an incestuous schoolboy or a vampire zombie in a frilly dress. Not happening here! People die horribly and randomly and suddenly, and everyone is traumatized forever.

...I'm a bad person for finding this kind of refreshing, aren't I.

Another surprising thing is how matter-of-fact the sexual stuff is. It's common for some magical force to be used as a stand-in for sex in shoujo manga - for instance, off the top of my head, the psychic powers in Please Save My Earth, the feathers in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (and if you tell me that it is shounen then I will laugh - laugh, I say), and the vampirism in Vampire Knight. These manga mostly try pretty hard to avoid discussing actual sex - PSME has a sex scene, but it's so wary of the subject that it has to spend half the series building up to it, and the characters are only able to discuss it in dramatic angst-filled outbursts.

In Fushigi Yuugi, the bad guys use rape as a weapon and have thoughtful discussions about its application. The good guys stand around discussing the impact it'll have on Miaka's magical powers if she's not a virgin anymore. Sex is evil and dangerous most of the time like you'd expect - as you may have guessed, it mostly occurs in the form of rape - but I'm just astonished that 1) it exists, and 2) it's treated as something so mundane. If you replaced the word "rape" with "Hyper Beam" you'd have Pokemon dialog.

And I know that I'm a bad person for finding this funny, yes.*

Basically what I'm trying to say is that Yuu Watase is kind of messed-up. But in ways that appeal to me.

Volume 13 seems to have finished up the major plot arc, but there are five more volumes, which I have yet to read. Let's see if Watase manages to kill off everyone who's still alive.

-

* Further evidence that I am a bad person: The point at which I completely fell in love with Vampire Game (not to be confused with Vampire Knight) was when the heroine, Princess Ishtar, convinces the ancient vampire king Duzell to sleep with her evil uncle and steal his evil secrets. Her plan hinges on the fact that her uncle thinks Duzell's her, incidentally. The vampire king, traumatized by Ishtar's superior level of twistedness, obediently tries his best, but fails at his mission. Ishtar and Duzell are my OTP, by the way.

You should read Vampire Game, by the way. I made a post explaining why.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
In de-celebration of the release of The Last Airbender - I made up that word, "de-celebration;" I like it - I'm slightly-editing and reposting a comment I made responding to an fairly ill-advised post over at The Comics Journal a while ago.

Sorry to be jumping all over Roland Kelts again a couple months after the fact; he's obviously not the only person who's been saying stuff like this, but he does happen to be one I was responding to when I originally wrote it.

The art form of Anime in and of itself is what's causing the confusion. The Anime artists intentionally put ambiguous features on the characters so that you see who you want to see in it. It's part of the art form. [...] If there's an issue with why Anime does not put particularly specific Asian features from the PC Asian types that people think should be there ... take it up with Anime animators. It has nothing to do with me.

- M. Night Shyamalan


Why do so many characters in Japanese art forms - anime and manga - appear to be ethnically Western?

The short answer is thanks to Frederik L. Schodt, author of Dreamland Japan, who notes that Western notions of beauty began to influence Japanese artists as early as the Meiji restoration (late 19th C). It's also true, as Schodt notes, that the big saucer eyes of Western-looking characters made it easier for artists to express the nuances of deep emotion. And Osamu Tezuka, the father of modern Japanese comics and animation, was particularly keen to create characters that were 'stateless' - appealing to a global audience.*

- Roland Kelts


Regarding the question of whether manga artists intentionally draw characters to look either white or "neutral" - there's no such thing as "ethnically Western," and "white" is not the same thing as "stateless" - I'd suggest reading Matt Thorn's essay "The Face of the Other". The short version is that they don't - people in Caucasian-dominated-societies think that manga characters look white because we consider white the ethnic default, while Japanese people think that the characters look Japanese for the same reason.

(I can confirm this from my own experience teaching in Japan - Japanese kids think manga and anime characters look Japanese. They don't think they look white. Only Westerners think that.)

Beyond that, the idea that most manga artists are deliberately trying to make their characters look white is a little incredible. There may be a few Japanese artists who are deeply concerned with the accessibility of their works to a non-ethnically-Japanese audience, but if these guys had, like, a conference? The conference would be a very small one where everybody looked slightly sad all the time. Probably they couldn't afford a really good hotel, the panels keep devolving into people reciting racist things their editors have said, and there's this one doujinka guy who just showed up so he could accuse everyone else of sympathizing with those dirty Brazilians who took his day job. Yukito Kishiro didn't come because he's been hospitalized for depression again.

And I got distracted there, but uh, it's a little like saying that, you know, because a lot of novels by white Americans don't have people on the covers - they have cars or lipstick or cats or something - white American authors as a whole are desperately interested in making it possible for a non-white audience to read their characters as their own ethnicity.

Anyone believe that? Make that argument for me! I am interested in your ideas.

Regardless, Avatar was not an anime - it was American-produced - so this stuff's irrelevant. The show's settings are pretty unambiguously derived from China, Japan, Korea, and pre-colonial North America. I just don't see how one can make an argument that these characters were originally intended to be white.

Hollywood, of course, requires major bank to get a story to the screens and cinemas across the U.S. and the world. And major bank means promised returns. Caucasian leads are virtually a necessity to guarantee that a film isn't a flop in the hinterlands of the US—and overseas. Can't hedge your bets with millions in tow.

- Roland Kelts


Probably the best counter-argument to this suggestion is to wave around a large picture of Will Smith. In fact, I intend to solve all my problems in this fashion from today forward.

Few Japanese actors can speak English fluently, and those few who can are often too old for the roles they might play (Ken Watanabe being the perfect example). Do Asian source stories like anime need Asian actors to deliver the aura properly? And if so: Where to find them?

- Roland Kelts


The suggestion that the casting directors somehow "couldn't find" Asian or Native American actors who spoke English is pretty silly. Native Americans living in the US and Canada are known for their persistent habit of speaking English, and I would suspect that there are quite a few Asian-American actors in California. You could even import some from other states, or even countries! If you can't find any in, say, Japan or China (HINT: you can) there are other exotic foreign lands with Asian people in them, like Canada, or Australia! They speak English in those places, too. I mean, there is no shortage here.

And anyway, the original casting call made it clear that they were primarily interested in white actors. So I think it's very, very risky to argue that they didn't deliberately choose to cast the heroes as white and the villains as non-white - and if you want to do so, I think you need to think carefully about why you want that to be the case.

About a quarter of the United States is non-white, but that's not something that's reflected in the ethnicities of characters in movies and TV, particularly the stuff aimed at kids - unless it's, say, a problem story about drug addiction or gang violence or something, the hero is almost always going to be Caucasian. If you want to claim that the casting of Avatar wasn't racist, you first have to be able to explain why this keeps happening, over and over and over. It's pointless to talk about "casting the best person" for the role, because in general, Hollywood doesn't do that. It casts the best white person.

Avatar was very good, very successful, and very unusual for an American-produced kids' show, in that it had an entirely non-white cast. This was one of the only shows that did that. There were a lot of kids who never got to see themselves as the heroes who this show made really happy. It's special to a lot of people. I'm going to leave it as a mental exercise to figure out what this movie's casting tells those kids.

- or, okay, maybe I won't. I recall an Asian woman saying that her nephew had seen the pictures of the actors, and was scared that it meant he and his friends couldn't "play Avatar" anymore, because it was for white people.

-

* If anyone has any actual sources, aside from Frederik L. Schodt, for this persistent claim that Tezuka tried to draw his characters as looking white, then I'd be interested in knowing what they are. I don't think that I've ever seen the idea attributed to any text but Dreamland Japan, and unless I'm missing something, Schodt doesn't make that claim. The closest I've found are a couple of lines on page 61:

Tezuka drew large eyes, and when he began drawing for girls' romance comics he further exaggerated this tendency. Tezuka, and the other men and later women artists who followed him, found that a Caucasian look, with dewy, saucer-shaped eyes, was extremely popular among young readers and that the bigger the eyes, the easier it was to depict emotions.

- Frederik L. Schodt, Dreamland Japan, p. 61


What we have here is Schodt's opinion, not Tezuka's. If there's evidence that Tezuka considered the way he drew eyes to be "Caucasian-looking," it's not cited here.

(I'm reading this on Google Books, which doesn't have the endnotes, so I invoke the power of the internet: if anyone has access to a copy of the book, could you check to see if there's anything there that looks relevant?)

Now, in deciding how much weight we want to give Schodt's own analysis, I think we need to look at the rest of this chapter. On the next page, page 62, he explains that improved nutrition and the use of chairs are making Japanese people healthier, which makes them look whiter, because healthy people look white. This claim is also apparently unsourced; that is because it is insane.

Though this may be the strangest thing that Schodt says about race in DL, he does say a lot of strange things about race; the whole chapter is extremely bizarre. For this reason, I kind of don't think it's a good idea for people to keep using DL as a source in these kinds of discussions. At least at the time at which he wrote this book, race clearly wasn't a subject with which Schodt was prepared to deal.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
From an email I sent to Mom today:

Yesterday I was in a used bookstore and saw the first five volumes of the comic book Bone for sale half-off. You may remember it as the extremely thick comic book - 1300 pages - that I'd borrowed from the library which [livejournal.com profile] thegeekgene* managed to read all of on the drive to see, I think, U of Chicago and Beloit. She finished it up as you guys were dropping me off back at the dorm.

I had been thinking about re-reading it, and I'd rather have the multi-volume color version than the one-volume black-and-white, so I got them. Today [livejournal.com profile] thegeekgene texted me wanting to know if I'd ever actually bought a copy. Clearly her long-latent psychic powers are finally emerging. Or else mine are. Possibly both. Tests will be necessary.

-

* I do not actually refer to [livejournal.com profile] thegeekgene by her LiveJournal name in correspondence with her mother. Though Mom reads my blog and knows our screen names, so far as I know she does not herself have a LJ, or even a DW (though I hold that getting them would probably aid her in her eternal quest for like, Lensman slash, or Foundation slash or whatever kind of prehistoric slash it is that she's reading over there). The convention would not, therefore, be appropriate. I feel certain that Miss Manners would agree.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
Golems seem to be the magical-thing-of-choice for Jewish wizards to come out with in fantasy novels; I assume that this is because fantasy writers with any knowledge of Judaism will have heard of the Golem of Prague. Fun* Fact: in the original story, the golem's task was to find and get rid of the corpses of Christian children, which Christians would plant in the ghetto as evidence of their accusations that Jews crucified Christian children and drank their blood.

I simply cannot see why this element of the narrative is not brought up more often! It seems perfectly appropriate to paranormal romances, given their fondness for mutilated children as plot devices.

This was not an irrational fear - there's a strong argument that it's exactly what happened in the Simon of Trent incident. One of my history professors complained that the incident wouldn't have made a good mystery novel, because it would've been immediately obvious that The Swissman had planted the body. (R. Po-chia Hsia seems to be betting the same way.) Planted evidence supporting spurious accusations of host desecration strikes me as being the more realistic fear for European Jews of the middle ages, given the much lower bar in coming up with the evidence; all you've got to do is burn some toast. But the lesser possibility of the dead child's body is much crueler, and so more arresting. It doesn't surprise me that this is what the golem story was about. I don't recall reading where the Christians were supposed to be getting these dead children; probably they came by them in the natural way, given the era's high rates of childhood mortality, but the story tends to leave it ominously unstated.

I bring this up because I'm arguing with myself about whether I want to include some of this stuff in my Project #3, which may involve some Jewish wizards who have made a golem; I apologize for my lack of originality. My other bit of writing-about-other-people's**-cultures anxiety for the day concerns a black kid who's a wizard's apprentice in the same story. It is of note that Project #3 does not take place on earth - all the cultures that show up therein, including the Jews with the golem, are fantasyland-ized. (Most of the Jews are elves. Shut up, it's fine.)

So this kid is a wizard's apprentice. Cut for length. )

-

* Does anyone ever say "Fun Fact" unironically?

** I'm only Jewish in the sense that my last name aroused some comment when I was a kid.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
Imuri! I'm only on, like, your first chapter! And you are apparently mainly about teenagers at an evil boarding school, which is not actually a complicated premise! Do not make me go to your glossary to figure out what's going on! And you probably don't need those huge expository lumps every couple pages!

...but I'll probably keep reading you because you are very pretty.

There's a planet in here called "Rune" [ルーン], which is apparently an acronym for mukou no hoshi [向こうの星], "the planet over there." My thoughts about this idea:

1) I don't think that this makes naming planets "Rune" any more respectable of a practice. What's your other planet's name, Blaze? This manga is an 80's-to-early 90's American sci-fi novel displaced in time and space.*

2) The furigana says that Rune's an acronym for mukou no hoshi, so it is, okay? These are far-future space teenagers, they are not actually speaking Japanese; the furigana is allowed to do this sort of thing. (Though I think we need to keep Okano Reiko away from furigana entirely, because she is badly behaved.) English needs to institute furigana, to make it less work for me to insert made-up words in stuff I write.

3) Is there is a specific term for made-up-language-furigana-ized-acronyms? I need to know if there is, because otherwise I will invent the word "kanjacronym," and I really shouldn't be doing that.

-

* Closely Related: Somebody wrote a licensed Star Trek: TNG novel where Commander Riker went undercover as a space pirate named "Stryker," to mess with an actual space pirate whose name was "Blaze." The title is Blaze of Glory, as I think should be obvious. I think Blaze nobly sacrificed himself for something? I don't actually remember, but it seems like a pretty safe guess.

What I do remember is that - unless I'm confusing this with another bad Star Trek book, which is possible - there was a scene where Riker tried on his new space pirate wardrobe, which included tight leather pants. Even at the age of ten, I found this idea unacceptable.

With the pants business in mind, I'd originally googled the book convinced that it was the one that Laurell K. Hamilton wrote, but no, that was Nightshade, which I remember as being bad in a less spectacular way. Though maybe I just didn't recognize the madness when I saw it, having been ten at the time and all.

...that said - why did they choose to re-issue this? There's creepy new cover art with Worf hovering threateningly over Troi. I assume that means they're aiming it directly at LKH fans. I wonder if it's working?
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
Alternate Title: Norie Masuyama - The Dark Lord of Shoujo Manga?

Original text here. I'm seriously getting really curious about Norie Masuyama. (I talked about her before in this post.) In this interview Takemiya calls her "someone in Hagio's and my circle of friends" rather than "a friend," and talks about her in kind of a distant way - but from all the evidence they must have been pretty close at some point. I mean, she moved to Oizumi in part to be close to Masuyama, Masuyama got her into shounen-ai, and Masuyama was her co-author on Hensoukyoku. Did something happen there? (It's kind of paparazzi of me even to be thinking about this...)

It's kind of a funny interview, because the interviewer is really bombastic, and Takemiya keeps obliquely shooting her down. I don't think my translation really captures how hyper the interviewer comes off. I can't find her name anywhere - it'd be interesting to know if she's always like this, or it's just her reaction to getting to interview Takemiya.

The interview. )
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
Because I was trying to translate something else* and getting all annoyed.

An Announcement from the Google Japanese Input Team

crappy translation )

* Imuri, you are not allowed to make up so many words you've got to spend pages explaining them and have a glossary in the back. Only English-language books by either Anne McCaffrey or Marion Zimmer Bradley are permitted to do this to me.

There's also a dramatis personae, a diagram of the fictional planet's complicated caste system, and a little inset card with the diagram on it again, which I nearly tossed because I thought it was an ad. Why is it there? So you can, like, pin it up on the wall in case you ever need to refer to it? Is it to put in your wallet? I feel like every book I ever read in middle-school just got together and mugged me.

...my life is such a cesspool of deceit that I feel the need to stress that this description is not an April Fool's joke. This is something that the manga actually did.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
I came back from a walk a few hours ago, just as it was starting to get dark. As I was getting close to the house, a passing car slowed nearly to a stop for no apparent reason. There was no one else on the street, and it didn't stop anywhere - it just sat there until I got into the yard and half-way up to the front step, then sped up again and left. Telling myself I was being paranoid, I tried to see the license plate number, but it was already too far away. The car was an old sedan with tinted windows, of the sort maidens are oft murdered in, in these degenerate days.

Blah blah. )
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

To publishers of translated manga: You get what you pay for. I’ve heard industry people attribute declines in sales to any number of factors, but never to the quality of their own product. We’re both professionals, so let’s not mince words.

Your product sucks.

(link)

He is also accurate.

I re-read Del Rey’s translations of Mushishi and Sugar Sugar Rune recently. I remember being excited when Del Rey announced their manga line, because they’re an established Real Publisher, and I had the idea that the fact that they published prose books would make them a little more sensitive to, you know, prose style. Apparently not!

For the edification of the masses, I am going to assault a page from this scene in volume 3 of Sugar Sugar Rune: 1, 2, 3.

(It contains some spoilers, so don’t go any further if you’re keeping yourself pure.)

Read the rest of this entry » )

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

So we’ve got Varian Wrynn who leads the humans, and Thrall who leads the orcs. And Thrall is the nice one who reads books and sincerely regrets the necessity of ripping your legs off, and Varian is the angry one who yells “traitor!” a lot and whose ten-year-old* keeps having to talk him down.** And they’ve got to have their angsty backstory to explain how they turned out like this, of course.

But why is it the same backstory? Is being enslaved and forced to become a gladiator just some kind of rite of passage in Azeroth?

* I think the endgame plan is probably that Thrall and Prince Anduin get married.

** If the description of their personalities sounds intriguing to you, please just like… imagine the story you want to go there. You do not want to try and read the books. I promise.

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

Moon Called, Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson is an auto mechanic and a were-coyote. She is the only one of her kind (were-coyotes, not auto mechanics), and was raised by werewolves, who never fully accepted her and forced her out when she she was a teenager. One day a young werewolf shows up at her shop looking for a job; shortly after, bad guys come looking for him. Mercy has to call for the help of the local werewolf pack and their aenal-retentive leader Adam. Werewolf politics and UST ensue.

Kinda bland urban fantasy that falls apart pretty badly in the second half. I don’t think Briggs knew what she was going to do with all these people when she introduced them. The book is the first in a series, and some characters are pretty clearly meant to be developed more in later books, while some are one-offers. My suspicion is that she didn’t decide which were going to be which until around the half-way point of the book.

We literally know nothing about the villains until the very, very end of the book. (Spoilers: The main villain doesn’t show up in person until the very last scene, and was barely mentioned before then. He’s also stupid. I will call this a douche ex machina.) A lot of the climax consists of people we’ve never met or barely know explaining the motivations of other people we’ve never met or barely know. At one point the story kind of stops dead so Mercy can fix the nice gay couple’s problems, which end up having nothing to do with the plot. As much as I appreciate the presence of the nice gay couple, this was time that should have been spent on other stuff.

On the plus side, it’s an urban fantasy book that isn’t about tracking a serial killer! That’s a refreshing change of pace! And I appreciate that Mercy’s werewolf love interests spend most of the book getting incapacitated and needing her to rescue them.

But I don’t appreciate the love interests themselves. Or Mercy? All of these characters suffer from a marked lack of charisma. I kept forgetting which was which.

Also, Mercy belongs to that long and distinguished line of urban fantasy characters who get to have Special Native American powers without actually being culturally Native American. I’ll bet a hundred internet dollars she gets a wise old Native American mentor in the next book. He/she will either 1) get killed by vampires so Mercy can have angst and revenge, or 2) turn out to be evil so Mercy can have angst and kill him/her.

The Godmother, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Rose Samson is a social worker who doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Felicity Fortune is a fairy godmother. Together, they fight social injustice, in the form of modernized iterations of several fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, etc), and also of homeless shelters that need their toilets cleaned.

Better urban fantasy that doesn’t fall apart! Felicity and Rose both have a lot of personality - the way Felicity bounces off people is cute, and Rose is, to me at least, pretty believable as a social worker. It’s a very sweet, busy book. My two really big caveats relate to the, ehh, cultural decisions it makes:

1) Felicity pretends to be Kuan Yin to get a Vietnamese kid who’s in a gang back on the right track. Hooray for Caucasian people substituting themselves for other cultures’ gods. You go, Felicity. (That plotline resolved itself in ways that were a little too pat, too.)

2) So, speaking as someone who might possibly consider voting for a Republican if shown clear scientific evidence that the Democrat in the race was, in fact, an Awakened Being from Claymore?*

This book may be slightly overly politically partisan.

Cut for spoilers:

Read the rest of this entry » )

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

Shinn has this problem where occasionally she doesn’t seem to buy her own romances. Summers at Castle Auburn was like that. There’s not really anything there to indicate that the heroine and the hero are in love. The book worked because of the heroine’s relationships with other characters, which were much more compelling. The romance existed independently of the plot - everything would have played out pretty much the same way if the hero and heroine hadn’t known each other. There’s no real reason for the romance to be there, but because it doesn’t clog up the workings of the plot, it doesn’t hurt anything.

Jovah’s Angel, unfortunately, has a clog in its system.

The book is the second in Shinn’s Samaria series, which can be categorized as Sci-Fi Where There’s Magic That Is Actually Bad Science (as opposed to Magic That Is Actually Believable Science, like I can’t say the title of this series because it’s actually a spoiler ack). Genetically engineered angels rule the planet Samaria, a human colony that has forgotten the advanced technology that brought them there, and is just on the verge of an industrial revolution. The world is inhospitable due to extreme weather, so the angels were created to keep the weather in check, which they do by singing weather-related “prayers” to the god Jovah - who is obviously an AI.

But something has gone wrong, and the only angel whose voice Jovah still hears is shy, insecure Alleya. When the previous archangel, the brilliant and charismatic Delilah, loses the use of her wings in an accident, Alleya is forced to step into her shoes. She must work together with Caleb, the world’s most brilliant engineer and an atheist, to solve the problem, while searching for the husband Jovah has chosen for her. Meanwhile, Caleb’s best friend Noah, another engineer, has become obsessed with the idea of repairing the despairing Delilah’s wings.

Cut for spoilers.

Read the rest of this entry » )

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

English

Jul. 15th, 2009 11:12 pm
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

My 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM hour today was on my schedule as a demo class with three middle schoolers. I didn’t recognize their names, but because the school’s presently doing a marketing thing where the juku students can get three free English classes, I assumed they were juku kids.

Twenty minutes before my last period started, as I was carefully drawing a homemade Chutes and Ladders board, Madonna and one of her friends, Cheese, burst in. “Hello! Hello! Can we come!”

I do not, in fact, know Madonna’s real name. She and Peter Pan and Jack’o'Lantern have continued their policy of lying creatively when I ask them their names. I know Peter Pan’s now because I got the manager to tell me, but I haven’t had a chance to make him rat out the others.

So I had two middle school girls, so I assumed they were going to be the demo lesson, and had gotten bored and shown up early. I got them to help me finish the game board, and then we played Jenga and formed sentences involving fruit (because the fruit poster was right over the table, and Madonna is for some reason eternally fascinated by the fruit poster). Some sentences involving One Piece also got in there, because Madonna’s taste in manga apparently extends beyond Saiyuki.

Then at 8:00, the manager showed up with not one unknown kid but three. “So, wait. Five students?” I asked him, pointing to the Jenga-players. “Should I take all five?”

Apparently not; he told Madonna and Cheese that they couldn’t stay in the classroom because I had to teach a class (oh, come on, don’t make me the bad guy here). “No! No!” said Madonna in English. “It’s cool! Let us! It’s cool!” Then, in Japanese, “Suzushii!”

Suzushii means “cool” in the literal sense. The juku classroom’s AC is pretty crappy, and the owner won’t let them turn it up all the way. The English classroom’s AC, on the other hand, is under my control, and he will wrest that control from cold, dead hands.* Gosh, you guys, it’s so nice to be wanted for my classroom’s air conditioner.

But they bowed to the manager’s demands and left, and I taught the demo. (It was fine, if not as cheerful as a demo involving Madonna and Cheese would have been. The boy had clearly been forced into this by his parents, and wouldn’t talk above a mutter until I started calling him Ponyo and got the girls to go along with it. Then his outrage gave him strength.)

* Sniping About My Bosses Corner, Do Not Read If You’re Not In The Mood For Morons:

Read the rest of this entry » )

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

There used to be an empty lot I had to go through on my way to the mall. One morning at the end of March or beginning of April, still sleepy, I was walking to the mall, and found that there was suddenly construction in that lot. Cement had been poured, and the ground was higher than it had been. This seemed unlikely to me; for a moment I wasn’t sure if I was in the real world or in a video game. I tried to check my inventory.

Read the rest of this entry » )

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

Dammit.

May. 16th, 2009 08:47 pm
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

I made another kid cry today.

Read more... )

(Crossposted to SarahPin.com, Dreamwidth, and LiveJournal. You can leave comments at whichever.)

snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

My response to this manga is a string of little hearts.* My favorite is the chapter about the girl who has a crush on Yamane. I want more stuff with Yamane in it. She is perfect and I love her.

This particular Yoshinaga manga’s Horrible Relationship is so deep into horrible it comes out the other end. It’s like Edward Gorey or something. I can’t figure out whether to cringe or laugh at it. It’s very, very horrible.

* But I’m not putting them here because I’ve developed an anal-retentive habit of avoidance of special characters due to fear of problems with my WordPress database. Though I feel that this dysfunction has on occasion damaged the integrity of my writing, it persists nonetheless. There is a small fearful twinge close to my heart when I switch on the Japanese IME, an almost tactile thing, as if UTF-8 character encoding was a physical organ within my body.

(I have such awesome problems.)

(Originally published at SarahPin.com. You can comment here or there.)

snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

Miss Minnow is in my first class on Wednesday. She’s six years old, and when she grows up she wants to be Nicolo Machiavelli. She’s very smart, very cute, and very manipulative. When Miss Minnow is in a bad mood, she wants everyone else to be in a bad mood, too. So she modifies the situation.

One of the other girls, Spaztastic, is Minnow’s age, but as suggested by the name, is hyperactive and not big on thinking things through. She also gets upset when she starts losing a game. The other girl, Blue, is younger than the other two and a little slower, but really, really wants to Be A Good Student. This means that for most of the class, she’s focusing all her limited attention on me - she doesn’t notice when Spaztastic is about to freak out. And she claps her hands and gets all happy when she gets something right or wins a game, which invariably infuriates Spaztastic.

So what Miss Minnow does when she’s angry is, she tries to fix the games so Blue is winning. Because she’s the only one of the girls with a functioning attention span (and I’m probably busy pulling Spaztastic down off the curtains), she doesn’t have much trouble doing it - we’ll be playing marbles, and she’ll wait until Blue’s looking at me and Spaztastic’s trying to sneak across the room to get her crayon box or something, and she slips some of her own marbles in with Blue’s.

And when Blue’s turn is over, Blue looks down at her marbles and says happily, “Blue is winning!”* And Spaztastic pouts ominously, glares at her, and throws something at the wall.

When she’s in a good mood, she doesn’t want to have to hear me yell at Spaztastic and harsh her buzz, so she fixes the game in the other direction - she makes sure Blue never gets more than one point ahead of Spaztastic. This requires some more delicacy, because unlike Blue, Spaztastic can and does count her points - obsessively, even. She will eventually notice that they’ve been moving around, even if she never actually catches Miss Minnow at it. She can’t figure out whether to blame Miss Minnow or me (it doesn’t occur to her to blame Blue), but either one is clearly insupportable.

So what Miss Minnow does is, she keeps winning herself (she never has any trouble with this), but then visibly gives her own points to Blue, who will happily accept them because Miss Minnow is her hero and she likes getting “presents” from her. This allows Spaztastic to consider the definition of “winning” the game as something more fluid, so she eventually stops keeping such careful count of her points, allowing Miss Minnow to start slipping them in.

For Miss Minnow’s bad moods, I switch to games where no one wins, but for the good ones I’ve just been letting her manage things. Hey, she’s developed a strategy for quieting Spaztastic down for five minutes. I have no complaints.

Miss Minnow heard me speaking Japanese to her Mom at one point, and really wants to get me to do it during class, or at least to prove that I understand words more complicated than “English,” “Japanese,” and “homework.” I’m not supposed to do that, but if I’m distracted and a kid talks at me in Japanese, I sometimes forget.

So last week, while I was grading homework, Spaztastic tugged on my arm and gleefully showed me how she’d covered her entire coloring sheet with pink. I said, “Heeee.” (Approximate translation: “You iz weird, honey.”)

Miss Minnow said, “Teacher just spoke Japanese! She said “heeee!”"

I said, “No, no! That’s English. It’s, uh… it’s Canadian English. I said “Eh.” Canada English.”

Blue said, “Canada!”

I pointed it out on the map. “Here. Near America, on top of America.”

Miss Minnow explained helpfully to the other two, “Canada is a very cold place. Winter there is really cold.”

I said in English, “Excuse me? You live in Niigata. Winter’s cold here.” I said this without expecting them to understand it, but apparently the word “Niigata” rendered the comment comprehensible to Miss Minnow - she smirked at me, and I realized I had just totally proven I could understand their conversation.

I hope Miss Minnow uses her powers for good.

-

* Little Japanese girls seriously do refer to themselves in the third person a lot, it turns out. I’d vaguely thought the extent of the phenomenon was fictionalized by anime for purposes of cuteness, but no.

(Originally published at SarahPin.com. You can comment here or there.)

July 2014

S M T W T F S
  1 2 34 5
6789101112
131415 16 171819
2021 2223242526
2728293031  

Style Credit

Syndicate

RSS Atom
Page generated Jul. 29th, 2014 08:39 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Most Popular Tags

Creative Commons



The contents of this blog and all comments I make are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License. I hope that name is long enough. I could add some stuff. It could also be a Bring Me A Sandwich License.

If you desire to thank me for the pretend internet magnanimity I show by sharing my important and serious thoughts with you, I accept pretend internet dollars (Bitcoins): 19BqFnAHNpSq8N2A1pafEGSqLv4B6ScstB