Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31st:: My Little Pony Physics Presentation

In this delicious treat I have for you, a student in physics has decided to explain the impossibilities behind the popular new kids' show My Little Pony. Below you will find the answers to how probable sonic rainbows, rocketing see-saws and butterfly safety nets are. Enjoy:

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30th: You are what you read

Wonder Woman as a Star Sapphire. Brought to you by the "We want to see Wonder Woman in a more revealing costume" party.

I’ve been reading a lot lately. Not books, though I’m trying to return there. No, these days I have super heroes on my mind, which is why I’m inhabiting comic books. I admit that I’m in deep in research for my current novella Bad Thought Catalog, one of the early works in my super hero alternative Earth. The potency of this alternative Earth is quite tantalizing – to the point I’m tempted to not finish this project.

In the last week alone I think I may have devoured twenty to thirty issues, including DC’s spanning Blackest Night and Brightest Day events. I also followed Zatanna and several of the newest Batman series, including the delicious Batman Inc. and Batman: Arkham City. From Marvel I’ve finished the Utopia event and started Daken Dark Wolverine, X-23 and X-Men: Prelude to Schism. What binds these volumes together is that they tell the stories of those few with superhuman powers and their attempts on survival. That’s the obvious part, pitting these individuals against impossible odds and seeing violence.

However, there is a different similarity between all superhuman volumes. Something in their structure; in their blueprints, which installs familiarity. Their stories are centered around the characters, with their heroes and villains given the word to narrate. While the art captures the color and movement, serves the violence and fulfills the obligations of what the descriptive prose does in fiction, the written word is used sparingly [or not so sparingly, if you look how winding DC monologues and dialogue can stretch in Blackest Night/Brightest Day] either for the protagonist to narrate or for characters to converse.

The use of words in comic books is interesting to observe, if you’re a writer in a different format. First, all narration is philosophical in one way or another. Either dramatic, minimalist reflections of one’s self as seen in X-23 or haunting observations about the world, which bind the panels together into a coherent and moody experience as often done in the Batman series. It adds flavor to the otherwise multispectral action. Yet, enough exposure to those and you can smell the cheesy smell of melodrama, which makes the good boys’ talk of honor corny and the villains’ vitriol tiresome. Not that there is anything bad about it. Enough cups of tea for everyone as I like to say.

The dialog is another interesting thing. It serves a multitude of functions. When short, it offers the quick wit and repartee comic book heroes and villains are known for. When long, it calls for taunts, rants and threats – all over the top for pathos’ sake – during battles, which I find all very imaginative, yet not at all realistic [though I don’t really look for realism, when the guys I root for all have a fetish for flamboyant spandex]. Of course, when not stirring the old pot of emotions, dialogue can be found info dumping. What I hat in comics is how, sometimes, page after page blisters with speech bubbles, all crammed with back story, tactics and future plans. It just shows the limitations of the format, in the sense that when a story arc has to run in the course of five to six issues writers can’t afford to be subtle. The careful foreshadowing and gradual supplement of information are not suitable.

Yet, all these imperfections and unique traits are what make superhero stories memorable and what we associate with superheroes and the comic book format [though I do realize that every different story told as a comic book comes with its own specifics]. It’s also what I’ve taken to what I’m working on at the moment. I’m not sure that I want my story to echo all those great stories being printed as comics, as I’m writing prose and really that’s a different beast.

It has me thinking that you as a writer is what you read [if you didn’t know that already] and this begs the question. Do you read the type of story you want to tell or do you avoid doing it as a means to ensure that you are not copying? Both choices hold their dangers. You either get to see what can be done with a story trope by those before you and go down a well trodden path or trust the ignorance is bliss policy and either do wonders with the genre or murder the story. What do you prefer?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday, May 9th: Roll a D6

It's Monday and my social calender is off the charts. Couple with work, lit club responsibilities and the proverbial university paper thing (1 more page added in the morning), I will be unable to provide you with the necessary wit, insight and inspiring thought patterns (can I hear the aww-s already?). However, I'm not leaving you without a treat. Namely, a recent D&D spoof based on the very popular (though not very meaningful) "Like a G6".

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday, May 8th: The Geek Zodiac

Since I'm working on an university paper on the Influence of Transnational Corporations over the Global Economy (15 pages, but boring enough to require multiple episodes of various TV shows to numb the pain) I've no follow-up on the Saint George celebrations (sorry to disappoint). To make up for this, I've included The Geek Zodiac. Floating as a shortened url on Twitter (I think I can almost remember who tweeted it) I found this Asian Zodiac rip-off made of Awesome Sauce.

PS: BTW, I'm a pirate. Tell me what are you? (Also, click on it, in order to enlarge as I doubt any one can read anything at that font size)

Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6th: Saint George, Martyr & Dragon Slayer

May 6th is an important day for Bulgaria as today we celebrate Saint George, who in Bulgaria is referred to as the Dragon Slayer or the Victorious (though literally from Bulgarian that one should be Victory Bringer). Saint George is the patron of farmers and shepherds. By default, all the people having names that remotely resemble George have a Name’s Day and celebrate: these include Georgy (Bulgarian version of said name ), Gergana, Gergina, Gloria, Gancho, Ginka, Ganka, Gabriella, Genady, Gosho, Genovena and many more.

Saint George’s Day is a big deal in Bulgaria for several reasons. For starters, Saint George is a saint of significance in the Christian pantheon. Because of his brilliant military career, Saint George’s Day also coincides with Day of Bravery and the Bulgarian Army. The tradition is alive and well as even this morning, all the news stations provided live feed from the army’s parade in the capitol as soldiers marched to Alexandr Nevski’s Church. The ritual I noted was the blessing of the battle flags, though specific attention was paid to the Navy and their battle ships. I suppose that this specificity has to do with the legend that a healing water gushed after a church in the saint’s name was raised on the sight, where he killed the dragon.

It’s because of that particular feat why Saint George is one of the most recognizable saints in the Eastern-Orthodox mythology. In itself the legend doesn’t shock at all as it’s pretty straight to the point. In a true Greek fashion, we have a city located near a lake, which in turn was the home for this dragon. The dragon was a fierce poison breathing monster, whose breath could kill a person even from a solid distance. As a means to keep the beast away from the city, which had become the dragon’s go-to location for meals, the city ruler decided that each day a child would be left at the lake’s shore, inventing the first take-out delivery service for dragons anywhere (in Christian mythology).

Improper jokes aside, it was the city ruler’s young daughter to be eaten by the dragon, when Saint George appeared on a white horse and slew the dragon as it emerged from the waters in the name of God. This act – no one could previously kill the beast – was meant as a miracle so that God could convert the whole city into his followers. I suspect this particular myth served as the foundations for the knight on a white horse, who slays dragons and saves princesses.

Saint George is honored as a martyr. You remember the bit about his military career? Well, in fact, George served as a Roman soldier under the Emperor Diocletian. George proved himself to be a brave and honorable soldier, but that didn’t meant much, when Diocletian decided to clean his army from Christians. Initially, George was picked to head the team that would be in charge of finding and killing Christians, when he himself revealed his love for God.

Diocletian tried to convert his best soldier to Roman beliefs, but when no offering convinced George to abandon Christ, tortures and decapitation followed. It was during these torture sessions that George performed countless miracles. He survived inhuman lashings, spending three days in a quicklime pit, poison and even swords grating his whole body. During his trial an angel appeared in order to heal George and in the end, at the command of the Emperor, he even resurrected a dead man.

As a closing for this post, I’ve supplied a video for a popular song sung at this day in honor of this great Christian saint. Enjoy and in the second part, I will talk about the holiday itself.

1. For the sake of being accurate, one must know that the “g” in all the names is not the “dʒ” sound like in the English George, but the normal “g” as in ‘guy’

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday, May 2nd: Tracking Wordcounts and Bulgarian Steampunk

Today's fantastic picture portrays the Punisher as a samurai; this is the cover for an issue of the "5 Ronin" mini-series that Marvel published not long ago. The series itself leaves things to be desired, but as a whole the re-imaginings were clever.

It’s my intention to write. Whenever there is a slight possibility to sit down and even write 50 words, I intend to use it. It’s a difficult concept for me to put in practice as I’ve accustomed myself to a leisurely, scholarly schedule. With the new office, I’ve graduated into reality and I see what time deficiency means in earnest. I’ve no idea how people can juggle responsibilities outside their day jobs and still find the energy to write. Perhaps, writing itself is not the real lesson [although I know that’s the core of it], but actually applying the butt-in-chair principle.

Some days I can afford to come home in the right mood [with the right energy level] to sit and create, but more often than not I’ve duties in the morning, duties at work and then duties after work [which when combined drain me]. Sadly, the solution is not coffee, people; I need a lot more of a punch than that.

Anyway, moving on. I’ve decided that I want an Excel Spreadsheet as a means to track down my progress – the spreadsheet love is a brand new work-spawned development – and so far it helps. I can see the shame of not having butt-in-chair on top of my priorities, which leads to more ‘write first, watch tantalizing moving pictures later.’

The newest project I’m working on is called “Dog Days are Over,” based on Florence + The Machine’s song of the same title, though the direction I’ve taken it is rather bizarre. There is sex, there are ghosts and there is Bulgaria. I’ve decided to try and base a story in Bulgaria, which more or less fits the type of female character [with the type of ‘morale’] I want to write. The issues I’m facing are pretty much on whether the sex I write is because I enjoy it or if it really belongs in there.

1791 / 4000 words. 45% done!

In other news, I’ve a sporadic article appear in Beyond Victoriana. It’s an opening for a whole series, about Bulgaria, its history during the Victorian era and the potential the time period has for Steampunk to branch in. Here is a small snippet:

It’s impossible to mention Bulgaria, look it through the prism of the past and not discuss war.

For Bulgarians know war in all of its forms. Back when the Bulgarian Empire existed, we conquered. Afterwards, we fought wars to defend what we’ve claimed. We fought once again to earn our freedom, when we fell under multiple slaveries. Once liberated, we fought to unite and even today we fight; small personal battles and wars against reality, against each other and, in private, ourselves.

Queen Victoria’s rule coincides with Bulgaria’s most turbulent historical period. During her 64 years on the throne, Bulgarians organized several major upheavals, created an organized resistance, fought wars for liberation and achieved their goals. Once transitioned from slaves to free people with a country, Bulgaria had to rebuild itself from scratch,write a constitution and catch up with the rest of the world.