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The Spirit Of Christmas Past

I did not spend Black Friday going to department stores at four am, thank God, but I did spend it decking the halls, and every other inch of the place, with Christmas decorations. I know this is dorky, but I had fun just hanging out with my family. We put on my "Christmas Music From Decades Before You Were Born" CD, ate popcorn, and put a million ornaments on our fake tree. It looks quite festive. Not to mention all the other decor, including this ridiculously huge wreath we bought to support my school. There was no where to put it except outside on the deck (that way the neighbors won't have to see it, but neither will we). We are so into the holiday spirt thing that it's almost cheesy. Okay, it is cheesy, because we watched those ancient TV specials on video tape too- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". They really are a throwback to whatever year they were made in, and it's not just the bad animation and voice talents of Fred Astaire. The narrator of "Rudolph" says things like "they knew they had to get the womenfolk back to Christmastown" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" contains the lovely message that's it's okay to sit on the lap of a strange man in the middle of the town square handing out illegal substances- as long as he has shiny toys. 

I actually feel a little sorry for Viv, because I couldn't stop laughing during the video, which got Mom and Dad going too. I know I never had people making fun of theses things when I was eight, but her childhood is not so pure and innocent. Such is the curse of being the second child. But still, I think she sees more of the magic of the holidays than I do. It comes from still believing in Santa, I think. I remember when I still did- or at least told myself I did, because the days when I believed in Santa Claus were also the only days I thought magic was actually out there, and had other people acting like it was perfectly normal, like I wasn't crazy for believing. I clung to that until I was eleven, I think, even when I didn't really believe any more, because I couldn't surrender the only magic I had ever known. 

When you have that belief, you have Christmas spirit. And maybe it doesn't last forever, but while you can hold onto it, you get to live in a world where decorating the tree and hanging the stockings is more than fun- it's magical. And where there's nothing laughable about holiday specials. Vivian's lucky she still gets to live in that world. 

Then again, maybe she's just in it for the popcorn.

Free Rice

Yeah, I know, but I had two things to say, and they weren't going in the same entry. I have sent this to my entire address book, and now I will copy it here for the benefit of anybody who may stumble upon this journal. 

Let me ask you a question. What if you could help change the world, stop world hunger? What if it took little time, little effort, and no money? What if all you had to do was answer some vocabulary questions?
You can.  All you have to do is go to www.freerice.com. It's a fun online game where you answer vocab questions to advance to the next level. If you answer wrong, you get knocked down a level. Believe me, it's pretty addictive. But the real point is that for every question you answer right, ten grains of rice will be donated to straving people all over the world who really need your help. Just try it. You might learn something. Or even better, you might help someone. 

Okay, thank you for your time.

Happy Thanksgiving

You know, I don't stop to think about it very often, but I have a lot of things to be thankful for. A lot of people to be thankful for. And I really take a lot of them for granted. And no, I'm not going to go up to them all tomorrow and hug them and tell them I'm glad I know them. Because frankly, I'm not so good with the verbal communication, and because it would probably really embarrass most of them. But I will make a list on my LJ, where none of them will ever read it, and just try to show my gratefulness for their awesomeness in other ways. I don't love that easily, but here are just a few people who I really love, and am really glad I know. 


I'm Thankful For Thanksgiving

...because it means we get off school early. 

Today my Spanish teacher read my paper about Julia De Burgos (a Puerto Rican poet), eyed me suspiciously, and asked if I had written it myself. Of course I had, I assured her. She wanted to know if I had copied any of it from the internet. Of course not, I repeated. She wanted to know if I was okay. Apparently my face was red. I was fine, I reassured her, just a little embarassed that she just accused me of plagerism! 


And for homework in Geography, the enjoyable and useful task of drawing maps of places that no longer exist. Yeah, a five-day break from this place sounds like heaven. I hate Mondays.

Obligatory LJ Makeover Post

So I got a new layout.  Yay. I am quite fond of it, and it has one of those bars that list all my tags and you can click on them, which makes me realize that I have an awful lot of random tags that I have only used once, and only about three that I've used more than once or twice. *shrugs* 

I am procrasinating on about five things that await my attention. Can you tell?
Well, I do not think it is possible for me to be any more embarrassed than I was when I read the comment on that last entry. Supposedly it's awful to humiliate yourself it front of a cute guy. I really don't think it compares to humiliating yourself in front of an author you greatly admire, even if it is through the net. Anyway, now I know two things. 

One, I should at the very least Google something or someone before posting about it/them in in my LJ.

And two, an author is not nessacerily someone in Scotland or Montana who you can bash or praise to your heart's content but in fact an actual person. This should, I know, be exceptionally obvious (which is the reason I will return to the rock I've been hiding under for the last couple of days after posting this) but the only fandom I've ever been in is HP. Rowling doesn't have a LiveJournal, as far as I know, and certaintly doesn't know what I say about her or her books. I'm beginning to think that may be a bad thing.

Writing seminars are common. They’ll teach you how to spice up your characters, plot, setting, and dialogue. They’ll inform you of the many reasons you should run screaming when you see a Mary Sue. They’ll let you know what’s good, what’s bad, and that everything your sixth-grade English teacher said about “said” was a lie. In short, these seminars give you tips on how to get famous, even though most of the people who attend them never do.

But what do you do when you get famous? Is there a seminar for that? Probably not, but there should be. And attendance should be required as soon as you hit the New York Times Bestsellers list. It’d be a little like the Health Class of writing- extremely important information that you need to know and use in the real world, but that nobody at all wants to talk about. Diseases up for discussions would include Telling Your Fans What To Think, Forgetting That If It Weren’t For Your Fans Nobody Would Know Your Name, Writing Unneeded Sequels, and Thinking That You’re So Perfect You Don’t Have To Try Anymore, among others. “Preventable!” the teacher would cry. “Don’t start! You’ll never stop!” And the writers would laugh and say, Oh no, not me, I won’t do that! And then many of them would promptly go out into the world and do it- but maybe not as many as do now.

As that cheesy video about sexual harassment is the focal point of middle school health, there would be a clear focal point in this course- Movie Adaptations. Ah, that scrounge of fantasy fans. We all know that most authors fall to temptation- and for every Madeleine L’Engle who will proudly admit to the horridness of their movie, there are many who pretend to love the screen adaptation of their precious baby. Teachers would instruct the class on How To Not Let It Happen To You, reminding you that the only sure way to prevent it is to never sign off the rights to your masterpiece, never let your characters appear on the big screen. They’d show of video of authors, their faces in shadows, talking about how awful it is to have your story’s plot disappear or your favorite character show up on-screen wearing out-of-character makeup and a pink hoody.

Seriously, how hard can it be to teach them this? Not very. I could do it, given the time and the video. No one, of course, would try. You simply can’t tell an adult how to live their life. You can’t force someone to read a self-help book or attend a seminar. Not even if they’re a divorced suburbanite going through a midlife crises, certainly not if they’re a successful author who’s proud, dazed, and on top of the world. A bad idea, of course. Stream-of-consciousness rambling, of course. But oh, how much pain we little people would be spared.

We are the fans, are we are the ones who are hurts by those easily preventable diseases, not the authors themselves. We are the ones who cry tears of pain when our movies are released, for we are wasting our money to see the books we have crawled all over with microscopes destroyed, not receiving millions to hand over our books. And there lies our greatest mistake- we love them too much. We trust our authors not to contract any of those diseases, because we love them. But then they do, and we are hurt. We trust that our movies will we wonderful- who could possibly screw up such as wonderful storyline? They manage it, and we are hurt. And yet we love them enough to try again. We Potterheads will, I’m sure, try seven times, and each time we will be hurt. For we love too much, too easily, far too deeply. We are fandom. That is what we do. 

"The Golden Compass" will hit theaters soon, and I pity Philip Pullman’s fans. I’ve met a few of them and they’re ridiculously excited. It’s not the smile-and-roll-my-eyes-here-we-go-again-at-least-I-can-squee-about-blank attitude you get from HP fans, but something more akin to “OMG, they’re making a movie!” I’m sure not all fans are like that, but these were and it was actually sad in a way. Those two girls are going to be let down. Yes, it may very well be a good flick, but it will not be Pullman on screen, and many fans will unconsciously wish for that. 

As for me, I’ll be in the theater, staring at the sparkly special effects, too jaded to get mad if they assassinate Lyra’s character. I’ve done it all before. I should have been jaded back then, too, but I had high hopes.

Oddly, even though my fandom has two more movies to go, I feel like we’re passing something on to the His Dark Materials fans. A Hollywood torch, so to speak. A burden that is now theirs, a burden of canonical destruction that we no longer have to bear. Cruel, but there you have it. I don’t want this torch, because I will never win this race. And yet- His Dark Materials will pass it on to Twilight and well, Diane Duane’s talking about making a Young Wizards movie and I will absolutely die because seeing a commercial for some urban fantasy Disney Channel show was bad enough, kthx, and they will kill the complexities of Dairine on the big screen, and I’m going to have this Hollywood torch back again a lot sooner than I want it.

Yeah, done rambling now. I guess I just, um, felt like angsting about how much Hollywood sucks. :D

The Inheiritance "Cycle"

Happy belated Halloween and some other holidays! 
Well, you've probably already heard this if you're a fan or anti, but Christopher Paolini recently annouced that he will be writing FOUR books in his newly renamed Inheiritance Cycle, not three. He also told us a little about the third book, including that it's going to be ridiculously long- but not "unwieldy"- and that he killed a major character at the end of Book 3 because he did the same thing at the beginning of Book 2 and thought it would be cool.


Two major problems with this. 

1) Paolini doesn't need to write another Eragon book. He needs to get away from the things as fast as he can and have some kind of harsh brush with reality- such as having to self-publish his next "cycle" because no publisher will take it, not doing enough promotion, and watching the book flop. Not that I wish him ill, as much as I dislike his books- but realizing that he's a bad writer will be his first step toward becoming a good writer. Hopefully. 

2) That's the worst reasoning for killing off a character that I have ever heard. Born out of neccestiy, die out of neccessity- is there any room for the characters to just live, for CP to breathe life into them? I think not. Eragon and Co. are maddeningly flat. It's clear most of them are dispensible, that CP doesn't think of them as people he's responsible for. A character should be someone who keeps pushing you to write their story because you feel obligated to do the right thing to resolve their troubles- not nessacerily to make them happy, just to give them resolution. Are CP's? Again, I think NOT.

HP Meme!

Pointless but fun. Stolen from praize.

Oct. 20th, 2007

New Halloween icon by marauderthesn. 'Tis awesome.  

So, on Dumbledore. I have absoulutely no idea what goes through JKR's head about this stuff, and I never will, but I am NOT going to turn this into Wank War 3,000. I don't think this shows that she thinks gay people are losers. If you want to analyze in in-depth and come up with a list of reasons why this reveals JKR's secret homophobia, you do that. But I'm going to be positive. I'm going to like this development, and here's why- 

1) He had realistic flaws and virtues that had nothing to do with his sexuality; he was not a walking sterotype or defined by being gay, 

2) He was a highly respected figure in Wizarding society. 

3) He was allowed to work with kids, 

And that's good enough for me. Yes, it was a cop-out to say it in an interview, but I think it's pretty cool that she said it at all. But that's just me.