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21st December 2010

11:59pm: Book review of sorts: The Lost Symbol
Not sure when I'll actually get around to finishing the book and then writing a review, so I'll just put up my notes thus far:

Notes for a review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown [SPOILER ALERT]

Although I’m only about 150 pages in (and skimmed the next hundred pages), I’m so pissed off with the book right now that I need to jot down some stuff. Maybe my expectations were simply too high. It has been about four or five years since I read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, so maybe my taste in books has changed (this is a distinct possibility). Whatever it is, I’m really disappointed with this book, and I doubt the rest of it will change my mind.

What I found irksome:
-          Trish Dunne’s death (WHY kill off the best character in the book? She grounded the book in some sort of normality.)
-          Inoue Sato did not live up to her brilliant intro. I expected so much more from her than cranky, ruthless, entitled bitch.
-          Katherine Solomon’s “blushing smile” at Robert Langdon’s number appearing on her caller ID. I swear, I had to reread three times to make sure it actually said blushing smile. She only met Langdon once years ago and only for fifteen minutes, so what's with the schoolgirl crush? She was a pretty cool character (with her own story to tell) before she became the Pretty Love Interest.
Langdon could be the scholarly version of James Bond with the way a new woman flocks to him in each book.
-          Mark Zoubianis not showing up again after “This is systems security for the Central Intelligence Agency. We would like to know why you are attempting to hack one of our classified databases?” (p. 140) I mean, c'mon, that deserves some sort of follow-up. I skimmed the rest of the book to see if he'd turn up again. Nope, nada.
-          Mal’akh’s all-encompassing Evil and unrealistic backstory. Maybe I've been spoiled by three-dimensional villains with motives aside from boredom/insanity.
-          Robert Langdon’s snotty, pretentious, that’s-what-all-the-middling-masses-think attitude and tendency to ramble on. There are only so many times I want to read his anecdotes about charming his college students. Langdon lacks any sympathetic quality whatsoever despite Dan Brown’s attempts otherwise.
-          Melodramatic events and writing; Dan Brown makes it obvious we’re supposed to ooh and aah over all the esoteric symbolism and mysticism that crop up. It might be more interesting if I weren't constantly bludgeoned over the head by choppy scenes and ominous statements like "Abraham Lincoln's youngest son, Tad, had once gotten lost down there and almost perished. Anderson was starting to suspect that if Sato had her way, Robert Langdon might suffer a similar fate" (p. 116).
-
          A lot of character motivations make no sense. 
-          I’m utterly bored out of my mind with Langdon’s scenes and keep wanting to skip to the scenes with the side characters who are infinitely more interesti
ng.

On the other hand:
-          Awesome side characters
-          First hundred pages are relatively fascinating. Dan Brown does a good job setting up the story, even if the Robert Langdon scenes tend to be a little repetitive and draggy.

Most importantly, I haven't actually finished the book yet. Both Christmas and exams are coming up though, so I'm not sure when I'll take the time to slog the rest of the way through.
Current Mood: disappointed
Current Music: Taylor Swift - Back to December

29th November 2010

11:16pm: Film review: DH1
So I went to see the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last Friday at a newly constructed IMAX theater. My expectations weren’t terribly high, nor were they terribly low. I was expecting something similar to the fourth or sixth movie (because the fifth, unless my memory is seriously failing me, was just flat-out brilliant), something fun and engaging and entertaining for the two and half hours it lasted but not something I’d look back upon and declare a masterpiece. To my surprise, I really liked it.

21st May 2008

1:08pm: Website Rec: "Don't bother robbing me, twit. I will cheerfully put up the stuff for free myself"

My entire physics lab class is currently locked in each of our own rooms, scribbling away in agitation at our latest post-lab report, the most difficult and involving to date. Stress - especially communal stress - always leaves me with the urge to dissolve into hysterical laughter for some reason, but before I get back to work, I have a website/concept rec:

I just (only just!) came across the Baen Free Library and am charmed by "First Librarian" Mr. Eric Flint's introduction, in which he explains his two major reasons for hosting free fiction (specifically, in this case, sci-fi) online: his personal principle and commercial profit. In an online debate over the issue of online piracy/copyright, he took the side of leniency (towards piracy). As a matter of principle in upholding and acting upon his opinion, he and Jim Baen created the Baen Free Library.

 

Also, Senator Kennedy is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. :(
Current Mood: working
Current Music: 改变自己 - 王力宏 <3

1st May 2008

4:26pm: NYC Legal Showdown

I've been combing through The Leaky Cauldron's page documenting the WB/JKR vs. RDR Books trial, as objective of an information archive on this topic as one could find on the 'Net. The case has made headline news occasionally, I think, what with WB's fame and JKR's fanbase. If you're unfamiliar with the situation, here's a quick summary: Huge HP fan and webmaster of the popular HP Lexicon Steven Vander Ark was approached in fall of last year by a small publisher named RDR Books to compile an encyclopedia based upon his website. SVA and RDR came to an agreement without authorization from either J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., and a lawsuit was brought against RDR last October, halting any publications. The trial has been raging in NYC for the past two weeks, and the judge has encouraged it to be settled out of court.

On an somewhat unrelated note, Neil Gaiman's response to all of this gives me new respect for him. Actually, reading his blog is fun. In that, fangirly, half-stalkerish way. :)

Current Mood: anxious
Current Music: GH Ending Theme

27th April 2008

2:47pm: Why do I spend so much time fangirling old men?

"Why do I spend so much time fangirling old men? Yeah, that's the life of a Snape fan and a Cure fan."

So goes the Snapecast Episode 27. I have no idea what "Cure" is, but fangirling old men? Oh yes, I understand a little too well. I'll take wrinkles and greying hair over muscles and toothy grins anyday. There's nothing quite like the charm of a grandfatherly old man who lives life at a snail's pace. A new store opened up near my dorm last week, and on my first trip there, my cashier was a staid, methodical man in his seventies or eighties with very little hair to speak of. The sight alone of his calm movements and slow smile gave me a glow that I couldn't shake for the rest of the day. Part of the attraction is the wisdom gained through experience of course, and part of it is simply mystery garnered through age. A larger part is even a motherly instinct to protect and to cherish. But just try explaining this to any peer of mine, and at best, you'll get an uncomfortable "Okay." 

It's weird. :D I get it. 

Current Mood: fangirly
Current Music: Rickman's voice?

28th February 2008

5:12pm: Story Recommendation

Because the first thing I wanted to do after reading this story was tell the world about it. 

STORY OF THE YEAR:

"Twenty Thousand Gold Stars: A Novel About an Internet Community" by Dusk Peterson
(Link to the story at author's website)
Recommendation: I will try my best to be concise with because there is simply too much to say about TTGS. Briefly, it is a contemporary story based on reality about the struggles of adults attracted to minors. According to her author's note, Peterson spent three years researching this topic and seeking the heart of what is so often misunderstood and labeled "evil." She writes from the perspective of the so-called child-molesters and brings them to life in their interactions with one another, their struggles to find their place in the world, and their fight to not only survive but to love. No excuses or apologies are made, simply an honest, objective exploration of the human character, and the resulting masterpiece is powerful enough to change my perspective of the world and heartwrenching enough to leave me in sporadic tears for the rest of the week. The varying viewpoints in the story are intelligent, articulate, well-informed, in-depth, and thought-provoking. The characters challenge one another and the reader as well, and the characterizations are so real and human that I cannot help but respect - even love - every one of them (the character Gold Star, especially).

"That's why I hope you'll keep posting here, so that we can learn from your story, just as I've learned from the stories of the boylovers I've met here," says one character on the Internet forums in response to the mother of a child abuse victim. I beg you all to give this story a try, despite the sensitive content, because here is a story about love, about friendship, about forgiveness and acceptance and understanding, and I guarantee it will send your world lurching, as it has mine.

Warning: The subject matter is delicate, to put it lightly. Topics include to varying degrees religion (primarily Christianity), human rights, homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, and suicide.

24th October 2007

10:52pm: Snape After DH Fest Fic Post #1
Title: The Letter in the Drawer
Type: Fiction
Length: Short story. 1031 words.
Pairings: I don't know if I'd call Snape/Lily a pairing here. Gen, I suppose.
Warnings: One swear, angst, and stuffy writing. Arguably OOC depending on interpretation.
Rating: PG
Prompt: Lily wrote one final letter to Severus, but never sent it. (or vice versa)
Summary: Hidden within a locked drawer lay an innocuous cream-colored letter, its edges curled with age, as though it had been frequently fingered. When the drawer was opened at last, it revealed the words Severus Snape had meant to say but never could.
Notes: I wish I'd spent more time on this. Snape deserves better, but here's a tribute nonetheless. Thanks to spanish_silver for taking a look!


Current Mood: happy
Current Music: Perspectives - Kutless

26th August 2007

5:36pm: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
I finally read Twilight by Stephanie Meyers, which everyone's been raving about for months. I have to say, it was a pretty big disappointment. It read like a badly written, extremely cliched romance from FictionPress, and believe me, I've read enough of those to recognize one when I see it in horrifying print. The cheesiness and the cliches made me want to rip out the first 200 pages and rewrite it in its proper length, in ten words or so, and I was bored out of my mind. I did read on, and thankfully the last half of the book was much better, action replacing the romantic attempts, but I'm still wondering what people see in this book. I know plenty of FP writers (and the majority of Snapefic writers) who could have written the book so much better. It's a very disatisfying feeling.

Better go. Hopefully I'll find some time of my own to eventually write. Best wishes!
Current Mood: giddy
Current Music: Greensleeves!

3rd August 2007

12:36pm: Post-DH Rant

This is long overdue. It’s long and rambling, especially the Snape section, I warn you. And there be SPOILERS. There are also some spoilers in my newly-acquired icons, so don't look. (The “Severus Snape Lives” icon I’m using for this entry is obviously not a spoiler or else I wouldn’t use it.) 

17th July 2007

11:15am: For purely selfish reasons

I've been working on-and-off throughout the summer on a Harry Potter fanfiction featuring the pairing Severus Snape and Irma Pince - I don't know what's wrong with my mind so don't ask - and am very, very stuck. For innumerable reasons, the least of which is that I'm just not competent enough to capture either character. Not in a way that won't scream "pathetic, melodramatic drivel." 

So, I'm posting an excerpt, a really horribly written one that I'm really uncertain whether to include or not, and if anyone feels as if they wouldn't mind hurting themselves a bit, I'd love it if you could take a quick skim and tell me "yes" or "no." 





If I kept this wordy narrative, it would obviously be the introduction to the story, and it just seems terribly boring to open with, especially as it is in Irma's POV, and she's as unpopular a character as there could be. If I didn't keep this, my alternative is to plunge straight into their renewed acquaintance with Snape's return to Hogwarts as a reformed Death Eater. The history could always be slipped in elsewhere. 

I think I've half convinced myself already. But I'm a teenager; I can't make decisions. Help. 

Thank you ahead of time for just reading all of that. Sorry to take advantage. ^^;

4th May 2007

9:33pm: Writing Post
I know I've disappeared. Please excuse me for another week or so. Best wishes.

Title: Reason Aside
Word Count: 2273
Genre: Romance/Angst
Rated: PG
Warning: Contains slash (male/male) and mentions sex and alcohol in passing. Angst and sap.
Summary: [Slash] [One-Shot] "The night he walked into our apartment, quiet and dripping rain, and told me he was in love with another man, I said nothing... Later that night, alone, I ripped myself to shreds."
Status: Complete

16th April 2007

8:47pm: Virginia Tech Shooting - Worst in U.S. History
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1610857-1,00.html

Oh Lord. What can you do in a time like this but pray? The House held a moment of silence a few hours earlier. Information's still trickling in about the details of what happened. To sum up, a 20-ish Asian guy walked into a Virginia Tech dormitory and shot his supposed girlfriend and an intervening RA early this morning, and two hours later, another shooting occurred at the Engineering hall, in which 30 more people were killed, before the shooter committed suicide. It has not been confirmed that the shootings were committed by the same person. If that is the case, VA Tech has a lot to explain. 

What a bad reputation for a college to have. And what an awful, awful situation for students and families. 

My first thought upon hearing about this was to wonder what had driven the murderer to this, and I admit, my immediate thought was to write a story. -_- I am reminded of Caleb Carr's "The Alienist," an exploration of the pysche of a serial killer and all the events and aspects of his life that had led him to the present point. My cousin immediately jumped to the conclusion that the guy must have been under the influence of a dozen drugs, and while that might have been the case, there would also be so many other reasons tying in. And I have to admit, I am deathly curious. 

Oh, one last thing. The VA Tech president, Charles Steger, was very unimpressive on television. When he mentioned during a brief Fox interview, "President Bush is coming down here tomorrow," he nearly split his face in a grin, and I got the distinct impression that he was just glad that circumstances, however awful, were allowing him to air on national television. And even while he spoke the solemn words, "Our hearts go out to the victims," he couldn't quite hide that tell-tale smirk on his face. It was very disgusting to watch. 

::EDIT::

I like this op-ed article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "The Massacre: Atrocity at Virginia Tech Renews the Search for Elusive Answers" 

According to fingerprint evidence, the perpetrator is a 23-year-old South Korean VA Tech senior described as a "loner." It is unsure whether or not there is an accomplice on the loose.

Murderer's Violent Play-Writing - I am speechless.

28th March 2007

8:23pm: Snape-tastic

(Becca, you knew this was coming...)

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows not three months around the corner, I've been slowly sinking back into the HP fandom. Okay, no, that would be a lie. I've been sinking rather rapidly back into Severus Snape addiction. Like fast forward 36x. Honestly, if there were ever a fictional character to enthrall me for a decade, it would be him, is him. Not Aragorn, not Gandalf, not Saitou Hajime, not Caius Merlyn Britannicus, not even Mr Stark - if he were fictional that is. Except for Dumbledore ;) but that’s only because D’s the hottest old man over a hundred I’ve ever seen. Snape is so ambiguous and complex of a character, bordering on obscure even, he begs to be examined and dissected and fallen in love with. Yes, I am a complete and utter dork; we knew that. You may move along now and spare yourself. I am mainly writing this for myself, as should be painfully obvious.
 


Forgive me for the self-indulgent post.

11th March 2007

8:00pm: NeNoNo Post
Word Count: 3,269
Status: Incomplete
Warning: Purely slash (m/m), rated PG-13 for language
Summary: Over a decade ago, two men met by chance in the cesspit of New York. But time crawled on, the moments passed, and all that is left now are the memories.


I changed from first to third person midway through - what a nightmare. Many other things will need to be heavily edited as well, obviously, including a few major plot points, but I'm trying to write through this without going back too often. Anywho, thanks to those who take the time to read and thanks to those who don't. Just for being a friend. ^_^

22nd February 2007

10:00pm: Eek, sorry!

I've been reading The Alienist by Caleb Carr, which a friend recommended a few years ago, and it's incredible. A psychological crime novel, to put it bluntly, but definitely with a lot more going for it than most modern thrillers. It's well-written, with a distinctive, old-fashioned style very different from, say, James Patterson or John Grisham (whose books I love, don't get me wrong, but their so-called "writing styles" are not ones I would boast of - not meaning to sound so obnoxiously snotty). The bulk of the novel takes place in 1896 New York, as the narrator likes to point out obsessively for some reason, and it's very heavily researched, staying as historically and culturally accurate as possible. Mostly, it has been the plot that's engrossed me for the last few days, intriguing and unique as it is, but I've definitely become attached to many of the characters. 

[SPOILER TO FOLLOW] In fact, I had the wild notion of writing a fanfiction from one of the side character's perspective (I forbid anyone to comment on how wild you think that notion is) and was beginning to plot out her story when I turned the page and - lo and behold, she died. To be honest, I wasn't particularly attached to her character, but she had a close relationship with one of the more major characters whom I was invested in and who was unbelievably devastated by her death. That was the relationship I had wanted to explore in a fanfiction. Reading that main character's resulting anguish brought on my first onslaught of tears for this book, and I had to put the book down, promising myself to finish it tomorrow. Anyway, I've just been kind of devastated myself and wanted to vent a bit - it's a little embarassing how much stories can affect me, and no one else I know suffers this same complex, so livejournal seems like the next best option, unless I feel like talking to myself. So, I'm hoping I can still somehow salvage a fanfiction from the remains of that situation. 

Also, I'm really sorry for being the queen of fickleness when it comes to responding/commenting/etc. I've been a little busy and frustrated lately with applying to Chinese colleges (the bane of my existence! I hate them! I hate them!) amongst other problems, so have abandoned the internet for a little while and will continue to do so. Really sorry for anyone expecting a response!

Question of the Day: Why have camcorders become obsolete? There's no other replacement, and we need them!

13th February 2007

9:21pm: Gravi Dialogue
I really don't think fan fiction counts for Creative Writing class assignments; it stinks suspiciously of cheating. Rather than having to create your own characters and conflicts, those are handed to you on a silver platter and your only responsibility is to pull it together with somewhat understandable language. But I did it anyway. 


If I end up having more time tonight, I'll write an original so I don't feel like a cheater.

::EDIT::
First person past tense is so difficult. I keep slipping into present tense. Anyway, I didn't spend a lot of time on it and barely proofread, so if it sucks, please help me and tell me where and how. Obliged!

11th February 2007

8:57pm: Hikago Wannabe Crackfic and the Woes of Aximilli...
All I have to offer is a pathetic attempt at writing humor. But I at least promise it wasn't half-assed. I put both buns in. :D And I also love Chalk and Mr Snow on a side note.

It reminds me of Ax from Animorphs (umm, my siblings are reading the series, and I'm...getting in touch with my younger side), and his fumbling attempts at humor throughout the series. He probably has it much worse off than I do, of course. I at least understand why it's sort of funny when thirteen-year-old Marco drives down a street, knocking trashcans left and right, on some crazy mission. I just have trouble coming up with that sort of wonderful scenario on my own. And I can't believe I'm discussing Animorphs on my LiveJournal, so I'm going to cut to the chase - which is a phrase I just now understood after taking a semester of film. May I present Shindou Hikaru and Touya Akira from Hikaru no Go:



And now that that bit's done, I'm off to work on the romanticism assignment. Phew, back to something I can actually deal with!

7th August 2006

2:11pm: One day I'll be a magnificent butterfly
I'm having trouble deciding what story to work on for NaNoWriMo this November or if I should come up with a new idea entirely. So, to help myself, I made a list.

------
Projects in the works:

The Letters of Tray and Seine: A fantasy world falling apart and the letters exchanged between two brothers trying to save it and themselves.

I finally picked this back up and was really, really shocked by how well-written it is. ^^ That's not me bragging. That's just me going swirly-eyed over the little ninth-grade writer I somehow used to be. It's really one of the very few stories worth continuing. But it's one of those stories I need to be well-written to begin with, so I want to write it piecemeal and not all at once.

A Family Crisis: Having recently discovered his sexuality, Jacob has been waiting for the "right time" to disclose the news to his parents. His strict Catholic mom blows his plan when she catches him kissing his boyfriend one afternoon. Family crisis to follow.

This was a new idea from mid-June or so, and I've already done all of the preparatory work (character profiling, outlining, whatnot), but it won't even come close to the 50,000 word minimum.

On the Edge of Kyoto: RuroKen fanfic. Kenshin the assassin and Kaoru the prostitute meet on the edge of Kyoto. Thrown together at the closing of an era and the beginning of a darker one, they learn too much about each other and about the encroaching chaos that threatens to tip their precariously balanced lives over the edge.

Technically, according to my life-plan, I'm supposed to have already finished this one already, but Junior year did not go as expected. Not that I ever follow my plans, unfortunately. So, this would be a perfect story to work on in one month's time, but a problem remains: I have zero plot. And since I take forever to come up with a decent plotline considering my limited imagination, I'm nervous.
------

Since I've already put those three up, I might as well continue. But those three are currently the only candidates for NaNoWriMo.

7th June 2006

6:36pm: The Innocent Snape
Now that I'm at liberty to procrastinate again, I decided to go through my Harry Potter folder, and what should I find but a little rant on Severus Snape in Half-Blood Prince? He is INNOCENT, I say. What say you?

Warning: (At times) Nonsensical rambling to follow.


2nd June 2006

11:17pm: 3 Fanfiction Drabbles
Three 100-word drabbles in a row because I procrastinate like that. ^^




Assassin )



26th May 2006

7:33pm: SM fanfic

Can you tell I'm succeeding at resisting the lure of the computer? ^__^ In fact, I've even managed to get out a 1000 word drabble. I have no idea if there are such things (I've only heard "drabble" used to mean "100 words"), but I wrote one anyway. It's the first Sailor Moon fanfiction I've written in five years, and I'm not embarassed to admit it. I'm not.

Warnings: The following story is slash (male/male pairing), so ignore/skip/move on if you'd like. (I understand perfectly. This is the first time I myself have written one of the like.)

WIth that, may I present the crappily titled "Reconciliation"...


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