Saturday, June 29, 2019

My Little Pony Pinkie Pie Bishoujo Statue

Kotobukiya and Hasbro have collaborated to create a series of anime-style statues of the Mane 6, designed by illustrator Shunya Yamashita. First in the series is Pinkie Pie!

She's a bit smaller than I expected, but that's more of a plus considering my limited space. It's very detailed, and it's made out of a kind of hard rubber/plastic. I've already got Twilight on pre-order, definitely going to strive to complete the set.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Video: "USDA Cat Meat + Kitten Killing Scandal: EXPOSED"

No, the government says, we don't have any money for your universal healthcare or college education. But you know what we have plenty for? Literally fucking torturing and cannibalizing kittens and puppies like some goddamn supervillain.

Luckily the Kitten Act went through, but this really goes to show that it isn't a matter of a lack of money when it comes to America, it's the money going to the wrong places. I don't want my fucking money going to slaughtering puppies and kittens. I don't fucking want it going to bail out some shitty CEO fuck who can't run a business (whatever happened to the free market then, huh?) I don't want it going to fund war machines that will just rust in a hangar, unused.

Don't let them lie to you. We're not broke, they're just greedy. Get money out of politics.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Photo Album: Reading in the yard

I was feeling kind of sad today, but it was beautiful outside, so I decided that instead of sitting inside and doing nothing all day, I would sit outside and do nothing all day. I dragged one of our lawn chairs out to the edge of our yard (it's big), a blankie, and sat to read ("The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion" by Melvin Lerner *).

While I was chilling, a little bunny came out from under the pine tree to hang out. Lots of bunnies live near here, there's at least four that live in my yard. He saw me watching him, but because I was so still, he wasn't afraid. He started nibbling on the grass and the leaves that grew out of the ground (those were his favorite.)




He did all sorts of other cute things I didn't catch, like stretching his back and frolicking around. It's so interesting to really see a wild animal up close, and really comprehend that they're a living thing. Seeing their bones shift beneath their soft fur, their little mouths chew, and their noses wiggle. It's so hard for me to see how anyone could want to hurt one of these little guys.


Later, after Mr. Bunny went home, I let my dog out and walked with her in the yard for a while. She's usually fluffy, but she just got shaved.




After that, I didn't feel so sad. I went to my favorite store later with my mom, and that was even better. Sometimes it's the little things that count.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review will be focusing less on the first book in the series and more on my overall impressions on the series as a whole from what I've read so far, which includes the first and second book.

"The Raven Cycle" is a difficult series for me to talk about, because I really want to like it, and yet I keep finding my efforts thwarted for very subtle reasons that even I don't entirely understand. On paper, everything looks legit. It's a mystery involving pre-Christian European lore, the paranormal, lots of imagery involving homey spaces and casual rural exploring. And plotwise, it does deliver, with many fascinating concepts, anxious races against time, and genuinely surprising plot twists.

There's just something about the way it's written... it always feels to me like the author is going for a certain atmosphere that she's not quite skilled enough to actually create. It's hard to pick out examples of this because it's inherently something you notice while reading the books as a cohesive whole, but it always manages to stick out like a sore thumb to me and makes the reading a carefully building slog that I find increasingly difficult to push through. Admittedly, she is not alone in this struggle when it comes to the subject matter; I have yet to find a book dealing with pre-Christian European lore that succeeds at capturing the sort of deep, dark, almost scary sense of mystery and forbidden knowledge that people often feel when reading the mythology by itself. But it is especially pronounced in these books.

The best I can explain it is that the author has a bit of a "telling instead of showing problem" when it comes to her prose. Hers is the sort of writing that is less likely to try to use language to manufacture a sense of unease and mystery through drawing on the senses, and more to just straight up tell you that things were uneasy and mysterious, if perhaps in slightly more flowery vocabulary. Her symbolism tends to be a bit on the nose for my taste. (Hey guys, does anyone think that those three psychic ladies that always hang out together have anything to do with the Triple Goddess?! Huh?! Huh?! Huh?!) This isn't always true, there are a few moments where she manages to hit the nail just fine, but it is more misses than hits. In fact, the author struggles with this in many ways besides just the atmosphere. Most of the characterization also suffers from this, with many of the characters' attributes and quirks feeling more informed to you than actually demonstrated. Probably the most pronounced examples are the two main characters, Blue and Gansey, and their respective quirks.

Blue is intended to be someone who is seen as "sensible" (that's the specific word used a lot) and yet visually quirky. She does things like make her own clothes from hand-me-downs and plaster art on her bedroom walls, and characters remark on this in such a way as to imply that this is immediately recogizable. When they see something unusual she does, someone usually says something like, "That's so typical of Blue." The problem is that the actual references to her being quirky are extremely few and far between, to the point where I often forget that she's meant to be visualized as anything but a plain-looking teenager. Unlike characters with a similar aesthetic (think Luna Lovegood or Alice Cullen), her quirkiness doesn't come out in any sort of consistent descriptiveness, like describing her clothes as she moves, or drawing analogies to other whimsical things in regards to her, or something to that effect. It's only ever mentioned in an explicit "setting the stage" sort of way, i.e., situations where everyone is being formally described, then her turn comes up and she's said to be wearing weird clothes, and then it's never implied or mentioned beyond that. If there's no excuse to explicitly declare that Blue is visually quirky, then as far as the reader knows, she isn't.

She's also meant to be seen as something of an "SJW" — and I know a lot of people hate that term, but I'm using it more in reference to the stereotype than any sort of truth to the label — where characters describe her as a "feminist" sort who borders on preachy annoyance. But again, this is barely ever shown, even less so than the quirky clothes thing. Blue's allegedly "feminist" actions include things like curtly turning down a date offer, insulting someone back when they insult her, and walking away when another character threatens her with violence saying that she won't put up with it — which are all fine and good, but they're not especially "feminist," they're all just kind of normal, typical, human responses for anyone with an iota of common sense and a backbone. Her oft-described "sensibility" follows much the same way, with various people acting like she's unusually pragmatic for her age for doing things like having a job or getting a bit annoyed at the behavior of rich kids. Blue is just a very normal, boring person we're nontheless expected to see as, "not like other girls."

Gansey is better, but not by much. The major interesting thing he has going for him is his obession with Glendower, which admittedly does come across a lot better than many of the other character quirks. He compares average situations to Glendower, he rotates a lot of his other habits around the king, it's pretty good. His other major trait though, namely that he is a genuinely good and nice peson who nonetheless can be unintentionally insensitive due to his wealthy upbringing, is another example of the telling-not-showing problem. Most of Gansey's "insensitivity" involves him offering to buy things for his friends, usually things they actually need pretty badly, like a cell phone or next month's rent. Or he uses big words when he talks, or he gets slightly frustrated when his friends do something stupid. Oh the horror. I'm pretty socialist-leaning, and even I tend to take Gansey's side whenever one of his friends blows up at him over some invisible "silver spoon" slight. I wish I had a friend as "insensitive" as Gansey. Like Blue, Gansey is a character who is actually a normal, borderline-bland person who has these additional traits artificially stapled onto him by the other people around him.

If you want an isolated example of what I'm talking about, just look at this bit from the second book:

"They found Declan's girlfriend, Ashley, waiting on the sidewalk just outside the main doors. She was dressed in whatever had just been on the front page of People or Cosmopolitan and her hair was dyed whatever shade of blond matched it. She had three tiny gold earrings in each earlobe. She seemed oblivious to Declan's cheating, and Ronan hated her. To be fair, she also hated Ronan.

Ronan snarled a smile at her. "Afraid you'll catch fire if you come in?"

"I refuse to participate in a ceremony that doesn't, like, allow equal spiritual privileges to women," she said. She didn't meet Ronan's eyes when she said it, though, and didn't look at Noah at all, though he'd snickered vaguely.

"Do you two buy your politics out of the same catalog?" Ronan asked."


Now, to be fair, I could just be biased as a self-described feminist and antitheist... but can someone tell me what Ashley actually did to earn this contempt? The exclusion of women from the clergy is a perfectly valid position to have, and you'd think a book that concerns itself so much with spiritual women and non-Christian belief systems would more on her side. I know that the characters and narrative implies she's just parroting political points and probably isn't a serious feminist, but it doesn't actually show this in any trustworthy way, she could genuinely believe it for all we know. (I mean, it's more ballsy feminism than anything Blue has ever said or done.) The only effort the book makes to convince us that Ashley shouldn't be taken seriously is to A.) Describe her as being fashionable, and B.) Put a random valley girl "like" in the middle of her sentence. Note to writers: Stop trying to convince us that characters are dumb just by having them say "like" a lot, it just makes you look like a judgmental twit stuck in the 90s. Putting aside the sociopolitical angle of this one scene, it's very surface level descriptive cues that expect more trust from the reader than they deserve — much of the book operates like this, hence my "telling but not showing" complaint.

Reading this, it gives the overall impression that I didn't like the books, but that isn't true. There's no bad ideas at play here, and the actual sequence of events is genuinely mysterious and pretty thrilling at times. I even enjoy the book's attempts to take a look at the relationship between the rich and the poor without demonizing either side, even if it did fall flat sometimes. I'm just a very picky reader when it comes to the way things are written, a trait I'm sure many readers don't necessarily share, and these complaints will probably be no problem for a lot of people. If the plot descriptions sound cool to you, go ahead and give it a try, you'll never really know for sure how you'll react to the writing style until you see if for yourself.

I think a series that was going for similar themes and type of fantasy here but did it much better for me was the Gemma Doyle trilogy, if that comparison helps.

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Monday, May 27, 2019

Video: RealLifeLore, "Why Nobody is EVER Allowed to Move This Ladder"

*antitheism intensifies*

Next time some apologist says that without religion we'd all be killing each other in the streets, send them this.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Video: Quinton Reviews, "Every Ghost Show"

If you have any experience with cable network ghost hunting shows, you'll probably find plenty of Funny Because It's True™ humor here.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Photo Album: Zazzle Buttons

I bought personally designed buttons from Zazzle.com, to help spread awareness of my beliefs when on the go. For the first set, I respectfully lifted the design for UAL's t-shirts (of which I purchased), as they are the currently best image for raising awareness of American child marriage. I do not plan to sell these buttons, I only created them for personal use.

Second is the zopdoz, a symbol created by Aron Ra to represent apestivism, the rejection of faith as a valid method for discovering truth.