Come Little Children (Sidious’ Lullaby)

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Hello, my dear readers!

It’s been a while since I turned out a song fic, so I think this one isn’t overdue, by any means. This one is to Erutan’s cover of “Come Little Children.” (Yes, I know the video is a BBC Merlin fan video, but the original video was disturbing. Certainly much, much more disturbing than this one. Remind me to never watch Pan’s Labyrinth. *shudders*)

Anyway, if this doesn’t turn out self-explanatory, please tell me in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to fix it. I’ve been working on it so long I certainly need a second opinion.

Content Warning: Very dark in places, though there’s a shine of hope at the end (I had to give you that much, right?! ;-) ) Slight language warning. Death. That’s it.

Come Little Children (Sidious’ Lullaby)

                Sidious smiled at the limp form of the Jedi growing cold on the ground by his foot, arms still wound around his dead apprentice, even in death. He turned his back on the dead apprentice and dying Jedi, laughing inwardly as he thought how it had come to this. The ultimate revenge, even if it did mean that he lost his potential apprentice.

A sound behind him disturbed his delightful musings. Sidious whirled around to see the Jedi rising to his feet. It seemed that Kenobi was not quite dead yet, and his eyes were hard, cold, empty, bereft of anything save purpose. Before Sidious could react, he had taken the dying Jedi’s lightsaber through the body. The last thing Sidious heard before departing from the world he had only ruled for mere hours was Kenobi’s cold, merciless voice whispering, “That was for Padme, and for Anakin.”

Damn you, Sith. Damn you to hell.

Come little children

I’ll take thee away

Into a land of enchantment

Come little children

The time’s come to play

Here in my garden of shadow

                Dark gray eyes glistened with tears as the Jedi Master cradled his one-time apprentice. He sobbed into Anakin’s hair, unwilling to let go, even though Anakin had long since gone still, was beginning to go cold.

There were no words to this grief, only tears. There was no peace, only pain. There was no comfort. Only guilt.

I did this. I did this. I killed him!

Sidious stood over the Jedi, gloating. “You finally found a battle you could not win, didn’t you, Master Kenobi?” Slowly, Obi-Wan moved to rise, still holding Anakin’s still form. Sidious ignited his lightsaber through the Jedi Master’s defenseless body, and Obi-Wan slid back to the ground, without a cry or a gasp.

Follow sweet children

I’ll show thee the way

Through all the pain and the sorrows

Weep not poor children

For life is this way

Murdering beauty and passion

                Lightsabers clashed, blue on blue, the edges of one blade a dirty, smoky color, the other almost pure white to its core. Sidious watched and smiled sardonically. It had been easy, all too easy, to twist the apprentice’s mind, to deceive the master. And now, they were locked in mortal combat. The Sith Lord cackled in glee, relishing the mental torment and the conflict.

It ended all too quickly. Kenobi did not see the opening that Skywalker had left, or perhaps he had, and did not capitalize on it. That was the irony. A second later, Skywalker’s enraged attack forced him forward, impaling him on his mentor’s blade. The lightsabers fell from nerveless hands, in unison, clattering and growing still in a terrible syncopation. Kenobi slid to the floor, catching Skywalker, his face a broken mask of concentration with pain and horror showing through the cracks. “Anakin? Anakin!” The cry was a howl of grief and loss in the Force.

“You’ve caught me again, Master,” Skywalker coughed. Sidious frowned. He thought the boy had actually turned on his mentor. Kenobi held him close as the death rattle proclaimed Skywalker’s last exhalation.

“I won’t ever let you go again,” he promised, his voice breaking. Hardening, ice-scoured eyes turned toward Sidious. “You. You did this. You did this!”

Hush now dear children

It must be this way

To weary of life and deceptions

Rest now my children

For soon we’ll away

Into the calm and the quiet

                Sidious smiled down at the half-open, confused, cloudy green-blue eyes of the new knight. Kenobi blinked, unseeing. Sidious’ hand hovered over the oblivious Jedi’s face, the black heart within him urging him to put those eyes out forever, but he stayed it. No. It would be far sweeter to force the Jedi to watch as the world around him fell to pieces.

 

Obi-Wan groaned. The smell in the air around him reminded him of the perfume of death: sickly sweet. Horrid decay mingled with the half-remembered echoes of something… something… He struggled, surging upward, but he seemed to be pinned down. In the murk, there was something lurking, hiding just beyond his reach. A cold melody, alluring but with a heart of stone, echoed through his mind. He shuddered instinctively away from it. He was alone… why was he alone? Shouldn’t there be someone with him?

Above him, somewhere, a voice, as cold and harsh as stone, shot with the fires of some damnation beyond imagination’s span, as ancient as the bones of the earth but with none of earth’s lasting strength and stability and kindness to support life, dry and rattling as some desiccated, dead thing, spoke. “Sleep, Jedi. Sleep, and do not forget how your master fell. Yes, he left you. His failure will become yours in time. Soon, very soon, the Jedi will fall.”

Resolve hardened in him like steel leaping from the flames of the forge. He fought; he strove against the will, and it was not his loss that pressed him down into the empty inky blackness of oblivion, into deeper, swoon-like sleep.

Come little children

I’ll take thee away

Into a land of enchantment

Come little children

The time’s come to play

Here in my garden of shadow

                Obi-Wan held his apprentice’s body, redeemed in death, and prayed that his tears would be enough. For himself, he did not fear. He had never been afraid of death; he had always been more concerned with hurting people. Death had a tendency to follow him around, but it never got easier. It was growing cold already, and Obi-Wan wondered for a moment how long it would take for him to follow Anakin in death.

It was strange. There had been pain at first, but now there was none. It didn’t hurt any more, and though he could feel his heart stutter, his mind was no less clear. He drew in a breath, the tell-tale rattle already in his lungs.

In the last moments, the confines of space and time opened to him, and he saw a vision in which their heroes—Padmé and Yoda, and Ahsoka—continued on, renewed the Jedi Order, which rose from the ashes, wiser and stronger. The Republic returned, to democracy, and reforms began. Anakin’s unborn children grew, and Ahsoka and Ben guided them to adulthood, as Jedi, in peace.

Sidious was dead. The shadows had departed from the Force.

He and Anakin had triumphed. They had given rise to a new era.

Then, peaceful, Obi-Wan slipped the bonds of matter and awoke to a wider world.

Archivist of Selay’uu’s Journal: …oops?

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I beg your pardon, my readers. I know it’s been too long since I posted. Sadly, this update is not from Camelot. Rather, it’s from one of my weekends back at Selay’uu.

Just before it started to rain on Saturday night, I was out, wandering through the woods of the estate, practicing my sneakery skills. Camicazi had beaten me in the last Burglary&Sneakery&Escapery contest, and I wanted to boost my skills before the next one. (Don’t be afraid, readers–I never participate in Burglary outside of the contest. And Hiccup always starts speaking Gallican whenever he competes. I think it’s a bad habit that Gobber sort-of pushed him into.) I had asked Gilan for lessons, but he was out at the moment.

I was almost at the border of the estate when I heard a whoop. Naturally, thinking someone might be in trouble, I turned right back around and ran for the wind-breaker tree line behind me, and as soon as I’m past the trees, I see it.

Will Treaty has somehow fallen through the roof of an ill-maintained outbuilding on the Selay’uu estate. (I should really talk to Mistress El’ye about taking care of the thatch.)

The rest of the day, naturally, was spent in trying to rescue him. And then it started to rain. Again. And we all got soaking wet, as Obi-Wan, Horatio, Halt, Winter, Isaac and I all tried to get him out of there…

At least we all got a good laugh out of it… sort of…

Oh well.

Thanks for coming by, as always, and don’t forget to offer Horatio and Isaac your condolences (they both have colds!) God Bless, and have a great day!

Frozen: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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In which Erin delivers her totally-not-offensive run-down of the hit movie…

Okay, I fibbed. This will probably be offensive, though it’s not intended to be. It just depends on how the readers take it. (Please don’t be offended, readers mine. I’m just trying to be totally honest with you.)

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Disney’s hit movie Frozen. Those of you who are fairly conversant with me will remember how I said that I was very upset because I missed out on the “experience” of Frozen, per se; I had received so many spoilers (from generally well-meaning quarters, but also from trolls [not the small round rolling love experts, but the mean Internet entities,]) that by the time I saw the movie, there was nothing left to spoil. Sure, the movie was a good movie, but I would have enjoyed it a whole chunk more if I hadn’t had it spoiled for me.

That much said, even though I love a few things about the movie, there were a few things that bother me. But just to be polite, I’ll mention the things I loved about Frozen first.

  • It’s about two sisters, their relationship, and family.
  • It involves the sisters becoming closer and their familial bonds becoming tighter (though not quite a la Courageous, which by the way is a fantastic movie and you should REALLY SEE IT if you get the chance!)
  • It’s the first Disney movie to be honest about early mornings. (Check out Anna’s bed-head!)
  • It’s the first Disney movie to give young women the message that the first guy to catch their eye may not always be Mr. Right.
  • Eight words: “You can’t just marry someone you just met!”
    “Wait, what?!” Disney’s actually telling someone to wait for the banns?! *LE GASP!*
  • Anna actually believes in true love. (You’d be surprised how many Disney “heroines” say they do, but their actions say otherwise…) And FYI, true love is not love at first sight. It’s the kind of love that grows on you, that steps forward and says “I love this person even though they are horrible and egotistic and snappy in the mornings” and sends you swooning to the floor and sweeps you off your feet. It’s the sort of love that is a decision that becomes a miracle. It doesn’t have to be between spouses or lovers. Siblings can find it too. To quote the Veggietales (which is TOTALLY more quotable than Disney!) movie Duke and the Great Pie War, “True love’s the kind of love that puts others first.” (I love Duke and the Great Pie War too–not only was it the story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz with the spotlight on Boaz, which we don’t really see that much, but it had a story featuring baby Moses and ten-year-old Miriam back to back with it. Pure gold.)
  • Though Anna and Elsa have their falling-outs, they still make up in the end. (It was fear, not anger, that drove Elsa away.)
  • Anna is the true hero of Frozen. Let me say that again: Anna is the true hero of Frozen.
    When I heard the songs from the movie (completely out of context), Elsa sounded like a selfish, pettish little pest, while Anna sounded like the naive, sweet person (the classic Disney princess stereotype.) And when I saw the movie, I could identify with Elsa’s angst, but I completely fell in love with Anna. Though it was hard to respect her when she fell in love with Hans, her off-balance moments and spunky, eager, cheerful demeanor more than made up for that. (Get the idea I love Anna much?) Also, Anna is a Christ figure. Like Christ, she has to suffer for her sister’s sins even though she is entirely innocent (except if you want to blame her for being deceived by Hans, who is a much better actor than even Palpatine, really, so you people who love Anakin Skywalker and want to make excuses for him… YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE if you hate Anna over her naivety.) Also like Christ, she ends up saving her sister’s life, upon which Elsa, like Peter, begins to sob… over her “denial” of Anna and their wasted time. Sorry, Elsa. Your ice powers may be visually stunning, but your kid sister TOTALLY has you beat on this count.

Now for the things I didn’t like.

  • Absent parents/parents with bad philosophy. Why does Disney (all of popular culture, in fact) have this vicious tendency to pick on parents?! GAH. They deserve our respect for what they do for us! This is just so annoying.
  • Teenaged rebel princesses. BOTH of them. (Not only historically inaccurate, but
  • Also, there is the fact that there may be a more insidious message to the absent/bad parenthood dynamic. “Conceal, don’t feel”? This sounds eerily similar to the statements anti-Christian propaganda attributes (often falsely) to Christianity. (Yes, I called it propaganda. Live with it.) People think that Christians want to tie people down, to force down their “natural impulses” and live a perverted, repressed life. No. That is not what Christianity is at all. Read C.S. Lewis, for heaven’s sake! He argues it totally better than I ever could. Moving on…
  • Song lyrics.
    GAH. This is the number one thing that disturbs me about this movie.While I loved “Frozen Heart” (OHMYGOODNESS IT JUST FORESHADOWED THE WHOLE MOVIE IN ONE SONG I LOVE YOU BRILLIANT WRITERS!!!), and the sweetness of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and the adorable “In Summer” (and Olaf was a marvelous foil without being ridiculous, by the way! Also, he was more than just a plot device! He made a place for himself, and he is the sweetest thing!), “Let it Go”, which is probably the one most popular song from the film, had a part that had me torn between being disturbed and feeling sick. Here it is:
  • that perfect girl is gone

  • No right, no wrong, no rules for me; I’m free!

  • SINCE WHEN DOES DISNEY CHANNEL JOHN LENNON?! (yes, I am aware of the pun. *pokes Disney Channel with a stick* die, you…)
  • Does anyone else see the problem with this? Apparently, it’s a bad thing to try to be perfect (though having a “perfect image” is, actually, a problem, in my opinion), rules are also bad, and the second line just reeks of moral relativism. (Yes, I do have a problem with that! There is absolute right and wrong!)
    Poor Disney. They have the same problem with lyrics and/or lines that Revenge of the Sith did: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”? There’s a cringe-worthy rhetorical trap right there, and it totally ripped-off Obi-Wan, whose tenure as a Jedi and a character was otherwise absolutely shining. Of course Obi-Wan Kenobi believes in absolute right and wrong! Look at his actions, for the love of the Force!!! He has been wronged too many times in his life to believe that there is no such thing as moral absolutes (since he doesn’t have the throw-up-your-hands victim mentality that would be the only other option in this, I believe that this is safe to assume.) Seriously, Star Wars would be better served if we clipped this line entirely and put subtitles on it instead, claimed the audio was broken, and attributed that what Obi-Wan really said was “I am not your enemy, Anakin.” That speaks better to both the audience and the character. (In fact, when I eventually do see the movie, I will be mentally substituting that for the sickening rhetorical and out-of-character trap that we see above.) The line that was used can’t help but jar, and it ruins the pacing of the scene, making Obi-Wan seem to preach when it seems more in line for him to say something personal which brings a moral conclusion (leading by example, anyone?) to the character as well.
    (Most fans agree–sometimes Lucas doesn’t really know what’s best for the franchise.)

Okay, there’s my rants on why Frozen (and Star Wars too) is flawed. Please don’t send me hate mail for ruining your childhood fantasy/favorite movie for you. (MWAHAHAHA–ahem. :-P )

Thanks for reading, have a great day, and may God bless you! :-)

Book Review: “Ranger’s Apprentice Series Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan” by John Flanagan

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Where to begin…

Okay, let’s start with the fan-rave.

First of all, I have been back and forth over the entire length of Wilderland, and I have never encountered characters quite like those of Ranger’s Apprentice. (Cookies for everyone who gets the reference in that sentence. And not the follow-your-computer-creeper kind, the yummy kind… only they’re virtual. Sorry.)

By order of appearance (Morgarath, you aren’t eligible, since you’re a villain):

  • Will. Will is the main character, and it’s basically his coming-of-age story. However, Will is the sort of person (rather like Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon) who has to fight to be a hero. It doesn’t come naturally to him. What does come naturally to him?
    Curiosity. Friendship. And, often getting him into trouble, intuition, a quick mind, and a sharp tongue.
    Will isn’t your average fearless fantasy hero. He gets jittery at times, all right. He has a hyperactive imagination. And, when he’s under pressure, he snaps at people, sometimes very bitingly indeed. He’s a bright boy, but he needs a guiding hand, and he’s nearing the age when he has to leave the life of a castle ward. Deep down inside, I think that Will is plagued by the feeling that he’s useless, and more than anything else, he needs a purpose in life.
    Will is an orphan, but that didn’t define his character; it was merely part of his backstory and gave Will’s character depth without dominating his character. This is especially incredible, seeing that orphaning your characters is often a path directly to the realm of the Mary Sue. Will is an orphan, but there is much more to him than just that.
    (I refer to Will, Gilan, Jack Frost, Obi-Wan, Garen, Hiccup, Peter Pan, John Watson, Merlin, and the collective heroes of several of my stories as “my boys.” Being one of “my boys” guarantees getting hugged a lot, and used for an example in blog posts frequently. Several characters from Lord of the Rings would be “my boys” too, but they’re all too mature and dignified. ;-) )
  • Horace. The Ruins of Gorlan isn’t just Will’s coming of age story. It’s also Horace’s. Horace was an orphan and castle ward alongside Will, and he and Will consistently picked on each other throughout their respective childhoods. However, Horace isn’t an archetype bully. Battleschool helps Horace to reach his potential, and also partially takes away his enmity toward Will, and they leave their differences behind them and become friends after saving each other’s lives.
    Though Will and Horace are roughly the same age, it’s hard to always remember that. Sometimes, seeing that Horace is so much taller and broader than Will, people assume that Horace is much older, and the audience occasionally thinks that as well. And when Will mouths off at Horace, you get the impression that he’s the elder. However, Will isn’t actually “more mature” than Horace at the beginning of the book. They’re equals, but in different ways, if that makes sense.
  • Halt. Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here, I think. How to describe Halt?
    Well, Halt… is Halt. He’s taciturn and strong-willed, and does not bare his heart to anyone, ever. He never says exactly what he means when it comes to how he feels; you have to read between the lines.
    Halt is his own person. He has his own style. And I think that frankly, whichever actor who they picked to play him getting the character down would be the biggest roadblock they’d come across if they ever tried to make the series into a movie.
    Halt, as Gandalf or Mr. Beaver would say, isn’t safe, but he is trustworthy. And that’s probably the best way anyone will ever come up with to describe him.
  • Tug. No, Tug isn’t a person. He’s Will’s pony. (If you make a Brony joke in the comments, I will find you. But you won’t see me. You won’t even know I’m there, until I brain you with my frying pan, and you’d better count yourself lucky I wasn’t using my bow.) Ranger horses are a breed apart, as Horace remarks toward the end of the book. They’re extremely intelligent, loyal, and brave animals, even if they are on the small side.
    Tug isn’t just a horse, though. He has a personality, and a mind of his own. Not that he ever rebels against what Will wants to do, he just has opinions. And, like Bill, the pony from Lord of the Rings, he shares them.
    Ranger horses are trained to communicate with their riders when someone or something else is approaching, to only allow people they know to mount them, and to stay where their riders tell them to. Each Ranger horse has a code word that basically asks for the horse’s permission before they accept a new rider, as Will finds out the first time he mounts–or tries to mount–Tug. Without a polite “Do you mind?”, Tug will just buck you off. And Tug is fast. Tug would give his life to protect Will. It’s not surprising that, after a while, Rangers start to hold whole conversations with their horses, is it?
  • Baron Arald. (Okay, this one is out of order, but cut me some slack!) The Baron of Redmont Fief is a kindly man who loves a good joke, but unfortunately for him, everyone always seems to take him seriously. If only the common folk of his fief would realize that he was only joking!
  • Gilan. Gilan, or Gilan Davidson as I’ve heard him referred to, was Halt’s first apprentice, and a rarity among the Rangers; not only does he use the two knives and the bow, but also a long sword. Gilan often acts flippant, but under that humorous exterior, he is always thinking ahead and watching out for danger. (If you’ve heard me talk about Xanatos as a good character rather than a villain, or if you’ve read certain stories with a good version of Xanatos, you’ll have a good idea of what Gilan is like, but only what he is like. You have to read the books to actually get Gilan. Frankly, Gilan, Tug, Halt, and Will are all contenders for the title of my favorite character of all time. Gilan is the only one of “my boys” who doesn’t try to push me away or act shocked when I hug him. Which makes him very good to cry on, as well. :-P )

Now, for the story. While the Wargals are basically just hairy versions of orcs and the Kalkarra might be likened to the Nazgul (I, however, think the Kalkarra are more like the Balrog), this story isn’t just a rip-off of the Lord of the Rings. For instance, the Wargals are far more primitive than orcs and are completely dependent on Morgarath’s will to act. On their own, if they have no motivation, they will mill about harmlessly. But more than that, the story centers about Morgarath’s desire for revenge on certain people, the ones who were most instrumental in thwarting his takeover before. Since it has not been thousands of years since his previous attempt to take over, his revenge is more direct and immediate than a general desire to wipe out the Heir of Isildur and break the back of Elendil’s line. Much of the story, however, deals with Will’s training and his and Horace’s struggles with the common problems all young people face while growing up. The final third of the book, though, is a satisfying package as the hunters become the hunted and, despite their fears, the central cast of the book go after the Kalkarra. (No spoilers!)

Much of the story is driven forward by the interaction between the characters (which is as it should be, but sadly, in so many works, often isn’t), and there are drawbacks and consequences if we lose, and the battle isn’t determined only by the central factors. By this, I mean there are factors outside the control of either combatant, and they do play in, which is all too rare in much of fantasy. There are setbacks, and some setbacks are caused by the characters’ mistakes; actions have consequences and so on.

On the other hand, there are a few moments in which the heroes get rather brutal, but I think that that is understandable, if not acceptable; Halt lives in a harsh world, and he wants the other characters to be able to survive in it as well.

The humor is clean, and unexpected. I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading the book, which I normally don’t do. I chuckle and giggle; I don’t laugh aloud much.

After reading the book twice, there are a few problems with John Flanagan’s writing that I noticed. For instance, there were a few confusing shifts in the point of view he was using (ex., leaping from Will’s thoughts to Halt’s in a rather distracting manner), and there were a few elements that were not tied in as well as I would have liked, but all in all, the book was a good read. And, for those of you considering reading the series, don’t let those problems turn you off! They virtually disappear by the next book, The Burning Bridge. And the series does get better as you go along. *wink* *wink*

The one thing that really bugs me is (small spoiler!) Will and Alyss’s kiss at the end. If you read the first book alone, it just doesn’t seem to belong. In the context of the series, it fits in well enough, but I still think it could have been integrated better.

The only sad thing about this book and series is that it is so freaking hard to even attempt fanfiction with it. (Those among you who read this blog often will know that I am an avid writer and connoisseur of all things fanfic, especially song fiction and dark one-shot AUs.) All the loose ends are generally tied up very neatly, and it’s hard to envision, sometimes, what they’d be doing outside the confines of the books. It does, however, offer up some marvelous tidbits that would make for wonderful character-examining one-parters. (Such as the scene at the end of The Kings of Clonmel… *sobs*) The sad thing about Ranger’s Apprentice fanfiction is that, since it’s a young reader’s series, the majority of the fanfiction often ends up populated by one-dimensional OCs, or worse, Mary Sues. Some of it doesn’t even get Will’s way of thinking and personality right, and that is, to me, pretty much unforgivable. It’s sad. Even sadder are the stories where everything bad happens to Will and it really breaks him down and completely takes him out of character. Those stories just don’t make sense to me. (I’m not a fan of one-man-against-the-world fanfiction, in case you didn’t know that. Especially when it comes to Ranger’s Apprentice, which is, as I’ve noted before, very much driven by characters’ interaction and friendship.) There are even *shudders* Halt haters out there. How is such a thing possible, I ask you?!

However, there are a few people out there who write marvelous shorts for it.

I’m going to shut up now.

So, the overall verdict is:

  • Marvelous characterization
  • Incredible handling of otherwise-overused plots and elements, turning them over into something unexpected and brilliant
  • Well-written character interaction
  • A generally bright (non-depressing) atmosphere
  • Lovely humor
  • Setbacks are used effectively
  • Some moments which I would rate PG-13, but fortunately the morality is absolute and not protagonist-centered *throws up* Protagonist centered morality… yuck.
  • A few writing/editorial errors, but nothing that warrants stopping reading in my opinion.

I definitely recommend reading the books. While they are not by any means giants of fantasy, they are well worth reading.

Two Stories (And A Spider)

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The title is in tribute to Professor V.J. Duke, who suggested that I post on this. It seemed only natural to make the title Punchy-ish, to me. ;-)

Now, to get on to what I am really posting about.

I am sorry I have been so absent recently. It’s really a matter of college (which, I think, secretly wants to eat my soul, as I mentioned to the Professor earlier today.) But anyway, something that’s actually fit to print (or rather, two somethings, as the case proved) happened starting on Wednesday and ending on Friday.

On Friday morning, I had been innocently going about my business at my horticulture class, and I saw a daylily (hemercallis spp.) with an actual seed pod on it. Our daylilies at home look something like a cross between a regular lily and a firecracker. (Added to that, they’re a vibrant orange.) They actually have double petals, which is a hybrid thing, which is probably why I never saw them ever actually setting fruit.

Anyway, I thought that if I could get enough daylily seeds, maybe I could start them and grow some daylilies myself. The instructor did mention they would be easy to breed. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, as it turns out, I had a stowaway.

Hidden in one of the seedpods was a fat, round brown spider about the size of a large pea or a petite blueberry. And it must have been happy in my pocket–it was nice and warm, after all.

Anyway, I get home and I want to change after spilling something on my pants, so I take off my jeans and put on a skirt, and I go to take the daylily seeds out of my pocket, and while I’m at it, I feel something fuzzy and withdraw my hand. Oh look! It’s brown and a lot bigger than the other seeds… AUGH! It’s moving!

I jerked my hand away (I didn’t scream, though–you would be proud of me, beloved readers!) and picked up my jeans, holding them at arm’s length; took them to an area of the house with linoleum, and collected a clear plastic cup and a piece of card stock. Then, I move to flush the spider out of the pocket. However, by now the spider has moved to the waistband of the jeans, so I edge him off with the cup and onto the linoleum, trap him, slide my card stock under him, and my mother helps me take him outside.

Mission accomplished.

(Then I went back inside and did a bit of research to make sure I was not harboring a brown recluse *shudders* in my pocket, but that bit of the story is less glorious, so I’m leaving it out. ;-) )

The other story, which began on Wednesday, is a bit more puzzling, and it’s open ended to boot.

On Wednesday, my horticulture class was out and about, identifying plants for practice, and we had just gotten to the purple wintercreeper when I saw a pretty red berry in the foliage. I leaned down and picked it up. One of the boys from my class said, “Look, a snack!” I said, “I don’t think it is safe to eat,” and showed it to the instructor, who confirmed that it was probably from the nightshade family. The boy took it and offered it to me. “Enjoy.”

Two Days Later…

On Friday, I went back to the class and had a good time with some new friends I made. However, as we were all admiring the ‘Husker Red’ penstemon, the same boy offered me a mushroom of some unidentified type.

I think he’s making a habit of jokingly offering me things that may or may not be poisonous, but is he just being silly… or is he flirting?

What do you think?

Thanks for dropping by today, and God Bless!

Indoctrination: Not exactly what you might think…

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Okay. It’s the school year, so naturally I’ll probably be posting more on politics and social theory than much else. (Sorry, people. It’s not my fault.)

Today, we’re going to talk about indoctrination. (No, don’t say that word, Erin! That’s a nasty word. It’s a dirty word. It’s an ugly word.) Well, maybe not so much as you might think.

Indoctrination is one of those words that people like to throw around in conjunction with the viewpoint that they themselves do not espouse. It’s a way of attempting to scare off debate by using words that, let’s be honest, we don’t really understand (ask two people what political correctness is, for example. You won’t get the same answer from both. I can tell you that much.) It’s one of those words we don’t really understand. It appears very often in correlation with the words “them,” which is another logical fallacy that I’ll be posting on soon. (Who are “them”? Well, that’s a post for another day.)

Let’s look up the word “indoctrination”, shall we?

Here, let’s look at Merriam-Webster Online:

in·doc·tri·nate

verb \in-ˈdäk-trə-ˌnāt\

: to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs of other groups.

in·doc·tri·nat·ed | in·doc·tri·nat·ing
 

Full Definition of INDOCTRINATE

transitive verb
1
:  to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments :  teach
2
:  to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.
Okay, there we have three different definitions. Sadly, they all (ultimately) mean the same thing.
(Now there’s radical for you, right?!)
To understand why, we have to go waaaay back. Back to kindergarten, in fact.
Or, further back still; the early days you spent after going home from the hospital with your mom and dad.
Back in those halcyon days, every moment you spent was a learning experience. Even in your mother’s womb, you were learning, from the music you could hear outside, to touch, to the difference between up and down. After you were born, you spent your time learning to recognize mom and dad, siblings, things that made you happy and sad…
You were building up a knowledge base. (Some psychologists use the word syntax, or alternately schema.) You were learning every minute.
When you got older, your parents began to teach you the basics–right from wrong, left from right, opposites, and shapes. Your political beliefs (naive as they were) were the beginnings of what you believe today. The Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” People have a hard time veering sharply away from all that they’ve been taught their entire lives.
Thus, your parents indoctrinated you. (Nothing against them, personally. All parents do it.)
Then, when you got older, if you were not homeschooled, you started going to a public or a private school. (Unless you live in some states. Then your homeschool was a private school. Yes, that’s how it works in certain states! Homeschools operate as private schools–which is seriously cool.) You had new authorities in your life, new experiences. You began to think in different ways than you did when you were too little to go to school. (You probably don’t remember the change. I don’t. It happens slowly, and unless you have a shocker moment, you’re not likely to remember it at all. Scientific studies have proven it, though.) You were the responsibility of your teachers when you were at school, and subject to their authority. And they (quite unintentionally) impressed their own worldviews on your psyche. If they conflicted with those of your parents, perhaps you didn’t care and were able to somehow reconcile them within your own mind. If you did care, you now had an identity crisis and had to decide which to follow: parent’s worldview, or teacher’s.
Again, you were being indoctrinated. Perhaps re-indoctrinated.
And finally, in high school and college, you came to understand the meaning of the word “indoctrination.” You began to think in new ways, perhaps with new depth. It was a defining moment in your indoctrination (though certainly not the final one, even if you were no longer in your formative years afterward.)
I can’t speak much for after-college experience. I’m still only in my sophomore year. (Sophomore is a fun word. Literally, it means a “wise fool!” Which means that I’m probably not as smart or learned as I’d like to think.)
But anyway, at every level of your life you were indoctrinated. Humanity needs a worldview, its rose- or green- or blue-colored glasses through which it sees the world. Indoctrination is necessary. Think about it. We don’t normally know what to think of someone until we know what their opinions are. We don’t tend to read forward in articles if we realize the writer doesn’t agree with us (shut up, you know you’ve stopped reading at these points; so have I. But mostly only if I was bored as well as objecting. If the writer has a good point to make or makes a fascinating argument, I’ll read on, and I’m certain there are other people who do. But if the writer doesn’t agree with me, I may just deem it not worth my precious time.) And we’re always pushing our viewpoints onto other people. (No objections. And we’re not to be blamed, actually. Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it!)
And yet, indoctrination is considered a dirty word. Mostly because this is a case where both sides are actually in the right. When they’re accusing the other side of indoctrinating people, they’re right. People on every side indoctrinate others. (Brainwashing, such as happens in Soviet and Communist concentration camps, is an entirely different matter. When I figure out exactly how it’s different, I’ll tell you. I just know that it’s different.)
Seriously. We need to re-think our social theories here.

What’s in a name?

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For the previous in this series of humor posts, go here.

I know everyone keeps on saying Obi-Wan’s name is Japanese, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to be. For instance, well…

You never know. It might be Welsh. X-P Just spelled phonetically for English speakers. ;-P

Or maybe it’s Russian.

Does anyone really know?

Anyway, this post didn’t have a point until I came along months later and gave it one. (I have got to stop scheduling posts and then losing my momentum…)

Basically, it’s about naming your characters. A good man is hard to name, and I’m finding more and more frequently now that they do not spring into my head fully formed and named. (Do I really want to name this other protagonist Ben as well? Or should I name him Matt? Or have his full name be Benedict instead of Benjamin and everyone just calls him Ben? Choices, choices…)

An especially difficult one to name was Rynnar (closely followed up by Halbryn, from Bound to the Flame.) Rynnar is the mentor of Winter, the protagonist of Loyalties and Generations (check out my Novels page to read more about those books!) And I needed a name for him that would sound strong, but thoughtful, and would not sound like Qui-Gon Jinn or Halt… (Nailed it! :-P) And the result? Rynnar Evremere. (That’s an awesome last name. And you know it. :-P Don’t try to deny it. :-P) I’m still not absolutely sure about the name, but it sounds good enough that I will probably leave it as is. Some characters are just so hard to name, but fortunately most characters, sooner or later, if they’re done right, make the names their own.

I also have a hard time naming my villains. Fortunately, though, I have been writing long enough that by now I have a full list of good villain names, just waiting to be used.

So, my advice? Jumble names and letters around until you find one that works. Write down interesting-sounding names in the “Master” Notebook (and if you don’t have a master notebook, start one! It will be a great resource for plot bunnies, novel ideas, and keeping your novels organized.) Make sure to keep character profiles current, so you don’t have to scramble to go find someone’s name or what they’ve been up to.

Okay, hopefully that rambling post was helpful! Please tell me if you want me to post on how to start and structure a master notebook for use in writing. Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

How to be a Villain in One Easy Step

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I know I’ve already posted on villains, multiple times, but the subject begged just one more treatment. And it probably will, yet again.

When you’re writing a villain–a very evil, nonredeemable villain–there is another good, surefire way, other than having the villain mistreat a helpless person, of getting the villain to seem like a total psychopath and garner hate for him in every corner.

You take something the audience holds as sacred, and then have your villain desecrate it. The more depraved, the better–unless you have to censor it for young audiences. (I may write a post on writing specifically for children later on.)

You may have to build up the one thing that the audience holds as sacred, however; especially if you can not count that they hold similar beliefs as you. It’s better to establish that this is the morality of the novel first before having the villains violate something that is key to it. It’s better to build things up well before trying to use them, I find.

Hope you all enjoyed this post. :-) Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

(Oh, and one quick note. I may be a bit remiss in posting for a while, until I get used to the new college campus. Please forgive me if I’m a bit more absent than usual. That’s all.)

Checkmate

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Hello, readers all!

My being sick has led to this. I offer no apology or explanation. I just hope you all enjoy it. Caveat Lector: It’s rather dark. If you want to know… partly a challenge from Iris. She wanted me to write something in first person, present tense. Here you go, Iris dear. I hope you like it. :-P


Checkmate

                I am so tired.

I didn’t sleep last night; the coughing got worse. I couldn’t sleep much. Apparently it’s impossible to sleep while you’re coughing the fluid out of your lungs. I almost wish I hadn’t been coughing all night long—just gone to sleep and drowned, quietly, in my sleep—never woken up—been at peace

No. I can’t wish that. There are things I have to do.

I press a hand to my chest as I break out into hollow coughing, yet again. It’s so bad this time that I find myself not just coughing, but throwing up as well. Just perfect. And there are red streaks in it too, which means that I’m sicker than I thought. I’m going to die soon.

I can’t die yet. There are things that must be done first. After that, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

To die would be an awfully big adventure.

I slide into a corner, trying to stifle the coughs, at least to make them quieter, perhaps to silence them. Or… since I have to sneak in, perhaps I could just cough myself dry—purge the fluid, so I could breathe—for a little longer—yes.

I force myself to cough, until I am doubled over and wrung out, panting with the effort. It hurts, but I embrace the pain. Pain is good. It tells me that I’m not done yet.

Exhaustion dogging my steps, I creep into the fortress. It is ironically easy, as if she is still subtly mocking me with this. I don’t care. I am grateful.

I don’t think she really planned for this eventuality.

The weapons room is not so easy to find. That’s not surprising. My mind is growing clouded, spinning out of control with fever and illness. But I do find it. And when I do, I destroy it.

The feeling of my fist smashing into the screen is a good one, despite that my knuckles crack and burn, blood streaming down over my hand. It gives me the illusion of power—power that I actually do, ironically, have, now. I rip out the circuits and smash the memory chip. The whole matrix fritzes out. I have just destroyed her entire operation. And even though I am weak and ill, I’ve just done it. I succeeded. It’s an exhilarating feeling, almost like a drug, and it gives me strength I don’t have, I shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t use it—but I don’t care. I am already dying, and I might as well make the most of it.

I find her. Not the other way around. I smile. I can spare her that much.

“Goldan,” she says, in a flat, dead voice. What have they done to you, littleing? I miss you. I miss you.

“Hello, sister dear.” I say, and then I fall, in slow motion.

It doesn’t hurt anymore.

Checkmate.

Why I Am A Hopeless Romantic (and other ramblings)

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This one goes out to Erin of Laughing at Live Dragons and Proverbs31teen at World of the Writer. You two are awesome.

No, I don’t sit at the top of my tower warbling “Someday my prince will come!” But I do believe in marriage, and, for me, divorce will never be an option. When love fails, faithfulness will keep me from straying until I realize at last that love was never lost, it was just hidden.

To me, love is not just the name of an emotion. It is also the name of an action. It is when the night is darkest that the stars shine the brightest; when things are hardest I will do my best to persevere and not forget. Vows are sacred; I will keep them.

No, I don’t believe in the rapture. I do believe that every day is a shrine to the most high God, to be sweetened with the incense of prayer and filled with offerings of roses, no matter how harsh and sharp the thorns of sacrifice.

No, I don’t believe that churchgoing makes the Christian. I believe that what takes place in between services is equally important. Do you keep your mind on lofty things, or do you slip into the gray areas until you realize your mind is so numb that prayer is all but impossible and you must climb, struggling and falling often, back to the heights from which you so slowly slid?

In the end, I believe that Love will conquer, that Light will chase the darkness away, that God will claim His own children and bring them to their inheritance.

I believe that God came down and became truly human, at the same time retaining His divinity. He became human, and endured our sufferings, our little aches and pains, without complaint. The Son knew the perfection of suffering and pain; He was sick sometimes, weary at heart at others. He bowed His head to human authority. He bent His back beneath the scourge. He did not call on the legions of angels awaiting His command to help Him in His agony; He did not even use His own power to stop it. Instead, He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

I believe that Love died on a cross to save us, even though we did not deserve it, even though we can never deserve it.

In the end, I believe in forgiveness.

And that’s what makes me a hopeless, incurable romantic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgzXgo0K7Rg

(You don’t have to watch this if you don’t want to, but it’s well worth watching–yes, all the way to the end! ;-) )

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