Death and Grief

Hey, guys. As the title suggests, I want to talk about two very prominent themes in Shadows Rise; death and grief. If you’ve been reading along and keeping up with SR, you’ll know some specifics. If you haven’t, I’m not giving away any spoilers by saying this. The premise itself gives those themes away. When you have a group of people seeking revenge on a clan of assassins… The death and grief part is very much implied.

I previously wrote a post listing all the stupid reasons I’ve killed characters in the past and if you’ve been following me long enough you might have been around for the April Fools where I faked a favorite character’s death in our RP just to mess with readers, but… The people reading at the time were personal friends; I knew them, and the other participants of the RP were aware of what I was doing. I mean, Wifey co-wrote that death post with me. It was an evil prank, but I’d always been the one who gets pranked on April Fools and that year I had something I could use for revenge. They forgave me eventually. >.>

With that damning behavior out in the open,  let me preface this by saying that killing off a character to, so to speak, take something away from my readers isn’t something I would normally do. And it’s not something I can condone. As a reader I hate plot armor with a fury. I genuinely think that if in the back of my mind I can tell myself “Pft, there’s no way they’ll kill the main character” every time the going gets rough in a story, and I know it’s true, it takes something away from the experience. On the other hand if I start feeling there’s no point getting attached to any characters because the author doesn’t think twice about dropping them like flies… Yeah, that’s a much bigger problem.

Should You Kill Main Characters?

That’s up to you.

Death is a part of life, but a lot of people don’t enjoy it in their stories. They want the certainty of a happy ending, they want the plot armor. They want an escape from the reality that being a hero a lot of the time means you don’t get to go home. And honestly? That’s okay. It’s perfectly okay to always want your main characters to come around in the end.

When people turn to fiction they usually want either escape or catharsis. In the simplest terms I can put it, they either want to immerse themselves in something fantastical where good an evil are somewhat tangible concepts and the hero eventually comes out on top in the end… Or they want to experience intense negative emotions from a safe distance as a form of release.

The third option, and of course my personal favorite, is yes to both. That’s why I mainly stick to fantasy but I also seek out darker and bleaker themes in the stories I read. I want my fiction to be fictional and I don’t want it to make me think about everything that’s wrong with the world and in my life (I do that plenty on my own, thanks. >.>), but I also don’t want to be coddled and told that everything is going to be okay.

My point is, it depends on what kind of experience you want to create and what you enjoy writing, because readers come in all forms. No matter what you choose, there’s going to be a group of people out there who are, inf fact, seeking out that experience.

Why Should You Kill a Character?

Even if we’re talking secondary characters, deaths should be handled with respect. Even if you’re killing off a villain. Even if it’s the most hated character you’ve ever conceived, one way or another, the death needs to have impact and it has to mean something.

There is a random scene I wrote in response to a prompt; and I’m not going to show it because it involved a SR character that hasn’t been introduced yet, but in it I used the line ‘grief isn’t caused by the death of a person, it’s caused by the death of a life that could have been’. If the life of a character has no meaning, no impact, in the world you created, then never mind their death.

Likewise, killing should bear some weight on your main characters. Especially if they’ve never killed before, but if they have… Then it must still affect them somehow.

There are two works of fiction that I like to mention when I talk about inspirations for Shadows Rise and I’ve gotten some weirded out reactions for mentioning them together, but those would be The Walking Dead (the comics, but the show is good too), and Avatar: The Last Airbender. I really want to write about Avatar one day. Maybe I’ll rewatch the whole show and write my thoughts episode by episode one day, but the part that’s relevant to this post is how The Walking Dead handles death and killing and how Avatar handles the toll of a hero’s journey.

With TWD, while anyone can die at any time and death is literally all around at all times; especially as the arcs go on, the biggest theme is how this environment affects the living. All the different ways it affects the living. How the characters begin to see their own humanity. The weight of forming bonds with people who may not be there in a day or a week, and the notion that the longer you have them with you the worst it’ll be when it finally happens. The reason this is brilliant, in my opinion, is that you don’t need to make a big deal out of every death, you just need to do a good job of getting across that every death, no matter how small, reinforces this notion in the surviving characters’ minds.

In Avatar it was the idea that Aang might need to kill the Fire Lord. And this show was considerably lighthearted a lot of the time. It had an entire episode dedicated to the ‘antagonist crew’ going on a beach vacation and it was hilarious, but when it got real, it did a fantastic job of it. And as the show progresses and Aang starts mastering the elements like he’d set out to do, he starts to realize that finishing this might require taking a life. And Aang is very much a pacifist, he’s not okay with it at all. AT ALL. But he knows Fire Lord Ozai is a psycho with delusions of grandeur and when it comes down to it, he won’t be talked down. Here the conflict becomes sacrificing an aspect of yourself to basically save the world. It’s a situation where winning becomes an act of self-sacrifice more so than dying, and a way a villain’s death can hold a lot of meaning to the hero without undermining how cruel and ruthless they are.

But Aang doesn’t actually kill him in the end anyway, so… Oh, well. Happy ending! 😛

How Should You Handle Death Scenes?

Ah. That’s tricky.

If you’re familiar with my blog you’ll know that the one advice I’ve ever openly given and will stand by 100% until the day I die is “know your characters”. If you’re talking main characters; how would they be likely to die? What are they willing to sacrifice for? How afraid are they to die? Do they know when to quit? Are they likely to fall pray to their own arrogance? The options are vast. And I can’t tell you which path to take, because I don’t know your characters.

What I can tell you is that it’s very important to know the tone you want to take and what emotion you want to invoke.

People like to talk about manipulating readers’ emotions like it’s this horrible unethical thing, but no. You want to manipulate your readers’emotions. It’s a writer’s job to make their audience feel. What you don’t want to do is have your readers sit there and feel like you’re making a desperate appeal for them to feel the way you want.

“Death is tragic, right? This is sad, right? BE SAD NOW.”

Yes, death is tragic, BUT; like it or not, death is ordinary. People die every day. People are dying while you read this. The tragedy you want to focus on is not the fact death happens, but on the loss of a life. And you won’t know the best way for that life to end unless you understand what that life represented.

I can think of at least two instances where characters died a pointless or preventable death in our RP series. And even though those can be deeply dissatisfying, they can also be the most fitting end for a particular character. In the end, that’s a judgment that you’ll have to make. And it’s a decision your readers may not agree with. Because dissatisfaction is the intent behind these kinds of deaths.

To try and put it in simple terms, if the feeling you want to invoke is that sometimes you just don’t get to do everything you want before you die. Or that sometimes the horrible path someone takes in life could have been prevented under different circumstances, or if they made different choices, those are harsh realities to face. And some people aren’t going to handle them very well. Be prepared for that. Don’t shy away from where your story is going because of it, just prepare yourself for that.

Denial is a very common grief response, and whether people admit it or not, that’s what happens when a reader turns on a writer for not ‘giving them’ a happy ending. This response is the same as when a friend dies and you think that no God should have allowed this to happen. In a much smaller scale; of course, but it’s that same gut-feeling of anger and betrayal. If you’ve suffered with the loss of a fictional character before in your life, then you know that’s true.

It’s easy to be mad at the writer. Because in a reader’s mind, a writer has the power to snap their fingers and give them a happier ending. As a writer, you have to come to terms with the fact that’s not exactly true. Sometimes even if you want a happy ending… That’s not realistically what your characters would choose for themselves.

Maybe I’ve been rambling about it too much, so let me summarize this in the simplest terms I can manage: If you look back on a character’s life and feel their death makes sense; regardless of how you or your readers may feel about it, then you’ve given them a fitting end. Maybe not fair, probably not satisfying, but fitting with the person they are and the path they chose.

The Aftermath

Say you killed off a main character, or someone really close to one of your main characters, now what?

Grief is a complicated process. And I say this from experience, no only as a writer but from personal experience as well. Different people express grief in different ways and the same person may even handle two different deaths in very particular ways, depending on their relationship with the deceased. And once again, it comes down to “know your characters”. I can’t tell you how to make your characters handle grief, but… I can give an example. A somewhat personal example, not only from Shadows Rise, but from my own experience.

I lost my grandpa about a month or so before I started working on Shadows Rise. That was a couple of years ago, before we even decided we wanted SR to be a web serial, I was just writing it out as a side thing; a rough draft of it. Focusing on SR at that time was my way to handle all the personal stuff. I wrote other things specifically to vent my emotions, but SR was a focal point for me during that whole thing. 

Last year; after a considerable time had passed, I found myself stuck on a particular chapter where Sebastian finally starts to break down over his sister’s death. That entire chapter revolves around how sooner or later you’re going to feel that loss. It can happen right away, it can take months, or it can take years. Sometimes you think you’re done and then something happens that just brings it all back again. That chapter was extremely difficult for me to write because, even though considerable time had passed, it pulled me into a state of grief.

Now, when it comes to grief, we all know the five stages. It’s brought up exhaustively everywhere. Denial, anger, barganing, depression and acceptance.

If you’ve never lost someone; and I hope you haven’t, it’s easy to base yourself on this and I would say that understanding how your character handles each of these stages is a very solid approach to grief. Because from personal experience, I can tell you… They’re all there at one point or another. What I’ve found is that you can definitely go through these stages at any given order, multiple times, and even after the point you’ve accepted, it doesn’t mean you won’t go back to feeling anger or depression or even denial over the fact you’re still going through something when you feel you shouldn’t.

Each person is a person, and that’s true of fictional people as well. Really reflect, first and foremost, on what emotions your character might be going through, how they would handle those emotions internally, and lastly how they would express those emotions on a day-to-day basis. If your character isn’t one to wear their heart on their sleeve, in what ways would they manifest grief?

Death As a Motivator

How do you inject meaning on a death that has taken place before your story even begin? How do you make your readers feel for a character that they never get to meet? Well, the short answer is, you do that, of course, through the surviving characters.

This is something I consider dangerous territory. What you should avoid, at all costs, is to turn what should be strong character motivation into a sob story or a plea for sympathy. Let draw examples from two works of fiction that I am extremely passionate about for very different reasons.

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Inigo Montoya’s tale of revenge in The Princess Bride is a great example of character motivation done right. Here you have the story of a boy whose grief and anger over his father’s murder shaped the man he later becomes. You hear Inigo’s story and you can see the outcome right in front of you.

Now let’s look at My Immortal. Yes, really.

Hermione was kidnapped when she was born. Her real parents are vampires and one of them is a witch but Voldemort killed her mother and her father committed suicide because he was depressed about it. She still has nightmares about it and she is very haunted and depressed.

Now, I know that’s an extreme example right there, but I think the beauty of My Immortal is that it’s such a clear and blunt illustration of what not to do, that I can almost give it merit for that. It’s a great educational tool if you can muster the courage to sit through it. So the above paragraph is basically saying ‘sad things happened’ with no impact whatsoever. Hermione was kidnapped as a baby, so did she even know her witch-vampire parents? Did learning about their deaths make her haunted and depressed? Or was it the knowledge that the only parents she knew and loved were in reality criminals who stole her for unexplained reasons? The takeaway from this, if you know My Immortal at all, is that, of course, Hermione is ‘goff now’, but nothing we’re told about it holds any emotional weight, so… Who the fuck cares?

Back to Inigo Montoya… His purpose in life is to be able to look into the eyes of the man responsible for his father’s death and tell him “You killed my father. Prepare to die”. You don’t need to know who Domingo Montoya was to understand that his life meant that much to his son. How meaningful would that really be if that same story was told with: 

Inigo’s dad was killed by a six-fingered man when he was a child. He has nightmares about it every night and he’s so haunted and depressed, you guys!

I’m sorry about that. I feel dirty now. :/

But you get the point, right? A death like this will only affect your audience as much as it affects your character. You can establish a tragic beginning for your character, but if their actions, their decisions, who they are, aren’t impacted by that backstory; if your readers can’t see it when they look at who that character is now, then it holds no meaning whatsoever. It’s just a thing that happened.

Anyway, it’s really late and I have a doctors appointment early in the morning. So I’m gonna leave you guys with that thought. Hopefully someone finds this useful, or at least entertaining, I don’t know.

Later, guys!

B.B

Disney Revisited Part 05 – Cinderella (1950)

Hey, guys! Been a while. Not my fault this time, swear. Last time I released one of these I said I was going to make this series into a collaboration with Plotstains (aka Doomed, for those of you who know him by that name), and… I did do that.

Basically how this is going to work is, we’re each going to watch the movie, post our own review on our respective blogs and if we find something worthy of discussion afterwards we will co-write a follow-up post and have it up on both our blogs as well.

At least, that’s how we figured out we want to do this so far. If we think of something else that works out better in the future, we’ll change it up as we go.

Movie Title: Cinderella

Release Date: February 15, 1950

Based On: Cinderella by Charles Perrault

First Impression

I remember watching Cinderella, but I don’t have that many fond memories of it as a kid. It doesn’t really set off any nostalgia.

Maybe I should point out that I was never one of those little girls who wanted to be a princess. I grew up with three older brothers. I played with their GI Joes and He-Man figures. The whole Cinderella fantasy wasn’t something I was particularly drawn to. I guess that’s why, even though I watched it back in the day, this wasn’t a movie I picked out at the video store (remember those?) very often. If I did go for the fairy tale princess classics, I’d often favor Sleeping Beauty over this one, but… we’ll get to that one when we get to that one.

My Impression Now

I really, really like it. Not gonna lie. This was one of the movies on my list I thought I would have to force myself to sit through, and it’s funny how a lot of the criticisms I wanted to make here gradually died out over the course of my viewings. Though, of course, not all of them.

Let’s start with the positives, though. Cinderella has a lot more personality than what I was vaguely able to remember. And compared to Snow White, I see her character as a major step up in terms of… Being an actual character. She clearly has her own thoughts and feelings about her situation, she expresses impatience, aggravation, and other negative emotions towards her step family, even if only in private, and she comes across more as someone trying to cling to a silver lining than someone who is either oblivious or uncaring to their own situation. She’s hardworking, kind, optimistic despite how unfairly she’s treated, and those are traits I can actually sympathize with. As opposed to Snow White whose only predominant quality was being innocent to the point of stupidity.

Lady Tremaine was a very solid villain. By real world standards she is probably the most believable Disney villain I can think of, in fact. There’s something in the way she talks to Cinderella right from the start of the movie that is just terrifying if you try to imagine yourself growing up under someone like that. The voice actress does a fantastic job of sounding menacing without ever truly raising her voice, never making any direct threats. Everything in that relationship reeks of psychological warping and manipulation. From the moment Cinderella wakes up to do her morning chores to their very first interaction, it becomes more and more clear by the way she just goes through the motions; even when Anastasia and Drizella are complaining to her, that she’s been broken down. She’s optimistic in the sense that she looks for positives and chooses to hold on to them, but she’s also resigned to this being her life. It’s very subtle and very striking at the same time. And as a writer I can’t help but appreciate that depth I didn’t even know existed in this character. Snow White was a very innocent character and that was her whole schtick. She never changed from that. She had no emotional depth or growth to speak of, but Cinderella has the optimism of someone who is constantly trying to stay happy. And eventually, right before the Fairy Godmother shows up, she does fall into despair. In fact, in that whole section with her talking herself out of wanting to go to the ball to thinking she’ll actually be able to go, to then having it literally ripped away from her, she goes through a wider range of emotion than the entire cast of Snow White. And I think it deserves a lot more credit than it gets. You know, it’s a kid’s movie. It’s easy to overlook these things when you leave it on in the background so your kids will shut up for an hour.

Now let’s address some of the criticism I said I wanted to make going into this, and where I think Disney actually did a good job with this story, at least in making an attempt to justify some of the stupider parts of it. Not gonna say they absolutely succeeded, but they tried and I appreciate that.

During the ball they made an attempt to show that Lady Tremaine couldn’t get a clear look at the girl the prince was dancing with. They implied that the Fairy Godmother ‘let’ Cinderella keep the glass slipper after midnight rolled around, either because she knew what was going to happen later or just as a memory of the ball. There is a very brief moment of acknowledgment to the fact the slippers should have turned back to normal and didn’t.

The whole ‘trying on the shoe’ thing was the king’s idea as sort of a loophole to get his son hitched (more on that in a bit) and the Prince isn’t the one who goes try the shoe on the women himself. And that’s a big one. I was actually good this time in not looking up the original tale, but I have watched a fair share of reviews of low-budget fairy tale adaptations (just because I do that, not particularly in preparation for this lol) and they always, ALWAYS, have the Prince himself go around like a moron trying on the shoe on every woman he meets like he has face blindness or something. And I like how they tried to remedy this by having the king being like “Okay, so he’ll marry the owner of the shoe. Find someone to wear the shoe”. The king doesn’t care if it’s the right woman (again, I’ll get more into that in a bit), and the Prince isn’t there for the shoe fittings, so it’s possible he doesn’t even know this is happening at all. It’s a stretch, but… Yeah, alright, Disney. I’ll suspend my disbelief for you on that one. At least you bothered to pay attention.

Now on to what I actually didn’t like about this one. My personal criticisms after watching it three times now. First and foremost… The mice are extremely obnoxious. EXTREMELY. And they didn’t bother me as much as a kid, I think, because I watched this dubbed in Portuguese, and the way they talked wasn’t that annoying in the dubbed version. But I swear, I was rooting for Lucifer to murder the little bastards the entire time. And I hate that they sorta move the plot in a way, because it’s their fault Cinderella had Anastasia and Drizella’s things added to her dress; the mice scavenged them. They have to be the ones to come and unlock the door so Cinderella can come out and try on the shoe… So you kind of have to put up with them. And I was not amused. At all.

The Prince is a plank. I don’t get why everyone loves to complain that the heroines in these early Disney movies lack personality and always need rescuing. I mean, yeah, Cinderella wasn’t a badass, but she was a character with a personality. With a name. The Prince is “The Prince”. The freaking dog can get a name (it’s Bruno), but the guy Cinderella is supposed to marry? Nah. He’s not important. Screw him.

I posted on my Twitter recently that no one ever takes into account the time period these fairy tales were written or take place in when they make criticisms to the insta-marriage relationships in these early Disney movies, but… Honestly… It feels a lot more jarring watching this a third time with a more analytical mindset and seeing all these little nuances in a character just to then watch them supposedly fall in love with a cardboard cutout. It almost undoes all that character depth when you really think about it and that’s just a shame in my opinion.

The king is an asshole. That’s all I have to say about it really. I mean, I could sort of sympathize with him growing distant from his son and wanting the joy of grandchildren before he dies, but he clearly doesn’t give a crap about his son in that process. Like, he hears that he’s in love (instantly, but whatever) and he’s determined to find this woman and make her his wife, but he just.. Doesn’t think that’s at all important. He just wants his son to make a baby and whoever he has to bone to make that happen is good enough for him.

Songs Overview

I actually have some fond memories of the music in this movie. Though it’s not from watching the movie. It’s from these VHS tapes I had as a kid called Disney’s Magic English and they were, you know, English lessons. They came with a book and a VHS, my mom would get them at the news stand every week for me. And they had activities and sing-a-longs. And one of them had the Sing Sweet Nightingale section from Cinderella and I freaking loved it. I thought it was just so pretty and I… Still think that. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes is equally memorable to me for that reason.

HOWEVER. I do not like Bippity Boppity Boo. It’s equally memorable, but not pleasant to me. It will not leave my head and I hate that. Even as a kid, I hated that. I… I want to be harsher on it, because of this, but honestly… It’s a great song. It’s a great song that hinders my enjoyment quite a bit, but it’s still a great song. Damn it.

Overall song rating for Cinderella: 7/10

Racist Moment Spotlight

I couldn’t find one. If you can think of any… Let me know in the comments.

Conclusion

I like this movie. I didn’t think I was going to like it this much. And I was surprised with how much I had to actually say about it. I enjoyed it on my first time viewing and I actually found some depth in it once I sat down with a more critical eye as well, which was an unexpected bonus. I mean, even if I want to say I’m looking too deeply into this, it made me think. It inspired something. If you recall Bambi… I had very little to say about it. It was a story that happened and then other than it was visually stunning for the time, there wasn’t much to pick apart there. It was the fastest review I ever produced. Ever. So I can’t say that you can inject meaning into anything if there wasn’t something already there to find. I don’t believe that if you really want something to have substance you can just make it happen. Not if you’re genuinely looking at it with a critical eye. So I need to give this movie credit. It’s not as visually stunning as some of the previous entries. It’s not as unique or interesting as Pinnochio or Snow White, but I enjoyed it more. I enjoyed Cinderella as a character more than Snow White, and the parts that irritated me were a lot less irritating than the issues I had with Pinnochio, so… My ranking as of now:

  1. Cinderella
  2. Snow White
  3. Pinocchio
  4. Bambi
  5. Dumbo

So that’s it guys. If you want to read Plotstains’ Cinderella review check it out on his blog. Give him a like and maybe leave a comment shaming him for being the reason I’m so late with this one. 😛

Next up is Alice in Wonderland. I have my reservations about that one, but… Cinderella surprised me. I’ll try to keep an open mind.

B.B

Uprise 1.11

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[Valcrest Forest | Helios 2nd | Late Afternoon]

Sebastian ducked behind the trunk of a tree. His whole body shuddered as he struggled to control his breathing. With each frantic beat of his heart, listening to his surroundings became increasingly challenging. His right hand was tight on the hilt of his sword. Peering from behind his cover felt like too much of a risk. Any sign of movement would be enough to give him away, but against his better judgment, he closed his eyes. Gerald had taught him to meditate and while Sebastian was sure the man would call being chased through the woods the wrong time and place, what he needed was to be calm. Be still. To stay focused.

Since his arrival at the Outpost, Sebastian witnessed Johanna sneaking up on people multiple times. While he’d thought that to be an…

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Uprise 1.10

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[Abandoned Outpost | Otium 15th | Early morning]

“We’ve been going over this for days. One way or another, you need to make a decision,” Gabrielle stated, looking over the crenelated wall atop the Western tower. The sky was clear and tinged in a cold, pale lavender where sunlight hadn’t yet touched.

“I promised.” Johanna’s tone was soft but resolute.

“We all made promises we couldn’t keep.” Gabrielle watched her with the corner of her eye. “I can’t make decisions for you. Tucker can’t either. That’s for you to do, but. . . He is right. You do realize that at least?”

“They shouldn’t be like us.”

Gabrielle paused, choosing her next words carefully. “They already are, Jo.” She turned to face the other woman, leaning her lower back against the wall of the tower. “I know it’s been nice feeling like you’re taking…

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Well, This Sounds Familiar

Hey, remember when I reviewed Pinocchio back in 2015 and I said:

And yeah, all those kids who get turned into donkeys… We never see them again. Most of them get sent to the mines or whatever, but those that can still tal-… Wait, wait, wait… Pinocchio’s Universe is a part of the Shrek universe and there’s the… Uh… Talking… Donkey… In… That… Movie…

You’re welcome, MatPat. 😛

B.B

Uprise 1.09

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[White Shadows Encampment | Lithius 21st | Early morning]

Gabrielle inhaled deeply. Every step from her heavy boots brought forth the earthy scent of freshly trampled grass. Her steely gaze traveled the multitudes of white tents spreading across the vast fields; ornamented by broken stone walls and ruined buildings. What was once the great city of Blackhurst, now a campground of neatly rowed tents which spread as far as the eye could see. White-gowned people marched in and out. Traversing the encampment could leave anyone in a constant state of deja vu—every tent, and every row of tents, looked exactly the same—yet the healers never seemed to waver in their stride or lose their sense of direction. Like worker ants, they walked the narrow paths of the encampment in a steady pace; dutiful and filled with purpose.

“Greetings, Miss. I’m sorry, but if you…

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Ups And Downs

So, I wanna talk about my life situation right now.

It sucks. It honestly sucks. I’m in a bad living situation I can’t really get out of. I’m under a lot of stress. And to be quite honest… I’ve been feeling really depressed the past two or three weeks; give or take.

The other day I tweeted that this week feels like it belongs in 2016 and yeah… Because that’s still, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. And I’ve been feeling something  reminiscent of that right now. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been around much on Twitter as well. I don’t feel great. I don’t feel great to the point of being annoyed by other people’s positivity. And I don’t wanna be that person. :/

A lot of if is tangible things in life causing me stress. I’m not making enough money to support myself and because of my mom’s health issues at the moment I’ve become restricted to work I can do from home. None of it pays nearly enough and all of it is dull work. It also means being stuck on the computer for longer than it would be considered healthy. But, my siblings don’t have the availability to be around and, you know, it’s my mom. What else am I gonna do?

There’s also been sort of an existential stress added to it now. I mean, I turned thirty this year and My Immortal Commentary is still the most popular thing I’ve ever written. Look to your right and see what’s popular on this blog. Nothing else I’ve ever produced has gotten thousands of views except for that.

On that note… In 2016 I had a really huge moment of resenting myself and resenting the time and effort I put into my writing. And, this is not the case now. As burned out as I’ve been with everything else in general, the only actual enjoyment I’ve had in doing something this past week has been what little writing and what little editing I’ve managed. So that’s probably what I’m gonna do with my weekend. I’m gonna bury myself in my work. Like a loser. >.>

There’s a post I wanna write about the whole experience of starting a web serial and the process of writing/editing and maintaining all the accounts involved with that. I’ll be doing that when my head’s a little better. And while that’d be a good post to make on Written In Shadows, I wanna write it from a more personal perspective, so I’ll probably be doing it here.

In the meantime, guys… You wanna help me feel better? There’s a very simple thing you can do: Read Shadows Rise. And if you like it, consider supporting it. Because working on this keeps me feeling human when everything else is shit. And if we gather enough support that I can devote more time to it, I’ll be a happier person.

Also the more readers it gets, the closer I get to having something better than My Immortal Commentary become my most popular work. And that’s the dream. 😛

B.B

Family Guy Review: Why Seahorse Seashell Party Actually Sucks

I didn’t think this was gonna be my return to writing actual reviews on this blog. Actually, I never thought Family Guy would be a show I’d cover here at all. I remember having it on a list of shows people need to shut up about a long time ago, in fact. And to be honest, I stand by that. I think that with most shows it’s worth discussing why and how they’ve deteriorated. With Family Guy, the answer is, simply put, Seth MacFarlane’s massive ego. Any internet reviewer who’s covered a bad episode of this show would be able to tell you that.This was a show that started out with some clever social commentary and just devolved into an outlet for the creator’s blatant jabs at celebrities he doesn’t like or just… The audience itself. And it doesn’t have to care about actually being funny, because now people will watch it just to get mad at it. And people probably enjoy being mad at things more than laughing at them nowadays, so I can’t say I completely blame Family Guy for this.

But I digress.

If you’re not familiar with this show, there’s two things you need to know before you continue reading. Everyone, and I mean everyone, hates Meg, but her family are definitely the worst about it. And in this episode Meg gives every single one of them a verbal beating of epic proportions. She makes good points, and it’s actually very cathartic because the other characters actually start to look at themselves as a result. And, no matter how good it is, the fact that this scene is so effective to begin with is where this episode fucked up. This is a mistake they make time and time again in their most infamous episodes, in fact.

So the family starts to antagonize one another because of this and they all run off, leaving Meg behind with Seth MacFarlane’s self-insert, Brian. And yes, the fact that Brian is a self-insert is VERY important here. Because this is the conversation that follows:

Now, every review of this episode I’ve ever seen gets emotional about this. Because yes, it’s easy to see this as either trying to make light of actual abuse or being misguided in saying that people should stay in an abusive situation for their abusers benefit; as TheMysteriousMrEnter said it in his review of this episode.

However; and no, this isn’t a defense of this episode, that’s not what this scene is trying to say. This scene is meant to talk to the audience about something, yes, but it isn’t abuse. It’s about status quo.

If you’re not familiar with what ‘status quo’ means in relation to television shows. I refer you to TV Tropes:

Within a work, particularly long-running series and franchises, almost nothing changes. If something does change, it’s generally reset back to the way it was before very quickly.

The fact that Brian is Seth MacFarlane speaks volumes towards the real intent behind this scene. Brian and Meg aren’t discussing abuse, they’re discussing Meg’s *role*, not within the Griffin family, but in Family Guy itself. And basically, by having Meg accept this role, this is supposed to make us, the audience, accept it as well.

Basically this is Seth MacFarlane saying “Look, just because I do these things to this character, it doesn’t mean I hate her”. As a writer, I can sympathize with that sentiment, but as a writer… Nothing and I mean NOTHING peeves me quite as much as a creator trying to address criticism within their actual work. If you feel you need to justify something about your work, then fucking man up and change it. And if you think it doesn’t need changing then man up and take the heat for it. Simple as that.

Either your show adheres fully to status quo rules and even when character development does happen it means nothing; in which case that very well-written, very cathartic confrontation scene you wrote is fucking pointless. Or you commit to having your characters evolve and stick to it. It’s not hard. The Simpsons has multiple very heartwarming episodes that were as if they never happened in the next. And people still loved them for it anyway. Heck, Family Guy itself has managed to pull this off with Meg and Peter on more than one episode, where they had them bond over something one episode and have him be a dick to her like usual the next. And that back when show was still at least decent.

Now, as I previously stated, the confrontation scene being so damn effective is where this episode fucked up the most. It humanized Meg to the point where the audience was never going to be able to look at her as just a character afterwards. Even if the things she was saying were literally, and sometimes word-for-word, things the audience had been complaining about. This episode’s fatal flaw was playing into people’s emotions and then expecting them to be purely rational when you go “Okay, listen…” about it. It’s NEVER gonna work. EVER.

Did people read way too much into this? Yes, absolutely. I’m 100% sure no one looks to Family Guy for ‘very special episodes’, and this was never meant to be one. Does that mean this episode is redeemable? Fuck no. No one asked for this piece of condescension with Meg and the rest of the episode is either annoying dad noises or a literal drug trip.

It does majorly suck, no question.

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Pokémon Leaf Green Randomized Nuzlocke – Part 02

Alright. Today’s run was… Emotional. I’m gonna be upfront about this, there were casualties.

The first of them was, to no one’s surprise, Lionel.

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And yes, that’s where my Pokémon go when they ‘die’. I don’t actually release them. I like to keep track of my casualties. >.>

As much as I harped on him, and even thought I tweeted while grinding on route 1 that all it was doing was show me better Pokémon I could have caught… I wasn’t actually expecting to lose him this soon. I mean, he got hit with a Self-Destruct move so freaking fast, I hadn’t even screenshot the battle because I was just grinding. Pft. A level 3 whatever-that-was? Nothing important here.

And I feel really bad. I mean, yeah, he was kinda crap, but… A lot of my favorite Pokémon are considered crap. More notably so Zubat and Magikarp. I mean, I know Magikarp is objectively crap, but I would always manually train mine in Pokémon Yellow from level 2 or so up until it evolved into Gyarados and Gyarados is one of my all time favorites in that game. So, you know, I know that something crap can actually pay off if you put effort into it, but for a Nuzlocke… That’s trickier to do. Lionel wasn’t gonna go very far even after learning Metronome. 😐

At this point I still had Tala, Sparky, and Squidward, though. I leveled them up a bit and went into Viridian Forest, finally. My first trainer battle was uneventful and then I had my first close call of the day. Latios.

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The only reason I got out of this was that he used a move that inflicted damage on himself and Squidward was able to take the damage; barely. The other two were already on red health and I’d used my one potion for the battle. So, yeah, pretty damn close, but I made it and I got through the forest just fine.

Brock was kinda… Meh. His randomized Pokémon were pretty weak. I mean, the Spoink he used first only used Splash the whole time. Oh yeah, Ranger Max. He wasn’t Brock, he was Ranger max. 😀

Also, being able to play as a girl in this game makes Brock’s dialogue a little more uncomfortable, gotta say.

Aaaaanyway… I beat “Ranger Max” without much issue. I fought the trainers leading up to Route 3 without incident as well.

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Though I did get indoctrinated into the Cult of Shorts. :/

Found a… This thing… on Route 3 but didn’t manage to catch it.

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Ran into this creep in the PokéCenter but didn’t have enough money to buy his “Magikarp” yet. And yes, that counts as a ‘Gift’ Pokémon even though you have to buy it. So, off to MT. Moon I went. My first encounter there actually had me pretty excited and I managed to actually catch it. Things were looking up!

Not for very long though. My second trainer battle turned out to be quite the nightmare. All thanks to a level 14 Wailord. It had Water Gun and Rollout. And it annihilated Sparky in one single hit.

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Fuck you, Wailord! 😐

So, at this point, I was pretty freaked out. Rollout was gonna be super effective against Lily; the Butterfree I had JUST managed to catch. Not to mention she was still only level 10. One Water Gun was gonna be the end of Tala, and Squidward didn’t stand much of a chance either. I thought I was done for. Both Lily and Squidward went down pretty quick. And then it was all down to Tala, my starter, the Arcanine.

I used Bite. It didn’t that much damage, but… Wailord flinched. I used bite again. It flinched. Holy shit. I did it again. And again… It flinched. At this point I was pretty shocked. I actually managed to flinch this damn thing, in succession, enough times to kill it. And I survived! With just Tala left in my party.

RIP, little dudes, you all made me proud. 😐

I took my earnings and retreated back to the Poké Center. Time to see what this creep had to offer.

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His “Magikarp” ended up being a level 5 Ninjask. I named it Badass in the hopes it’ll live up to it. He is now Tala’s only companion.

The rest of my play session was leveling this guy up and then fighting a couple more trainers in MT. Moon. I ended up having to go out soon after. I did however, find a few of these roaming around in MT. Moon.

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And while I know I probably wouldn’t be able to capture one with just regular Poké balls… AAAAAAH I WANT ONE. Mew is THE FUCKING BEST.

But alas…. >.>

So, yeah. This is my team as of today, Tala and Badass:

They’re both around level 15-16 now. Hopefully we’ll be able to survive Mt. Moon and make some new friends on the other side. >.>

Not sure when, I might not have time to play during the week,  but we’ll see.

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Ugh, Come On

I had to go out for a bit after my play session so… I just got home a few minutes ago, I’ll compile the events of today’s run for you guys in a second while my frozen pizza heats up, but… In the meantime… Can we just agree that no one fucking likes Norbit and WHY does that movie still gets air time? Who likes that movie? I’m seriously If you happen to be a fan of Norbit… I need to know and I need to know why. What is one redeeming quality of that movie.

I mean, things like My Immortal, Birdemic, The Room, Sharknado, Twilight… I can find redeeming qualities in. Teen Titans Go has gotten a stray laugh or two out of me even. Norbit is straight up one of the most terrible pieces of visual media I’ve had the misfortune of enduring. NO. Just NO. Stop it. No one wants to remember that movie exists. Just stop.

Sorry. I needed to get that out. Part 02 of Pokémon incoming.

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