Why You Should Pay Attention In Class, Feat. Dad and Dr. Puck
Gather ‘Round everyone, it’s time for another installment of Family Lore!
So back in the late 60′s dad was getting his undergraduate at Cal Poly, because Dad was an early proto-nerd (like really, he wrote a bunch of the groundwork for the thing that would eventually become the internet), and Cal Poly had one of the first comp sci programs in the country. Also, it was like 10 miles from home, so he didn’t have to move out. However, because this was undergrad, dad had to take a bunch of non-major courses, so he decided to do geology because he’d been good at identifying rocks in boy scouts.
The course was taught by gentleman named Dr. Puck, yes really, who was a brilliant geologist, but teaching a bunch of somewhat uninterested just-out-of-high-school kids about rocks can wear on you, even if you aren’t some sort of deranged fey creature. So he tried his best to make it interesting, and Dad and most of the other kids had a fairly interesting time.
Dad recounts that there were two girls in class who spent the entire time blowing off lecture, talking and generally being a distracting nuisance, until they heard that a quiz was coming up, then they’d pester and bully anyone for notes, usually Dad. This went on for about three months and virtually everyone in class was grinding their teeth at these two, but Dad in particular, who did not appreciate being accosted in the hall by these two, who would alternately offer sexual favors for his notes, or threaten to start rumors about him if he didn’t help them study. Puck knew some shit was up, but dad wasn’t eager to start legal action in his first semester, not to mention it was the 60′s and rampant patriarchy would have meant nobody would have believed him.
One Day, Dr. Puck organized a field for the class to the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are full of all manner of interesting geology things, most notably, fossils. Really stinking cool ones. Everyone is having a nice time hiking through the hills, looking at all the picturesque geology, when they round a corner and see a Big Goddamn RIB, just sticking out of the side of the trail. Everyone goes OOOOOOH appreciatively, and Puck explains that this is an ancient Whale that UC Santa Cruz was digging up, but he knew someone in their geo department, so he got the goods on the site.
He then explains, in grand gestures and with the sort of vivacity that only people of Fey ancestry can muster, how this used to be an ancient seabed, but due to the magic Natural Geologic Process of Continental drift and Uplift, this whale was now some 2000 feet above sea level. He spent a good twenty minutes telling the tale, while everyone took notes.
Literally the moment after Puck finished, one of the girls finally noticed the GIANT FUCKING RIB and asked him “But Dr. Puck- how did whale get all the way up here?”
Puck, somehow, did not explode, but instead stood up to his full five-feet-and-one-and-one half-inches and explained in his most deadpan, eloquent lecture voice.
“This is a Great Flying Whale of the Cretaceous Period.” He gestured at the Rib. “They used to migrate here to Santa Cruz to breed, from their winter grounds in Hawaii, and would build magnificent nests out of kelp.”
Dad recalls stuffing his notes into his mouth to keep from laughing. His more silver-tongued classmates began to chip in.
“Didn’t they used to eat Stegosaurs? Just swooped down and gobbled them up.” a student asked, trying not to snicker.
“Indeed! They were far from the gentle giants we have today!” Puck agreed. “Teeth the size of your arm, and long sticky tongues to catch smaller prey with.”
“How did they fly?” Asked another, ready to hear a choice piece of bullshit.
“Oh, gravity was much weaker back then, so they could ‘swim’ through the air with only the aid of a few helium bladders.” he nodded sagely. “Yes, and when they fossilized, the bladders were preserved. Santa Cruz has some of the finest Helium mines in the world thanks to these magnificent beasts.”
“Wow.” Muttered one of the girls, scribbling notes furiously. Dad unwaded the parper from his mouth, ready to drive the nail into the coffin.
“Is this going to be on the test?” He asked, sweetly.
“Oh yes.” Puck nodded gravely.
Sure enough, two weeks later, there was a test, and at the very bottom was the following:
“EXTRA CREDIT: explain everything innacurate/wrong about The Great Flying Whales Of The Cretaceous Period. One Point per Idea that makes me Laugh.”
And that’s how Dad walked out of geology with 106% and the invaluable knowledge that people will believe ANYTHING if you speak with enough conviction.
Do you have any advise on how to open a story? I have all my characters and my plot and my conflict and everything but I don’t know how to start. How to keep a reader hooked and interested enough to keep going.
This is a little ironic, because I’m about to rewrite my opening three chapters for The Warlord’s Contact from scratch for about the tenth time. But practice does make perfect, and boy have I learned a lot through this process.
Sometimes you look at a story and you just know how it needs to open. It’s the most obvious choice in the world, and it’s clear why no other option would work.
Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. Usually, the beginning to your book will take preplanning and rewriting and replanning and bit more rewriting, and all the while you’ll never quite be sure you chose the best spot to open to, or the right characters to introduce, or the proper setting.
Here are a few specific methods of thought for tackling your first chapter…
His long legs extended across her lap as he took a large gulp of the amber liquid. Sighing contently, he placed the glass bottle on the floor and snuggled deeper into his couch.
Her hands were lazily drapped over his feet as she focused on the television. The movie that they had been watching was fairly interesting although she was having a bit of a hard time following the plot.
“Wait, is he the sister’s boyfriend?” Y/N asked her best friend who shook his head in return.
“No, that’s the guy they met at the bar who looks like the boyfriend.” Dylan explained.
Furrowing her eyebrows, Y/N continued to watch the film hoping somewhere along the way things would make sense.
This was their routine. Every Friday night for the past 3 years was spent on his lumpy couch drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching movies.
As the ending credits started, Y/N let out a soft yawn as she extended her arms.
“What did you think?” Dylan asked, eager to know what she thought of the film.
“I thought she was going to pick the boyfriend’s brother’s friend.” Y/N admitted with a giggle, thinking about the cliched love triangle movie she just watched. “The ending was very unexpected.”
Pulling his feet off of her lap, he sat on the edge of the couch.
“What about you?” She called out as he walked to the kitchen with his empty beer bottle.
“I was routing for the boyfriend’s brother’s friend too.” His laugh echoed throughout the kitchen.
Their friendship consisted of watching cheesy romance movies together, texts at 3am when they couldn’t sleep, and the comfort of knowing that they always had someone they could count on. It was completely platonic.
I can’t seem to pass up a sorting quiz when I come across one online, and this one turned out to be fairly interesting. At first, I rushed through it and came up Hufflepuff - for the first time EVER. I thought, Oh, that’s interesting, because strangely, I’m one of those weird people who always comes up Gryffindor on every sorting quiz. So, I gave it another shot and paid closer attention to the questions this time, realizing that some of them were being asked in present tense form, and some were worded to include past tense. Also, the first time I took it, I was thinking more in terms of actions, and not taking into account behaviour and lifestyle. I then came up as Gryffindor - same as previous sortings from other sources. (Only the first test counted for their research.) What I did find interesting was the demographic breakdowns of their published results, and how they similarly reflected charts on political opinions, as well as stereotypes we have for different states in this country. There’s also a breakdown by city, which was too large to capture legibly for this post. My home town turned out to be Gryffindor, while the town I live in now is Hufflepuff - my first result. Another eyebrow raising point is that many of my younger friends were originally sorted on Pottermore to Slytherin and years later retook the test, finding to their dismay that their house had changed, which is reflective in the age chart here. It appears that a very small percentage of adults are actually sorted into Slytherin, and interestingly, since most people in this country are unhappier with our current government than ever before in my lifetime, I thought I’d include this:
Source: TIME Entertainment
Although they’ve already published their results, should you find yourself bored, you can still take TIME’s sorting quiz here [x]
The Story in Which Doosh Taught Mashima the Word, "Canon"
So many stories to tell from Comic Con today, but here’s another one…
I, Dooshiedoosh, ended up teaching Hiro Mashima what the word “canon” means. With @tea-lief as my witness, this is how it went down.
This morning, while everyone else was perfecting their Juvia cosplays, I embarked on a little art project on the back of @rieriebee’s old “Gruvia is Canon” sign in which I wrote “#グレジュビ”.
This ended up stimulating a fairly interesting multilingual, multinational dialogue between myself, @tea-lief, Mashima, his translator, and Kodansha team over ship names. The Japanese Kodansha staff asked what we called it in America, so I flipped over the sign and showed them “Gruvia is canon.” What followed, is Mashima asking the translator what the word “canon” meant. I ended up replying, “official, together, real couple in the story.”
Mashima, who was sketching @tea-lief’s Juvia at the time, told the translator: “Ahh, so you liked the last chapter, I bet!” to the two of us with a very assured smile and nod.
This is how I taught Hiro Mashima what canon was and @tea-lief and I got absolute confirmation that 545 meant canon.
Writing Advice: At the Heart of Your Plot Lies a Question
I’ve been thinking a lot about story structure lately. It’s the thing I struggle with the most, as an author, and judging from a lot of stories I’ve read (and blurbs I’ve helped to write), it’s a big issue for others, too. A lot of times, people don’t realize that there are fundamental structural issues with their stories until they get to the marketing phase, when they go to write a blurb or query letter and realize they cannot condense their story.
I have some bad news for you: If you can’t elevator pitch your book, there’s a good chance that the problem is the book’s plot, not your innate blurbing skills.
I know. That’s a hard thing to swallow. And maybe I’m wrong - maybe you just need to work on your blurbing a little bit and it’ll all be just fine.
But maybe I’m not wrong. In which case, just humor me for a second. Your story will thank you for it.
Thing #1: Your world-building is not your story.
It doesn’t matter how much careful thought and planning you’ve put into figuring out the logistics of your world’s science, economy, government, etc. The intricate backstories and family histories might be totally important, but they’re probably not the plot. Until you have characters who want things and obstacles in their path, you don’t have a story.
Thing #2: Your character arc is not your plot
Characters should change. Your character should be transformed by the events of the story. This is, ultimately, where the story lies. It’s not, however, the plot. Why, you ask? Because plots are actually pretty generic. A plot is a framework, a set of expectations and structural beats that hold up the story. The story is the character’s development between Point A and Point B.
Thing #3: Plots are tied to genre
In the sense that I’m using plot here - expectations and structural beats - I would argue that “plot” is the essential defining characteristic of genre. Which is to say, the thing that unites books within a genre is that they all have essentially the same plot. But how can that be, you ask? Because…
Thing #4: “Plot” = The Story Your Reader Asks (and you have to answer)
What is it that keeps a reader turning the page? What compels a reader to finish a story? Compelling characters, cool settings, sure, ok maybe. But I would argue that at its heart, the thing that makes any reader keep reading (as opposed to, say, watching TV or playing soccer or giving their cat a bath) is curiosity.
Humans are naturally curious. We love gossip. We find it irresistible. There’s something in our genetic makeup that craves answers to questions, to gathering insider knowledge.
Which means that if you ask a question, and it seems like a fairly interesting question, the person hearing it won’t be satisfied until they know the answer.
So based on that assumption, I would argue that readers keep reading stories in order to find the answer to a question. I would also argue that, for the most part, the nature of that question is the same or pretty similar for all stories of a particular genre.
Some story questions:
Who did it? How did they do it? Why did they do it? (mystery)
Will they succeed in time/before bad thing happens? (fantasy)
Who will come out on top? (epic fantasy)
How could these two unlikely people possibly fall in love? (romance)
What actually happened? (thriller)
How will they get out of this? (adventure)
Are they going to survive? (horror)
Different stories will have different flavors of these questions, but at its core, every story should have a central question that drives the narrative onward - everything else eventually feeds in to answering that question.
You’ll note, too, that sometimes the question asked by the narrative itself is not really the question asked by the reader. For example: Ostensibly, the mystery in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is “What happened to Harriet?” But I think the real question is “How is the PI connected to the reporter? What’s actually going on here?” (which, you will note from our handy-dandy chart, makes this book a thriller and not a mystery).
“What actually happened the night of the murders?” <- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Definitely another thriller. (See also: “What actually happened to Amy?” at the heart of Gone Girl.)
“How is Katniss going to survive the Hunger Games?” (adventure! For all that it bills itself as a dystopia, Hunger Games is at its heart a survival story that calls back to Jack London).
There are more questions than the ones I detailed above, but those are some starters to whet the appetite..
The important thing to remember is that if your story doesn’t have a central driving question, it doesn’t actually have a plot. It may have a character arc! Lots of things might happen! It may have a story. But it will have no plot. And your readers might not know that’s what’s wrong with it, but they’ll notice it. They’ll pick up on it.
And when they do, what they’ll tell you is: The book is boring.
So the next time you’re struggling to write the elevator pitch for your story, or the story just isn’t coming together for you, stop and ask: What is the main question? What is the question that’s going to keep the reader turning the page?
Tarot readings are cool, but why not make them AWESOME? Here’s some ways you can be sure to get the most out of your divination situation.
🔮Have a Question In Mind- This sounds pretty obvious, but it’s astounding how many people I read for that have no idea what they want out of it. Wanting a general reading is fine, but definitely have an answer to the question “what would you like to know?” when you sit down/place an order. Thinking about what you want helps you solidify the question with the cards, and helps you avoid thinking an hour later, “Drat! I should have asked about _____.”
🔮Think about How You Frame your Question- Tarot has different strengths and weaknesses, like any divination form. Playing to these strengths will help your reader give you a more fulfilling answer! For example, I once had a querent purchase multiple readings from me asking for very specific times of things. While tarot CAN be used in that way, it is much harder and in my experience usually comes at the expense of more valuable information. A better version of, “when will X happen?” is “what will make X happen?” or “What must I do before X?” That way you know if X requires specific action on your part, instead of sitting around waiting for “Oh, maybe about three months” and nothing happening. Phrasing your question in a way that milks the most information out of the cards makes for a better reading!
🔮Know Your Reader- First and foremost, a tarot reader is not the same as a psychic. A lot of psychics use tarot cards as a tool, but most people just offering readings can’t tell you the name of your future spouse or the color of your great-grandfather’s shirt when he died. Secondly, every reader is different! Some are intuitive readers and pull cards from the middle of the deck, some have you choose the cards, others deal from the top, and that’s just one example. Every reader has a different style to their interpretation that makes for a unique experience, so if possible, be picky with who you choose to purchase from. Some readers work better with certain types of questions. Maybe some give more detail in their interpretations. Some readers tell a little story about each card, which people can like or dislike. Some have trouble delivering bad news. Some just may not resonate with you! If you have the ability to check out multiple readers, especially online, definitely do so and find one who you think lines up with your needs the best.
🔮Don’t Be Afraid to Confide- The phrase, “I have a question in mind, but I’m not going to tell you” makes me want to rip my hair out. In my experience, people do this less because they want answers and more because they want to be impressed by a display of Tarot’s accuracy and the reader’s intuitiveness. They want to see the reader still pick up on the Truth with no outside input. This is all fine and dandy, but it’s not going to give you a lot of information. Why? It’s going to be vague! I can’t connect the dots as well if I don’t have half of them. It’s okay to give me some information about your question; it helps me pick out signs I may have not found significant without context. That said, I understand the fear of just having a reader use your words to tell you what you already know and call it divination. So don’t feel like you need to over share, either! If you want to know about whether to break up with your partner over that argument two days ago or not, a simple, “I’ve been having relationship problems and would like some insight on how to move forward.” Should work fine. That should allow you to still get a display of the reader’s intuitive ability (identifying the specifics of your situation) while still getting an actual answer.
🔮Interpret For Yourself- Yeah yeah, do my job for me. But not quite. Sometimes there are symbols that strike us that the reader may not emphasize in their interpretation. You know yourself better than they do, after all. If you think the cards are saying something extra to you, feel free to include that in your personal takeaway! If a reader asks, “what does this mean to you?/does anything stand out to you?” (this happens more in person than online) it’s totally okay to say, “I find X really interesting because Y. How do you think that ties in with the rest of the reading?” Feel free to start a conversation over it. Pick these cards apart with your reader. I, at least, love when querents do this. It shows they’re invested and engaged, and it lets me pull even more information out for them.
🔮Take a Picture- If you can. Sometimes online readings come with a photo of your spread! (Mine do.) Look back on the photo with a fresh mind later and reflect on it. Have you come up with any new personal interpretations for it? (Once I had a reading that I thought was about starting a business, but realized later it was about me writing a book!) What do each the cards actually mean? Are there any patterns in the spread you notice? It can also be fun to look back on it much later and see how accurate it was!
🔮Get Readings from Multiple People- I like a little variety, but I also just like people. I have people I go to for when I need a really solid dependable reading, but I also enjoy talking to other readers and seeing how they do it differently. I know it’s helped me improve a lot as a reader. If you’re able, consider getting your question answered through multiple sources (but be respectful, we’re still people.) See if there are any common threads between the two interpretations (it happens quite frequently.) See how they differ! It’s more work and money but is usually fairly interesting.
🔮Don’t Take it Too Seriously- At the end of the day, getting a reading is not going to change your life. Only you do that. While tarot can be a magnificent tool for insight, it is not an actual changing force in and of itself. Don’t stress too hard over it and be sure to use it alongside your own judgement, intuitiveness, heart, and common sense. And most importantly, enjoy it for the sake of enjoying an art form!
i reckon that star wars and harry potter have a lot in common in that neither of their creators were really prepared for what they created and so their fiction just isn’t strong enough. Like they’re both amazing (harry potter is my favourite thing ever really) but their worlds and plots are both so shaky when subjected to the level of dedicated scrutiny by the fanbase. And that’s because they were never really intended to be so carefully analysed, a great deal of effort went in to them of course but neither Lucas or Rowling was expecting to garner such a huge following. And they’ve both responded in the same way which is to try and expand and to come up with increasingly complicated solutions, which has led to…mixed results i guess? But at no point would they be allowed to just say “X is like that because it’s fiction, I wrote it 10+ years ago: I didn’t think i would need to have some grand unified theory of this world.” They could never say that because it would ruin their world for so many fans and it would mean giving up creative control of this thing that they worked so hard on. Idk if that’s a bad thing or not: like u do u n all, but they aren’t and never expected, nor in all probability wanted to be, Tolkien even if we persist in treating them as such.
I’m supposed to be busy af right now, but what better excuse to doodle some Homestuck than the anniversary itself?
These are dedicated to the friends I made via the fandom, @not-terezi-pyrope, @serialsymphony, @nuclear333 and @magnoliajades in that order (of course there’s a lot more people than that, but you’re the friends whose HS-related interests I’m fairly sure of). Turns out the real Homestuck was the friends we made along the way
As your cousin speeds forward, closer to his house, you can’t help but laugh to yourself. You were mixed with equal parts of dread and excitement, longing to wind down the window to shout out their names but at the same time wanting to hide away, hoping that you wouldn’t run into them at all. What a turn of events. Looks like it was going to be a fairly interesting winter break after all.
in the aisle of the supermarket, you glance at the list in your hand then back
at the rows and rows of a variety of canned beans. Who knew there’d be this
many type of beans? You casually strolled down the aisle, your eyes kept peeled
for the one that said garbanzo beans,
whatever that meant.
bell rings signaling the arrival of new customers but you’re oblivious to the
sound as you continue searching for the can of beans. You hear a loud
smack accompanied by a short scream and you spin around, curious as to what the
ruckus was about.
the hell, Jimin?! That
You recognise that voice and you definitely
recognise that name. Maybe your mind was playing tricks on you because what
were the odds of meeting them in a supermarket of all places? Maybe that wasn’t
Taehyung’s voice and perhaps there could be another Jimin in this town… Jimin is a common
name after all, you reason. You exhale deeply, returning your attention to the
cans in front of you, you finally find the can of garbanzo beans and put it
into the basket that was dangling off your arm.
so nice having a taste of your own medicine huh Tae?”
Maybe there was another Tae in this town too?
laughter fills the air and you stiffen up because that distinct laugh
definitely belongs to the Jimin that you knew.
is in a frenzy as you let the fact that you were mere metres away from them
sink in. You turn on your heel abruptly, speed walking down the aisle away from
A quick sketch of Aoi Zaizen from Vrains, whom I believe is also the female lead?
The first thought when I saw her face and hair design was that it seems more gender neutral compared to the previous female leads? Anzu also had short hair, but her pink uniform and hairstyle was a dead give-away that she’s female. (Nothing against guys with that though…). To me, Aoi has a hairstyle that could pass off as a guy’s in pokemon, not to mention that she’s wearing a very similar jacket uniform as Yusaku’s. And “Aoi” seems to be a name that guys can also have. Maybe I’m just overthinking this… (I guess what I meant to say is that I like it).
Also, I was reminded of this cute one (Chihiro) from Danganronpa when I first saw Aoi (personalities aside since we don’t know much about her):
When I was really curious about what archetype, my thoughts were: Please Konami, maybe something that’s different from fairy or plant type this time? =D Yeah, keep dreaming Quarkie.
Just from the translations though, the trickster card effects seem cool (and do burning damage). I hope Aoi can continue on the trend from Arc - V that female lead characters can be good at dueling. Show them your badassness, pls >:3.