Overdue!

I moved into my new flat this past weekend, Sunday was taken up with watching the new episode of Doctor Who, and Monday necessitated a great deal of unpacking in addition to job prep for my last day of teacher training (for today), so when I suddenly realized at about 1930 on Monday night that I had to write a post, I was somewhat flummoxed. I had no ideas whatsoever for a topic, and I was contemplating the writer’s version of ritual seppuku (making and sharpening your own quill pen before disemboweling yourself with it as you chant the names of all your literary ancestors in hopes that they will forgive you), when Tom stepped in with an alternative.

humperdinck
But not like this.

“Write a short story!” he said, as I sharpened my quill, only half-paying attention. “About a time traveler,” he added, knowing exactly what would pique my interest. A few more interesting details were added to the prompt, and I arose, dramatically tossing my quill to the side, salvation in sight. “I will take it! I will take the Ring to Mordor!” I declared, apparently unaware of the irrelevance of the reference, and began to write. For your enjoyment today, I present “Overdue!” a short story by yours truly.

****************

You’d think that being a time traveller would mean never having to deal with library fines. It’s a completely logical thought to have, what with the ability to jump around the time stream and all, but it’s also completely wrong. Studies have actually proven that owners of time machines are more than twelve times more likely to be chronically late about returning their books. The entire Warsaw library system is funded completely by fines from sheepish chrononauts who thought they were popping in right at closing on the due date to return their copies of Welles’s novels and other historical fiction, only to discover they were showing up at noon two years, six months, and four days later. “Sounds like the voice of experience,” you might say, and you’re quite right, kids. My name is Morstan, Elliott Morstan, and I’m a time traveller. And as of three days ago by linear time, I’m also a library criminal.

Until recently, I’d always been conscientious about taking care of my library books. They keep telling you the rules: never leave your library book in your time machine, don’t check out books from libraries in more than one time period at the same time, and above all, don’t ever try to return your book while using your machine. We all know libraries are bound by linear time in order to contain all the strange time irregularities that happen within, and strange things sometimes happen if you mess around with that. We’ve all heard about what happened when someone broke the rules in Alexandria.

Oops.

But even though we know these stories, something deep down inside still whispers “but it could never happen to me. I’m so much more careful; I’d never cross my own time stream while returning a book” and so on and so forth. That’s what I thought, too, when I took my library copy of the best-selling theoretical manual Wibbley-Wobbley, Timey-Wimey, and Other Stuff for the Discerning Time Traveler by R.T. Davies, along to occupy me during the boring bits of the Battle of Hastings. This in and of itself isn’t a problem…but I became so engrossed in the battle that I left the book inside my machine. All on its own. With all of that peculiar book magic that wreaks havoc on the temporal mechanics of any time engine if left unsupervised.

Ugh. Keep in mind, this was a genuine moment of forgetfulness. Not a good thing to do, but not criminal.

So when I made the return journey home, I planned to arrive just 5 minutes after I left, which would give me two hours to finish my book before returning it. I opened the door, stepped out, yawned, and then my jaw dropped as I stared ahead, terrified. Where the library had once stood instead loomed a giant Starbucks. The 50-mile high green and white logo leered at me as it proudly pronounced in glowing neon letters, “Meeting your linear caffeine needs since 2367.”

The library was closed.

My book was at least 50 years overdue.

When the library branch police caught up with me, and we all know they always will find you if your book is overdue, the fines would be horrendous. I’d never be able to pay them off. And I’d never be able to live with the shame of having my name on the list of those “Banned for Reckless Endangerment of a Book,” the terrible fate of those who eat tomato sauce near a book or return it more than 5 years overdue. I had to go back. Surely just going back along my own time stream to the library just long enough to drop my book in the slot wouldn’t hurt anyone… Fortified by resolve and blinding fear, I jumped back into my ship and headed back for the original due date.

Upon landing (in the correct date this time), I opened the door and cautiously peered out. The fabric of reality seemed to be holding together pretty well thus far. Emboldened, I grabbed the book and stepped out, prepared to make a dash for the return slot just a few feet away. But the moment both feet touched the ground, I realized I’d made a huge mistake. Time seemed to constrict and expand all at the same time. Something started screaming in a high-pitched tone that threatened to shred my eardrums. The whole world began to shake and I felt as though I was about to turn inside out and explode. Terrified, I dropped to the ground, curled up in a ball, and began pleading with the universe to calm down.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I sobbed. “Just please stop. It was stupid of me. Don’t unravel all of space and time. I’ll never do it again, I promise.”

“We know you won’t,” a cool voice said from behind me. I sat up, my eyes blurry, to find myself surrounded by severe-looking people in dark red uniforms.

Damn…not the library police! Dear god, please no.

The speaker, a stern woman in a peaked cap glared down at me over the bridge of her spectacles. “You are lucky we were on hand to stabilize the fabric of reality before your reckless actions could cause any real damage to the universe,” she said, nostrils flaring. I shivered. “We cannot allow such actions to pass with just a warning. Your machine will be confiscated and you are hereby restricted to the index room for twenty years, with no chance of parole.” I stared at her in horror. The index room…where I would only ever be able to see the bibliographical information for books but never see the books themselves.

“Mercy,” I pleaded, kneeling as the tears streamed from my eyes. “Anything but the index room!”

It was clear that to her, the matter was now over. “Confiscate her library card and give her an index room pass,” she declared to the uniformed officers as she swept past me.

“Yes, Madame Librarian.”

I have been restricted to the index room for three days now, and I already feel my soul dying. Follow the rules, kids, no matter what time you’re in. Don’t be like me. Don’t be…a library criminal.

This segment of the Library Criminals PSA cycle is brought to you by Librarians Against Time-Space Book Negligence. Don’t read and time travel.

“What Took You so Long, Old Man?” A Review of the Doctor Who Series 9 Trailer

Hello, sweetie.
Hello, sweetie.

I am a longtime Whovian, a devotee of the Doctor. I grew up watching Classic Doctor Who, and when Russell T Davies regenerated the show in 2005, I jumped on board the TARDIS with Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor and never quite left. In April, I published my Master’s thesis, a 120+ page paper all about Doctor Who, complete with a personal interview with writer Robert Shearman and the signature of the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant. I’m a little bit obsessed is what I’m trying to say here. Despite my concerns (Tom, Lorien, and Tobias can all attest that they are many) with Who under Moffat’s leadership in general, and series 8 as a whole, I still haunt the internets in search of hints and promo pictures for anything leading up to the new series. When the teaser trailer for series 9 was released this weekend, I screamed like I’d seen a Weeping Angel, plugged in my headphones, and sat down to watch. So today, you’ll be treated to my review of the new Who trailer. The video is embedded below; if you haven’t seen it yet, watch, and then finish reading 🙂 Allons-y!

So, the first thing that comes to my attention is that they’re running a trailer without the Doctor Who theme music. I’m all for mixing things up, but making an entire 1 minute, 30 second trailer without even a hint of the music (particularly since the 12th Doctor’s music is so amazing), seems a little odd to me. We’ve also got some recognizable bad guys: Missy, the Daleks, the Zygons, and I could swear the grey hands coming out of the ground at the beginning are reminiscent of the Weeping Angels from Time of the Doctor. I could be wrong-and I probably am-but hey, that’s the first thought that came to mind. We also have what looks like the Doctor in an orange spacesuit, which has obvious flashbacks to the Tenth Doctor in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. Several folks have commented that this trailer leans very heavily on connections and references to Classic Who/early New Who, particularly in regards to Peter Capaldi’s increasingly Pertwee-esque look, and I can agree with that assessment. Moffat brought in a lot of new stuff to series 8, but based on this trailer, I think we’re going to be falling back more on previous plots and monsters. The appearance of Maisie Williams, the young actress who plays Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, reinforces this idea for me. Her one line, “What took you so long, old man?” instantly connotes a long familiarity with the Doctor, which has many, including yours truly, thinking that she’s a Time Lord. Earlier in the trailer, we see her jumping into the Doctor’s arms and he holds her tightly. Personally, I think that Williams’ character will be Susan Foreman, the First Doctor’s granddaughter.  Moffat is linking New Who to Classic Who far tighter than Russell T Davies ever did – and considering the atrocity that was the reference to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in series 8, I’m not sure I like it. pertwee and capaldi

The newer villains, locations, and other characters honestly don’t make that much of an impact on me. They barely blink in for half a second each, and the dark lighting makes them hard to see. Since they barely register, it’s hard to be interested in them.

Something I noted in the trailer was the Doctor’s line about “evil.” We don’t know what that evil is; it could be evil in a universal sense or speaking about some force in particular. However, the Doctor’s line “I want to kiss it [the evil] to death” comes directly after a shot of Missy applying her lipstick, which seems to me to indicate that Missy is the evil and will be our overarching villain again. I also noted that this line seems to contradict the last line: “I’m the Doctor, and I saves people’s lives.” The contrast between him wanting to cause the death of something followed directly by an announcement that he saves lives. I think we’re going to get more tension between the Doctor’s traditional heroism and his more recent tendency towards anti-heroism.

The best part of the whole trailer was the one second shot of the Doctor in sunglasses, rocking out with a guitar. Now THAT, I want to see. Other than that, this trailer overall left me colder than a Dalek Sphere in the Void. It wasn’t very different or interesting, and it was hard to stay engaged without the right music. It didn’t get me excited about the upcoming season, so I do hope that the next trailer will be more defined and exciting. Overall: 2/10. Thoughts, fellow Whovians?

 

Writing and Awesome Opportunities

The masterAs most of you know, I finished my MA degree a couple weeks ago (you may now all call me The Master), and since leaving school, the long job hunt continues. At the beginning of May, I put in an application for an internship with a company in Pennsylvania. The internship looked pretty awesome: lots of writing, work from home (no relocation needed), set my own hours, etc. It specified unpaid, but hey, internships are great resume builders, right? And it keeps me writing. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting to get it because those things are competitive, but I sent in my Resume and CV anyway. They contacted me for a Skype interview the following day, and the interviewer talked to me about my experience. He was really impressed with the wide variety of writing I do, as I have several academic publications, two theses, several non-academic publications, editing/proofreading experience, creative writing, and, actually, this blog. He looked over some of my posts for The Art of Writing, and he loved it. He said it was a unique and interesting addition to my varied resume and it spoke to my writing experience in various mediums. So, I got hired on the spot! It’s unpaid, but he said there’s a good chance of getting a full-time job out of it in three months if my performance reviews are high enough, which is pretty exciting. The moral of the story is: writing is awesome and it opens many windows for you that you may not be aware of. Varied writing is the key; if I’d only done academic writing or creative writing or what have you, he wouldn’t have found my resume interesting. So keep writing, try new avenues of wordcrafting, and see where it takes you!

A Triumphant Return from the Mount of Academia

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for the past three months. This unfortunate and quite devastating (to all of you, I’m sure) absence has been due to a rather insane final semester of my Master’s program. Over the course of the past 12 weeks, I’ve written and successfully defended a nearly-hundred-page thesis on Doctor Who, met David Tennant and his glorious hair (and got him to autograph the aforementioned thesis), survived my last two graduate classes and all of the papers pertaining thereto, and taught two courses full of occasionally eager, but usually sleepy, Freshmen students. I’ve also made the decision to move; in two weeks, the day after I get to wear the long robes and the funny hat in another commencement ceremony, I will be leaving the East Coast and heading to Arizona. As a result, I’ve had to add packing to my long list of things to do (and I still haven’t finished quite yet…). As you can imagine, such a hectic schedule has prevented me from doing anything outside of academic writing. I haven’t written a single short story or a line of poetry since January. Now that (almost) all of that is over and done, however, I now have time to write creatively and to talk to all of y’all about writing and other such fun things. For my next post, you can look forward to me talking about my next monumental task: I’m finally attempting a novel. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, here’s a picture of me with David Tennant, his hair, and the random banana we brought for him (David’s Scottish accent not pictured, but oh, is it brilliant)

me and david

 

The Power of Parody

Hello! I’m Sam, and this is my first post for The Art of Writing. I’ve loved writing in many forms (stories, poems, or whatever I’m in the mood for) ever since I was little, and I still try to practice it pretty regularly to this day. When I’m not writing, I’m taking classes toward an M.A. in English, reading a whole lot, and secretly fighting crime in dark alleyways at night (but don’t tell anyone). If you like what you see here and want to read more from me, you can find my personal blog and more info here.

But now that I’ve introduced myself, I’m afraid I have a confession to make.

I’ve got to admit, I haven’t actually been writing much fiction lately.

It’s not because I don’t love writing fiction. I truly do enjoy it when I get to do it. I have several story ideas and novels in my head that I hope to finish writing and/or editing one day. But, for a variety of reasons, it seems that I’ve gravitated away from fiction in recent years to focus more on articles, blog posts, and other forms of shorter creative non-fiction (such as the one you’re reading right now). So when I was asked to contribute to a blog about writing fiction, I didn’t really know at first what I would write about.

“I don’t have much recent experience to draw from,” I said to myself. “I really haven’t been writing much fiction lately except for…except…”

This poster was created by Jef Castro of Entertainment Weekly, based on Patton Oswalt's monologue from Parks and Recreation.
Poster created by Jef Castro of Entertainment Weekly, based on Patton Oswalt’s monologue from Parks and Recreation

And then I remembered the one fictional work that I have been working on sporadically: a parody mash-up co-written with two friends, in which we basically decided to see just how many different fandoms and references we could combine and simultaneously poke fun at in the span of one epic tale (or trilogy). It’s a quirky, over-the-top, very tongue-in-cheek amalgamation of Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Super Mario Bros., Batman, Doctor Who, classic literature, and much, much more.

Now, being a blatant rip-off of quite a few other works, this story of course is not what most of us would call “serious” fiction, and it’s hardly “literary” by anyone’s standards. This supposed subpar quality is inherent to works of parody, or at least to people’s common connotations about them. But that’s no reason for either readers or authors to completely write off parodies as insignificant or juvenile. After all, any story, even a parody, still has to be good by a certain standard of judgment; it still has to conform more or less to certain criteria, adhere to common conventions of fiction, and accomplish what it sets out to do as a story.

For someone who hopes to write more serious or original fiction, writing a parody can be a good way to gain some easy practice. Here are a few reasons why:

  •  Tropes and conventions are exaggerated. Parody is a good way to explore and play with common tropes or conventions in fiction, since they’re intentionally exaggerated and ridiculed in parody. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some parodies to include metahumor and directly announce the plot points they’re following or the sort of work they’re poking fun at. If you’re writing a parody, you don’t have to be subtle; you can go over the top and be painfully obvious with plot points and character development. If you’re in the experimental stage of writing fiction, this overt use of story components may help you to more concretely map out the narrative elements that make up a legitimately good story.
  •  Parodies are fun, not serious. As mentioned above, nobody expects parodies to be brilliant, profound works of fiction that will endure in the canon of literature for generations. They’re inherently meant to be lighthearted and fun in tone and by nature do not take themselves as seriously as other works might. These qualities take a lot of pressure off of you as the writer! You don’t have to come up with something original or groundbreaking when you’re writing a parody; you can rearrange existing elements of a story, or combine those elements with your own ideas that may or may not be fully fleshed out yet. Overall, you can let loose and relax just a bit. You can write something just to write, or to get into the habit of writing, without caring overmuch about how good or literary it is. You have the freedom to try different things out and see what works and what doesn’t. You can just play around and have fun!
  • An illustration of Mark Twain, printed by the Washington Times in 1907, reprinting the Philadelphia Inquirer
    Illustration of Mark Twain, printed by the Washington Times in 1907, reprinting the Philadelphia Inquirer

    Parodies still carry some weight. Even though parodies are for fun and not “serious,” don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’re less important or worthwhile pieces of fiction, or that you can make a good one with just a halfhearted effort. An enjoyable parody isn’t just haphazard elements strewn together; it still has familiar characters and a functioning story with a beginning, middle, and end. It should also have a good amount of humor and wit, cleverly satirizing certain conventions with varying degrees of subtlety. Even classic authors such as Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain relied heavily on satire, on pointing out and exaggerating the flaws in institutions or certain types of literature. Well-made, entertaining parodies must do this to some extent as well. To use another example, I also wrote another parody in recent memory, a Christmastime poem blatantly imitating Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I largely filled it up with jokes, laughs, and cultural references, but I also based it on my own real-life experiences and tried to at least touch on a legitimate moral about the importance of family and fellowship. Even though it was lighthearted and fun, it wasn’t completely meaningless or devoid of serious significance. If you’re truly dedicated to writing fiction and serious about wanting to hone your craft and skills as a writer, then you’ll still put your best thought and effort and personal feeling into it at all times, even if you’re just practicing with a parody.

So, if you have the misfortune to be visited by writer’s block in the near future, or if you’re like me and you haven’t been able to find the opportunities for “serious” fiction lately, then I encourage you to try writing a parody of your favorite book, movie, or TV show. Figure out what sort of plot and character formula makes that story work, and play that up a lot in your parody. But also look for the flaws or ridiculous aspects in the work you’re imitating and be sure to exaggerate those for comedic effect. Consider what messages your use of satire will send, overtly or subtly, about the work or genre you’re imitating, or about life and the world as a whole. Don’t be afraid to play around and see what works for you, and as you continue to write, try to notice how your own storytelling style begins to develop and differ from that of the original author. Use this time and this opportunity to hone your skill and your own unique voice. And in the midst of it all, don’t forget to have some fun!

Foundations of Large Projects: Quote Mining

Life is good when you get to watch Doctor Who all day and call it "research."
Life is good when you get to watch Doctor Who all day and call it “research.”

So I am currently engaged in writing my Master’s thesis, which is a very complicated hundred page paper. Granted, it’s on Doctor Who, which is fantastic, but it’s still stressful and occupies the majority of my time and thoughts. My next few posts will have something to do with the art of thesis writing, because the more I work on this monstrosity, the more I realize I can apply some of the concepts I use to my fiction writing. Nice to know that all the work I’m putting in for that fancy bit of paper I’ll be getting in May will apply to something other than school work. Anyway, today I want to talk about the process I’ve been working on for the past two months, and how it applies to creative writing.

Since April, I have been working on something I refer to as “quote mining.” I have about 65 different sources for my thesis (whittled down from the 120+ I found during the research process), and I’ve read almost all of them at this point. Once I became familiar with my sources, I sat down with my computer and the stack of books and journal articles, and started up a new Word document. I’ve been going through each source individually, page by page, and typing up each quote I find that I think even might tangentially relate to something I’m going to discuss in my thesis. I’m still finishing up the quote mining, but once I’m done with that, I’m going to go back through the huge document of quotes, and organize each quote by which chapter it will end up in when I put it in the actual thesis. This is by far the most time-consuming and exhausting part of my writing – actually writing the 100 pages of material will be pretty quick and easy compared to this. However, it’s a really necessary part of the writing process for me, as it helps me really understand the material and become really familiar with my sources.

Like this, but with words.
Like this, but with words.

Now, how does this relate to creative writing? As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I have trouble working on creative projects that aren’t short stories. I’ve tried novel writing and never gotten anywhere, mostly because I have trouble with world building. It’s hard for me to creative a “world,” whether real or imaginary, and detail that setting for an entire book. I can’t keep all of those details and images in my head for that long, so it’s hard for me to remain consistent. Something I’ve discovered with the thesis process, though, is that if I do my research for my world building and catalog it the way I do my thesis quotes, the whole thing becomes much easier to manage. I “mine” quotes and descriptions from sources on setting, design, and so on that relate to what I’m trying to create, and once I’ve sourced it enough to have a clear idea of the world in my head, I organize the quotes/descriptions based on the part of the world to which they relate. Working on long creative projects has now gotten much easier for me to manage, and I’m not so freaked out by the world building anymore 🙂 I’ve also discovered that it works well for shorter projects that require research, such as historical fiction or sci-fi…quote mining my research in these areas helps me to remember what I’ve discovered/decided to use, and it makes my works much more consistent. I’m not saying this method will work for everyone, but it definitely works for a Type A, OCD, easily freaked out itinerant writer. Happy writing!

Dealing with Time

(Photo Credit)
(Photo Credit)

Neal and I have been talking about world building lately, and specifically about building magical systems for fantasy worlds. One issue that I’ve been dealing with recently in my own world-building is the issue of time. I’ve always avoided dealing with time-travel, or any serious kind of time magic, simply because it raises a lot of questions that I don’t honestly want to answer. However, I recently worked on a project for a friend (I really can’t say much more than that) that focused heavily on both time travel, and on blending the mystical/magical with the scientific. This project forced me to actually deal with issues of time-travel in background writing, and all of the problems that come with those issues (and trust me, there are plenty). However there are two common ideas that you may want to work into your own worlds that focus heavily on issues of time.

1) The World with Alternate Time: We all know the story of Rip Van Winkle, the man who went to sleep in a fairy circle, and when he woke up twenty, or a hundred, or two hundred (depending on who’s telling the story) years had passed.  For the record Washington Irving’s original story had him asleep for twenty years, and while he was asleep the American Revolution happened. However, while this idea is traditional in fairie stories, and a lot of fun, in broader fantasy worlds is causes innumerable problems. For instance, if time moves faster in Arcandia than it does in Bolan, then (when Arcandia and Bolan go to war) what stops Arcandia from sending wave after wave of freshly trained soldiers into Bolan. After all, if twenty years pass in Arcandia for every year in Bolan, Arcandia can grow an entire new crop of soldiers before Bolan can finish training their first. Arcandia’s soldiers can retreat, get a day of rest, and return before the Bolanian soldiers have had a chance to catch their breath. Similarly, trade between the two worlds will be equally problematic. Arcandian resources will be gathered much more quickly than Bolanian resources, Arcandian food crops will easily dominate Bolanian food crops, because in Bolan, the Arcandian crops will appear twenty time a year.

This piece is done by Peter Balogh. If you'd like me to take it down, just ask, but I hope you don't. It's kind of awesome.
This piece is done by Peter Balogh. If you’d like me to take it down, just ask, but I hope you don’t. It’s kind of awesome.

These issues aren’t entirely debilitating. For instance, perhaps the portal between Bolan and Arcandia only opens once every Bolanian year (i.e. once every twenty Arcandian years). Perhaps the inhabitants of Arcandia don’t care about Bolan, and thus don’t want anything to do with the Bolanians, or see them only as playthings (i.e. similar to the traditional Fey). Or perhaps the portal is brand new and these issues are things that you actually intend to make part of your story. How will the Bolanians deal with the much greater Arcandian global ‘metabolism’? This could make for a very interesting story in itself. However, these are issues that absolutely must be dealt with if you want to have differences in the passage of time. So, don’t run away from them.

(Photo Credit)
(Photo Credit)

2)Time Travel: We all like stories about time travel. Whether its Back to the Future or Timecop stories about time travel are interesting and fun. They spark the imagination, and make us wonder about possibilities. However, whether the travel is accomplished through magic or science, it causes problems. For instance, how do you deal with paradoxes? Do changes to the past actually, seriously impact the future? Does stepping on a butterfly in the cretaceous period actually make the human race into lizard people in the present? Every story answers these questions differently. For instance, Doctor Who plays with time at will with no apparently significant change on anything. In some X-Men comics we learn that every major event creates a new timeline, and thus changing the past doesn’t actually change your future, it just creates a new one. In Michael Chrichton’s Timeline we see that changing the past, even minor changes, directly influences the future.

Celebrity CityFor instance, perhaps the Romans used magic to go back in time in order to invade the Babylonian Empire, and were rebuffed. However, in doing so they inadvertently started the iron age, that then led to the invention of steel, which the Romans used to invade Babylon, thus starting the iron age. This is not a paradox, but a temporal circle. A temporal paradox would theoretically happen if a man went back in time and killed his grandfather, before his father was born. Thus his father would never be born, and he could not be born, and not being born he could never go back in time and kill his grandfather. Doctor Who deals with this issue using a ‘Paradox Machine’ that keeps the paradoxical events stable. However, when the machine is destroyed, the paradox never happens (see the series finale of Series 4 of the new Doctor Who). Thus time cannot allow a paradox to happen. Other examples (Star Trek for instance [see the series finale of Next Generation) theorize that a paradox could cause the end of all existence. Ultimately, time travel forces you to both keep track of your timeline, but also keep track of how time travel affects your time line. Think through this issues, deal with them one at a time, and make sure that you are consistent.

One of the beauties of alternate time and time travel is that it’s never happened. We have no idea what it would actually look like, or what might actually happen. There are lots of guesses, and very little actual knowledge. This means that, as long as you are sensible and consistent, fans will let you get away with a lot simply because there is so much room for you to play with. So, be sensible, be consistent, and think through your issues.

So I Went to Oregon and Met the Doctor

Well, this past week, I went to Portland,  Oregon for an academic conference. It was great fun – a bunch of English-y academic types presenting papers on everything from “Tracing Monomyth in Homer and Harry Potter” to “Sexuality in Doctor Who” to “Celtic Mythology in the Lion King.” We also went around and explored Portland a bit – since I’ve never been on the West Coast before, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyway, we got back really late last night due to bad weather (6 inches of snow, Virginia, really?), and today’s been rather hectic. So for this post, I thought I’d share some of my conference pictures and give a few brief descriptions of what happened. Enjoy!

My companions for the long flight: Rory the penguin, an iPod full of awesome music, and my favorite Star Trek anthology.
My companions for the long flight: Rory the penguin, an iPod full of awesome music, and my favorite Star Trek anthology.
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Portland things!
Powell's bookstore - this place spans an entire city block and has floor to ceiling bookcases.
Powell’s bookstore – this place spans an entire city block and has floor to ceiling bookcases.
Can I create my own Cthulhu?
Can I create my own Cthulhu?
He exists! The Doctor is real! And I met him.
He exists! The Doctor is real! And I met him.
From Voodoo Doughnut, the best doughnut shop in the US.
From Voodoo Doughnut, the best doughnut shop in the US.

Scene Challenge of the Week

It’s Wednesday yet again.  I know, it seems repetitive but really, time is always repetitive isn’t it? It just kind of goes round in circles. Of course, this could pretty quickly turn into a discussion of whether time is cyclical, linear, or… you know… a big mass of timey-wimey stuff. … …But we’re not going to do that! So, instead of debating the nature of time, I’m going to give you a prompt about it. You probably know the rules, but just in case: I provide you with the beginning of a scene (from a phrase to two sentences) and you finish it.  Try to keep your scene under five hundred words, and try to keep it in the same tone as the introduction.  If I give a line that is very dark and depressing, then I don’t want to see a scene about a drunken monkey in a tutu…it just doesn’t fit.  If I do give you a line about a drunken monkey in a tutu, then you should probably try for a funny scene.

Your scene: ‘It had always confused him, the way everything seemed to run together, but the more John thought about it, the more he realized…’

Okay, have at it!

Of Homework Overload and Lack of Sleep

Read ALL the books. And write ALL the papers.

So…I intended to write a really awesome post for today. I really did. But this little thing called “real life” sort of got in the way. I have a full course load this semester, plus up to 20 hours of work per week, quiz bowl practice (quiz bowl is basically team Jeopardy at the college level – it’s the nerd equivalent of football), my thesis (now up to 44 pages, thank you very much), and somewhere in there I have to eat and sleep. In other words, not much got done this week except paper writing, sentence diagramming, thesis revising, work, Spanish verb conjugations, and my translation homework (translating the Lord’s Prayer from Olde English into modern English is quite fun. No really, it is, I swear). I barely even got any sleep. So, needless to say, things like relaxing and having the energy to write super awesome blog posts fell by the wayside. Therefore, today, I am going to take a page out of Tobias’s book, and just show you some epic pictures. I’ll have an awesome blog post up next week, I promise. Have a good week!

A Jedi penguin. Because penguins are cool.
I love dragons. Seriously. If I ever got a tattoo, it would be of a dragon.
A Star Trek/Doctor Who mashup. I have no idea where this picture came from, but it is really awesome.