It’s Not Okay to Say Nothing.

So the Internet of writers blew up over an essay written by Ryan Boudinot called “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.

I felt saddened that an Instructor would cling to the notion that “Writers are born with talent”; though I grieved more for the number of persons who consoled this concept of predetermination.


Indeed, certain mental attributes preclude writing mastery: analysis, theorization, extrapolation, recreation, innovation, and adaptability come to mind.  However, a lacking of one or more of these qualities can be traced back to various environmental circumstances or personable circumstances.

For example, America still lingers on the edge of authoritarian parenting.  One of the major drawbacks to this style of parenting is that it relies heavily on Negative Reinforcement.  Negative Reinforcement deters desire to commit an action.  When overused or used out of situation, this method of control damages a person’s sense of desire; and he/she may generally suppress desire altogether, or hide it, or feel ashamed to want something.

Desire drives intellectual skills, and a student raised from a heavily disciplined childhood will usually struggle in a creative writing course.  The student may lack confidence in herself, lack faith in her writing, or outright lack the prerequisite creativity traits; because she was too scared to exercise these traits growing up.

Now, I suppose these circumstances could be classed as Fate, but I don’t care; not in as it relates to teaching.

The teacher’s purpose is to identify weaknesses in the students, and help them to correct those weaknesses.

If an aspiring writer lacks key intellectual skills to become an elite writer, then help him/her to develop those skills!


Which brings me to the point that bothered me; and I speak not of the points he made, because he gives some good advice:

  • If you don’t have the time to write, make the time.
  • Write for yourself, not the teacher.
  • Make writing a passion first and a profession second.

I echo these sentiments.

This is what I found offensive:

“Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.”

…Seriously?

He perceived improvements within students’ work/mindset/passion but to failed to address his qualms with those students?  To those students?

I don’t know what goes into the MFA program, but If I pay for assistance in achieving mastery in a craft, and you are my teacher, I am purchasing your subjectivity.  If you don’t like my writing, I expect you to tell me what you don’t like and why.  If you don’t think I belong in the literary world then you better tell me why; because your critique has been paid for and is owed!

Those students got robbed of their feedback; not to mention the assistance that could/would/should have followed pending said feedback.

/end rant.

/end topic.


I’m aware I promised a post within the last week and failed to meet that promise.

I don’t know if anyone holds me to that, but I disappointed myself.  I’m aiming to put up two short stories between now and next Sunday, and at least one other non-story post (I’ll probably share some of my favorite Touhou arranges).

For now, I’m going write and listen to Desire Drive, because I used the phrase earlier in this post :)

Desire Drive by ZUN, arranged by TAMUSIC

Finish your weekend well ^_^

Beautiful Wanderer

Ten days since my last post.  I really suck at this blogging thing :\.

Anyway, here’s another short story!  This one is 1,067 words and will probably take no more than a few minutes to read, if even.


Beautiful Wanderer

               Cold cracked night chilled Seresa through three layers’ clothing, and though she could have waited warm and companied in the station lodge behind her, she preferred to reminisce with Skadi’s kiss.  She had once bellowed with the thunder as she made love astride, half-naked; shedding her tears to snow and sleet; freeing herself from a cage seventeen years pure at the time.  She shushed his identity and fed their memory to the violet soul she discovered that day; smoldering perpetual; burning kindles of mystery and sex and redeeming that heat for the present.

                Decency would have asked a name, but Seresa preferred that blinding passion.  It inspired her to remain fun and foolish.  Prudence served most persons, but Seresa had been born into a fairy’s legacy: a canopy of bright blue hairs and a bouquet of ethereal violets sprouting wings from her upper back.  Spectacle granted her opportunities with schools and masters; the talents she amassed won her wealth; and then she purchased her freedom from worldly worries.

                Train whistled far away but not far from arrival.  Seresa glanced back to the footsteps staggering into the cold, and some of them stared back.

                Pretty brunette scorn took to her side just shy of her own fair height.  Seresa felt the gaze, then scrutiny.  She took a peek into those sea blue eyes and saw a scathing judgment carved down to the ocean trenches.

                “How’s life on easy mode?” asked the young lady.  She seethed her rhetorical intent, but Seresa replied anyway.

                “Pretty good”, and just talking back incurred a swing of fist.  She subtly dodged and caught the inexperienced body from falling via poor weight distribution.  “Careful”, said Seresa, and having been defeated, or at least perceived as defeated, the girl crossed her arms and quivered in frustration.

                Beneath that full and sensible coat, Seresa recognized the office attire of a pen pusher trying to take advantage of male prejudice: a white blouse thin enough to hint a bra, a black miniskirt and all her legs drawn down to the high heels.  Skill had lost to pretty, so skill became pretty, but not pretty enough to win by cheating.  Now she lugged two suitcases stuffed beyond their boundaries, running away to God-knows-where with what dignity and assets remained.

                Seresa embodied everything this corporate refugee hated.  A periwinkle jacket blouse draped a shawl-like top over her shoulders, and the dress underneath layered pleated skirts to a lofty perimeter about her shin.  Lavender frills flashed along every single line; nightly threads segregated touch and step from the callous world; a crop of her hair had been spun into a spiral over her nape.  Seresa wore in travel what this girl would reserve for grand occasion, and thus she stood accused of brandishing her advantages.

                She did not apologize for dressing to whim, but she accepted the biases placed against her image.

                “I’m Seresa.  What’s your name?”

                “Sonya Clyde.”

                Seresa offered a smile and her hand, and after fidgeting through the screeching, horning approach of the train, Sonya finally sighed and accepted the gesture; receiving something in palm through the exchange.

                “What’s this?”

                “My ticket for yours”, offered Seresa.  Sonya reminded her that ordinary persons did not get to sleep under covers while riding coach, but Seresa insisted on the trade.

                Car doors opened, steward and staff descended to greet passengers and review tickets.  A young lad clad in the same navy blazer and trousers cut through the contracted mass of people, seeking Seresa and identifying her colors with ease

                “Seresa Sonada?”

                Seresa stepped behind Sonya and presented her.  Sonya played her part and claimed, “That’s me!  I’m Seresa!” and a bribe convinced him as such.

                “If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you to your car.”

                “I get my own car?” and it was actually two cars, but Seresa let that surprise lie till Sonya had the privacy to explore her gift.

                Sonya started to run off, but she spun about and smiled solemn thanks; a reflection of goodwill; before grabbing her escort’s hand and charging toward the mystery accommodations of the rich.  It was just a temporal blessing that would subside in value upon docking tomorrow night, but it would charm her for a day and vitalize her faith in good people.

                Seresa trickled in with the last passengers and followed the procession until the person in front of her passed up an aisle seat in the midst of the car.   The location crowded, but by persons who exuded temperance and quiet desire; and so Seresa fell into the chair, flirted a smile to the man on her left, and then folded arms and eyes.

                As her mind recessed into the headrest, she recalled the days without cushions or high chair backs.

                Back then, she could not even rest her eyes; because back then, her livelihood fit into two duffle bags on her lap.  One momentary lapse in defense could lose her life’s material value; and so she watched her peers, watched her belongings while she wore down over ten hours or more.  When she finally arrived, she often went straight to her new job, working the full day without reprieve for her travels, without sympathy for her exhaustion.

                She used to be Sonya, but luck finally landed her an office infrastructure where her relentless positivity received affectionate praise instead of hostile gossip; where the untouchable boss noticed her ingenuity instead of her body.  She joined a meritocracy, and like a balloon freed from binding rope she rose beyond the clouds and forged her home where the great memories resided.

                Seresa had given Sonya a business card behind the ticket, and for the fate of her own fortune, she may have erred.  Seresa’s intelligence consoled a reflection in those blue eyes, but where Seresa tinted with violet love, Sonya draped her wrath in the blood of the incompetent.

                Perhaps she invited a superior mind to usurp her, but a true competitor invited every legitimate threat to her table; challenged all to dethrone her; and in doing so she was pushed beyond her own perceived limits.

                And if Sonya or some other took her place one day, Seresa would bow gracefully and congratulate her successor just as her predecessor had done.

                Certainly, she would not lose any sleep over her career.  It was just one path of many she could follow, and she was rather curious about those other avenues.

End


Meritocracy?  In my country?

…It’s less likely than you think.

I’ll try to put up another blog post this week; maybe even two!  They probably won’t be stories, but I just want to get into the habit of blogging.

Scrap Writing

So I’ve decided to revive an old habit: scrap writing.

Basically, I write up random settings/characters/ideas just for practice’s sake.  Sometimes I keep rolling with it, but mostly I leave the scraps behind.  Getting caught up with a short story just because it’s nearly done and then stalling for days; usually just leads to a broken down engine that falters for months.

Fred Gallagher probably put it best: Creativity is a muscle that requires regular exercise, lest it suffer atrophy.


I’ll be throwing scraps around on the blog, if only to keep updating it and maybe find and excuse just to rabble; I like rabbling, I like putting myself on here because I intended this to be a “blog of me” and not just my writing stuff.

Often my scraps will focus on descriptions: partly because I love flinging words at pictures; partly because I find it easier to just ignore descriptions throughout a complete story.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Most descriptions are unnecessary and/or exceed reasonable length; at least in my experience.  Eventually I’m going to get into “Writing Technique” posts where I talk about my writing design choices, and I choose my words deliberately when making description.

But…

I’m not always certain of the result, which is why I prefer to scrap write those things I struggle the most with: settings, people, objects/animals, and above all else: describing the person whose perspective I’m following, without the description feeling “plugged” and “disruptive”.

That said,

Scraps away!


SCRAP

            Vanessa drifted through Kalina after the night and snow sublimated her messy world into impure absolutions.  The pebbled schematic of rust and dust blanched white beneath her booted step; sky-scraping glasses once blue with the moon blacked out or shimmered with human spirit.  Even concrete lost its shadows up high where the clouds had fallen low enough to obscure shape and form.

            Bars and Clubs disrupted nature’s monochrome with their invitations: extending warm glows and neon invitations to Vanessa; offering her renewed life and company; but she settled for the first bench on the road; sweeping it of snow with her gloves and settling into the seat of her apricot coat.  She dangled cashmere legs and a lofty, floaty shin skirt to the airs; muffled her face in black and navy hues; and closed her violet eyes to the occasional boy admiring the black hairs sleeking down to her brow, her shoulder, her back.

            She should call it a night; go home; but isolation wore her down.  She did not want to crawl into an empty bed on digested leftovers and no conversations to mull; and she was content to simply exist within public space till this urge dissipated or was satisfied.

SCRAP END


I tend to worry about my coherency when it comes to descriptions.

Do my words confuse you?

Does Vanessa’s description feel “plugged”?

Feel free to comment.  I’m always open to critique: positive, negative, and whatever else.

 

Oh, and if you like a piece of scrap writing and would like me to evolve it into something longer; let me know and I’ll see if anything comes to mind.

‘Nessa and ‘Lily

A short little fantasy-adventuring fiction sketch.  Not a complete story.

Scribbles and bits, so to speak.

‘Nessa and ‘Lily

                Vanessa’s life measured poorly by standard of purse strings and estates, but she liked her life.  Many would not respect her occupation by calling it as such, but meandering through the world, taking on quests, collecting bounties, plundering ruins, and foraging through hard times when others could only pray… pumped a joyous cancer through her heart and blood that could no longer be boiled beside soup pots or tempered by the work of an anvil.

                She was a mercenary in league with herself: an Adventurer.

                It was not a better life or even a wholly different life so much as a trade: offering up stability and consistency to gain a capricious mind.  Money still dictated her strategy; sex lured her fancy; vanity became her impetus.  She just exercised her coins on the move: earned them city to city, helping one woebegone city-bound civilian after the other.

                When fortunes blessed her with loot and gold, she stayed at inns beneath cotton or silk sheets.

                For now, she slept by the guard of bark and leaf; rain swept, rain soaked and awaiting the sight of game.

                Vanessa had spent two gold coins on a peck of blueberries and a peck of almonds, but her favorites tasted tame and familiar after the thirtieth snack.  She sought the luxuries found in predation: the superior health of venison cooked fireside and the empowered elegance promised by muscle.  She was scrawny and bony, especially for her height.  Constant traveling toned something lithe and pretty out of her, but unless she stripped down to her physique, others adventurers scoffed at her request for partnerships.

                Meat allured her idealized self, but a deer or rabbit would not simply walk into her shelter.  She’d rather flop about the mud; let her mind root itself and share thoughts with Mother Nature; but every moment lazed only reinforced that brittle image; and so she rose from her soggy perch to trod into the fog.

                While she searched for prey, she dittied a rhyme for her bored mind:

                Gray, gray, everywhere gray;

                White wash water flushes the day,

                Precipitous, monotonous nimbus ahead,

                From this rising mist they fled:

                My meat, my prey, my reason for fire,

                A meal for wet bones, for soaking silks.

                Somewhere I cannot see

                Someone is watching me

                Boot prints stood by a tree not far from her place of rest.  Said boots could not fit a bigger man, and she fancied the idea of a cute admirer: someone small enough of body and ego to push down and tame.  His reason for hiding, watching, was his shy courage; clinging to a flower he savored for her.

                Just the thought burst a laugh from her.  “Some luck that would be!” and she unbuckled the strap that secured her sword to its sheath.

                Boots and gloves; leathered and steeled; protected her movements to the elbows and knees.  Her leather cuirass mounted shoulder plates to keep her sword-arm safe, and her belt draped chainmail over her skirt to the sides and rear.  A misguided arrow would not easily take her skin, but a competent intent could slip a knife through to her heart or slit her sleep.

                She kept three lunging strides between herself and every tree thick enough to hide a body; honed sights on shrubbery and keened herself for a crossbow bolt; but the ambush came on the heels of a frail and inexperienced woman, who sprung from a tree directly ahead of Vanessa’s sight, and she watched the gal trip and fall face-first into the mud.

                Defeat permeated this lady of rags, who dirtied the mud by her presence, and brandished a stick too rotted to break skin.  She rose and stared; two ruby irises dulled by death’s door; and tried to make a threat.

                “Give me a coin… or something to eat…” and a habitual mannerism followed with an automated “please”, enticing Vanessa to snicker and giggle as her would-be-assailant amended her threat with, “or else…”

                “I don’t have any money”, Vanessa said, “spent it.”

                The haggard soul tilted and peered round Vanessa’s belt for a container of food.  The pouch on Vanessa’s right side allured her eyes; moved her lips; but her debts finally caught up to her and forfeited her struggle.  She sunk to her knees, fell onto her back.  Her eyes gazed skyward but there were no sights or sounds in this world left for her; the characteristics of her physical shell were just a happenstance of her final moments.

                In so many cities Vanessa witnessed this suicide: a mental fatigue for the constant crediting of pride; asking, begging, pleading for a morsel to sustain upon.  She offered hope and resources to those she could, and sometimes they accepted.

                Vanessa’s stores did not swell any longer, but she approached the girl and asked her to stand.

                “Why?”

                “I give charity to help others; not indulge myself with false heroism.  If you have any dignity then we’re equals, regardless of what our clothes might say about us.”

                The girl stood, and held out her hands.  Vanessa clasped bony fingers, touched skins too stained for this monsoon to cleanse.  She willed the airs to whirl round, to violently brush water against mud and blood till everything particulate had been raised into her levitating stream; and a flick of her wrist sent the wash water to the side, back into gravity’s care.

                Vanessa put her palm over palm, and deposited a handful of nuts and berries.  She ate, but the bafflement on her face questioned the substance cracking between her teeth.  “Where did you get those?  You didn’t reach into a pocket.”

                Vanessa opened her empty hand and another mouthful of trail snacks stole onto her grasp through the cover of black wisps.  “You can conjure food?” she asked, and she grabbed and swallowed this phenomenon as quickly as she questioned it.

                “I can phase things out of existence; recall them when I choose.”

                “You could steal a lot of stuff that way.”

                “I could, but I don’t.”

                Vanessa did not have to explain honor, for this girl kept it within her silence; allowed it to forfeit her life in lieu of begging, and then refuse a fourth handful of nuts and berries.  “I have more”, Vanessa said, but she did not care.

                Through staining filths, a few hairs hued true to their pink pigmentation.  It was a lightly, joyous chromatism that shimmered in adulation, and marked her in hatred.  There was no town where a pink haired girl could hide from gossip and spittle, and her sharp incisors ensured an enemy within in every populace to rile up the crowd.

                An accident, a crime, or just a season of bad weather; one scared fool would correlate trouble to her pink hair, and then the world’s fortunes became her responsibility.

                Vanessa was less human than this girl, but her clothes did not split to the whim of glass shanks and steeled edges.  How would she have fared if her long black hairs and violet sights swapped colors?

                “What’s your name?”

                “Lylette.”

                “I’m searching for deer, fish, berries… anything to eat, really… would you like to come with me, Lylette?”

                Whether Vanessa staked her invitation upon sagacity or pity, she could not discern; but she suspected a selfish motive within the act; for Lylette’s quiet consent realized the image she always desired for herself: not a stronger, more beautiful person, but someone who traveled in company.

End

I welcome all critique; even negative.

Just be polite :).

The Perfectionist Trap of Nostalgia ~ Pricked by a Shining Needle

The Perfectionist Trap of Nostalgia ~ Pricked by a Shining Needle

As a writer, I once felt a desire to replicate my best performances.  I suffered a year long writer’s block because I wrote something so gorgeous, that I expected to write equally high prose in everything, but there are inherent flaws to replication.

  • Creative skills are diverse, multi-faceted, and often intangible to the schema and science of high art.  That one high point was something of a convergence between desire, inspiration, and a situational fit of writing skill to the story at hand.
  • What passes as excellent within one court of imagination does not excel so nicely in others.  A magically styled prose won’t fit nicely to a dark and gritty science fiction novella.
  • Skill does not progress linearly, nor does future skill copy its historical highlight reel.
  • The moment you replicate and cease experimentation with new ideas, you die as a creative.

I think all creative types could agree on these things, but it’s a different issue altogether when you’re talking about a fan following a series of creative products: be it a book series, album series, video game series…  The moment the internal critic shifts from cracking down on the self to analyzing the products of others, it’s ALL about the high point.  Putting down your best step first might forever forge the reputation, “It’s just not as good as that first thing he/she did!”


To say that Touhou had a successful first few games is an understatement.  When ZUN made Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil as a marketable for-sale product, followed by Perfect Cherry Blossom and Imperishable Night, I don’t think he anticipated that Touhou would become sensationalized across the Internet, that his music would spawn tens if not hundreds of thousands of arranges and remixes, and that his request to involve the fan community into the story would be met with so much zeal that many Japanese anime/manga convention goers complain about the over saturation of Touhou at these events.

Here in America, Touhou remains nice and niche, and easy to enjoy (I’d probably like Touhou a whole lot less if I lived in Japan), and the Internet makes it easy to forage for stuff like music; because Touhou is about music before anything else:

Silent Ensemble by TAMUSIC, original composition: Phantom Ensemble by ZUN

If you didn’t click that video: click it now.

Phantom Ensemble hails from Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom, which may as well be perfect.  Aside from an underwhelming stage 1 boss/boss theme, pretty much everything about it indulges the senses with mesmerizing musical composition and a good sense of visual artistry that makes up for the lack of graphical technology.  I appreciate math and programming both as true creative fields, and so it’s fun to see mathematical formulas and programming logic wielded to create art.

Yuyuko is my favorite fight in all Touhou, and sometimes I just do a practice run of Stage 6 just for the fun of it:

PCB Stage 6: Lunatic Difficulty, played by SadisticPenguinOfAND

You don’t really have to watch that one.

I play Touhou as my designated break-from-writing-game.  It’s concentration intensive, and so cleans my mind of sticky thoughts; but at the same time Touhou’s musical and visual arts stimulate a creative mood that I can carry back into writing.  Also, it runs on my crabby laptop.

Beyond playing Touhous 6, 7, and 8, re-arranges and remixes of everything from EoSD to Subterranean Animism permeate my playlists, my CDs, and much of my mind.  ZUN has a unique style as evocative as film score music, but deep and lasting like professional compositions; while simultaneously fulfilling the function as a video game soundtrack.  ZUN produces the most emotionally relevant music I have ever heard.  I have not discovered music quite like his, nor music that possesses the endless satisfaction of listening to more and new arranges created by fans.

His work stands alone; and somewhat separate from his latest games.


Fans can withdraw from their interest at any time, pick their loves apart and take only what they favor.  I played FF6, FF10, and Chrono Trigger, but not the rest.  I listen to football podcasts, read Cat Scratch Reader, and watch games but I’ll cut the TV when I’m watching Manning or Brady lead another rout.  I enjoyed Dead Space and Mass Effect, but I never felt compelled to play their sequels through.

From Outlaw Album and Burning Bright, I read the short stories that catch me.  I wouldn’t ask you to read my short stories here on this blog unless you wanted to; because love and interest builds upon desire, not obligation; and I would not feel offended if you said “I’m just here the poems/music/whatever, sorry”.

However, I listened to pretty much everything from Touhou 6 through 11.  ZUN tapped genius for several years and I grew accustomed to that prowess, to that musical design that allows infinite arranges and remixes.

Like that melody?  Find other renditions arranged by that circle of musicians.

Like that style?  Find other Touhou melodies performed by different musicians.

With such a stupidly vast array of selections, you can afford to be very picky when it comes to Touhou arranges.  My favorite circle is TAMUSIC, and I tend to hold them to the standard of their best:

Capital City of Flowers in the Sky as performed by TAMUSIC, original by ZUN

If I sift through their violin volumes 1 through 9, I’m going to come away with the best 80 minutes on a mixed CD; because even if the rest is still “good”, I’m going to listen to whatever stands level to the peak performance, which brings me back to my main point:

ZUN went on a streak over a hundred compositions long; bar one, maybe two duds per game, and there was usually nothing wrong with said duds, they just weren’t Septette for the Dead Princess.  It’s something I’m thankful for, because such a high quality streak is a rare thing in any field.  Throw on the sheer number of musicians that dedicated their time to taking these compositions and transcending them further, and it sets an unrealistic standard going forward when a new Touhou game comes out and it doesn’t kick you out of your chair with just its OST; when there are only early arranges that experiment with mixed results.

It wasn’t perfect, so I left Unidentified Fantastic Object (12), Ten Desires (13), and Double Dealing Character (14) to my apathy.  Heian Alien was the only melody I actively pursued.

Heian Alien in dramatic orchestra as performed by Tutti Sound, original by ZUN

Much like my writing block; an unrealistic standard obfuscated the mind into picking out problems when I could still enjoy something new, something good.


Nostalgia is a dangerous thing.  As a flavor, it’s wonderful, but as a desire it corrupts the mind to refuge itself within an endless cycle of the familiar.  Nostalgia obsession can develop into the very real, very serious psychological condition of Neophobia: the fear of new things.

I developed Neophobia about two years ago and it’s a truly awful way to survive while feeling dead.  I didn’t arrive to such a fragile state of mind through Nostalgia, but I came to savor Nostalgia as a result of Neophobia; and let me tell ya, that gum gets old fast!  I’m better, or getting better at least, but that’s a topic for another day, another post.

Nostalgia and a love for the proven commodity permeates every facet of our society and especially creative fields; from books to cinema to music; it takes a damned good review to pull the softcore moviegoer out of the comfort of his/her chair for something new, something original, but when yet another comic book movie hits the big screen, when another reboot of Godzilla or Disney hits the big screen we’re there for it; blessed or damned; whether we know anything about its source material or not.

All I knew about Godzilla was all this such and stuff and such I overheard…  I remember an awful Jurassic Park rip-off in 1998…  And um…  I think he shoots laser beams?

Why did I go out and see it?

Because I recognized the name, the brand, and everything I would be walking into just from watching the trailer.

Familiarity imprints a subconscious comfort onto our sense of association.  That comfort roots and stems Neophobia.  Companies pay millions to annoy you online, on TV, in the theater, so that when you see their product standing beside an unknown, their product can stand on the leverage of that subtle, almost intangible comfort.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What happened to originality in <Creative Field>?” well, comfort sells.

Experimentation can lead to something new, something eclectic and dangerous and wonderful; or bad.  You never know till you try, both as a creator of materials and as an absorber of materials.


Based on the latest Reiteisei, the largest convention for Touhou in Japan, musicians seem favorable to the Good Old Touhou.  My favorite circles in particular: TAMUSIC pulls from 6 through 11 mostly, and Xion releases another PCB album.

Of course, when you’re awesome like Xion or TAMUSIC, you can do whatever you want and people back flip for you:

Lotus Forest by Xion, originals Dollmaker of Bucuresti and Doll Judgment by ZUN

My favorite pianists in Assault Door have three performances from Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character; which I look forward to listening to once they hit YouTube, and while I’ve never been fond of SOUND HOLIC, I applaud them for rolling out an entire album based on DDC.  They’re among the few.

ZUN’s been experimenting with some new styles and instrumentations.  At first preview with the OST for Double Dealing Character, he has taken to utilizing some of the more synthetic sounds available to modern composers; and while I’m a sucker for my favorite trinity: violin + piano + guitar,  I have come to appreciate the Dramatic Trumpet that proliferates and leads almost every one of ZUN’s pieces.

Prior to Touhou I was an enemy of horns.  It took an open mind and fascination for new musical style to adapt my tastes to a larger variety.

I didn’t realize I had clammed up again, until a perusal through youtube led me to watch the final stage for Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character, and oh, Sukuna is such a silly character!  She wears a ramen bowl on her head.  Also, she wields wields a giant needle and a cutesy mallet.  She’s like a ball of yayness wrapped in a kimono.  ZUN creates a lot of quirky and ridiculous characters, but I think Sukuna leads the list of irrationally awesome appearances.

Also:

Shining Needle ~ Little Princess by ZUN

Reimu (Cropped)

It’s actually 3:40 long, this video just loops it 4 times.

Shining Needle ~ Little Princess is the kind of awesomeness I’ve come to expect from ZUN.  It’s a bit simple in design for ZUN, but the background piano really props this track up.  It also opens more like a stage theme than a boss theme, but hey, no need to copy Border of Life, Necrofantasia, Nuclear Fusion, Venerable Ancient Battlefield, etc etc etc+100.

The melody that kicks in at 1:27 is arguably the strongest and weakest part of this theme.  It provides such a good emotional impact that perfectly fits into a fight meant to be final, but the repetitive quality lends it to depend heavily on the background piano; and many an arranger/remixer makes the mistake of dropping that piano, without introducing a new supporting melody, which can render that part of the music rather shallow.

I love it, and after growing enamored to Shining Needle ~ Little Princess, it makes me wonder what I’m missing out on, because the signs were there all along.

Desire Drive as performed by TAMUSIC, original by ZUN

I can credit my best work of writing, Waltz on Water, entirely to this piece.  Literally nothing else: just a bunch of energy charged into me after listening to Randal Keenan and Daniel Woodrow speak at the WCU Literary Festival, and then I just played this on loop while letting my imagination give physical character and imagery to to the sounds.

More importantly, it came out of Ten Desires: the game I ignored the most.

I did so; first out of intention; to play it from a standpoint of ignorance, but that idea eventually became a chore I kept pushing off till I wanted nothing to do with Ten Desires.  I haven’t even listened to the original Desire Drive yet!


Based on comments I read around Youtube, I sense that some Tou-fans like myself did not play the recent games.   I know I’m not the only one who settled into the comfort of Touhou 6 through 11 plus maybe Cosmic Mind ~ Emotional Skyscraper and Heian Alien from UFO.  It was such a cozy, spacious bed that I could sleep in it forever, kick my legs around and roll round and round without fear of falling off the edge.

*Prick*

Nothing lasts forever. Self-publication is not self-sustaining by default. Indie game/book/movie/music authors don’t succeed with crazy ideas unless you give their experiments a try, and yeah, the brand spanking new is usually a flawed piece of work. If you don’t like it, that’s fine to say so.  Feedback helps.

Touhou in particular feels like “The Indestructible Indie” because of its absolutely absurd fan-contributions and fan-involvement. Touhou is still the only franchise I know of that was founded with a built-in desire for and dependency upon fan fiction, fan art, fan music, and fan everything; where the constant changing perceptions of the fan base quite literally determines canonical results; and where it’s totally okay to completely differ on interpretations, and share completely opposite forms of subjectivity. Canon is a very loose, very flexible and friendly thing in Touhou; and that preference for opinion and subjectivity makes Touhou special, though not immune to apathy.

If I don’t play the games, or at least invest myself to giving the new musics a chance; and others do the same; ZUN will eventually stop Touhou.

It’s really easy to just poke through a brand new OST and say “Whelp, that’s not Perfect Cherry Blossom”.  Shining Needle ~ Little Princess is not the most elegant piece ZUN has made, but there are so many other characteristics to enjoy about it.

When critique relies upon comparison instead of definition; when judgment can deface and ignore based solely on difference from the standard; then the mind has shrunk, closed on itself, and decided to hide within a memory.

Perfectionism is a trap, a fallacy: something we strive for, but we can only achieve perfection by altering the criteria for success, by eliminating categories harboring error, by setting a specific, concrete example as a standard to copy instead of concepts to interpret through our subjectivity, our individuality.

It’s just too easy to kill something by comparison.

Shining Needle ~ Little Princess is not like Capital City of Flowers in the Sky (ZUN), Scherzo Diabolico (Alkan), Crystallize (Sterling) or something else high up my favorites, but I still love, love, love it:

Shining Needle ~ Little Princess piano arrange by 37467524

It’s something new to me, something unique to me, something its own: which is best kind of music.


So, how about you?  Ever been tied down by something magnificent in your past?  Or found your present interests difficult to enjoy because of a memory?  Is Nostalgia your enemy or your friend?

Words Versus Pictures

After reading the article: Words Are Human, which relays pretty much everything I feel about the inundated notion “A picture is worth a thousand words”, I felt affirmed in my writers’ bias for words over motion pictures, but then I mulled over the idea for a few days.

My usual case-in-point argument for the sheer, irreplaceable power of words begins and ends with Martin Luther King Jr, but then I thought…

Not about whether words were truly so powerful, but that perhaps a picture could rival prose.


I once saw a picture of an angel getting her wings torn off; and a thousand words could not accurately describe the scene, because one thousand counts of abstracted physicality does not add up to the perfect physical definition of a picture.

One thousand pictures streamed at sixty per second though could not accurately describe in 16.666~ seconds my distraught reactions, because one thousand pictures of abstracted feeling does not add up to the perfect emotional definition of a prose, nor explain my revulsion.

A single picture possessed enough symbolisms to rile my ire in a way that words would not; invoking a web work of emotions that could only materialize words not suitable for any kind of substitution: pictorial, animated, or otherwise.  That one picture (that I don’t care to dig up) required an entire short story to reconcile, but the resulting short story would fail upon 60 frames per second…  I’ve always wanted to accompany Stitched Angel with some pictures, but only to assist those words making a physical account.


So right now, my working theory is that:

Words possess accuracy and truth over the immaterial, but through immaterial symbolism, words embody a great many pictures.

Pictures possess accuracy and truth over the material, but through material symbolism, pictures embody a great many words.

So which is better?

Words!  Duh!

How else would I transmit this idea to you?  :)

Agree, disagree? Mine is but an opinion, and yours are welcome here too, so post away!

Friendly Poison

Friendly poison kills me,
Cut into me through tiny wounds,
Again and again,
Filling the weakness I abandoned,
Burgeoning too large to ignore now.

I smile; I want to cry.
I smile; I want to rage.
I smile; I want to run away.
I stay strong, smiling for weaker souls,
Coddling their malcontent while hiding mine.

This poison composes simple requests,
An endless train of need,
Again and again,
Bribing me with my own conscience,
To serve the friends who cut me.

I stress in bed; I want to sleep.
I stress in bed; I want to rest.
I stress in bed; I want to be alone.
Nowhere can I hide,
When my mind fears phones and friends.

Deathly solution can cure this poison,
And I think of this,
Again and again,
But not them, never them;
Not friends who see the tool I am.

My strength, my kindness,
This charity I run,
Donating my life to fix friends,
So long as I give it away,
This poison will never end.

I’m ready to die; I want to live.
I’m ready to die; I just want to live.
I’m ready to die; I just want to live for myself
Without these “friends” pulling at me,
Poisoning me.
 
 
 
I want my tombstone to say, “Death by Altruism”.

Maybe, someone will get the joke, and feel a little less alone when she has to go back to her thieving friends who constantly steal her time and morality to solve their problems.

At some point, you just feel that… they should be able to take care of themselves…

You taught them to fish…
They know how to fish now…
Why are you still fishing for them?

*Sigh*

I promise to post something happier soon :)