Tuesday, March 24, 2015

oh. seraphina

I love dragons. I really do. To be fair, that made me slightly impartial to this book. However, and I will point out, that you will not be getting those giant world crushing dragons that appear in most fantasy. These are shapeshifting dragons that are persecuted and oddly respected for being what they are, dragons.

The flaws in this story? I never felt totally convinced that people could take control of such an intelligent race like dragons so easily and I don't think that a dragon, would deign themselves to wear bells, like a household cat. Truthfully, the writing isn't for everyone. The pacing is strange and sentences are disjointed. However, somewhere in there, I stopped noticing. Which means, no matter what, I understood this book on a visceral level.

Seraphina herself is a pleasant character to support. She had weaknesses and strengths that made her feel well rounded. It wasn't that I identified with her, it was that she felt real to me. She wasn't perfect and whiney. She was skilled, intelligent and introspective. She wasn't stubbornly plowing ahead but worked through her life with a respectable determination. She wasn't the over the top character that seems to be getting so much attention in young adult literature these days. She was just Seraphina. 

Usually, I would talk about the plot here. But, I am not going to. I feel that this book should be read without many spoilers.  So I will post the published synopsis instead.
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
That is about as much information as I am willing to divulge. 

Problems aside. I really liked the book. It felt new. Fresh. The world felt rich. It kept me interested in its simplicity. The idea that dragons were these Vulcan-like mathematical creatures was fascinating. The usage of subtle intrigues. The cerebralist references. And lastly (but not least) the fact that the book reminded me of Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy. (A set of three books I fell in love in as a prepubescent teen.) Ultimately placing Seraphina into my list of favorite books regardless of it's flaws.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

wes posts

A friend of mine posts things that he is thankful for almost every day. Sometimes, they are things that make me feel warm, but my favorites are the ones that amuse me.

So here are my favorites.

Wes is thankful for...
  1. ... slow jams... everywhere... everyday
  2. ... chalk butt at climbing gyms
  3. ... the legend that is Korean Santa
  4. ... friends who don't like people
  5. ... for being Chinese
  6. ...  for getting away with "glew" as the past tense for "glow"... which is "gleau" in French, "glough" is Scots, and "gllobbdryw" in Welsh.
  7. ... getting to dish with the homegirl whilst getting my hairs did
  8. ... for the conversation that took an interesting turn when the person asked, "Are you a prophet?"
  9. ... drinks in the Mothership
  10. ... for bed. 
    And corn on the cob. And analyzing people. But, mostly bed.
  11. ... 
    some good sitting.
I am thankful for Wes being thankful. But mainly I'm that for Wes.

Friday, March 6, 2015

the institute

I had a trip to Chicago in February. During that trip my friend (the best Brian ever) donated me his old Roku system. 

If you don't know what that is, it's a web-based TV streaming system. Now, I already have the basic services; Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, etc on my Xbox. However, this offers a larger spool to choose from. This is how I was introduced to Tubitv. A free streaming site for TV and movies. Most of the stuff they have is obscure. But, I have watched a lot of great stuff on there.

One of these things was a documentary called, "The Institute". A mind trip documentary about a game-performance-art-puzzle-organization. At first, I thought it was a mockumentary. But it's not. This is a mind-bending documentary that blurs the line between real and fantasy. 

To give you a little more detail. Here is what Wikipedia describes it as:
The Institute is a 2013 documentary film directed by Spencer McCall reconstructing the story of the "Jejune Institute", an alternate reality game set in San Francisco, through interviews with the participants and the creators. The game was produced in 2008 by Oakland-based artist Jeff Hull. Over the course of three years, it enrolled more than 10,000 players who, responding to eccentric flyers plastered all over the city, started the game by receiving their "induction" at the fake headquarters of the Institute, located in an office building in San Francisco's Financial District.

What I liked about it is this; it reminded me of Cicada 3301. Which is another well known alternate reality game. Although, Cicada 3301 is a series of puzzles, cyphers, and hacking feats that require a lot of time and knowledge. They have a similar connection to interacting with the real world and using problem solving skills.

There's a lot of conspiracy theories and hub bub surrounding both of these events. However, I find them to be inspiring and they renew my hope for the creative intelligence of mankind.

Monday, March 2, 2015

death nails

Death nails are defined as the following. (According to the urban dictionary.)
"... a combination of "death knell" (an omen of death or destruction) and "nail in the coffin"..."
Yet, this is what I call the current and fad of wearing "stiletto nails".  It is personal joke. Perhaps, a slight to those who cannot sense my sarcastic double entendre to the death a fad enjoys.

These nails are long, vampiric, often multi colored acrylic nails. The ones that all the fashionistas and ladies of the dark wear these days.

Well, I just DO NOT like them. 

I know, it's not a topic of huge importance, but it bothers me. It is seen as this glamorous fashionable thing. What is it that makes this pleasing to people?

Granted, I've always been a little weird about painted nails. It's not that I've never had my nails done or avoid nail polish all together, but I think it is mind bogglingly strange. Why do we take laquer and paint what is basically thin blades of bone? It's oddly macabre. Not that I am against macabre. I am perfectly in touch with my dark side.

In fact, I love being myself and doing whatever I want. I just have never done anything for shock value. That's what this feels like. The "Lady Gaga" of nail art.

I also think about the history of "long nails" themselves. 

In our history aristocrats and royalty have always been described as, "fattened with long nails". A sign that a person never had to do something for themselves. The ancient Egyptians even had a caste system represented with the color of a persons nails. The more wealthy you were the darker your nails. 

So when I see these hand daggers, all I can think about is this; there is a long history of oppressive symbolism wrapped up in a pointy shell. I think in a few years people will look back at old pictures and think, "I can't believe I wore stiletto nails, Gross."

Do people still say gross?