How Dragon Age II could have ended

Okay, so I get that the chantry has to go – it’s what the entire plot of Inquisition hinges on, they can’t let Hawke prevent that. But I think what made a lot of people angry was not that you couldn’t stop it, but that you never even get the chance to try. That Anders behaves exactly the same regardless of your approval rating with him, regardless of whether you were romancing him, which speaks pretty poorly to the importance of that relationship.

So I propose…

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Scenes from the thesis: citations

“My citations are a mess,” I told the professors as I gave them my rough draft. “Because I switched from MLA to Chicago Manual of Style midway through. It’s okay though! I’ll have my lawyer fix it.”

Some time later…

My lawyer: “Footnote 81 — ‘Professor Kumakura Chiyuki suggests that the secondary meaning of this line is an aggressive sexual overture.’ You should probably cite where he said that.”

Me: “…in a Starbucks?”

Scenes from the thesis: academic integrity

I was pondering the last section of my thesis, where I write about the linguistic commonalities between the four authors I’ve been examining. And I thought, verbatim:

“Well this shouldn’t take too long, since I’m not trying to prove anything that isn’t true.”



Scenes from the thesis: forsooth

So I’ve been neck-deep in early modern Japanese lit recently, which Japanese people are like “oh, classical language, so difficult” and it’s like, not really, it’s all Japanese and I’m learning all of it like a foreign language, it’s just different. And largely — though not entirely — overlapping.

Yesterday was my birthday so I took a break from the thesis for drinks and pool with friends last night, and was attempting to teach my friend Yuka how to play pool. In explaining that shots are more difficult when the target ball is close to the cueball but far from the pocket, I totally blanked on the construction for “hard to do ___” in modern Japanese.

Me: 打ち…がたき?
Yuka: LOLOLOL, you sound like a samurai.

Because that’s like blanking on “indeed” and producing “forsooth” instead.

That is all.

The Nickel and Dime Decade: American Popular Culture During the 1930s, by Gary Best

This book is pretty awful.

So I was looking for social histories of the Depression for… no reason. Certainly not because I was researching the life and times of Steve Rogers, nope. >_> Although… hypothetically speaking… if anyone wanted to chat about this stuff, you might possibly find me a very enthusiastic willing ear.

And this book does indeed have a lot of relevant and interesting information, but it also has some of the most dishonest scholarship I’ve seen since I picked up an Ann Coulter book.

Strap in, friends, we’re gettin’ political!

Under the Dome, by Stephen King


With a writer as prolific as Stephen King (or Anne Rice, John Updike, etc), there reaches a point where it’s hard to judge each successive work on its own merits — the impulse becomes to judge it against the rest of the writer’s oevre. Is Pandora better than Tale of the Body Thief, but pales in comparison to Interview with a Vampire? Is this book perhaps good in its own right, but rehashing themes that the author’s already done? Is To the End of Time the actualfax worst book that Updike has ever written? Is Under the Dome on par with King’s early classics, or just one of his potboilers?

Well friends, I have no idea, because I don’t actually read Stephen King! The only other book of his I’ve read was The Dead Zone (oh right, and The Gunslinger, ages ago, but I’ve been told that’s quite different from King’s usual style), so my experience with Under the Dome was largely uncolored by his previous books. And in a nutshell, my experience was:

Stephen King does Battle Royale, and does it fuckin’ aces.

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Bending gender (till it breaks): Left Hand of Darkness vs. Ancillary Justice

lefthand ancillary

There are a lot of books, I think, that are classics in their field, required reading, not because they did their ideas best, but simply because they did them first. Lord of the Flies is my go-to example for this — it didn’t thrill me when I read it, because by that point I’d already read Galax-Arena and Battle Royale (among others) and seen those same ideas explored better elsewhere.

The critical buzz that greeted the release of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice suggested that it was doing just that to Left Hand of Darkness: that this was the gender-bending sci-fi of the new millennium, the long-awaited upgrade to LeGuin’s seminal work on the subject (by now nearly fifty years old). But after reading it, I couldn’t disagree more — Ancillary Justice doesn’t replace Left Hand of Darkness or retread that ground; rather, it complements LeGuin’s story in a way that I have never before seen two novels do, especially not novels written by different authors and separated by decades. In tandem, they explore how gendered pronouns influence the way we perceive and interpret human behavior. They come at the issue from different angles, and in so doing, call into question some of our most basic assumptions about masculine and feminine.

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