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I'm going to come back to dreamwidth. holy shit. tumblr and livejournal are dead.

This entry was originally posted at http://tokyograndpa.dreamwidth.org/2914.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
An Open Letter To Neurotypicals who were reblogging Simon Baron-Cohen's Empathy Quotient Test:

Hi there. I'm Beki. I'm an Autistic.

And it hurts.

It hurts, what you're participating in. I may have trouble expressing it in understandable ways, but I do feel emotions, very deeply. And I'm hurt.

I want you to know it. I want you- all of you, every one, not just [i]you[/i]- to know how hurt I am.
You made me cry. I've gone almost the whole week safe and clean after a month of depressive fits and anxiety attack hangover, but you broke me. You broke my streak. You destroyed me. You made me cry. I'm breaking down. Congratulations.

I want you to know that you are presenting the opposite of empathy by sharing around and caring about this test. I want to tell you that. Because you are hurting me, and you probably perceive me as overreacting.
You think that my honest, sincere, powerful emotions are overreacting. You're saying that you're not hurt and therefore I should not be. You are saying that my hurt doesn't mean anything to you and therefore my feelings mean nothing at all.

Who's empathetic now?

Certainly not me, of course. I'm just expressing my pain. You're doing whatever you want without thinking about how it hurts people. I'm the one that's wrong. My feelings and brain and anguish is wrong. I don't exist.
I got a nine. Out of eighty. Where thirty points or below for "us girl female women vagina submissive scared stupid breasts femme ladies" by his disgustingly gendered standards is something worse than sociopathic, it's almost kind of close to autistic! A death sentence! It's twenty-three whole points away from "High Functioning Asperger's", and that's scary!! "I need people to know about this so I'm going to act like the extremely increasingly high population of autists has absolutely no chance of seeing this!! Oh, the humanity," you think!
But you don't need to think about our feelings. We can't feel emotions. We can't hear or read what you're saying. We don't use or understand sarcasm or jokes. We're here to be difficult, exhausting and a burden and a bother and sensitive. We don't actually even exist most of the time, only when it's convenient to harass you. We don't live normal lives, with moments of meltdown or stim or overstim and loneliness and passion and confusion and introversion; we're just a faceless, scary violent cold emotionless thing. We're not people, we're a disease. We haven't lived properly or learnt how to deal with our confusions and difficulties, we just pop into existence as soon as you mention us because we like the attention and we like making your lives and feelings difficult (even though we don't actually 'like' things in any way different from a cold, clinical understanding of trains; now, why doesn't that paradox seem to make sense to me?).

Just because we don't understand all paths and meanings of a situation easily, our reaction time is a little slower, and trying to balance all these factors with our own constant physical discomfort and confusion makes us shut down in fright and frustration, just because there are too many things to keep track of at once with our constantly-racing thoughts on topic in our head as well as also paying attention to things outside positively overwhelms us.... we're robotic, violent sociopaths. We're wrong. We don't know how we feel and act or what's going on in our own heads. We should listen to the neurotypicals. We are wrong. We are invalid. We are scary, we are to be hated and feared and secluded and kept away from people. It would be terrifying to be anything like us. You don't think you could learn to cope with how "disabled" we are, so you attribute to us not being able to handle it or learn to cope either. You would rather be anything than be like us. You would rather your children die than have a vaccine that you think will transfer a neurological condition (science says no, by the way).

And... Even though I know more Autists and Aspies who are petrified of saying things because they'll say the wrong thing and hurt people. Even though I know of so many who are hurt and confused by these kind of things but still can't bring themselves to speak up because they're afraid that the negative reaction to the flawed and skewed test means they won't be listened to anymore. Even though reactions like mine (violent) are more uncommon. Even though I'm violent by personality, not by disorder. Even though there are more "normal" "neurotypical" "safe" "healthy" "functional" people who react in severe physical violence and anger to perceived injury than there are of us. Even though there's no difference between the amount and type of violent reactionaries who are frustrated and frightened and overwhelmed regular people, and autistics experiencing the same feelings, even though we just get there a little quicker and that's the only difference because you refuse to acknowledge our needs and we are driven to it with more publicity. Even though violent NTs are more common than violent Auties but they're "different because it's part of their personality", and we're just disordered. Even though all of these things, I know that my initial aggressive language will be misunderstood and misconstrued. I know that most people will associate that reaction with Autists in general. They will do that because this test has taught them that they are safe and normal and clean, because they do not "fall into the danger zone" (do you see how loaded that language is?) it means that everyone who does is scary. Undesireable. Unfathomable. Sociopathic. To be hated. We are not like you.

How would you feel to be told you were under thirty points on that test? If you found out you were under twenty points? If you were under ten? Would you be scared? Would you reject the results then, and not take it seriously? Would you be hesitant to reveal your score? Think seriously about if you scored low on that test and what you would feel like. Now think about how empathetic you are being to those people who scored lower than you on this Empathy Quotient Test.

I got under ten. I got nine points. 9/80 points indicating the level of empathy I am capable of experiencing. When this test's definition of "High Functioning Asperger's" (aka the most healthy and lite and normal version of Autism) is twenty points, but someone who got a 9 can go undiagnosed for most of her life because she seems so smart and funny and mostly normal, just kind of quirky, and everyone she tells about her diagnosis says "Are you sure? I really had no idea" because she was doing so well at passing, you should be able to tell that it's not absolute.

What comes into your head when you think about what autism means and what an autistic person is like? What came into your head when you pictured the kind of person who would rank low on this test?
Probably not an accurate reflection of the Autistic Spectrum.
If you're someone like Simon Baron-Cohen, you confuse them with a textbook sociopath depending on their arbitrarily determined points and their physical or mental one-or-the-other on the gender binary scale.
The person that this test's questions are geared towards is a textbook sociopath. I have read the textbooks, I wondered if I was sociopathic for a while before I realized that my trust and loyalty and sympathy for people I consider friends disqualified me indefinitely from that diagnosis, trust me on this one.
That's one of the many flaws in it. Its questions, standards, grading, and definitions do not coexist with one another. They are all entirely separate. Empathy is not related to determining autism; I know high functioning Neuro Typicals with less capacity for empathy than I in practice, but they know how to answer disconnected and targeting quiz questions so they're still graded as NTs. There are autists who have less empathy than me too- and more importantly there are also Auties who have difficulty understanding, processing, and exhibiting the empathy that they do feel. It's easier to go nonverbal and shut down with that much going on in your head. It’s not a personal insult or a total lack of understanding.

I've been having a lot of trouble lately, struggling with my identity and how much of me is from my various disorders and how much of me is just my personality. And in one way, this righteous anger is just what I needed. I am not like many Autistics, and I am also not like many NTs. That is not a reflection on either group or any of the people in them. That is a reflection on me as a person. In fact, many Autistics may have answered the questions totally different than me. Many of us are animal lovers and would never do anything to intentionally hurt a pet, and understand and like animals better than human people. Not all of us; we don't all automatically understand cows or pigs or cats, or cars or planes or trains or roller coasters, or history or books or music or a video game. We all speak different mental languages and have diverse special interests, just like neurotypical people.

I may have ADHD, clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities, generalized dysthymia and mood swings, dyscalculia, and intermittent explosive disorder. I am also Autistic. I occupy an area on the Autistic Spectrum sometimes thought of or referred to as "high functioning" or "Asperger's Syndrome disorder" by out-of-date and behind-the-times ableists. None of these single factors determines my personality; my intellect, selective memory capacity, the fact that I process life by asking questions and answering them, the kinds of music I like or the way I analyse literature and videogames and people and my own thoughts constantly. I am a witty, insightful, attentive, passionate, loud, educated, obstinate individual. I have strong feelings on things and I am easily angered because there are so many things people are wrong about. That's just who I am, as an individual, as a person, and not only do my disorders not define all of me but I do not define them! Other people like me cognitively or in sensitivity or learning style will still have totally different personalities, topical loyalties, and ways of coping with situations (ex. physical self-harm instead of social self-harming behaviours).

I am not Autism, but I am an Autistic. I am but one of many, each of which are different and diverse valuable and beautiful and awesome in our own ways. You are neurotypical; you occupy a privileged position in terms of society, ability, and social comprehension. You say and do things because you do not know how much they hurt us and you don't know how to do better, but then you judge us for being the same way. You use ableist, discriminatory talk like 'high-functioning' to determine how many of us are close to someday passing for normal, to identify how many of us are like you enough for you to not have to consider other sets of needs. You parse differences on irrelevant levels, always taking the word of NTs like parents or psychologists who have seen but not understood us. You never ask us questions about ourselves in order to understand us; instead you try and judge us based on preconceptions that you have developed and absorbed from other NTs, or from specific Auties that you think will accurately dictate what every one of our experiences are.
But you have the freedom to judge us. You are not vilified for it. You are just acting in ways that allow you to understand and process the massive amount of different kinds of people that we are! Yet when we do the same thing and are overwhelmed by the sheer number of factors and try to respond in ways that allow us to more easily comprehend and process the world around us, we are the villains. We are disabled. We are sick and different.

Do you see the double standard at play here? :\

But, your problems are not my problems. At least, they're not my only problems. I have far more problems with this test right now than just massive quantities of internalized ableism in generalized public society.
Baron-Cohen's other egregious flaw with this questionnaire is, obviously, his aggressive pushing of gendered binary identity.

I'm queer; I don't believe in the binary as we understand it and I think it hurts people and we should try to live without it. I'll let a better queer gender and sexuality activist than I explain it. All I knew the first time I saw this test was that it bothered me and made me angry.

All I want to point out is that this quiz does not allow for queers; you must fit neatly into one of two predefined categories of arbitrarily selected traits called 'male' and 'female', which somehow change the way the numbers work. If you do not identify as one of these two labels, and are genderqueer or intersex or any other number of things, you do not exist. That too is oppressive identity erasure, of a totally different kind than pure ableism. I'm utterly ashamed that I have yet to see anyone speak out against this. It raises my ire, rustles my jimmies, torks me off, annoys me beyond belief. I hate very few things in the world at this point more than socially constructed gender and sexuality binary structures.

I can find and screen links about this test and the man who made it. I can source other writers and activists and literature disclaiming and disproving both it and the beliefs behind it. I am willing to put in that work. But it is frankly exhausting to do such thankless, intensive work for zero return, and even I get sick and fed up with trying so hard to educate people when nobody wants to be educated.

Nothing about us without us. Nothing about us without us.

Sociopathy is not autism. Sociopathy is not Autism. Autism is not sociopathy.

When I was on the verge of tears three and a half hours ago [[first draft completed 8:30 yesterday night]], after seeing and blowing up at the newest circulation of the test; my hands shaking and the veins in my forehead tightening and my eyes beginning to swim as my breathing started to catch; I went to my personal blog and typed that I was so fed up I was ready to just go home. Go home. I'm going home, I edited out with frustration, glad that it was a Friday evening and the campus was practically empty.

I’m going home.

I’m going home.

I’m going home.

I’m tired of being treated like nothing because my opinions don’t matter. Because I’m wrong about my experiences. Because my pain isn’t real. I’m tired of people invalidating me, stepping on me and then telling me I’m being oversensitive.

I’m tired of this happening to everyone like me, every one of my people suffering and not being heard or allowed to do anything about it.

I’m going home.

I'm going home.

I want to create a safe space for myself and anyone who share my feelings (because I know they exist, I’ve met them). I want to find a way to let us Speak for Ourselves. But it’s so hard to do that when we’re being ignored and erased and oppressed and judged.

I’m going home.

Let’s start a new world together, huh? Away from this pain we never asked for and don’t deserve. You and me.

Let’s go home and leave.

Nothing about us without us.

Speak for ourselves.

Autism is NOT sociopathy.

I’m going home.

There is an interest of mine, an obsession. A video game called Tales of Symphonia. The ultimate antagonist is a boy who sought power because of the intense racial and societal discrimination he faced. Rejected by his home, shunned by his parents, demeaned by society, and with his beloved sister murdered for the mix of her blood, he seeks unimaginable power and is corrupted by the misuse of it. One of the most chilling sequences in it is when his sister’s spirit disabuses him of the notion that his destructive actions were for any kind of helpful dream, and he loses his mind. He is victimized and frustrated, but turns to victimizing and murdering others. He is someone I would describe as having little empathy. It appears to be something he squashed years ago half by intention and half as a self-defense reaction. In the end, he sought only to escape and find a place of comfort to call home to run away to. His echoing mantra as he flew? "I'm going home."
That's how I feel. That boy. Like there is nothing else I can do.

But I have to keep fighting anyway.

(Originally posted at my venting/feelings blog at anxiety-ala-inko.tumblr.com. Any content edits or recommendations for changes are encouraged, as I would like to format it in a way that can be made viral and disseminated in article form.)
(Crossposted from my personal tumblr at http://tokyograndpa.tumblr.com/post/38443911088/in-defence-of-the-duke-a-full-length-character-essay.)
I had seen a disappointing anonymous confession from a Tales Of confession blog on my dash, and went to make a post about it. Originally, this post was small, ending after the /nopes line. Everything else was commentary in the tags. However, I started to post more and more tags, and grew anxious. Tumblr's notorious for cutting tags and erasing them. So, I moved it all under a readmore in the post proper. You can pretty much pinpoint where this transition was because I start looking like I know what I'm talking about and making good points.
I deeply love Tales of Symphonia- it's my favourite game, one of the best I've ever played, and definitely earned its spot as the Top RPG For The Nintendo Gamecube. It has such depth of character, perhaps a depth that can only be understood after replaying it nine times- and given that each playthrough can take anywhere from sixty to one-hundred-and-twenty hours, it can take up a huge chunk of one's life. I grew up with Tales of Symphonia. I've spent years with it. Analysing it, appreciating it, critiquing it. It's a part of me, as are the people in it.
I've not only played the game multiple times, and the laughable sequel, I've also seen the OVA. I've read the manga. I've read translations of Drama CD transcripts. I have done everything short of playing the Japanese-only Tales Of The World and Radiant Mythology games. I flatter myself to think that I understand the nuances of the story.... and of the party members that we so unerringly are treated to. I know them as I know myself. I deeply sympathise with them, their struggles, their joys, their journeys. I've gone through phases of favourites and most-derided, but each of them at least serves some purpose. They may not all be used to their fullest advantage emotionally, but they are there, and it does us little good to wish that they were not. Rather, it is our responsibility to  find their purposes and guide them to those ends, by seeing them for the flawed and hopeful people that they are. I have intimated myself with many things about their lives, because it interests me to do so. I draw on many canon sources in order to present the fullest picture of the happenings of the game. So when I say something, I do hope that I have enough material to fully back it up.
The following is the entirety of my original rambling manifesto, including images and formatting. It is a defensive analysis of the party member Regal (major spoilers ensure) Bryant, and the views that some of the fandom has of it. I adore Regal. He has the most human struggle of the party members, and that's not a race statement. His story is purely personal and emotional; it could be anywhere and any time. Regal and Alicia's tragedy is not tied to the fantasy magitek world of the game, unlike everyone else's- the only indication of society is the class difference that matters so little to them. While I relate to or admire many of the characters for various reasons, Regal's ought to be the easiest to tap into. When people deride him or get him wrong, I take it exceedingly personally. I've always liked him, but it's just grown more and more in the years since I first picked up the game.
So, here; here is what I hope to be the first of many analytical pieces on Regal and the Symphonia cast. (I like writing about them, and drawing out aspects of their character occasionally passed over.)
For your perusal: In Defence of the Duke.

"Remember that post about feeling so sympathetic and defensive for a character that criticism of them makes you really irrationally emotional?

I just felt that feel. Not, as could be assumed, for Colette, but... for Regal.


.../nopes promptly off into the distance, trailing gibberish and spouting pained rhetoric at offending parties

Sorry, but this is a Regal Bryant appreciation blog.

A Regal Bryant appreciation lifestyle, in fact.

And I welcome an open dialogue on the matter, but just actually have criticism and points, okay?
Vague butthurt bashing makes me want to punt a brick through your window and into your asshole while openly weeping. So that's... not really okay with me.

 don't even think this is the Alicia muse talking right now, this is purely me. I  JUST. CAN'T????? Somebody said that not having Regal would have made room for Kratos to rejoin the party and I just. NO NO NO NO NO KRATOS' ABSENCE WAS ENTIRELY PURPOSEFUL! THEY DIDN'T JUST MAKE REGAL TO FILL UP KRATOS' EMPTY SPACE OKAY???!!! FRICKIN'--

Regal's role in the story? Is showing how someone without direct ties to Cruxis can still have his life fucked up by them. It was to demonstrate the far-reaching effects of their actions.
e needed to be that one really emotional but very human character who isn't a big hero (well he does have big damn hero moments but) and in that very human and very detached capacity still be vengeful and anguished, because the perpetrators of the system are professional life-ruiners. They ruined people's lives.
resea lost herself, her body and her time because of the crystal they implanted in her- but Regal's life had to go on after being shattered by their actions, and he had to be a broken and shattered human being learning to recover and pick up the pieces.

I'll admit that the game didn't handle that transition well (as they also mishandled the Kratos/Zelos ending nuances), and I won't excuse that. But don't just ignore everything because it suits your needs and because you personally didn't connect with him. Don't say that there was no significance just because it bored you.

Regal, being the last party member, didn't have as much time to develop in the ensemble as he may have needed. By the point we gained him, the plot itself was starting to swing pretty heavily. So it is entirely possible to avoid playing with him. But Gameplay and Story Segregation, people! There are a lot of hints that the battle and gameplay itself do not necessarily reflect the characters and story perfectly.

Despite not having a strong effect on the players, his character has a strong presence in the party. He's the other adult, who babysits the antics of the kids (teens) when they get argumentative or ridiculous. He moderates for Raine when she's involved too heavily, supports her when she needs to get the youths to sit up and buckle down, and offers her his frank cooperation when the going gets tough and danger looms. He pulls his weight with the group; he carries firewood, cooks, sits watch, and offers direction and advice. He mediates problems but doesn't make excuses for anyone; he avoids making trouble at all costs, even when it means bringing mutual information out into the open (see: Zelos). To Genis he humbles himself deeply, and they eventually begin to bond over their shared intellectualism, love of food, and mutual desire to protect Presea. For Presea he also humbles himself, desiring nothing more than to contribute any resource at his disposal to pay her back for her suffering. Regal even breaks into the life of our beloved hero, Lloyd Irving, who notably has the option to tell the esteemed and disgraced Duke that he sees him as another replacement father figure. (...Lloyd really racks those up.)


I think a lot of people are upset by what a drama queen he seems to be. I was as well for years, but then it hit me: Regal makes a big deal about taking responsibility for Alicia because he's never done that before. Responsibility for Alicia was tied intrinsically to his taking responsibility for anyone else.

As el Presidante, privileged to the highest echelons of Tethe'allan nobility and holding dominion over all of the Lezereno Company's workers and properties, he has a great deal of responsibility over people's lives. But he had never actually paid attention to that before or taken it into account before Alicia. Various things in Drama CDs and other material describe his dictator of a father, and the way that Regal was meant to expand and carry on the company as his heir- and, in doing so, reveal information about a potential worker uprising due to poor treatment and other factors. Regal seeing Alicia as a person was a turning point in his emotional and his professional life, as it opened his eyes to the conflict surrounding his business and the people whose lives he had the capability to affect.

As we all know, the chance to affect social change and marry his sweetheart was denied to him. His right hand man, George, mistook his intentions for Alicia Combatir, and broke their relationship apart behind Regal's back. Alicia was given to the Exsphere trader Vharley, where her body was tested for the ability to raise the Cruxis Crystals that Presea took to so successfully. However, Alicia's body rejected the crystal. Just as Regal was learning of George's betrayal, Alicia's body was painfully transformed, and her mind lost. Regal, paralysed by his love for Alicia, struggled with her dying wish to be killed by his hand.

He struggled because, as stated in out-of-game material, she was the first person he felt a genuine emotional attachment to. She was the first servant who had acted out of her station and treated him as a person. He had at first seen that as an oddity, a curiosity, but so grew to enjoy her presence in his life that he could not bear the thought of living without her. It was a huge loss when she died- not only did he lose a trusted friend and lover, but he lost his FIRST friend and lover, the one person who had drastically changed his worldview. Imagine Zelos losing Lloyd, in a way, but different. Regal and Alicia shared YEARS together- and were beginning to realise that they could continue to share years together.

Regal wasn't just obsessed with Presea because she was the last tie to Alicia. Before Alicia's death, Regal had surprised her with a promise to take her to visit her family back in Ozette, a family she hadn't seen for six years or something. Regal was going to ask Steig if it would be permissible for him to marry Alicia and have her live with him permanently. (Since Alicia originally came to work for the Bryant household because she was sending money home to pay for Steig's healing, this trip served more purposes than just a dowry visit.) Alicia had begun telling Regal about her family, and about her sister Presea (who in at least one version had stopped writing letters which worried Alicia deeply. might have been the manga). Seeing Presea gave Regal the chance to fulfill his promise to Alicia, and reach fuller closure.

Closure and perspective are the keys to the gate of character development that our universally-beloved Kratos Aurion did not manage to catch. At the end of the game, Regal Bryant has sworn to remove the physical ties to his grief and has taken Presea Combatir's desires as his new mission in life. He is determined to put the lifestyle of wallowing in sorrow, regret, and self-hate behind him- and look to the future of the world, taking perspective and finding emotional self-purpose as Alicia would have wanted him to.
On the flipside? The fallen angel Kratos, even in the ending allotted for his characterisation, is still unable to come to terms with the loss of Anna and speak to his son. He is still running away from his emotions, shutting out how the tragedy affected him, which I personally think is worse than wallowing in his feelings. Kratos can't even say a proper goodbye or apology to Lloyd- he maintains contact with his old sometimes-enemy Yuan, but not with his own son. A son that can be called the father of the new world order and has earned his birth father's pride tenfold over.
I'm just saying that by the end of the game, Regal was in an emotional vantage point where if he had a son, he could handle it in a healthy manner. Not so with Kratos. So saying that Kratos had a better arc.... Are we even playing the same game? They're both redonkulously hot older men with angsty dead girlfriend backstories, so that can't be part of it. I wish I knew why there was a sudden fanbase rivalry. Whatever.

The other character arc comparison I want to briefly touch upon again here is Zelos. Regal and Zelos both deal with strong themes of responsibility, learning to develop intersocial affection and self-worth, and learning to use social clout positively while developing as individuals. They just happen to show this arc at different stages. Almost a sort of before and after, if that helps. I didn't realise how much they had in common until writing this, although it's obvious that they share social background and upbringing and are the most capable of speaking frankly with each other. (Also, as has been duly noted by others, they make for really hot smut.) So... yeah. I don't know how much writing has been done comparing them, but here's looking forward to more!

I just put this post into Microsoft Word for a lark, and I've got four pages and over sixteen-and-a-half-hundred words here.


. . .

I don't know either.

I just don't know.
My ask is always open, people."

(Originally posted on December 21, 2012, at 12:08 AM.)

This piece was relatively well-received on tumblr (twenty-three notes at the time of posting, with multiple approving responses), and I was asked to share it to my more abandoned blogging platforms- Dreamwidth and Livejournal. I may also branch out and crosspost the rest of my Symphonia analyses, though I can only think of a worthwhile handful of them atm.
Well, that's enough of me.

This entry was originally posted at http://tokyograndpa.dreamwidth.org/2722.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Sep. 24th, 2012



I was going to write all these things about how our read-through went well and I was one of three people who was fully cast because I’m so good, BUT I HAVE BETTER NEWS NOW.

So the area I’m from is somewhat nearby the largest city in Massachusetts, the city of Springfield. Springfield hosts a yearly fair, the most massive in New England (hence the name ‘Big E’), with food and carnival rides and animals and booths. There are statehouses, which have exhibits and booths from all the New England states (RI, CT, MA, NH, VT, ME). There are mock-Mardi Gras parades. There are farmer’s markets and livestock judging. And…. there is the international building.

The latter is obviously my favourite (despite a great showing from the statehouses this year). Not only do I adore seeing Mexican knitting and Pakistani scarves and Tunisian glittery objects, I have a booth that I visit every year. It sells flags and national flag merchandise- tshirts, bumper stickers, pins, beanie bears, blankets, mugs, signs, flags in varying sizes….. It’s the booth where I purchased the awesome Polish flag blanket I use for Hetalia events so I don’t muck up a real flag.

I didn’t spend much time in my booth tonight though. I was at the Big E with my mother and sister as a quality-time thing, so we were balancing everyone’s wishes. They wanted to walk around while I took pictures of flag objects with my mobile. I went to catch up with them, found them, and lost ‘em again. Looking around on my own, I found…

The Egyptian Art booth.

I can do that again if you don’t understand the implications of those words: Egyptian Art booth.

It was beautiful.

The booth basically had a little jar of turquoise scarabs, some canopic-jar-style ceramics, a few classical dog statuettes… and the papyri.

Dozens of papyri. Dozens of dozens. Each one with a scene on it in lovely, bright-coloured paint- some of it even glittering. Characters, animals, symbols, borders…. really gorgeous stuff.

There was a middle-aged/older man running it. He saw me standing in the aisle ogling the pictures hungrily and asked me to come closer. I was like “I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY” and he said that was fine (which is good because ugh I wish I could have bought something there and I would not have wanted the guilt trip).
He asks me if I know what it is, nodding towards the pictures. I’m excited, I know this one! “Papyrus.” That’s right, he says, papyrus, the oldest paper of civilisation. I nod excitedly.
He asks me how I know. Did I study it in school? I learnt it on my own, I tell him. I like studying these things.
Am I a student?
Yes, I am.
What am I studying, what am I in school for?
I try to tell him performing, theatre, acting, reading plays- this last one he kind of understands. He asks me what plays I read.
I don’t know. All plays. Plays from Spain, from Greece, from China.
Oh! That’s history. Do I study history?
Yes. I do study history. (It’s not what I’m in school for, but it’s definitely not a lie!) He says that’s good!
Do I know the story? He gestures to a particular papyrus and starts telling it for me. He uses his fingers and a pen to show me where in the picture we are.
“This is the scene the final judgement of the dead. These are the judges, there are fourteen of them. These spirits judge the man’s sins. Seven judges believe he is innocent, so they hold the key of life. This is the scales where his heart is balanced. That is his heart, this is the feather of truth. His heart is guilty, so it sinks, he is fed to the beast and the god of wisdom records his guilt. His heart is good, the feather sinks, and he is taken to paradise with the god Osiris and his wife Isis and her sister.”
I thank him for the story. I am smiling. It was amazing hearing him tell it for me, oral storytelling is literally the best thing ever.
He asks me if I am from Springfield. Nearby, I tell him. And you?
He is from Egypt, and he looks like I’m a bit of an idiot. Where? I ask, hoping for more specifics. I’m an awkward potato though and I don’t say where in Egypt.
Luxor. He is from Luxor, which has the ancestry of kings. I am internally screaming.

My mom calls me now and I answer it, and she wants me to come meet her so we can all leave. I thank him for the chat, smiling more, and head out. All the way back to the car my internal squealing is coming out and I and jumping and absolutely giddy because w o w that is so friggin’ cool aaaahh

They were like twenty bucks each. I was very upset and dearly wanted to bring it home with me. For the ~*memories*~!

There was also a point in the Connecticut statehouse where I was checking out a book (there’s a whole corner for selling works by local authors, it rocks) called “Across The Pond” and it had a combined USUK flag banner on it so I was immediately curious. I was checking out the back when an old guy hands me a paper and tells me it’ll tell me much more than the book does, with this wicked strong dialect. He’s the author. He wrote the book. He’s from Hertfordshire originally and moved to Connecticut to be with his girlfriend (now wife) who he met on the internet. It’s incredibly awesome and surreal and I totally would have grilled him if my family hadn’t been nagging me to move on.


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Overthinking Anime Again

Usually, when I join a new fandom, I educate myself about it.

Tales of Symphonia has a direct sequel? Better play it!

Slayers has scanlated manga? Let me read them!

Negima comes in awesome manga and two anime flavours? Have at it with glee!

This is not the case with new anime+ fandom Tears To Tiara.

(Because it hurts my heart.)

I’m not touching the game, not with a six-and-a-half-foot pole. Because I’m not into eroge and I’m not putting up with that shit just to get a more nuanced view of the plot and characters.

And that makes me rage so hard.

Why does everything have to be ruined by sex? Why?!

Can it at least not be automatically ruined by sex, if it must be included? I read the TV Tropes page, and am really repulsed by how much the events and characters revolve around giving Arawn sex.
Like. He’s not even that hot. Dude.

(And nobody’s informed me of gay options, even though it is WAY obvious that he has better chemistry with all the male characters thank you very much.)

Maybe that’s the problem- the real problem with eroge as I see it is that the relationships are so rarely developed, and especially in a satisfying way. The player has to be tricked into thinking that there is a worthy emotional connection. And to me, it seems that it would just be better to make the characters want less of an emotional connection, because my disbelief can’t be suspended to the degree it needs to for that shit to fly. Either make the characters experience things that make their relationships as high-stakes as we’re meant to believe they are, or just… make them types of people who don’t need a huge emotional connection.

Same goes for harem anime.

Maybe it’s part of the moe girl archetype that I don’t quite get? Devotion and openness being handed on a platter to characters who haven’t really worked for it, just because someone pressed their buttons right. It seems boring to me, but not only that it’s just offensively easy! Such a ‘writer-said-so’ cop-out!

In Harvest Moon, which legit is my most extensive experience with dating sim games because I can’t put up with anything else, even if you give the right gifts it still takes time as well as items and heart events to marry someone. And even if it doesn't take much real time, the games have very clearly stated amounts of time that pass, days and years and years. (Also there is no sex.)

And especially in harem anime, this is just kicked to the damn curb. If I had a buck for every accidental or unwanted engagement-type thing I’ve seen in anime, I could get a new wig already! And it’s only rarely explored- that’s just about always up to the fandom to do (Kyou Kara Maou is a great example in several ways; and Ranma 1/2 has the revolutionary idea of the fiancees not wanting each other initially in the show itself, bless its face, which offers the chance for the show itself to share a variety of moments in the development). If the series is unable to attract the kind of fanbase needed to unlock its potential, then it should have been done differently.

In harem anime, people attach themselves to the main character regardless of whether or not there is any real reason to. There is sometimes a superficial reason, like “he saved me” or “only I can defeat you” or “I wanna tap that”, but more often than not there’s little reason at all aside from the writers making them join the party, and even less rarely an in-character or story-relevant reason for suddenly hanging out with the protagonist.
That indicates a status of plot device, not character! And it’s just rare that someone gets to expand on that status and upgrade to relateable or interesting character (as happens to varying degrees in aforementioned rom-com fighting series Ranma 1/2).

Since I keep harping on Ranma 1/2, let me take a moment to analyse the way it approaches harem anime (bear with me). I’ve never read the manga, by the way, so correct me where I’m wrong.
It’s a pretty old series, manga and anime both. Given that, it’s not susceptible to a lot of present-day tropes that have taken hold culturally.

Ranma 1/2 starts off with the now-cliched unwanted and unknown childhood engagement between martial arts experts-in-training Akane and Ranma- ostensibly because of their fathers’ friendship, though that concept is rebuffed as the series goes on. Akane, while not a classic man-hater ala St Lobelia Academy, definitely doesn’t think as highly of males in general (and, had Ranma not changed back, probably would have been kind of okay with the marriage. I ship that, by the way, because Akane had the most chemistry with him in that situation).

Akane and Ranma are both opposed to the idea of an arranged marriage, and come into their relationship with the expectation that they will not consummate it. Akane already has and continues to have suitors pursuing her, for her headstrong personality, for her amazing martial arts skills, and probably for her good looks as well. Ranma also has a variety of alternate matches, ranging from new flames to Akane’s enemies to people that his father sold his future to in order to make up debts.
One more thing: Ranma’s under a curse that makes him turn into a woman under certain circumstances. So someone who’s fighting him one minute might be pursuing him the next, and vice versa, which obviously multiplies his potential matches.
Both of the main protagonists, while ultimately ending up with each other, are offered multiple alternative romances, and it is for this reason that I use it as an example of harem anime- because each of them builds up a full harem of pursuers.

Here’s where it stops fitting the description: their harems are, in a stunning turn of events, built from the people that find them attractive, rather than the motherly type and the lolita and the bottle fairy and the sexually repressed kuudere and the unnecessarily violent tsundere and the domestic yamato nadeshiko and the obnoxious kawaiikko and the clumsy apologetic dojikko and…… yeah.
You see the difference? A harem comedy is essentially a domestic comedy, where the entertainment value relies on watching everyone interact because of their different personalities. And the entertainment is drawn from watching everyone’s personalities (or boobs/lack thereof in FAR TOO many cases) try to interact with the main character. (The main character, if you haven’t figured out, is typically male.)

While Ranma 1/2 also bills itself as a fighting anime, the fighting is used for comedy just as often as anything else, and is in fact less realistic than the romance on many occasions.

Many harem shows have a background plot to them. Zero No Tsukaima has aristocratic politicking and racism against elves and in fact a war that takes away a main character as a soldier for an entire season. Demon King / Daimaoh is about a guy who wants to avert his destiny of destruction and become a high priest of righteousness while struggling with enemies at his magic school. Tears To Tiara is about how the Gallic wars represent a wider rebellion of humanity against unjust creators, with an emphasis on making your destiny what you want it to be and rising above yourself for your people and humanity.

Can you tell any of this?
You can’t tell any of this, because Saito likes breasts too much and has no tact and is an idiot. Or whatever-his-name-is likes butts and has no tact and is an idiot. Or Arawn is an accidental sex magnet who enjoys himself too much and can’t put his foot down and focus.

Maybe my real problem is how often intriguing fantasy-world politics are interrupted by sexy hijinks.

Mahou Sensei Negima is another example of doing a harem series right, because it manages to follow story threads and backstory to their resolution while informing the reader, so it doesn’t get interrupted.
Because it’s interesting, the girls all develop well as characters away from Negi, the relationship antics don’t interfere with the plot or worldbuilding, and there’s like comparatively zero emphasis on breasts (though the pantsu problem leaves something to be desired and not in a hot way).
Maybe, most importantly, because the character archetypes aren’t dating archetypes, they’re character role archetypes (warrior, lady knight, circus girl, ojou, vampiress, robot who develops emotion, straight man of the group who criticises the antics, white priestess, witch, sorceress, artist, book-lover).
I know that Negima developed the way it did by accident, because the mangaka wanted to make a magical boy series but the executives wanted another hit harem comedy. And I still think that it’s the best of both worlds, and a great example.

Perhaps it tells us that harem series need to be the secondary genre (as that’s what it became and is why it was successful).

If Familiar of Zero was primarily a fantasy-action series, I wouldn’t be interviewing people who felt alienated by the gratuitous fanservice- I would be interviewing people who were pleased with the way the show answered questions about magic and muggles and Guiche’s time away and Tabitha’s entire backstory, and also thought that Saito’s choice between Louise and Siesta was interesting to develop.

If Tears To Tiara was primarily a fantasy-action series, and just flat-out erased the needless harem characters/engagements/emphasis on sexy or moe appeal…
It would be my favourite series of anything ever. Literally speaking.
And I would have no trouble expanding my understanding of the universe.
And I would champion it. Everywhere.

…I guess that’s my full range of thoughts on the matter. My full range of rants at the moment.

Any thoughts? How can I develop my views more clearly? Disagreements?

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Why does Noa want Mokuba? I mean, I get that he's practically a biblical older brother in how badly he was ripped off cosmically, and he wants his rightful blessing and all that, so I get trying to destroy Seto and taking over the company. I do.
And I get that the level of pressure he was exposed to about his future was maybe not so healthy, and led to a really skewed worldview. I get that too.

But why the hell does he want Mokuba? Mokuba was never his. Mokuba was never connected to Gozaburo or the company. Mokuba has always been Seto's brother, arrived with Seto, grew up with Seto, is SETO'S blood sibling. Never Noa's, not related to Noa. So why does Noa think Mokuba belongs to him? Where would he even get that idea?

I recognise that Noa's not sane, and doesn't have realistic expectations or priorities. He's truly obsessed with what was taken from him, and projects it all onto Seto. He blames Seto for the accident that destroyed his body (it was an accident, right? they said so? I would totally buy that some debilitating disease was the cause, too, and it tore away at his mind...). Noa should get, though, that Seto was a craptastic replacement for him. Gozaburo never really had a heart, and so Seto could not possibly have replaced Noa in it, no matter what Noa has convinced himself to believe. I DUNNO NOA, MAYBE IT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT YOU'RE THE LIVING DEAD, INSTEAD??! Or the fact that you have the eternal immatured mind of a child and the unrealistic worldview to match?!?

Noa's manner of speaking and acting is really creepy, too. I mean, I just saw the first part of Battle City Arc, so I've seen some creepy insane shit by now (mostly in the form of the knee-shaking, spine-tingling Yami no Malik and Yami no Bakura), but this is new and different.
Noa covets Seto jealously. Not just his belongings and his lifestyle, but his actual being. I'm very familiar with the sort of anime creepiness it takes to desire someone's body, but Noa takes that to a new level. He's beyond Rokudo Mukuro, for fuck's sakes. Noa has this weird complex where he both loves Seto as an extension of himself, for taking his future, and also hates Seto beyond his own comprehension, for taking his future. Noa Kaiba would wear a suit made from Seto's skinned flesh if he could, and not see anything wrong with that. Noa feels that Seto belongs to him, by right, on a fundamental level. In a fantasy alternate universe, Noa would try to eat Seto's heart to gain his power. He'd think it was natural for him to do. HE'S NOT STABLE. (He's also like early Draco Malfoy, if that puts him in perspective at all. HIS FATHER WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS! HIS FATHER ONLY ALLOWED RIFFRAFF INTO HIS HOUSE BECAUSE THE HEIR TO HIS FORTUNE WAS INCAPACITATED! BLAURAGHRAUGH!)

I love Yu-gi-oh villains. I do. I think that they're a lot more interesting than they're allowed to be, because their frightening neuroses and painful backstories are buried deep beneath piles of shiny old cards and abandoned duel disk systems.
I love Malik Ishtar like burning, because to me he symbolises all of the story potential of the series, while at the same time dressing and acting like what my sister and I have dubbed queen of the world. Which I love.

But Noa Kaiba's a different kind of villain. Unlike Malik, who was forced into his position as leader of the Pharaoh's guardians cult and fought against his destined role at every opportunity, Noa embraced what he viewed as his destined right as KaibaCorp President, to the point of rejecting any alternative path in his future at all costs.

Noa's genuinely insane obsession with the company is pretty obviously his father's fault. Which means that his father is to blame for the terrifying frustrations that Noa must have felt in the virtual world. I'm not saying that we shouldn't simply recognise Gozaburo as the main villain of the arc, because his treatment of Noa was frightening. He tried to fight the balance of nature and death itself, simply so he could go on living vicariously through his son taking control of the company after he himself passed on. He eventually came somewhat to his senses, realising that he didn't have the resources to bring this goal to fruition (mostly because Noa's body was destroyed and he died), but he never communicated it to Noa. And, more importantly, he didn't shut down the brain tank that Noa was living in! He devoted gods-know-how-many resources to Noa's brain tank and the virtual world, instead of just solving his problems and shutting the whole thing down. This may speak volumes about Gozaburo Kaiba, who was incapable of understanding the depth of his failures and caused further personal frustration by constantly reminding himself about the things beyond his control and how bitterly his plans for the future were dashed. He's not sympathetic at all, so I don't care as much.

And my final note. Seto's excellent, excellent initial Reason You Suck Speech (I saw it dubbed and it was still perfection!) is something I highly recommend to anyone who cares about the character backstories and freudian experiences. It really gets to the heart of the situation, and was very well done. The one right before Noa's major flashback, as subsequent ones tell us more about Seto than they do about Noa (like his gigantic neuroses about hardwork vs. natural gifts).

...This really didn't answer my question at all, so I'm still wondering why poor insane-o-pants craves Mokuba('s flesh), but at least I got a fun character-introspective out of it?

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I'm majoring in theatre. Beyond anything else, that is my primary motivation. I want to study theatre, do theatre, have a hand in anything theatre-related. I want to work in theatre as a career, or at least a hobby. I want to act, stage-manage, tech, usher, work wardrobe, operate as dramaturg- and much of that I have already done!

You already know that I'm a student of the Drama Studio. I've been there for five or six years. I'm a regular attendee of the movement courses, I've done scene work, I've been through two years of improv training (though I don't think it's exactly my specialty), I've had stage combat, Suzuki and Viewpoints training, 'street' theatre, and most importantly: I've worked on productions, including full-length plays, one-acts, and the annual studio Cabaret that showcases classwork from the past year. I stick my hands into anything they'll let me and I love every bit of it.

I know that this is all no easy work, and that I can't expect it to be easy. This is a profession only for the very brave, the daring, the foolish, and the people who are most comfortable with themselves. It requires, at times, blood and sweat and tears. It requires persistence, a strong sense of self, dedication, and the ability to both take direction and be creative in your own right.

And part of the reason that I'm so passionate about this work is because I feel it enlightens me, enriches me, and because of my participation in this work I have grown immensely as a person. I am not someone who has a strong work ethic, by any means, and being responsible is generally just beyond me, but if the work is for theatre? That changes everything. I become transformed into a punctual, capable, obedient, self-controlled person, who works for a team and a whole rather than herself, and who pushes her memory and her body to the limit.

I came to the Drama Studio because I knew I wanted to train to pursue theatre, not the other way around. I've always had a flair for the dramatic, of course, but moreover I've always been fascinated by how a person's words and behaviour can change them utterly. When I was a toddler I would play pretend, and my sisters and I were always making up stories and acting them out as kids. (We still kind of do that.) And out of the three of us, I was willing to take every role, be every character. I was never picky because one character or the other was 'irrelevant', or 'male', or 'a bad guy'. Everyone has a purpose in a play, and I want to bring them all to life. Someone has to!

I also was the one who was the most serious about it all. If we wanted to play at being pirates, I found pirate books and read about them, or looked them up online. I found recipes for he kinds of foods that pirates would have eaten, ransacked the house for pirate-y clothing and accessories, and assigned everyone a position on the non-existant ship. And that's the kind of thing I have always done for a role or a show. Copious, excessive amounts of research. Using costume as a way to enforce and enhance a character. Desiring everyone else to be as serious as I was about the material. It's all at once a game, and so much more than that.

When I was in about second grade, I joined a drama camp at the local Jewish Community Center. I did summer productions there for three years, leaving when the director finally had us do absolutely nothing but read scenes aloud from Disney films to fill time. It's not that I dislike reading aloud from film scripts, because I love reading aloud. And I don't exactly dislike film- I love film, I just don't love the culture of American film actors. I want no part in film, only the stage. Anyway, the experience was really quite narrow, and didn't teach me much, unlike the studio.

Part of why I didn't learn as much at the JCC as I did at the studio was that, at the JCC, we were expected to read our lines and walk away. That was the entirety of our experience. Most of us never even saw backstage. At the studio, however, a student develops a strong familiarty with what a theatre looks and feels like, and how to behave in the environment. I feel like I've been prepared very well to ease into any theatre and work in it, in the capacity of actor or otherwise. I have stage-managed (and under Steve Hays, which is no small feat!), I've been a wardrobe assistant (twice with miss Greta in the past year for particularly froufrou shows of Steve's, Tom Jones and The Snow Queen), and have had more experience ushering and taking tickets than I ever have onstage! I learned about all the different people and parts that make a theatre run, and I know how to work with them to make a coherent and successful show.

There's a lot I can do with my interests and experience, including working at places like reenactments or theme parks, auditioning for local theatre companies, or striking out for New York. But right now, what I want most is to study and learn everything I can, so I can be even better when I decide to use the actor's toolkit I've been provided with through all of the classes and workshops I've done.

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The Calm Before The Storm

So, this is my first week back at uni, and with that comes one thing.
No, not schoolwork. Silly.

Not that I didn't have internet at home, mind. I just had all of my games to distract.
(By which I mean constant level-grinding, of pokemon and chao and cyframes and TOS GRADE...)
(Though now that I mention it, it occurs that the level-grinding is only half of what I've been doing- I've also been doing fucktonnes of research, on RPGs and on Commedia dell'Arte, but more on that in a moment. So, in this way I have been using the internet, not to mention the inevitable tv tropes readdiction for the new project my sister and I started. I just haven't been on any blogging sites or social networking or or anything like that; no tumblr or facebook, very little twitter, no dw or lj...)
But, more importantly, I've also been spending my time on something else: REHEARSALS.

Yes, I'm in a play again! Ah, what a wonderful feeling it is. I've been falling apart waiting to meet with the wardrobe head over it, but sometimes in life we just have to wait for things, yes?
The best part is yet to come though- I have a lead.
A lead. Me!
A lead.
I have one.

It's called Commedia dell Smartass, and is yet another modern-day take on the forms and themes of Commedia Dell'Arte tradition, which I have yet again gone rather apeshit studying. Though, unlike Of Widows And Vegetables, the cast is playing high-schoolers, and also there's only four of us.
Yeah, only four people in the production. It's hard not to be a lead in such a small ensemble, and frankly I'd be the first to admit that my character is probably the most easily dropped from the story. But? I still have the best character. (And, like Widows, I'm playing this fourth-wall-breaking meta character that was assigned to me on first sight, and I am most often complemented onstage by A Cute Guy who has strong physicality and light curly hair. Commedias are the best and I will never have as much fun being in a production as I do in these I SWEAR.)

Where was I?

Let me begin at the beginning, I suppose. I'd gotten the list of plays for the Winter Shorts Festival, which is a two-weekend show of various one-act plays that have been selected by the staff for students and friends of the Drama Studio to partake in.
The shows were almost entirely student-written this year (the Commedia being the exception), and were.... pretty fucking lacklustre, actually. It turns out that one of them is more fun than previously expected, but this is still not shaping up to be a very impressive festival, all things considered.
I still went to audition. I don't know what I was expecting, only that I knew about the Commedia by mention of my teacher last year, and I knew there was a Clown character in it. So I was pretty fucking excited, actually, because it is just impossible to comprehend my adoration of theatre Clowning tradition and and and fooling (especially Shakespearean fooling, which I have observed *_* and want like burning) and and commedia and and cursing teenagers, man.

So I get into the auditions, and the director is like "you, read Girl Scout and you, be Clown" and I was just like "YESS" and we went up.
The audition piece we did was Girl Scout's White House monologue, and my job was to use mime and physicality to respond to and punctuate her plans.
I had about two mimes that were explosively successful, seeing as how every single person in the room burst out laughing, and the rest was strung together by constant involvement and my overall physicality (THANK YOU, movement training! boohyah!). My sister jokingly insisted that she'd sue if I didn't get the part, so overall I'm imagining I did quite well.

And then the email came that yes, in fact I DID get the part, and not only that but I'd be cast against a couple of people that I adore. RM, who is a great friend of my sister and who I'd done a nice intense family scene with in a class last year, and SO, who's a guy that I very much appreciate and admire and am on pretty good terms with. (There was also SM, but he's a newbie, so none of us knew him. Yet.) We later picked up TM as a stage manager (which is good, because we all love him and miss him and also he goes to my college and stuff), and with our director MP (I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting him yet, but I was about to) we were good to go!

The read-through went well, we got along great and made plenty of wisecracks. Also SO and MP showed off the Pokemon cards that they keep in their wallets. DID I MENTION I LIKE MY GROUP OKAY. Our director has a motherfucking HOLOGRAPHIC ANCIENT MEW OKAY, FUCKYEAH. In his WALLET.
Fuckin' love these guys.
And, of course, every single one of us has more than the average passing knowledge of Pokemon, because we are all the very best. 8D Like no one ever fucking was.
And we made SM share facts about himself as a penalty because he was late, and also because he was a total stranger to us.
As we got farther on in the play, it dawned on us that this was a heavy play. This was an intense play. This was a raunchy play. This was, as the secretary noted, a Dirty Play. This was not a play to invite kids to. It has about every thing you can think of to incense a parent, and some you didn't!
And it is glorious.

I mean, not only that, but it has pretty much everything a play could or should have! Fights, dances, kisses, stripping, music, a dream sequence, a clown, strong character arcs, love triangles, slapstick, swords, vulnerable character moments, drunkenness, and an obscured storyline whose facts are slowly revealed in the grand conclusion scene. VERY satisfying show to be a part of, and I'm immensely gratified to be able to participate.
(It's definitely better written than Widows, though it doesn't draw its humour from witty dialogue in the same way, so there's something. One point to the zucchini!)

The cast and characters of Commedia Dell Smartass as we know them are as follows.

Henry: The everyman. The Arthur Dent. A sarcastic loser with an alcoholic mother whose greatest dream is to just get to college already. Arguably plays the role of commedia's Arlecchino (or Harlequin to you plebes), and yet arguably is too much of a Sane Man to be any archetype. We're playing up the geeky side of him, with nigh-excessive Pokemon and Star Wars, which is of course wicked fun. SO is much more toned-down in this role than I'm used to... buuut that just because I'm used to him being the de facto leader of the comedy improv troupe, and his past couple roles included a foppish airheaded prince and Peter Pan. So really, anything would be more toned-down. XD But good for him, I say. The kid's thinking about applying to fucking Julliard and you know what? I believe he could handle it. ...He should still step off and let the director direct us though, and spend more time learning his lines than being a frazzled almost-diva. And I kinda don't even care that he might hate me by this point. But hey.

Fencer: Il Capitano, and I'll challenge any who say otherwise. His commedia role is absolutely non-negotiable. If you know anything about Commedia Dell'Arte characters, that should be enough information already, but just in case you don't I'll summarise- a swaggering narcissistic 'jock' who vainly pursues a love interest he'll never end up with. This incarnation though, I must say is far more savvy and manipulative than is typical for the archetype, as has been noted. He's the driving action, and it's his plan that we see unfold. SM plays him, and as it's the first time I've seen him there isn't terribly much I can say. Though I will note that despite being a generally charming fellow, the guy just canNOT read lines. ;A; I want to call him out for being an awful public speaker, but I'm hoping he'll improve enough in time? It's speaking to quickly, slurring lines, and not enunciating clearly. He's also clumsy as all hell, and I jibe him incessantly for the sheer magnitude of times he's hurt himself during this production. (And because he makes me tsuntsun, for no reason whatsoever.) Not to mention that he's rather a terrible kisser- and as the level of cute that he is decreases, the level of desiring to castrate him with the damn foil for not having some strong mint chewing gum increases! And he should stop fucking slobbering, it's like becoming not even worth it to watch him... practice. And he's an ass about SO being a moment killer for his kiss, but then turns around and forgets that his next line is to kiss me. To say nothing of the history arguments we've gotten into...

Girl Scout (aka Girl Guide XD): Her name is revealed to be Sheila, which is important because I have this *thing* about named characters and only she and Henry receive names. She's pretty much commedia's Colombina, not really up for dispute either, in temperament as much as in role. The Girl Scout is an ambitious overachiever, plucky and dedicated. She doesn't socialise much because of all the time she spends working, either selling cookies or volunteering at a substance abuse centre. She starts off as rather a paragon of virtue, but of course every character must be robbed of their innocence in a commedia. At least with Sheila, she steps off her pedestal herself- though she is given a bit of a push, as I think she discovers. Sheila is played by RM, who in our eyes I think follows her character's path. At least, everyone's considered her to be the most mature and reserved, and working with or watching her in this play can shake your conceptions of her if you know her. The kissing is part of that- girl kisses every single character, which I think is still a feat even though there's only four of us. Also the flipping the bird. And the drinking. (We've together lamented how the dance teacher's daughters may never see us the same way again, if they come to see the show. We've also together lamented how little we want to kiss SM again.) I like her, and I'm really enjoying the time we're getting to spend together and I'm glad that we've become friends. Nice girl, funny, thinks I'm funny, good to know her. ^^ Such a bro-sis.

Clown: And at last we come to the best part. I was given hints of the later commedia's beloved Pierrot, and the research I've accumulated has only reinforced that assumption tenfold. Clown is not only the most visually entertaining character in the show, and imo the most fun to play (though perhaps not by much XD), but Clown provides the biggest source of audience surprise in the whole show. And that is awesome. Frankly, you can tell the Clown is the best character because I can describe everyone else really well without dropping too-massive spoilers for them. And Clown? Not so much. You may notice that I have not yet referred to Clown with a pronoun. This is because I'm not sure of gender, mostly if Clown is trans* or not. A girl who is referred to with male pronouns by peers and binds her breasts (scripted!)- but is also a VERY active performing artist and mime who doesn't speak, even to correct wrong opinions. So it could go either way. (Also, due to multiple ways of playing each the kisses with Girl Scout and Fencer, sexuality is just as easy to reinterpret as gender identity.) I am personally playing the Clown as a female, because that makes sense to me, but if someone asked my opinion of the character, I'm not sure that's what I would say... There's a lot I'm not sure about, considering I decided to make up some backstory for her (such as that she, like myself, has no problems with portraying a male and sees the value of breastbinding in everyday life. Also that her ~meaningful~ name is Petra Deburau.)
The facts of the matter, however, are such: Clown dresses like a froofy commedia valet Clown every day, a fact which is not unnoticed by high-school peers; Clown does not speak, except in mime, a language in which s/he is very proficient; Clown watches local community Little League baseball games on Friday nights, and also plenty of TV, like a normal kid; Clown prides 'her'self on being a good listener and secret-keeper, and is not afraid to tease people who forget that s/he doesn't talk; Clown has a full water pistol in 'her' schoolbag, and can easily be said to keep other good silly props with her for maximum clowning; Clown likes making people laugh, takes joy in bringing people entertainment, and considers it 'her' way of making the world easier; Clown likes attention; Clown has personal space issues, physically as well as emotionally, and doesn't like people prying into 'her' life or stealing 'her' hat; s/he has a big loneliness complex that is superficially offset by 'her' best friend, Girl Scout; and s/he has a huge weird onesided crush on 'her' bully/abuser, Fencer. (My director made her ringtone for him Bad Romance, and I actually agree with this decision strongly. XD)
Guys. Guys Clown is best of all bests and and and guys. Guys. ;3;

So yeah.

Clown is a new experience for me as an actor, for a few reasons.
1) It's really been ages since I last managed to connect with a character I played, especially like this.
2) I have never bound my chest.
3) I have never been stripped in public to the degree that people would be able to tell or not, especially in a sanctum for minors like the studio.
4) I have never stripped/been stripped.
5) I have also never been kissed.
6) I have never kissed a girl.
7) I have never kissed a boy.
8) I have never had so much 'screentime' and audience attention without any lines before.
9) I have never had the chance to tap into my freewheeling theatrical movement nature before.
10) I have never actually done mime.
11) I have never been able to be this successful at making people laugh before.
...Also 12) I have never shattered a prop in half before, or into three parts, though that's more an accidental pair of Crowning Moment of Awesome, resulting in high-fives and apologies (and a reward-for-badassery-hug? from SM) (and splinters in my hand, which led to more unnecessary tsuntsun from me towards him because that is just how I tend to roll 8|).

I... Guess that my remaining thoughts on the show are just about the production members, aha, the dick jokes, and more about the experience of working with them all in crunch time, and that's not really relevant. So.
I think that the story had a good beginning, but we're still rehearsing and I don't have an ending yet.

AND that's how I've been spending my time!

This entry was originally posted at http://tokyograndpa.dreamwidth.org/818.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
So I’ve been on this wicked netflix-and-gaming binge for the past couple weeks (DAMN YOU Tales of Symphonia optional dungeon and GRADE collecting!), owing to the fact that I have not once been obligated to leave the house. (Things that make me happy number one! THAT!)

But the holidays are over and I have to print out my next semester schedule (and also apparently buy a +100$USD stage makeup kit for one of my classes gdi) which means that I also have to start using the internet again! I sort of went on hiatus from the internet in general (except for, like, gaia online, and also tv tropes because that never ends) but that has to stop now.

For possibly no other reason than I GOT AN EMAIL SAYING THAT I HAD A GREAT AUDITION AND WILL BE IN A SHOW NEXT MONTH and so have to keep checking my emails in order to get the rehearsal times, but also for school stuff.

And because I like you crazy fuckers and I miss all the cool shit that happens on tumblr/lj-or-now-dw et all. <3

So uh I hope you’ve all had a nice time of it (example: my channukkah was pleasant) and cool luck with your endeavours and all that business and suchlike.

....I have to start making Newyear Resolutions, don't I?

and and and my college has shitty online organisation scream WHAT DO

This entry was originally posted at http://tokyograndpa.dreamwidth.org/517.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
lj what the balls, I wasn't actually serious about that move to dreamwidth all those months ago. :I

Looks like I get to bandwagon though, so. Now to dig up my old stuff!
And really, I do have to dig, I can't remember what my account there was in-between all of the setting up rp shit from that big ddos series in the beginning of the year. Derp.

ETA: Alright, so here's the new one. http://tokyograndpa.dreamwidth.org/ Since my old ones are all meme'd up.

SON OF ETA: ALSO HAPPY SOLSTICE EVERYONE <3 The sun will start coming back! Yay!


Beki Rose

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