February 25, 2014

The Ending Is Vital

Some people say one ought to start writing a story from the end. For instance, after Mr. Night Shyamalan wrote his first draft of The Sixth Sense he [spoiler alert] realized that he needed for his main character, psychologist Cole Sear, to be a ghost himself. Only then would his story have a true, deep impact. Once he figured out the ending he needed, he worked the story backward, putting in hints about the truth throughout the story.

Walt Disney himself has stated this point in a succinct way:
"A good ending is vital to a picture, the single most important element, because it is what the audience takes with them out of the theater."

And it's true. I remember leaving the theater after watching Inception, and all I could hear around me were people discussing the ending of the movie, whether Cobb was still dreaming like his wife had told him all along, or if he'd managed to go back to reality and his waiting children (his quest throughout the movie). Even two long and far parking lots away, that's all people were talking about. And at the office. And on the Internet. Everywhere.

So the ending is key as to whether someone will remember your story for a lifetime, or simply shelve it as another, perhaps entertaining, [enter genre here].

February 18, 2014

Secret Ingredient To Modern Day Fairy Tales - Creation

"I think we have made the fairy tale fashionable again. 
That is, our own blend of theatrical mythology. 
The fairy tale of film--created with the magic of animation--
is the modern equivalent of the great parables of the Middle Ages. 
Not adaptation. 
Not version. 
We can translate the ancient fairy tale into its modern equivalent 
without losing the lovely patina and the savor 
of its once-upon-a-time quality."
~Walt Disney

February 16, 2014

Keep At It

You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you must learn your craft -- then you can add all the genius you like.
~Phyllis  A. Whitney

I feel that this is one of the biggest lessons I've learned in life: that even if you're doing something you love, it's still a heck of a lot of work.
But it's OK. As long as it's something you love :)

PS: Incidentally, my fortune cookie told me today that: 
There is always time for you to try a new path in life.
I think that's a sign!

February 14, 2014


XOXO represents the typical signature to one's beloved, meaning hugs and kisses.

But how did the X come to mean "kiss"?  Back in the Middle Ages, people who couldn't write and yet had to sign their names on formal documents.  The X is the first letter for the word Christos (Greek version of Christ: Χριστός), so people would sign the holy X and kiss it, thereby sealing their oath to show their sincerity.  (Just as some people swear on the Bible to show they're not going to lie.)

The O is more modern and is speculated to represent the person encircling his/her loved one in his/her arms.

Happy Valentine's day!

Kissing facts
Intense research article on the matter

February 11, 2014

Aristophanes On The Power Of Love

At the beginning, man was round, and he had two faces, and four hands and feet, four ears and eyes.
Now the sexes were three, just as the moon, sun and earth are three. Man was originally the child of
the sun, woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon which is itself made up of both the sun
and the earth.

Now these children were terribly strong, and they attempted to scale the Heavens to reach the gods
and topple them from their lofty thrones. Scared, the gods searched a way to put an end to this without
killing the children of the sun, moon and earth, for that would mean the end of all the sacrifices and
offerings the latter gave them.

Zeus, the mightiest of the gods and father to many, came up with a plan to “enfeeble their strength and
so extinguish their turbulence”: he would cut the children in half. No sooner said than it was done. But
after the division was forced upon them, the two parts of man threw their arms about their missing
halves, wishing to grow back together.

Zeus, in pity, rearranged their organs so that they could procreate through such embraces and thereby
find some solace. “So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our
original nature, seeking to make one of two, and to heal the state of man.”

And when one meets its true other half, the intense yearning each feels for the other transcends the
carnal because the soul has now found its missing piece. And this pursuit of becoming whole is love.

Note: those who seek members of the other sex are actually descendants of the children of the
androgynous moon.

Origin Of Love by Hedwig And The Angry Inch on Grooveshark

http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/sym.htm (Aristophanes's Speech from Plato's Symposium)

February 9, 2014

The Wise Man's Fear

   "So tell me. How does it work?"
   "It?" I asked.
   "Magic," she said. "Real magic."
   Wil, Sim, and I exchanged glances.
   "It's complicated," I said.
   Denna shrugged and leaned back in her chair. "I have all the time in the world," she said. "And I need to know how it works. Show me. Do some magic."
   The three of us shifted uncomfortably in our seats. Denna laughed.
   "We're not supposed to," I said.
   "What?" she asked. "Does it disturb some cosmic balance?"
   "It disturbs the constables," I said. "They don't take kindly to that sort of thing over here."
   "Th masters at the University don't care for it much either," Wil said. "They're very mindful of the University's reputation."
   "Oh come now," Denna said. "I heard a story about how our man Kvothe called up some sort of demon wind." She jerked her thumb at the door behind her. "Right in the courtyard outside."
   Had Ambrose told her that? "It was just a wind," I said. "No demon involved."
   "They whipped him for it, too," Wil said.
   Denna looked at him as if she couldn't tell if he were joking, then shrugged. "Well I wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble," she said with glaring insincerity. "But I am powerfully curious. And I have secrets I am willing to offer in trade."
   Sim perked up at this. "What sort of secrets?"
   "All the vast and varied secrets of womankind," she said with a smile. "I happen to know several things that can help improve your failing relations with the gentler sex."
Young Kvothe
   Sim leaned closer to Wil and asked in a stage whisper, "Did she say failing, or flailing?"
   Wil pointed at his own chest, then Sim's. "Me: failing. You: flailing."
   Denna raised one eyebrow and cocked her head to one side, looking at the three of us expectantly.
   I cleared my throat uncomfortably. "We're discouraged from sharing Arcanum secrets. It's not strictly against the laws of the University--"
   "It is, actually," Simmon interrupted, giving me an apologetic look. "Several laws."
   Denna gave a dramatic sigh, looking up at the high ceiling. "I thought as much," she said. "You lot just talk a good game. Admit it, you can't turn cream into butter."
   "I happen to know for a fact that Sim can turn cream into butter," I said. "He just doesn't like to because he's lazy."
   "I'm not asking you to teach me magic," Denna said. "I just need to know how it works."
   Sim looked at Wil. "That wouldn't fall under Unsanctioned Divulgence would it?"
   "Illicit Revelation," Wil said grimly.
   Denna leaned forward conspiratorially, resting her elbows on the table. "In that case," she said, "I am also willing to finance a night of extravagant drinking, far above and beyond the simple bottle you see before you." She turned her gaze to Wil. "One of the bartenders here has recently discovered a dusty stone bottle in the basement. Not only is it fine old scutten, drink of the kings of Cealdim, it is a Merovani as well."
Kvothe is a brilliant musician
   Wilem's expression didn't change, but his dark eyes glittered.
   I looked around the largely empty room. "Orden is a slow night. We shouldn't have any trouble if we keep things quiet." I looked at the other two.
   Sim was grinning his boyish grin. "It seems reasonable. A secret for a secret."
   "If it is truly a Merovani," Wilem said, "I am willing to risk offending the masters' sensibilities somewhat."
   "Right then," Denna said with a wide grin. "You first."
   Sim leaned forward in his chair. "Sympathy is probably the easiest to get a grip on," he said, then paused as if uncertain how to proceed.
   I stepped in. "You know how a block and tackle lets you life something too heavy for you to lift by hand?"
   Denna nodded.
   "Sympathy lets us do things like that," I said. "But without all the awkward rope and pulleys."
   Wilem dropped a pair of iron drabs onto the table and muttered a binding. He pushed the right-hand one with a finger, and the left-hand one slid across the table at the same time, mimicking the motion.
   Denna's eyes went a little wide at this, and while she didn't gasp, she did draw a long breath through her nose. It only then occurred to me that she'd probably never seen anything like this before. Given my studies, it was easy to forget that someone could live mere miles from the University without ever having any exposure to even the most basic sympathy.
   The her credit, Denna recovered from her surprise without missing a beat. With only the slightest hesitation, she reached out a finger to touch one of the drabs. "This is how the bell in my room worked," she mused.
  I nodded.
Young Kvothe & friends
   Wil slid his drab across the table, and Denna picked it up. "The other drab rose off the table too, bobbing in midair. "It's heavy," she said, then nodded to herself. "Right, because it's like a pulley. I'm lifting both of them."
   "Heat, light, and motion are all just energy," I said. "We can't create energy or make it disappear. But sympathy lets us move it around or change it from one type into another."
   She put the drab back down on the table and the other followed suit. "And this is useful how?"
   Wil grunted with vague amusement. "Is a waterwheel useful?" she asked. "Is a windmill?"
   I reached into the pocket of my cloak. "Have you ever seen a sympathy lamp?" I asked.
   She nodded.
   I slid my hand lamp across the table to her. "They work under the same principle. They take a little bit of heat and turn it into light. It converts one type of energy into another."
Kvothe in the middle of another adventure
   "Like a moneychanger," Wil said.
   Denna turned the lamp over in her hands curiously. "Where does it get the heat?"
   "The metal itself holds heat," I explained. "If you leave it on, you'll eventually feel the metal get chilly. If it gets too cold, it won't work." I pointed. "I made that one, so it's pretty efficient. Just the heat from your hand should be enough to keep it working."
   Denna flicked the switch and dull red light shone out in a narrow arc. "I can see how heat and light are related," she said thoughtfully. "The sun is bright and warm. Same with a candle." She frowned. "But motion doesn't fit into it. A fire can't push something."
   "Think about friction," Sim chimed in. "When you rub something it gets hot." He demonstrated by running his hand across the fabric of his pants. "Like this."
   He continued rubbing his thigh enthusiastically, unaware of the fact that, since it was happening below the level of the table, it looked more than slightly obscene. "It's all just energy. If you keep doing it, you'll feel it get hot."

   Denna somehow kept a straight fce. But Wilem started to laugh, covering his face with one hand, as if embarrassed to be sitting at the same table with Sim.
   Simmon froze and flushed red with embarrassment.
A cute Kvothe and Denna
   I came to his rescue. "It's a good example. The hub of a wagon wheel will be warm to the touch. That heat comes from the motion of the wheel. A sympathist can make the energy go the other way, from heat into
motion." I pointed to the lamp. "Or from heat into light."
   "Fine," she said. "You're energy moneychangers. But how do you make it happen?"
   "There's a special way of thinking called Alar," Wilem said. "You believe something so strongly that it becomes so." He lifted up one drab an the other followed it. "I believe these two drabs are connected, so they are." Suddenly the other drab clattered to the tabletop. "If I stop believing, it stops being so."
   Denna picked up the drab. "So it's like faith?" she said skeptically.
   "More like strength of will," Sim said.
   She cocked her head. "Why don't you call it strength of will, then?"
   "Alar sounds better," Wilem said.
   I nodded. "If we didn't have impressive-sounding names for things, no one would take us seriously."

This is a short passage from Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two, explaining the basics of Sympathy, one of the major arts that the hero learns at the University, to the girl of his dreams.
From Patrick Rothfuss's own website

The Chandrian, Kvothe, and Bast
It had been a while since I'd read the First Day in the Kingkiller Chronicle, The Name of the Wind, so I must admit that at first I had a little trouble getting to recall all the rules of this world, as well as piece together what had happened previously. But once I got past that, I really got suckered into the book.

The Wise Man's Fear is like a Storynception! It picks up right where the first book left off, with the present-
day Kvothe (aka Kote aka Reshi) dictating his youth to the scribe Chronicler. And while telling of his time at the University, followed by his adventures to the "edge of the map" (and even off it, if you count Fae land), he also adds a number of other tales and stories that constitute "The Four Corners of Civilization"'s mythos, including the ones he finds out about "The Chandrian" (the evil people responsible for the gruesome death of his parents).

The Great Patrick Rothfuss

I can't help but wonder if those tales don't hide different keys to what's about to happen in book three (the last of this series, if Rothfuss happens to keep his story as a trilogy--I know other authors who changed their minds midway) and give away the key to Kvothe's whole quest. Then again, I tend to be rather optimistic, and am keeping my fingers crossed that Rothfuss doesn't pull a G.R.R. Martin on us... In any case, I'm very much looking forward to reading Book 3, whenever it comes out!

February 5, 2014


When you're alone, it's easy to be afraid. It's easy to focus on what might be lurking in the dark at the bottom of the cellar steps. It's easy to obsess on unproductive things, like the madness of stepping into a storm of spinning knives. When you're alone it's easy to sweat, panic, fall apart..
The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

February 3, 2014

Welsh Fairy Mounts

According to Welsh folklore, warrior fairies' favorite mounts are the majestic and impressive... corgis.  That's right, you read that correctly.  The name Corgi stands for "Fairy Heeler" or "Fairy Herding Dog."

The fairies treasure these dwarvish canines for their golden fur, short legs, and  fox-like heads (though they lost their tails after displeasing the Fairy Queen when they went on a strike--the Fey folk don't like to have their wishes ignored!).  And, if anyone doubts the dogs' fairy provenance, they have but to look at the saddle markings left on their backs from giving rides to the fairies.

Art by Sandara
Corgi Legends