Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kids are dumb (and getting dumber)

I talked to a public school teacher last night who said they're discouraged from promoting any learning based on memorization. As in, they don't even do math like normal people anymore. No multiplication tables, no carrying of numbers. Nope. Any learning method that requires a kid actually memorize simple facts is being washed out of the public school system, presumably because the kids who don't bother to try to remember anything feel bad. I thought this article did a good job dispelling some of that nonsense.

Look, I'm all for finding new ways to get through to kids who struggle in school, but you know where this is coming from. It's some mopey, dopey mom who can't handle the thought that her dumb jock kid is a dumb jock so instead of taking the football out of his hands and shoving a book under his nose, she calls the English teacher and harasses him/her until Johnny Football gets the score he needs. And it doesn't have to be a jock thing. Any kid can have a parent like this. God forbid we let anyone fail at anything anymore. They might actually *gulp* know what it's like to live every friggin day as an adult. I should be angrier, but you know what? Screw it.

Now I know how a Bank of America exec feels because I can't wait until these people all grow up so I can fleece them for all the money they're worth in whatever sales job I pick up next. They say the gap is growing between the rich and the poor, but everyone blames the rich for it. Well, when you let your kids grow up dumb, which direction do you think they're going to go? Sorry, but I grew up dirt poor and I have no complaints about the economy. You know why? Because if I brought home bad grades, my mom didn't call the teacher. She shoved a book under my nose and said, "Now get to studying, you bum, or do you wanna be a ditch digger when you grow up?" I didn't, and I'm not. And if I was, I wouldn't blame the education system or rich people. I'd blame

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In the meantime, here's MY Game of Thrones Hockey Team (I have no life)

This article, predictably, created a stir in me when you get to the bottom and see a fully realized Game of Thrones hockey lineup. Pretty much my two favorite non-specifically-human things in this world. Naturally I had to have my own take. I'm gonna go ahead and put them in the shape they were after season/book 2 just to be fair and try to fit as many main characters in as possible without ruining anything.

Owner: Tywin Lannister
GM: Petyr Baelish
HC: Daenerys Targaryen
Assistants: Tyrion Lannister, Varys the Spider

I mostly agree with Dave there's take on the management team. Tywin's clearly a greedy owner and Littlefinger is clearly a GM. I liked khaleesi for coach because of her rah-rah ability while Tyrion and Varys would be studious and fair assistant coaches.

Jaime-Barristan the Bold-Robb
Loras-Jon Snow-Brienne
Asha-Mance Rayder-Theon
Bronn-Ramsay Bolton-Ilyn Payne

Biggest offense of the original was omitting Barristan Selmy. That guy should wear the C on your team. Put him between Jaime (sniper) and Robb (skilled grinder) and that's a top line. Loras would be the flashy winger type of course. I figure on the third line get a little wild. Put the King Beyond the Wall between skilled siblings and you'll have a disruptive force. And I fully agree that the fourth line should shed as much blood as possible. I just think Bronn could have better linemates for the job.
Gregor Clegane-Jorah Mormont
Stannis Baratheon-Sandor Clegane
Thoros of Myr-Tormund Giantsbane

At first I thought pairing the Cleganes on defense would be a good idea, but then you'd have those two trying to kill each other and maybe neither is particularly swift. I gave each a reliable partner and tossed a gritty third pairing behind them. 
(Extra skaters: Joffrey and the Kingsguard. They'll be good at sitting behind a wall while everyone else gets shit done.)

Arya Stark
Samwell Tarly

If I'm playing a team of snipers, give me Arya and those quick hands. If it's a team of hard nosed grinders, give me Sam to play the odds.

And I've officially descended to a new low. But hey, give me your takes and we'll wallow in the slums!

Back to where it all started

It took almost exactly a year, but I think I was right where I was when I started the first time. Sigh. Abandon ship. Page one. Don't regret a second of it, and I'll use a lot of what's left behind for another work, but damn. Damn.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another good article on the craft of writing

Love this article. Totally makes sense and hits it on the nail. I'm looking at this manuscript and, I mean, I have a story. Beginning, middle, end. But it's not enough and I know it's enough. There aren't enough layers to it. I can feel that. This article actually put words to it with this list:

* A set-up with a killer hook
* Character intro with back-story and context
* A sense of place
* Foreshadowing and the establishment of stakes
* The hero’s impending need and inner demons
* The emerging seeds of a subplot
* A major plot point that introduces the story’s antagonistic element
* The definition of the hero’s quest or need
* Scenes that deepen the tension as the hero responds
* Refining the nature of the quest and the elements of its opposition
* A mid-story mind-numbing context shift that changes everything
* The evolution of the hero into a pro-active warrior
* Another significant plot twist that puts all the cards on the table

I might have half of that. Not good enough. It's a crazy month -- moving means not only are your weekends jammed with packing, but your weekdays are filled with frantic partying with friends and family you will miss -- so I'm just sitting back, letting the old girl stew for a while, then picking things back up in mid-June. And then it will get better. When I read something like this, "Because writers experience life in a way others don’t. We’re observers and chroniclers and analysts. We’re players. In the roles we write, we are alive and present. We matter. What we write outlives us." it just confirms a lot of the hunches I've had to begin with. This will be worth it when I get it down.