Monday, September 29, 2014

Let us pray (The Universal Lord's Prayer)

I'm at school, and thus have internet, so I figured I'd post something while I could.  I give you this version of the Lord's Prayer, from the archives.  Also available in Latin.

-

Our Father, who may be female or generdless or polygendered or just plain multiple and who may or may not have a relationship with us and might not even exist at all, who art in heaven, by which we mean whereever he/she/it/they happens to be, or indeed not be since we've established that he/she/it/they might not exist in the first place.

hallowed be thy name, if you have a name and you're into that sort of thing.

Thy kingdom queendom, monarchy, polyarchy, autocracy, democracy, thalassocracy, communal cooperative of equals, anarchy, whatever come or go, or stay, or stay away, or move in a path that is neither coming nor going, or be entirely hypothetical, or do things that cannot be described by simple verbs of motion.

Thy will be done unless you're evil, or nonexistent, or you don't have a will, or you're good but I'm evil, or your will is contradictory, or you're actually having a bad day and you want things that you wouldn't actually want if you were in a healthy state of mind (do you need a hug?) or maybe you... ok, you know what, we're moving onto the next line whether you will it or not.

on earth or elsewhere, I hear mars is nice this time of year, as it is in heaven for the value of heaven described earlier, assuming things are going well there, if it exists which, as previously established, it might not just as you might not, plus maybe we should get a look at how that worked out in heaven first, are you even in charge in heaven? I'm not sure we can assume that. If in heaven your will is constantly thwarted perhaps we want it to be done on earth as it isn't heaven, unless we don't want your will done in the first place, and ... Moving On:

Give us this day our daily bread, respecting our dietary concerns which might not allow for bread, also not all of us like bread, and maybe you don't have a lot of bread to give and we really don't want to impose, unless we do, and what if you're out of bread, and what if we're fasting today, and what if we're convinced that you have nothing to do with us getting bread, and really I think what we're saying here is that we want food, except when we don't, and that might not really have all that much to do with you who might not care about feeding us and indeed might not exist. Though I hope you're eating well, but that's just me and I don't speak for everyone.

and forgive us our trespasses, unless we don't think we ought to be forgiven or we think that you're not the one to do it, or any number of other things.

as we forgive those who trespass against us, except when we don't,

and lead us not into temptation, unless we want to be tempted, a little temptation might be a good thing now and then, and I'm not convinced that all of us really want to follow where you lead, you might be evil, or mindless, or nonexistent, and some of us have had bad experiences with GPS, and I want to know a little bit more about your track record, are you a good trip leader? do you have references?

but deliver us from evil unless we're into that sort of thing. Perhaps we like peril. Peril can be fun. Plus not all of us are convinced of your delivery prowess or indeed your ability to tell good from evil. And maybe we're not particularly interested in being delivered today regardless. I think that this is probably something to be decided on a case by case basis, so ask first. Unless the person told you not to I mean. You should have a pretty good idea, unless you don't, which you might not, so omit the word "should" from the previous and replace it with "might".

[Parenthetical begins]
For thine is possibly but not necessarily the kingdom, or queendom, or democracy, or ... have we done this before? I think we've done this before. So perhaps you should think back to that, but I will add that it's possible that it's just a [thingy] and not the [thingy] since some of us heard that they come in six packs, if they come at all, there are rumors on the internets that it might not even exist.

and the power, or lack of power, or willful decision not to use power, or state of being overpowered, or whatchamacallit. Probably whatchamacallit but there is a lack of agreement on this point so just go with it, and the glory, or not, it might not be glory, some of us don't think you're all that glorious, others think you're as glorious as can be, and it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out some of us think you're named Gloria

for ever and ever while supplies last, void where prohibited, and all that jazz. Do you like Jazz? Opinions vary. We're really not sure, the point is that the whole "thine is the [thingy] and whatchamacallit and disputed glory," thing is for a certain amount of time, we're not sure what, ranging anywhere from no time at all to all of eternity.

[Parenthetical ends]

Amen Or not. Perhaps not. What does "Amen" even mean? Someone will no doubt pop up to tell me but I think we can be quite sure that not everyone knows.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

No internet

I don't fully understand the way my internet bill works.  I think it might be that I only have to pay every six months.  However it works, I always intend to pay it monthly and always seem to forget to do that meaning that instead of a nicely distributed expense it all hits me at once.

Before now that hasn't been a problem but this month is the month of too many expenses.  So, as I was scrambling to pay the absolutely vital things, internet did not get paid for.  And so they cut my service.

I'm not totally sure what happens now.  I definitely can't pay the bill until next month, but next month isn't that far away.  What concerns me is that looking at the bill makes me think that maybe they cancelled my contract with them when I missed my payment.  If that's the case then I don't just have to pay off the hundreds of dollars I owe.  After I've done that I'll have to get internet service starting from scratch.  That can be slower than one would like, but that's not what bothers me.  It's not uncommon for an internet service provider to want a new customer to pay for the first few months up front.  I won't have enough money to do that next month.  I might not have money to do that the month after.

Right now I'm in a library and covered in sweat because getting online meant walking to another city for free internet.

I can't precisely say what this will mean in terms of the blog, but I assume it will mean that I'll be posting less than normal.

-

As a last thing, thank you people who sent donations my way.  Things aren't good, but things would be a lot worse without the help that I did get.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kim Possible -- Forgotten Seeds, Chapter 2: Stepping Out


“Well?” Surge asked impatiently.

Kim didn't look up from the console she was using, “The facility is bigger than anything I ever intended, but the basics haven't changed.”

“So, can you get us out?” Ryan asked in a demanding tone.

“Yes.”

“How?” Surge asked.

“Can you still generate plasma?” Kim asked Shego.

As a demonstration Shego lit her right hand. She also flipped Kim off.

"Perfect," Kim nodded. Then she moved away from the computer console and said, “Come here.”

Kim knelt and pried a small panel off the wall. Inside was a very orderly, very incomprehensible, array of wires and devices.

“See that blue box,” she pointed. When Shego touched it she said, “Yes, that's it. First I need you to slice that end of the main cable free.”

Shego easily cut it with a glowing finger. Kim then tugged the slack out of some of the interior wires, and stripped the wires on the edge of the open panel. She rewired them and then stepped back.

“Now,” she said to Shego. “Send as much energy as you can through the cable.”

“And this accomplishes what?” Shego asked.

“Power; we need power,” Kim said.

“I believe cooperation is in our best interest,” Drakken said.

“Doctor Dimwit,” Shego said. “I don't care what you believe or that you seem to have gotten a more cheerful disposition. I've got a five hundred year old hangover like you wouldn't believe.” Shego lit her hands regardless. They flared so brightly the others had to turn away.

Kim examined a monitor and said, “You're doing it, Shego. Just a few more ergs.”

“Yay, me,” Shego said flatly. “I'm still holding out for an explanation.”

“We all are, Shego,” Drakken said.

“Speak for yourself,” Surge said. “I just want to make it out alive, I could care less if anyone explains how.”

The chatter devolved into three shouting matches. Through it all Shego kept her plasma going.

Finally Kim said, “That should be enough.”

After a few keystrokes, a door that had formerly been closed, a door that by now they all knew they had to get through if they were ever going to leave, suddenly beeped active.

“Finally,” Ryan said, rushing for the door.

“Wait!” Kim shouted.

Ryan opened the door anyway, there was a flash of light and then he fell back into the room.

The most disconcerting thing wasn't the hole clean through his chest. It wasn't the smell of burnt flesh. It was his eyes. His still open, but very dead, eyes.

Shego pulled the body clear of the door. Drakken vomited. Then he closed Ryan's eyes.

Surge seemed to be trying to stop herself from hyperventillating.

Amy was just standing there in shock.

Hawk and Henry didn't seem to have processed what had happened yet.

Horatio closed the door.

Blok was the first to speak: “There's nothing you could do,” he said to Kim.

“I could have--” Kim started.

“You tried to warn him,” Blok said.

“I could have warned everyone beforehand,” Kim said. “I was just so caught up in solving the problem that I didn't think... And now...”

“Nine people are still alive,” Hawk said. “Focus on that. We have nine people who need a way out.”

“He's right,” Shego said. “The problem isn't solved yet.”

Kim took a deep breath and then said, “Blok, you're up.”

“What do you need?”

“Getting power back on has given us what we need to get out but it's also reactivated the security systems,” Kim said.

“Obviously,” Shego said.

“You're the only one that the security can't stop,” Kim told Blok. “Through that door are more holding areas just like the ones you all came out of and at the end of those is a security room. You can shut down the security systems with the push of a button.”

“I'm not good with electronics,” Blok admitted.

“This will be simple. Press a button, nothing more,” Kim said.

“Ok, which button?”

“When you get to the end of the holding areas you'll be in a small room with a console that looks almost exactly like this.” She gestured to the console she'd been using.

“That has a lot of buttons.”

“None of them matter,” Kim said. “The buttons that do matter will be here,” Kim pointed to an empty spot above the keyboard. “There will be a blue one, a green one, a yellow one, and a red one. All you have to do is press the blue one.”

“Just press the blue button?” Blok said uncertainly.

“It's just that simple,” Kim said. “The hard part is getting to it. Any of the rest of us would probably die, you should be able to take any punishment the security system can dish out.”

“Should?” Shego asked suspiciously.

“Should,” Kim said. Then, turning her attention from everyone but Blok, added, “So don't take your time. It's a straight line, just keep on running through the holding areas and going through the doors at the ends until you find yourself in a room that isn't a holding area.”

“And then hit the blue button?” Blok asked.

“Yes,” Kim said.

Blok stood in front of the door, transformed to his stone form and said, “I'm ready.”

Hawk hit the button to open the door while carefully avoiding putting himself in the path of the defenses in the next room.

Block disappeared through the door, which Hawk quickly closed behind him.

“What now?” Amy asked.

“Now we wait,” Kim said, returning to her console.

“Princess, I've been out for a day and haven't eaten. I'm cranky, I'm pissed off, and I'm not in the mood to wait,” Shego said.

“I'm happy you made it,” Kim said.

“Yay,” Shego said in a voice that indicated anything but joy.

“We can monitor his progress from here,” Kim said, indicating the console. “He's making good time.”

“In lunar gravity his stone form probably weighs about as much as the average human,” Drakken said. “He's still got as much mass to move to fight inertia, but when it comes to gravity he's never had it so easy before.”

“Fascinating,” Shego said, again in a voice that indicated her feelings didn't match her words.

“Is he holding up?” Surge asked.

“Impossible to tell,” Kim said, “but he's not slowing down.”

“So how did they get you, Princess?” Shego asked.

“They stabbed me in the back,” Kim said. “Literally and figuratively.”

“I know the feeling,” Shego said.

“I tried to give you a way out,” Kim said. “You wouldn't take it.”

“You're blaming this on me?” Shego shouted.

“No,” Kim told her, looking down. “And I'm happy to see you again.”

“And we wouldn't have gotten this far without you, Shego,” Amy added.

“Hooray for me,” Shego huffed.

“Let's remember we're all here together now,” Drakken suggested.

“What did they do to him?” Shego asked.

“What?” Kim responded, confused.

“Since when is Dr. D all for making nice with Kim Possible?” Shego asked.

Kim returned to her console. She quickly pulled up Drakken's file, read it over, and said, “Nothing.”

Shego just gave her a look.

“Well, nothing they didn't do to the rest of us,” Kim said. “It looks like they had some ham handed attempts at mind control but the cryo beds hardwired programming stopped any of them from working. He just got the equivalent of therapy sessions.”

“Five hundred years of them,” Hawk said.

“Well they don't seem to have affected the rest of us much,” Kim said.

“You do know I'm standing here while you talk about me, right?” Drakken asked.

“Sorry, Drakken,” Kim said.

“Actually I find it fascinating,” Drakken said, “and I do confess that I care much less about the people who laughed at me at university.”

“Yay, therapy,” Shego said with much sarcasm.

There was a beep on the console.

“The security system should be off,” Kim said, then she looked around for something to throw into the next room to trip the motion sensors.

Shego realized what Kim was doing and casually cut a piece of metal from the wall with a plasma encased finger.

Kim opened the door and Shego tossed it in. Nothing happened.

“So...” Surge said.

“Dr. D, why don't you go in there and check?” Shego said.

“Not funny, Shego,” Kim said. Then she walked into the room herself. Nothing happened. “It's safe.”

The eight of them made their way through the holding areas, trying not to look at the cry beds and their deceased occupants, until they reached Blok.

“Good work,” Kim said.

“It was nothing,” Blok said.

“How long until we're free?” Surge asked.

“Now is when we find out,” Kim said. Approaching the console. “This is a guard station so we have more control from here.”

After a few silent moments she showed the others a map of the lunar surface.

“We're here,” Kim pointed to one of two structures on the map. “There's not much here. Cryo beds, a few storage closets, and a tapped out power plant. We need to get here,” she pointed at another point on the map.

“That's a long way through a vacuum,” Hawk said.

“It's the only way,” Kim said. “This facility is just a prison, that one is an actual base. A base for people who would travel back to earth.”

“So... transportation?” Surge asked.

“Hopefully, but we have to get there first,” Kim said. The map zoomed in to show just the prison, “This is a warehouse of all the possessions they took from prisoners,” she pointed at one room back the way they had come, “we'll stop there first.”

“Kimmie, that door doesn't open,” Shego said. “I don't think it's locked; it just doesn't open.”

“It will now that it has power,” Kim responded. Shego shrugged. Kim continued, “Once we've got our stuff back, we'll head out,” she pointed to an exit in the section none had been in yet. “There are space suits here,” she pointed at a storage locker. “If we're lucky there will be a vehicle.”

“And if we're not?” Surge asked, unable to keep the fear from her voice.

“If not then we'll have to walk.”

“It's over two miles to the other facility,” Hawk said.

“There's no other choice,” Kim said. “Unless you wait here and die of hypoxia we need to reach the other facility.”

“You always were a ray of sunshine,” Shego said flatly.

The group headed back the way they had come. Someone gasped as they passed Ryan's body, but no one, not even the one who had done it, was sure who.

The door to the “Personal Effects Vault” was made of thick and heavy metal. Drakken shuddered to think what it must have cost to move it to the moon. Shego looked ruefully at melted sections where she'd tried to force her way through earlier, before she decided to conserve her plasma.

Kim just smiled.

It was Horatio who tapped in the code to open the door.

--

The vault again drove home how many had been left to die on Luna-1. It seemed to stretch on forever. Nothing but numbered boxes on shelves.

“Dehumanizing, isn't it?” Shego said.

“What?” Blok asked.

“They couldn't even be bothered to use our names,” Shego said. “Just … cell numbers.” She pulled a box off the shelf and opened it. “This is me. Zero-Zero-One-A. That's all I was to them. A serial number.”

“I'm used to being a specimen number,” Hawk said.

“Things got a lot worse after you guys left the scene,” Henry added. “In the end we were worth less than nothing.”

“That explains why they'd rather see us die than be released,” Shego said as she rummaged through the box.

When everyone started to look for their own belongings, Kim said, “You don't have to limit yourselves to just your things. No one else is going to be using this stuff.”

“I daresay most of them would appreciate their things being used to help those who opposed putting them into this death trap,” Drakken said.

Kim collapsed.

Shego was the first to her side, “You ok?” she asked while helping the young woman up. Soon everyone was around her.

Kim mumbled something too softly for it to be heard.

“What was that, Red?” Blok asked.

“It was never supposed to be a death trap!” Kim shouted. Then she started sobbing. “It was supposed to be a more humane solution than current prisons. No abuse, no gangs, no violence. Everyone kept safe and the only side effect would be people working out their issues in their sleep.” The sobbing turned to dry heaves. “Everyone was supposed to win.”

“Kim,” Shego said, a hard edge in her voice, “You didn't do this. Cyclops did. She overrode your fail safes to kill all those people. None of this is on you.” Shego paused for a moment. “If you give up on us now, though, that will be on you.”

Kim looked up at Shego and said, “Sorry.”

“Everyone's stressed,” Shego said.

“I'm sorry for everything.”

“Get us back to earth alive and you can consider yourself forgiven,” Shego said in a softer voice.

Amy had already started looking through her box, and Kim pulled the next box in line off the shelf without even looking at the number. She figured the numbering scheme was simple. The first prisoner, put in cryo before the prison even existed, was Shego. The second was Amy. Kim herself was the third. She'd be 003-A.

When she opened the box all that was in it was her wristwatch.

“Too bad, Kimmie, looks like you're stuck with that fashion disaster,” Shego said, gesturing at Kim's all white clothing. The expected sarcasm was there, but possibly also a bit of sympathy.

“Actually, I may have found some help,” Kim said, hope returning to her voice.

“We've been here for centuries, what do you think that little--” Shego started.

The device chirped.

Kim hit one of the buttons and for a moment very small writing appeared on the watchface. “Spankin',” Kim said, then she hit one button twice.

“So what did you just do, princess?” Shego asked.

“I found out that my car is still online, and the AI is booting up. I told her to come here once all systems are online.”

“You told you car to come to the moon?” Surge asked.

“I've seen it,” Blok said. “It does fly.”

“And it could reach us on Mars if it needed to,” Kim said.

“Except no one gassed it up in a very long time,” Shego said.

“Jade doesn't run on gas,” Kim said, “and she's been in a kind of mechanical stasis since GJ turned on me.” Kim's voice turned dark, “Telling her to go into it and wait for me was the last thing I managed to do before GJ took me down.” Then her voice returned to a more matter of fact tone: “Unless something very heavy fell on her Jade can get to us without difficulty.”

“That's your plan?” Shego asked.

“No.” Kim said. “That's my backup plan. The primary plan remains the same. We take whatever is useful from this room, get to the exit, and make our way to the lunar base.”

The group again separated, everyone searching for their own belongings. Shego and Amy found spots to change into their own clothes. Kim randomly opened boxes and looked inside to see if she could find anything useful.

--

They could have searched the vault for ages, but none of them wanted to stay longer than they had to. It quickly became apparent that weapons and advanced technology had not been stored with other personal effects so the only truly useful items they found were things that had been overlooked, like Kim's watch.

When they left Surge was dressed in her own clothes, the t-shirt and jeans typical of a woman in her early twenties in 2018, and a long coat: a duster enhanced with nanotechnology to heat or cool its occupant and change color and texture. Currently she had it in pink suede.

Drakken was in his usual blue suit.

Amy was in her standard getup, this turtleneck two tone purple, but instead of her own glasses she'd found a pair that could shift to match her prescription, zoom, and show various non-visible spectra.

Shego hadn't located anything of particular use in any of the other boxes, but she surprised everyone but not changing into her jumpsuit but instead a simple tank top with green slacks.

Hawk took none of his own clothes, they were just what he had thrown on while fleeing
Global Justice. He'd found a dress shirt and trousers that he deemed “passable”.

Blok was wearing beat up jeans, a black tank top, and a red leather vest that honored his favorite fictional gang.

Horatio and Henry both wore unremarkable t-shirts and jeans, though Horatio's t-shirt seemed like it might be fitted for a woman. Henry had found a navigational wristband. It had a compass, had a GPS receiver, contained maps of the entire planet, and promised to be able to preform celestial navigation via stored star charts. All of it was useless when one wasn't on the earth, of course.

Newly equipped they all headed back to the guard station.

Kim returned to the console and started typing in commands, “I'm trying to channel oxygen out of the areas we're leaving and into the ones we'll be traveling through,” she explained. “But there's not a lot to work with.”

The trip to the airlock was uneventful. The space suits were in the locker like Kim had said. There were more than they needed and Shego scavenged extra oxygen canisters from the unnecessary ones.

“Once we're in the suits we need to keep our breathing even and take it slow,” Kim said. “If there isn't transportation outside we'll need to walk two miles.”

“Hop.” Hawk said.

“What?” Kim asked.

“The low gravity combined with the loose regolith on the lunar surface makes walking difficult at best,” Hawk said.

“It's hard enough to walk in here,” Surge complained. They all knew it was true, not one of them hadn't had difficulty with pushing off the ground too hard.

“Astronauts found that the best way to move around is to hop,” Hawk told everyone.

“Ok, if there's no transportation we'll need to hop a long way,” Kim said. “It's important that we conserve our air if we're going to make it. Once the suits are on I recommend the only talking we do is to confirm that the suits are working. After that: silence.”

When they were in the spacesuits and could hear each other only through the built in raidos Kim said, “Kim; suit secure.”

“It works,” Shego said.

“Drakken. Suit is working.”

“Surge. I'm still breathing.”

“Blok. I'm good.”

“Hawk. I'm cool.”

"Oh, the air tickles my nose," Amy said.

Shego rolled her eyes.

“Horatio; suit intact.”

"Henry. I'm fine."

Shego looked at Kim then said, "Okay, we did roll call. Can we go now?"

"Everyone grab a spare tank," Kim said, then opened walked to the airlock.

The computer in the airlock had information the internal computers didn't.

“Damn, no transportation,” Kim said. "Don't forget. Stay calm, breathe evenly, and we should be fine."

When everyone was piled into the airlock, Kim shut the interior door and opened the exterior door. It was their first glimpse of where they truly were.

The barren gray moonscape stretched in all directions. Kim oriented herself toward the other facility, but couldn't see anything but more moon.

She knew, intellectually, that it was because the horizon on the moon was closer, making the facility a half mile over the horizon instead of nearly a mile closer than the horizon as it would be on earth. She knew that. But it still felt hopeless to step out onto the moon's surface when she couldn't even see where she was going.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I feel hopeless

I think it's mostly finances, which I'm sick of talking about.  Yesterday I had to try to figure out whether it was better to overdraw my account, and thus piss off the bank, or better to be late with a payment, and thus piss off the credit card company.

Cold times are coming, it's already a lot cooler, and you can't survive without heating oil.  So it wasn't a mistake to get it, but good god did it fuck up everything money-wise.  It's just not cheap.  And that has messed up everything else.

Anyway, whether it is finances, or it's just a coincidence that I feel hopeless at the same time money shit is going down, I definitely feel emotionally-not-well and that fucks up everything.  I can't think, I can't write, I can't accomplish shit.  Everything just ... stops.

Things don't happen.

I really, truly, want to be writing things for here.  I want to be doing something rather than nothing in general.  But I fail.

It's not fun.

-

I have another chapter of Forgotten Seeds that's been written for a while and just needs a final proofread.  I'll see if I can get that up by tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sinfest

I tend to spend a long time not really thinking about Sinfest, and then I'll decide to take another look, at which point there'll be a lot for me to catch up on, and I'll read through everything that's new, then I'll be sad that there isn't more to read, and then I start that long time not really thinking about it and thus restarting the cycle.

I had one of those catch up sessions, in which I read every comic published this year, today.

So that has me thinking about what I like about the comic.

The first thing to note is that it has a habit of starting with something I don't like, and then moving from there to something I do.  Some of that ordinary is improvement over time; some of is much more in terms of stylistic choices instead of quality.

The Sisterhood is a good example of something that has improved since its introduction and reintroduction.  When first showed up isn't really worth spending too much time on.  It was part of a silly seven strip arc and when the arc was over it wasn't heard from again for over four years.  It was a throw away.

When it was reintroduced it was more serious and there was definitely good there.  Sinfest's The Patriarchy, which is shown as being like the "raining code" from The Matrix, is a really effective way to show the messages that, while they're being sent, often slip under your conscious radar.  Also how patriarchal messages are everywhere you look.  That said, while The Patriarchy introduced at that point in the comic was good, The Sisterhood wasn't so much.  Xanthe's first action upon showing back up was to shame 'Nique for how she dressed that's... not exactly good feminism.  That's just one example but there was a fair amount of straw feminism mixed in with actual feminism in their portrayal.  That's improved a lot.

For a long time I read Sinfest mostly for the relationship between Crim and Fuchsia.  I liked it because it was cute, and sweet, and many nice things.  But when it started Fuchsia was basically stalking Crim.  I'm definitely not interested in stories about stalkers.

The other really important thing I've noticed has to do with how capable the characters are.  The Sisterhood (fighting patriarchy through the power of sustained awesome) and the devil (the devil) are both well suited for whatever happens to be thrown their way.  Blue is good at what she does, but she follows the devil's lead, and some non-main characters are pretty unflappable (see: Buddha) but for the most part everyone else is pretty much always in over their heads.

But they're not in over their heads in an awkward, insecure, groan-inducing, cringe-worthy, facepalm-summoning, "Oh my god, this hurts to watch" kind of way.

A recent (and major) arc does a good job of illustrating what I'm talking about.  It also shows what I mean about starting in places that I don't like.

It was when Lily (Lil' E = Little Evil = the devil's son) and Tange (Angie who likes tangerines ) went in search of the robot girl with boom (MODEL PX1-F600 SERIAL NUMBER FBXC-44-020-718-184-63-661-90-542 with a shotgun.)

None of these characters started out in a place that'd I'd normally like to go in my fiction.  Little E forgot who he was and it still hasn't come back.  He forgot who he was in a strip that appeared on September 23, 2011.  Sinfest updates daily.

Forgetting everything about himself is how he ended up with the name Lily.  He was told that he was "Lil' E" and Tange misheard it as "Lily".

Tange was originally a normal human being but the devil turned her into a devil-girl.  It's not precisely mind control, more of personality control.  Others tried to change her back but succeeded only in inflicting their personalities upon her.  She never got returned to normal, but she did end up a free agent as opposed to a carbon copy of someone else's personality.

That's ... deeply disturbing.  Don't take my word for it, listen to Hawkeye talk about the same sort of thing in The Avengers:
You don't understand. Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Take you out and stuff something else in? You know what it's like to be unmade?
So they're both coming from a place where they've lost their identities, and that's something I shy away from.

As for the robot girl with boom, she tried to commit suicide.  Tange met her before before that, but not long before.  Lily first met her when she was suicidal.  That's something I really shy away from.

I like my fiction fun and light.  Real life is bad enough, and I want fiction to be better than it.  A character in Sinfest, upon learning that a game is one in which "victory is neither certain nor even likely, just like real life", shouts, "I don't want real life. I wanna win!"  I'm like that with my fiction.

But that's where this starts.  Three characters in positions that I don't really want to read about people being in.  There's plenty of good fiction that doesn't have identity loss or suicidal characters.  As I said, Sinfest has a habit of starting in places that I never want my fiction to go in the first place, and then changing into stories that I do like.

Tange and Lily save the fembot, who totally needs a shorter name, from her suicide attempt.  They take her in.  They give her a bed to sleep in and plug her in so she gets a charge.  But, after she sees a commercial for fembots (they're created to be slaves; she is not amused) and stumbles across Lily's armory, she takes a shotgun and runs off alone.

When Tange and Lily realize that she's gone, and she has a gun, they run off to save her.  They think she needs saving because they remember that she was suicidal, in fact she needs saving because she's going to take on the amalgamated forces of Hell in a quest for vengeance.  She can't pull that off.  (She's impressive, but not that impressive.)  Without help she would die.

The point here is that Tange and Lily are running off on a mission that will take them into the heart of Hell's manufacturing and R&D center and will pit them against Hell's robotic hordes.  They have no idea what they're getting into and are in no way prepared for the task.

They're awesome at it.

People being in over their heads and somehow succeeding is a plot that will always be with us, but a lot of times it carries with it the idea that you have to suffer through it.  The characters make faux pas left and right, they do things that make you cringe and want to turn away from the screen, the fact that they're not, objectively, well suited to the task becomes emotional insecurities, it's a bog of awkward and uncomfortable that the story slogs through.

This is not a story like that.

There is no possible way that Tange and Lily should be able to pull off their rescue attempt.  What I really love is not that they do it, though that is necessary, but the way that they do it.  The have a goal: find and help robot girl with boom.  They pursue that goal with determination and only the occasional distraction by angel-themed clothing and vice soda.  They don't let the fact that they're in way over their head get to them at all.

In fact, they're inordinately proud of themselves.  Not in a, "Shut the fuck up, Bruce Wayne," kind of way but in a, "Yes, you are awesome," kind of way.  Which is to say that when they show pride your impulse is not to think they're full of themselves but to want to cheer them on.

As an example, there's a strip that goes like this:
Tange: Have you seen a robot girl with boom?
Lily: Boom.
Scarf guy*: As a matter of fact I have.
Tange: Where she go?
Scarf guy: Um ... she said she was looking for ... Devil Tech.
*Tange and Lily turn to each other with hands in celebratory gestures*
Tange: Woo!  We are excellent detectives!
Objectively, no.  They were lucky that they asked someone who knew that "boom" meant "shotgun" they were even more lucky that the person they asked was the one person who found out where the fembot was going.  Getting lucky when you ask a question, badly, does not make you an excellent detective.

THAT SAID, reading the comic doesn't make you want to point any of that out.  It makes you want to encourage Tange and tell her that, yes, they are excellent detectives.

They do save the fembot's life, but it would be short lived if not for the fact that the rescue party is itself rescued by The Sisterhood.

When they get to the place where they'll be hiding out Tange asks, "We are excellent fugitives, yeah?"

Yes, Tange.  Yes, you are.

And I very much like that.  I like that even when the characters are completely out of their depths and outclassed in every way they don't descend into angst and awkwardness.  Sometimes they have fun and they are fun.  Other times they're just plain determined.

The story of the person who is in over their head and somehow pulls through speaks to a certain fantasy: that you can overcome things, that you can succeed even when the problems seem insurmountable.

Sinfest delivers on that, but it also delivers on a second fantasy: that you can do the above without having to suffer through the experience.

Characters often deal with what's in front of them without letting the overwhelming nature of the overall situation get to them.

Which is not to say that they can always deal with their problems.  The fembot would have died if not for Tange and Lily, all of them would have been caught soon after if not for The Sisterhood.  There have been multiple plots where someone was just plain broken and wouldn't have made it through without a friend doing the hard work of helping them.

One memorable plot was when Crim dug a hole to Hell.  Fuchsia had a breakdown, she thought that she didn't belong anywhere but Hell and didn't deserve to be happy.  So she returned there and cut herself off from the outside world.  Crim started digging.

When he got there Blue assumed that he'd come to save Fuchsia, but when Fuchsia asked he admitted that he hadn't; he'd simply come to be with her.  Crim had no illusions about what he could pull off.  He couldn't liberate Fuchsia from Hell (she had to do that herself) but he could do something, and so he did that something.

People who were just visitors to Hell, on the other hand, could get out with help from their friends.  Slick and Lily both ended up so depressed they were in Hell and their friends had to go in there and help them back out both physically (Hell is a literal place, otherwise Crim could never have gotten there by digging a hole) and mentally (helping them get over the depression by being good friends.)

And I think I sort of lost the thread of what I was saying, but the big thing is:

Someone who is in over their head but wins in the end without taking a detour into angst, awkward, or assorted other things that make you groan/cringe/facepalm is a plot that I like a lot.

Links to various things:

Introverts Assemble!

The subjunctive mood

Characters I have mentioned in this post:
Crim
Fuchsia
Lily
Tange
Xanth
Fembot
To my knowledge we never see a trans* character.  I'd like to know if the "Women Only Space" is a space for all women or just cis women.

For that matter I'm not sure that any bisexual characters appear in the strip, and the identification of characters as lesbians is questionable at best.  (Because we're talking about devil girls whose job it was to put on a show.)  I'm not remembering anyone who is queer in any way except for the two male gay characters (Francis and his unnamed boyfriend.)  So even though LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion is something that The Sisterhood says they're for, we never get a chance to see if they live up to it.

But, mostly, I really like the webcomic.

--

* His name is not "scarf guy".  That's what Tange knows him as.  His name is Francis Sebastian.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meta

So I've got various posts I want to write and it was never my intention to leave two posts about money as the most recent things for any length of time.  It was never my intention to have two posts about money in a row.

Although I do need money, if I promised to write if you paid me, would you pay me?

Not that it matters; if I could make myself write posts on command, I'd do it without getting paid.

Random dump of things I've been meaning to do:

Any of that particularly interest anyone?

(That list is in no particular order, by the way.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monthly Donation Reminder

So it's time for my monthly post reminding people that I do have a donate button.  If you want to know more about where the money is going, or what parasites are trying to suck my blood this week, do look at the previous post.

There's not all that much to say about September.  It's one of the number months which means that since January and February were added to the front of the calendar it has been two months off (the name suggests that it's the seventh month but it's actually the ninth.)  It's a short month, which means that it originally had 30 days, then the number of days was dropped to 29, then raised back to 30 with the Julian calendar (which is where it remains today.)

As a short month September has its ides on the 13th making today two days after the ides, but since the Romans counted backward from fixed dates instead of forward today would be marked from the Kalends of October, thus XVII Kal. Oct. or ante diem septimum decimum Kalendas Octobres.