Friday, October 25, 2019

They know Latin! Run Away; They Know Latin!

[Originally posted at my Patreon over a year ago.]
[Things worth knowing:
-- Sunset (unicorn in human form) has seen her entire high school turn on her.
-- Sunny is a character from her homeland who is her one supporter.
-- Magic can be accessed via music.]
- ~ ´  * ⁂ * `  ~ -
If the fluently obscene and incisively profane Latin echoing through the hallways were any indication, something had gone very badly with Sunny and it hadn't finished yet.  Just before Sunset turned what she was reasonably confident was the last corner, the Latin abruptly stopped.
Sunset was worried that something had happened to Sunny, but when she did round the corner she saw several students, all uninjured, being restrained by teachers and other staff.  Sunny Skies herself was being held against a wall of lockers, glaring at the other restrained students with a disturbingly cold stare.
Sunset briefly wondered if Sunny were capable, emotionally, of killing someone, but shook the thought from her head.  Right now Sunny, her only friend, was in need of a friend herself. Sunset's pace had slowed because she was now surrounded by teachers in an area that was under the highest level of supervision the school staff ever managed.
Sunny's right arm caught Sunset's attention.  Sunny was, for lack of a better word, slapping her hand against the lockers behind her.  It wasn't particularly hard or loud, but it was unusual and definitely not a tic Sunny had displayed before.
It was almost as if Sunny were trying to tap out in some combat sport, but didn't realize you had to do it in a way that the other person would actually notice, for example tapping them instead of the wall behind you.
There was something strange about it though.  Some sort of pattern or--
It was music.
The teachers were forgotten as Sunset sprinted to reach Sunny.  Sunset had no idea what kind of magic an angry Pegasus in human form might use, but she was pretty sure Sunny wasn't trying to pony up, something she'd previously shown only abstract academic interest in, just to take a flight around the campus.
If she succeeded in summoning magic things could get very bad very fast.
When Sunset reached Sunny she said, "Stand down," because she wasn't in the right frame of mind to think of anything more interesting or clever than that.
Sunny responded with an angry, "Istae verpae et te calumniantur, et--"
"Maledicant," Sunset said with the kind of calm that one could only show if they were faking it and well practiced in doing so.  The word itself should have been able to go unspoken.  Of course let them say what they would, after all, it wasn't like anything good came from trying to stop the hateful, hurtful, and infuriating words others spewed about her.  Regardless, Sunset attempted to continue on, "Simpliciter--"
Sunny was unconvinced. Sunset didn't have words to describe the degree to which Sunny was unconvinced.  Her right hand sped its rhythm, taping faster and louder on the locker, and she snarled, "Istam merdam paedica!"
That . . . was physically impossible.  And not just because the merda was figurative.  Still, in situations like these connotations were often more important than denotations and Sunset let it pass without comment.
Instead she stepped closer to Sunny, gently took Sunny's right arm in her left hand (to stop her from trying to pony up) and looked Sunny in the eyes before speaking again.
The teacher restraining Sunny, for his part, seemed entirely content to ignore all of this and relegate his attention and effort only to making sure Sunny didn't bolt.  Since Sunset was now blocking the most viable escape route, he barely seemed to notice what was going on.  He had a hand on Sunny's left shoulder, lightly pinning her to the locker, but that was the extend of his involvement.
Sunset was clearly on her own here.
"Defervesce," Calm down, "quia tu libebit," because it will be pleasing to me.
Sunny tried to shout, "Sed-!-"
"Non!" Sunset said unintentionally loudly.  It was just short of a shout and not the sort of thing Ideally suited for communicating with someone when one was practically nose to nose with. She took a moment, calmed herself, and lowered her volume.  "Noli dicire 'sed'," Don't say 'But'.  "Nolo ex tu succensere," I don't want your rage.
Sunny wasn't ready to give up, but she also wasn't struggling or trying to tap some other part of her body in time to a beat that might let her sprout wings.
Sunset caressed Sunny's cheek, there'd be Hell to pay with the rumor mill, but the important thing was that Sunny wouldn't misinterpret the gesture as amorous, so using physical displays of affection to calm Sunny was definitely on the table.
"Noli incipere operare qua vindice meo me nolente," Sunset said, Don't be my champion/savior/defender without my consent, white knighting helped no one, after all. "Nolo illud,"  I don't want this, Sunset said, using the hand she'd touched Sunny's cheek with to gesture to the teachers finally getting students calmed down and breaking up the gawkers. "Ego nolo illud," she said, I don't want this.
She caressed Sunny's cheek again.  All else aside, it was nice to have an Equestrian around just for the physical contact.  Humans seemed to think it needed to be reserved for romance and sex.  "Ne volo illud," she said one last time. I do not want this.
"Esse mihi amicam, carissimam, volo," Sunset said: I want my dearest friend with me.
Sunny let out a long breath, then visibly calmed.  "Mea culpa," she said: My bad.  "Hanc rem me paenitet, " I regret this matter.  "Mihine ignosces?," Will you forgive me?
"Ita vero," Sunset said, yes/of course, "sed rei similī aliquem iterum nefacies," but you will never do anything like this again.  True, she had no idea what had happened before she turned the corner, and she didn't have a way to gauge the potential damage that might be caused by unleashing Equestrian magic under these circumstances, but the situation was, both in broad strokes and in specific details, unacceptable.
"Iustum est," That's fair, Sunny said.
"Coercitora adveniēns, . ." Sunny said, it wasn't even close to a complete sentence.  Still, a gesture indicated that Sunset should turn, and when she did she saw Vice Principal Luna.  Thus the words make sense.
"Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?" Luna asked Sunny.
Sunny said, "Εν νω εχω--"
And Sunset decided to end that little trip to another language right then and there.  "Nescis. Non informationem habes."
Sunny was from another world that ran on the literal magics of Harmony and Friendship, with occasional assists from other happy cheery abstract concepts like Love and the like.
Nothing there could possibly have prepared Sunny for high school punishments.
"Before I descend into the dark recesses of my psyche to determine whether I want to maintain my record of professionalism or simply give up and scream profanity at my students, I do have a question for both of you," Luna said.
Sunset said, "Sagitta," at the same time Sunny said, "Τοξευου."
"You two are aware that we have a Classics Club, right?" Luna asked.  "You know: a place where your mastery of the three great languages --Greek, Latin, and profanity-- would be met with praise and adulation."
Sunset shrugged, Sunny, for her part, seemed mildly interested.
"Miss Skies, please go to my office," Luna said to Sunny.  Sunny started walking, and --when she'd made it a fair distance away-- Luna said, "Thank you for what you did today," to Sunset.
Sunset shrugged again. "I just talked."
"You took a fellow student from a state of poly-lingual bloodlust to a safe and normal place," Luna said.  "That's not nothing."
Sunset decided not to note that Sunny only became poly-lingual again after the bloodlust had passed. Instead she shared something else that was on her mind:
"It's not much, either," she said.
"Given that the school seems to be coming apart," Luna said.  "I'll take what I can get."
After a pause Luna said, "I'll need to go talk to Miss Skies now, I'd like you to be there to . . . take her off my hands when the meeting is finished."
"Produc, magistra," Sunset said; "produc."
Lead on, teacher; lead on.
- ~ ´  * ⁂ * `  ~ -
As it often the case, this is part of a larger story.  As is often the case, it's the only part of that story that's actually written.
The Equestria Girls Holiday Special makes a point of completely isolating Sunset when it comes to in-person friends and allies.  (Magical pen pals are exempt.)  That means that one of the major questions raised by it is "What if just one person had been there (physically been there) for Sunset?"  The answer depends a great deal on who that person is.
Moving on to other notes . . .
Sunny is asexual aromantic, Sunset knows, and Sunny knows that Sunset knows, so there's no risk of "I'm trying to comfort you, my friend, using physical contact" being misinterpreted as, "I'm coming onto you."
They're from the species that invented nuzzling so physical contact is a big deal socially.
Sunny's spent her entire life biting back on her anger because of propriety, decorum, and political concerns.
It suddenly hit her that, since she was in another world where no one knows her ("Sunny Skies" is a pseudonym; only a handful of people know that she's only human temporarily and a once and future pony by birth and choice) she could, for once in her life, let loose with what she really thought and tell people who hurt those she cares about exactly what she thinks of them.
It didn't take long before she surrendered all control to letting the pent up anger, rage, and frustration flow outward.  There wasn't actually a physical altercation between students (teachers did have to hold students back to keep it that way), but if the teachers had been about 30 seconds slower to show up there would have been violence because the posturing stage had ended.
I didn't do a sufficient job of showing that, while Sunny calmed over the course of the Latin, she was still ready to restart the fray right until Sunset's last, "I don't want this," and accompanying "I want" statement.
Sunny has a lot of bottled up negative emotions and they've just tasted freedom for the first time in forever.  She's volatile at the moment.
- ~ ´  * ⁂ * `  ~ -
"Istae verpae et te calumniantur, et--"
Those dicks are both slandering you and--
"Maledicant, simpliciter--"
Let them speak ill, just--
Let them evil-speak, just--
"Istam merdam paedica!"
Fuck that shit! (in the butt)
Why "butt-fuck"?
The Latin for "fuck, in general" was profane but not particularly derogatory.  Instead the Romans had a thing about penetration.  (So too did the ancient Greeks we have records of) and so the options for getting "Fuck that shit! to have the right connotations are:
a) (butt-)fuck that shit! Or
b) Give head to that shit!
b) Get head from that shit!
I feel that the second loses something in translation.
The original thing was way off.  The Romans and the ancient Greeks whose attitudes we know about had a thing about the ways cis dudes could be sexually penetrated.  Short version: "penetrating = good, being penetrated = bad."  As such "Give head to that shit" would only ever be used to render the English "Get fucked by that shit" which is absolutely nothing like the intended meaning of "Fuck that shit."
Calm down/ Simmer down / Stop boiling over
"quia tu libebit,"
because it will please me.
Sunset is in to/for mode and mentally changed the aspect to make that work better, hence her rendering it as "because it will be pleasing to me."
"Sed -!-"
But -!-
Add the "exclamation cut off" hyphen to the punctuation marks we need alongside the the exclamation comma, the question versions of both, the trailing off question ( . ? . ) and the reverse comma (which would end the ambiguities that are allegedly the cause of the Oxford Comma Wars.)
Noli dicire 'sed',
No "but",
Literally: Do not wish to say 'But'.
Nolo ex tu succensere
I don't want [flames on the side of your face anger] from you
"Noli incipere operare qua vindice meo me nolente,"
Don't start to work as my defender when I don't want that.
Don't go bein' my white knight when I want it not.
Don't be become a champion of mine without my consent.
"Nolo illud,"
I don't want this
"Ego nolo illud,"
I don't want this.
Directly stating the "I" is emphatic because it is implied by the verb conjugation and thus usually left out.
"Ne volo illud,"
I do not want this.
Nolo is what happened to "ne volo" when it was allowed to grow and change for centuries.  To separate them out again is to go full on archaic (possibly breaking the rules and bylaws of grammar) for the purpose of emphasis.
"Esse mihi amicam, carissimam, volo,"
I want my dearest friend with me.
Literally: I want my friend, most dear, to be for me.
Someone once said that you don't translate Latin into English, you translate Latin into English-Latin.  (Or maybe Latin-English.  The point is, not English-English.)  I bring that up because "to be for me" is most definitely not English-English.
It's a weird statement anyway, mind you.  "I want you to verb for me," isn't that strange, but when the verb in question is "to be" the weirdness kicks in, pretty much regardless of how you end up phrasing it.
The idea is that what she wants Sunny to do for her is nothing more (or less) than exist.  Angry shouting matches are not something she wants Sunny to do for her.  Where the "with" from the English translation comes from is that if Sunny is existing for Sunset, she'll naturally (Sunset thinks) be doing it around Sunset (be it physically or some other measure of proximity) and thus with Sunset.
"Mea culpa,"
My bad.
"Huius rei me paenitet,"
I regret this matter.
Literally: It causes me to repent of this thing.
(No, the "it" doesn't stand for anything.  impersonal verbs are like that.)
"Mihine ignosces?"
Will you forgive me?
Literally: To me --this is a "yes" or "no" question by the way-- will you give forgiveness?
"Ita vero,"
of course/yes verily/yuparoonie
Literally: So true.
Originally I planned to have "yuparoonie" as a translation in the story proper.
Some people might be interested to know that Latin doesn't have a word for "yes".  Instead they used "ita vero" which, as I noted, literally translates to "so true".  So, from now on, whenever people talk about how this or that language doesn't have word for "no", you can contribute the knowledge "Latin didn't have a word for 'yes'."  (Please exercise discretion when determining whether or not you should make that contribution.)
"sed rei similī aliquem iterum nefacies."
but you will never do anything like this again.
"Iustum est,"
That's fair,
Literally: Fairness is.
"Coercitora adveniēns, . ."
Enforcer arriving, . . 
This is known as an ablative absolute.  In English we use nominative for our absolutes.  Absolutes are free from entanglement and exist in themselves, they're grammatically disconnected from the rest of the sentence forcing you to figure out (usually from context) how they fit.
English absolutes include things like the "Arms akimbo" in "Arms akimbo, they came stalking down the stairs."  You can figure out what that means ("With [their] arms akimbo, they came stalking down the stairs")  but from a grammatical and structural standpoint it's disconnected.
Before we get to other things, I just looked up the definition of akimbo and had to change how they came down the stairs.  Why does it mean "flung about haphazardly" with anything other than the arms, but "in a specific reserved, haughty, and judgmental stance" when discussing the arms?  This is sub-optimal.
I was playing fast and loose with punctuation when I wrote that.  That phrase should end with a comma, but since the rest of the sentence wasn't there I made up a modified ellipsis starting with a comma instead of the first period. 
"Εν νω εχω--"
I have in mind.
This is idiom significant to me because it's one of the few non-English things I will spontaneously think.  As such it's basically the one part of learning Latin and ancient Greek that was an unambiguous success.
There were, however, a lot of things surrounding the learning that I would not trade for anything.  Almost a decade of my life would have been lost in a black hole of depression without the support I got from the embattled (and eventually defeated) USM Classics Program.
I don't think it's likely to happen, but if Jeannine showed up at my door saying, "I need your help, we'll probably die, we have to go now," I think that I probably would get involved in that thriller and/or action movie.  I'd have questions, of course, but they could be asked on the way.
(Not that I have anything against Peter, I just feel like if someone comes knocking at my door needing help in some kind of life or death battle between good and evil, Jeannine is the more likely candidate.)
"Nescis. Non informationem habes."
You don't know.  You have no idea.
Shoot (with an arrow), in Latin
Shoot (with an arrow), in Greek
"Produc, magistra; produc."
Lead forth, teacher; lead forth.
"Produc" is one of those weird words.  It's supposed to be "produce" (pro-du-kay), and we all know it's supposed to be "produce", and the Romans knew it too, but "produc" is an option too for some reason.  Likewise true if you chop the "pro" off.
- ~ ´  * ⁂ * `  ~ -
Normally when I think of angry Latin conversations I think of Jacob and Shin from Life After and the arguments they have in my head of which, I'm pretty sure, none have been written.

Metapost: Depression is bad; can't write, need money

Part of the reason I haven't been posting here is that everything is terrible at the moment.

I just came off of months of problems with getting my most important medication, I still haven't figured out what the fuck is wrong with my ADHD prescription so I haven't had that for ages.  (Definitely I haven't had it since the most important medication got sorted out.)

All of that disruption hasn't helped.  I was helping my sister a bunch, which sucks the life out of me to the point that helping her two or three days often means losing a week of productivity in my own home because it's not just the days that I'm not here, it's the days that it takes to recover from going there.  It usually takes more days to recover than days spent there helping.

(My leg's been doing weird things, so she hasn't had me doing any particularly great manual labor, but the mental/emotional drain is always high as fuck.)

She hasn't asked me to help for a while, which would make things better, except that I've been sick since the last time I did help her.  (Pretty sure I picked it up from her kids.)  It's not an "Oh my God, I'm gonna die" thing.  It's basically just a lingering chest cold, that's providing me with a perma-headache that makes all attempts at thinking kind of . . . "hazy" is the best word I've come up for it.  It also gives me this general sense of ickiness.

I've been passively suicidal for basically as long as I can remember, but I only recently learned that was an actual thing so it's sort of new to me even though I've had it forever.

One bright spot is that someone at Fimfiction (the My Little Pony fanfiction site) invited me to her discord server.  That's related to suicidal stuff.  In terms of thoughts, she's actively suicidal.  In terms of actions she's actively self harming.  Neither of these things are good, and hopefully they both stop, but having an internet friend who's extremely open in talking about her experience with those things is good.

I have mental healthcare, if things ever make the switch from passive to active I'll be getting professional help, but friends are important, and sometimes it's easier to talk to a friend you've never met and do it via a text only medium.  It's comforting to me to know that if that switch ever happens I'll have that sort of friend who can simultaneously relate to what I'd be going through and tell me "Don't act on those thoughts."

(Right now, the concept of intentionally hurting myself in any way throws a divide by cheese error, I've always been downright terrified of what might happen, what I might do, if that ever stopped being true.)

That's comforting to me, but it's not the majority of why her inviting me to that server was a good thing.  It's just having the people to talk to.  Pre-Discord, all of the internet communities I'd been part of were always public.  The only discord server I'd been on before this one was less . . . cozy, I guess.  Also, the people there drifted in a direction I didn't.  But mostly it's the less cozy thing.

This new group feels like something I haven't had before.  Something good.

Also we talked extensively about the assassination of Julius Caesar the other day.  (Caesar got offed because he didn't care what other people thought and/or couldn't read a room.  Augustus got what Caesar had wanted by caring about the sensibilities of others and being able to read a room.)  Geeking out with people is fun.

Switching gears back to stuff that's been going on that's been affecting here, it's been very hard to make myself eat and drink enough.  Dehydration and malnutrition have depression like symptoms even if you don't have depression, if you do have depression then they make those symptoms so much worse.  Another thing that does that?  Not getting enough sleep.  Guess what else I've been having trouble doing?

Secondary computer died.  The only thing that was wrong with it is the power socket, but I'd have to get a new part (a new socket) and solder it on to fix that.  I have never soldered anything in my life.  I want to, but I haven't yet.

I am now able to access the hard drive, which is good.

I somehow fucked up primary computer.  The power cord broke.  I got a new power cord.  It didn't charge.  Apparently getting stuck in "I can't charge mode" after a run in with a bad power cord is a known issue that's easy to troubleshoot.  I tried.

First off.  That wasn't the problem.  The problem is that the model of computer is very finicky to the point that cords that should be compatible with it won't charge it.  They'll power it, but unless it's exact same cord (slightly older iteration of the same cord with the same specifications will not work), the computer doesn't trust it enough to use it to charge the battery.

Got a new fresh off the assembly line cord from the manufacturer, and the computer charges just fine.  The problem is that I somehow fucked something up somewhere when I tried to deal with the problem it didn't really have.

I have no idea what that something is, or what that somewhere is.  All that I know is that when I attempt to start the computer I can get into the BIOS, where everything checks out, and I can run diagnostics, where everything checks out, but when it tries to actually start windows it freezes on the computer's logo screen.  Those spinning dots stop spinning.  Nothing happens.  Computer doesn't work.

It does this even if I try to boot from a USB drive.

Most everything on the internet says that if the diagnostics say everything is peachy, it's probably some kind of software problem, so booting from a USB recovery drive should help, and thus they give no advice on what to do if it doesn't.

Computer is under warranty, I just need to back it up.  Note that I have neither primary computer nor secondary computer at this point.  I have emergency back up "Chromebooks are cheap".  Chromebooks, I am finding, are less than ideal for backing things up.  I can access the hard drive (both of them, for there are two) but it looks like backing it up will be tedious, and I've been trying to gather the emotional energy to do it for a week or two.  So far, hasn't happened.

Through all of this I've still been trying to write, but it hasn't been going the best.  I'm lucky if I get a few sentences.  I never seem to get something that can actually be shared.

I do have some old stuff, that hasn't been put here yet.  I'm going to copy and paste one of those things over right after posting this.

And . . . money.  I need so much money.  And I'm behind on all sorts of things, and late fees suck, and so on.

And it's like . . . it's really important that I get ~$650 dollars in the next few weeks.  But it's also very important that I start catching up on all of the stuff that's already behind, and at this point I don't even know what to freak out about because everything is one giant homogeneous pile of, "Oh God, oh God; we're all gonna die."

The diffuse nature of the horrible is preventing me from focusing on anything, and that's not good.  I really should be desperately begging for money because I've allowed things to get completely out of hand to the point I can't fix it without major outside help, but . . . I don't even know where to start.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Sunset and Daring Do, scraps and scribbles --or-- shippers, warnings, probably a votive object, and so forth (Equestria Girls)

This is something I pulled off the tiny little hard drive that used to be secondary computer.

Some background.

Sunset Shimmer is a magical unicorn living as a human in the human world.  Daring Do is the title character of a series of popular pulp novels written by A.K. Yearling.  Or, at least, that's what she wants you think.  A.K. Yearling is a fictional character created by Daring Do so she could sell her adventures as fiction.  When Daring isn't pretending to be Yearling, she's basically a modern Indiana Jones.

This is the best picture I could find of Daring/Yearling as a human, but I feel like it undersells the A.K. Yearling costume.  (Of course, we haven't seen either in non-pony form, so there's a lot of wiggle room and interpretation going on.)

When I talked about having seven thousand (or however many I said) ideas based on the Equestria Girls Holiday Special, this was one of them.  The Holiday Special is one of the only times you can realistically have Sunset spending time almost exclusively with a new arrival instead and not with her friends.  (It's also when Sunset is emotionally most vulnerable, but I don't think that comes up here.)

Apart from putting the first two bits at the front, none of these have been placed in any kind of order.

[...] followed the signal.   Part of her worried that it had started to pick up electronics again --why were those so frequently false positives for magic detection?-- and she'd end up in an arcade, but at the same time she felt reasonably sure that the signal was moving, which should be a good sign.

She caught up with the source just in time to see a young woman enter an elevator.  If the magic in the area really were connected to a high school, her age made perfect sense.  Daring joined her in the elevator.

The teen had kept her eyes on the ground, looking up not more than absolutely necessary to hit the button for the next floor, but just as the doors closed she glanced at Daring.  Her eyes opened wide. This could be a good thing, but it could also--

“Oh my God, you're AK Yearling!” the teen shouted.

Bad thing.

“I'm--” the teen stopped.  “Sorry,” she said. Then took a step back and returned looking at the elevator doors.  “Sorry. You're trapped in a metal box with me, and I shouldn't take advantage of that situation.”

Could you please teach that lesson to the rest of my fans?

“I appreciate that,” Daring said.  “I seem to be at a disadvantage. You know my name, but . . .”

“Sunset Shimmer,” the teen said.  She tried to offer her hand, dropped what she'd been holding, dropped into a squat, picked it up, immediately shot back into standing upright, and finally actually offered her hand to Daring.

Daring cautiously shook it.  “So you're a fan?”

I'm like your-- yes, I'm a fan.”

“I didn't see you at the reading,” Daring said.  But I did pick up readings that might have come from you.

Ok, that had made the girl uncomfortable.  Good going.

“I'm sorry,” Daring said, “it's not as though you have to--”

“You don't have to be sorry,” Sunset said.  “It's nothing to do with you. I wanted to come, but . . .”

“You don't have to tell me anything,” Daring said.  Please tell me things.  Even if this is the slowest elevator in the world, it'll let us out soon.

“One of my former friends is also a huge fan,” Sunset said, “and that's exactly the kind of drama I don't need in my life right now.”

“I apologize for bringing it up.”

“I did actually almost go anyway, made it,” the elevator stopped, “right to the bookstore's doors,” bingo, “but--”

The elevator dinged and Sunset stopped talking.

The doors opened and Sunset said, “Um, nice meeting you,” Sunset said.  “I should stop bothering you.”

“Sunset,” Daring said.”

“Yes, Ms Yearling?”

“If you want to finish what you were saying,” Daring pushed the 'door close' button, “I don't have anywhere I need to be.”

Sunset just looked at Daring in shock.

Daring gave an encouraging gesture.

“I was just going to say that I went there hoping I'd find a way to hear without being seen, but in the end, especially with the way the crowd would restrict movement, I couldn't see any reliable way to avoid her.”

“That's unfortunate,” Daring said.

“So, now that I've finished my tale of woe,” Sunset said, “what's going on?”

Daring raised an eyebrow.

“You don't interact with the public,” Sunset said.  “When the first book became a bestseller you used the money to buy a house in The Middle of Nowhere, which happens to be located outside Vanhoover, just so you wouldn't have to deal with people.

“You never do public appearances, yet you showed up to do a book reading here.  You avoid fans like the plague, and you're encouraging me to keep talking to me after my introduction was incoherent fangirl squeeing.”

Have you met my other fans?   Daring thought.  That was not what incoherent squeeing sounded like.

“I suppose it does look quite odd,” Daring said.

Sunset raised one of her eyebrows.

“I'm here doing research.”

“There aren't any ancient ruins around here,” Sunset said.

True, but you might be surprised by some of the places that do have them.

“Before the aquifer was tapped,” Sunset continued, “this area couldn't support permanent settlements.”

Or not.

“That's what makes it so interesting,” Daring said.  “Usually reports of large scale magical events,” Sunset's eyes widened ever so slightly; Daring continued as if she hadn't noticed, “come from places with a certain atmosphere.  Places steeped in folklore and tradition. Old places.

“Claims of magic in modern industrialized cities usually have a different flavor to them.  Secrets and shadows and hidden things.

“Yet, here in Canterlot, there have been stories of two major magical happenings,” Daring said.  “That piqued my curiosity. Would you happen to know anything about that?”

“Are you asking me if I know anything about magic?” Sunset asked.  It was smooth and easy and with a natural feel.  If not for the barest hints of guilt in her eyes and her posture, Daring might really believe that Sunset didn't know anything.

It was clear that Sunset was a practiced liar, but it seemed she didn't want to lie.  That was something Daring could work with.

The question had been asked in a way that indicated the only reasonable answer was 'no'.  Daring said, “Yes.”

Sunset looked a little bit too surprised by that.  She wasn't taken aback; she was trying to look taken aback and overshooting.

Trying too hard, kid.

Sunset said, “I know there's no such thing as magic.”

It was too practiced, and the twinges of guilt were still there.  Still, if Daring hadn't been specifically looking for the signs, Sunset's oblivious act would have fooled her.

Daring glanced at her compass.  It was pointing at Sunset.

“Sunset,” she asked, “may I share a secret with you?”

This time Sunset's surprise was genuine.

“I . . . I guess.”

“It's something I'd have to show you,” Daring said.  “And I'd prefer a place where it takes more than the push of a button for someone else to open the doors.”

Daring pushed the door open button.

Should have done that when I said, 'push of a button'.

“We're in a mall,” Sunset said, “there aren’t a lot of private rooms.”

Daring walked out.

“That's where you're wrong,” she said.  “There are plenty of private rooms, if you're willing to be a bit dishonest.”

“Dishonest how?” Sunset asked.

“As but one example,” Daring said, “dressing rooms are intended to be places where potential customers try on clothes, not private meeting rooms for people with no intention of changing.”

Sunset followed A.K. Yearling into the changing room, holding clothes that would almost certainly fit if not for the fact that neither of them intended actually try anything on.

By the time Sunset had deposited the clothes on the room's bench, Yearling had closed the latch.

“So . . .” Yearling said.  Obviously Sunset didn't have a lot to base the assessment on, but the way Yearling said that sounded uncharacteristically awkward.

Yearling blinked, then said, “I suppose the first thing I that I don't need glasses.  Yearling set her glasses on the bench. She took off her hat, let loose her hair, and shook her head.  When her hair stopped moving, the result looked uncomfortably like Rainbow Dash to Sunset. It was all shades of gray, but it had the same style and pattern as Rainbow's hair.

At the back of her mind, though, was the niggling feeling that Sunset should recognize the hair from somewhere else.

Yearling shed her shawl, and Sunset's mind shut down.

Sunset was looking at Daring Do.  Daring Do was a fictional character.  There was no way that Daring Do could be standing in front of Sunset.  Sunset was looking at Daring do.

She wasn't in her trademark outfit, but the fact that she was wearing a short sleeved shirt meant that Sunset could see some notable scars.  Very definitely real scars. The remains of long healed wounds.

Daring-- Yearling-- whoever, looked the slightest bit uncomfortable Sunset's attention, but Sunset couldn't help appraising each, soaking in every detail.  She recognized some of them. For example the arrow that hit Daring in chapter four of--

“That can't be . . .” Sunset said.

Daring smiled.

“That's not . . . That's not possible,” Sunset said.

“Kid, you'd be surprised at how much is possible,” Daring said.  She smiled. Then she said, “And thanks for skipping the part where you accuse me of cosplaying as my author insert.”

Sunset still wasn't at a point where she could really process new input in any detail, so she said the first thing that came to mind:

“You're not in costume.”

“True,” Daring said.  She picked up a shirt Sunset had brought in, took it off its hanger, and shook it, and dropped it.  It landed back on the bench in a crumpled heap. “Now, I've just revealed my greatest secret to you,” she repeated the process with another shirt, then turned to Sunset, “are you still going to tell me that there's no such thing as magic?”

“I . . . um,” Sunset said.

Daring picked up a skirt this time and repeated the crumplification process.

“We should . . .” Sunset said.

Daring crumpled a pair of pants.

“. . . go to my apartment and talk there?” Sunset finished, the sentence having somehow turned into a question.

Daring nodded.

“That sounds good,” she said while fiddling with her hair.

Sunset just stared.

Something seemed to occur to Daring and she said, “. . . unless you're propositioning me, because then the answer is definitely, 'No.'”

Sunset shook her head.

Daring looked Sunset over, picked up one of the shirts from the store, and held it in front of her so that it would give Sunset some idea of what Daring would look like in it.

“What do you think?” she asked.

Sunset looked on blankly for a couple of sentences.  Then she realized that she had, in fact, been asked a question.  She said, “Oh, uh . . . great.” A moment later she added, “You'd look good in anything.” 

“In anything, huh?” Daring asked.  She dropped the shirt and put on her hat, “I must not be dressing frumpy enough.”

Sunset laughed.

“So you are still capable of experiencing human emotion,” Daring said playfully.  “That's good.” Daring put on her glasses, then looked at the bench. “You think we've tried on enough clothes to be realistic?” she asked.

“I think the people who work here would probably prefer it if you just put the rest back,” Sunset said, “since, you know, none of them have been worn.”

Daring put on her shawl, and she was A.K. Yearling again.

“So, about you and Rosetta . . .” Sunset said.

Daring blushed and Sunset clapped her hands over her mouth to stifle a giggle.

“The shippers are right,” Daring said.  After a moment she added an annoyed, “The publishers just won't let me write that.”  After another pause, still annoyed, she said, “Apparently being in a stable relationship would undermine my roguish adventurer mystique.”

“They can force that kind of rewrite?” Sunset asked.

“I may, possibly, have been terrible at contract negotiation when I first started,” Daring said.  “Mind you that shouldn't matter, because it's completely obvious that the stories are better if the relationship is acknowledged.  The first chapter of book seven seems painfully contrived and makes no sense, because I'm not allowed to call the date we were on a date.”

“Thematically jumbled too,” Sunset mumbled.

“If I could just say that I spend most of my downtime with Rosetta, so of course I'd get that news while I was with her, then it wouldn't seem like the only reason we were having milkshakes in the first place was because the story demanded that an expert be on hand.”

“So, I'm guessing the anti-shippers annoy you,” Sunset said, “what with them saying that you and your girlfriend couldn't work as a relationship.”

“You have no idea.”

“Like how they say you're too different--”

“We share plenty of interests.”

“--and you've never taken her on one of your adventures--”

“How many people bring their girlfriend to work with them?”

“--or that she couldn't keep up with you--”

“I happen to like coming home to a supportive girlfriend who is content with a peaceful life, if I didn't--” Daring noticed Sunset's expression.  “You're enjoying this.”

“Maybe a little.”

“Maybe a lot,” Daring said.

Sunset snickered.

“Not cool.”

“You're just so . . . teasable,” Sunset said.  When Daring blushed, Sunset added, “And you can't tell me you don't get far worse from your girlfriend.”

“Which is different, because she's my girlfriend.  … What happened to being awestruck by me?”

[if she hadn’t ]

“I probably shouldn't have used Dr. Caballeron's real name,” Daring said, “but it's hilarious every time someone, fan or otherwise, thinks he stole the name from my books.”

Sunset smiled.  Then let out a giggle.  Then a snort.

“Given that you can't see his face,” Daring said, “That's getting way too much of a reaction.”

“I'm just imagining him in doing his evil villain shtick and being utterly shut down by someone repeatedly asking variations on, 'No, really, what's your name?'”

That made Daring laugh.  “No matter how funny it is in your head,” she said, “I assure you that it's better in person.”

There is nothing of value here.
It is not a tomb or a temple or a storehouse.
What lies inside is worse than worthless
It brings sickness and death.
It is not alive, and so it cannot die.
In your time, as in ours, it is lethal.
If you can read this, carve it in your own language.
Warn those who are yet to come of the danger.

Written under it were various notes.

If the reader can't translate “nothing” then the first line reads “There is --- of value here.”  Exactly the message one doesn't want to send. Likewise for “not” in the second. You don't want to say that it is a combination tomb/temple/storehouse.

“worse than worthless” is a potentially problematic construction when one doesn't know intricacies of the reader's linguistic framework.  Could end up being:

“It is [negation] of not-worth” == “It is worth something”

“sickness and death” is only an effective warning if the discoverer doesn't have a use for those things.

“not alive, and ...” making it sound like zombies.  Not helpful.

“in ...” whole line is clunky

Last two lines:
“future generations” instead of “those who are yet to come”?
“Add your own warning” ?

How long does it take for effects to become apparent?  “Wait a week, and you will see the effects” is probably going to be heeded more easily than “You're totally going to die.”  While one doesn't want people going in at all, what one
definitely doesn't want is someone taking what's inside and shipping it around the world.

Kind of crap for a first draft.

Other things we might add:
This place was built to house a danger.

No knowledge, no history, no treasure, no . . . anything worthwhile.
No one is buried here.  There is no history here.  There are no texts save this one.

“Are you snooping?” Daring asked Sunset.

“I read the beginning without even trying,” Sunset said, “it grabbed my attention.  What is it?”

“If you had to bury something deadly,” Daring said, “and you needed to leave a warning to future generations, or even future species, to stay away, how would you do it?”

“Is that something that comes up a lot?” Sunset asked.

“Nuclear waste,” Daring said.

Sunset nodded.

“Someone suggested making a forest of spikes around the entrance,” Daring said in a way that made her disapproval clear, “because, they said, that spikes would signal danger.”  She paused a beat. “Do you know what we'd we do if we found a forest of obviously artificial spikes?”

“Probably a votive object?” Sunset said.

Daring snorted, then said, “It's not an object.  You're looking for 'probably a ritual site'.”

“Well,” Sunset said, “the important thing is that it's probably of religious significance.”

“Keep giving meaningless descriptions like that,” Daring said, “and you'll be a professional archaeologist in no time.”

“So,” Sunset said, “you don't approve of the temple of spikes and radiation sickness . . .”

“Of course not,” Daring said.  “A forest of metal spikes doesn't shout 'Danger', it shouts 'There must be something of value here.  Please come and dig it up!' The more someone tries to keep people out, the more everyone thinks there's a reason to go in.

“Someone else suggested putting 'ominous black stones' around it,” Daring paused.  “Ominous. As if they'd never seen a cathedral.”

“Any structures one erected would necessarily produce interest and attention,” Sunset said.

“Exactly!” Daring said.  “Any message needs to be encoded as a message, because symbolism isn't going to work.  And it has to be in language.  Pictograms of people dying of radiation sickness after opening the containment vessel might as well show the Ark of the Covenant.”

Sunset snorted.

“We might be able to help things along with a picture here, or an example there,” Daring said, “but in the end, if whoever finds it can't read our language, they're basically screwed.”

“So this is you trying to come up with what to write?” Sunset asked.

“It's an unsolved problem,” Daring said, “What warning can you possibly write that doesn't read like 'You should definitely come here to loot and/or study me'?”

“Interesting way to spend your free time.”

“Eh,” Daring said, “it's a hobby.”

[Other things I had written for the above scene, but not used]

If the seal is broken, it must be restored with lead.

“lead” is the easiest thing to explain.  Just carve the word onto a lead block, and there's at least some chance the meaning will be understood.

One could try to indicate the meaning of “death” by showing simplistic images of people alive on one side and dead on the other.  Red blood around the bodies to show they're not sleeping. Of course, whoever reads it might not
have red blood.

No.  That's a terrible idea.  If one reads it in the wrong direction “death” would be interpreted as “resurrection”

[Looks like I have two vastly different versions of the beginning of this scene.  First:]

Daring took in the sight of Sunset in her ponied up form, thought about it for a moment, and asked, “Are you part cat?”

Sunset pinched the bridge of her nose. [hooves can't pinch, this a rookie mistake, Sunset could, however, attempt this, given that she's accustomed to being in a human body]

“So that's a no.”

Sunset concentrated on listening to non-existent sounds in the corner of the room.  She felt her nearest ear swivel to better hear the fictitious noise.

“So . . . bunny then?”

“Sure, why not?” Sunset said.

“In my defense,” Daring said, I can only see the tips of your ears through your hair.

“That should still be enough to tell they're not cat ears.”

“Well, cat girls are way more common in both folklore and pop culture than bunny people.”

“Is bunny seriously what you think when you see my ears?”

“Well, I mean, they're too pointy to be llama ears.”

[more stuff was supposed to be put here]

“So what are you supposed to be?”

“I'm not rewarding your behavior with a response.”

[second version]

“It's easier if you stand on four hooves,” Daring heard Sunset say.

She did so, but was still having trouble processing the fact she suddenly had hooves.  She looked at her front right hoof. Didn't sink in. She decided to say it out loud, since there was a chance, however slim, that it would help.

“I have hooves.”

Didn't help.

“That's not all you have,” Sunset said, “look at your side.”

Daring did.  Were those . . .

“I have wings!” They were obviously far too small to actually work, but she tried to flap them anyway.

And then she left the ground.

Afraid she'd land flat on her face if she came back down now, she instinctively kept flapping.  That kept her in the air, which made no sense.

“How is this possible?” she asked no one in particular.  “They're not nearly large enough--”

“Magic,” two voices said.

As carefully as she could, which was actually quite fitfully, Daring lowered herself to the ground.  Once she was safely back on her hooves, she reoriented herself and took a look at what must have been Sunset Shimmer, and a purple creature that seemed strangely familiar.

As she took in Sunset's form, an idea formed in her head.

“So you're . . . a small pudgy deer?” Daring asked.

Sunset sputtered.  The purple creature said, “What?” as though it were a statement.

“An impala?”  Daring asked.

It looked as though the purple creature's brain had shut down.  Meanwhile, Sunset had recovered enough to glare. Daring figured she'd only get one more in before Sunset found her voice again.  She went with:

“Some kind of goat?”

“Daring . . .” Sunset said in a sort of 'Stop or I'll kill you' way.  Daring took it as a gift, because it meant she got an extra try.

“A mutant horned donkey?”

“Would you stop already?” was Sunset's angry response.

“Hey,” Daring said, “who used anti-shipper arguments to tease me about my relationship with Rosetta?”

Sunset looked like she was going to concede the point, but before she could, the purple creature shouted, “You're in a relationship with Rosetta‽”

“I was unaware people in other worlds were familiar with my books,” Daring said.

The purple creature gave a “Huh?”

Sunset said, “Wha-- oh, right.  No.” Sunset paused. “This is one of those 'everyone has a duplicate' alternate worlds.”

One of those what?

“So there's another you, another Rosetta, and another book series,” Sunset explained.

“Oh,” Daring said.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Uh . . . Sunset in the Land of Typos and their Ilk metapost

The story's already written, I figured I'd give it a bit of polish, add a few notes, and have it all over here by then end of the day.  That, clearly, hasn't happened.

I huge part of that is that I forgot to take my meds (have since I remembered and then took them, so there's no harm that will last into tomorrow) and when I do that I have a very hard time stopping whatever I happen to be doing and moving on to what's next.

The few notes became something rather larger, more like the commentary track on a laserdisk / DVD / Bluray.  Annnd possibly like a bonus material where instead of an interview they just told the person "Talk about whatever.  No, there's no restrictions on length."  (If you really want to see that taken to it's tangential fullest, read the whole thing, expandable sections included, pertaining to the word "crazy" in the Chapter 2 notes.  That was supposed to be a bullet point.  One.)

I thought that I'd be able to at least get Chapter 3 posted before I had to stop for bed but . . . not so much.

For now:

Index page, with cover image, short description, and not much else.

First chapter, which establishes the premise and parodies one dimensional characterization (for a very "low-sophistication, high-mocking" version of the word "parodies".)

Second chapter, which contains a (higher level, thus less immediate) look at the premise in action, and the protagonist talking to someone about how that's been effecting them

And... that's it for now.

Sunset in the Land of Typos and their Ilk ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ Chapter 2: Things that I am getting: run down, bad advice, good advice

[Originally posted on, with the entire story as a single chapter.]
[So here we have some scene setting, and less conversation than there really ought to be, given who is speaking about what.]
[The story's index can be found here.]

After leaving Sugarcube Corner, Sunset walked along the sidewalk.  This matters, to the point that it appears in the story, because she's a protagonist, and protagonists do things.  They do things that writers write about.  That's why it's written here that Sunset walked along the sidewalk.  It was a thing hat Sunset, the protagonist, was doing.

Doing a thing wasn't making her feel any better, though, and she was staring â̰̕t̛̹͌ ̧͙̑̐s̬̫̈́̀o̩̚̕͜m̘̂́è̗̚͜t̟̪ͫ̄͝͡h̲̣͐͘ĩ͉͓́n̤ͨ͢g̫͎̓͢ ̦͂̀ỏ̡̰̀r̥ͨ͝ ̧͕̉̀o͇̫̐͡t̢̜͈͊ͧ͘h͇̦̏ͣ͠e̛̬ͤͤr̥̆̀͡ that probably wasn't called a "to think".  That change from starting to staring was precisely the kind of thing she didn't want to have to deal with.  What verb she was verbing should be about her, not about spelling.  Even here, walking alone, she wasn't free from this stuff.

She kept walking.

Sunset in the Land of Typos and their Ilk ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ Chapter 1: We're all One-Dimensional because the Author is Lazy

[Originally posted on, with the entire story as a single chapter.]
[As the title suggests, the way this acts toward characterization is restricted to this chapter.]
[The story's index can be found here.]

"... and now there are three Celestias," Sunset said, even though what she really meant was, My life, I have grown to loathe it.  She counted the Celestias off on her fingers, just in case anyone had lost the ability to count in the absence of convenient visual aids, "Pony Celestia, who is a princess, human Celestia, who is a principal, and principle Celestia, who is some sort of abstract concept."

"Ah understand it's difficult, sugarcube," Applejack said in a way that meant, Look at me, I'm a stereotype! which ‑‑Sunset felt‑‑ could have gone without saying, "but Ah'm jus' sayin' ya gotta roll with them figurative punches."

Sunset said, "And I'm just saying that I'm fed up," which everyone at the table would know meant, I'm trying to vent, you're getting your humble country advice all over my exhaust port, a direct hit could cause a chain reaction leading to my destruction, so please, kindly, shut up.

Sunset in the Land of Typos and Their Ilk -- Index

Sometimes all it takes to change the world is an errant keystroke. Sunset Shimmer knows this. She knows it well.

[nothing to see here yet, wait a little bit]

[proto table of partial contents]
-- [Chapter 1: We're all One-Dimensional because the Author is Lazy]
-- [Chapter 2: Things that I am getting: run down, bad advice, good advice]
-- [Chapter 3: Everything exists in Context (Sometimes it's Nonsensical)]
-- [Chapter 4: Science is Awesome; Equestria is Easy to Conquer]
-- [further chapters that don't have titles yet]