Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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 Fimfiction.net, 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.

Her walk took her passed a soccer field where a team was freaking out because their leader had been replaced with leaded s̛̟̾ò̱͜m̔͏͙ȩ̷͈͍͛ͫt̼̙̉ͭ͡h̸̺̍̕͝ī̡̹̈n̸͍͗̍͜g̢̛̮̃͞.  She sighed.  She pinched the bridge of her nose and felt a headache coming on.  Still, people who disappeared had to be found and/or restored, and it wasn't good having a leaded anything in the middle of a soccer field.  She was Sunset Shimmer.  She would save the day.

Just like every other day.

The next day, when Sunset woke up, she felt like she hadn't slept.

That wasn't, technically speaking, true.  In fact, she felt like she had slept fairly well the night before, but it was already late afternoon, she'd been babysitting six kids ranging in age from two to four since the crack of dawn, and she hadn't had anything for lunch.  It wasn't the same as feeling like you hadn't slept, not even all that close, but given how many words each description used, Sunset would absolutely describe it as feeling like she hadn't slept.

She went through her usual morning routine, which may or may not be available in music video form, and by the time she waked f̧̤̚r̥̅͡o̗ͫ͜m̡̲͎̏ ͔͋͢h͆҉̺̼e͉ͦ͗͜ṟ͕ͬ̀ ̧̠ͨ͝d̟̚͜ŗ̖͋͢ȩ̬ͭ͘ȧ̛͔̜̕m̷͉̏̂, she was quite irate.

"I was already awake!" she shouted at the world in general.  Then she grumbled, "Now I'm going to be late," to herself after noticing the time.  She had been walking into the school, with plenty of time to get to class, before she woke the second time; now she was at her apartment, which changed "plenty of time" to "not enough time".

When she got to school the second time, she had to listen to a lecture about how getting a good education ‑‑which, she was assured, included arriving on time‑‑ was the only surefire way to insure her future against theft, damage, and ordinary wear and tear.  The fact that one could now insure one's future weighed on Sunset like a poor analogy that involved a great deal of weight.

By the end of the day the population of the country they were in had drastically changed as a result of the large number of people who had emigrated from it rather than immigrated to it throughout its history.  Sunset concluded that the point of eye-twitching had long since been passed.

The day after that a politician suddenly had a history of crafting spears with barbed hooks.  He had, it seemed, made a great many gaffs in his time.

This was getting tiresome, and Sunset's energy level continued to decline.

The politician had retroactively become a long time spear crafter in the early afternoon.  The evening of that selfsame day, Sunset discussed her problems with Principle Celestia, that being the Celestia who was an abstract concept, over tea.

Like most principles, Principle Celestia didn't speak to people so much as provide a foundation upon which one could build a conceptual framework.  Said framework could then be used to inform one's thoughts and actions.

"I just want it to stop," Sunset said, laying her head on the table, "you know?"

Celestia the principle was all about friendship and teamwork and helping those in need.

"I know I'm better equipped to deal with these things than the average person," Sunset said.  This was true.  As the protagonist, her odds of success against the strange and eldritch forces that governed the universe were far higher than those of the unnamed undescribed characters who populated much of the world.

The principle of the thing, that being Celestia, indicated that Sunset should probably suck it up and deal.

"Ok, but that's terrible advice," Sunset said.  "It doesn't help me in the least.  If I just bottle everything up then nothing will be solved, I'll probably end up exploding, and people could be hurt by the figurative shrapnel.  People getting hurt, I note, has the potential to harm friendships."

The principal in question wasn't s̜ͥ́ǘ̵̥r̢̻̔ḕ̜ ̪̃́h̆҉̖o̯̒͠w̳͐̕ ̻ͬ̀ṣ̎͞h̨͇ͣȩ͙̌ ̷̺͒h̒͏̖ȧ̟͘ḓ̷ͤ ̻̈̕ā̶̘r̢̥ͮr̬̃͜ḭ̌͜v̙͗͢e̛͙ͩd̴̰́ ͈̄͘a̸͎ͭt͎̒͠ ̬̊͡t̂͏͍h̹͋͘e͓̅́ ̭̊͞t̑҉̝a̡͎͗b̴̠̒l͚͂̀ȅ̱̀.͖̃͞

"Sunset, how and why am I here?" Principal Celestia asked.

Sunset bolted upright and said, "Thank God in all her manifest forms, you're here."

"Ok..." Celestia said with just the right tone to convey the message, I think you might be crazy.

"I was stuck here with Principle Celestia," Sunset said as though that explained everything that could possibly need to be explained.

Celestia said, "Oh," as her way of agreeing that that did cover all the important points.

"I'm just feeling so run down," Sunset said.  "All of these things we've been facing . . . they never stop.  Sometimes I feel like I can barely keep my head up."  Sunset was actually wobbling slightly as she tried to maintain an upright position.

"I suppose we'll deal with the obvious first," Celestia said.  "Have you been sleeping?"

"I have," Sunset said.  "If anything I've been sleeping more than usual.  I'm still tired all the time."

"That's understandable," Celestia said.  "Sunset, you can't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.  If you work yourself to the bone all the time, you're going to burn out."

"Mix metaphors much?" Sunset asked.

Celestia responded with playful mock anger, she and Sunset had a fake argument, the two were able to laugh a bit, and Sunset felt less tired for a time.  Eventually, however, they had to part ways.

Celestia said, "Just remember that if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to help anyone else," as her final bit of sagely advice.

"So . . ." Sunset said in that special way that meant, I'm not actually thinking out loud here, but I am pretending to do just that,  "you're saying that selfishness is the way to be selfless?"

"Yes," Celestia said in a way that would make Nightmare Moon era Twilight Snarking Sparkle proud, "that is exactly what I'm saying."

Sunset didn't laugh, but she almost did, and after the resulting smile was over she ended the conversation with, "Thanks for talking to me."

⁂  ⁂

Zalgo phrases deZalgoed:
at something or other
from her dream
sure how she had arrived at the table.

Somewhere in the exposition at the beginning of this chapter is where my initial burst of writing stopped.  I don't know what order I wrote things in, precisely, but some version of chapter three was completed before I went back and wrote Sunset talking to Principle Celestia.

"Principle Celestia" it should be noted, is a very common character in Equestria Girls fanfiction.

I'm not talking about an error where someone types the wrong word a couple times.  There are some things --notably "principle" for "principal", "ideal" for "idea", and "fallow" for "follow"-- that certain authors substitute every single time.  Thus there are stories in which "Principle Celestia" is a major character while "Principal Celestia" never appears.

To my ears, principle/principal is significantly more understandable than the other two.

Anyway, I was going to have Sunset in a longer conversation with the principle, with the overall theme being that that "Friendship: fuck yeah!" is not a sufficient foundation on which to build your decision making paradigm.  It's good, but, and the flesh and blood Celestias would agree on this point, I think, it's not enough in itself.

When I accidentally wrote "principal" for "principle" by mistake, it seemed like I should go with it.  The way I wrote it (specifically the "in question") meant they swapped places instead of having the principal appear as a third member of the conversation.

~ ~ ~

Regarding "Thank God in all her manifest forms", my headcannon is that she-God is at least as common he-God in the world of Equestria Girls (possibly significantly more common) and Principal Celestia and Sunset (the only two characters I've thought about this for) believe in she-God.

Transcending gender God probably gives she-God a run for her money.  While he-God and she-God might be skewed (see: possibly significantly more common), the proportion of gender binary to gender non-binary capital-G Gods (not counting transcending gender God) would be equal to the proportion of gender binary to gender  non-binary people.

People would, most emphatically, not all believe in a god that shared their gender.  Plenty of cis people would believe in non-Binary gods, for example.

~ ~ ~

Regarding, "I think you might be crazy," a problem that I struggle with is what do with things like this.

It's how people talk, and (even more so) it's how people talk within the context of relationships that are close enough for language mean different things inside the relationship than it means outside the relationship.  (Specifically when words that would otherwise be hurtful or even abusive to instead become something else.)

Now, to be clear.  It's also how people don't talk.  Some people would never say (and some would never think) anything like that.  But the existence of those people doesn't change the existence of other people.  ("It's how people don't talk." =/= "It's not how people talk.")

If it actually meant "I think you might be mentally ill" then I'd know quite clearly what to do: don't have a sympathetic character think that without good reason*, and definitely don't use the word "crazy" if they do think that.

In situations like this, it's not as clear to me how to things should be handled.

That's even more true in the case of the word "crazy" because, for all that it hurts people, as someone with mental illness, I would fucking love it if "crazy" meant "extremely weird", "wildly exaggerated or improbable", "startlingly bold and/or vibrant", "shockingly unusual", and things like that instead of, "that word we call sane people who do horrible things so that we might fuck over the mentally ill."

If I could I would†  have everyone who uses the word the word "crazy" on the news (when discussing things other than art exhibitions, comedy, and so forth) punished for their transgression as follows.

(click to expand)
On the first offence, the offender watch every episode of the 90s game show‡ Wild & Crazy Kids (there are 75), and tally the number of atrocities the kids therein committed.

Notes on the details of this required viewing.
The watching shall take place in a controlled environment free from other forms of media that might distract them.  Said environment will be comfortable and well furnished (discomfort might distract them.)

They shall be monitored while watching to ensure that a) they are awake while the show is playing, b) the television can be both heard and scene (if the television malfunctions, that is not their fault, and they may return home until it has been repaired), c) they do not skip forward or fast forward.  (Pause and rewind are fine.)

Apart from these requirements, there shall be no restrictions on how they choose to watch it.  This is not A Clockwork Orange.  Eyes will not be held open.  They may take as many brakes as they desire and leave the controlled environment as often as they would like, provided that doing so will not prevent them from completing their assignment in the allotted time.

If they should run out of time, they will not be forced to watch the remaining episodes in a single marathon block, the remaining episodes shall be viewed in blocks, none of which shall be unconscionably long, and there shall be breaks between the blocks.  (Bathroom breaks are permitted.)  If necessary, the offender will be provided with on site facilities in which to sleep, so that they will not be forced to stay awake longer than is comfortable.

Once they have finished their viewing and submitted their atrocity tally, the offenders shall be required to write a five thousand word essay on why they believe that a preponderance of bright vibrant colors will doom us all.

Details about the essay
The essay is to be written on site.  It will be checked for grammatical errors, repetition (here defined as repeating the majority of sentence), and plagiarism, (but not for coherence or persuasiveness.)

The essay, along with a record of all noted grammatical errors, repetition, and plagiarism discovered, will be returned to them.  If necessary, they shall revise it.

When they have submitted an essay of the necessary length lacking grammatical errors, repetition, and plagiarism, they are free to leave the site with their copy of said essay.

(Again, not graded for meaning.  If every sentence is a meaningfully vacuous but grammatically correct instance of Chomskyan Bingo, that's fine.)

For every additional offence the punishment shall identical except for the length of the essay.  The required length of the essay shall increase by five thousand words for every additional punishable use of the word "crazy".

NOTE BENE: Punishable uses of the word "crazy" and offenses are not the same thing.

What that means
A single TV appearance can lead to at most one offense (and thus one required viewing Wild & Crazy Kids) but it can have multiple punishable uses of the word.  How many uses are punishable is determined by removing the first offending use, along with what makes it an offending use, and checking if the appearance would still merit an offence without it.

"Evil guy was crazy, crazy, crazy," while morally more punchable than "Evil guy was crazy," doesn't get punished differently because once you take out the first, "Evil guy was crazy" what's left is "The word 'crazy' was used twice within a sentence that (because of the removal) doesn't violate the rules."

(The original context, here being "within a sentence", matters because otherwise the additional uses might be erroneously taken to be "as an exclamation" or "as the entire answer to a question" or whatnot.)

If removing an instance doesn't gut the meaning so much as to render the remaining instances blandly nonpunishable, then it isn't the last punishable instance and someone is getting at least another five thousand words added to their sentence.

Accommodations shall be made for any whose abilities leave them incapable of preforming some part of the punishment.

(I don't remember whether Wild & Crazy Kids was good or not, but that very much is not the point)

* "Good reason" here might be "I can't find any evidence of the messages you say Mikhail Gorbachev is sending you.  It sounds to me like he's talking about his childhood in Privolnoye.

† Full disclosure: no I wouldn't.

‡ Well, show on which there are games.  Is it still called a "game show" if the games are purely for fun and, therefore, no prizes are awarded?

~ ~ ~

Here’s the point by point rundown
• "Staring to think" is another genuine error.  When this was first being written and wordcount was at a premium, the paragraph began with “Sunset was [starting] to think” and would only talk about how the walk wasn’t helping after that introduction. I got two words (the “to” and the “think) before I noticed the error. Then the world changed.

• "leaded" for "leader" was lifted from a work I found by searching for the kind of typos that inspired this.  It is not one of those typos.  It is instead a type of typo that's known as a "fat finger typo" for reasons that I fail to understand.

I'd think that a fat finger would hit more keys than intended, but fat finger typos are when an individual hits a key that's adjacent to the one they were aiming for.  Thus 3, 4, 5, t, g, f, d, and e are all fat finger versions of the "r" the word was supposed to end with.

• "waked" for "walked" was a genuine error.  She originally waked into school the next morning.  Waked grates on my ears, and I made it worse by using it incorrectly.  It should have been:
By the time she waked someone or something up
but, because waked is so very much a word I don't use, "she waked someone up" sounds just as wrong as "she waked up in bed" to me, and I didn't even notice I was using it incorrectly by doing a variation on the latter.

• I got "insure" for "ensure" from homophonic error list, and it now occurs to me that I probably should have had "against theft, damage, and ordinary wear and tear." zalgoed.

• Even though it's not exactly clever, "weighed on Sunset like a poor analogy that involved a great deal of weight," was fun to write.  Almost certainly more so than it had any right to be.

• Eye twitching is mlp-fandom's go to version of: "If I were Captain Picard, I would facepalm right now."

• On either side of the previous, emigrated-|-immigrated and gaffs-|-gaffes came from the aforementioned error list.  I think they're the last things that did.

• The sudden appearance of principal Celestia has already been described.

• The idea of people getting hit by the figurative shrapnel, something I picked up from Ford Prefect's description of the way in which Zaphod Beebelbrox, is significant because I accidentally used it twice.  When I decided I should use it only once, I looked over which one I wanted to keep, decided on this one, and that was a crucial step (assuming I'm remembering correctly) in Sunset becoming the Death Star in Chapter 1.

• If I ever revise this, it's more or less a moral imperative that I expand upon what Principal Celestia and Sunset talk about.  I do want there to be good advice in there about the importance of self care, but my brain wasn't really braining the right directions at the time, and it isn't now either.

A possible reason for why it isn't right now can be found below, which tells you something about the order in which this was composed.  (Though not as much as you might think.)  It's been dealt with.

I’ve just realized that the reason I’m being so slow, and also so loquacious, with these notes is that I forgot to take my meds this morning.  Off I go to do that.


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