pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)

So I did it.  I went to a furry con, and managed to come back alive.  Alive and well, at that.  Con crud was mostly avoided but for a small 'bout of sniffles whose origin could only be dubiously attributed to RF.  Hell, I didn't really get involved in any drama!


I suppose in a way, Rainfurrest was an ideal introduction to furry cons.  For me, there was much less of a reliance on socialization in order to have fun because of the robust writing track, so I pretty much never had a point where there was absolutely nothing to do except maybe late at night, and at that point I went to bed.  Perhaps next time I'll go to a room party.


It's hard to summarize exactly what happened and when, especially since I didn't document everything, but I do know that I had a blast.  I entered a writing contest, and while I didn't win, I did discover that it is possible for me to crank out almost 3k words in the space of a few days.  I also got my first con badge from Leon Husky aka GlitterPills on FA, and hung out with him and his girl, Kappy for the time that I wasn't sitting in on interesting writing panels.  I also met Phil Geusz, Kyell Gold and Kit, Fuzzwolf and Teiran, Mary Dowd, Ryan Campbell and Jakebe, Zia McCorgi, Sparf, and briefly Spelunker Sal.  I also had the pleasure of hanging out with Kappy, Leon, Deyna Otter and Kilo, as well as at least one other person whose name unfortunately escapes me.  


Honestly, going to Rainfurrest was probably one of the best experiences in my life, and outside of a few isolated incidents, it completely broke my misconceptions about furries in person.  And that I consider to be a very good thing.  Though at present things don't look too good for it, I hope to make next year's Rainfurrest as well.  And maybe, just maybe, a few more cons. 

*dusts off*

Oct. 4th, 2013 02:59 pm
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
Well, I haven't been here in a while.  Hello everyone.  Though... I'm honestly not sure how many people are out there.  

in any event, here I am again, aiming to revive this particular blog.  Maybe.  See, I'm considering switching to Tumblr, though honestly I don't think it would matter too much as people who'd want to read my blog would find it wherever I put it.  But yet and still i've created a tumblr account found at pyrostinger.tumblr.com and you can visit it.  It will most likely than not be a blog and maybe the extension of some tweets (by the way, I have a Twitter in case you didn't know.  I'm sure you can guess what it is.).

Anyway, first up is a con report.  I went to Rainfurrest 2013!

Short version: it was awesome and I'd love to go again.

As for coming attractions... expect lots of book reviews!
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
So, this arc more or less finished up on Original Life recently.

For those who don't know, Original Life is the sequel to Jay Naylor's webcomic, Better Days.  It was pretty interesting, and I managed to plow through the entire thing over a couple days when I discovered it, and followed it to it's conclusion.  When I heard he was planning on continuing the story, I was interested to follow this as well, since its essentially a time skip for the characters, who have grown up and had kids and started families (or not, in some cases). 

Anyway, Abigail (I confess to not knowing the character's names exactly, I don't know where to look it up) is a six-year-old genius, and one of the main characters, and she gets her own little arc.  To start with, she wants to expand her laboratory into something much larger, and thinks to make an underground facility at her house.  This, of course, will cost a substantial amount of money.  Her first stab at it is a lemonade stand, which was cute.  Unfortunately, some government mooks come over and cite her for violating some obscure code and the fact that she didn't have a temporary business license.  This is played for laughs in the next strip.  Though I suppose here is where on more sober reflection, I start to frown a bit.

See, while the government mooks are just mooks, Abigail compares the government to the mafia for, essentially, regulations.  Then again, it's sorta understandable, since I'm given to understand her first encounter with government regulation was by a bunch of asshats who decide to impose a temporary business license law on a six year old running a lemonade stand.  Anyway.

Later, she's approached by an overweight dude.  Earlier in the comic, Abigail helped out in a competition between her and her sister with helping people lose weight.  Janie did traditional methods, which is to say eating right and exercising, while Abigail resorted to SCIENCE! resulting in a pill that, while it did convert muscle to fat near instantly, it also carried a side effect of much reduced intelligence and a spike in testosterone.  Hilarity ensued.  Anyway, said overweight dude heard about the pill, and overrides her objections to selling it by offering her $500 right there and then.  Now, smart as she is, she decides to sell it in secret. 

So now, our plucky six-year-old protagonist has decided to evade needless government regulation by... selling drugs.  This is pretty much what it comes down to.  Now, I suppose on one hand she could be justified and she's also six, smart as she apparently is.  But she also apparently enlisted the big sister of the boy she turned into a "hyper masculine freak" to act as a fence, selling this drug in front of Krispy Kremes.  Big sister expresses some remorse, Abigail responds with something fairly profound, if you think about it.  But it's also a sort of excuse. I'm not sure if these guys went into it knowing all the risks, just that there's a reward of getting ripped with no effort, not knowing about the reduction in intelligence. 

Though, apparently the side effects are fairly negligible.  Apparently use of the drug is, by one person's admission, leads to "an avalanche of degrading sex and debauchery."  Though at DEA headquarters, unemployment is ticking up, as well as people experiencing extreme declines in flexibility.  One noticeably faceless DEA official says, outright, that these factors are costing taxpayers.  "Therefore, we must spend more of their billions trying to stop it."  Now, one person at this meeting makes what seems to be a perfectly reasonable argument: making taxpayers pay for other people's bad decisions is, inherently, throwing money down a hole.  For this, he's thrown through a window.

Two things about this.  First, the implication is that the government shouldn't be subsidizing the bad decisions that people make.  On the face of this, I'm entirely behind this, but I'm wondering what Jay was thinking when he thought of "bad decisions."  Second, this caricature of the government is laughable.  Again, the reasonable person is thrown out of a window for proposing what seems like a reasonable solution.  Now, I know it's supposed to be played for laughs, but it sorta strikes me as a bit... sinister, in a way, and not at all indicative of government.  I really don't like this implication, honestly.  The implicit one that government is subsidizing people's bad decisions, and that they're being needlessly intrusive with regulation.  Some regulation ain't bad, folks.  Without regulation, who knows what kinda water would be flowing out of our taps, for example?

I do wonder, though, about the strawmanning of the government, here.  I mean, yeah, it's just Jay's little comic, but it sorta unsettles me that, for laughs, I'd assume, the government is basically portrayed as obstructionist jerks that pay for other people's failures. 
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
What purpose am I serving?

Yes, this is ostensibly a blog about writing, but pointing out mistakes from writers that are trying to do stuff and get better... hm.  Perhaps counterintuitive, even anonymously.  Will making fun of bad writing birth good writing?  Not necessarily.  Perhaps even not at all.  I say this because last time, I ended up being confronted (and summarily blocked on FA) by a friend of a writer of one of the stories I ended up disparaging, and she (I think it was a she, not sure) was upset, saying also that this person, had they come across my review, would be upset to the point of having to be talked off the ledge of never writing again.

While I find this particular response rather extreme and I did defend my position, it did sorta give me, and this blog, pause.  Of course, it didn't help that I've had a bit of an upheaval in my live in the intervening month, which also caused the blog to slow to a stop, as well.

If I want other amateurs to write more good stuff, if only for the entirely selfish reason of having more good stuff to read, then why do I point out the bad?  Easy, because some of that shit is so laughably bad that it's high comedy.  But other than having fun at other's expense... what does that serve?

Some people get giggles.  Other people... get offended.  I don't think I can quite pull off satire quite yet, especially not to even Yahtzee levels quite yet.  And while I'm fairly certain that I've made valid points, they can come off the complete wrong way. 

In essence, this is not to say that this is the death of the Random Story Encounter, but it will probably be featured less in my blog as I'll have other things to say about writing.  I'll probably write one up every now and then, and chances are they'll be less biting and sarcastic.  There are good stories out there, and I think the good ones deserve more attention than the bad.  Lord knows I have lots to improve in my own writing.  

What you will see is probably more professional style reviews, especially since my new job had created a definite book fund.  I can also probably telegraph the next few books that will be appearing; I bought recently a few books by Catherynne Valente, and plan to purchase the next Out of Position book: Isolation Play.  So there are two things that you guys can look forward to.

Until then, I have some writing of my own to do.
 


pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
You must be swift as the coursing river
With all the strength of the great typhoon...


Yeah, sorry about that.  Sorta.  Anyway, reading Out of Hand and a couple of other cuckolding stories as well as a few very interesting articles on the nature of masculinity got me thinking.  A cuckold is generally defined as a man having an adulterous wife.  And though I used gender neutral terms (sort of) in my review of Out of Hand to account for an inclusive definition of the term, in the cases that I've encountered it as a fetish it's involved somebody with a dick butting into an existing relationship.  Which brings me to the subject of masculinity. 

Now, the trope with cuckolding stories/porn is that the bull, or interloper into the existing relationship, is more of a man than the cuckold.  This is generally illustrated by the bull being dominant, able to boss both man and wife around, being taller, more muscled, and of course, having a bigger dick, higher libido, and the ability to fuck the wife into multiple orgasms.  Also, and this is pretty much the defining factor among all the cuck stories that I've read, is that the bull is a massive jerk. 

It doesn't help that the wife in these sorts of scenarios generally becomes complicit in beating down the cuckold.  Using the third chapter of Out of Hand as an example, Sarah ends up relishing saying that Leslie isn't as manly as Ethan during the dwindling times he has sex with her, which actually causes Leslie to go harder.  Earlier in the same chapter, she basically invites Ethan to the house over Leslie's misgivings, using thinner and thinner excuses until the pretense is dropped entirely.  This behavior is tacitly encouraged by Ethan with the way that he treats Leslie as little more than a gopher, and purposefully arranging things to that Leslie ends up watching Ethan drill his wife.

Now, one might wonder why Ethan isn't the protagonist, here.  After all, he doesn't seem to have much if any emotion aside of maybe anger, is tall, strong, and most importantly has a big, thick penis with which to make all the ladies moan and scream.  In other words, he is an ideal male.  That, and Leslie the fox is much, much less of a man, using all those standards as metrics of masculinity, being smaller in height and cock size, and generally a pushover.  He also goes down on Ethan (gay stuff = not manly) and his primary role ends up being the clean up crew, licking up Sarah of all the seed spilled in her after Ethan is done.  So wouldn't that make Ethan something to aspire to, to idealize?  Not really.  It's not just story purposes that would make Ethan a perfect antagonist especially in a story like this, but more the fact that Leslie has to essentially face down a high-school bully if he ever wants his girlfriend back, or at least salvage a shred of dignity.  And with the way the story is going, the straw may never break the camel's back, or perhaps it wouldn't matter if it did. 

In a way, it's kinda funny how Ethan would make a pretty great action hero, yet in this case he's the ideal antagonist, representing everything that Leslie is not.  And I guess that's just what makes Leslie the ideal protagonist, though he seems to have a tendency to be completely blown away by the masculinity of others, and has this whole... jealousy kick with regard to it as well. 

I guess being a man isn't always the best thing to be.

pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
I first encountered this story, which is a sequel to a commissioned story, ages and ages ago on FA.  Don't remember specifically when, but it had been a while.  Recently, I found that the author was on SoFurry as well, and had posted a couple new chapters to the story, which I found myself a little surprised to be eager to read.  Honestly, I just wished that downloading stories was much less of a pain on SF, but there's not a lot I can do about that.  The writing wasn't the reason I was surprised at my eagerness, but it had more to do with the subject matter: cuckolding. 

Now, every cuckolding story  pretty much follows the same storyline.  For one reason or another, a married or long-term relationship between two partners is introduced to a third, and that third (the bull, I think) is seen as more and better sexually than one of the other partners.  If it goes on longer, than the cuckold is gradually getting less and less sex while the bull (I think those are the terms for it) gets more, up to and including inviting friends and associates to enjoy the cuckold's significant other.  Also, the bull is usually an asshole dominant personality. 

On an intellectual level, this pisses me off.  I get a pretty visceral reaction and really want the bull to stop being such an asshole, and generally wondering how they are able to seduce the significant other.  To that end, the story is almost never from the bull's point of view, but more from the cuckold's, so the reader is dragged along while they feel the pain of this jerk not only butting in on their relationship, but them getting very much the short stick while they're pushed around more and more, coupled with a dichotomous raging arousal as this is happening. And if the story is written well and gets into heavier stuff, I end up feeling rather divided as naughty things happen while the cuckold is usually staring at the other two. 

Specific to this story, a fox has just brought home a wolf to meet his human wife as the second chapter begins.  They all went to high school together and this is some years later, where a desire to keep his wife happy has lead the fox to seek out the wolf (who bullied him and stole his girlfriends) to perhaps spice up their sex life, never guessing that the wolf's assholish personality would lead to a secretive blow job (said fox is straight) in a bar followed by being dragged to his car by his dick, literally.  The wolf then proceeds to seduce the initially pissed off wife through a sob story and alcohol, all in the face of the increasingly hesitant fox. 

By this point, it's a runaway train that couldn't be stopped, so he's left to watch while the dominant jerk of a wolf bangs his wife like she's never been banged before, creating a bit of an addict in the process.  Though he initially benefits with a huge upswing in his own sex life, the wolf comes over more and more often and while he's at work, and there's less and less for him until by the fourth chapter, he's explicitly told that he won't be getting any.  This being after the wolf and a co-worker double team the poor wife in another room, with the fox brought in to clean her up with his tongue in the aftermath. 

The writing is the primary reason that I enjoy reading this so much.  Though it deals with a subject that would piss me off in any normal circumstance, it's so good that I found myself enjoying it and wanting to read more, if only to find out how messed up the relationship would go from there.  The writer seems to find great joy in the fox's distress, and that comes through in the story especially with all the ultimately tragic erections said fox has to deal with as he's browbeaten into accepting this new routine and lifestyle. 

To recap, despite the subject matter I would recommend giving this a shot if you're looking for something new to read.  If you find yourself become angry or upset, don't worry, you're supposed to feel that way. 

Unless you're some kind of heartless, asshole wolf.
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
Now, here's the very interesting thing about this story.  It tackled something that would probably be a question that somebody has to have asked at some point, which is to say exactly how are hybrids born, here?  Literally, how did they come out of the womb? 

Anybody who's been in or around the furry fandoms knows that hybrids are totally a Thing.  Tigersharks, wolfoxes, so on and so forth.  If you have the opportunity to make combinations of things, it either has been made or congratulations, you're the first one to make it!  Maybe.  But until now, generally I've just seen a bunch of handwaving as to how these combinations are actually brought into the world. 

The story starts with a male raccoon obstetrician helping out a couple that wants to, as much as possible, give birth naturally.  The issue, however, is that the mother's a cat, and the father's a bear.  It goes onto say that hybrid kids usually take after either the mother's or the father's species, but the size of the child can be either, which neatly establishes the rules for this particular universe.  And in this particular case, it's a big baby. 

Now, the story gets to the crux of the issue for the doctor when the baby is safely delivered, the parents prayed and thanked God for the safe delivery.  This rankles the doc because though he respected the parents' wishes for as natural a delivery as possible, he feels like Rodney Dangerfield; he gets no respect. 

The actual mechanics of the writing is pretty good, though it does ramble a little bit.  There are some, for me, curious word choices and perhaps an over-reliance on adverbs with dialogue tags.  But it is solid writing, and despite a name near the end that took me out of the story a little bit (Thrunder?  This is a name?), I did find myself enjoying the story. 

Overall, I think that you guys should check out Evertide and this story, and maybe say some nice things.  Apparently he's had a low opinion of his own writing.
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
I know. A lot of my recent Random Story Escapades/Encounters have been complaining about a story being porn. I've done this a whole hell of a lot. And it probably seems extremely contradictory, since I know that the story had adult content going into it. So why, oh why, am I complaining about a story that is unabashedly itself? I mean, as a writer, I write porn. So what is my problem, seemingly, with other people's porn?

I think at it's surface, dismissing a story as porn is just that, a dismissal. It's simply something where one or two (or more) characters get together and bump uglies so that the readers experience happiness in the crotch region. There is nothing important or monumental going on here, just the pizza man ringing the doorbell to a house where a lonely house wife just so happens to not have enough cash to pay for the pizza, opening the door to alternate methods of payment. But the thing that gets me, that sorta makes me stop reading for a moment as soon as I detect the story going into blatant porn territory is that porn's purpose is to get the reader off and nothing else. Everything else about the story (including in some cases grammar and spelling) is sacrificed on the altar of porn. Why did retired wrestler dude suddenly offer to fuck the mechanic? Because of porn. Why did the professional athlete accept the offer to blow some anonymous guy in a sauna? Because porn. Why is a boarding school student who is an outcast because of reasons getting dicked by another student under the guise of being tutored? Porn.

Now I've said this several times that this is probably too much to ask that writers try to trandscend the porn label. And really, some people just wanna write and read porn, and not inquire as to how a retired wrestler can fuck a dude against a truck so hard that the axel breaks without putting people into the hospital, or why a pro athlete may or may not be risking scandal for anonymous sex in a sauna, or how in the fuck mothering hell an entire faculty can sentence students to be subject to their sexual depravity under the guise of detention and the school board and parents are totally cool with it. But I've been ruined. I read stuff and questions sprout up in my head, and if the questions are not answered or even addressed than I sentence the story to just being porn. I consider this a failing because I know I can't be the only person that has thought of these questions, even though not a single character had any fucks left to give so why should I?

I would be a liar if I said that I had never, ever written anything like this.  Because we've all been there.  Anybody who puts pen to paper for the first time is going to have some fits and starts and it isn't going to mesh entirely well.  For me, see the first few chapters of Roommates, which you can go find because I will not link you.  But the reason that this bothers me now is because I think too much, and I would ask that maybe, just maybe, there be at least a little bit more depth to these seemingly important questions. I want to read better things, this is why I'm shouting from my dark corner of the Internet. Ultimately, I don't think that's too much to ask.   
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
We all know that school can be a harsh place, especially since all the students link themselves together and form little cliques and what not.  But the thing that really, really bugged me about this story is how apparently the main character, a rabbit, is so utterly and deliberately anathema. It's driven home with paragraphs of whispered innuendo and slander, and everybody has some reason to hate or otherwise heap disdain upon her.  She's a slut, she's poor, and even the poor kids think she's mockable because she isn't earning money by catering to the rich kids.  Now, OBVIOUSLY the idea is to set her up as some kind of outsider/loner type, but point is driven into the ground and then all the way to China.  Everybody hates her?  Everybody finds some reason to mock this character?  Not a single person is even on the side of indifference? 

Well, there's the other main character: some creepyish exotic(?) cat that likes to hang out in abandoned chapels and trade intelligence on how to survive in the school for sexual favors.  And honestly, I think this dude is doing a crappy job and this shunned student should get her proverbial money back.  Maybe it's me, but I think part of surviving in school would definitely mean not having practically the entire student body mock you for some reason, not just doing good in class.  Though APPARENTLY there's some fishy stuff going on behind the scenes, involving detention and certain teachers that the school and possibly parents are complicit in, so I'm left to wonder what kind of fetish-laden faculty this is.  Then again, this is PORN, so...

There is another thing that this story does that kinda gets on my nerves.  It goes between the two perspectives of loner bunny and creeper cat, yet makes a hard break when switching between the two.  Often, but not always, this makes for a story that ends up repeating itself, which avid readers of this blog know is one of my pet peeves.  Personally, I think the story would have worked much better had there not been such hard breaks and instead it worked from either a third person omniscient or limited to loner bunny, who seems to have the more pertinent storyline. 

As some final thoughts, I will award points to the writer for highlighting the animal aspects of the characters so they just aren't humans with fur coats.  Also, creeper cat: you're kinda doing sodomy wrong.  The writer shouldn't reward you for this. 
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
To a degree, I probably shouldn't be writing this one.  The story was a commission, and if the commissioner was happy with it, then who cares what I, some random dude spouting off on his blog on the Internet, think about it?  And really, I only have one problem with the story, one that could probably be excused by most people not reading it how I did. 

To illustrate, let me just tell you how the story goes.  First, we have a mechanic in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana, lamenting how his shop isn't getting many customers.  He has a bit of hired help that he sends home, and starts to go close up the shop.  Enter beat up old truck, stuttering into his shop.  What luck!  The mechanic goes out and greets the driver, who's truck is pretty fucked up.  It's a minor miracle that it's even driving as is. 

Anyway, driver pulls truck into garage and the possum mechanic apparently recognizes the driver.  Said driver, a massive gator with a muscle gut, is apparently a famous, if retired, wrestler. Then the mechanic asks how the car got all messed up, and the gator says "Sex happened."  Apparently he had fucked somebody else against the car so hard that it broke.  Now, here is where my attention started to waver.  To be capable of fucking somebody so hard against your car that it breaks would probably leave that person crushed by the massive force you are able to generate by simply moving your hips, conceivably.  Now, it's possible that the gator is just joking, but then the next thing he says completely takes me out of the story: "And you are one sexy possum; maybe you want a ride too?"

Not too long ago on the Bad Dog Book Club podcast, Toonces and Skip talked about the idea of the fantasy dominant.  One who knew exactly how to treat his/her submissive and talk/bully/cajole them into doing things, and the submissive will like it because the things the dominant is doing is exactly what the submissive secretly or openly wants.  Now, the thing to stress here is the word 'fantasy,' as in it is difficult to find an actual sub/dom that knows instantly what the other wants, not without extensive training of either to the other's desires.  And in this story, we have a former wrestler gator with an apparently fourteen inch dong not only overpowering the suddenly mesmerized 'possom mechanic, but able to know that this is what the 'possom secretly wants because he's sporting a stiffy.  Oh, and possibly due to the power of his muscled gut. 

You know what?  The story is pretty much unabashedly porn.  Not erotica, but porn.  It had the promise of perhaps being the former, but combine the odd specificity of certain bits (beer-can thick dong on the gator), and the fact that the story ended riiiiiiiiight after the sex did, well, yeah.  I think I would have had much less of a problem with it had it not spent nearly an entire page setting up a fairly benign situation, but such is life.  If you like muscle-guts, gay sex and/or ridiculously thick and long dicks, then you might have enjoyed it. 
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
I'll disclose right now that I haven't read any of Twilight nor any of 50 Shades of Gray.  I may at some point if only to write a review of it.  However, because of those books popularity I've heard... things.  The plot has been somewhat spoiled for me by other people both promoting and railing against the books.  And while I dislike reading stories that are (allegedly) bad, there is one thing that Twilight and it's fan-fiction spin off are doing that is very, very good. 

It's getting people to read.  Now, it's possible that the type of person that loves Twilight/50 Shades is not going to be a reader except for the rare case of their friends recommending such to them.  But they're still reading.  This is still a good thing.  As a writer, I want people to read and read more because, selfishly, there's a chance that they might stumble upon something that I've written to read and enjoy that.  I will fully admit that I want people to read my stuff, but failing that I want people to read period. 

Books, even bad ones, are a joy and an escape.  Not enough people take part in this, being distracted by TV and other forms of entertainment that are a bit more accessible.  Because even though reading is great, it can be a bit intimidating for those who haven't done it before or don't do it often.  A TV show, outside of maybe boxed DVD sets, aren't really physical.  Books are.  You have to carry them around.  This might dissuade people.  So even though 50 Shades is apparently occupying four New York Times bestseller slots (the three books and the boxed set), and may just be a terrible story that is essentially a thin excuse for bondage porn, it's still good that it exists.

Still not looking forward to reading it, though.  If I do at all.
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So yes, there's the previous post about the movie A Thousand Words, but lemme just zero in on the entire plot vehicle that lurches this movie forward.  But for this, this might have just been any other decent, heart-warming movie about a terrible person realizing his faults and changing for the better.  But no, in order to restrict a person's greatest asset -- his words -- the movie decided to go in a spiritual direction and add in the tree.

Now, once the tree ends up in Eddie Murphy's backyard because of magic, it begins losing leaves.  Essentially, in the quest to perhaps save Eddie Murphy's life from being bereft of people and relationships, the tree kills itself.  Why?  I mean... what the hell?  To save a life, the tree basically tied a noose around it's neck and said "I'm gonna choke myself if you don't become a better person, because I've linked how far I choke with how many words you say!"  I mean, I get how this will eventually effect Eddie Murphy since the tree links its health with Eddie Murphy, but it still seems like a pretty stupid move.  How is the tree supposed to know that Eddie Murphy is going to take his self-preservation (and by extension, the tree's) seriously?  Alternatively, how is the tree supposed to know that Eddie Murphy is going to seek to repair his life, rather than running away from everything and retreating so that he doesn't have to use words at all, thereby (probably) defeating the purpose of attaching itself to his life in the first place. 

This probably wouldn't bug me so much if this wasn't the entire premise upon which the rest of the movie rests.
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PosterThis movie was... alright, I guess.  Eddie Murphy plays a high-powered, fast-talking agent whose life is silently falling apart around him.  When he goes to secure a book deal from new age guru, not only is the book woefully inadequate for mass production, but a mysterious tree shows up in his back yard, losing leaves for every single word he utters.  That being the most absurd part of the movie, I'll... well, I'll go into that later in a Microscope post.  Anyway, hilarity ensues as a man who's gotten by with shooting off words everywhere suddenly finds his most valued asset horribly restricted to the point where he can't even leave notes for people without leaves falling.  But he learns a valuable lesson, blah blah blah.  This story pretty much ends the way you think it does, so it spoils pretty much nothing saying that the agent learns his lesson, and at the eleventh hour the tree is reborn, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Honestly, the reason why I am writing this review is for this one aspect, a relatively throwaway scene in a wider movie that gets better only at the end.  See, Eddie Murphy's agent character has a dorky white assistant.  Now, as he wordlessly comes in to try and communicate something or other, said assistant suddenly breaks down and admits that he and a female coworker have been cavorting about in Eddie Murphy's office as animals.  Seeing the scene as a furry, I am massively disappointed as having furry be this guy's weird thing, mostly because Hollywood had decided to misrepresent the fandom. Again. 

Go see it if you want to; now that you can rent it for a buck twenty it sorta makes it worth it.  In my opinion, the movie only really gets good at the end when Eddie Murphy finds his epiphany and uses his last few words to repair his crumbling life in an almost beatific way.  Other than that and some scattered scenes that almost rescue the movie, it was mostly meh. 
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
Now, overall this story wasn't bad.  It wasn't really terrible.  It was a fairly decent story that did have one large, large issue, which is why it's making it to the blog under the RSE headline.  It starts with an okapi character finding a package having arrived at his apartment/house/whatever, not really addressed to him but having a return address somewhere in the [redacted].  Out of sheer curiosity, he opens it to find... a brassiere.  He's really confused now, not knowing why it's there or why it came to his house or who sent it, since there was no name on it.  He has no idea what to do with it, so he puts it on his table and then goes to do something else.  

BUT SUDDENLY comes the unbidden thought "I wonder what it would look like on me" or something to that effect.  So against his better judgment, the okapi tries on the ladies clothing.  Coincidentally, he remembers that he has a dress that he's holding for an unnamed friend, so he goes and tries THAT on, which also has a pair of panties to go with it.  And to top it all off, he decides to go hit the town, more go to this bar that boasts an open-minded clientele.  Yeah, those seem pretty sketchy, right?  

Here's the rub, though: though the okapi dude goes on get hit on and called a lady and then hit on again by a giraffe who eventually takes him home (and there's a neat little plot point about only okapi males getting horns that is a nice touch to the story, from a furry standpoint), there is absolutely no explanation beyond a random compulsion as to why the okapi dude tried on the girl's clothing to begin with.  Or is there?  And here's the bit where I rag on the title, because the title implies magic, but magic is never, EVER discussed during the course of the story.  There is, PERHAPS, an implication of magic in the initial compulsion, but other than that there's no real reason for the okapi to cross-dress, especially since he was against the randomly injected idea to begin with.  So really, the entire impetus of the story is alluded to in the title and never really addressed.  And overall, it made the story completely unfulfilling, because I went through the entire thing waiting for SOME explanation as to why the crossdressing was initiated.  I mean, sure, I got a little paragraph at the end addressing the PACKAGE, but unless there's some explanation buried in another story, there's nothing to explain things.  
pyrostinger: They say the eye is the window to the soul (Default)
Note: The copy of the novel was generously provided by the author. 

By Sword and Star
by Renee Carter Hall aka Poetigress

Published by
Anthro Dreams

Red Eye Reviews: By Sword and Star
by pyro wolf

As TV Tropes can no doubt attest, an original story in terms of all-new, never before seen content is pretty impossible. I remember hearing once that there were only seven distinct stories in the world, with every story being derived from one of those few. The trick, then, is to make it seem if not new, then told in an interesting, novel way. And I believe that Renee Carter Hall, also known in certain circles as Poetigress, achieves that.

The story isn't necessarily going to set the world on fire. Prince Tiran is a fairly archetypical wayward medieval prince, who prefers to hang out among the common folk and help out every now and again rather than attend his princely duties. He doesn't see eye-to-eye with his father the king, who thinks he shouldn't be associating himself with such rabble. His world is thrown for a loop when the mantle of kingship quite literally falls on his shoulders at his father's assassination due to the magic that exists in this world, and he has to hightail it as the usurpers come after him. Then, he has to gather himself an army and take back his father's kingdom, growing up along the way. Again, fairly standard.

However, Mrs. Hall ups the stakes a bit more by saying that if Tiran, a unicorn, does NOT assume his rightful place as ruler of all Asteria, then the whole kingdom will stop being farmers and princes and knights and go back to being feral, four-legged animals. In this, she neatly justifies using animal people (not that this necessarily needed it) as well as forces the young king to act quickly because the world as he knows it will end should he not.  

Along the way, there are a few subplots that she weaves into the narrative, though there's very little wasted space along the pages. To her credit, Mrs. Hall creates a very tight, entertaining story with plenty of endearing characters, along with a great excuse to explore this world of Asteria. And you do get to explore it: Tiran first escapes into a neighboring area of squirrels, then finds himself pushed to the outskirts to some plains inhabitied by Awakened but four-legged horses, and finally to a tribe of wolves before coming back home.  

If you're looking for something that you've never seen before, you may not like By Sword and Star. If, however, you are looking for a very well-put together, with action and comedy, along with a bit of romance, then you will enjoy the story as I did.

October 2013

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