Nov. 18th, 2012

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)
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. 

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