Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Are People Drawn to Violence? *A Rant*

Are people drawn to violence?
I don't mean the age-old wives tale that video games cause violence. I mean... after examining much of the entertainment available to us, there is a trend of violent behavior that lurks beneath every story.
This is something I've been contemplating for a while. One of my family member's favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. On the basis of those alone, my question still stands. Are people drawn to violence? Specifically, are people more likely to watch a movie or TV show, or read a book if they know someone is going to die? Both of these examples had built-in fanbases before they got their start on TV, and from what I understand, The Walking Dead had an incredibly intricate story in which death was not the main focus, but more of an occupational hazard of living in that world. Whenever it made it's transition into TV, however, the material strayed far from the graphic novels and is basically now violence porn. Yet people still tune in religiously. The same goes for Game of Thrones, although after reading the first two books in comparison to the first two seasons alone, the amount of violence is pretty similar. Yet people have been reading the books for years.
The unofficial motto for Game of Thrones fans is don't get too attached. Author George R.R. Martin is famous for killing off beloved characters, and the show's directors/producers seem just as bloodthirsty. The difference is, The Walking Dead (TV show) amplified the amount of gore each season so as to outdo themselves from the season before. Game of Thrones has always been saturated in violence, both on the page and on the screen, yet it's television fanbase keeps growing. It's so natural and expected that we're desensitized to the horror of it.
I'm not exempt from this either. One of my favorite shows is Supernatural. As of I think it was season twelves, with twenty-three to twenty-four episodes per season, there are something like five episodes in which someone does not die. Meaning it is more unusual for no one to die in an episode than it is for someone, even an unimportant side character, to wind up dead. For me, I know I'll probably continue watching because I've learned to love these characters and admire their development. Is it the same for the other shows? There's, like, a dozen people from the first season that are still alive in the current season. *Spoiler* That's including ones who have died and been brought back to life. Yeah. Wrap your head around that for a second.
I know this has turned into a rant, but at times it disturbs me the levels of dehumanization we are willing to endure in order to be entertained.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Is Creative Block A Thing?

So as I was watching some more Emily Artful videos, I stumbled upon one about Art Block, which come to find out is the same idea as writer's block, where you lack inspiration and are unable to write or produce art. Her argument, however, was that art block is not real.
Now before you go off on a tangent about, "Yes, writer's/art block is real! I have it! It's so frustrating!" let me continue.
Emily went on to say that the definition of the word "block" is to completely hinder someone from accessing something. The definition I found in my own research read, "an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something." While my definition did not precisely match up with her, I see where she was coming from. You can never be permanently creatively blocked from something. Inspiration is everywhere. Unless you are in a padded room with no windows (or have a mental illness which does in some way hinder your creative process), you can find inspiration from something.
What I liked about her video was how she framed art block (and for me, writer's block) as a frame of mind, and therefore called into question it's very existence. When we say we're "blocked" creatively, is that putting ourselves into a more poisonous state of mind? If we framed the phrase, "I have art/writer's block," differently, would that actually help us in overcoming slumps where we find it more challenging than usual to put pen or paint brush to paper? Kind of like when you're learning something and the person teaching you says, "I don't expect you to understand this immediately." Having that premeditated expectation effects the way we process and understand information.
But getting back on track, what if we've been doing that to ourselves all this time, telling ourselves we're "blocked" when we're more like...stumped? You can climb over a stump. You can go around it and get back on track. It's something I'm willing to try, especially since I haven't seriously written anything in so long. My muscles are sore. But that was another thing Emily mentioned. These slumps can last weeks or years. That is normal. In fact, that is okay. What is not okay is you giving something up that you love just because you lack inspiration, the muse isn't there, you have no ideas, etc. You have ideas. You have thoughts. And if you don't, there are prompts everywhere. Think of a nursery rhyme. Write a story or paint a picture about that. Give it a dark twist. Listen to a piece of music and figure out how it makes you feel. Translate that into whatever medium you prefer.
Perhaps then we can overcome this pesky thing called art block and writer's block.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Strive, Don't Deprive

Image result for emily artful

(The picture above is the thumbnail for YouTube artist Emily Artful)
Lots of thoughts today.
At first I was going to share about another YouTuber I discovered yesterday whom I'm absolutely loving. I'll get to that in a minute because there was also something more serious that caught my attention yesterday.
I've been clashing with a coworker recently. This person is constantly critical, always find things that are wrong or could have been better, and does not acknowledge when things are done correctly or how well other things are doing. This person cannot be impressed. I know this because another coworker who has worked with them for far longer than I have has tried and now knows better. But this coworker I'm clashing with, their anger is not usually toward one specific person. Usually it is to some other circumstance that is completely out of our control, but my coworker cannot focus her anger, so she ends up lashing out at the people around her. This lashing out because of something she cannot control only amplifies her anger, causing her to have extremely poor relations with everyone around her. Everyone. It increases her critical nature. I'm normally a glass half full kind of person, a realistic optimist, if you will. Naturally her and I haven't gotten along at all over the past several weeks. As I was discussing this person with my mom, who also knows and works with my coworker, my mom kind of laughed and said, "Well, they're Italian."
I stopped in my tracks because that sounded dangerously familiar. They're Italian. To me that is far too close to the phrase boys will be boys. And I decided in that moment to refuse someone's heritage or genetic makeup as an excuse for their poor behavior. Someone is Italian and that automatically means their eccentricities and tempers should be excused?
No. Absolutely not.
I'm not exempt from this categorizing, either. I remember a few months ago while in class I made a remark somewhere along the lines of, "They're Italian, don't they all have tempers?" And I realized immediately after saying it how incredibly douchey that was. The categorizing goes beyond people with bad tempers, as well. Isn't it a stereotype that all Americans are stupid and lazy? According to a study done in recent years (sorry, but I can't remember which one), Americans are one of the hardest working nations in the world. Not all Asians are good at martial arts, math, and piano. Not all Hispanics speak Spanish. Not all Blacks are violent. Not all Christians are anti-LGBTQIA+. Not all atheists hate Christians. We desperately need to get out of this mindset of stereotyping because of a certain heritage, religion, societal class, etc. It's toxic.
I will say that people with conditions that alter their chemical makeup/brain activity (i.e. depression, anxiety) are exempt from this. I don't have a thorough understanding of conditions of the mind, therefore I don't feel comfortable having an opinion on them.
I was overwhelmed with this realization yesterday and retreated to my room to let my brain sort itself out. As usual, I turned to YouTube, as that is normally the place I go when I need to zone out or just be encouraged. (That or Pinterest.) In my browsing, I stumbled upon a channel run by a user named Emily Artful. She tells stories while sketching and doing watercolor, and in addition to her art being totally AWESOME, I loved her storytelling style, the way she was able to manifest her thoughts into a painting. It reminded me of writing and how often the characters or the situations they're facing in some way mimic my own state of mind. One of the things she said that stuck with me is "Strive, Don't Deprive." I love this saying because I think it speaks volumes about how we beat ourselves down so often and deprive ourselves of the nurturing our brain and creativity needs. It's okay to not be the best at something; that is why you practice, you strive for it. You always try to improve because in the world of art and creativity, there is always room for improvement and there is always something to learn. Binge watching her channel inspired me to create. It rekindled a love I've had for art my entire life, and I'm hoping I'll be able to get back into it, because creation is...indescribable. It's organic and pure. It's a high. And I wonder whenever I'm coloring, painting, building, or writing, as I'm building these words and characters, is this how God felt whenever he created us?
I'm diving into a world of dreams and color, a world I have been away from for far too long.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019


You guys...
You have got to check out this woman on YouTube. Her channel name is Nerdforge and I just watched her make a freaking SPELLBOOK with real freaking leather! The nerd in me is going absolutely crazy right now. I love her setup, I love the way she just goes at it with a few tools and some tutorials by her side. And she's just like, "Yeah, I didn't have the proper book binding tools to do this part, but I YouTubed it and just followed that instead." Badass.
Just go watch her. :)


Monday, January 21, 2019

A Stepping Stone to Happiness

Image result for chocolate ice cream
Ice cream is the key to the universe.
I believe this because yesterday, I was feeling kind of down, my stomach didn't feel right, which sucked because I was really looking forward to ice cream. On top of that I was just feeling very unproductive, like I was slugging through the day.
Then today, after hacking away at what must have been three inches of ice gathered at my windshield, I thought, "Hey, my ears are already frozen, why not continue the trend?" So I dished myself out a little bit of cookies n' cream and a little bit of chocolate ice cream into a bowl, mushed that goodness together, and let me tell you, my day has gotten brighter.
So yes, I believe ice cream is the key to the universe, and perhaps a stepping stone to true happiness. Have you ever taken a date out to an ice cream shop you've never been to? Absolutely not! You take them to a place that touches your soul! A place whose ice cream changes your perspective. For me, that place is Page Dairy Mart, a hole-in-the-wall place with the best soft serve in Pittsburgh. In my opinion, at least.
All this to say, if you're feeling kind of meh, and if the roads are passable, go get some ice cream.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Return

I have nothing to say for myself.

It's strange going back into writing after such a long hiatus. I even wondered if it was something I would ever attempt again. My fingers remember the keyboard, but not as well as they used to. Words don't come as easily. I cant's remember how to spell certain things. And I just remembered that my spacebar sticks sometimes, so I'll randomly look up as I'm typing and realize two words have stuck together.
Thanks a lot spacebar. You had one job.
I still write in my head, though. One story that has particularly caught my interest spawns from Disney themes (naturally), so maybe in the nearish future I'll post some of that. I continue to add on to stories I wrote even when I kept up this blog. Mostly Story E. I think there'll always be a special place in my heart for that one.
But looking over some of my last posts, I've come to realize how much I've changed. Not sure if I've matured -I like to hope so- but I've certainly changed. For instance, the post on three lessons I would teach my future children, I'm not sure those hold true today. While I still believe they are good lessons to teach, and ones you learn throughout your life, there are other I think may hold precedence.
But what do I know? I'm just trying to get back into something which used to bring me such joy. 
At any rate, here's to seeing how this goes.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Character Description -Once to Love, Once to Hate

Hello! Courtesy of another Pinterest writing prompt (because really, where else am I going to see one), here's the gist for this one: Write a character's description twice, once to hate them, and once to love them.

Giovanna knelt beside the river and drew her sword, placing it upon a large slab of rock that jutted over the water. Her hair, dyed ink-black to disguise the natural red, tumbled over her shoulder. The image of her youngest sister Jubilee flashed in her mind. Standing side by side  now, they would for once look like real sisters. Giovanna shook her head to clear it. Cupping her hand, she poured water of the rock and then carefully, methodically, drew the length of the sword across the stone. The rough surface beneath the blade sent vibrations up the metal, making her fingers tingle in a familiar way. The Captain of the Guard had been the first to place a sword in her hands at the tender age of seven, when her other sisters were playing with dolls or learning embroidery. The Captain had shown her everything about using a sword, and keeping it war-ready, including how to sharpen it on a whetstone. Perhaps the Captain knew the princess would lead armies one day. But neither of them could have presumed she would be leading them against her own family.
Giovanna turned the blade over to tend to the other side. In mere moments her fate had been snatched away from her, ruined by a spoiled brat who never thought about anyone but herself, never considered the consequences of her own actions. Giovanna winced at the memory of the wave from Styx hitting her face, burning her flesh like acid. Her hand moved to her cheek, as if to make sure the repaired skin had not melted away. She would not let her inexperienced, ill-advised little sister be the downfall of the treaty with the god of the Underworld and of the uprising so carefully executed.
Jubilee would not ruin what Giovanna had slaved for. The seventh daughter, perfect little Jubilee, had to die.

The thunder in the sky could not equal the clash of swords in the castle walls. And no storm nor hurricane nor earthquake could match the brute force of brother fighting brother, mortal versus god, soldier versus citizen.
Surrounded on every side, Giovanna drew upon every ounce of strength she had left, knowing it was not enough and yet some force insider her driving her onward. Her gift, her power, the raw element of fire that bent to her will, was gone from her. Without it, even with sword in hand, her hands were cold and shaking. A man near her threw a spear at an opponent's back. Giovanna deflected it, unsure who was her foe or ally anymore. A man without armor crumbled under the shock of Marcus' whip laced around his neck. Without a thought, Giovanna crept up behind Marcus. His defeat was less than a breath. Rain continued to pour, swords continued to clash, and then above it all, the distinctive crack of a different whip severed the air. Giovanna spun around, looking for the familiar figure attached to that whip.
There. By the stables. Lucy stood over someone, her weapon of choice coiled like a snake at her side. Giovanna stumbled toward her and then froze when she saw who Lucy was towering over.
Her fist tightened around the hilt of the sword, her cold fingers finding strength in the familiar shape in her palm.
Lucy flicked her wrist and her whip curled to life. "You were never meant to live anyway." She raise her arm. The whip came like a lash through the air.
Giovanna threw her shoulder into Lucy's back and caught the whip's tail around her sword. Jubilee rolled to the side and grabbed a pitchfork that had fallen over. Brandishing the pitchfork, Jubilee turned first to Giovanna, then to Lucy, who had quickly found her footing again. Jubilee's soft blue eyes burned with indecision.
"Traitor!" Lucy seethed. She tried to yank her whip away, but Giovanna turned her shoulder into the movement and disarmed the woman.
"I know who I'm fighting for now," said Giovanna, with a quick glance toward Jubilee.