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Trabia Garden
You May Have Seen A Million Entries About This, But This One Has Pokémon.
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hope is all we have
I've started playing Night in the Woods! It strikes me as ideal for a Higurashi AU: small towns, dark secrets, the 'outsider' (although Mae is technically returning to Possum Springs) and the group of friends who already belong to the town. Perhaps fortunately, my ability to write this is limited by the fact that I haven't yet experienced the last few Higurashi instalments. (Come on, official translators!)

I probably won't write Night in the Woods fanfiction, to be honest. I really struggle with writing characters if I don't know what their voices sound like, so I rarely write for unvoiced canons.

Choosing which characters to spend time with is pretty stressful. Here's the problem: videogame logic dictates that you should choose the character you want to focus on and just spend time with them at every opportunity. Games are often set up to give you the most satisfying payoff if you pick a goal and stick to it, because then the game will recognise, 'Oh, this player wants a better relationship with Bea; let's channel them into the "bonding with Bea" plotline.' Real-world friendship logic, meanwhile, dictates that you should divide your time between your friends, rather than focusing on one to the exclusion of the others; in real life, if you spend all your time with Bea, Gregg is going to start feeling abandoned. I don't know which sort of logic this game is operating on!

(To be honest, this was an issue that barely crossed my mind in Oxenfree, because I was so invested in Alex and Jonas's stepsibling relationship. Screw everyone else; I was absolutely going to spend all my time with Jonas. And Ren did end up feeling a bit abandoned, but, hey, I had a great relationship with my stepbrother, so I didn't care! Sorry, Ren.)

I'm trying to go with what feels right without worrying about it too much. Bea and I had a horrible conversation yesterday; I suppose today I should spend time with her and try to make amends. Gregg's lonely because his boyfriend's out of time; I'll visit him today.

But everything we end up doing is so antisocial! I don't want to beat up a car with a baseball bat! I DON'T WANT TO SHOPLIFT OR TALK BEA INTO SHOPLIFTING, GAME, DON'T MAKE ME DO THIS. But no; apparently I cannot prevent Mae from being a bad influence. I do like characters who make relentlessly terrible decisions, but I become distressed when I'm playing a game that makes me carry out their terrible decisions!

(I did enjoy the 'spraying passers-by with the fish fountain bit'. That was another bit that made me go 'NO, MAE, THIS IS A BAD IDEA' at first, but seeing Bea's progression from 'oh, my God, what are you doing?????' to uncontrollable laughter made me smile.)

There was one point where I got stuck and had to look up how to progress online, because the solution was so clearly a bad idea that it would never have occurred to me to try it. JUST JAM YOUR PAW INTO THE ELECTRICITY, IT'LL BE FINE.

So far the game feels a little slow - nothing's really happened in terms of plot - but I suppose that makes sense; you're playing a drifting, directionless young adult in a dying town, and playing through day after day of nothing in particular happening helps to convey that sense of drifting. The dialogue is fun enough to keep it interesting. I really like all of Mae's silly doodles in her notebook, and the playful undertone of her relationship with her parents.

My favourite part so far is when you discover that Selmers is a poet:

My heart is
A dankness
But when I see you
I feel a thankness.

When I feel
A blueness
All I need
Is a youness.

'That's very romantic.'
'It's about my horse.'
'We're just friends.'
14th-Mar-2018 09:51 am - This Is My Snow-Covered Home.
hope is all we have
This is another present, working from a photograph I can't reproduce here. I forgot that I'd promised myself not to paint any more deciduous trees in winter.

If any of you guys would like a painting, by the way, let me know! I bought an A4 pad specifically because it's a conveniently postable size, so I might as well get some use out of it. If you're interested, you can just give me a few examples of landscapes you like - photos you've taken, stills from music videos or television or videogames, existing paintings, whatever - and I can pick one and have a go at it. I could post the result to you, or just put it up here if you'd prefer not to share your address.

(You can put your landscapes in the comments of this entry, but don't put your address there; comments are public! I'll get in touch with you about where to send the painting once it's done.)
11th-Mar-2018 09:41 am - I Don't Roll Over, Don't Know How.
hope is all we have
Oh, hey, I should share the good news!

One year ago, we were told that Mabel (left) had less than a year to live. Not only is she still going strong, but two days ago she had a heart scan and apparently the scan looked normal; the damage seems to have reversed itself! I had no idea this was a possibility. If we're lucky, perhaps she'll be yelling in my face while I'm trying to work for years to come.

She's the noisiest cat I've ever met, bless her. When I'm talking on the phone, she makes it her mission to get as close to the phone as possible and miaow very loudly into it, much to the alarm of whoever is on the other end.

Her brother Dipper, on the right, thinks he's a dog and is driven by an unshakeable determination to eat everything in sight. I have to hide my bras when I'm not wearing them, because otherwise, as I have unfortunately learnt from experience, he will go straight for them and chew through the straps. (He also once chewed through the laces on my only smart pair of shoes just before a job interview. Have you ever tried to sew up a shoelace? It's not easy!)

These cats are ridiculous. But they're so good.
8th-Mar-2018 01:43 pm - What You Were Changing Me Into.
hope is all we have
I've only seen the first two episodes of Netflix's Queer Eye, but I'm already sad that only eight episodes exist. If you have Netflix, you should definitely watch it to improve the chances that it will be renewed! And also because it's delightful.

Seriously, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this. A reality show? A makeover show? But it's so charming; it's got so much heart! My housemates and I keep cooing and awwing at the screen. The Fab Five meet these isolated, lonely, insecure guys, and they don't just teach them to take care of themselves; they teach them to like themselves. It's incredibly sweet. I may have shed a couple of tears.

The third episode, which I've watched since typing the above, was somewhat less adorable on account of focusing on a Trump-supporting police officer over whom I was not always inclined to coo, but it had some interesting moments. In particular, I'm glad that Karamo was allowed to go 'yeah, that fake pull-over was a horrible joke and I was genuinely terrified' in front of the cameras, rather than being forced to go 'ha ha, what a hilarious jape that definitely didn't make me fear for my life'.

And then there's the fourth episode! Which is lovely! Antoni is extremely attracted to AJ and it's a delight.

Here's the worst fanfiction idea I've had in a long time: a Queer Eye-inspired AU for Final Fantasy XV. Noctis is isolated, directionless, sleeping constantly, untidy, generally bad at taking care of himself. Enter the stars of Lucis's hottest reality show to help him get his life together! Gladio gets him more active; Prompto makes him feel better about himself; Ignis is in charge of food and drink, and interior design, and grooming, and fashion, and... look, Ignis does everything. It's not clear why the other two are even on the show. But Noctis bonds with all of them, and, when they've parted ways at the end of the week, Noctis sets out to get them back into his life. He knows what he wants to do with himself at last!

This is a really bad idea. This is such a bad idea. I shouldn't want to read it as much as I do.
2nd-Mar-2018 02:48 pm - Choppy Words In A Sloppy Flow.
hope is all we have
I woke up last night going 'WAIT, WHY DO WE ABBREVIATE WORDS IN THE WAYS WE DO?' and couldn't stop thinking about it. I'm going to research some common abbreviations off the top of my head and see whether there's a pattern.

aeroplane (Greek, 'air wanderer'): plane ('wanderer')
influenza (Latin via Italian, 'influence'): flu (just a syllable that doesn't mean anything in particular)
hippopotamus (Greek via Latin, 'river horse'): hippo (...'horse')
omnibus (Latin, 'for all'): bus (...'for'? It's just another language's dative suffix sitting around in our language, being used as the name of an actual object)
photograph (Greek, 'light writer'): photo ('light')
rhinoceros (Greek via Latin, 'nose horn'): rhino ('nose')
telephone (Greek, 'far sound'): phone ('sound')
television (Greek and Latin via French, 'far sight'): telly (tele, 'far')

...there's no pattern, is there? When part of a word is dropped, the part that remains isn't necessarily determined by meaning; that's clear from the fact that 'telephone' and 'television' are shortened from different ends, and from the fact that we've shortened 'omnibus' to a syllable that means absolutely nothing, and from the fact that we call a hippopotamus a horse. It's certainly not determined by position in a word, although it's more common to take an abbreviation from the start or end than from the middle; cases like 'flu' are unusual. And it's not determined by sound either; if we can take a photo of a rhino or a hippo, why can't we fly in an aero?

So English is ridiculous. Well, I already knew that, but it's nice to remind myself from time to time. And I'm pleased to have discovered that 'aeroplane' means 'air wanderer', so this Internet excursion was worth it.

(I love this stupid language.)

The only consistent aspects of these examples: the full words are all Greek or Latinate in origin, rather than Germanic, and they're all three or more syllables long. (Germanic words tend to be shorter, so these are probably related points.)

Do we bother shortening two-syllable words? I suppose we do shorten common two-syllable phrases: 'thank you' becomes 'thanks', 'good night' becomes 'night'. (Both of these examples are Germanic, actually.) People do still routinely say 'thank you' and 'good night', though, whereas 'photograph' and 'telephone' are rarer in casual conversation, and 'omnibus' will get you strange looks.

Maybe I should poke into this in more depth at some point.

I've been rewatching Supernatural recently, as Rei and I are introducing it to Ginger. We're currently on season three. It's bizarre to remember that there have been another ten seasons since then. (I've seen up to the end of season eight, so I'm only, er, five seasons behind. This show is almost as ridiculous as the English language.)

It was really strange to rewatch the first series, when the show still took itself seriously. As it goes on, it gets worse and worse at keeping a straight face.

I've always liked the episode 'What Is and What Should Never Be', but it wasn't until this most recent rewatch that I realised that its plot is basically the plot of half the fanfiction I write. My Until Dawn fic Wrong Road Home replicates it right down to making a choice between horrible reality and comforting hallucination.

Rewatching this show has also reminded me that I sort of want to write fanfiction following up on some of the victims of the week: the ones who undergo bizarre and horrible experiences but, at the end, still have no idea what's happened. The ones who particularly stand out are Katie's mother from 'The Kids Are Alright' (the scene where she just lets the car holding her 'daughter' roll into the lake is the most horrifying one in Supernatural for me; I really hope Lisa tells her what happened), and the 'Big Bad Wolf' from Bedtime Stories, who, after waking from his trance, is going to learn that he killed three people. Get these people some psychological support immediately.

I'm so sad Henriksen never got to be a hunter.

(Combining these two concepts: Henriksen becomes a hunter, runs into traumatised victims of the week, offers psychological support? I'm not sure Henriksen would necessarily be good at psychological support, but he might offer them answers, at least.)
1st-Mar-2018 08:00 pm - It Starts With...
hope is all we have



Look, yes, I know the flying whale doesn't appear in the shot I was painting. I had to include the whale. I couldn't possibly omit the whale.

(Sorry for including the whale and not you, Mike. If it's any consolation, you wouldn't be impressed by any attempt at painting you on my part.)

I sent this to my mother and got the response 'Is it a whale in the sky? Why?'
26th-Feb-2018 06:35 pm - Half The Words Don't Mean A Thing.
hope is all we have
I was going 'look, I can't possibly do another painting post, let's do something else' and wrote up a big post statistically analysing my AO3 fanfiction and then went 'oh, God, this is so boring, better mitigate this with a painting'. So I'm afraid you're getting another painting post after all.

The boring statistical analysis of my own fanfiction is under the cut!

Analysing my fanfiction on AO3.Collapse )

Okay! That's more than enough of that. Here's the painting. I can't include the reference picture for this one, because it's a present for someone, using a photograph she took as reference, and I don't want to put other people's photographs up on my blog without their knowledge.

I painted this entire thing before I realised that the sun and its reflection are completely misaligned. Good work.

(Wait a second: I haven't posted the reference picture, so I could just say that the sun and its reflection happened to be out of alignment that day. Extremely mysterious, but I assure you I've painted it perfectly.)
23rd-Feb-2018 08:42 am - I Woke Up Driving My Car.
hope is all we have
Someone has created a predictive text keyboard trained on Final Fantasy XV kinkmeme fills (give it a few seconds to load), so you can now co-write Final Fantasy XV fanfiction with a robot. Here's my effort. I think you'll find it's flawlessly characterised.

Noctis was going to fucking eat his own backside.

"I know you're not going to bed," Ignis said icily against his lips. "Apologies, but Gladio would not be nice at this time."

Prompto jumped. "You're not going to get in the tent? I can't see you like this!"

Damn him.

Ardyn was completely naked in the middle of the trio, but Noct said nothing about it.

Today's painting is a second Linkin Park-related desert (here's the first): the photograph from the official YouTube upload of 'Halfway Right'. If I really went for it, how many Linkin Park desert pictures could I paint? There's desert in the 'In the End' video, in the 'What I've Done' video, in the 'Castle of Glass' video...

A terrible exchange took place when I showed this to my brother:

Riona: Sadly I wasn't able to capture the contrast between sunlight and shadow. Or, er, the person.
Joseph: you also missed a bunch of writing
Riona: Damn. I tried so hard.
10th-Feb-2018 09:42 pm - All I've Got's What You Didn't Take.
hope is all we have
THE BOOKENING TITLE #16: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn.

I'm not a big fan of films, on the whole. I feel they're exactly the wrong length: too long to consume in one sitting, too short to develop their characters and relationships satisfyingly. But a handful of films have made an impact on me.

I watched Gone Girl back in 2014, and in many ways, on paper, it doesn't seem like something I would like: it's a film, it's a thriller, it's a little more cynical than my tastes usually run. (I don't like stories about awful people doing awful things! I like stories about good people doing awful things!) But it was clever and fascinating, it genuinely took me by surprise at a couple of points, and one of the awful people was nonetheless magnetic and compelling and very enjoyable to watch. I usually quickly forget films I've only seen once, but a lot of details stuck in my mind.

So I thought I'd read the book!

I love how present Amy feels as a character, even if she's not physically present. She's 'on-page' for about five paragraphs before she goes missing. But we learn so much about her, through her husband's thoughts on her and through her diary entries: this smart, strong-willed woman, romantic, resentful, in need of stimulation, refusing to abandon a project or to do anything by halves, frustrated by a world that isn't as willing to put in vast amounts of effort as she is.

The book does occasionally stray from the interesting plot and into cynical philosophical observations, which I found slightly annoying. Even when the cynical philosophical observations were interesting! Why, no, I hadn't thought about the fact that the first time you see something impressive nowadays is always on television or online; you never have your first experience of an incredible sight in person. Fascinating! Please shut up.

Which isn't to say that I didn't like the book! It was a worthwhile read. I think I just read it in a perpetual state of 'I'm enjoying this, but also it slightly annoys me.'

Below the cut I'm going into spoiler territory.

Spoilers for the entirety of Gone Girl.Collapse )

I sort of wish I cared enough about the characters of Gone Girl to write fanfiction, because there's a lot it could be fun to dig into.
10th-Feb-2018 08:51 am - And Just So Far Away.
hope is all we have
I'm still capable of posting things that aren't paintings, I promise! I think I'll probably finish reading Gone Girl today, so I'm going to write that up for THE BOOKENING. But right now I'm afraid you're getting another painting. This one's a man-made landscape, for a change, from a photograph I took last June.

For the most part I'm happy with how this came out, particularly as I was worried about my ability to paint man-made things (nature tends to be a bit more forgiving; put a branch in the wrong place on a tree and it still looks like a tree), but it bugs me slightly that the... the metal shark-tooth flag things (not sure what purpose those serve; maybe lines ran between them at some point, but they don't seem to now) are so irregular in length.

(It's also possible I oversimplified the scene slightly. I notice I've created a train station with exactly one lamppost on it.)
3rd-Feb-2018 10:48 pm - Watch It All Come Undone.
hope is all we have
Inevitably, I ended up doing a Linkin Park-related painting. I'm sure everyone's astonished.

I really liked the shots of the desert in the video for 'Watching As I Fall', from Mike Shinoda's Post Traumatic EP, released last week: three songs he's written since losing his bandmate, all extremely personal and difficult to listen to. He's been very open and communicative over the last few months, and I'm grateful for it. I think he knows it helps the fans to have these updates on how he's doing, and I hope we're helping him in return.

I enjoyed working on this, but painting the power lines was terrible.
30th-Jan-2018 09:56 am - I Feel The Light Betray Me.
hope is all we have
My dad's observation on my paintings so far: 'They're all fir trees. Why don't you paint some oaks?'

After my latest painting, I can say that the answer is 'because painting oaks is terrible'.

This was a request from my mum, who sent me a photograph she'd taken in Richmond Park and asked whether I could paint it. It turns out I have neither the patience nor the nerve to do all the fiddly little branches on bare oaks; it'd be so easy to slip with the brush and make them too thick!

'When you've got a big stretch of the same colour that looks a bit too uniform and flat, just get a slightly different colour and splotch it everywhere' is not conducive to photorealism, but it is good fun.

In other news, I've started up a new game of Final Fantasy XV, and I'd forgotten how happy it makes me. I love this game! I love these boys! It's so flawed, and yet somehow it's perfect.
we'll be the darkness
All my feelings about Final Fantasy XV appear to have crept up and kicked me in the stomach again. I haven't written anything this long in about three years!

Title: Becoming Strangers
Fandom: Final Fantasy XV
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Noctis/Ignis
Wordcount: 8,700
Summary: When Ignis wakes up, none of his friends remember who he is.

Becoming StrangersCollapse )
22nd-Jan-2018 02:42 pm - I Know What It's Like To Test Fate.
hope is all we have
I played the Episode Ignis DLC for Final Fantasy XV at last! The best of the three Episode DLCs by a long way, although I did like teaming up with Aranea in Episode Prompto.

Below the cut, a few notes on Episode Ignis. And I might as well talk about Episode Prompto, while I'm at it. (I don't have much to say about Episode Gladio, alas.)

Be aware that the Episode Prompto notes mention (fictional) self-harm.

Notes on Final Fantasy XV DLC: Episode Prompto, Episode Ignis.Collapse )

I love these boys! I miss writing about them; I had so much fun in my Final Fantasy XV-writing phase last year. I do have an unfinished fic about Ignis lying around; maybe I should see if I can pick it up again.
20th-Jan-2018 04:56 pm - So Let Mercy Come.
hope is all we have
THE BOOKENING TITLE #15: The Secret History, Donna Tartt.

I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.

A little before Christmas, I visited th_esaurus, who mentioned that she'd requested The Secret History for Yuletide.

Riona: Oh, yes, that's the book about the group of students who do a murder, isn't it?
RD: They have an orgy and then do a murder, and then—
Riona: RD. Where is this book?
RD: What?
Riona: Where is this book? Do you have it here? You have to lend me this book.

I have now finished The Secret History! I absolutely loved it. I loved it before I'd finished the first chapter. It feels like it could have been cut down a little, but there's a strange beauty to the writing, and it contains a good number of the things I most love in fiction: people making terrible decisions, people being haunted by those terrible decisions, tight-knit groups of people where everyone's a little in love with everyone else.

Below the cut are some notes I made in the process of reading!

Notes on The Secret History.Collapse )

There were so many points in this book where I thought, You know, if this were a fic I was writing, this is the self-indulgent thing I'd do here, and then that was exactly what happened. Donna Tartt knows exactly what I want out of fiction! New favourite book?
hope is all we have
First fic of 2018! I've been struggling to write anything recently, so I'm glad I've managed to produce something at last. Here is a short Life Is Strange piece about Max and Chloe being psychological wrecks who can't communicate.

Title: No Signal
Fandom: Life Is Strange
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 1,100
Summary: With the wreckage of a town behind them and an empty road ahead, there are a lot of conversations that Max and Chloe need to have. But it's hard to talk about these things.

No SignalCollapse )
hope is all we have
Having now done an entire five paintings (six, actually, but I got a bit lazy at the end of the sixth and it needs some touching up before I can post it here), I am clearly a super-expert and absolutely qualified to give other people advice. If you've been thinking, Hey, this painting lark looks sort of fun, here's what I've learnt so far.

Painting Advice for the Absolute Beginner (from the Absolute Beginner)

Super painting tips from someone who definitely knows what she's talking about.Collapse )

I have no idea whether any of you actually have any use for these tips, but, er, here they are!
13th-Jan-2018 03:52 pm - The Skies Began To Fade.
hope is all we have
Today's painting is an attempt at some scenery from Horizon Zero Dawn, which is an astonishingly beautiful game. Light and water are hard, but it was fun to do something colourful, and the fading in the background worked a lot better than I was expecting.

You may recall my brother commented, on a previous painting, that it was possible to erase some of the lines to create a swastika. Remembering this, I did some hasty last-minute work on this to make the clouds look less like dicks and just ended up making them look more like dicks.
hope is all we have
I was thinking, 'Hmm, maybe I should get into a routine of doing a painting every Saturday,' and then I did a painting today because I didn't have the patience to wait until the weekend. help help I can't stop painting

Today's subject is Life Is Strange. To my credit, I did three entire paintings before trying to reproduce a videogame screenshot.

I tried to work a bit of blue into the sky and the sea, but there's absolutely no sign of it. I suspect I should have used the dark blue, rather than the light. Never mind.

Slightly concerned to realised that my sad little trees in this storm look much the same as my happy little trees in Bob Ross landscapes. I really need to step up my tree game.

I'm so confused by the fact that this is apparently a hobby of mine now! I've never done any form of visual art, unless you count 'editing Pokémon into Supernatural screenshots'. What other things do I not realise I'd love because I've never tried them? Show jumping? Boiler repair?
9th-Jan-2018 12:19 pm - Is There Nothing You Can Say?
hope is all we have
I'm watching a playthrough of the Life Is Strange prequel Before the Storm, rather than playing it myself; my housemate is reluctant to support a game that went behind the union's back during the voice actors' strike, and, although I am an unprincipled cad myself, I do care enough about my friends' principles not to buy something they're denying themselves and wave it in their face. I'm towards the end of the second episode, just after The Tempest.

(WAIT. Are they performing The Tempest because the original game was about a literal tempest? That's awful. There's so much stupid symbolism in these games and I love it.)

Rather to my sorrow, Before the Storm is great. If it had the decency to be bad, I wouldn't care that I can't play it! It's got the same distinctive style as the original Life Is Strange, the same warm colours and nostalgic tone, with dialogue that manages to feel a little more natural than the WE'RE HIP COOL TEENS of the original series.

Before the Storm has more of what Life Is Strange does best, i.e. intense, slightly unhealthy relationships between psychologically damaged teenage girls. It's interesting that Rachel, in episode one, is leading Chloe into trouble in much the same way Chloe will lead Max into trouble a couple of years later; does Chloe end up taking on some of Rachel's characteristics, either consciously or unconsciously?

Here is a tiny clip from the first episode that absolutely delighted me. Chloe, you're hopeless.

I also really loved the bathroom graffiti scene from episode two. CHLOE JUST HAS A LOT OF FEELINGS AND NO HEALTHY WAY TO EXPRESS THEM. She's such a wreck of a person. I feel I don't often get to see female characters being absolute human disasters in the way Chloe Price is, if that makes sense. She's selfish and thoughtless and obnoxious, she's eternally furious with the world, she hasn't made a good decision in her life. I sort of love her.

I laughed aloud at the big weird love story of Chloe and Rachel hijacking the performance of The Tempest. And Mr Keaton's reaction! But the small moments are also great: listening to music on the train together, Rachel pretending to be Chloe's therapist. This is something Life Is Strange does very well: small, intimate, beautiful moments in time. Chloe and Max walking along the railroad tracks, hand in hand. Lying in bed the morning after their illicit swim, trying to put off the moment of getting up.

(Chloe often thinks of Max in Before the Storm. She feels so abandoned. It's a little heartbreaking, and is even more so in the light of the ending I got for the original Life Is Strange.)

It's strange that I'm not missing the time travel of the original game at all. I suppose Life Is Strange was never really about the time travel.
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