zuko, dietotaku

Atheist Wednesday: Currency

(No blogs for a week because I was reevaluating the point of this blog-a-day thing. Long story short, it’s not doing what it was supposed to, but I’m going to keep doing the features, at least, because they’re fun. Not sure what else is going to happen here. Maybe fiction.)

It’s Why I’m an Atheist Wednesday.

Confession: I’m currently at that stage in my atheism where seeing people wearing crosses (either around their neck or on their forehead for Ash Wednesday) still makes me do a double-take. I don’t think I’ll ever get past sniffing at intelligent people who are religious, but I’d like to get back to not caring about religious symbols. People are people, and most of them just don’t care about religion. To them, wearing a cross is just something they do because they always have, or because they’re marginally committed to their church. It doesn’t really mean anything to them, the way it would mean something to me if I went about wearing an atheist A around my neck. (They sell necklaces like that. I want one.)

So, yeah, I’d like to be able to go “Whatever” about that, and I’m sure someday I will, because religion isn’t going to go anywhere in my lifetime (and, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve got plenty of religious friends). But there’s something that bothers me: the “in God we trust” on money.

Now, this didn’t bug me until I found out it hasn’t been there forever. And, once I thought about it, that made sense. Why would it have been there forever? It’s like “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. It’s just another result of fake religious persecution, a hangover from McCarthyism.

And… well, now that I see it, I can’t unsee it. And I’ve been engaging in a little civil disobedience because of it.

See, twice a week I work as a cashier at my job, which requires me to count at least thirty bucks worth of greenbacks. And I’ve started crossing out the “in God we trust” on all of them. Yep. I know it’s technically illegal. But nobody really cares, and it makes me feel like I have some margin of control over the religious influences in my life and in my country.

It’s things like this that make me really want to move to Sweden already. Lots of atheists, good social support network, little religious craziness.

I do worry about what might happen if my boss were to catch me—as far as I know, all of them at least pay lip service to religion, though I have no idea how far it goes. (I’m pretty sure it’s nothing serious with any of them. I was actually shocked to hear my main boss cares about Wednesday services during Lent.) I love my job, and I don’t want to get in trouble. But this feels a little more important, and it makes me feel less impotent. And trust me. Being an atheist in this country feels a lot like standing on the edge of a cliff and shouting “Pay attention to me!” at the sky.

zuko, dietotaku

On Writing and Opinions

I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm in an editing and publishing class right now. It's pretty awesome; I'm enjoying it. The book we picked is pretty good, but nothing stellar. My job is as a copyeditor (which is what I want to do IRL). I like it because the manuscript is very clean and therefore there isn't too much work for me to worry about, but as I was reading the manuscript, I kept feeling little twinges of annoyance. Messy sentences, inconsistencies, things like that. Stuff the substance editors should have caught. I'm going to keep calm and ignore it because A) it isn't my job, and mentioning it would just sound bitchy, and B) it's the best book out of the ones we had to choose from.

Anyway, not my point. I started there to segue into what I think is probably the most important aspect of being a writer: having an opinion. Specifically, having an opinion about writing.

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zuko, dietotaku

Atheist Wednesday: Arrogance

I’m running out of things to talk about on What Fanfiction Taught Me Wednesday and finding myself more and more frustrated with various things in my life, so I think this will become Why I’m an Atheist Wednesday. It might not stick. I might switch back and forth. But I’m annoyed right now, so here we go.

While Facebook stalking my Catholic best friend, I came across an article she shared with a fellow Catholic: some blah blah blah about transcending eternity and reaching for the divine. Something like that.

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zuko, dietotaku

Tolkien Tuesday: FotR, Ch. 2

It’s Tolkien Tuesday again! Today, I’m blogging about chapter two of Fellowship, “The Shadow of the Past.”

I’m going to tread lightly here, because this is probably the most famous chapter of the trilogy. And it is a good chapter. It introduces Sam (briefly mentioned in the first chapter) as a sympathetic figure and contains some of the neatest telescoping of time I’ve ever read. Also, Classic Tolkien Infodumps ahoy. I think I’m just going to call these kinds of infodumps—dressed up in fancy language—Tolkiens from now on.

Anyway, I’d like to talk about the scene where Gandalf relates his fictional history of Smeagol. First, I want to talk about why it’s well done, and then I’d like to talk about some considerations for a modern fantasy writer.

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zuko, dietotaku

M.A. Reviews: DCIGTH

It’s M.A. Reviews Monday again! Today, I’d like to talk about Darwin Carmichael Is Going to Hell.

DCIGTH is the story of Darwin Carmichael. Darwin lives in a world where all kinds of magic is real: karma, mythical monsters, angels, you name it. Darwin is a nice guy, but, unfortunately, he did something stupid when he was a teenager, and now he’s got so much bad karma hanging over his head he’s basically screwed.  

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zuko, dietotaku

Book #10: Mockingjay

(I know it’s Strong Woman Weekend, but I’ve had quite a long day, so I’m not up to it. Instead, have another book post.)

My tenth book is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. And, again, I like it better the first time around.

I think it’s hard not to be disappointed the first time you read this book, because so much of it is summary. I wanted scenes so bad it hurt. But the fact is that a lot of this book couldn’t be scenes. So much of it is Katniss recovering from this or that or training. And this book isn’t about bright, sweeping romance or even gore. It’s about dealing with trauma and horror, and Collins does that quite well, despite how terrible it all is.

The one thing I’ve always thought was perfect is Katniss’s break with Gale. I never liked Gale; this book shows why. Gale and Katniss are completely wrong for each other. I would have liked much more Peeta, of course, but the author can only do so much.

(I actually thought as I was reading that the series might have worked much better as a quartet than a trilogy—the structure of the books would have to change entirely, of course, but then she could have devoted one book to action and one book to recovery. Or something. But they’re fine the way they are. It just takes some time to get through.)

zuko, dietotaku

Book #9: Catching Fire

My ninth book is Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. This is my second time reading the series, and I think I like Catching Fire better the second time. My first time through, I was a little annoyed that the second book had basically the same plot as the first one. However, on a reread, things have become a little clearer. I like this one because it almost seems like it's not going to be as dark as the first one. There are plenty of problems, of course, but there's significantly less gore, even when the Quarter Quell begins. And then everything goes nuts. 

I also really liked the little touches of humor here and there. Collins is a very good writer (I've read her other series, the Gregor books), and I feel like the first book, perfect as it is, really only displayed her talents for action and worldbuilding. Which are not inconsiderable. But it's nice to see some other aspects.
zuko, dietotaku

Books and Movies

Been reading The Hunger Games again, because everything I see from the movie makes me salivate. Possibly twitch. I don’t usually care that much about changes from movies to books, but I find myself following the trailers and things obsessively, because I find myself just wishing nothing will be different. There are bits and pieces of The Hunger Games I don’t like, of course (I’m looking at you, Gale), but for the most part, I think they’re brilliant. And if the director doesn’t pick up on some Occupy parallels in Catching Fire, he’s an idiot. These are popcorn movies, of course, but still. It ought to be staring them in the face.

Anyway, I would like to talk about why I don’t care that much about changes between movies and books.

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zuko, dietotaku

Book #8: The Hunger Games

My eighth book is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 

This book is fantastic. I've already read the entire series once, so I knew that, but reading it again made me notice little hints to what was going to happen later. Part of the reason I love this book so much is because everything that occurs feels so organic--sure, there are plenty of plotted events for the characters to deal with, but they always deal with them in real, consistent ways. 

And Katniss. Katniss is so amazing. I really don't have anything else to say because I love this book so much.