Seeing as there wasn't much to do, it gave me opportunity to do a bit of reading. And so I've decided to catch up on Homestuck, which I've been meaning to do for a while now. I think I've talked about it here when I started and I was around Act 3 back then? I've just finished the Act 5 today, so let me revisit the topic with some new thoughts.
Last time I compared Homestuck to Lost, a comparison that still holds, although now I see it more in the way how both are centered around interesting and complicated characters, rather than in mysterious and convoluted plot, because Lost just can't compare in this regard.
Only word to describe the way Homestuck's story progresses over time is "exponential". Whether are we talking about the number of characters, their backstory, the lore, the time travelling wibly wobly brainfuckery, it all just gets more and more complex with each act. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. Yes, you'll get confused at some points, you might need to backtrack some times, reread some bits, but all in all I wouldn't say Hussie makes it hard for the reader to understand. Quite the opposite, in fact. There are recaps, some events are captured from different points of view, and lot of things is hinted at multiple times. So I would say if you're paying attention and not just skimming trough it, you should be able to follow what's going on. And unlike Lost, which was all about the mystery, and had the tendency to pile up unanswered questions, Homestuck does a good job explaining itself, and yet it keeps you guessing in some ways, so it never gets boring.
I'm going to talk about the story and characters for a bit, so if you haven't yet read HS, or you're reading acts 1 trough 5 right now, you might want to stop reading here. I'm going to keep it intentionally vague in some aspects, but still. Consider this a mild spoiler warning.
First, let's talk about trolls. I think I'm not the only one who's first contact with Homestuck was through cosplay and fan art of trolls. The grey creatures with orange horns became synonymous with Homestuck. Until of course I started reading and realized that there are no trolls, and found out they won't appear until pretty much the Act 5. Which seems weird at first, why are these characters so popular if they don't appear until "halfway" in the story (of course a reader of Homestuck would realize that beginning of Act 5 is nowhere near the halfway point, which is also bit confusing as there is only 6 acts). And so I started reading and got to know the four kids and really started to like them, all slowly and gradually... and then Hussie introduced the trolls. 12 brand new characters, over the span of couple hundred pages. And not just some minor side characters, 12 full-fledged main characters with rich backstory, intriguing personalities and relationships, which if described as incredibly complex would be a major understatement. I have to say, at first I wasn't sure it was a very good idea, introducing all of them. It really felt like there is way too many of them, way too much going on and that some of them are kind of shoehorned in just to fill out the zodiac. And just the fact that all of them went trough pretty much all the same things as the kids throughout the entire story and beyond, and had bunch of previous adventures as well. And lot of it is not even told, just mentioned and you have to kind of piece together their story as you go alone. It's a lot to take in, but once again it turns out that Andrew Hussie just knows how to tell a story. It all clicks together and even the characters that you consider just silly or completely nuts, become interesting when seen in different light. I have never seen characters, my opinion of whom changed so dramatically several times across the story. Just the combination of really extreme and weird personalities, and completely different culture they live in, really keeps you guessing about their real intentions and feelings. And by the point the shit really hits the "whirling device", you're hooked whether you like it or not.
And another great thing about Homestuck is, that it's a story that really resonates with the "internet generation" - our generation. From the initial idea - four internet pals playing a video game together, to the "internet trolls", who all really seem like they came from the internet itself. They represent all these weird internet subcultures, that actually exist out there on the web, but are never really represented in other forms of media. And here they are personificated in form of actual main characters. Hussie also talks about it to a greater extend in this awesome interview by Bryan Lee O'Malley, which you should totally read.
So yeah, bottom line, Homestuck is awesome, you should give it a chance, and I'm going to try and hopefully catch up on Act 6 on time for the big finish.
Apparently you can categorize your subscriptions into Collections. Just go to My subscriptions page and click Manage ## subscriptions in the top right. Then just click the Create new collection button and start sorting. You can put one channel into several collections.
Then you can access the collection by the subscriptions panel on the left. Which makes it about 100 percent more useful, as it normally only just show small number of (seemingly) randomly selected subscriptions in no particular order. You can either roll down the collection to show all the channels in it, or click on it’s name, which will bring you on a customized subbox with only channels in given collection.
I’m not sure whether these customized subboxes are better at delivering videos, but I feel like with the amount of subscriptions the chance of missing a video goes up. So using these reduced ones may be better. Also making a collection for your favorite channels may be a good idea.
And it’s a cool way to do kind of a census of all the channels you’re subscribed to, because if you’re like me, you sometime wonder how the hell you have so many subscriptions. Turn’s out almost half of mine are vloggers, with other categories pretty much evenly distributed, taking up the rest. Also it’s nice to see there is so many EDU channels, given that couple years ago, there was almost no education content on YouTube, except maybe for university lectures.
Ok, listen, I'm now probably going to go off on a tangent about the fictional writing systems, so if this doesn't intrest you, you can stop reading now. I won't be mad. :-) Consider yourself warned.
So yeah, Tengwar, the Elvish alphabet. It's actually a really cool way of writing, has some awesome features, like using tehtar (kind of diacritics) to depict vowels. It's a simple idea, and makes the words more compact, prettier and more unique looking. Also fact that most of the letters can be written using combinations of only two strokes. The stem and a bow. The stem can be short, or elongated above or under the letter, and the bow can be facing left or right, can be single or double, and open or closed. So basically you only need to learn several strokes and you are pretty much set when it comes to actual handwriting. As opposed to Japanese writing systems, where pretty much every single character has it's own set of strokes. In a way it's bit similar to Circular Gallifreyan (and I feel like it's author may have been influenced by the Tengwar), as it also uses extra marks to associate vowels with consonants, and uses only two shapes - lines and circles. But Gallifreyan get's extra geek points, because each word can be constructed in any amount of ways. The rules only specify how are the shapes connected, not where are they placed, which leaves the writer with a lot of creative freedom. So each word, every sentence, can be a unique piece of art, and it won't affect the readability in any way. Only problem is, that it takes ages to write anything, but that probably wasn't an issue for Timelords. :-)
Tengwar, however, has a unique position among the "made up" writing systems. It's not just another way of writing English or representing the Latin alphabet. It's a unique alphabet used to write in unique language, namely the Elvish language Quenya (and possibly it's predecessors, I'm not too learned in the First Age stuff). Only later it was adopted to write other languages like Sindarin or even English, just like Latin alphabet was adopted by most of the western world, even though it was originally only made for Latin. And just like Latin it has to be modified a bit to be used by other languages, and so it has plenty of so called modes. There is also a Slovak mode by Michal Gurník. So it's really cool and very usable writing system. And quite easy to learn I would say, certainly compared to Japanese one, but even in comparison to Latin ones when you think about it. It's different when you grew up with the alphabet, but from objective calligraphic point of view, it is actually quite a bit easier.
But now I'm thinking about maybe coming up with my own writing system. I already have some ideas about how it could work, so, we'll see what will come of it. :-)
But I don’t think that would be possible, not unless I’d be willing to stay hidden under a rock for next couple of months (or whenever is the regeneration due… is Matt staying for Christmas Special?). So I think I’m just gonna watch the announcement, rather than have it spoiled against my will.
For the sake of clarity, it comes to you in five parts:
As it turns out, I'm a LARPer now. I got pulled into the whole thing some time after the last SlavCon and stuck with it ever since. And to be honest with you, I'm loving every bit of it. :-) I've become part of this LARPing group, and started to attend their (semi) regular practice sessions. I've made myself a LARP sword, and learned some sword fighting. It helps that we have some people in group, that actually do historical fencing, so it's not just pointless waving of swords around.
Another important thing, when it comes to fantasy / historical LARPs, is costumes. So, I've been spending time making myself one (with quite a bit of help from friends). As it turns out - sewing - not really that hard. Time consuming, sure, but not necessarily super hard. At least not at the level of quality we've been producing. And if you ask me, the costume is pretty sweet.
It was a bit last minute, though, as I was to participate in Kráľovstvo Vína (Kingdom of Wine), possibly the largest LARP of it's kind in Slovakia. I'm not gonna talk about it here, as it quite frankly deserves a blog post of it's own. (And you're free to bug me about it, until I'll write one) But suffice to say, that it was absolutely bloody brilliant. And we have already made up our characters for the next year - a clan of hobbits... with a twist. :-)
Another game I went to (today actually) was Gangy Prešporku (Gangs of Pressburg), which is quite different kind of event. It's not technically a LARP, they call it an "urban game", and basically there are three gangs that fight over the city with water pistols. It's really fun, lighthearted and a perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon.
And besides all that, I've been helping out on a summer camp, where we've made a little LARPing session for kids.
Along with LARPing, I've started to juggle bit more again. My character in KV was a juggler, so I've practiced for that, and also just tried to practice and learn some new stuff. Currently, I'm in the process of learning the 5 ball cascade, but according to most people, it may take between 6 to 12 months to really learn it properly. It would be the largest step, I've made ever since I've started to learn juggling, but I think challenges like this is what keeps me interested.
I've been reading quite a bit of comics recently. I've finished the Scott Pilgrim series, which, needless to say, is absolutely amazing. And now, thanks to Space Unicorn's Comic Rental (link relevant mostly to fellow Slovaks) I got to read Watchmen and Kick Ass, and I intend to read plenty more this way. I'm open to any suggestions! Also, as I've mentioned before, I'm reading Homestuck, but right now I'm focusing more in comic books, so I haven't made much progress on that front (have I mentioned, that Homestuck is long? It's long!).
Right now I'm in the process of reading the complete Tolkien's work. Yes, for the first time. I know what you're all thinking: "What? You haven't read Tolkien before? How? Why? You call yourself a nerd?" And yes, it always bugged me, that I've never got around to reading any of it. But on the other hand I'm glad, that now, I get to read it for the first time in English (which I probably wouldn't be capable of several years ago). I feel like it's such an important work in the fantasy genre, that it deserves to be read in it's original form. I've finished The Hobbit and started with The Lord of the Rings. I would like to finish it by the end of the summer, but I'm quite a slow reader, and with all that's been going on, I haven't had much time to read.
Also, I've finished The Hunger Games trilogy. Couple month ago, but still. Really enjoyed the last book, possibly my favorite.
Don't know why, but I haven't watched many TV shows this summer. I have caught up the season two and three of Game of Thrones, which I've been quite behind on, but other than that basically nothing. I've kind of started to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, on many recommendations, but I can't find time to do so. And I seem to end up watching YouTube all the time anyway. But I'm looking forward to the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who and the third season of Sherlock next fall.
It’s pretty much just what I've heard it would be. Starts slow, first act is kind of “meh”, second starts to get good and by the third you’re hooked. Also, yeah… it’s long. Like George R. R. Martin long. But I went into it expecting that, so I’m not really surprised. I hope I catch up before the hiatus is over.
What did surprise me however is how much it reminds me of Lost. The way story is told, the way Hussie uses foreshadowing, and seemingly irrelevant details turn out to be crucial later. And as the story progresses things seem to fall in place like puzzle pieces. Also mixing it up with a bit of time travel, mysterious islands (with mysterious beasts living on it) and a battle of Good and Evil going on in the background (even with the board game analogy - Chess / Backgammon). It’s like everything I loved about Lost, just with incredibly good sense of humor on top.
I have posted this on Tumblr already, but I would like to have it posted here as well. So here we go.
Well, I have to say that I found the episode to be a bit underwhelming. I do not have anything against Moffat or his episodes, actually my favorite ones are by Moffat. And I do not tend to be overly critical of DW, but I just can’t say I’m impressed by this episode. Slow buildup leading to anticlimactic ending with a massive cliffhanger.
But to give credit where credit is due, there are some things are really liked. I’m glad they did not reveal the Name, although I always knew they wouldn’t. It makes no sense to do so, to take the mystery out of the character. And I like they actually turned it around and made the pseudonym Doctor the name that matters, the name that’s at stake. Not in risk of being revealed, but in risk of being changed. Because when the Doctor stops being Doctor, that’s when Doctor dies.
Another thing I liked was the way they incorporated previous regenerations. Yeah it’s upsetting that they won’t bring more actors for the 50th anniversary, but I’m glad they are honoring them at least in this way.
But one thing, that upsets me the most about this episode, was that it highlighted the one problem I always had with the series. That it blatantly disregards the rules it set’s up. Trenzalore - the one place Doctor must never go. And what’s the first thing he does? He fucking goes to Trenzalore. And ends up entering his own past. Like, seriously, how did that not broke the universe? He even said it was like the ultimate paradox. When Rose wanted to save her farther, all hell broke lose, but when Doctor wants to save somebody, there isn’t paradox he can’t break.
Also I can’t help, but feel like the feel like the ending was quite predictable. Ever since the Doctor’s “remains”, or whatever you wan’t to call it, were revealed, it was quite obvious Clara will enter them to save him and thus get scattered all over his timeline. It felt kind of drawn out, waiting for it to happen. And maybe it’s just me, but I found it quite anticlimactic, that she basically saved him just by entering his past. I know she saved him at so many points in his life, but from this episode’s standpoint all she’s done was enter the “light”. It’s not explained how she actually saved him and how she dealt with Great Intelligence.
And then he proceeds to follow her, to save her. Forget that he’s crossing his own timeline in biggest way possible. Like, why he could never do this for any other companion. Why he could not go back in time to pick up Amy and Rory again, after they were sent back by the Angel? That’s barely even a paradox. He might as well do it now, that paradoxes are not issue anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Clara, and I really didn’t want her gone, but the show should make sense.
The most interesting part of the episode was definitely the introduction of John Hurts character, an “evil” regeneration of the Doctor. I’m very interested in how they will flesh him out. If done well, he should really just highlight Doctors negative traits, while keeping his personality. The more he is the Doctor, the scarier he’ll be, because Doctor is fucking scary, if you’re not on his side. I hope they will address the whole Timelord Victorious attitude of his, his disregard for the rules and such. And hopefully Matt’s Doctor will learn his lesson as well, because, damn, he needs it.
They’ve made a really good cliffhanger, I have to give them that. I’m really interested, how it’ll all turn out. Wish it was November already, screw the summer.