Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tvtropes is fun, but it really changes the experience of reading, especially of reading series long enough that I'm spending several days or even weeks putting the books down and coming back to them. The Codex Alera, for example. I've been ambivalent about the series for a while. On the one hand, it's by Jim Butcher and I love his Dresden Files series, but on the other hand it looks like yet another overwrought, cookie cutter, high fantasy series that drags on and on. I got an e-book reader in December and decided that the Codex Alera series would be good to start with. I'm glad I did, I'm liking it.

What does this have to do with tvtropes.org? Well, it's a wiki of character and narrative devices. Sometimes users coin clever names for common devices and it lists devices used in all kinds of media and stuff. More than once I've learned about something there and my interest has been piqued and I went out and read it, and it's fun to read about a book or TV show I like and see all the other stuff that has used its tricks before, and stuff like that.

The thing is, as I'm reading the Codex Alera books, there's almost nothing that I don't know will happen, partly because all kinds of spoilers are on tvtropes.org. They are printed in a white-on-white font so it's easy to not read them, but who can resist never reading any spoilers? I highlight just three words, they can't spoil that much, but the full name of a character doesn't have to be long to give away a lot, you know how it is...

I have no idea how much in these books I would be surprised by if I hadn't read any of tvtropes. Like I've said, it's usually pretty obvious whether the hero will get the girl, and the best friend almost definitely won't die in Act Two or whatever. If a main character is an orphan and a teen or younger, then of course his or her parents will have been important people, right? In which fictional work is that not the case?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lots of ups and downs over the past few days.

Down: Wednesday I wasn't feeling well. A bit of a fever and headache. Nothing I couldn't work through just fine, but some people advised me that those symptoms are exactly the kind of thing that's contagious, so I took Thursday off.

Up: I felt fine most of Thursday. A little tired, and I had a headache in the afternoon, but no worse than usual on a day when I don't have coffee in the morning. Got some stuff done during the day while still relaxing.

Down: As soon as I came in Friday morning, I learned that a meeting I missed Thursday was more important than I had expected. Someone wanted something big from me that came out of left field, three different supervisors (his and both of mine) had got involved, there were a number of problems, etc. By the end of the day I figured out that it (probably) would have been no big deal if I had been there, but since I wasn't it seemed bigger than it was and became bigger than it would have been.

Up: I'm grateful to Shane because he got me into using meetup.com, albeit unintentionally. I joined a French conversation group, and Friday night I went to a dinner/dancing thing. It was fun. Chatted with some nice people, including a cute girl. She saw me smoking and I got the impression it was a turn-off for her, but I didn't get her number so I'll have to hope to find her again at a future event and in the meantime there's no point worrying about the impression I made. But, fine, even if she never comes to another meetup event and/or if she was turned off, the night was still a victory: the organizers gave me a bottle of wine because I was the only person for whom this was my first meetup event with the group (well, it wasn't my first, although I didn't realize that until afterwards. And I know there were newcomers there besides me, but I guess I was the only one willing to stand up in the spotlight and say that it was my first time). It's cool because even though I didn't wind up with a date or something, I still got something great out of a night out like that. I'll try to remember to make another post about this in more detail.

Up: played Magic again for the first time since moving down here, via another meetup group. Fun. Bringing at least some of my cards down here with me the next time I visit my parents just became more important. I only have two decks with me, only one of which is any good, a binder of rares, and some assorted cards I bought in booster packs. None of the above matters if I mainly play Draft and Limited, which I think is the most likely, but on the occasions when the format is casual it would be nice to have more than two decks to choose from.

Up: my roommates and their girlfriends and I had quite a party Sunday. No reason that I know of, just, well, hanging out and drinking and stuff. Good times.

Down: two of my three roommates have girlfriends. I get along with all five of them just fine - one of the roommates is really annoying, but I've learned to manage him - but that just replaces one problem with another. For a while there when the two with girlfriends paired off for a bit, it got depressing. I thought I was past that, thought I had outgrown it and/or had enough positive experiences of my own that I don't worry so much about dry spells in my love life. But it seems a bit different that Shane and Andrew have friends and lovers, which I haven't managed to do so well even when I have been dating someone. One or the other, but I haven't experienced both in a while. Or, of course, maybe the alcohol was just making me maudlin. But still, that's the mood I was in for a little while yesterday afternoon.