[Mister Saint]'s blog

1205  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-12-13
Written: (5236 days ago)

My sis [La Divina] sent me a book! I've been reading on it, and finally finished it, and now am reviewing it! Though, the review comes across pretty negative... I will tell you now that I enjoyed the middle of this book quite a bit, very much so in many places. The link below is in case you don't want to blog-read it.

Book Review: The War of the Flowers

A well written volume whose subtitle should so be 'Faerie for Dummies'

A review by [Mister Saint] of Tad Williams's The War of the Flowers

I'm not going to number rate this, because it wouldn't be fair. Over the course of 816 pages the quality of this book leaps up and down like the guilty member of a married man in strip bar. At times it is a riveting, fast-paced mindfuck that is brilliantly executed. At times it is touching, and connected me to the characters intimately. At other times it is a dreary, depressing thing that made me want to give up reading and writing of fantasy completely. Even further, towards the end it was a vile dissertation of rambling, endless history of the land, architecture of the land, family lines of the land, more history of the land, unnecessary intrigue, scenes that should have been cut out, and grueling essays on regional politics.

Overall: A good read for the patient who aren't aversed to skipping large chunks of the book. Inventive, though, and thoroughly constructed.

Plot: The plot of this was, imaginative setting and history aside, fairly run of the mill. Reluctant hero, spunky sidekick, evil enemies and a mastermind bent on ruling the world. It's been done a billion times, but has a nice freshness to it that another author would've been hard pressed to pull off. Even with its convoluted setup and pages upon pages of 'the clans have fought over X because of X and let me tell you why. Listen up,' the storyline is sound.

Characterization: Dozens of characters, all reasonably well characterized. I got the idea that the author paid more attention to certain sub characters than some of the main ones, especially on the villain side, but overall it was air tight. The smart mouthed side kick was splendidly done. The only irritations I found were that the bad guys seemed a little bit too smiliar to one another, and the main character made me want to hit him in the face.

It was well conveyed that Theo was awkward and uncomfortable with his new situation, but I swear, he reacted to everything the same way. "I'll never get used to this place," he said ten thousand times when he saw something new. And the endless questions! He was like a billboard that read 'mister plot device, please start talking about history of Faerie/culture/politics/intrigue/architecture/botany for a while!' The author couldn't seem to weave this information into the story itself, and so used Theo's pervasive inquisitions as setups for his lectures.

Literary elements: Lots of heavy description, the place was well fleshed out to my eyes. Good imagery, compelling transitions between sections... a well-written work.


This book was six hundred pages too long. Tad Williams should have just written a second book, a standalone volume called 'Every goddamn thing you ever could possibly know about Faerie in triplicate' and cut the huge glut of that information from the war of the flowers. I lost sight of the storyline a dozen times towards the end when the author threw those massive chunks of information at me, to the point that I'll admit to skipping over a hundred and fifty pages of the book towards the end (in total, not all at once).

And I missed nothing of the story itself. There's a fine line between 'well built world' and 'Gah! I don't need to be a scholar on it, event already! Gar!' and Williams crosses that line, dropkicks it, and shovels trout on it. In particular, the various characters' explanations of things can run whole pages with individual paragraphs... so much of it needed to just be inferred, but oh well. I don't miss the hair I was tearing out in frustration. ^^

Concerning violence... this author has no sense of decorum where violence is concerned. He goes into quite a bit of detail where cut open bellies, miscarriages, dead animals, and such are concerned and I found it vastly unnecessary and detrimental to the plot. The difference between a death scene in a movie and in a book is that our eyes process visual so fast that a quick scene rarely bothers us. In this book, even a quick scene was described in deep detail and it was just unnecessary. It was hard to smile, reading this thing.

The first seventy pages of this thing were pure torture. It was about a hundred pages before the narrative hook occurred (in my eyes), and I just wasn't that interested in the hero's personal life. Not a hundred pages of interested, anyway.

Now, there is praise to be given here. The 'white noise' (time between major events) was handled very well. The entire concept of a fairy world is nicely conceived and extremely deep, to the point that no nook of the place goes unknown to us. And very few characters were hit by trucks, thankfully, though Williams does have a penchant for killing them off in droves. Oh, and it had a logical ending that didn't try to swerve us at the last second! The first ending in a while that hasn't pissed me off.

Final word: Despite its long list of flaws, it really is an intriguing tale. However, despite the words 'A Fantasy' appearing beneath the title, this is mostly a long, long, godawfully long political drama. Were this book about three to six hundred pages shorter, it would be vastly improved. As it stands, it's still a recommended read for those with patience.
1200  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-12-12
Written: (5238 days ago)

I visited my hopefully-soon-to-be college today, to check on a few things. The trip had its ups and down, but I think more ups in general. One of which was a free sub sandwich and energy drink.

As usual when I'm going somewhere important, I scored about three hours of fitful sleep. Spent the time before leaving frantically searching for an envelope, the location of which I had been sure until five this morning. So found it, and off we went.

Rodd and Dad discussed guns and cars the whole way up, so I of course had my nose in a book. We got dropped off, and I talked to first the financial aid officer. Thankfully my paperwork is all clear, and FINALLY I have some idea of how much money this will cost me. Thanks to my scholarship the amount will be less than a thousand dollars, but to a guy who hasn't been able to get hired that's still a tidy sum.

Next stop: advisor. I discussed my thoughts on a choice of major, my primary choice being print media journalism, and my fears were given weight when I found that all the journalism classes had already filled up. So we talked about a creative writing program, which is a good second choice, except it's not likely to get me a job. Fortunately, it would be a Bachelor's degree in English as opposed to Creative Writing, which has more open doors.

So I went to talk to people, got the various runaround speeches, and then went to find Rodd. I was on foot, since Dad had an appointment in Lexington and took the van to get there. I walked over to the school of criminal justice, across a couple of roads and a highway bypass that might be the scariest place I've ever stood for more than three minutes. Walked a long way, to a building at the edge of campus, and asked a helpful young man where I could find the building.

"Oh," said he, "walk around this sidewalk, you can't get straight there because of the pond. Just cross the next road and go up on the hill, it's not quite a mile."

My feet kicked my ass. They were already sore, but I went on to the building.

Rodd was not there. See, Rodd has a way of planning things that goes like this. "Go on and do your thing, and I'll do mine, and I'll find ya. No, don't worry about deciding a meeting spot, I'll find ya."

So three hours of walking around campus (literally) later, which is no small feat for a near three hundred pound man, I found him. That was when his old girlfriend (whose parents are loaded, and who is still nice to us despite Rodd talking pretty nastily to her the whole time) bought us all lunch. Some dorm-jockey idiot was yelling at us through the window, playing a recording of himself doing it even, but we ignored him. I guess he got tired of touching himself to Slayers reruns or something and needed entertainment.

So I came back with a limp, a left leg that I can't lift more than an inch or so when I walk, a new appreciation for vehicles, some good information, and some tough questions for myself.

Oh. Since I left college with an Associate's degree two years ago (due to personal reasons and financial trouble) I notice that college girls outnumber college guys immensely. Plus, they look like high school girls now, instead of college girls, which was off putting. It makes me that much more happy that I have a beautiful, caring girlfriend... I don't have to 'settle for immature girls to gawk at' when I have her to think about instead.

1196  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-12-06
Written: (5243 days ago)

Poetry Arena's still looking for mods and submissions. Message me or [Nightshadow]. Get your asses over there and vote, too.

WC Monthly is still looking for... anything. Message me.

Nanowrimo 2006 is there to list your 'wrimo messes. Takes half a minute.

1194  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-12-05
Written: (5244 days ago)

Poetry Dueling Arena

Vote. Submit. Prove to everyone that you do more than just breathe and hit keys occasionally. Test yourself against others for exposure, for fun, or for the challenge of it.

Just do it, don't make me come to your house. Cause I won't.

1193  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-12-02
Written: (5247 days ago)

I had another spar today. I was working on my low kicks in particular, since kicks are hard for a guy my size.

Good news is, I've dropped another seven pounds. I also worked on side control. I sparred with my shotokan karate-student brother Iz, got knocked around a bit. The most intriguing thing was I had a fight with a girl, and lost o.o She's a brazillian jiu-jitsu master, as it turned out. I gave her a good run. She punched me twice in the nose and once on the cheek. The coach was impressed with my attitude about it though. "You okay?" "Yeah, do it again."

I'm now a member of team Full Throttle, though it's really more of an honorary thing. Fun that!

1192  Link to this entry 
Written about Friday 2006-12-01
Written: (5248 days ago)

November's finally over. God, it was like a bad trip on old mushrooms, or so I've heard. 

Now it's time for christmas to start assaulting our patience and wallets once again. Also time for the bedraggled Nanowrimo masses to drag their stinking, worn down, beaten up carcasses back to this life! Welcome them with soap and hugs, since last year's lawsuits over the pitch forks were dull.

1189  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-11-25
Written: (5254 days ago)

I'm back from North Carolina, where we spent two days on a Cherokee reservation. I won't go into the smarmy details of the trip, but suffice to say that it was nothing even close to what I'd envisioned, and I was trying to be a forward thinker on the matter anyway. I wasn't hoping for tents and longhouses or anything like that, but what I saw... made me sad.

Also, casinos are evil. I saw a man sitting between two slot machines, feeding them both money and playing them wildly at the same time. This guy wasn't playing to play, he was playing to win. At a casino, that's like shooting skeet to bring home dinner. I knew better than to do anything like that, thankfully, and only played ten dollars worth of poker.

My luck is awful with games like that. This isn't saying that God has it in for me, far from it. I think she likes me. But where gambling games are concerned... suffice to say that someone could give me odds on a coin toss, I could play both sides it would come out feet instead of heads or tails. Lady luck likes to sit on my shoulder and pet me with one hand while pimp slapping me with the other. In retrospect this is a very good thing... it keeps me from gambling my limited funds away. ^_^

In other news, I met a pair of twin persian kitties while I was there, and a gorgeous huskie. The persians were cool, though they reminded me of my Priss who passed just recently, with typical arrogant cat personality. One of them had seven toes on each of its front paws. o.O I didn't believe it when they told me, but sure enough, it had seven well formed toes. It still looked funny, but they functioned just fine.

1186  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-11-22
Written: (5257 days ago)

Whoops! Trip's getting pushed back to Thursday! My parents, who are going with us to North Carolina, got held up for hours at the doctor this evening. Erf.

1185  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-11-22
Written: (5257 days ago)

I'm gonna be out of town for the next two days. If anyone has questions on the Poetry Dueling Arena or [WC Monthly], or whatever, leave me a message. I wish everyone a safe, pleasant holiday.

1179  Link to this entry 
Written about Sunday 2006-11-19
Written: (5260 days ago)

Day of Remembrance. Seems like a pretty generic term, but it comes around once a year. It's a day for people honor the memories those who've suffered at the hands of prejudice and hatred over the years... not racist hatred, or misogyny, or nationalism, but ignorance. People hear the word 'transgender' and immediately assume a great deal of negative, incorrect things, and this day is set aside to honor those who've suffered for it. 

Every person is a human, just like you. I hate to quote a movie here, but it is one of my favorites... in The American President Michael Douglas's character said in his final monologue that real freedom is not only crying out at the top of your lungs for something you believe in. Real freedom is allowing someone else to do the same thing for something you would spend your whole life crying out against.

1178  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-11-18
Written: (5261 days ago)

I know for a fact that there are plenty of poets who log into WritersCo. That the Poetry Dueling Arena is without so much as a message of interest so far is pretty much as irksome as it gets here. Participation is necessary, people, so stop lollygagging and get to it! There are hundreds of writings uploaded here, surely someone must be willing to try something, anything.

1173  Link to this entry 
Written about Thursday 2006-11-16
Written: (5263 days ago)

Finished Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria today. It's a fantastic game in a sense, and yet still falls tragically short of the first one.

First off... I could care less how many people tell me that the 'Squaresoft-Enix merger' way back does not effect which teams work on which games. The last third of this game was like another damned Final Fantasy game... from the score, to the character interactions, all the way down to the mannerisms in the vast, endlessly long cutscenes. And the ending! It was almost a carbon copy of FFX's, which is perhaps the most hideous insult anyone with a taste for storytelling can hurl. Nevermind the fact that it ruined the excellent plot of the first game by undermining its importance, characters, and so forth.

So much more like a Square game... and that's an insult, too. The first game had three possible endings, all of them providing closure in different ways and conclusively sealing up the story. Its actual plotline revolved around only a few characters, only one of which was in your team for most of the game. The rest of your warriors were given backstory and recruited, and afterwards had very little to do with the plot... this prevented VP1 from switching up your team every other cut scene. VP2 leaves you hanging a lot, simply by having characters leave your party at a rate that was hard to deal with. VP1's obligatory 'love interest' was completely optional... you screwed with it, or you didn't, it was your choice. And it was explained fantastically, unlike VP2's "We've been through so much, let's hug and cry a lot while the world is being obliterated."

As the end of the game approaches, it starts handing you storyline characters as if in a frenzy, almost of all of which it shortly thereafter takes away. Your gathered warriors end up almost useless, as the enemies are at the level of these story characters, who are much higher than your own, and you end up using the story characters as long as you can. Until they leave at the most inopportune time imaginable.

And yes. Two important characters at the end were hit by trucks. Actually... technically, it was five characters, but since three of them were hit at the same time, I only counted it once.

There are no clear villains up until the very end of the game. The place-holder villains have unclear motivation and often act irrationally, in addition to having a great deal of their role in the story left unexplained.

The free-flying map system was removed in favor of a very basic FF Tactics style "Just move your cursor over and click where you want to go" system. This is pure ass, ladies and gentleman, as VP1 was a helluva lot of fun for just aimlessly flying around, and this may actually be my biggest gripe with the game itself.

VP1 had gorgeous artwork with heavily stylistic portraits and backdrops. VP2 has gone the cookie-cutter "Everything's 3d rendered and every move needs a screen shake/light effect/fog effect/voice effect" route. Speaking of cookie cutter, they've replaced the iron-willed, deeply layered main character from the first game, with a 'strong willed princess whose true courage has yet to be seen' type who looks all of 14, and given her a needlessly angsty sidekick.

Next to the ending, the single biggest story flaw in this game is that the gameplay leans so heavily on the storyline. I tend to think that any game should focus on play first, and story second. This felt as if I was only moving from plot point to plot point, again, just like every final fantasy game ever made, with a little battle in between. The entire purpose of the game should be to get the player playing, not to tell some story. Movies and literature are for that, and in my eyes at least no video game should ever be about telling a story over its gameplay.

No game ought to have cut scenes that last in the twenty to twenty-five minute range, either, but this one does in multiples. Or cutscenes that lead to ten seconds of walking that leads to another cutscene. It does that too.

Whereas VP1 had a simple "find the good equipment or make it yourself through earning creation points" system that worked fantastically, VP2 sentences the player to item farming. Square has done this pretty consistently over the years in its various games... basically, you run around and make sure you defeat every single monster several times to acquire all sorts of otherwise-useless trinkets that can be forged into new things. I avoided this wherever I could, of course... RPG's can be tedious enough without having to hope one hits the rare bird monster in just the right spot while lucking out on the odds to receive one of four unique items that one needs to make a new sword.

Though I rant great deal about this game and its ridiculous, oft-contradictory and overdramatic storyline, not to mention an ending so disgusting I felt the need to slap something - anything - Square related, it is still a good game. Whyzat?

The core point of interest of the first game was a unique battle system. Instead of telling each character what to do individually, a player could control each of hir fighters at the same time. Learning to time attacks and creating your own combinations was a blast, and thankfully the designers opted to retain that part of the system. Granted, they felt the need to shackle it with a half-hearted 3d battle-map system, but the mechanic itself is basically the same and wonderfully so.

This is actually pertinent to writing, is why I'm putting it here. The lessons learned from a game like this are many, and are summed up as follows.

Build your characters, and do not move them pointlessly in and out of the plotline. At the end of VP2, I couldn't have cared less about those left standing. In fact, I actively hoped one of 'em wouldn't make it through the ending.

Don't drop names! VP2 was horrible about introducing characters from the first game and then immediately trying to use their legacy/nostalgia to elevate its paltry characterization.

Try not to build up something and then forget about it. VP2 built up this object called, creatively, the Dragon Orb for the first two-thirds of the game. After that it was barely even referenced until the ending, and then only briefly so. Another, almost entirely separate, plotline had appeared about then and shoved the first one completely aside, leaving more creative casualties than a pro wrestling storyline could ever hope to.

Maintain your characters' personalities. The ultimate villain in VP2 had appeared in the first game, where he was a sharp-tongued, calculating, brilliant, ruthless individual of endless intelligence and ambition. In the second game he is a brooding, quiet, soft-spoken, overdramatic hack whose cold intelligence has given way to evil laughter and villain-isms ripped straight from Square's creative sphincter.

Anyway... I'm done.

1159  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-10-31
Written: (5279 days ago)

Happy Halloween, peepses. For those who celebrate this holiday, be it in its original form ya freaks, or in its current incarnation as a conspiracy between the candy companies and the Dental Union of Malicious Business and Associated Secular Services, please be safe and have a good time. Weird people are out in force today, so make sure you don't do anything ridiculous like streaking in nothing but KISS paint in any place where I can't see you. ^_^

1151  Link to this entry 
Written about Monday 2006-10-23
Written: (5287 days ago)

With no bad luck, I'll be going back to college in January. This'll mean some big changes, as I'll no longer be able to stay up till four in the morning anymore... I'm afraid that college will curtail my writing and my art, which is basically all I have in the real world these days. But not going is just stupid. Last time I basically missed the whole college experience, getting into online games, which I have sworn off since then.

Either way, this is a way in advance heads up. I don't know what'll happen, and honestly, have never, ever, felt so lost in my entire life. But them's the breaks.

1138  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-10-14
Written: (5297 days ago)

Next month's WC Monthly is going to have a feature, no matter what theme we end up with, on NaNoWriMo. What I want from you is 'horror/success stories' from your previous attempts at completing the ilustrious month-novel. As always, we need all the help we can get!

In addition, we need

Questions for Ask Mister Saint
Poem nominations
articles (we'll wait on the theme for that, will choose the theme in a day or two)
opinion columns

and all that. 

1135  Link to this entry 
Written about Wednesday 2006-10-11
Written: (5299 days ago)

Today's match results.

Tito Ortiz v. Ken Shamrock:

Ortiz, of course. Ken is in his forties, Ortiz in his thirties. Ken has been in MMA since UFC 1, there was no winning this match for him. Hopefully Ortiz will fight a real fight soon, instead of against reality show kids, businessmen (he has a match with Dana White, head of UFC, soon) and men who are far past their prime like Shamrock. In December he goes one on one with the lightweight champion, Chuck Liddell, and I'll be paying to see that just to watch Ortiz get decimated by someone who is actually in his age group.

T.M. Saint v. runaway pit bull:

T.M. Saint, but damn, that's a strong dog. He came into my house when my brother opened the back door for something, just charged in like he owned the place, and went for Jinx, who outraced him like the dog had six broken feet. Jinx then hid beside me. So I went in and snagged the dog by his collar (no tags) and held him fast until he calmed down. Then Iz and I dragged him, literally, out of the house. The neighbor woman (out of whose house he had just come) was there, and I asked her for a rope. I clipped the rope to his collar and we walked him home, where I knotted the rope onto a strong section of his broken chain (the end had snapped off). 

The neat thing is that the dog was much more classy than Ortiz, as it was just a big, freakishly strong teddy bear.

1131  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-10-10
Written: (5300 days ago)

With the first issue of WC Monthly behind us, now I can concentrate on... the next, uh, issue... of WC Monthly. Yeah.

Actually I do have some thoughts. We got some support from the WC Masses, and though we are appreciative it wasn't nearly enough.

According to the nifty little buzzer button thingy down at the bottom of mainpage, there are about ninety active members at WC. That means that we ought to be seeing more activity! If you want WC to be of any help to anyone, get active. You don't have to join the crew or even run a wikipage, but you do have to participate! Ninety active members means I want to see ninety votes in the mainpage poll, for example. I want to see ninety nominations for featured writings. Small things like that can help a lot!

I also have something I want to suggest to everyone. If you want your stuff read, read someone else's! Beyond that, though, I urge every single writer here to place a link to the two or three pieces that you most want read at the top of your description, as I have. People can always click your writings page, but by now some of us have so much writing up that it's kind of a chore to sift through it all! So give it a shot, it's not hard, and can only help.

That's it. Bye!

1125  Link to this entry 
Written about Friday 2006-10-06
Written: (5304 days ago)

Completed the first mock-interview for the e-zine today and it went swimmingly! Not a single snag or hitch, and it's entertaining all the way through. 

1123  Link to this entry 
Written about Tuesday 2006-10-03
Written: (5307 days ago)

Progress on new WritersCo Monthly: slight! We still require the services of the masses. Allow me to display a list of tasks we still need filled.

Questions for Ask Mister Saint
Opinion columns (about whatever you want, as long as it's written well)
articles (about whatever!)
challenges (not necessarily contests)

In addition, this month of October will feature one poem! Members will be allowed to nominate ONE poem for the featured spot, and may nominate their own writing if they please.

This month's feature will be a fake interview session. We need between one and three volunteers to be interviewed for this position, so get in touch and let me see your interest! The interview will be similar to a brief roleplay, however, you will be playing as yourself with a random quirk. For example... you might conduct the interview as yourself as a rock star, or a poltergeist. It's October, it might as well be a ghoul or something.

We're also looking for the standard literary articles. 

We also plan to feature one CONTEST.

So get crackin'! We want to release this issue by OCTOBER 7th, so hurry quick like! I don't want to have to interview myself!

1120  Link to this entry 
Written about Sunday 2006-10-01
Written: (5309 days ago)

I thought about it, and the decision came to me fairly quickly. I spent the morning and afternoon working out, playing with my cat, and taking a nice, long, long, I almost qualify as a swimming pool long shower. I just needed to think about it without any distractions.

So I'm good now, and I want to make WC Monthly my priority... though it might turn into a quarterly, but we'll figure that out for sure later.

1113  Link to this entry 
Written about Saturday 2006-09-30
Written: (5311 days ago)

Attention: any and all members interested in contributing the soon to be revived WC e-zine, contact [Mister Saint] ASAP. I'm hoping to get out an issue for October before, say, the seventh of the month. We're playing catch up here, so the quicker, the better! Here's what we're looking for.

Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
Intelligent Commentary (preferably literature related, but ask if you have an idea you like.)
Homebrewed writing excercises/challenges.
Articles about writing and/or storytelling.

and that sort of thing. We're hoping to give WC something fun to check out and get involved in, try to put some community back into this community. Any takers, give me a message!

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