Robot Unicorn Attack: The Secret Message of HAAATE

(DISCLAIMER: This is all in good fun, and is meant to degrade into further silliness. No offense is meant as this is not meant to be taken seriously. If taken seriously, please rinse well with water and call your local poison control center immediately.)

I'd like to propose a wild theory. Because I can. Because people cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war because they thought Tinky Winky was a gay/transgendered character molding the malleable minds of small children into the shape of evil. Because one interpretation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is that it is an economic and/or political allegory. Because authorial intent is a dead, dead thing and interpretation is the name of the game. Because playing devil's advocate is just as fun as idiot's advocate.

I'd like to propose that Adult Swim's ROBOT UNICORN ATTACK game is, in fact, a terrible and amazingly subtle hateful condemnation of homosexuality. A-hah, you say, but how can you claim such an outrageous thing, O Alz? Were you not an English major? You have to support your thesis with evidence cited from the text and form plausible interpretations therewith!

Well, fear not, my fine fellows, these old essay muscles may be soft and atrophied, but I've stretched them well and flexed them fine and, despite a few aches and pains, here is what I came up with while lying in bed the other night trying to sleep and cursing my overactive brain:

Robot Unicorn Attack at first glance seems to be a perfectly normal la-dee-dah ha-ha gay-in-the-merry-definition sort of game. I mean, it's a robot unicorn frolicking across a magical landscape glittering with stars and rainbows.

Upon second glance it appears to be actually more gay-in-the-homosexual-sense-of-the-word. Rainbows have long been a symbol of the LGBT movement; purple, as mentioned in the above Tinky Winky scandal, also has associations with the queer community. The horribly catchy song that plays throughout the game is "Always" by Erasure, sung by Andy Bell who, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, is a gay icon. The song lyrics themselves could even be interpreted to be gently encouraging open-mindedness and "coming out" with regards to queerness, with lines like "Open your eyes I see / Your eyes are open / Wear no disguise for me / Come into the open" and "There will be no shame".

All this seems harmless enough, yes? Positive, even. An excuse to juxtapose pretty unicorns and sparkles with robots that cry sad, sad tears when they explode into fireballs after impacting ground, stone, or glass star. A lark. A laugh.


1) A variety of sentences pop up when you start a new game and the silhouette of the unicorn flashes across the screen. They vary from positive to negative--after all, like on the t-shirt Adult Swim sells, it may say, "CHASE YOUR DREAMS." (Although in the game instructions it tells you that you have three "wishes"/chances to chase your dreams--of getting a high score. Hmm. But you can always wish for higher as there is no upper limit--and since you can always reach higher, will you ever reach satisfaction? But let us not get into discussions of greed versus satisfaction right here.) Inspirational, yes? Until you get the message and/or read the back of the shirt, where it says, "YOU WILL FAIL." Another delightfully uplifting message is "YOU WILL DIE A FIERY DEATH."

Not very positive. Especially since the general Christian condemnation of homosexuality brings to mind how the more fanatically religious claim that homosexuals will end up in hell. Which is, you know, generally regarded as fiery. And that's not good. You will fail in a fiery death no matter how hard you chase your dreams--

2) But really, what is the robot unicorn chasing and collecting? Why, according to the game instructions, it's collecting butterfly fairies. Or you might more accurately say it is scoring fairies, because every fairy you collect ups your score. My, my. So these "dreams" actually consist of this base, vulgar, carnal desire, eh? No wonder they're bound to fail in life, die spectacularly, and wind up in a place with more brimstone and flames than harps and clouds. You can't win with an attitude like that.

3) Actually, you can't "win" at all in this game. As far as I've been able to determine, there is no final destination to reach or final fairy to acquire. You keep on playing until you die by crashing into a star, a rock, or leaping in a glorious arc to your untimely doom. The only way to win is to score high--but ultimately, whether you score high or low, your fiery fate is the same. Doom is inevitable when you are of the robot unicorn persuasion. Not precisely positive when you take the robot unicorn as a metaphor for homosexuality and/or homosexuals.

4) And think about the name! Robot Unicorn Attack. To be quite honest, when playing the game, it doesn't seem like there's much of an attack going on. I mean, the freaking unicorn is just galloping around and collecting fairies, shooting sparkles, and leaving rainbows arcing in its wake. I suppose you could assume that the unicorn is skewering the poor helpless fairies on its horn (A-hah! Which, if the robot unicorn is taken to be a representation of homosexuality, can be interpreted as homosexuality collecting and slaying innocently feminine men (according to the first Urban Dictionary definition) by presumably making them gay. Or something.) or perhaps it's because the unicorn smashes its way through the glass stars that block its path (itself surely another metaphor for something negative, for which I may or may not develop an interpretation before the end of this post). But see! Look! The unicorn, symbol of magic and purity, has been cast instead as a monster! Not just a promotion of homosexuality, but a veritable attack! How horrendous!

See? See? Doesn't it make a strange sort of subtle, suggestive, (and stupid) sense? I have presented my evidence and come to the conclusion that Robot Unicorn Attack is actually a game decrying and condemning queerness.


Yeah, right.

I don't believe a word of anything I've written above. I highly doubt the sort of person who would utterly condemn homosexuality in such a fashion would waste his or her time creating a flash game to convey this message in such an indirect fashion.

And if such a person did, too bad. I love the game for all the wrong reasons in that case. Like I said, the author is dead.*

One last question arises in my mind before I sign off and stop pursuing interpretation for the sake of interpretation: What then does the leaping pink dolphin mean? I have no idea. It only shows up when you're scoring relatively high. It must be Robot Unicorn Attack's attempt to be, let's see, environmentally conscious and promote awareness of the endangered Amazon Pink River Dolphin.

*Actually, I think it's best to read and interpret a text in multiple ways, including divorcing it completely from the author as well as reading it through the lens of the author's biography.


W(H)IP It Together

I was going to post up some book logs, but I realized that it's the last full week of March. Things are getting crazy at work, where I'm subsisting off green tea, fortune cookies, and Red Vines; I'm not getting enough sleep (I guess full-time work really is more grueling than being a full-time student, when I often got less sleep but didn't feel nearly as tired); and did I mention it's almost the end of March?

One of my resolutions was to finish 2 of the 3 short stories I have sitting around by April, but I instead started a new one. With roughly 7 days left of March, I'm putting my nose to the grindstone (is that a phrase?) and I will attempt to finish AT LEAST one of those. Gotta make adjustments for Real Life, right?

When I return, I will have brief book logs. I just finished Frank Beddor's ArchEnemy of the Looking Glass Wars trilogy and Gail Carriger's Soulless. I'm currently reading Gayle Forman's If I Stay.

So no real blog posts for the next 7 days because I will be whipping up a WIP. Wish me luck.

P.S. I kinda want to try out these Vision Boards or vision journals, but I suck at keeping journals. I'm also intensely adverse to cutting photographic things up like how I can't mark-up books, not even text books for school. It pains me.


Random 5 Tidbits for Friday

Tomorrow's the first day of Spring! Anyway, let's get to it. Five Random Things on Friday.

1. I find this amusing: Interrobang: Spork of Punctuation. So true. Yes, I enjoy grammar/punctuation humor. Yes, I'm a total geek.

2. I really want to write a steampunk story, but I feel like the amount of research required is too daunting. I don't think I can wing my way through something like that, pretending to sound like I know what I'm talking about. Also, anything steampunk-ish I do would be skewed more towards fantasy than science, but I feel like I'd have to be familiar enough with the scientific bits, and Science and I do not have a very good relationship. (Physics and I don't get along. Mainly, it involves Physics crushing my soul and possibly eroding my will to live back in high school.) On the flip side, I'm pretty geeky, and I do actually enjoy research. Just not the kind that involves setting up your own experiments and stuff. I like reading and learning random stuff, so I might get hopelessly sidetracked.

3. There was an earthquake Tuesday night, which I was actually awake for. Even weirder, I was awake like half a minute before anything started shaking! Usually, I sleep through night-time earthquakes. Go figure.

4. My friend thinks she's coming down with a cough or sore throat. I recommend Pi Pa Gao, a Chinese herbal medicine. Have no fear though! No doubt you've heard horror stories of awful, bitter tasting concoctions that look as bad as they taste, but this is NOT one of those! It looks a little scary because it is a thick, black, viscous liquid, but I think it's kind of delicious. It does taste "weird" to those who have never tried it. It's sweet and kinda minty, and it soothes a sore/dry/irritated throat like no other. I swear by it. Plus, Jason Mraz drinks it, and he has the voice of an angel - if angels were laid-back, new wave hippies, and one time street performers.

For more info, you can look at this link about Pi Pa Gao.

5. Watching Law & Order makes me really paranoid about breaking the law. No, like REALLY paranoid. You have no idea what kind of stuff they can get you on. Don't mess with the District Attorney's office, guys.

What's your Friday five? Have a warm, sunny weekend or at least a pleasant one!


Tonal Thursday

I missed what would have been WIP Wednesday because hey, I was actually writing! That brings me to the point of this short post: TONE.

Merriam Webster online defines TONE as: style or manner of expression in speaking or writing.

I like to say it's a "feel" to a piece, and it helps create the overall mood.

Tone is what I've been wrestling with in my current, impromptu WIP short. I wouldn't have started it if I hadn't been intrigued by the idea of "creepy paintings," but I also thought it wouldn't be that hard to establish the tone of the story. How wrong I was.

When I write, tone is usually a by-product of a everything else. Most of the time, tone just happens for me. It's a result of the kind of language I use, the way the characters express themselves, the imagery used for setting and emotion. Let's take the First Lines I shared from 2 of my unfinished shorts, "Thorns" and "Clockwork Heart."

Thorns: Before Leander's father died, he had a moment of burning clarity after weeks of fevered daze.

Clockwork Heart: There once was a man whose wife was in need of a new heart, so he endeavored to make her one - a better one of fine gears and careful enchantment.

I started these at around the same time, probably a week apart. Both of them are supposed to be fairytale-like, but I personally think "Clockwork Heart" has more of the traditional tone of a fairy tale. I didn't really plan out either opening line. I wrote knowing I wanted a kind of dreamy quality to the stories. The thing with "Clockwork Heart" is that the first line clearly sets the tone of the rest of the story. It would be strange if I departed too much from this first line, whereas the first line of "Thorns" allows for more tonal leeway. It sounds serious and a little distant, but it could easily become a close third point of view, for example.

My current short with the creepy paintings is supposed to be, in a word, creepy. The first line does lend itself to creepiness, but it's like the first line to "Thorns" where the tone could easily change in the lines following without making the first seem out of place. You give that to a main character with a flippant, easy-going personality, and she will take advantage of any tonal ambiguity that first line gives. You mix a la-dee-dah attitude with a story that's supposed to be creepy and well, you don't get much of the "creepy," let me tell you. So I've been trying to strike a balance between the intended tone of the story and my main character's personality, and it's really hard! I got two scenes in before I realized her personality had skewed the tone of the piece so far off track that I'd be hard pressed to pull it back later.

This story has existed for somewhere around 2 weeks, and I've already been forced to start all over with a second version. Version 2 seems to be going better with more of the right story tone but still just enough of the main character's carefree approach to life.

My question to you then, dear readers, is what do you do when your character's personality gets in the way of the tone of your story? How do you make them take their predicaments seriously? On the flip side, how do you know if it's your choice of tone that is off and not your character's?


Pi Day

Happy π Day! March 14, 03/14, pi! (Although I suppose we'll have to wait another 5 years before we get an even π-er day--03/14/15.)

Why is pi significant? It's certainly not because it's a number of circular mathematical importance, heck no. I hate math. That's why I cherish my relationship with my calculator even more than I cherish my friendship with Krispy.

No, pi is significant because one of the main characters in our long-neglected novel is a girl named Pi. Well, she's named Piety, actually, but we can't blame her if she prefers "the mathematical constant used to refer to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diamater" versus "reverence for God or devout fulfillment of religious obligations/the quality or state of being pious/dutiful respect or regard for parents, homeland, etc./a pious act, remark, belief, or the like".

Why Pi? Krispy and I came up with the name after tossing name-ideas around and eventually the conversation degenerated into declarations of desiring delicious desserts. Like pie. Hey, pie! No, pi!

...and thus Pi was born. Or named, at any rate. But since the story is set in a world quite parallel to our own in some aspects, well, being named Pi seemed a bit strange, so we had to retroactively come up with a full name for her. Piper? Penelope? Pia?

None of them seemed quite right. And then, because we are cruel people, we decided it'd be much more fun if she had a name she didn't like, and/or was named after some kind of virtue that, if not necessarily anathema to her personality, was at least the sort of thing you'd roll your eyes at.

How about Piety? Hmm. Sounds plausible, can be shortened to "Pi," wouldn't want to be named that ourselves. Great!

And so did Pi gain her full name. I'm sure she hates us for dumping "Piety" on her, but come on, girl, we hung Pi on you too, while thinking about delectable deliciousness. You can blame us for everything, but give us credit where due too!

Valentine's Day is Val's birthday, and so March 14th must be Pi's birthday--symbolically, at least. Unlike Val, she wasn't created or named or what have you on this day, and it might be a bit much to have her actual factual canonical birthday be today. Nonetheless, she has a day unto herself--Pi Day. We hope that makes up for all the teasing you've received in your life.


Randomosity on Fridays: Video Edition

Hello all! Sorry for the lack of non-random posts of late. Beginning of the month is crazy work time, which tends to leave me drained. There's also the fact that it's already the 2nd week of March, and I remembered suddenly that one of my resolutions was to finish at least 2 of the 3-4 stories I've started. So naturally, to fulfill this goal, I decided to start A COMPLETELY NEW ONE. I know. The logic is staggering in its lack of logic.

So anyway, I'm glad it's almost the weekend! I'm preemptively celebrating by eating a giant stick of Pocky, Thin Mints, and chocolate covered gummy bears. Chocolate covered gummy bears, how I've missed you! Haven't had them for like a year, and they are so good. TRY THEM if you haven't.

To kick start the weekend off, here are some random and awesome things you should check out if you haven't already.

1. Elana Johnson is having a Fantabulous Followers Giveaway over at her blog where she's giving away 7 - read it, SEVEN - signed books. Well, I think 6/7 will be personalized. How sweet is that? It's a contest in conjunction with ANOTHER contest on Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins' blog also involving really awesome giveaways. All those books are tempting, but I don't know if I should be pushing my luck. (More on this later/see #4.)

2. Have you seen the Handsome Men's Club? If not, WATCH IT NOW. There are indeed some mighty handsome men there.

3. OK GO. You know, that band with the video where they're dancing on treadmills? Well, they've got a new video out. It's already gone viral with over 7 million - that's right, MILLION- views, so you might've already seen it. If you haven't, WATCH NOW.

Proving that it is so totally cool to be nerdy/geeky and weird. I LOVE THEM. You should also check out the FIRST version of the video for "This Too Shall Pass" which is sadly NOT embeddable but still very awesome. Check at all their videos. I love them! They're awesome and hilarious and write catchy tunes.

4. I won a copy of the book DREAMING ANASTASIA by Joy Preble from the very funny and gracious Lisa and Laura, who did a fun review of the book and interview with the author on their blog. I am UBER EXCITED because 1) I never win stuff! and 2) LiLa are going to get the book signed for me! Yay! THANK YOU, ladies! Everyone else should check out their blog for more upcoming giveaways and general hilarity.

5. Um, so fyi, I'm a huge US History fan girl. I kid you not. Mostly, I'm kind of in love with Alexander Hamilton, but I will stop myself before I get too far off topic. You can imagine my surprise and curiosity when my friend tweets me a link to a book with the question "Have you read this?" and the link leads to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Brought to us by the people who gave us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which I still haven't read), this book is not a prank (I mean, it does seem kinda like a prank) and it has a kick ass book trailer.

As my friend put it, "Wow it's like Supernatural with abe lincoln!!!" Indeed. Two things I really really like. Talk about worlds colliding.

And that's a wrap! No vlogs from me yet, guys. I haven't worked myself up to that quite yet, and besides, I'm incredibly boring. Happy weekend!


Reading Rampage! Rawr!

There's a shiny new story I'm working on, but naturally, I keep getting distracted. Meh. Also, I keep cutting it close with my "at least one blog post a week" resolution. So here's one before Friday hits.

Friends, my "read more" resolution is surprisingly HOLDING strong. I'm a reader who goes through phases. I go on a reading binge and then I get tired and go cold turkey; it's months before I start up again. Well, I forced myself to sustain my reading by biting off more than I could chew - namely, I borrowed roughly 13 books from the library within days of each other, forcing me to read them instead of letting them languish in a corner. I actually returned a few without reading them, renewed a bunch of them multiple times, and incurred some late fees on another. I finally cleared my queue, but I've already checked out 3 new ones. Oy. (Remember, I am a SLOW SLOW reader, so this is impressive for me.)

So, here's a quickie review of some of the books I read. Most I enjoyed, some I loved. All in all, a good set.

1. The Demon's Lexicon: THE GOOD - My friend's recommendation of "since you like Supernatural, you'll probably like this" was pretty spot on. Interesting plot and world-building, fun brothers-who-hunt-demons banter and ass kicking, good characterization.

THE IFFY - Only issues I had with this was the pacing felt a bit off in the beginning but smoothed out. I also felt weirdly distant/wary of one of the characters, though I think that's just how said character IS. It was consistent characterization, and everything made SO MUCH SENSE in the end. So bravo!

2. Fallen: THE GOOD - Okay guys, angels are one of my weaknesses, so I had to take a looksie when I heard there are like 2 in this book. PLUS, my friend is nicknamed Luce, which pretty much guaranteed that we (me, Luce, and Alz) would read this. Pacing was a bit slow, but I liked the way it unfolded, gave me enough to keep me going. Characters were believable (REACTED in a believable fashion to the supernatural too! Awesome!), the setting was moody and pretty, we get some angel-lore. I liked the writing style.

THE IFFY - The book was great until like the last quarter. Fallen is part of a series and it ends in a very open-ended fashion. I'd argue, TOO open-ended because it left me feeling like the book barely stands on its own. Barely. It should be able to stand on its own, regardless of the series thing. Will I read the sequel? Probably, but only because so few questions were answered. (Okay, and I want to know what's the deal with the angels.)

3. The Forest of Hands and Teeth: THE GOOD - Existential angst, coming of age, zombies! I really liked the ideas and themes and concept. I liked how it used the backdrop of post-Apocalypse and zombies to communicate the protagonist's internal struggles. A zombie book not actually about zombies.

THE IFFY - Although it's written in first person, present tense, I felt oddly distant from the main character. I was in her head but didn't really feel connected to her. The other characters felt distant too.

4. Shiver: THE GOOD - In a word, beautiful. The snatches of lyrics, the quoted poetry, the landscape, the imagery, and the bittersweet love story - lovely, all of it. I liked Grace, and I adored Sam. I quite enjoyed this book.

THE IFFY - The absent parents really bothered me, given that we know from the start that Grace was almost killed during her childhood. Her parents seem to care about her and are affectionate, but despite that traumatic experience, they leave her alone and stay out all the time doing their own things. You'd think almost losing her would make them more attentive/grow up? I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. Also, while I thought the love story between Grace and Sam was very sweet and tinged with just the right amount of sadness (I like sad stories), I also have NO IDEA how it happened. I guess it's supposed to be like a "I've loved you all along/from afar" type deal, but it was weird for me. I remember suddenly stopping in the book to wonder, hey, when did they start dating/acting like a couple/get together?!

5. Silver Phoenix: THE GOOD - Lots of fun new folklore thanks to the ancient Chinese setting! The story clipped along, not really many truly dull moments. None of the characters got on my nerves. Twas a leisurely romp.

THE IFFY - While reading this, I described it to my friends as "a Chinese fantasy epic," and that is basically what it is. It's a little predictable because of that, and it felt somewhat like a parade of Famous Mythical Creatures. Nothing inherently wrong with what I've mentioned; the Percy Jackson series does the "quest story" thing AND has its own Who's Who of Mythical Creatures. This just wasn't as engaging, and I had a hard time connecting with the characters as people. In a nutshell, this book felt like the first Narnia movie to me, which felt like Plot Point to Plot Point to Plot Point without time to ever really connect on a deeper level. So enjoyable but not awesome.

6.A Great and Terrible Beauty: THE GOOD - The voice! Gemma was so well-written, as were the other girls. They sounded and acted like real girls - both strong and scared, kind and cruel - and the dynamic of their friendships was also imperfect and good. The plot points and revelations came about at a good pace. Also, the coming of age/friendships/character storyline and the supernatural mystery/PLOT storylines were well-balanced; there was enough of both. I also love the Victorian setting, what can I say.

THE IFFY - I might've liked a little more explanation about the magic/magic-related plot points, but since this is a trilogy, I suppose I shall have to wait. There were also a few plot things I thought were a little obvious, but I didn't feel disappointed when I was right. So yeah, I have very few actually IFFY things to say about this book. I WANT THE NEXT ONE NOW.

This turned out to be much longer than I wanted. Anyway, I'm currently reading Soulless by Gail Carriger and ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor. What are you reading, and which of these books have you read?

Bonus question: Guess which book I paid late fees on because I was almost done and didn't want to wait for it again. :)