bITS 'N CHUNKS
You know, for being total shounen trash (that is, a fan of anime targeted at young boys) and a bit of a sentai freak, I'm terrible at fight scenes. Because I was prolific in anime fic at one point or another, I kind of had to write them. But as a staunch shoujo supporter (that is, a fan of anime targeted at young girls) I tended to be best a dialogue and drama. Where the two often crossover is humor, specifically slapstick. Well, I try anyway. I label things comedy, who knows.
But, you'd think after a while I'd get better at writing fighting scenes but I haven't. I still try, but I'm bad at it. I don't have any real combat experience and watching all the wuxia movies in the world hasn't improved my choreography. I watch wrestling and MMA and look up fight terms so I look like I'm in the know, but it's a sham!
Why do I bother? Because I'm trying to get better. At this point, unless I'm doing something for my own fun, almost none of my stories involve climactic battle scenes anymore. I'm not afraid of them or anything, my protagonists just have a habit of dying at the end so it's all moot. I'm from the Lovecraftian school of monstrous creatures that could kill us with a glance, so the only fighting is mental.
But I'm trying. I figured maybe I just need a little more inspiration other than movies. What encourages me to fight? I also grew up with industrial music and AMVs, so I figured that would help out. Whenever I think I'm getting to the final showdown I just channel my favorite club hits and Akira. And since anime is totally known for its accuracy, the results are often cartoonish in a bad way.
Sigh. I'm trying. I thought I'd switch music. I like 80s inspired synth and various waves (cold, dark, no, sine, so on) like Pertubator, so I thought that would get me hyped. The results naturally come out very retrofuturistic. That's getting better but still…what am I going for?
Ironically, actual fight music does nothing to get me inspired for writing. I might want to run out and fight for Gondor, but I don't want to take any of my adventures down, you know? I tried my favorite epic soundtracks. Makes me remember movie scenes, but not actually fight. Especially if they're not in the same genre.
And books? Forget it. I'll just stick to my Art of War and tough it out. I'm probably not meant to be an epic fantasy fight scene writer but, y'know. I'm trying.
The first time I heard Necronomidol I think they had just gone on hiatus for a bit. I assumed the novelty of a black metal inspired idol unit just kind of wore off in the face of BABY METAL and such derivative acts. But the videos were cool and slick and purposefully mimicking giallo style with the music to fit, and I really dug their sinister image.
But at some point, the stars aligned and Necroma rose up once again from the depths with a few new members, another member change, and then finally what is (I hope) a permanent line up. Check out the video for "Ithaqua".
Necronomidol is a great example of the whole "do it your damn self" attitude which is strange in the idol world (but not really in underground idol acts, please check out Homicidols). Their relentless attitudes and the ceaseless determination of their manager Rick have landed them at least a small European tour and some good buzz. But that's not what actually makes them stand out, it's the members themselves and the fact that they're young girls singing about Cthulhu. That's it. I love aidoru and I love Cthulhu, so I'm in.
Okay, Necroma's songs are very good and refreshingly hardcore and TRVE. Their Bandcamp provides some English translations of their songs and they're very literary. I love that they interact with some of the lesser known critters and aspects of Lovecraftian mythos. Doing that sometimes runs the risk of making you look a little too hardcore or not palatable because you're just appealing to the geek squad at this point but Necroma somehow does it with some pretty serious pop ambitions. But…down-tuned guitars…
What sets Necroma apart from the BABY METAL clones to me (aside from their complete, utter darkness and end of the world prophesying) is that at least so far they haven't gone for the death/nu metal guttural growls and prefer very clean, idol vocal melodies so they're very easy to churn out fiction to. I like their weird yet very successful iconoclasm. It's beyond creepy cute aesthetic, it's the merging of old school metal ideology, occult image, and bouncy j-pop. It's not superficial but doesn't take itself exceptionally seriously. Oh my gosh, it's me as a group. It me! If someone is working on a manga or some unofficial doujinshi for them, can I write it? Please?
More tales from the storage locker that is my OneNote here.
Since I decided to do short stories, sometimes I seem averse to attempting anything longer that 3,000 some odd words. Well, that's not true. I write longer works all the time, I just like to focus on more self contained works. It's what I prefer to read, too, coincidentally.
As of late, though, I think I've met my match in a story I am very excited to finish one of these days. It began life as an experiment in world-building, which since so many of my stories are more pedestrian these days I don't do a lot of. I think it's one of those writerly habits I actually should adopt more often. I started world-building with this tale and included a lot of details, really developed a strong roster of characters.
Curiously, for being a sports piece this story was actually influenced a lot by the imagery of El espiritu de la colmena because I think it deals with a lot of the same issues of blurring fantasy and reality.
As in acting, in writing it's okay to have details about your characters that you may never explicitly use I think. As I was developing my protagonist, I just made a lot of notes on things that I think would influence his decisions -- he's young, for example, and in a career that is unstable at the best of times and treacherous at worst. He's a bit of a nerd but is required to be a jock for TV. His rival/partner isn't a bad fellow either but let's his ego and age get the best of him sometimes. They clash...and there's a demon.
Oh, it ended up being one of...those.
So while I was going over a piece of work and trying to decide if I want to continue on with it, I noticed a funny quirk I have with using cars to signify status and time period.
I've noticed it before, at some point it was on purpose and thereafter just became a habit. To me, short story plots move so fast sometimes that you don't have a lot of time to say, "The year was 1997" or "this dude is mad poor". How do you signify that? By dropping clues. Some clues can be obvious like clothing or hairstyles, or even names. When I'm writing "pedestrian" aka regular degular (that is, not anything high fantasy or dystopian sci-fi), I'm not sure why I usually pick cars and music specifically as I'm not really a car person and rely more on public transport (which ALSO says something about the status of a person), but I have found that using certain models and describing the interior of the vehicle does a lot for setting and characterization.
So to be more specific, name dropping a certain car or its condition does a few things for me: establishes financial status, establishes what time frame and area the story likely takes place in, what KIND of story, and says something important about the character. In a high school story, the popular rich kid might be driving X car and the low-class, ostracized kid might be driving Y kid or likely not driving at all. Or remember that car that was super popular in Nevada in the '90s? Things like that.
I'll pick on myself with this infernal goddamn thing I've been working on. The protag's car is dropped pretty early on in a gym visit:
The Toyota Camry pulled into the small parking lot.
Now, when I do this I'm not expecting future or present literary students to scrutinize all the ways in which the car is significant. In the end, it's not. But mentioning a Camry does a couple things. He has a car, it is expected that he does, we're in a world with vehicles, probably on Earth in the US. Ok, that's established. Dude's probably making decent money and doing alright for himself. Middle class, wouldn't you say? Also Camrys are known for being pretty durable. In context of the story though it raises a couple points: I'm not saying Camrys are the most expensive car in the world, but this dude does not have a steady job, where the hell did he get one?
Duncan tugged the bottom of the mask down and turned on the unreliable AC in his car. It sputtered worryingly before blowing out hot dust. Duncan rolled his window down until the air was at least lukewarm. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he drove. His car was top of the line at some point but now it was so old he needed an adapter for his iPod. Oh, he listened to tapes every now and then -- especially mom's old music and books on tape from when he was a kid. Sometimes he could get Japanese radio dramas.
Again, the basics. Ok, if you're turning on the AC it's summer and we're in a hot ass area. Uh-oh, sounds like homie has a real old Camry that's on its last legs. He likely either bought it incredibly used WYSIWYG, someone bought it for him, or it's a legacy car passed down like three times. Makes sense given his status of perpetually right above the poverty line. The point was for me not to tell you that, though, but to give you a little context and show you.
The car makes another brief cameo later on in this exchange between the protag and the antag:
"I can see everything going on with ya. How're you even paying rent on that apartment?"
"I work," Duncan said indignantly. "I work pretty damn often."
"Yeah, yeah. Dad works too. Do you think daddy is going to support you for long?"
And we establish that the protag is broke as hell even if his family is well-off and at least distantly supporting him.
Naturally, the villain of the story has his own vehicle(s). I grappled with its introduction a little and decided at least for now it doesn't actually matter what model or brand of car it has.
A glossy black limousine with dark windows passed him with nary a purr or rumble or even the crunch of thick tires on the street.
Originally the car was explicitly a custom Jaguar, and if that doesn't scream "money" I don't know what does. Jaguars also tend to have a distinctive rumble which, when missing, sounds like something is amiss which is a plot point with this villain. Another plot point with it is that he's very rich and manipulative and flaunts his status items while enjoying base pleasures like pizza and non-alcoholic beer. Having a limousine alone already implies you have some kind of money to blow. It's black and sleek so it already feels a little sinister. You might recognize these tropes together and come to your own conclusion that this villain is either very closely related to the Devil if not the Devil himself, a la Needful Things. Incidentally, which writing this passage I think I was channeling In the Company of Wolves.
The limousine window rolled down just enough for a slender hand wearing a white glove, holding a cigarette.
Which I think pretty much cements the intent without doing a whole lot, and that's what I'm all about.
So I've been going to AkaiCon for a couple years now and I generally enjoy it each time. Last year was probably my least favorite due to their chronic No Parking Syndrome so if it's financially feasible I would highly recommend just using rideshare the whole time. Fortunately, this year the convention moved a lot closer to me so I think I spent less on Lyft rides for three days than I did in the dealer's room.
This was the place for my menhera outfits and people responded to my pastel shirts but menhera isn't everywhere enough that people were like "omg look!!" and I was pretty dressed down. I lost a few of my more obvious accessories so I was stuck with the syringe necklace I made, some bandages, my bondage gear, house shoes, and robe. Saturday could have been more successful if I'd remembered to switch into my full sleepy time gear instead of just wearing the robe but, well. Well.
Anyway, the point wasn't really me dressing up this year but just the general experience of the con. I appreciated all the walking space and the hallways never felt too crowded or sparse. The new venue worked for me because most of everything I wanted to see was on a single floor and the hotel is equipped for conferences and events so there was plenty of room for pretty much everything. There was a good bit to do as well and a nice diversity of panels and events. I also really appreciated all the main events having their own floor this year for all the people they could fit in and all the people who didn't want to deal with constant noise in their other panels. That was a great move for everyone. And merging the dealer's room and artist alley is always a win in my book, personally.
Now, that being said there was quite a bit of what I think is best summed up as "shenanigans". Con silliness if you will. A lot of the "this was out of our cosmic control". I didn't have to worry about the infamous parking situation because push came to shove I was close enough to bike/walk/bus whatever. That was…unfortunate, from what I was told. But inside the wacky world of the con there were some odious scheduling misfires, on the fly changes, and probably the most egregious was shutting down the anime viewing/video room with only a note on Facebook and not a con-wide announcement which miffed off many a patron. It got a little weird to say the least and depending on your temperament, pretty wack. And the elevator situation? Still haunted.
But, I gotta say I still had a good time. Every con is what you make it and this was one of my more social ones. I even got to gab about wrestling for a few hours and see a few adult panels. It was a rather unique bonding experience and shows AkaiCon is definitely getting better and better and deserves attention. I'll never get back all the money I sank on merchandise, but at least memories are free.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...