Monday, June 25, 2012

That By Which We Call A Rose (Serves to Further Demonstrate What a Nerd I Am)

Allow me to put forth a theory/opinion: it is harder to name characters than it is actual babies.

Allow to me clarify: (beginning, of course, with some apparently random and unrelated tangent-like back story) in college I took a play writing class.  My professor was pretty awesome, and among other things she gave us a character bio outline handout full of facts/traits/questions/whatever that one should figure out/make up/discover/whatever for each important character early on.  Among the things on the list is the character's age and birthday including the year.  Something that seems really rather obvious, but that I'd never done so specifically before. (actually random unrelated tangent: I sometimes make up characters I'm 97% sure I will never use anywhere just because I think it's fun to fill out these character bios.)

Anyway.  Even before that class I always tried to make my names fit the character's age.  For example - a great-grandmother named Britney Ladashla?  Yeah.  Right.  But Dora Elizabeth?  Well, that was one of my actual great-grandmother's name.  And it just sounds right, doesn't it?  It's a grandma name - it just is.  So I went by the old lady-or-newborn sounding test.  And I suppose it more or less worked.  But you can never underestimate the ability of someone as nerdy as myself to take something like that to the next level. 

So then the internet happened.  Or rather, the no-longer-living-at-home-with-the-archaicly-dinosaur-iffic-tortoise-dial-up-internet-connection-until-two-thousand-freaking-six thing happened.  And the discovery-of-gajillions-of-baby-name-websites thing happened.  And the some-of-them-have-baby-name-popularity-rankings-for-the-last-over-a-hundred-years thing happened.  So naturally the Lacey-entertains-herself-by-looking-up-random-names-and-their-ranking-charts thing happened.  And, obviously, the using-those-sites-and-charts-to-name-characters thing wasn't very far behind . . . and now my method is to figure out the character's birthday, look up the popular names for that year, and pick something from the bottom two thirds or so of the top 100.  It works pretty perfectly, I find a name that feels and sounds spot on but still isn't a girl named Emma who was born in 2001 - if you know what I mean.

Okay, so here's the part where I start coming back around to my point or whatever.  As I've been playing around on various name sites and such I've been noticing how very . . . I don't know, "locked" some names are.

Case in point: Jessica.  A name said to be created by Shakespeare himself for (I think) The Merchant Of Venice, now it is the most quintessential of all the quintessential 80s names.  Even though it stayed in the top 5 from 1977 to 1997 it practically reeks 1987, smack dead center.  Think about it: when was the last time you heard about someone naming their newborn Jessica?  I'm willing to bet it's been at least ten years.  And on the end of the spectrum, Jessica is soooooooooooooo not an old lady name.  Unless, I suppose, you're an old lady who spends every day solving the latest murder in Cabot Cove, Maine.  (ten points if you get the reference . . . and minus a trillion for any comments on the fact that I could name the town off the top of my head.)

But people within five-ish years either way of my age with the name Jessica?  They're all over the place.  In elementary school there were exactly two names that ever had duplicates in my class: Sarah and Jessica.  I don't know what it is, but somehow it seems like the name got stuck in a time capsule, especially compared to other 80s names.  Sarah had timelessness going for it in the first place; Jennifers have used reinventions like Jen and Jenna to stay current sounding; Elizabeth had surpassed timelessness into obviousness . . . and then there's a handful of names that blipped big and died and will always be at least somewhat associated with big hair and neon and Madonna's cone bra phase - Jessica . . . Tiffany . . . Ashley.  (I feel like I should do the whole full disclosure thing here: I personally love the name Jessica.  And I have a cousin named Jessica.  And a sister named Ashli.  I like to wonder what my extended family name map would look like if there were as many girl cousins as there are boys.)

And here's where the harder-to-name-a-character-than-an-actual-baby thing comes in.  A person's name isn't just a reflection of who they are . . . it's also a major statement about the personality of the person/people who named them (by which I mean the character's mother . . . not me.  confused yet?).  A fictional person's name choice is likely to define that person very differently than a real life counterpart.  I have a daughter and name her Jessica?  I picked a pretty name I like that's become uncommon so she won't have to share it with classmates.  My character's mother names her daughter (born in 2006) Jessica?  She's an 80s baby who doesn't actually remember much of the 80s and tries to compensate by making everything in her life as 80s-tastic as possible . . . she considered naming her daughter Leia Buttercup - or maybe Sloan Claire (ten points for each reference, lol . . . well, five points for the first two).  My mother and aunt name their daughters Ashli and Jessica?  They picked cute, girly names they liked that just happened to be liked by the vast majority of the baby-having population at the time.  My character's mother names her daughter (born in 1989) Jessica?  She's a hopeless trend-follower desperate for any sort of popularity . . . her name is probably Lisa or Karen or Patricia (all top ten names in the 60s . . . no comment on certain other top names in that list).

In this particular case it's not that big a deal, the story I'm formulating has both mother and daughter as main characters, so I'm doing a thorough background bio on the mom anyway.  Of course, her name requires a bit of a dip into her mother's psyche . . . and before you know it I'm wondering where Eve came up with "Seth."

And therein lies why characters are harder: I didn't have to name myself.

P. ost  S. cript
So this is totally shopped out the wazoo . . . but it's still pretty awesome.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Cake . . . er, Town . . . is a Lie

Did you think you were done reading my Twi-rants?  Well . . . sort of.  Actually, I'm not entirely sure what today's rant is about - just that something needs to be ranted.

Have you heard of 50 Shades of Grey?  It *might* be the most terrible book ever written.  Seriously.  It is never-supposed-to-be-published-and-see-the-light-of-day bad.  And it wasn't - supposed to see the light of day, I mean.  Other than the deepest, darkest bowels of the internet.

For the lucky uninitiated, 50 Shades started out as Twilight fanfiction by someone who was bitter bout the lack of explicit sex scenes in the originals.  So they wrote all the varying levels of dirty things they wished Bella and Edward had in the first place and put it online.  And you know that episode of Friends where Joey writes a letter of recommendation to the adoption agency for Chandler and Monica?  In places it reads more or less like that.  I haven't read it myself, but I have been made aware of a website that posts small excerpts that demonstrate just how unreadable this thing is.  Where Twilight could have been vastly improved by a couple more rounds with an editor, its knock-off needed a complete tear-down-and-just-start-over treatment.  I would include quotes, but honestly the most unreadable bits are also the most not-appropriate-to-put-on-a-blog-my-grandparents-read.  Of course, they're also the most thesaurus-ed to death . . . some to the point that you can't even tell what's going on until you run it through a thesaurus yourself to translate it back into what it originally said.  And somehow it got so popular in those deep, dark internet bowels that the powers that really shouldn't be anymore decided it should be published.  As is.  So they ran it through a computer program that changed all instances of "Edward" and "Bella" to . . . I don't know, whatever the names are in the published version.  And then sent it directly off to the publisher.  And somehow it became the biggest thing among middle-aged women since . . . well, Twilight.

Which brings me to the source of my rant - which might actually be more of a "can someone make it stop being crazy????" sort of plea. 

As of a few days ago, 50 Shades of Grey was the most requested title at the library in this town.  The mind, she is boggled.  If you had asked me before I saw the list on the library website I would have been willing to bet big money that our library didn't even have a copy.  Much less four.  Much less that if I were to put it on hold today I would be looking at a three month wait to get it.  And then 3 more months a piece for each sequel.  Because oh yes, there's more of them.

The thing I can't wrap my head around though - who's reading it here?  It's widely known to be erotic vampire fiction with extreme BDSM content.  It even mentions the erotic part on the library website, which I guess I always figured was more or less a kiss of death for a book in Utah.  It's just not the sort of thing you envision sitting on everyone's coffee table around here . . . which, I suppose, is why everyone has it on hold at the library.  They all want to read it, but you can bet there won't be cheers and claps when the movie release is included in the important weekly events announcements in Relief Society (actually happened with Twilight in the single's ward in Florida).  It's hard to believe such a book could possibly be popular in a place like this, but I have to admit it's a little amusing to wonder which of these apparently perfectly content, perfectly put together, lovely ladies I see everywhere I go are secretly reading the most popular porn since the Kama Sutra (which, as I've been told, isn't actually porn, but I haven't read it. I've only eaten the ice cream, lol).  Like I said, I can't wrap my head around it - it's a such a contradictory thought!

I mean, I really can't blame them for getting sucked into a book or series - there are three book releases I'm currently counting down to - but I have to wonder why anyone would choose one so poorly written.  Maybe I'm just a book snob. (who are we kidding, I am a book snob.)  And I can't help but think of this.  2:29?  Sums it all up.  But that, like, doesn't happen in Utah.  You know?  It's not a lecture you hear repeated every six months at the girl broadcasts before conference, just the priesthood session.

In conclusion . . . I am not living in the town I thought I was.  And it's a little weird.

P. ost  S. cript
Totally counting down to the Olympics next month.  Also - totally trying to pretend this wasn't almost 20 years ago.  Things I remember - quite clearly - are not allowed to have happened that long ago.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Everything Good For You Sucks

I am a rather introverted person.  That doesn't come as a shock to anyone, does it?  I mean, in certain situations you'd never know it, and on the internet we're all loudmouthed jerks of varying degrees depending on the level of anonymity in whatever corner we're hiding in at any particular time.  But generally speaking - in real, physical, actually-interacting-with-actual-people life I am an introvert.  I've known it for a long time.  I've been ashamed of it, I've tried to hide/overcome/change it, I've felt like it was something I needed to fix about myself.  And in the last couple of years I've finally started to accept that this is just who I am, and that it's not a bad thing to be . . . even when it seems like I'm the only one in the world sometimes.

At this point I'm sure it doesn't sound like it, but this isn't something about myself that I think about a lot anymore.  But it was brought up to me a little while ago, so I've been paying more attention to what goes on when I'm out and about with people.  And I noticed something in the last couple of weeks that I already knew, but I guess I'd forgotten - I'm not very good at the whole "having conversations" thing.

I think I've mentioned once or twice that I prefer communicating in writing as opposed to verbally, because in writing I can change things as much as I want until I've got my words expressing what I actually meant to say.  When I talk a lot of the time I know what I meant, but that's not what the people I'm talking to hear.  Sometimes I know where things got lost and sometimes . . . not so much.  But when someone asks you a question in person, you have to answer more or less immediately.  A response in writing can take a lot longer without looking weird/rude. (side note/fun fact: this blog post is probably going to take me most of the afternoon)

I saw this gif recently, and it really describes me perfectly - especially the second box.  And that, I think, is what makes it so hard for me to have a conversation . . . because I've also noticed that it's a lot easier for me if it's one-on-one rather than a big group of people all talking.  I get lucky sometimes with the occasional witty one-liner or something, but generally speaking the more people there are involved the more likely it is that by the time I think of something to say the group will have moved on to four or five new topics and my comment is completely irrelevant now.  And of course since I'm trying to be a good listener and they say good listeners don't just think of what the next thing they're going to say is I'm getting my topics mixed up and feeling guilty for thinking too much of myself when I should be listening to the people I'm spending time with but if I didn't then I would never say anything and that would just look weird . . . and I just can't win.  L'esprit de l'escalier?  Story of my life.  All.  the.  time.  One on one is easier, but even then sometimes I find myself at a loss for words - even with Luke, and if you don't know how to talk to the person you're married to, how the crap are you supposed to talk to anyone else? 

I suppose it's something I should practice.  Actually, I had a roommate who would try to get me to practice . . . mostly, I think, as practice for her since she was a psych major, lol. (love you, Cindy!!)  And it worked great because we were roommates and she was one of my best friends and so we'd just sit in the living room and chat so it didn't take that much effort on my part.  Because we all know I'm not one to go out on a limb for social interaction.

Man, three years of blogging . . . the list of reasons that a shrink would have field day with me must be in the quadruple digits by now . . .

Anyway.  I'm a little at a loss.  Hiding in a hole forever isn't exactly a practical option (even if it is what I mostly do in the summer).  Practice doesn't seem to help - heaven knows I've had enough to make me a pro if that were the case.  Like I said, I've been paying more attention lately and I can see exactly where I'm . . . failing, I suppose.  But what does one say when one doesn't know what to say?  When the mind is blank or you feel like you have nothing to add to the conversation?  It's not that I don't feel welcome - but I do feel overwhelmed sometimes.

I suppose it's no surprise really that I have over 1200 books on my to-read list, is it?  Books let you talk when you're ready.

To end on a lighter note, a classic Luke-ism for you: we were playing Disney trivia.  I don't remember the question, but the answer was Crimson Tide, and as a hint Luke said we'd watched it at my parents house once.

Me: No we didn't.  I've never seen that movie.

Luke: Yes we did.  Wait . . . that was Hunt for Red October.  But they both have red in the title!

I cracked up . . . but maybe that's because I've won 17 games to his 6. :-)

P. ost  S. cript
I . . . kind of want one.  Don't judge.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Information Gathering

So I know you're all so totally wrapped up in my life and hanging on my every word around here that you don't need any reminder in the least . . . but. ;-)

The whole NaNoWriMo thing?  Still happening.  I think I even have a pretty good plot idea . . . which I shall be keeping under wraps.  *cue the hearts of the plagiarists of the world breaking*  I really like it - it may even be good enough for trying to publish when I'm done, although that remains to be seen.  Either way it'll feel good to be (non-blog) writing again.  I've missed it.

Anyway.  I'm planning on spending the summer doing some prep work - sketching a bit of an outline and making up a dramatis personae.  (side note: doesn't that sound so much more literature-y than character list?  I should get bonus points with publishers just for knowing the term, lol!)

Anyway.  I'm currently still in the process of naming (and in some cases creating) characters.  I've mentioned . . . okay, mostly ranted . . . about it a few times before, but I am a total names junkie.  As in, I can spend hours reading articles about baby names.  And picking and re-picking names to use on theoretical future children.  (this is the part where I should probably not admit that at one time I was absolutely determined to saddle some poor girl with Alexandriana.  that would be tougher to learn than Ashleigh Elizabeth . . . which apparently almost happened.)  But I sometimes get the feeling that I get lost in all the names.  You know how if you read or say a word over an over for some reason it starts to look and/or sound wrong?  Like when you're correcting a spelling test and by the time you get to the end you're not sure if the kid who spelled it "August" got it right . . . or the kid who spelled it "Ogst" did.

Also - that, you know, totally didn't happen last week.  And Katie totally doesn't need to go through those tests again to double check them.  (one of those sentences is true, lol)

So I need a little outside perspective.  I have a few names I like and am possibly kicking around for this story . . .or maybe another one . . . or possibly a child, although I'm trying to stick to names I don't quite like that much for characters.  Because I like so many names - especially girl names.  Anyway.  Since it's me, by a few I naturally mean pretty much every name I like in every possible version and with every possible spelling that doesn't look like a made-up Polish word or the ultimate in secure, unbreakable passwords.  Which do you prefer, why, what kind of character comes to mind when you hear that name?  (and at this point at least all the characters are pretty WASPy so keep that in mind if a particular name calls to mind a Polynesian princess or something.  that's the perspective I'm looking for.)

Also I'm just a huge dork who wants to know what everyone else thinks about a bunch of not-quite-random name variations.













Adrianne/Emmaline  (Is pronouncing it Emma-leen too out there?)








 Quin for a boy - has it become to girly?
Quin for a girl - too trendy?







I could seriously go on for days . . . but I'll spare you.  I get the feeling you're already bored. :-)

I need to find a less nerdy hobby.

P. ost  S. cript
Some days it doesn't take much at all to crack me up.