I started working when I turned 16, because my dad basically said to me, "Okay, you're 16 now. Go out and get a job." I got a job at Gino's, a fast food restaurant a couple of blocks from my house where my oldest sister and my brother had also worked when they were in high school. At the time, such "restaurants" were permitted to pay minors a percentage of minimum wage, so my starting salary was $2.85 at a time when the full minimum wage was $3.35. |
For that $2.85 an hour I wore a scratchy polyester uniform, scrubbed toilets, washed windows, scrubbed out the shake machine and every other surface behind the counter where we put the orders together on trays (eating in) or paper bags (take-out), operated the drive-through order station, made change myself (we had to do it quickly, too, and didn't have registers that told us the change), fetched food from the walk-in fridge and freezers (without putting a coat on), unpacked cartons of food and paper supplies and put it all where it could be grabbed quickly to complete orders, "married" ketchup and mustard bottles to keep the tables fully stocked, emptied trash, wiped down tables, chairs, trash bins and condiment containers, swept and mopped floors, and often worked well past midnight (90-120 minutes past closing) to have the place ready to open again the following morning. I got a 30 minute break, during which I clocked out and was not paid, and during my break I was permitted to buy a Gino's meal with my employee discount. (Only soft drinks were free.) Oh, and there was cleaning the bathrooms frequently, often after customers who behaved in said bathrooms as if they were raised in caves.
Cooks had the pleasure of cleaning grease traps, grills, deep fryers, ventilation hoods, and disposing of disgusting amounts of used fry-grease from the Kentucky Fried Chicken (Gino's was a licensed seller), french fries and similar items. And then mopping the kitchen floors and the walk-in freezer and fridge. They also did hours of food prep before opening, chopping lettuce, tomatoes and onions and otherwise getting ready to cook massive quantities of food. Managers often participated in this prep as well, besides working on the books and balancing everything, creating schedules and getting the money safely to the bank deposit box each night without being mugged. (They gave the local cops free food because they accompanied the manager to the bank each night. And I'm sure this kind of thing still goes on 33 years later.)
All of this is to say that anyone who calls these jobs "flipping burgers" and doubts that those who hold fast food jobs deserve to be paid a living wage have either never held one of these jobs or have developed some kind of amnesia protecting them from remembering what it was really like. I know now that it was technically illegal for them to have paid me $2.85 an hour. I also know that when I started waiting tables and was making $5+ an hour, it felt like I was rich. I wasn't, but by then I was 19 and it did mean that I could afford to move into an apartment that cost me $200 a month, which was about 40% of my income. I didn't have health insurance, but I had a university scholarship that gave me access to the university healthcare system during the semester, and my other general expenses were very low. I took public transit and did not have a car. I bought my clothes at thrift stores and furniture for my apartment secondhand or on sale.
I was able to do that in 1984. Thirty years later, the cost of living has skyrocketed but the minimum wage has gone up very little. If I were still waiting tables I would still definitely be better off than a fast food worker--prices on menus have gone up, and most people are pretty good about tipping properly based on a percentage of the check. However, I know that when I did this work, my best tips were all from former bartenders and waitstaff. I tip generously because I've been there, paying my rent and utilities and buying my bus pass with tips. But fast food workers can't rely on tips and the generosity of people who've been in their shoes--unless those people, and a lot of others, pressure legislators to increase the minimum wage.
Yes, I was a high school student when I worked in fast food. A lot of people still have the mindset that that is who is SUPPOSED to hold fast food jobs, saying things like, "These are supposed to be entry-level jobs, they're not supposed to be careers!" They label adults working in fast food as failures, high school drop outs, people who made "poor life choices".
This is incredibly naive and myopic. Even back when I was working in fast food, someone else had to do my job during the day, when I was at school. High school students didn't open up Gino's at 10 am Monday through Friday--adults who were paid minimum wage did that. They paid their bills and bought their kids clothes and food and kept a roof over their heads with minimum wage. And even then, a lot of them worked multiple jobs or used food stamps or shared housing with others, years after a lot of people might want to stop having roommates, because they had to. It was all they could afford.
And now expenses are higher than ever and real salaries are lower than ever. And people disrespect the job fast food workers do and call it "flipping burgers" as if they get to inhabit some sort of perpetual Fourth of July, standing over a grill on a nice deck with an apron emblazoned with KISS THE COOK, as if this is what they always wanted to do, so why should they be paid a living wage for what a lot of people do for enjoyment, as a hobby? In this argument, there is no recognition of the amount of sheer toil, the back-breaking labor involved in these jobs. Would those who don't want to raise the minimum wage want to do these jobs for a day? For an hour? I doubt it. Yet they think they're easy and stupid and a result of "making poor life-choices", even though we don't choose where we are born, or our parents/caregivers, or the school system in our town when we're kids, or any number of factors that perpetuate systemic poverty.
But we can choose to treat people fairly. Corporations are not people; and if they were people, they'd be horrible, horrible people. I was fairly comfortable as a kid, though we weren't rich. We were lower middle class and never went on vacations and didn't have a lot, but we were never hungry or cold. We were okay. And that was because my dad had a union job. Unions exist because employers failed to be fair to their workers. They failed at being good corporate citizens. That is the ONLY reason that unions exist--because they needed to. I think that not only should the minimum wage be raised but that fast food workers and employees of places like Walmart should unionize. And that is ONLY because their employers failed to do the right thing by their workers. If they hadn't, unions wouldn't be necessary. But clearly they ARE necessary.
Corporate greed has reached an all-time high, along with corporate profits, which are often taxed as capital gains for those who have invested in these companies. Capital gains are taxed at only about 15 percent. If these corporations were forced to give what would have been capital gains for their investors to their employees as wages, those wages would be taxed at a far higher rate than capital gains and increase the country's tax revenue, as well as decreasing the strain on "social programs" such as food stamps that are utilized by an alarming proportion of minimum wage workers. It's a win-win for the country; the same money is taxed at a higher rate, government revenue increases, more people can make a good living (and spend more money) and fewer people need government assistance.
Don't believe anyone who calls minimum wage workers moochers and bums who just need to go to school to get a good job. Good jobs are not that easy to come by these days and plenty of people working in fast food DID go to college and can't get any other kind of job because of corporations that have been rewarded for shipping jobs overseas. We need to stop rewarding companies who give their employees the shaft or just eliminate jobs altogether to maximize their profits and start making sure these companies do right by their employees. Our economy will never recover unless we start with making certain that the people at the bottom of the heap are able to live above the poverty line while working hard for a living.
It's the right thing to do.
Man, that's annoying to type, with all of the periods.|
So far I'm enjoying MAoS. (And laughing whenever I watch Once Upon a Time on Hulu because typing just the "O" in the search criteria brings up OUaT but also brings up MAoS. Yes, I'm sure that TONS of people search for that show using the "of" in the title.")
Anyway, my husband and I were watching last night's episode when it was actually broadcast for once, instead of later in the week, on Hulu, and when Skye gets all emotional and hugs Simmons, I couldn't resist saying, "And a thousand fanfics were born."
I'm picturing them as small, dancing fairies, throwing pixie dust into the air and cheering squeekily as they leap from flower petal to flower petal.
I've also watched all six extant episodes of Sleepy Hollow, in just two days, because my daughter called it "adorable". It is. And every time Abbie and Ichabod give each other a "significant" look I also find myself thinking, "And a thousand fanfics were born."
This time I'm picturing the fanfics as fairies in 18th century garb, dancing sedate and orderly line-dances such as at a country house party in a Jane Austen book.
I haven't actually sought out any fanfic for either fandom because I fear that nothing would live up to my visions of the dancing fairies. ;)
Took the train down to Greenwich Pier this morning for a Thames boat tour that took us to Westminster. Will have to upload pictures late tonight or tomorrow, because we then gave ourselves sensory overload by visiting Westminster Abbey (where you are not permitted to take photos indoors, so we didn't). We are just back in the flat briefly, after buying theatre tickets, eating lunch and walking through the National Gallery.|
We are here! In the London flat we are renting for a week, through the cold and wet, but now the sun is shining and the Druids are about to have a celebration of its return!|
No, really, it looks lovely out and the forecast for the rest of the day is ZERO rain and a temp of about 13C/55F, so we are off to explore Islington, particularly St. Paul's Road, for food and interesting things to do.
If you are in London and want to get together before next Tuesday, let me know and I'll give you the number of the iPhone we are using whilst here.
So--those of you who know London, a question:|
If we got tickets to see a West Ham vs. Man City match in East London on a Saturday evening (@5:30) is that a really dicey thing for two Americans to do? (Or anyone, for that matter?)
MINISTER: I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss.|
[Bride and groom kiss and guests clap and cheer. Except for the desperate-looking guy we'll call Teep Artie running down the aisle.]
ARTIE: Samantha! I'm here to rescue you!
[Artie has a bloody bandage around his head and is limping. He looks like he hasn't changed his clothes for a month.]
SAM: Artie? What are you doing here? I told you to take a hike! This is my wedding!
ARTIE: Yes, but it's not too late! You haven't consummated it yet. We can just get you an annulment and--
SAM: Why would I do that? I rejected you over and over. Why don't you get that? I'm married to Barry now. I never wanted to be with you. That's why I got the restraining order. How did you get in here? Why can't you take a hint?
ARTIE: You just don't understand what I can give you!
SAM: Don't care is more like it. And didn't you have to file for bankruptcy because you couldn't pay for your appendectomy?
ARTIE: That was just a bump in the road.
SAM: You don't look so good. How's your asthma?
ARTIE: Well, I can't get an inhaler now for less than $500. I changed jobs, and it's a pre-existing condition--
SAM: Oh, that's not an issue any more. Thanks to Barry.
[Sam bats her eyes at Barry, who smiles benevolently at Artie.]
BARRY: And if I'd had my way, you wouldn't have had to file for bankruptcy because you couldn't pay for an operation.
ARTIE: That's socialist propaganda! I deserved to go bankrupt! Sam, please, I still love you. Just say you love me and we'll run away together!
SAM: Artie, you're delusional. I never loved you, I told you over and over again, and now I'm married. Just go away and stop bothering me! You have to accept that this is how it is!
[Artie suddenly pulls an elderly woman from her seat on the aisle and pulls a gun out of his pocket; he holds the woman around her neck with one arm and presses the gun against her temple with the other.]
ARTIE: Okay, how much do you love me now? Say you love me!
SAM: Don't hurt Nana!
ARTIE: I'm not the one who wants to hurt Nana! It's Barry, with his--his--DEATH PANELS!
BARRY: Listen, asshat, there's no such thing as death panels! Why do you keep trying to scare Sam and her Nana about freaking death panels? You're the only one threatening Nana!
ARTIE: To get Sam to listen! And get her to hate you!
SAM: You're the only one you've made me hate, Artie! I've given you my answer over and over. Now let go of Nana!
ARTIE: Maybe--maybe we can negotiate something. Maybe you can spend Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays with me--
SAM: I'm not going to negotiate with you, Artie!
ARTIE: You negotiated with that other guy--
SAM: That was to buy my house, Artie.
ARTIE: But you hated the guy selling it to you. So you'll negotiate with someone you hate but not me?
BARRY: We hate you too, Artie, but we don't negotiate with terrorists. Let Nana go.
ARTIE: I'll turn off the electricity! The doors are electronic--we won't be able to leave! And you'll either all die of starvation or have to start eating each other! And--there aren't any bathrooms here, so you'll have to pee in the corner, and it'll start to smell!
SAM: For Pete's sake--why won't you quit? You can't make me love you, Artie. And even if I were on the fence, you wouldn't be helping your case with this bullshit. I'm married. It's a done deal. I'm happy. This is what I want. GO AWAY NOW.
ARTIE: What if I--what if I make it impossible for you all to see cute videos of baby pandas?
SAM: Then we'll all hate you even more! More threats aren't going to make me change my mind. What part of IT IS OVER do you not get?
[Artie blinks in confusion.]
ARTIE: Um, all of it.
[Suddenly, Nana, puts her elbow in Artie's ribs, takes the gun from his grasp and aims it at him.]
NANA: Shut up and go away, asshole. Before I shoot. I may be mostly blind and can't remember my address most of the time, or what year it is, but I've had a license to carry a gun since 1960 and I'm a crack shot, so go ahead--try me.
[Artie looks down the barrel of the gun and faints dead away. Nana puts the gun in her purse and sits down again.]
NANA: I never liked him anyway. Those stories about death panels always sounded like something he'd thought way too much about, like he'd been planning them for years. Good riddance.
[The music starts up and Sam and Barry walk down the aisle arm in arm, stepping over Artie on the way out of the chapel. The guests clap and cheer again and when they leave, Artie is left alone, lying in the aisle, drooling onto the carpet.]
We're taking Rachel back to New York for her second year at NYU tomorrow, and I may or may not have internet access while we're doing that--it's unclear. (I may have access purely through going to an internet cafe or some other place in public that has wifi if the place we're staying doesn't have access.)|
She's really looking forward to her new dorm room, which will have a real kitchen that is NOT shared by obnoxious suite-mates from hell. And a friend from Philly just started going to school in NYC and promises to come over to bake muffins, so that's something else for her to look forward to!
I'm making lovely progress on the WiP--just over 60,000 words in 60 days--and am also reading a weird variety of books: Codex Born by Jim C. Hines (the sequel to Libriomancer; Bring up the Bodies; A Most Devilish Rogue (waves to Anne!) by Ashlyn MacNamara; and I just finished Zealot, by Reza Aslan. I've downloaded and will soon start the memoir on which Call the Midwife was based, so I'm looking forward to that; my boss is reading it already and she highly recommended it.
I'm also very very very very very (multiply that by a few dozen more times) glad to be leaving Philadelphia and the neighborhood of Fairmount in particular before the kick-off of the Made in America festival. Our neck of the woods is chaos incarnate right now, with a massive construction project on the Parkway to build the four stages for the concert(s), very loud sound-checks, and constant buzzing from news helicopters covering this for the local (and maybe also national) newscasts. On top of that, major amounts of traffic are being rerouted onto Fairmount Avenue that would normal be on the Parkway, all of the buses are having to go half-way across town before reverting to their "regular" routes (so we're walking to 30th Street Station in the morning via the Schuylkill bike path) and in general, if it were merely a three-ring circus out there it would be a lot more peaceful than what we've got. And some people are going to be paying huge ticket prices to go to this. Go figure. I'm just glad I'll be 90 miles away instead of in the midst of it.
It's really eye-opening doing the research for my current writing project. Even though I grew up going to a funeral home for piano lessons (the organist there, who was married to the funeral director, was also the organist at our church, and I took lessons from her daughter, who was also an organ and piano teacher) I didn't really witness the funeral business from the "inside". I saw a little of how the house was run, from a purely physical standpoint. (I often was in the position of racing past an open casket with a body in it in the viewing room to get to my lesson. And no, I didn't have to run past it, but in a way, yeah, I really did.) |
I hated encountering the enormous guard dogs, which made me terrified of dogs for many years afterward. My sister also cleaned house for them occasionally, and I also sometimes had to walk up and down to my lessons via the "servants' stairs" that were at the end of a long corridor and were almost EXACTLY like the servants' stairs you see on Downton Abbey. I loved the house itself for its grand architecture; it was a Tudor Revival, possibly from the twenties, with lovely woodwork and enormous stone fireplaces and a lot of diamond-paned windows. For a little while I was also friends with the caretaker's daughter; that family lived in a former carriage house on the grounds, built in the same style as the main house, but on a smaller scale, which I thought was much cooler than my own 1958 twin ranch house.
Anyway, the eye-opening part started with reading The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford; she updated her original 1963 book in the mid-90s. Then today I read the entire 71-page Pennsylvania Funeral Director Law, a lot of news stories about 30 funeral directors challenging the law in a lawsuit, the judge hearing the suit declaring 11 different parts of the law unconstitutional, and the appeal of this decision by the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, the result of which won't be known for a couple of months still. (The appeal was heard last month, over a year after the judge said a lot of it was unconstitutional.)
I also read about the traffic laws pertaining to to funeral processions. And about an order of Catholic Monks in Louisiana who were told to stop building simple wooden caskets to sell to people who didn't want to pay a huge markup at a funeral home and the monks' triumph in court. And another story about an Orthodox rabbi who won a civil rights case against the Funeral Directors Association on the grounds that their rules muddied the separation of church and state, because Orthodox Judaism doesn't permit embalming and in general Orthodox Jews tend to eschew the services of funeral directors and rely on their rabbis to conduct the services and even clean the remains to prepare them for burial.
Now I need to do some editing to reflect the info dump into my brain, but it's all good. I'm ahead of my self-imposed schedule (on chapter 6 out of 13) and tomorrow I can do a sweeping edit to incorporate a lot of what I've learned. It's almost--almost--making me nostalgic for my childhood piano lessons...
Had a fun outing this afternoon to the Franklin Fountain (awesomest ice cream in Philadelphia!) with the other folks of Potterdelphia for a belated Harry Potter birthday gathering. I'm now officially LJ friends with drinkingcocoa :waves: whose little girl was also along for the outing, sporting beautiful face-paint from a trip to the zoo!|
I also got to schmooze with Skot again, our fearless leader, and Katie, who turned out to be a Psychic Serpent fan, and met Maggie and talked again with David, who was lucky enough to go to MistiCon. (I couldn't have gone even if I'd known about it sooner--it was the same weekend we were bringing Rachel home from NYU.)
I'm so glad I started going to these gatherings--I was really getting way too introverted even for me, which is saying something, and it's good to get out and talk to people about something other than my day job. I'm also going to try to get to PhilCon again this year, which I haven't done since they moved to Cherry Hill because traveling over there on the busiest weekend of the year for me, work-wise, just wasn't feasible. They've moved this year's event to the first weekend of November, which works much better for me, so I can go again! (And even book a hotel room to stay over for a night or two, thus avoiding constantly being on the bus between Philadelphia and Cherry Hill.)
Anyone else planning to go this year? Maybe I should talk some of the Potterdelphia folks into going!
I've been working diligently on the resumed writing project since July 1 and have written almost 23,000 words of it since then. The book now totals over 35,000 words! I'm in the middle of chapter 5 out of 13 and on track to finish by the end of September, I believe, if I can keep up this pace. Then the editing begins, of course. I'm also rewatching a favorite five-season series and reading a Jessica Mitford book to get me in the proper frame of mind for writing this, just to be extra cryptive about it.|
I still need to finish the world-building on the project I wanted to resume on July 1 but didn't because I wasn't ready. So I will try to shoehorn in more of that during my daily writing time while not reducing my output on Current Project. I'd now like to complete the world-building work by the end of September so I can get back to writing that while editing Current Project.
I've also queried a couple of agents concerning Quantum Harry and received one thanks-but-no-thanks letter. I will send out a couple more queries this week. I've been neglecting that and I really shouldn't. I've got what I think is a pretty good list so far, so we'll see how it goes with more queries out there.
Progress report over and out!
|» You've Got Time|
I have been seriously ear-wormed with this song ALL WEEK.|
(And I'm not quite done with Orange is the New Black--episode 10 is next for me--so no spoilers, please!)
|» Twenty Feet from Stardom|
Rachel and I just saw this yesterday. Amazing film, amazing women. And, once again, something that includes information about Phil Spector leaves the viewer with the general impression of, "Man, was that guy a dick."|
Go see it!
|» Various types of progress|
I queried two agents today concerning Quantum Harry! So that's something. One just wanted a query letter, proposal and outline, while the other wanted all of that AND the first five chapters of nonfiction works, so I sent the Introduction and first four chapters (which amount to almost 60 pages). Both agents are on the record as interested in nonfiction AND "pop culture", which I suppose Harry Potter might fit into, so I'm hoping one of them is a good fit. I have other people to query as well, but the rest are only interested in nonfiction, as far as I know. We'll see.|
I also recently rewrote the Introduction to Quantum Harry, so I have to resend that to the alpha readers; as the first part of the book that will be read by prospective agents/editors, I felt it lacked "oomph", so hopefully I've improved that. It's five pages shorter, so that can't hurt!
In my "new" fiction project (one I shelved a few years back and have returned to), I've written 6,675 words since the beginning of the month, for a total now of over 20,000 words. Not too shabby. I need to get back to some of the planning I was doing for the other fiction project, but I've been trying to make sure I'm at least writing a little of this each day, which has worked, except for yesterday. But ten days out of eleven isn't so bad. (I was spending most of yesterday agonizing over the query letter for Quantum Harry.) Although technically, I spent the first couple of days of July editing the existing 13,000 words of this project; I needed to refamiliarize myself with what I'd already written. It's been a while, but now I feel like I'm back in the swing of things.
I'm also reading The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford as background material for this project. And rewatching Six Feet Under. That's all I'm saying right now about the subject matter.
Question: Have you ever planned a funeral for anyone? What is your most memorable experience of doing so? Or your most memorable time at any funeral?
|» Why do I read the comments on some articles?|
So tired of people automatically saying about both Orson Scott Card and Stephenie Meyer that their being Mormons explains anything they don't like about them. There are plenty of Mormons who manage NOT to actively work to dehumanize sexual minorities and take away what few rights they have (OSC) or who manage NOT to create characters who are horrible role models for young people (SM). I choose not to pay money for anything these two have created because of the agenda OSC supports and because I don't agree with a number of things SM does in her work, not because they're Mormons. And don't even get me started on the idea that not supporting an artist for ideological reasons is "stealing" from them, blacklisting them or censoring them. |
(This post stemming from an article which had a bunch of Facebook comments in which people repeatedly kept saying, "Oh, OSC is Mormon, he's a cultist. That explains why..." yada yada yada. And then people responding by saying, "But you're a Catholic, so you're also a cultist, yada yada yada..." Gah.)
|» Writing, writing, just keep writing... *|
I worked on three different writing projects today that are in rather different stages:|
1. I looked up ten agents who deal in nonfiction works, and specifically a couple that include "pop culture" in the list of topics they handle because I decided to query agents and publishers simultaneously for Quantum Harry, rather than just publishers. I also added two publishers to my original list of eight who have carried nonfiction books on Harry Potter before. (There were only eight because it's surprising how many nonfiction books about HP are either self-published, from houses that don't take unagented submissions, from houses that don't have any submission information or even contact information online, or come from university presses and textbook publishers.) The two publishers I added to the list have published nonfiction tie-in books for other fandoms, but not HP (mainly Star Trek and Buffy), and their submission guidelines are pretty straightforward, so I thought they'd be a good fit. Now I need to really get my querying material in order (tailored for the guidelines for each publisher and agent).
2. I almost finished creating the employee schedule for my circus/carnival (what I'll be calling the RM project)--but just one version of the schedule. This one is for days when they put on Big Top Show "A" and there is a parade in the town because it is opening night in that location. (It's always show "A" on opening nights.) I still need to put twelve more employees on the schedule (I did 36 today) and then start working on the version of show "A" for other situations (like morning openings). Then shows "B" and "C". Ack. This is why I'm still in the planning stages for this project. So much to consider.
3. On my third day of revisiting an old project that I plan to actually write during July, August and September I finally did some new writing instead of just editing old writing. On Monday and Tuesday I edited Chapters 1 and 2, written a couple of years ago. Yesterday I edited what existed of Chapter 3 and added 1500 words to it. Today I only added 712, but that's okay. I'm giving myself until this coming Monday at midnight to finish Chapter 3. And I've started reading Jessica Mitford's The American Way of Death Revisited for background (on my Nook). I'm feeling good about this project. And it's nice to actually be writing again, instead of always PLANNING for writing! (I'd already planned out was going to be in each chapter of this book and so far I'm not deviating from that plan.)
So--a little writing, a little background reading, a little logistical work and a little internet pavement-pounding to find agents and a couple more publishers. That's a full day in the salt mines for me!
* with apologies to Dory
|» Felicity was one of JJ Abrams' first forays into fantasy...|
...mainly because he had no idea how college really "works". Examples of this:|
On the show: On the day she graduated from high school, Felicity decided, because of what Ben wrote in her yearbook, to scrap her plan to go to Stanford and instead go to the University of New York. And she makes it happen.
In real life: Impossible. She hadn't even APPLIED to the (admittedly fictional) UNY (a thinly-disguised NYU), let alone before the deadline, let alone applying for a dorm, applying for financial aid, etc. So the very premise at the start of the series is pretty firmly based on JJ Abrams' fantasy idea of how college applications and acceptances work. Convincing her parents to pay for UNY instead of Stanford would have been a moot point.
On the show: Sometime during her first semester, Felicity starts to have doubts about being a pre-med major. In her second semester she decides to take an art class that other fairly serious art majors are also taking. It's not an art class that non-art majors are using for an elective. She gets in and does rather well. It's also a class that Noel is taking, even though he's a sophomore.
In real life: Also impossible. To get into a class like that, except perhaps at a community college, she would need to present a portfolio to be admitted. And Noel would be much more likely to have taken the class during his freshman year, although that's only mildly implausible compared to Felicity not needing to submit a portfolio. I won't even get into the studio being open after hours and being the location where she does something for the first time the school would probably frown on her doing in a classroom studio.
On the show: As stated above, Felicity followed a boy to NY. She also admits as much to him, which really should freak him out. It does a little, but not all that much. Oh, and she gets a work-study job in admissions, where she goes into the files and reads his application essay. Which is presented as wrong but not particularly strongly.
In real life: I think that these days, a lot of people would have the good sense to stay far, far away from someone who did this, not become their friend. And they wouldn't consider dating her once they knew that she'd read confidential files in the admissions office. "Stalkery" would be a mild way to describe her actions at this point. Most people would probably consider all of this to be major red-flag material.
On the show: She starts to date her RA (Noel) at one point. She's not supposed to date her RA. Or rather, he's not supposed to date her; he's supposed to be an authority figure to the dorm students, so there is an imbalance of power.
In real life: This would not be shrugged off or result in no consequences. Noel would be out of that RA job in a heartbeat.
On the show: The next year, Felicity is an RA, despite breaking rules with her own RA the year before. Meghan is also an RA despite not at all having the personality for it. (And I love Meghan--her eventual friendship with Felicity is one of the saving graces of the show.)
In real life: Most schools would have a ton of students vying to be RAs and there would be a screening process by which people not suited to it or who blithely broke rules related to the RA job in the past would be eliminated as candidates. And don't even get me started on the giant dorm room. You could hold a prom in that thing. And the fact that it was the same room Felicity and Meghan were in during their freshman year; even if they were RAs in a freshman dorm, there would be regularly designated RA rooms, and the same one they had as freshmen wouldn't be included.
On the show: The university suddenly drops swimming as a sport. One of the only things Ben enjoyed at school was swim team, so he is rather upset about this. He and Felicity break into the pool, bring alcohol, and have a private swim. They are caught and have to see a counselor and do community service as payback. Felicity's community service is volunteering at the student health clinic, which is run by another (pre-med) student, a senior (who hits on Felicity) and is otherwise staffed by medical personal who are also volunteers doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. This includes Felicity's dad at one point.
In real life: First, most universities have their funding for programs like competitive swimming lined up well in advance, so if a program does get cut, they know it's happening semesters ahead of time, not a week before it happens. Second, Ben and Felicity getting expelled for their stunt is far more likely. Third, I can't imagine even the most cash-strapped school in existence NOT having a student health service that is fully staffed by paid personnel.
On the show: At one point, Felicity discovers that Meghan didn't MAIL (yes, really) a form for Felicity to drop a class she needed to get rid of in order to make room in her schedule for an art class. Despite not attending the class ALL SEMESTER, by studying with Noel THE NIGHT BEFORE THE FINAL she manages to get an A on the final and in the class. It is also stated that a "normal" courseload is 14 credits and with the extra class she has 18.
In real life: There was so very much wrong with this. First, just about any school in existence, even in 1999-2001, would have had students hand-deliver such a form to the registrar's office to drop a class. Second, it was probably a combination drop-add form, both dropping the one class and adding the new one, so the teacher of her new class would have informed her that she still hadn't shown up on the roll if it was several weeks into the class and there was still no sign of Felicity's name. Actually, most teachers would have made her bring a copy of the drop-add form to the class to verify that she really had gone through the proper channels to take the class. There's no way Felicity couldn't have known that the drop-add didn't go through. Possibly just a drop, but that's not what they wrote.
On top of that, it's highly unlikely that any school has a "normal" courseload of 14 credits. A fulltime load of 15 is usual for schools on a 3-credit system (5 3-credit classes) and 16 is usual for schools on 4-credit systems (4 4-credit classes). A 14-credit load being "usual" is actually quite UNusual. Before the 14 credits were mentioned I also though it was weird that she was allowed to stay in the new class (which was actually the "extra" one, since it was added last) if she didn't pay more money for it, but I think the 14-credit thing was supposed to explain that. It explained squat. And THEN, on top of that, was the unlikeliness of a teacher letting her take the final after not attending all semester. I think 97% of all teachers would have flunked her outright. Or, even if they'd let her take the final, she might barely scrape a D or something out of the course, not having taken the midterm or done any other assignments all semester. This one really had me shouting at the TV!
On the show: After he is riding in a ambulance with a gunshot victim (don't ask) who dies and then is revived by the paramedic, Ben decides to be a paramedic. Only after he goes to paramedic training between his junior and senior years, he decides he doesn't really want to be a paramedic, he wants to be a doctor. So he changes his major to pre-med. And still graduates at the end of his fourth year.
In real life: A competent advisor would have suggested he revisit the idea of being a paramedic. His academic history was spotty at best. And the typical requirements for a pre-med major would have meant him basically starting over as a freshman, not being able to still fulfill all of the requirements to graduate. But also, really, this guy is not doctor material.
On the show: Not long before he is to graduate, Noel runs around the library with Felicity and they drape the place in acres of toilet paper, as a prank. Felicity's role is not discovered, but Noel's image is captured by a security camera. His punishment is to restock all of the university's bathrooms with toilet paper. He graduates with honors.
In real life: Noel would probably have been barred from the graduation ceremony, if he was still given his degree at all. Some schools might have split the difference--he gets the degree, but no ceremony. And the other punishment would have been more arduous than restocking toilet paper.
There's more, but that's just a taste of how JJ Abrams was sending Felicity to school at a fantasy university. I really probably shouldn't be surprised by the trippiness at the end of season four, all things considered. I'm imagining him cackling gleefully at the hate male the network probably received when the truly weird plotline started playing out in episodes 18-22.
|» Felicity, meet Bobby Ewing...|
Years ago, when Felicity was first on TV, I watched it. Then, sometime in the third season, I stopped watching it. I don't recall if there was a particular reason. I just didn't continue, and I didn't bother to tape it (the days before TiVO) and didn't have the means to stream it or anything (dial-up speeds being glacial, and networks not offering their shows online in those days).|
So I've been rewatching from the beginning, mainly on Netflix (switching to Hulu a couple of times when Netflix was hiccuping) and I've just gone slightly beyond "The Graduate" in the fourth season.
Seriously? THIS is what happens?
WTF did I just watch?
|» How much of writing is research?|
I've been trying to get my supplemental materials in order for my "new" writing project, which is really me picking up a writing project that I set aside to finish writing Quantum Harry, which is now with two alpha readers. (If you're interested in joining them, let me know.)|
I've been mentally changing a lot about the world-building since I stopped actively working on the project, so this has meant a fair amount of revamping my world's "bible"--a series of files with vocabulary, backstory, character profiles, family trees, schedules, etc. To flesh out some parts of the world, lately I've been researching, in no particular order:
- Phoenixville, PA
- Amtrak routes to West Virginia
- Cornish Hurling
- "Ba" (Orkney)
- Uppies and Doonies
I've also been using Google Translate a lot to find terminology I like for various things. For instance, I put in a very simple word and found a slight similarity between the Welsh and Esperanto translations; after I combined them to create a new word, I asked Google Translate to identify the language, and it decided that it was Finnish! Even better, the meaning of the Finnish word isn't the original word I was translating, but an adjective that, to my mind, fairly describes the activity named by the new word. Win!
What this project ultimately means is that I can use a number of plot elements from my HP fics (the PS series) in these books (the planning is for four total) but with a lot of twists, to make it less likely that people can predict what will happen just by reading the fics. Hardly a case of filing off serial numbers. There are many things that I created for the fics that never showed up in the HP books (and some that did, under different names, after I wrote about them) and I don't want to give up on utilizing those in writing that I could potentially get published, but there are also many things that, though they weren't in the canon books, feel just too tightly bound to the HP world, so I probably won't be using anything that strikes me that way.
Back to work...
|» Science is your friend|
Rachel has become hooked on Orphan Black, a new BBC American show, and has shown me the first three episodes. It's very good and I can highly recommend it--but there is one niggling little Science Thing that they didn't properly research that is bothering me.|
It's, as Paul Simon would say, about "the myth of fingerprints". That is to say, the myth that they are genetic. They are not. The little sworls on our fingertips are not governed by our genes but by the environment in our mothers' wombs when we are in utero. And since everyone's in utero experience is absolutely unique, even that of identical twins or identical quads or whatever, everyone's fingerprints really are different, even if two people are otherwise genetically identical.
They got this right on Ringer, which didn't have as much going for it as Orphan Black, so I kind of wish they'd gotten it right on OB. :sigh: Oh well. I'm still enjoying it. But I won't be reading anything about it until I'm done all of the episodes--I don't want to see anything spoilery. (Unfortunately, people watching Mad Men haven't been putting spoilery things behind cuts for those of us who don't get to see it yet, and that's been kind of annoying...)
I'm also not clear about why anyone thinks the story is set anywhere other than Toronto. Having been to Toronto, that was clear to me from the start. It's obviously not in the US. Anyone who thinks there's only one "Scarborough" in the world needs to get out a little more.
|» Three WTF Moments Within a Few Minutes|
1. I received this email today from "Mrs Vivian":|
Attention: Email Account Holder,
This is to inform you that your E-mail Address was selected on the 5th of June 2013 as one of the six lucky winner in Uk Lotto Mega Jackpot...of 1,000,000.00 GBP(One Million Pound Sterling)and The Draw No:1593. Send your Names:Address:Country:Sex:Age & Tel.Contact.
Published by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
I mean--really? Is there anyone truly dumb enough to buy this? Just for a start, why would the FTC have anything to do with a UK Lotto game? Scam "artists" don't even live up to the name anymore--there's no "art" to this at all.
2. And you want to know a really good sign that you may be pregnant? How about not having a period for months? I don't care of your husband supposedly had a vasectomy (yeah, riiiiiight). If you're not pregnant and you're still of childbearing age and had a kid as recently as 7 years ago, you should see a doctor if you stop having periods, because if it's not pregnancy it could be something quite serious. :headdesk:
3. And lastly, while reading the Lotto email, Yahoo decided to tell me, in the corner of the screen that something trending right now is: Prostitute Ads. Er, really, Yahoo? This is the internet--is there ever a time when Prostitute Ads AREN'T trending?
|» The Hollow Men|
This is sort of an informal poll: Do you know what someone is really saying when they refer to someone having a "hollow leg"? Within the last few days, on Facebook, one of my nieces was posting about her one-year-old son having a hollow leg and one of my other nieces was very concerned because of this. Has this passed out of the popular lexicon? The niece who used the reference is only five years older than her cousin, born in 1976 and 1981, respectively.|
What about it--do you automatically know what this expression means without having to ask?
|» Reading for Story vs. Reading for--Reading|
I'm currently about 100 pages into a 250-page book (in ebook form, specifically Nook format) and I'm finally getting into it. In fact, now that I've learned a lot more about the title character, I'm probably unhealthily over-identifying with that character (because there is, of course, a HEALTHY way of over-identifying with a fictional character).|
The reason it has taken me about 40% of the book to finally get into it, I believe, is the format in which it is written. Now, I have nothing against books narrated by someone who isn't the central character in the book; after all, apart from whatever type of trainwreck the new Great Gatsby film may be, the book is a classic, and is also written from the PoV of someone observing the title character, not from the perspective of the title character. My favorite novel of all time, A Prayer for Owen Meany, is written in the same way. No, that specifically isn't the problem I'm having. The issue with this book is that it is written from a LOT of different PoVs, and the individual character of each narrator is rather slow to come through, or even who each person really is and how they fit into this world. I'm talking about a combination of emails, inter-office memos, communication to doctors, notes sent home to parents from a school principal, etc., strung together by some very disjointed narrative from the title character's daughter. And finally, a letter written by the title character herself.
I feel like shouting into my poor little Nook, "Quit with the gimmickry already, just tell me the damn story!" Because that's what this structure for the book feels like--a gimmick. And not in a good way. I suppose it was also a gimmick for William Wharton to structure Birdy with alternating plain and italic typefaces to delineate the narratives from Birdy and his best friend from childhood, as the author slowly told the story of how Birdy became catatonic after fighting in the Viet Nam war. But Wharton's use of language is riveting; the writing AND the story-telling are both so compelling that I don't care that I just learned something in one character's narrative that opens up a huge number of questions that I may or may not get answered in the next block of narrative from the other character. I no longer completely care about how fast I get the story because the journey there is so enjoyable that the story is almost a fringe-benefit of being able to read such fabulous writing.
That is not the case with this book. The constant switch in narrative voices (which isn't even always completely convincing--there honestly isn't enough true difference between each person to make it believable that all of these things were written by different people) and formats is merely irritating. There's no interesting use of language or any particularly lovely turns of phrase. I know that this sort of thing is popular in publishing these days--first person narratives in particular (though the Hunger Games series really suffered from this, where it was irksome to me from beginning to end) seem to be huge--and books written in the form of Tweets, emails, text-messages, etc., seem to be all the rage. This book isn't quite at that level (despite being largely emails) but it's still irritating the hell out of me.
Can't anyone just tell a damn story anymore, with a straightforward narrative, and without a bunch of gimmicks? Please tell me if you've read something good that is gimmick-less. I'm not even convinced I'll be able to finish this book--my patience is already pretty frazzled by the nonsense. And I hope to heaven that this trend doesn't mean that if I ever want to be published I'll need to pull crappy stunts like this, because I just don't see that happening. Are slush-pile readers really so bored that this is the only kind of thing that holds their attention? Perhaps I shouldn't think about that--too depressing.
Next someone will tell me that I have to write chapters in 140-character bursts. Yeah. Me. Hahahahaha. SO not happening!
I hope everyone I know in Boston is okay--Gwen, Amy, Megan, Alyce & hubby, Shar, and anyone I missed. A coworker of my husband's was in the marathon, as was her boyfriend, and he was crossing the finish line when the first explosion went off. (She'd already finished and wasn't nearby at the time.) He was knocked down but only sustained some cuts from glass, which he removed himself. The two of them are otherwise fine, but everyone at the office was very worried until she called someone and that person was able to spread the word at the office that she was okay.|
I never knew before that in Massachusetts they observe Patriot's Day on the Monday closest to the 19th, if the 19th isn't on a Monday, and I also didn't know that the marathon was held on the holiday, whenever it's observed. Add to this that today is tax day and--yeah.
I remember back when the Oklahoma City bombing happened and my sister (who lives in OKC) said that she and her husband spent hours in line at the closest hospital in order to donate blood. It took a long time because so many people came out to help--which is good. And they didn't mind the wait; they knew it was needed.
That's probably the best way to help. kylecassidy shared a Bostonian's post on FaceBook concerning where to go, but I'll just copy and paste the info from her here:
These are the places where the MGH Blood Mobiles will be this week. THEY ARE NOT EQUIPPED TO TAKE BLOOD TODAY - THE STAFF IS NOT THERE BECAUSE OF THE STATE HOLIDAY. DO NOT GO IN.
They will be open tomorrow at 7:30 am, White 12, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA.
Tuesday, April 16th
- NOAA 9:00am – 2:30pm: 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester
- EF Education 10:00am – 3:30pm: 1 Education Road, Cambridge
Wednesday, April 17th
- Stratus 8:30am – 2: 111 Powder Mill Road, Maynard
Thursday, April 18th
- Building Impact 8:30am – 2:00pm: 920 Winter Street, Waltham
Friday, April 19th
- Boston University 12:00 - 5:00pm: Sargent College 635 Commonwealth Ave
Please note again that they are not equipped to handle this TODAY because of the observation of the holiday.
My thoughts are with everyone in Boston. :hugs: