Plotholes to Fill

A list of what I internally know I need to do for the next draft of Monarchy.If you have any thoughts or suggestions on when to mention things, please add them here! I will be going through all comments and incorporating stuff again before any rewriting happens. Probably not for  several months, as I’m moving into an Ire phase. 

So, if you have gaping plothole questions on Monarchy– or, as Butcher puts it, ‘your flabber is seriously gasted’ about a plot point– let me know so I can fix it! And… thank you so much for reading. 

  • Change the title. Already riffing through ideas for this…
  • Make a list of all the Blackthistle technicians’ names. Get an idea of who they are. Get back to the original construct for them and how they were with outside peoples.  How many are there in the entire country?
  • Decide on basis for “technicians,” “techs,” “family” references.
  • What time of year is it in each of the stories?
  • Know what happens with Tern’s hair. Does it stay green or change back to whatever the original color is?
  • Physical descriptions of just about everybody.
  • Establish what happened to Arista’s parents, Merle and Duglass, in all of this.
  • Know for sure what Garamine’s ties are with Arista and how they came to be. Particularly Wayne and the level of authority he has.
  • The nature of the town and detectives’ town outside the city. How big are we talking? Where’s the explanation?
  • Make it clear the tyggers can’t be used again and why.
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Grant Proposal: Wing Project

Program Need

Iriritamago is a country of peace. It is the mission of the monarchy to keep the country well guarded and out of conflict with its neighbors to the south, east, and north. A long-term asset to Iriritamago, Blackthistle has provided a steady stream of useful technology that keeps Iriritamago out of harm’s way and reminds its neighbors that the country is reluctant to fight but, if pressed, will do so well. In recent years, neighbors such as Garamine and Banquo have forgotten this adage. Recent military skirmishes have demonstrated the military might of Garamine in an unprecedented show of arms to border patrols and Banquoin forces have been eating at Iriritamago’s borders for some time. As these encounters are largely in distant quarters of the country and require military and royal time, rations, and energy to reach, a long-range solution is required. Moreover, one that preserves both peasant and royal lives: three princes have already been lost to hotheaded decision-making, one cut down in his box even as he watched and directed the battle. As writer and family member, I will not see more of my brothers slain by their limitations and lack of knowledge. Yet I would not take their passion for participating in the battlefield from them and suggest instead a role more of scout than bystander, which my brothers will agree satisfies their desire to be in the fray with the people.

Goal- The goal of the wing implantation is to secure a safe, effective, and controlled method of aerial survey and transport during Iriritamagonian military encounters; ultimately preserving royal lives in jeopardy during these times.

Objectives: Firstly, to provide a risk-free method of surveillance from a height of four hundred feet (beyond average arrow or other projective range as studied). Secondly, to safeguard the life and limbs of an observing royal by eliminating the need to travel with the troops by foot or watch the battle from a “safe” constructed area. Thirdly, to build on the knowledge of enemy tactics and information before entering the battle, via aerial scouting.

Program Design

Phase One: Testing– Tests are performed on 1) 300 rats, progressing to 2) 150 pigs, and finally 3) 25 volunteers chosen at the discretion of staff and paid by stipend (castle-provided). Tests will include: injection of 0.66 mililiters of the compound daily into the subject’s back, assessed by physical examinations and muscle tests as well as a full body ultraviolet fluid that will make the impact on the body apparent (in development, requires additional commitment of castle-funding).  Further testing will include a “panic trigger” compound, allowing one wing (left) to remain dormant until needed. Approximately one third (total) of the test subjects will be implanted with a panic trigger for one wing. Necessary conditions will be created to stimulate growth of the second wing. Estimated Length of Wing Gestation– is four (4) weeks to break the skin (“emergence”), another two (2) weeks to reach maturity, and an additional two (2) weeks to perform tests on the mature wings. Success will be defined as the external growth of the wings to a wingspan of no less than four feet (two feet per wing). Lesser results will require review and reassessment of methods used. Failed test subjects will be responsibly disposed. Staffing At no time will less than two Blackthistle technicians be in attendance during the tests. Technician Mandrogan will lead the research team, assisted by Pokrifka and Bandersnatch, with oversight from the Marchenduke (Mad King). The technicians have completed their formal training with high marks and form a cohesive team, with Mandrogan having administrative oversight and input of the celebrated Bridgadier defense on the southern border.

Phase Two: Implementation– Once a stable wing has been achieved, the compound and accompanying panic trigger will be implanted in the youngest heir, who will be informed of his role and responsibilities before implementation. Tests will be conducted befitting the schedule given above. No tests will be conducted in active war zones or military encounters. Success will be measured by 1) the successful maturation of the wing, 2)  Estimated Length of this Phase– eight (8) weeks. Staffing– Reasonable efforts will be made to preserve the continuity of Blackthistle staff throughout the implementation phase, such as scheduling and housing accommodations. Explanations will be given in writing for any of the following unexpected scheduling shifts: war, domestic catastrophe, or royal-classified emergency.

Phase Three: Evaluation- In this phase, the success of stated objectives will be measured by the test subject’s completion of the following over the following six (6) years: 1) aerial view of a battlefield from a height of four hundred feet (beyond average arrow range), 2) elimination of risk from projectiles or battlefield confrontations measured by the lack of severe and/or fatal injuries sustained during observation, and 3) enhanced knowledge of battlefield logistics and tactics, measured the number of contributing articles of information (i.e. terrain, numbers, assets, etc.) obtained from observation. Annual tests will be conducted to ensure the wing(s)’ sustainability and function. Staffing- Blackthistle technicians assisting with military movements, currently Technicians Jak and Trebuchet, as well as the prince himself who will be treated to the same evaluation outcomes as his peers.  If there are any issues with the wing(s)’ function, the technicians in charge of the project will immediately be contacted and solicited for health advisement and care.


“Sounds legit.”

-said nobody ever except the Mad King’s idiot brothers. RED FLAGS THERE ARE SO MANY. But when you think the person has good intentions… you tend to overlook and assume.

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Doodle Alley

I was browsing the Daily Deviations on DeviantArt and came across this comic called “Make Your Milestones”, also hosted on “Doodle Alley”:

Since I’ve just started my NaNo (3400 words or so and holding), this seems especially true. It is also something that I didn’t understand right out of college. This comic does a nice job of putting into words the difficulty of knowing -what you want- from life.

I want a lot of things. To update this blog regularly. To rewrite just about everything I’ve ever written (probably up to and including this post right here). To draw a comic every day (or, y’know, once a week). To finish various stories. To entertain. To share my faith.

It’s very easy to get sucked into life. To not achieve these things or, as I’ve found quite often, to duck my head and not try to do anything because someone else is already doing it way, way better than I am. In that case, it would just be embarrassing to try, wouldn’t it?

That’s where the other Doodle Alley strip “Brick by Brick” comes in ( — masters are no excuse for not trying. Yes, there are bookstores lined with well-written books, some of which have never received press time. There are plenty of young cartoonists online (who obviously sketch regularly –I found someone yesterday who looked like they had snuck into Glen Keane’s workshop and borrowed his hand).

But “everyone’s better than me” isn’t an excuse for not trying. If I want to be what I say I want to be, I have to make goals and move towards them.

Oh, one more thing to plug so this all balances out: David Torday’s essay in the “Glimmer Train” bulletin:

As Torday suggests, everyday life does help you get more in touch with your writing — the brittle leaves cascading off the trees sound like breaking things on the sidewalk, skittering along. I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t leave the house today. Course, I’ll probably have to use that comparison in a unicorn stampede later or something, but it’s the thought that counts…

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If I loved you…

The full quote:
Olive Snook: Can I ask you a question? If you loved me…
Alfredo Aldarisio: Yes?
Olive Snook: And we could never, ever, ever touch, wouldn’t you eventually get over it and move on letting someone else have the slightest hope that you might move on to them?
Alfredo Aldarisio: If I loved you?
Olive Snook: Yeah.
Alfredo Aldarisio: Then I would love you in any way I could. And if we could not touch, then I would draw strength from your beauty. And if I went blind, then I would fill my soul with the sound of your voice and the contents of your thoughts until the last spark of my love for you lit the shabby darkness of my dying mind.
Olive Snook: Eh, forget it.

The text is from “Bitter Sweets,” the second to last Pushing Daisies episode, season one.

Raul Esparza (the actor) is lovely and, while it’s a bit of a pity he didn’t sing in this episode, his expressions and the way he acts are very controlled. He manages understatement very well, to show his feelings when no one’s looking. He does sing in the 2006 Company revival, most of which is available on Youtube. I’m becoming a big fan of his voice.

And as to why this is here… my DeviantArt and I aren’t getting along. Their ads’ constant attempts at redirection worry and annoy me.

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Review: Rango

So, unexpectedly, I went to see Rango tonight. What with the new method of acting (physically acting out the motions while voice-acting, so far as I understand it), I was looking forward to a unique film.

And, for the most part, I got it. Rango is a western, first and foremost, featuring what I mistakingly believed was a chameleon. (He’s not, he’s a lizard. And we never discover his True Name.)

Through a series of unfortunate, weird, and fortuitous events, he ends up in Dirt, turns Sheriff (which you should know from the previews), and has an Adventure.

Though the screen at the drive-in was uncommonly dark, I got the impression the animators did a good job on this one. Watching Rattlesnake Jake was fun every moment he was onscreen; the twists and whip-like reactions of having a character with a spine that goes all the way down to their weaponized tail. The cinematography was also really nice, just the pacing and translating the traditional western scene to animation.

Plot is a little predictable, but it’s a western staple that some of these things will happen. Women will be fiesty ranchers trying to save their land. There will be a Native American character. There will be a little kid. There will be a Greek chorus aka mariachi band.

…maybe not so much that last one. For what it’s worth though, I liked them, and I don’t usually care for mariachi music.

Things I had trouble with: The ‘hope’ theme is a little heavy-handed. The abstract moments made me think of Pirates 3 (with the nose, and crabs, and white sand)– with one caveat. There is a scene in which he stands at the side of the road in the dark, with cars going by, and it was perfect. This feeling of when you’re standing by the sidelines–anywhere, any city, any party, anything basically–and feel like no one sees you, so you aren’t sure who you are or what you’re worth without recognition. It captured that feeling, which was perfect for the character at that point.

It was followed up by a very Pirate-sy scene, which was… bizarre. But necessary for the film, I guess. It had nothing on the Balto scene with the white wolf–which it wasn’t trying to emulate, but that’s the same type of scene. Only done much better.

The dialogue is great though. There’s a hilarious malapropism about a mammogram. (Had to look that up: Malapropism is a word used incorrectly in place of another word that sounds similar. Like ‘castration’ for ‘christening’.) Couldn’t stop laughing.

Ending thoughts: Salvador Dali! Some of the cinematography reminded me of Dali. Don’t know why. But it’s a good film–little odd, little predictable, but good dialogue and characters.

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Sunday in the Park with Tissue

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

(The original painting from

Now, Azusa Pacific University had (and still has) a fantastic reproduction of this painting — made entirely with tissue paper balls. The photographs are spectacular, though they are nothing compared to the actual piece.

Side view of the piece

Close view of woman

Another close viewAngle view

The piece was created by children and families at L.A. History Day, facilitated by Service-Learning students. Congratulations to them and their participants for this wonderful idea! Further information about the event and the activity can be found here:

(Anything I post would be redundant, compared to the information on their site.)

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Knight search

Walking through Buckingham Palace is walking through a gigantic art gallery. Gorgeous paintings adorn every wall, just family after family after portrait after family. You could stare at them for hours, if not for the audio tour prompting you along to the next tidbit of history it wants to give you about the next room, which only makes sense if you keep walking through the archway and turn to the left.

At one point, I paused my audio litany, noticing one it hadn’t mentioned. It was a striking portrait of a gentleman who looked like a knight, something like this:

Ruben's self-portrait

(The one above was taken from Buckingham Palace doesn’t allow photos–no way to know.)

Anyway, I stopped and turned to one of the unspeakably bored security people and asked politely who the painting was of. She replied that that was one of the few they didn’t know, either the artist or the subject depicted. It was placed high, above the door I believe, and didn’t lend itself to close scrutiny on my part. Just my luck, I thought, I ask about the one painting they don’t know.

But, with the advent of the internet and Google image search, I can troll endlessly! And did, having an abundance of time and receding headache tonight. That portrait of Sir Peter Paul Rubens is the closest I’ve come. It is striking, isn’t it?

In other news, there is no perfect angle to photograph Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ from. The one in the Tate Modern is fantastic, but only if you can wander around it, 360 degrees, and see all the angles. That’s right… I really should have a postcard of it somewhere. Have to find that.

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