From My Writing (Christmas!) Playlist

I have to admit, I had to go through a few different versions of this song to find one I liked. This is as close as I could get… and even this one feels way to rushed.

When to listen: Brainstorming, especially if you like harmonies. This would be a great place to try to concoct a few ideas.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Play Arts Figure Review: Rinoa Heartilly (Final Fantasy VIII)

I think I might start this as a normal thing when I get new figures. It happens regularly, so at least I can tell people the good and the bad and maybe encourage or discourage some people from grabbing figures that may or may not be any good. So this is… I think the third figure I’m doing a review of? I did a Spider Gwen, a Corrin… there may have been one more, I don’t remember.

First off, a little introduction to the character for those who may not know who she is…

5594-final-fantasy-wallpaper

Rinoa Heartilly, per DeadFantasy Wiki:

The daughter of Fury Caraway, a high ranking general of Galbadia, and Julia Heartilly a concert pianist who died in a car accident when Rinoa was young. Her personality is everything that Squall is not: feisty, compassionate, warm, and friendly, and these traits initially annoy him at first. However, She slowly wins over the irritated Squall, and eventually he returns Rinoa’s feelings and in the later part of the game the two become a couple. She has been participating in various underground protest movements against her government’s dictorship and is a member of Forest Owls. Rinoa later discovered that she would inherit the magical powers of a Sorceress from Edea Kramer and Adel

Rinoa made her first appearance in the rushed, but arguably ample followup to the smash hit, Final Fantasy 7. (I would argue that it’s better.) She is the primary heroine next to Squall.

Figures were initially released by the Bandai Anime @ 5.5″-6″ tall, however they little to no articulation, limited to SOME leg movements and the ability to remove their weapons. These came out in ’99 and for a while were our only options. I remember picking up a few at Funco Land (yes, back when that was a thing), and being somewhat disappointed by them.

By 2006, I was graduating college and my action figure collecting had ground to a near halt. I had mostly focused on Star Wars figures, and found the ones coming out around that time to be somewhat lacking. As such, I missed the release of these figures. It wasn’t until years later when I was doing research for my post about Rinoa’s absence from Kingdom Hearts. Seeing it on Ebay, I had to grab it, especially given the fact that the listing was >$40 and I saw it going elsewhere for $100+, including Amazon.

So it came a day or two ago and I’ve been getting a feel for it ever since. So let’s start off… This figure would likely be classified as a 1/6 scale figure though she’s slightly below that. She comes in a fairly large white box with windows on each side:

20171204_172518

Nothing particularly special there, but still nothing really to criticize. It’s easy to get her out of the package without damaging it, so she can be displayed either/or, which is great. So let’s get into the various features of this figure:

1438

Articulation: 

Pose-able, but not anywhere near the same level as a Figma. Her head is on a ball joint, her legs rotate on their pivots and she has standard joints at the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. However her mini skirt prevents much movement of the legs. This is a minor complaint because… well what else would you expect? The only other option would be to put a slit in the sides of the dress, which I don’t like the idea of doing. So I’m fine with the lack of movement. All in all, standard movement and articulation that is slightly limited by the outfit she wears.

Score: 3/5 


 

Appearance: 

There’s a lot to talk about on this one. First of all, this figure is super detailed, unlike the ’99 Bandai. The smooth surface of the original figure has been replaced by a patterned look, giving it the appearance of fabric. Also, the chain around her neck is an actual metal chain with rings on it. Everything seems carefully detailed and really well made.

My only complaint… is actually my main complaint about the figure in general… the face. I don’t know what it is with some of these higher quality action figures, but they seem to either have an abundance of detail on the bodies… but then fall short on the faces…

20171204_172501

I wouldn’t say it’s a bad sculpt, but any stretch, but Rinoa’s face is slightly rounder in the game… and her eyes here have a tired and sad look to them as opposed to the spunkie one that we’re used to. This is one area where the Bandai figure may have actually done better than the Play Arts one:

Untitled

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, but it’s not exactly fantastic either.

Score: 3/5


Accessories: 

This category really kind of hurt the figure. All she really comes with is interchangeable hands, including the finger point that she does at the beginning and end of the game. She does not come with her glider weapon or dog, which is really a negative, especially given that her weapon is so unique in the game. What’s worse, other characters in this line appear to have theirs. I hate to say it, but that was really disappointing…

Score: 2/5


Overall: 

It’s bigger than I thought it was going to be. My collection is usually no larger than the 1/6 scale. Even so, I do love this character and the figure is pretty well made. She seems pretty durable for standard play, though mine will be going on display with my other figures. It’s not the pride or a jewel of my collection by any stretch, but it is a nice figure and a vast improvement over the previous incarnation.

Score: I’m going to give this figure a solid 3/5. I do really like it, despite its lack of accessories. Is it worth the $100+ price tag I’m seeing it for on Ebay and Amazon? No. So my advice would be to wait and keep your eyes open. One for between $30-$50 should pop up every now and then.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Lindsey Shepherd: Educational Practices…

I don’t like dealing in political/social issues, so I may not even leave this one up. However this one deal with freedom of speech, and the class Lindsay was teaching, dealt with communication, aka Speech and Writing… so in some ways, it applies here… 

If you’re here for Geek culture or writing advice, you may want to skip this post.

As a former educator myself… there are certain trends occurring right now that I find extremely troubling. Through the media, we’ve all seen a lot of contention of the issues of freedom of speech, expression, etc.

All of this calls into question a fairly basic philosophy of learning. This is especially true for educators.

First of all, let’s ask ourselves this fundamental question: What do you go to college for? What is the purpose of education? Are you attending school to learn how to think critically and come to a conclusion on your own, or are you there to be taught what to think. In other words, are you there to have someone feed the right perspective and thought to you?  In short, are you there to learn what to think or how to think? This may seem like a fairly nuanced difference, but it comes with fairly severe implications.

In my own studies and teaching philosophies, I adopted a philosophy that it’s only through comparing ideas and allowing them to do battle that we can identify the right ideas from the wrong ones.

This unfortunately isn’t as easy as one might think. To accomplish this, we are given the daunting task of having to consider all ideas; whether we agree with them or not. We do this because without the ideas that we may not agree with, or even vehemently oppose, we cannot expect our existing ideas to be adequately challenged. This is why Lindsay was absolutely correct when she said in her interview panel that in a University environment, all points of view are valid.

Of course I understand that said ideal can be a bit of a challenge and a lot to ask of people. I myself have failed at it from time to time. That said, if a person’s feelings are a casualty in a battle of ideas, then it falls to that person to strength them. They must possess the mental maturity to understand that other people have different world views and must be able to accept those views even if they do not agree with them. It does not fall to others to soften winning viewpoints, truth, or even just concepts that they may not necessarily agree with.

All of this is a complete contrast of being taught what to think. In this case, one simply has the ‘correct ideas’ fed to them, requiring a person to accept them without any real critical thought. When you do this, you are not accepting ideas because they are the victor in a battle of morality or overall truth, but because someone in a position of power or authority told you which ideas were the right ones to hold, regardless of context or justification.
Again, the difference of the overall question may seem nuanced, but the consequences of adopting either are quite striking in their difference.
The first one will usually produce an one-minded, intellectually diverse person, capable of critical thought and possessing and open mind.
The other produces a one-dimensional mind trained exclusively in the art of regurgitating what it’s been told, often reacting harshly, if not violently to opposing viewpoints.

Unfortunately, it seems this latter philosophy is quickly becoming the predominant one at centers of higher learning in western nations. The critical value of ‘question everything’ has long been lost to the sands of time in some cases.

The consequences of this irresponsible behavior and teaching ideology are on full display to the public at places like Mizzou, Evergreen State, and… more recently Wilfrid Laurier University. It was here that a communication’s TA named Lindsey Shepherd was attempting to launch a discussion on language use, specifically dealing with preferred pronouns, and the conflict of addressing people as they wish to be addressed when pinned against the rights of others who didn’t want to be forced to use a certain verbiage that they didn’t agree with.

If someone wants to be called a woman, should you be forced to call them as such? What if someone wanted to be recognized as one of the letters in the LGBTQ+ acronym? This is a debate that virtually everyone in the western world should be familiar with. It’s one  If you wanted to examine that debate and be able to launch a critical discussion around it, then the proper course of action is to put both perspectives on display. In the case of Shepherd, to use snippets from someone who uses those unique pronouns and also use some from someone who is against compelled speech. This was what she attempted to do when she showed a brief, 3-5 minute clip from Professor Jordan Peterson’s debate on public television in Ontario Canada,

In short, Peterson argued for what he viewed as a breach of freedom of speech, forcing him and others to use words they do not want to.

I’m including a link to the video here for context:

In the later interview, Lindsey claims that she presented both sides neutrally and encouraged her students to think critically about each side and decide for themselves who’s right. She did what I stated above and put both ideas onto the field of battle and it was up to the students to determine the victor, based on their own reasoning and values.  However, she landed herself in hot water by refusing to take sides.

The problem is that doing something like this will get you in trouble with a University that has lost touch with the mission and purpose of that type of institution. The end result for Ms. Shepherd was censure due to the complaints of ‘one or more students’ and she was summoned for a meeting with the communications dept. professors and someone with… rather lengthy title at the euphemistically named diversity office.

Lindsay, very smartly in my perspective, secretly recorded the exchange… which then made its way to the internet and the dialogue is as cringe-worthy and… I’ll even go so far as to say Orwellian as it could possibly be… (See below.)

They tell Lindsay that certain ideas or certain perspectives and arguments are never to be entertained, because at minimum they create a ‘toxic environment’ for certain students. At worst, they are equivalent to violence or threats and thus may violate Canadian law. (They don’t, by the way. This has been completely vetted by the media.)

Keeping in mind, they aren’t talking about physical threats, just arguments and the way the world exists. To these people, whether or not anyone was actually targeted is material at best, at worst is completely irrelevant. Put in the most simple terms,  the point at which an individual’s discomfort starts, is where critical examination must cease.

According to Ms. Shepherd, she presented the material neutrally, and invited the students to debate the merits. However the faculty seem to believe that she has the responsibility to tell students which views are right and which are not, and they’re willing to take this to the point of comparing Jordan Peterson to Hitler.

Goodwin’s Law violation aside… Yes, you should present speeches from Hitler for analysis if that is in context with what you are attempting to teach.

In college, took several classes dealing with socio-political issues. Yes, I read Mien Kampf, I read the Communist Manifesto, the Quran, two different iterations of the Bible, and many other works responsible for human suffering on a monumental scale. In many cases, they weren’t all easy to get through, but I read them to decide for myself what I think of the content.

Entertaining an idea is not the same thing as endorsing it. The grand irony of this whole thing is that Lindsay Shepherd doesn’t even agree with Jordan Peterson, yet the recording she took… pretty much proves that a lot of the concerns he expressed might actually be valid ones.

In closing, if you work as a teacher or school admin and the latter approach mentioned above is the one you believe in, then I would say that terms ‘School’, ‘College’, or ‘University’ might not be the best title for your institution.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

From My Writing (Christmas!) Playlist

How could it be Christmas without a little Bing Crosby added to the mix? Granted, this is not the song he’s most known for.

When to Listen: I would say brainstorming. This is a great song with a lot of wonderful melodies that should help generate some great ideas.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Suspending Suspension of Disbelief!

Hi Jim,

I have a little problem that I was hoping you could assist me with. I’ve had quite a few people read my story and the overall criticism is that one of the characters isn’t believable. They keep saying that the way the character behaves and the things she does, don’t fit in with the story. This really bothers me as this is a story that takes place in a completely made up environment that has nothing to do with reality. Like okay, you can believe an entire planet could be a live and have a consciousness, but not believe one character because of their actions and choices they make?

If only one person had said it, that would be one thing, but a few have so now I’m starting to worry. Do you think I should change the character or leave it as is? Should I take this criticism seriously?

Thanks,
Elyssa H.


Hello Elyssa,

Awesome name, by the way. I may wind up using that for one of my characters. I actually try to take most criticism seriously. The obvious exceptions are trolls who simply say that ‘this sucks’ or ‘I think you’re stupid’. Things that have no substance are basically best left ignored.

However that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I would definitely take what they say into consideration, but not let that be the be all, end all of what you do with the character. Outside criticism is vital, especially if you plan to have your work published. You want someone who’s going to rip it apart. However the final say is yours, you need to take a step back and look at the character and see if everything fits.

Now that that’s out of the way…  I want to address your other comments. “Like okay, you can believe an entire planet could be a live and have a consciousness, but not believe one character because of their actions and choices they make? ”

Actually, yes. This is what’s called a suspension of disbelief. Like it or not, readers are always going to apply some level of real-world logic, even in the most fantastical of environments. We’ve all done it, and we’re all going to do it. Like it or not, this is something that all writers have to contend with.

So what’s the best way to combat this problem? Well… I’d say the first thing to do is create a set of rules early on in your writing. If there are any real world attributes, make them known through the story, cultural differences that could explain, and by default, make your character’s behaviors more believable, explore them. Most readers are really good at following a path with little guidance, but you still need to leave some bread crumbs for them to pick up on.

This is the folly of your comparison. A reader could actually take issue with a character’s choices and development in a story where an actual planet is a character because maybe you explained the planet better. Maybe the back story you put in place actually explains better how something like that can exist. I think this is an area that you may want to really go back and re-examine, but let’s open it up.

Readers, what do you think? Is this an area that Elyssa should look at a little more closely? Is the criticisms of her readers something she should worry about, or should she simply disregard them because its her story? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Dimensional, One Dimensional Characters

I’ve heard, and said a lot of negative things about the writing of characters that are too one-dimensional. I don’t want it to seem like I’m against such a character, I’m not. There are a lot of great characters out there that are lacking in dimension.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples would be the character Javert from Les Miserables. In fact, it is his one dimensional personality that lands him the position of the villain, while a far more dynamic thief, fugitive, and fraudster becomes the hero.

He’s not so much the villain because he’s a bad person. It is more so because he comes off as indifferent. However I don’t necessarily think that this is necessarily his own fault. What little we know of his life and background has left him with a very rudimentary view of right and wrong. He has a very strict adherence to the law, giving no leeway for interpretation, leniency, or apathy…. He has an extremely unwavering faith in the morality and overall ‘correctness’ of the law.

And we’ve seen where such staunch adherence to it leads to…

(How mad must the officer have been after the judge turned the case into a comedy routine.)

Now this is an example of a one-dimensional character. He has a basic view of right and wrong which, like iron is solid, but when you apply enough pressure, it becomes brittle and breaks. That’s what happens with Javert his interpretation of right and wrong was challenge where he was put into the position of having to do wrong to do right. This is something that, in his world view, shouldn’t be possible. Unable to cope with his reality being shattered and either unable or unwilling to change with it, he kills himself.

This is an example of a one dimensional character done correctly. We not only see the dangers of having such a view of the world and/or personality, but we also what can happen when they are so rigid. It’s actually a fascinating character study to do.

So is there a place for one-dimensional characters? Absolutely there is and they can be written very well. The problem is when a character is put on screen for one purpose and isn’t really given any justification as to why they exist the way they do or how it came to be that way. There’s no issue with characters being one-dimensional, as long as there is something in them that we can understand and view as really happening.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

From My Writing Playlist

I think it’s safe to say that Yannis Popodopoulis has quickly risen the ranks as one of my favorite vocalists of all time. He’s got a very distinct voice and an incredibly wide range. One moment, he sounds like Jorn Lande, the next moment he’s somehow transformed into Tarja Turunen. He also puts his own spin on both sounds. To me, this is what Metal vocalists should sound like and he embodies that perfectly.

When to listen: I honestly haven’t been able to stop listening to this song, so while I’m tempted to just say general playlist… I’d say that this is a revelation song as well. Say you’re writing a book with a ‘surprise villain’. This is the song you listen to when that villain reveals his/herself’s true colors.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim