Sunday, 28 September 2014

See Label for Details

I just want to start today by saying "Fuck Magpies". That has nothing to do with today's post, but seriously, they're arseholes. Three-quarters of the year, they're just monochrome birds with a pretty bird-song warble, but then we enter swooping season, and they attack! They swoop close to your ear to make a whoop! noise, and they snap their beak, and they've been known to scratch. The worst part is, they won't attack if you're looking at them, which means not only are they sneaky little shits that wait until your back is turned, but also, if you want to avoid getting swooped, you have to walk backwards like a numpty until you're out of their line of sight.
Stone the bloody things, I reckon, at least for as long as swooping season.

Anyway . . . that's just a little rant, but that's not what this post is about. Today, I want to talk about the way we define ourselves. Because I've already had a bit of a little rant on this. No, not the magpie thing, I mean the time I talked about the gender thing. Because I do believe that there are certain labels which are not only unsociable, but they're also unrealistic. But more importantly, some people just don't know how to label themselves.
So I want to delve into this full on, and explain why you're just being silly if you don't want to be labelled. So, before we talk about the way we label and define ourselves, I should start by defining what label means. The Word of the Day is: 'LABEL'

Label /laybəl/ n. 1. A slip of paper, etc., for fixing onto something to show its nature, ownership, where it is going, etc. 2. A short word or phrase of description for a person, group, movement, etc. 3. A trade name, especially of a recording company in the music industry. ♦v.t. 4. To mark with or describe by or on a label: The bottle was labelled 'poison'. 5. To describe; classify: They labelled him as a troublemaker. 6. Physics To replace (a stable atom) in a compound by a radioactive isotope of that atom so that its path through a mechanical or biological system can be traced.

On the very first day of my Cert' III Hospitality course, there was this girl. I don't know her name, because I didn't care enough to learn it. But on the first day, I knew that she owned six cats; she once worked at a strip club; she had several tattoos & she wanted to be noticed. I know all of this because she really wanted to stand out from the crowd, she wanted to seem original and be the centre of attention, so she would pipe up at every opportunity to add her two cents. She wanted to be seen as unique, the kind of person too different to be labelled. But as soon as she opened her mouth, and told the class that she used to work in a strip club I thought:
  "Oh, you're one of those Loud, Look-at-Me types."
She was trying with all of her might to seem interesting and unique, and she was labelled - by me - in less than four seconds.
She couldn't handle it in Hospitality, dropped out on the second day. I think when she realized that hospitality was about listening to others instead of herself. But the point is, she was easy to label; she wasn't unique.

Don't worry, dear readers. You are unique . . . just like everybody else. As I said in my last post, you all have stories that are interesting (believe in or not) and all of you have something interesting about you. But that doesn't mean you're all fantastically individual little snowflakes, so amazing that you are beyond definition. As a writer, something that really bugs me is when someone says (in relation to an occasion, experience or item) "There are no words to describe it".
I beg your pardon . . . just because you have a poor vocabulary, that doesn't mean that nobody can describe it, it doesn't mean the right words don't exist, you just don't know them. Don't be so silly, just be honest, you don't have the verbal intelligence to describe something. That's okay, that's fine, it's just one of the many aspects that makes you unique. But the words exist for goodness sake, give any writer worth their salt a few minutes, they'll tell you exactly the right words to describe it.

So, by that same token, it's just silly to me when someone says they don't like to be labelled. There are labels to define you, just as there are labels to define everyone. I bring this up because the main reason why people complain about labels, I find, is because they don't feel like they are appropriately labelled. A good example is bisexuality. Because a lot of people don't like being labelled as bisexual, since there's this belief that bisexuals are also bigamists, or they like to sleep around, or they're prone to being disloyal. People are scared to label themselves that way, they think it means more than it actually means, so some of them made up the term "pansexual".
I find this term deeply insulting. First of all, there are only two genders (we've been over this), so the term is daft. But more importantly, it also stigmatizes bisexuality, and further allows it to drift into obscurity, which upsets me since some of my nearest and dearest are bisexual.
But these people, there is a label for them, two in fact - they are "bisexual", and they are "not transphobic".

But, this leads onto my second point about labels, which everyone needs to pay damned close attention to: You don't get to decide how you are labelled. You can decide how you act, so if you don't dance, then you couldn't really be labelled as a "dancer" [unless someone was being poetic], but you don't decide how you are labelled. So, I call all self-claimed "pansexuals" bisexual, because that's the reality, despite their fantasy of being "modern" and "unique"; but both modern and unique are not labels that define these people. And just like some of these self-claimed "feminists" are actually misandrists.
Also, as I explained above, if you try not to label yourself, it doesn't mean diddly-squat because others will do it for you.
Apparently, I am a Conservative. I don't do politics really, but my mindset was often aligned with what American people call "Liberal values", so I called myself Liberal. But, it was pointed out to me that my beliefs are concurrent with Conservativism. So, that's what I am, I guess. But I don't label myself as either of those - not because I don't want to be labelled, but because I honestly don't know which is more accurate. But don't worry, that's okay, it's not really up to me anyway, so I'm sure someone else will let me know. And that's the thing, there are labels that define me, and you, and everyone. There are a lot of people that say they don't want to be defined by these labels. But the thing is, they're focussing on the wrong problem. It shouldn't be "I don't want to be defined", the problem is "by these labels". There are ones which suit you perfectly, I know it. Look it up, there are words in our language to describe everyone. Just because you don't know what they are doesn't mean they don't exist, so why not look around until you find the one that applies to you?

That's pretty much it for now, but before I go there's one last thing to keep in mind. As I said, if you don't label yourself, someone else will, and sometimes that
someone else won't be very nice. But, if your label is more accurate, it's the one that sticks. That's why homosexuals are labelled as "Gay" instead of Faggot. That's why Abortion lobbyists are labelled as "Pro-Choice" as opposed to Babykillers, and that's why I label myself as a "Writer", as opposed to a Wannabe Author. If you don't label, someone will, so why not beat them to the punch?

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, dear readers - as I choose to label you - I hope you have (or have had) a fine weekend. With luck, I'll see you next week for another blog post.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Librarian of Life Stories

Wow, we're actually here again. It's the weekend and I'm writing a post on my new schedule. This is exciting, I've actually managed to maintain a respectable schedule.
So, what's on my mind today? Well, for my Certificate III in Hospitality, I've been learning how to make coffee, how to serve alcohol, how to stay safe and clean in a working environment and how to deal with conflict amongst workmates and/or patrons. But that's not all very interesting at the moment, because I'm not even a proper bartender yet, so I can't tell you some of the fun stuff right this moment.
However, in my classes, I've been having an interesting time with some of the other students in my class. See, in order to work in hospitality, you need to be a hospitable person. You need to be kind and considerate and conversational, so as a result most of the group I am with aren't afraid to have a fun, and they're willing to have an in-depth conversation with you at the drop of a hat.

I think that's a necessary talent with someone in this industry. If you want a coffee, you ask for a coffee, you get a coffee - fair enough. But if it's a slow day, a customer might want to chat a bit. This is meant to be a friendly environment, so do you think they'll happily be coming back to your establishment if they ask something like "What coffee should I get?" and you curtly respond "the menu's there"?
Hell no.

So, I've managed to ingratiate myself with a group of really fun people that like to share their jokes, ideas and experiences. And it brings to mind an idea that I sometimes find floating around my head, which I'd like to share with you today. The notion that, in a way, people are like books.
The Word of the Day is: 'LIBRARY'

Library /'luybrəree/ n. 1. A room or building containing books and other material for reading, study, or reference. 2. Such a place from which the public may borrow books, etc. 3. A collection of books, etc. 4. A collection of films, records, music, etc.

When I walk into a library, I often get a sense of reverence. I mean, think about it, every single one of those books was written by someone; although some of them might have been written after a drunken binge on the weekend, most of them took a lot of effort to compile together, perhaps a few months of a person's life. Someone has gone through an ordeal to bring these words to you.
I can respect the effort that went into those books, and the fact that the writer wants to share it with others and has compiled it for easy access is a sweet gesture.

Now, once or twice, I've worked at my mother's nursing home. Usually it's dull work, just do the job, file the paper, shred the out-of-date forms, clean the floor; that kind of thing. But once or twice, I would talk to the old folks. The residents appreciate it when you talk to them, but more than that, I would appreciate them talking to me, because they've lived whole lives and they've learned a lot, and more often than not they are more than willing to share those lessons, jokes and experiences with you. After a while, I started to treat the nursing home with the same reverence that I would treat a library.
These people have all of their stories, and they went through quite the ordeal to bring the story to you - most of them had to live through it for themselves - and they are willing to share it, it's a kind gesture.
Of course, they're still humans, I didn't start putting them in shelves and browsing through them all, hunting for good stories. Of course not, that's taking the metaphor too literally. I just mean my attitude of respect, I started to see that not only are these all individual people with their personalities, but they also have a wealth of stories which they've lived through.

But, it didn't stop there. See, where my Mum works, there are a lot of migrant workers and nurses. See, nursing is one of those jobs which the government wants staffed, so they give visas to those willing to nurse here. As a result, most of the staff at my Mum's work are from overseas, many of them from places that they - and most people - would really, really want (or need) to emigrate from, often Oriental places with sexism, violence, social inequality or just tyrannical family. When I worked at the nursing home, I spent my lunch hour in the staff room, and as a result I would talk to these girls, and they all have stories. I'm sorry to say, most of them had quite sad stories for the most part, but they had that same, happy ending. "Then I finally came to Australia, and got a good job at a nursing home with a caring boss".
These were real stories of life, some with tragedy some with comedy and many with hope. And it wasn't just the foreign nurses. I don't know why nursing seems to flock these tragic back-stories, but many of the other nurses came from divorces or they had to balance their work life with three kids, or they struggled with the number of residents that died on a monthly basis, working in aged care. Everyone had a story to tell, so rather than just "Oh, another nurse" I started to see the workers at the nursing home with that same librarian's reverence. They hadn't lived as long as the residents, of course, but they still had stories. All of them had stories.

I didn't have a job, after that. Up until now, I've been nothing more than "unemployed" for two years, so I didn't get out much. But now that I'm in this training course, I've been mingling amongst this new group of people and many of them are around my age or younger.
Despite that, because this is a government funded course for people out of work or looking for a qualification they can't otherwise afford, everyone has another one of those stories. Lots of us have stories like mine, they went to uni' and didn't do well enough, so then tried to get work somewhere, anywhere, but were disappointed with what they could find. Some people came here to better themselves, with more education; Some people came here because they didn't think they had the smarts to work in a more technical or paperwork oriented industry.
But no matter what the reason is, there's always this in-depth story behind it. This driving purpose . . . but that's just the simple stuff, the obvious question of "What brings you here?". When you really get to know someone, they have more and more details of these fascinating personalities, these intricate details of what makes them who they are.

When I was younger, I was much more nervous when it came to talking to people. I have introversive tendencies, and so to me, the potential of learning more about a person was outweighed by my own discomfort. But now that I'm older, and I don't worry so much about that kind of thing, I've come to learn that it's not just the oldest and wisest that have stories.

I firmly believe that everyone has a story. Someone like me, although I've never travelled overseas, had a fascinating job or even kissed a girl on the lips, I still have a story. I'm a bit like a storybook.
But there are others, who are really funny or they have a twisted sense of logic, and they're more like a jokebook. There are others more akin to a reference book or a dictionary, some people are like romance novels and some, dare I say, are like unwritten notebooks.
But most people are some form of anthology, a collection of ideas, stories, lessons, sayings and cliches, romances, tragedies, comedies, historical fantasies &, so often, jokes.

Now, when I walk into my classroom, the function room at the GPO, I'm not only walking into a room full of nice people, many of whom I call my friends; but it's like I'm walking into a hall full of history, a reliquary of fiction and fact & a storehouse of story. I respect this place, and its people, like I would a library.
The only difference is, you're a fool if you stay silent . . .

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and I'm having a shitload of fun at this course. If you live in Australia and want to try a career in hospitality (bartending, waiting, baristi training, catering, etc) I cannot highly enough recommend KOOPS Training & Employment Solutions, all of the trainers and staff have been warm, caring, fun and really enlightening. Especially our trainer, Ryan, he's a top bloke.
Until next time, I hope you all treat others with the reverence and respect they deserve, and aren't at all afraid to share your story with others; meanwhile, I'll be learning how to mix a cocktail and pour a macchiato, catch you later.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Update Update

Good morning, campers. Today, I'm writing in a sort of bittersweet mood. Because, I have good news and bad news. You see, I've been looking for a job for a while now, so the Good News is that I've found a pretty good opportunity. I'm going to be learning to get my R.S.A. (Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate), R.S.G. (Responsible Service of Gaming certificate) & baristi training, in a short course which (fingers-crossed) will either help me get a job outright, or more easily apply for jobs, as a bartender. Sounds simple enough, to me, and it's government-funded, so I won't be spending money I don't have.
Of course, we must now slowly trudge towards the Bad News. As I said, I've been job-hunting, and in so doing I've known for a while that the time I take to write these blogs - that is, my free time - will be quite aggressively consumed by the time it takes to do my job. And while I don't yet have a job, this blog will have to be scaled back quite considerably during my training (and when I do get my job), so you won't be seeing anywhere near as many updates as I often provide. The Word of the Day is: 'UPDATE'

Update /up'dayt/ v.t. 1. To bring (a book, figures, or the like) up to date, as by adding new information or making corrections: To update a science textbook. 2. Computers To incorporate new or more accurate information in (a database, program, procedure, etc.). 3. To bring (a person, organization, etc.) up to date on a particular subject: The magazine article will update you on the international situation. ♦n. 4. An act or instance of updating: To make an update in a financial ledger. 5. Information or data used in updating. 6. An updated version, model, or the like.

So, today's post is about bringing you up to date on my updates. Or an "update update", if you will.

Now, the most important part to remember is that I have no plans on ending this blog. To be perfectly honest, I want to keep this blog going even after I get my novels published, and that's a long time coming. I want to keep this connection between the internet at large, and me. So I will keep on writing blog posts, and this blog will continue. But, with not so many posts as before.
Some of you may have already noticed that my blog posts have been slowing down, rest assured this was not planned, I've just been dealing with stress at home and abroad and as a result haven't had much time to think about Words of the Day and I haven't had much time to write. But, in a way, it's a bit of a blessing as it means that I've been unwittingly preparing you for this day.

So far, the plan is that I'll try to write regular blog posts on the weekend, and I'll try to write Duke Forever chapters always. That is, I'll constantly be working on the next chapter, I'll write them in the background and during my free time and post them when they're completed. This isn't much different to my current method, I already think about it whenever I go for a walk, it's just that this will be slower, as I've already mentioned.
Now, although I plan on writing weekends, I don't know that I'll always be able to finish a post on time. I might be able to publish a post for you once or twice a fortnight. But this all does depend on balance and how well I can work at both being here and at work/training, and I might even post less frequently than that depending on my luck.

But I have high hopes. After all, if I can manage some kind of schedule, then I can work "writing" into the schedule, and I might even be able to write with greater reliability than before, even though I'd write at a lower frequency. That's my hopes anyway, no promises.

The only real downside is that I won't be able to do so many of my fun "blogging events". Like, the gameblog (which I've been postponing forever anyway); Parody Week 2 & - most disappointing, the Halloween Countdown.
I wanted to do the countdown every year, so despite my reduced freedom, I'm trying my damnedest to cobble something together for the Halloween Countdown here at the last minute, but I can't promise anything except that I'm doing everything I can to make this happen.
In fact, if anyone wants to offer any help in regards to the Countdown [or just the blog in general], such as a guest post or a horror story, it would be greatly appreciated. If you want to give me a hand, leave me a comment or e-mail me.

Anyway, that's the gist of it. I'm sorry that I won't post as often, but I will post whenever I can. Just drop by on weekends, and I should, hopefully, have something up. I'm sorry that this blog post is a little bit short, but that's all there is to say at the moment. I promise you, I will return when I have more to say.

Until then, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd keeping you up to date.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Lost Chapter - filename: “Strife of Tau”

[b]09.0 | Archive Ref #: b09.5-216-L(X)-m01 | [b]10.0

   I am so sorry. I cannot quite explain it, but it seems as though one of my work folders was pilfered from my collection. I searched my room top to bottom, and could find no trace of it. However, when I later went into the back garden to clean up around the lemon tree, I discovered my folder, spilled out over the lawn. It looked as though the family dog had gotten into my files, as there were teeth-marks and muddy paw-prints over the pages, many of which had been torn and chewed up.
  But I honestly have no idea how this could have happened, because not only do we lock the back door regularly, but my family does not own a dog. We've had a few over the years, but we gave away Ana and Jo when we moved to the city a few years ago and Winston died after being hit by a truck on the road outside my grandmother's house. The neighbours' dogs can't sneak into our yard, as the back fence is part of a retaining wall and very secure, so I don't know how I can possibly explain this . . .
  I collected everything I could from the mutilated documents, but I retained less than half of the information in any kind of usable condition. However, thankfully, I salvaged all of the details of a few of the pivotal scenes in this story, including one I believe to be the beginning, so I can recreate them for you in exact detail. But much of the ending is missing, so I hope you can manage to enjoy what remains of this story.

The palm trees swayed with the ocean breeze, heaving to and fro slowly, creaking blissfully. A small group of cormorants were fishing in the water, and by the edge of the island's tree-line, there were one or two lizards warming themselves in the sun. Several dozen long-tailed macaque monkeys were by the trees, picking leaves and eating them when they were heard the sound of a heaving, wheezing groan echoing through reality. They skitter away from the sound and watch from a safe distance away, screeching with alarm, as a bamboo hut appeared on the sand. It looked like a gazebo, three metres wide with six even sides and a peaked grass roof that was capped with a cupola. It had flyscreen windows on the four of the walls, as well as a full-length, bamboo gate on the front.1
After a few minutes, the gate opened and the Duke slowly walked out. He looked tired as he walked, as though his feet were sore, but he smiled as he walked down the beach. Inspector Chester Franklin Edison stood in the doorway leaning against the doorframe heavily and smiling weakly2 as he watched the Duke walk to the shore.
The sound of the wash as it wafted onto the sand then slipped away was mesmerising, the Duke's desert shoes squelched through the moist sand and splashed as he stepped into the water. The Duke began to smile as the next waves washed up, surrounding his feet. He walked just a few feet further, until his trousers were wet up to his shins, then he fell to his knees, his trousers and the lower portion of his leather coat soaking as he collapsed. Then, grinning brilliantly, to show off his white teeth, he dipped both of his cupped hands into the ocean and brought them up, holding a small amount of water. Then he opened his fingers and it spilled through, trickling down his arms and the Duke laughed out loud. Not out of madness or hysteria, but pure joy, a chuckled deeply and gladly as he plunged his hands into the water again and splashed it around. The policeman limped over and stood further up the beach, watching.
  “I've never seen you so happy before in my life,” said Edison.
The Duke turned to him, smiling brightly.
  “Come and see, Inspector. There's so much water!”
  “It's the ocean, Duke, of course there's water.”
  “I can't believe there's so much,” said the Duke, as he struggled to stand up, leaning on an arm to get back to his feet. “On Rathea, almost everywhere is sand and rock; dry and barren. We scrounge our water from harvesting the Great Cold or juicing desert plants.”
Edison coughed and held up his hand to shield his bloodshot eyes from the sun.
  “You know, we have to wake her up eventually,” said Edison.
  “I know,” said the Duke, “We just need more
[section missing]
- - -

The Duke & Edison continue their conversation. Edison is still worried, but the Duke insists that everything will work out fine. The Duke insists that Edison join him, since the water is so cool.3 Edison declines at first, but after some goading by the Duke, he returns to the ship to fetch some water-friendly clothing. After he leaves, the Duke sees something in the water.4
Edison returns to the ship. Inside the console room Anise is still unconscious on the couch.5 He heads down the doorway to the right, and heads for the crew quarters6 where he finds his luggage and changes into a pair of shorts. He then heads outside and joins the Duke on the beach. Edison wades deep into the water and the Duke says that he doesn't know how to swim.7 They swim for an hour, talking.8

The Duke and Edison discuss the Eighty-Eight9 and how exactly Anise was infected with the Gemohane Leech.
[page missing]10

- - -
 [section missing]
is side, the Duke guiding her towards the beach with a hand on her
back. He stopped in his tracks when he looked up to see Edison standing next to T'au.11
  “Edison?” calls out the Duke, cautiously.
  “It's alright,” said Edison, walking towards the Duke. “Don't worry, she's harmless.”
  “She?” asked the Duke.
Edison walked up to the pair of them, Anise smiled, but looked tired.
  “Are you okay?” Edison.
  “Anise is fine. Who is that?” asked the Duke impatiently, nodding towards their guest.
  “That's T'au,” said Edison. “Apparently, she lives here.”
  “Are we on Earth?” asked Anise.
  “Yeah,” said Edison.
  “Edison,” said the Duke, frowning, “what is 'Tau' doing here?”
  “I dunno, T'au just said that she lives here, but she's not easy to talk to.”
  “What do you mean?” asked the Duke.
  “She's off with the fairies, that one.”
The Duke frowned.12
“Look, go see for yourself,” said Edison.
  “Alright,” said the Duke. “You look after Anise.”
  “I'm fine, really,” said Anise, yawning.
The Duke gave Edison a warning glance, then walked to the shore, where T'au was tying her raft to a tree with a rope.13
  “You're T'au?” he asked
  “I am, in every way,” she said, in broken English.
  “My friend says that you live here,” said the Duke.
  “Your friend is right.”
  “I haven't seen your kind before,” said the Duke. “And you don't look like you're from this planet.”
  “You do,” said T'au. “Yet, you are not. It seems that looks can be deceiving.”
  “Are you saying that you do come from this planet?”
  “Not at all,” said T'au.
  “Then where did you come from?”
  “The water,” said T'au, pointing beyond the shore. “The fishing is good; but today, no fish.”
  “I don't mean today. How did you get here originally? And, what are you doing on this planet?”
  “Those are two very different questions,” said T'au, as she finished tying up her boat and walked towards the Duke.
  “On my planet, generally, people answer questions when queried.”
  “You do not understand. The answer to those questions will require more time than I have to offer right now. It is time to feed. After, then I can answer your question. Then you will understand.”
Then, T'au walked past the Duke and headed deeper into the island, disappearing from sight. Edison walked over to the Duke, who looked dumbstruck.
  “Do you see what I mean?” asked Edison.
  “I get the distinct feeling that she enjoys testing my patience,” said the Duke. “Did she tell you why she's here?”
  “Oh, yeah . . .” said Edison, with a smirk. “She said that she was following God's Will14.”
[page missing]15
- - -

T'au returns to the island, and Anise questions as to why she went fishing (twice) and returned without any fish. T'au explained that she is not hungry, so she had no need to catch fish, and she waded out because of "God's Will".
The Duke becomes very frustrated, explaining that he doesn't care about any of that, and is merely curious as to how she came to the island, so she explains how her ship crashed along with the sea monster “God's Will”16 and she became stranded in our universe.17
The Duke is intrigued by the monster, and so he leaves to analyze the creature with the ship's scanner.
[section missing]18
T'au is missing19 but the others don't worry, instead Anise and Edison talk around the campfire,20 the main topic of conversation is religion, Edison says that he doesn't believe, whilst Anise says that she grew up Catholic, but now considers herself agnostic.21 They also jokingly try to guess what the Duke believes, Anise is unsure, since he's an alien, but Edison suggests that he “believes only in himself”, but the conversation ends when the Duke appears again.
The topic of conversation then turns to the Duke's fascination with Earth. Despite first appearances, he says that Earth is heavily populated with aliens and extra-terrestrial influence, and he's unsure as to why “an outwardly unremarkable world could be such a bustling hub of intergalactic activity”.
Anise and Edison return to the ship to sleep, but the Duke remains outside, and watches the stars above.22 As he does, T'au approaches him to say goodnight. They chat briefly, then T'au once again leaves.23

- - -
The Duke was lying on his back on the beach, listening to the waves as they washed up onto the shore. It was a clear night, and the moon was crescent, barely bright enough to light up the sand on the beach. But the Duke didn't look at the sand, or the water; he looked up at the stars. On such a clear night, he could see the constellations of Orion, Aries, Perseus and Taurus, but he gazed beyond them, at the small speck of a galaxy, deep in the darkness.24As he watched the sky, the door to the hut-shaped timeship opened, peeling a sliver of light across the sand before Anise stepped out and closed the door behind her. She peered around before she saw the Duke on the sand and walked over to him.25  "There you are," said Anise, as she walked beside him and knelt down. "I thought you went wanderin' off."
  "Not at all. I was just watching the universe. When we were in the city, I could barely see beyond your atmosphere. But here, the air is much clearer."
Anise looked up at the sky, and the Duke glanced at her.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?" he asked. "You've been through a lot, you should rest."
  "I don't feel tired. I slept for a long time after the crash." Anise scooted closer and laid down on the sand next to him. "What are you lookin' at?"
  "Rathea," said the Duke, needing only to whisper, since Anise was so close. He pointed up at the sky, angling his arm slightly to right. Anise shuffled even closer, so her head was close to his, and she could look up as he did. She squinted and frowned.
  "How the hell can you see it from here?" she asked.
  "The planet is too distant to see, but the whorl of the galaxy is there. Can you see it?"
  "I don't think so," said Anise. "You must have very good eyes."
  "I'm a time lord,"26 said the Duke. "It's part of our nature to see so far."
  "A 'time lord'? What does that mean?" asked Anise.
  "It means that I am a citizen of time and space. It is part of my nature to see the stars and planets and feel the way they move, so that I can navigate the vast distances between them."
  "You can feel them?" asked Anise. "But they're so far away."
  "I cannot literally feel them," said the Duke, he took her hand in his and brought up their clasped hands, so they both could see. "Not a physical connection, like this. It's more like . . . empathy, or intuition. I can even see them moving."
  "They're not moving," said Anise.
  "They are," said the Duke. "The whole sky is spinning."
  "It must be moving really slowly then," said Anise.
  "On the contrary," said the Duke, with a chuckle. "It's all moving hundreds and thousands of kilometres a second. But at such vast size, and alien distances, even time seems to grow smaller. To you, perhaps, the universe is at a standstill. But to me? . . . the sky is dancing."
They both just stare off for a moment, at the distant wonders above.
  "Duke . . . ? If you're so far-sighted, then what about stuff nearby?" asked Anise, turning to look at the Duke. He heard the sand shifting under her head and turned to look at her. Their faces were less than an inch apart. "How well can you see stuff up close?"
  "Well, I've been looking up at the stars, so it can take a moment to focus," said the Duke. "But yes . . . I can see you, clearly."
  "Everything must feel so small," said Anise, her voice barely a whisper as she looked into his eyes.
  "It's just a matter of perspective," said the Duke. "You don't look small to me."27 Anise smiled, and turned back
[section missing]28
- - -

The Duke and Anise are interrupted by the sound of the sea monster, crying out.29 They look out to the ocean, to see the creature, several kilometres out, breach the surface of the water30 Anise is scared, and asks if the creature is angry, but the Duke insists they're safe, explaining that the creature isn't angry, it's just bored and restless.31
T'au runs into the water and yells at the creature in an alien language.32 After a tense few seconds, the beast returns below the water. T'au explains that the creature wants to go fishing. The Duke says the three of them are fully rested and they are planning on leaving. He also offers to let T'au join them.33 T'au refuses.34
The Duke understands, and so he, Edison and Anise head towards the Lift. Before entering the Lift, Anise rubs her hand across her neck, only to discover a long, thin scab from a healing cut on her collarbone.35 Although concerned, she enters the ship and says nothing of it.
The timeship vanishes.


  Many pieces of this chapter are missing, but I assure you that I have included everything that I could salvage from my ravaged notes. Although not much happens, this was a very slow and contemplative moment, so not much happens because they didn't do all that much to be honest. But nonetheless, I felt compelled to include the chapter.
  Especially with the sea monster. Because so many of the details are missing concerning the creature, I sometimes found myself forgetting that God's Will was a monster. In fact, the way T'au talks about following it, taking care of it and believing in it, I started wondering if, perhaps, it meant something more. The timeship travels through space and time, with seemingly no limits. If any kinds of gods or demons existed in such a galaxy, then surely they would find one. Or, perhaps more worryingly, they wouldn't. Maybe that's what the Duke believes.
  I don't know, I don't have all the answers. All that I can offer is what you've read so far in this lost chapter, and I hope you've found what you were looking for.

1The Lift has been, like, three different kinds of elevator; a carriage; a caboose and now a grass hut. I'm still wondering exactly how many different forms it's capable of.
2They're still weak, and Edison seems hung over, so this has to happen pretty soon after the last chapter, within four hours at least. It was never established exactly, but I assume that this whole journey is just so the Lift crew can rest after Chapter 9's stress.
3The Duke is so adorable in the water, it's like he's a little kid.
4I swear, I looked through all my notes, and even taped together some of the torn up pieces, but I can't find the fucking description of the sea monster. I'm so sorry.
5By the end of this story Anise is wearing a totally different outfit.5a So, either she changes after sitting out on the beach or - and I hope this isn't the case - either Edison or the Duke changed her clothing for her. Gay or not, that's weird for Edison, and as for the Duke, it would seem very inappropriate, especially after that kiss . . .
     5aAfter changing from her bloody clothes, Anise wears a close-fitting black & white striped shirt with a wide collar & sleeves that ended half-way along her forearms. blue jeans & brown boots.
6Gah! The first mention of crew quarters on the ship, and it's eaten by a dog?! I've lost so much good stuff from this chapter!
7I guess that makes sense, but he does wade pretty deep in the water. I think this means to say that he was never taught to swim and he's certainly not afraid of the water.
8It feels weird that the Duke doesn't check on Anise. I have to assume that he knows when she's going to wake up, as he only enters the ship a few minutes before she wakes.
9I don't have the full conversation, just snippets. But it must have taken a while, or there must be a gap in the records, because by the time the next scene starts, it's nearly sunset.
10Okay, I have to work from memory on this one, but the pair talk more about the 88 for a while, especially the Traveller (Edison thinks she's an alien). Then, the Duke goes inside to find Anise as she wakes up8 but in that time, a boat washes ashore. Inside the boat is a humanoid alien called 'Tau'.11 She talks to Edison briefly, and there was also a reference about speaking in an unusual accent.
11T'au is bald, with blue, leathery skin, no nose, a Y-shaped mark on her face, four digits on both hands and hooves instead of feet. Apparently, her full name is Holy T'au the Lonely World according to my notes, but everyone calls her T'au (pronounced like the first syllable of 'tower').
12I guess there's no such thing as fairies on Rathea.
13Apparently T'au made her own raft from resources on the island, but details are lacking.
14“God's Will” is what T'au calls the sea monster.
15Not 'missing', technically. To be more accurate, this is one of the pages that were torn into little pieces. But from what I can gather, I have a basic idea of what happens next, although it's difficult since most of the pieces are too shredded to read. Firstly, the Lift crew spend time on the beach.15a Then, T'au returns holding a dead animal15b which she had retrieved from a trap on the island. Without a word, she unties her raft and wades out to sea.15c The Lift crew continue talking for a few hours, unwinding and talking.15d Eventually, T'au returns, and the Lift crew are confused, as they believed that she was returning with food.
     15aUnfortunately, no, I can't decipher what they're doing during that time.
     15bT'au is described as 'dragging it by the arm', so I assume it's a monkey, but I might be wrong.
     15cT'au is just feeding the sea monster, which sounds sinister, but it's not really.
     15dTalk? TALK! That's all it says in these notes is that they talk! I have no idea what about, but since Anise doesn't freak out, all I can guess is that Edison is tight-lipped about the kiss. Also, it seems like the story they're telling Anise is that she was knocked unconscious when the ship crashed, as that's all they say when they talk about it.
16Thankfully, this conversation is intact, although extraneous details are missing:
DUKE: I don't understand at all.
T'AU: I said that would be the case.
DUKE: You also said that you would answer me after feeding, so answer me.
T'AU: Yes, that is right . . . but I also said that you asked two different questions, believing their answers to be similar, when they are not. You want to know how I came here? Then so would I. Where I am from, this kind of peace is unheard of. It's completely alien to me, because I am completely alien to it. I've never stepped foot on this world before, but the stories are of death and war, skulls piled miles thick, yet I see no such discord. I do not understand how, but I am a place that both is and is not my universe.
DUKE: Are you saying that you're from another dimension?
T'AU: I am saying that I do not know.
DUKE: How did you get here?
T'AU: I came here with several of my people, following God's Will, in the hope that I might stop it.
EDISON: Wait, what the hell is “God's Will”? If it's God, why try to stop it?
T'AU: God's Will is the enemy. At least, it was, during the war. A fierce beast with no soul, whose only goal was to consume and spread, like cancer.
DUKE: If it's the enemy, then why do you call it "God's Will"?
T'AU: It is a foolish joke. Because of its way of devouring, I once called the beast 'Hunger'. But it managed to survive with me. It is like a miracle, so I tell myself that it is the Will of God that it be with me now.
EDISON: The beast is here?
T'AU: No, the beast is there. (pause) We were fighting God's Will, when it fled into the place of blindness. We followed too closely and were swallowed by chaos. We could not see, and the starship was not made for such travel, the beast attacked and so we fell, together, out of chaos and into this place.
DUKE: What happened to your starship?
T'AU: It did not survive. We survived with God's Will16a into the atmosphere, where it fell into the water.
DUKE: What happened to your crew?
T'AU: God's Will consumed them. It would have consumed me as well, but I learned how tame it. I soon learned that it was as scared and lost as me, it could no longer hear the thoughts of its people, so I taught it instead to listen to me. Now I take care of it, and it takes care of me. It's just a wild beast, and some days it thinks of me as nothing more than something to be consumed. But so long as it lives, I will not leave God's Will alone.
DUKE: That's quite a story. But such a large beast must be hard to manage. If it truly is your enemy and one day wishes it could eat you, then why do you keep it alive?
T'AU: Because otherwise, I would be alone.
     16aOn several occasions, T'au references people 'on' the sea monster. At first I thought they rode atop it, but T'au calls it Y'he Shas'ka'ar, which my notes here translate to "The Weak Hunger's Sun Boat". I don't want to make any assumptions, but I think the 'sea monster' might actually be some kind of living starship.
17I believe that T'au has come from an another dimension, one which is consumed by war. I thought, at first, that she was from the future, but that conflicts with my other files involving travel to the far future. Unless she's from an alternate timeline. Is that even possible?
18I can't find any shred of the data regarding the sea monster. It's stuff like this that will make me paranoid, I'm telling you . . .
19Presumably, T'au has gone to bed, although she goes fishing an awful lot, perhaps she went again. To be honest, I can't predict what she would do, she is an alien, after all.
20I assume the campfire was lit after nightfall, but the time exactly is lost in the missing segment.
21Damn it. I love these Anise & Edison heart-to-heart talks, but I know none of the details.
22I don't think the Duke requires sleep at all. I've only seen him rest once and that was only because he was hit by a bus (See Ref#: b01.0-211-L(X)-m01).
23Before going to bed, T'au says to the Duke: "Some days, an odd man comes to this island, wishing to know how I stay hidden from his mind. He also wants to control God's Will; because he's fighting a war over what people believe. I refuse every time and he simply leaves, but I do not believe I am the only one he is recruiting. If he comes for you, I only ask that you consider carefully before making your decision."
24I have to admit, I've been reading further ahead in the files, so I hope this isn't a spoiler, but the Duke's homeworld of Rathea is within the Andromeda Galaxy. I don't know what he's thinking here, but I believe he's a little homesick.
25Oh, thank goodness . . . not all of the cute little one-on-one scenes were lost. I can't tell you how happy I am that this scene survived. It's so adorable!
26This is one of the few times that he refers to himself as a Time Lord, and to me this makes it clear that he is genuinely a Gallifreyan and must have been raised there. So, I have yet to learn why he keeps referring to 'Rathea' as his homeworld.
27I can't tell whether the Duke is being literal, poetic or (dare I say) romantic.
28I like to think that Anise fell asleep snuggled next to the Duke, but a large piece of the page is ripped off. In the next scene, it's sunrise and they're both awake, standing up and talking on the beach, so I can't tell. Also, Edison is standing a short distance away, watching the sunrise.
29The datafile describes the creature's cry as sounding like a guttural foghorn.
30Details are seriously lacking, but at the very least I can tell you this thing is really big. Like, several-magnitudes-bigger-than-a-whale big.
31I don't know if he's interpretting the scream, or if he can hear it psychicly.
32There's no explanation as to why the translator doesn't work.
33I think he's just offering to take her home. I'm not sure how, since she’s not from this reality, but it doesn't make sense that he'd invite her to join, as a companion, since he seems to dislike her so much.
34It doesn't say why, but my guess is that she doesn't want to leave God’s Will alone.
35The results of her fight with Countess Erszebet Báthory (See Ref#: b09.0-216-L(X)-m01).

Sunday, 7 September 2014

To My Dad

I don't know where I get my love of language from, I just enjoy being able to express myself most efficaciously, I think it's powerful that, succinctly, others can idealize my mentality. But, if I were to hazard a guess as to why I have so easily mastered language and therefore appreciate it - I would say it's because of my father.
For starters, I most certainly get my accent from him. Some people think that I'm English or a New Zealander because I don't sound typically Australian due to my clarity of diction. I just have an upper-class Australian accent. I don't consider myself upper class - far fucken from it - but some do, and I undeniably have that accent, it's just part of who I am.
But as for love of language, my father is quite appreciative of language, as his job as an attorney requires a great deal of understanding. As he says "I have to use the most precise language, because the goal is not so much to be understood'as it is to make sure that I cannot possibly be misunderstood"; as you can imagine, a poorly drafted legal document could leave the possibility of legal loopholes.
Not to mention, while I have been slowly compiling my own 'dictionary' of sorts, in this blog, my father has actually been doing the same for his own purposes.
So, since today is father's day, I figured I'd pay homage to him - just as I did for mother's day - by retrieving today's dictionary definition from his dictionary.
The Word of the Day is: 'FATHER'

Father /faː.ðə/ (noun) 1. One who has begotten a child, whether son or daughter; a generator; a male parent. 2. A male ancestor more remote than a parent; a progenitor; especially, a first ancestor; a founder of a race or family; — in the plural, fathers, ancestors. 3. One who performs the offices of a parent by maintenance, affectionate care, counsel, or protection. 4. A respectful mode of address to an old man. 5. A senator of ancient Rome. 6. A dignitary of the church, a superior of a convent, a confessor (called also father confessor), or a priest; also, the eldest member of a profession, or of a legislative assembly, etc. 7. One of the chief ecclesiastical authorities of the first centuries after Christ; — often spoken of collectively as the Fathers; as, the Latin, Greek, or apostolic Fathers. 8. One who, or that which, gives origin; an originator; a producer, author, or contriver; the first to practice any art, profession, or occupation; a distinguished example or teacher. 9. The Supreme Being and Creator; God; in theology, the first person in the Trinity. 10. The male parent. ♦ collateral adjective: paternal.
11. (transitive verb) To make one's self the father of; to beget. 12. To take as one's own child; to adopt; hence, to assume as one's own work; to acknowledge one's self author of or responsible for (a statement, policy, etc.). 13. To provide with a father.

It's interesting how 'father' can have so many other meanings, not only parental and paternal, but also magisterial, ecclesiastic & theological. Father can mean a whole lot of things. This has a lot to do with the patriarchal history of the world, for so long men were in control, and everyone had a father. So, control was associated with fatherhood, the father, the patriarch; the old male in control. As a result, fathers - back in the day - were often pictured as the foundation of a household. The man in the suit that makes the money, the father was the role model, the policeman, the judge, the hero & the soldier. Sons were meant to look up to their fathers, and be looked after by their mothers.
So, I'm glad that we're moving on from that. Not just because of the feminist side of things, but because as the iconic father has moved away from strength, control and idolatry, the idyllic Western father figure has become the caring family man. No longer the foundation of a household, and no longer so strictly defined.

So, father can mean a lot of things, so that it can define everyone's father. But, personally, I don't think of my father like that, because I prefer to call my father Dad; so when I think of him, I think 'dad'.
And in his place, when I think 'father', I think of my girlfriend.
Not that she's in any way fatherly, she's certainly not. But I think of her because when my Beloved was very young, her father died.

It was a very long time ago, so it's no longer a fresh and sensitive wound, which is why she gave me permission to talk about it. In fact, sometimes I'm more uncomfortable talking about it than she is, since she's had her whole life to come to terms with it, but for me, it's still such a shocking notion. I can't even imagine what it would be like growing up without my father, and I sympathize with her upbringing and the way she first felt when she was told.
But it brings to my mind the third definition of 'father' up there: "one who performs the offices of a parent". Because although my Beloved has lost her father, there have been a fair few father figures in her life. From teachers and writers, to her mother at times and her older brother. Just as there are many different ways to be a father, there are many different ways you can have a father. In the sense of someone that takes care of you, counsels you and protects you, I think that most of us have many different people that are our fathers and parents throughout our lives, raising us to be the people we are today.

I'm in my twenties now, so my father isn't really much of a father, I'm old enough to take care of myself. So I don't really treat him like a father anymore, and he doesn't really treat me like a son. Instead, he's my Dad, he's family.
In fact, one day, I plan on marrying my Beloved. And she said to me that she wouldn't mind, one day, calling him 'Dad'. Not as any sort of replacement, since she loved and cares for her own father. But, just because we'd be family.
That's kind of what being a father is, it's no longer about being the foundation, but rather it's just one potential part of being a family. And hey one day, if things work out the way we've planned, I would like to be a father myself one day, for my own little family.
But for now, I'll just enjoy this father's day, with family. Even if that means just weeding the garden and having a quiet day to ourselves.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, you should all go spend some time with your family.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Loaded Canon

Today,  want to talk about something that's been bugging me a little bit, and that thing is canon. I don't mean cannon,  like the ones used in war or on pirate ships, that's double-N cannon, I mean the one to do with intertextual continuity. If you get the two confused and want a mnemonic device to remember, just keep in mind that cannonball has double-L as well as double-N [cannonball].

Anyway, canon. So, why is it bugging me? Well, so many people seem to have trouble with it. Or, they avoid it. Or, they think that they can change it around and make a story better. Or they don't know what it is and they want someone to explain it.
For all of these people, this blog post is for you. The Word of the Day is: 'CANON'

Canon /'kanən/ n. 1. An ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope. 2. The body of ecclesiastical law. 3. The body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art: The neoclassical canon. 4. A fundamental principle or general rule; standard; criterion: The canons of taste. 5. Any officially recognized set of sacred books. 6. Any comprehensive list of books within a field. 7. The works of an author that have been accepted as authentic: There are 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon. 8. Music Consistent, note-for-note imitation of one melodic line by another, in which the second line starts after the first.

Well, that's a whole lot of confusing right there. Religion, music and fields of study, it's all getting lost in the different iterations of this word's meaning. So, let's make this simpler and find ourselves the radix meaning of this word.
See, the word 'canon' comes from the Greek word kanṓn which means 'measuring rod'. It's unusual, but it makes sense if you think about it. Canon is basically a list of things which can be used to measure an ideal - just as you use a metre ruler to measure or define centimetres; or use statistical data to measure or define a population, you can also have a set of books to measure or define a certain literary canon.

Now, in my line of work - that is, fictional story-writing - canon relates to a group of stories which are officiated as one part of a larger story. Overall, canon is very simple to maintain if it's all written by one person, because that one person can just write whatever they want. It's their story, after all, they write it and they can have fun with it, because what they say goes. But things get more complicated when you bring it other writers.

I sort of spoke about this before, with comic books, when I was talking about continuity in a very old blog post, but see there's one major difference between what I was talking about then and what I want to talk about now. See, my issue with poor continuity is that it's often just a case of laziness; it makes your story poorer when you don't put in the effort, it can create plot holes & it makes people like me very annoyed that you care less about your work than I do.
But canon? That's more serious, because if your work is not canonical, it becomes essentially irrelevant. In fact, that's how I judge a lot of fanfiction stories, if your story does not adhere to canon, it is irrelevant, and it does not deserve to be read.

I don't consider myself to be a fan of fanfiction; because when I say "fanfiction", the first thing that comes to my mind is poorly written smut. If it's not smut, then it's Mary Sue fiction, with some unstoppable, infinitely loveable, always right, perfect, author-insert character. If it's not Mary Sue fiction, then it's . . . eurghk . . . 'Shipping'. Your ships disgust me.
I hate all of this. Not because I don't appreciate these people expressing their fandom, fandom is not something I engage in but I don't want to stop fangirls and fanboys from their fanaticism.
No, I hate it because you expect other people to read your work, and if you do that whilst not adhering to canon, then you are a terrible fan. Unless you, from the very offset, explain that you're writing an AU (Alternate Universe), you can't just pair up whomever you want, write however you want, shoehorn in your own terribly-written character and expect your story to matter. It doesn't work like that.

  "But, Absurd Word Nerd," I hear you ask, "Don't you write fanfiction? In fact, one might argue that your character 'The Duke' is a Mary Sue."
  "Ha," I would respond mirthlessly, with confidence and derision. Because first of all, no he's not; more importantly, although Duke Forever is technically fanfiction, it does something which not enough fanfics do, it's canonical. I mean that inasmuch as, everything I say in-story, adheres to both Doctor Who & Stargate canon. Most people who do crossovers just sort of mash them together, but as I've shown before, you can have crossovers that are not only interesting, but which can make more sense crossed-over than they would apart.

(Egocentric Self-Congratulatory Paragraph Warning!)
See, the beauty of Stargate is that, on Earth, it's set entirely within a top-secret facility and one of it goals is to remain hidden from the peoples of Earth, so it can easily gel with Doctor Who canon. Although they are both sci-fi, it makes sense that they haven't crossed over before, because Stargate Command is set in the United States, and most of the stories of Doctor Who & Torchwood are set in and around the United Kingdom.
They also have related concepts like hyperdrives, time travel, aliens, extra-galactic populated planets & futurism; so there's very little within each that can even potentially contradict the other. If any problems do arise, all I need to point out is that the universe is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really big - probably even bigger than that - and that explains why, despite intergalactic battles and hundreds of alien species, they don't cross over.
Of course, there's one little crossover snarl involving an ancient religion, but I plan on explaining that in a later chapter, stay tuned for that.
(Egocentric Self-Congratulatory Paragraph Concluded)

See, when I write fanfiction, there is one, golden rule: Canon is King
It doesn't matter what you believe or what you appreciate or depreciate within a work, because canon is king, it rules everything and everything I write is dictated by canon. I do this for a very good reason, and I think that every fanfiction writer should do this as well, allow me to explain why . . .
I'll use comics as an example. Something my Beloved has talked about with me - and personally finds quite despicable - is in the Batman comicbooks, there was a character called Jason Todd, one of the boys who took up the role of Robin. He was a bit of a brat and quite young, so a lot of people didn't like him and in fact, some comic writers didn't like him either, so, to decide what to do, they set up a telephone poll.
Comicbook readers were provided with two phone numbers, one for "Kill" and another for "Save" and asked to call one to vote, and in-so-doing decide his fate. This is an interesting idea, and one that should probably be explored in further detail, the idea of giving an audience control of a story's 'canon' in this way. But the results of this event are what I want you to focus on, because they are most telling.

There's some talk of people cheating the system, by using computer programs to redial the number over and over again, but what matters is that, in the end, it was voted that he should be killed. So, he died in Batman issue #428.
As a result, all of the people that wanted him to live were very upset, because the end poll result was about 50/50 (49.7 % voted save; 50.3 % voted kill); even though he was not a popular character, they received a ton of hatemail and negative press because of the event.

To me, this shows that, when you hold in your hands the responsibility of a canon which does not belong to you, you need to tread very lightly. Even if you hate a character, vehemently, it doesn't mean you should kill him. Because when you're handling someone else's canon, you're not the only fan of that work. So even if you don't like something, that doesn't mean you should be allowed to badmouth it, kill it or render it obsolete - because this isn't your story, you don't have that right.
The iconic example of this is Steven Moffat. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that details of the regeneration in the last episode of Series 7, "Time of the Doctor", threw the whole numbering system arse-over-tit for no good reason [If you don't mind spoilers for Series 8 and want to know more, just click this link].
I don't hate the man, but I think anyone who can do that to a canon has no respect for the source material.

This is related to a trope known as 'Armed with Canon', the idea being that, when you are responsible for a story and its canon, you can use it almost aggressively. Rewriting, writing off and outright destroying a story to your own ends, when you have control of its canon.
Now, of course, fanfictions don't have creative control of canon (not really, anyway), but the result is the same. If you don't adhere to previously-established continuity within canon, then you're still destroying the story. But in this case, the only you're destroying is your own, and its relevancy. That's why I've titled this blog post 'loaded canon', because - like a loaded gun - canon is dangerous not just for your audience, but for yourself, and you need to handle it carefully.

Which brings me to the part of this which really annoys me. Fiction is fictional, it's fantasy. It doesn't have to adhere to nature's laws, it doesn't have to be entirely logical and you can do pretty much whatever you want.
And that's the most important part whatever you want. I understand that, if you hate a character or a particular plot element, you might be inclined to ignore it or get rid of it. But why? This is a story and you're meant to be a writer! And in a lot of cases, these stories are sci-fi. So, why kill them when you can do so much more without pissing everyone off?
I mean, have you never heard of a holiday? You could easily put them on a bus and send them to Egypt. Or you could put them into an ancient, Peruvian trance, or you could put them into cryo-freeze or you even could give them the common cold and send them to the hospital. It's not difficult to remove a character from your story without killing them. Hell, you could make the story about the other characters trying to fetch the cure for their truancy from your story.
Or, if you want a character to act a certain way for your story, why make them act out of character for no reason? Why not involve mind control, or have some kind of doppleganger take their place?
Sure, perhaps it might seem like a bit of a cop out, but remember this is not your canon and are you a writer or not?! It's not difficult to write in canon, I do it all the time. If you think that's too hard then don't write fanfiction!

Look, I understand fanfiction, and I admit that while I prefer not to label it as such, Duke Forever is fanfiction. I appreciate people writing fanfiction for fun, or to practice their writing, that's a good way to get into writing. And even bad fanfiction is allowed, inasmuch as any bad fiction is allowed, practice makes perfect, and I know that you have to start by sucking.
But that doesn't mean that I or anyone else has to read it. Sure, write what you want for fun and practice, I'm not trying to get anyone to stop writing stories (or crossover/AU fanfics), I'm just here telling you how to write better stories. And believe it or not, adhering to canon is the kind of practice which helps with your own stories. If you know how to adapt someone else's fictional world to suit your story, then it becomes even simpler to adapt your own story for whatever tale you want to tell.

Anyway, that's enough from me.

I'm sorry if today's post was a little bit 'rambly', but this is the first new blog post I've written in a while, and I'm a little sick today. But very soon, I'll be writing more posts and I should even get more Duke Forever written.
Until next time, don't be discouraged from writing if you now know that I dislike your work. I just want more people to write better stories. I'm not annoyed because I think you people can't write well; I'm annoyed because I think you can write better than this, and I expect more of you.I  don't think that fanfiction or even fanfiction writers are inherently bad. And one day, I would love to encourage people to write fanfiction about my stories. I want people to put in the effort to make them canonical - and if they did, I might even be encouraged to officiate them into canon - but that can't happen if you're still trying to find an excuse to make Madam Hooch sleep with Professor Dumbledore . . .