WoB Talk

January 30, 2012

A Rowse by Any Other Name

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 4:29 am

I’m at my parents’ place at the moment.  Yesterday, I answered the phone; the called said, “Is that Jan?”  Jan, my sister, had been staying with my parents for a week and was just about to head home.

I said, “No, it’s Kari.”

“Oh,” said the caller, “Carrie!”

I was so used to this sort of thing that I didn’t even notice what had happened.  My sister, on the other hand, did.  She could hear the caller’s voice, and she laughed out loud.  Admittedly, it’s pretty amusing when someone corrects my pronunciation of my name.

I really don’t understand why people do this.  I know some names are difficult to pronounce or remember, and that’s fine; what baffles me is when an otherwise sane person will immediately respond to my name by telling me what it’s supposed to be.  Frankly, my name isn’t even that difficult to say.  You can pronounce “car,” yes?  Then you can pronounce “Kari.”  But there seems to be a sort of general disbelief that I am getting my own name right.

When I was a little kid, I would correct people all the time.  My dad picked up on this little quirk of mine and called me “Carrie” just to get a rise out of me.  I now frequently just let the error stand.  It’s too exhausting to go around explaining the proper pronunciation of my name to everyone I meet.  And I haven’t even mentioned my surnamed yet.  No one can pronounce my surname.  Those who try and fail generally ask me why I pronounce it the way I pronounce it.  “Because that’s how it’s pronounced” is not a reply that goes over well.

I recognise that mistakes happen and people mishear things.  However, I would ask you not to correct the pronunciation of an unusual name immediately after the person to whom it belongs utters it.  There’s something just a teeny bit insulting about the whole situation.

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January 23, 2012

Unrantiferous

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 2:05 am

I’m afraid I’m too worried about actual problems at the moment to feel justified in writing a long Rant about imaginary ones.  I suppose I could do a short list instead.  Here, then, are the Top Six Reasons I Am Unhappy With My Boots:

6)  When I put them on, my left big toe begins hurting like crazy.  I don’t know why this is.  It doesn’t hurt at all when I’m not wearing my boots.

5)  I have a bad habit of dragging my heels.  I do it so persistently that I generally end up wearing the heels of my boots away.  The heels of these particular boots are so worn that they can probably most accurately be described as “completely gone.”  If I rock backwards on my heels too far, I fall over.

4)  I’m not sure what the point of boots that height is.  They’re too low to keep the snow out but too high to count as ankle boots.  They certainly aren’t a fashion statement.  I don’t really get them.  They were the only ones in the entire store that fit me.

3)  They are always covered with salt, meaning that…

2)  They are beginning to leak.  I think the salt has eroded the leather.

1)  Because of my weirdly shaped feet, they cost about the same amount one would pay for, say, a banjo, and they haven’t lasted nearly as long.  I wish I wasn’t always being disappointed by my boots.  That’s life, I suppose.

January 23 – 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 2:01 am

Here beginneth the first week of the Third Great WoB Extravaganza.  With luck, I’ll be able to keep it up.  The day after I announced it, I learned that a member of my family was in the hospital.  Predictably, this is rather occupying my mind at the moment, but one unforeseen result has been that WoB is now just about the only thing on which I’m able to concentrate.  I’ve therefore actually managed to build up a buffer.  At any rate, if I suddenly stop updating regularly, you’ll know why.  If that happens, I’ll catch up eventually.

January 16, 2012

Open Letter to the Jerk Who Drenched Me in Slush the Other Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 6:27 am

Dear Jerk:

I understand that it’s probably a great deal of fun to drive as close to the sidewalk as possible so that you can hit the puddles that have formed right next to the curb and therefore shower pedestrians with freezing cold water and small chunks of ice.  It probably feels good to see someone standing dripping on the pavement, screaming imprecations, while you drive away in your toasty automobile.  Why do pedestrians expect anything different, after all?  They choose to walk instead of driving like sensible human beings.  They want to expose themselves to the elements.  They therefore deserve to end up covered in grimy liquid that can really only be called “water” by an optimist.

Yes, there are bigger problems in the world.  One of them is your car, dear, dear jerk.  Your car is a polluting money pit that is a danger to everyone who encounters it without being enclosed in–in point of fact–another car.  It’s lovely that you are contributing to the destruction of the environment, endangering the lives of cyclists and pedestrians, and ensuring that the contents of puddles are forever spraying gracefully over sidewalks instead of remaining in the puddles themselves.  Thank you ever so much for not driving in your actual lane.  Why would you want to?  The pothole-riddled bit of the road next to the curb offers you a much smoother ride.  If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll kill a cyclist.

The funny thing was that you were the fourth jerk to splash the sidewalk on the day you got me.  I escaped the first three but thought I saw a window of opportunity once they had passed.  I was wrong.  Thank you for showing me the error of my ways.

It’s much colder now, and there are no longer any puddles for you to drive through, which is sad.  Let us both hope for warmer days so that you may return to your campaign to terrorise those pedestrians who, obviously, so richly deserve it.

Yours sincerely,
Kari.

January 9, 2012

On Negativity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 3:19 am

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to Rant about today.  Every time I come up with a possible topic, I end up telling myself, “No, I can’t write on that; it’s too negative.”  I try something else, and it’s too negative too.  This has been going on for a while.

So now I’m wondering:

What is it about negativity, exactly, that makes us assume it makes someone’s opinion less worthy?  I know I’m often a bit too much of a pessimist about things, but people do sometimes use that fact to dismiss what I say.  On the other hand, people who are unrelentingly cheerful and optimistic are taken very seriously and assumed to be in the right.

This may seem like the beginning of another Kari is Feeling Sorry For Herself Again session, but it’s actually not.  I’m genuinely interested in this phenomenon.  What makes Pollyanna more reliable than Eeyore?  Why is someone who always expects the worst automatically less accurate than someone who always expects the best?  As far as I know, there is nothing in the physical laws of the universe that says that sunshiney beamers who see the good in everything are more likely to be right about what is going on than grumpy sulkers who are always looking for problems.

Maybe the myth of Cassandra is more than just a clever bit of classical irony; we really do tend to regard the Cassandras of the world as mere naysayers and Negative Nellies.  Frankly, it’s probably self-defence.  Sure, maybe the volcano is going to erupt and kill us all, but if we’re always harping on it, we’re missing out on enjoying the three or four hours left before it happens.  If we sing and dance through life, we don’t end up paralysed by the knowledge that no one lives forever.  People who do nothing but point out the negative tend to be unhappy themselves, and they can be seen as spreading their unhappiness.

On the other hand, it may not be entirely fair to place less of a value on negativity.  The people who launched the Titanic were pretty optimistic.  The people responsible for maintaining aircraft might, in contrast, be regarded as having pessimism built into their very jobs; if they just smiled and trusted that everything would turn out okay, there would be a lot more plane crashes than there are.  The devout belief in Murphy’s Law ultimately leads to stringent safety standards and a lot of double-checking.  Perhaps this double-checking is unnecessary 99% of the time; it’s the remaining 1% where it comes in handy.

The prejudice against pessimism also prompts some people to look askance at the grieving process.  Mourning leads to tears, denial, rage, confusion; certain perpetually happy individuals think it should be possible to skip over all those inconvenient reactions, and they express puzzlement when this doesn’t happen.  The emotions somehow become the fault of the mourner and stand as signs of weakness.

I am fully aware that it is bad to be negative all the time.  However, I don’t accept that the opposite–being positive all the time, whether or not the situation warrants it–is an improvement.  Optimism is not strength, especially when it persists in the face of the facts.  Perhaps the ideal would be a mixture:  the ability to be either positive or negative at need.  I do think we should be able to recognise the necessity for sadness and anger and suspicion of “too much of a good thing.”  Sweeping negative emotions under the carpet may make them less visible, but it doesn’t make them go away or solve the problems that have provoked them.

January 9 – 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 3:05 am

‘Tis time for a break from the Maddening Mystery of Mr. Mulligan.  Have some zany Barbaraness instead.  You’ve never actually seen Barbara operating in the classroom, have you?  Well, here you go, then.

January 2, 2012

To Boldly Go Where Everyone Has Gone Before

Filed under: Rants — Kari Maaren @ 7:36 am

Well, it’s early 2012.  It is a time of resolutions, apparently.  Let me make one.  But first, a story:

John Troutman, the creator of the webcomic Lit Brick, which I follow and admire, has made a resolution himself. Basically, he has declared that since his comic has existed for over a year and has gained what he has declared via Twitter to be “1000ish readers,” which he doesn’t regard as anywhere near enough to count as success, Lit Brick will be “entering a hiatus” that Mr. Troutman’s tweets are pretty much implying will last forever.  This makes me rather sad, as Lit Brick–which I discovered a few months ago, and which, due to a combination of laziness and a complete lack of spare time, I have not added to my links page–is devoted to reproducing the contents of the Norton Anthology of English Literature four panels at a time.  Mr. Troutman regularly describes his readership as “niche,” but I prefer to think of it as consisting of people capable of finding this funny.  Okay, maybe it is niche.  If you remember the end of Beowulf even a little bit, you will likely understand why that strip gives me the giggles.

I completely understand the need not to continue with a project in which one has lost faith; several of Mr. Troutman’s comments have hinted at a general discontent with the episodic nature of Lit Brick and the frustration of not having a proper continuing storyline to work with.  However, the “my readership isn’t growing” argument is one with which I must respectfully beg to differ.  I suppose this makes me a masochist or maybe just delusional, but I’ve got to say it:  West of Bathurst has been running for five and a half years, and it has a few hundred readers at most.  Does this mean I am going to abandon it?  Hell, no.  I shall continue with my aggressively niche comic until the story is finished, whenever the heck that might be, or until my computer bursts into flame, which may very well happen first.

Which of us has the right of it?  I honestly don’t know.  Do low numbers mean a project is no good?  Do they mean that the person gaining them should give up and try something more likely to be popular?  It’s true that “success” in the webcomic world equals “ability to gain enough readers that one can make a living via merchandising and advertising,” and it’s also true that only a very few webcomic creators possess such an ability.  There are some fantastic comics with huge readerships.  There are also some terrible comics with huge readerships.  Conversely, there are some fantastic comics and some terrible comics with small readerships.  Meh comics can be found in both categories, as well as in between.  Does popularity equal success, and does success equal worth?  Am I an idiot to spend all this time creating a comic that, in the larger scheme of things, hardly anybody reads?

I don’t care if I am.  As far as I’m concerned, West of Bathurst doesn’t have to be Penny Arcade.  (You know, now that I think of it, I’ve never even portrayed characters playing video games.  I think Baldwin is probably a gamer, though.)  It has only a few hundred readers?  Well, they enjoy it, and so do I.  It’s kind of fun to be a little fish in a big pond.  If you do something outrageous, there will be a mere few hundred people who want to kill you.

I don’t mean this as a criticism of Mr. Troutman, though I am disappointed that there will be no more She-Jesus (don’t ask).  He’s got to do what he’s got to do.  His declaration just got me thinking, and it has prompted me to declare:

I hereby resolve that West of Bathurst will stubbornly continue, even if its website keeps going down and its readers forget about it for months at a time.  Have a happy New Year.

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