When T & K Watch TV – Falling Skies

Those of you who have been bribed/blackmailed into beta-reading our stories probably know by now how freaking anal we are about realism and little details. Sometimes it borders on insanity, really.

And sometimes us watching TV borders on insanity as well.

We decided to give Falling Skies a go yesterday. What intrigued us was the whole idea of a rag-tag group of humans opposing a dangerous, superior force called Skittles or Ticklers or something. They are these bug-like aliens conceived by an anachrophobic mind.

In the center of everything stands a rather intriguing character: Tom Mason, a white (of course) history prof of some kind, played by Noah Wyle. He’s not half-bad really. Doesn’t look too Hollywoodian and boring unlike his older son in the show, and the son’s girlfriend. They are like walls and act about as skillfully too. Our hearts sang when Tom told his son who asked for ammo that it’s not a clip, it’s a mag. Finally they get it! Most shows are purely ignorant to this (granted, some pros call a magazine a clip too, but it just feels wrong). So we love little details like that and thought that, okay, this show seems promising in that regard too.

But then…

All of a sudden it turns out that this reality lacks two things rather important when it comes to survival:
1) sharp-shooters and rifles specifically meant for sharp-shooting
2) bicycles

And there is absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have both. Tom goes on about “we can beat them aliens if we just get close enough to get a headshot.” Like, you could shoot those bastards from half a mile away with a bolt-action rifle (I guess the aliens ate all Remington 700s), just stop wasting all that precious ammo shooting only full auto (which is a dumb thing to do anyway unless you’re laying cover fire)! No wonder you can’t kill anybody with such spray and pray tactics! And then everyone just walks in long caravans. Oh, are bikes too uncool? Are the aliens major bike thieves? See what the problem is? The writers have done such a half-assed job it’s impossible to keep watching because we know the main antagonist, the aliens, could be fought effectively if someone had done their homework. It makes the fight moot for us; we can’t give two turds about the characters because we feel like they deserve to die for being so stupid.

So at this point we just couldn’t bother taking it seriously anymore. We went crazy with “what if this happened in real world,” our minds flooding with scenarios of how Earth would (not) survive:

1) Western Europe and Australia would be screwed because guns are so very banned. What are the Brits going to fight the Skittles with? Teapots and crumpets? At least Aussies can throw poisonous animals at the Skittles.
2) The USA have guns, all right, but the people are so fat they would have mobility scooter caravans instead of skinny survivors marching on. Who’s gonna push them if the scooter gets stuck in mud?
3) Eastern Europe and Russia would do all right, China too. Dragunovs and Nagants galore, aliens would steer clear.
4) The Japanese would probably commit collective seppuku because they are gunless, and these aliens have pretty good armor, so katanas would be pretty useless. On the other hand, the Skittles might stay out of Nippon if they saw some of that tentacle porn…
5) Northern Europe and Canada might survive because it’s so cold there, so Skittles might not even bother venturing in the middle of nowhere to freeze their insectile asses off, plus there are a lot of hunting rifles to shoot these assholes with and skilled hunters who can pick off a small, quickly moving target 200 yards away.
6) South-America… yeah, you guys, you’ll do all right – if Skittles like sniffing coke! There’s your tactic, get them hooked on the good stuff and you’ll live like kings.
7) Africa. Sorry, largely overrun. Bugs like warmth. South-Africa might do all right; they’ll just fence in the Skittles Apartheid-style.
8) Israel and Arab-countries would kick ass. Those cats know how to fight. Hell, almost all Israelis have served in IDF, so they’d know which way to point a rifle, and they’d know to avoid “spray-and-pray.”

How would you survive an alien invasion? Do you have your bug out -bag ready in case the apocalypse hits and you have to run? ; )

T&K

P.S. Please note that this post is written very much tongue-in-cheek and is not meant to be taken seriously.

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About Death and Loss

By K. Trian 

Last weekend I traveled 400 km to east to my grandma’s funeral, and that trip really got me thinking about death, like funerals often do.

Of course it was a terribly sad occasion, but what struck me almost odd was the warmth and joy amidst the people—despite the sadness of someone so dear passing away. It brought our enormous family together, the aunts and uncles, the cousins and second cousins, brothers and sisters, new and old spouses, even the pets! Suddenly I could see my grandma everywhere (though not in the pets); her smile on one grandchild’s face, her dainty hands on an aunt, her slanted eyes on my brother, her pale skin on myself. She wasn’t really dead, after all, was she? This was the first time I really understood what people mean when they say the deceased do live on even beyond their death.

Later my brother and I ventured to the ghost house of my grandparents, uninhabited for almost ten years at this point, and it looked almost exactly like when I was a kid. Yes, the pictures on the walls were dusty, the drapes had faded in the sun, and the smell was all wrong; musty, moldy. But other than that, it was just like stepping back in time, to the moments grandma baked pies and made soup, squirrels climbed behind the kitchen window, and the sturdy, chipped, long table groaned with stew, veggies, and home-made berry juice.

It feels almost like your childhood falls apart and fades away with that house. It’s buried in the past like that house will be someday, grass growing over it like it already does over the dog house and the stables (grandma hadn’t kept animals for the past 20 years at least). You look at that picture on the wall and realize that many of the people have already passed away. They still beam at you from behind the dusty glass, and you can vaguely remember their voices, the clothes they wore, the way they felt and smelled like when they grabbed you off the floor into a bear hug, but with every passing day those memories too fade. That’s when they truly die, decades after their bodies have been buried, and that’s also what I already dread when it comes to my grandma: those familiar smiles, hands, and eyes will also disappear if they are not passed onto our children and grandchildren, and even that’s no guarantee to keep her around.

A view from the hilltop down to the stables and the barn.

A view from the hilltop down to the stables and the barn.

The reason why I find myself missing her so much, why I feel particularly sad about this, is that I never really got to know my grandma, and now it’s too late. Yes, I can learn about her through others, but my own chest of memories with her is now closed and locked, nothing more to add in there. Considering that she lived almost a hundred years, that chest should be fuller.

Now rest in peace, Helmi (her name means ‘pearl’), you led a hard but long life, and I’m happy I got to know you what little I did. Please feel free to come and haunt me, I still have things to say and questions to ask!

Reader’s Block

By K. Trian

This blog post was originally published on writingforums.org, but I thought I’d share it here as well. Team T. K. Trian has been quite busy lately: still revising Solus and some of our hobbies have taken time (horses, Toni’s band), but hopefully we’ll be more productive the closer we get to autumn.

In any case, I thought I’d share this with you, interwebz.

I’m suffering of something I’ve come to call “a reader’s block” (wowsers, how clevah, K!). Anymoo, it’s like a writer’s block in the sense that I have difficulties with starting or getting back to a novel I was reading, even though I’ve enjoyed the story.

So I started to dissect this little brain defect o’ mine.

I realized that there are at least three issues that keep me from fully immersing myself into a story other than the one T.Trian and I are working on (yes, I write with a partner):

1) Plagcident

I’m afraid of finding something familiar in another writer’s novel. A plot twist, a character, something that’s similar to one or few aspects in our WIP. As if me not finding it would make these possible similarities go away! I guess it’s a matter of accidental plagiarism. But why should I even care? Everything’s been done already (“you just have to put your own spin to it, hun”). I think I’m just afraid of that crushing feeling when you realize something you thought brilliant-er than a strobo-chandelier has already been done and “recycling” it would just make you look dumber than Paris Hilton in a power suit.

2) Anal-lyzing

I seem to be going through a phase during which I’m over-analyzing everything, including this. I’ve become very anal about grammar, writing techniques, pacing, etc. so when I’m reading a novel, I catch myself (nit)picking the prose instead of enjoying the story. It’s pretty tiresome, and I guess, knowing how tiresome it is, I’ve avoided picking up novels. Especially in English.

3) Color Me Choosy

It’s been very difficult to find novels that I actually enjoy. I don’t often follow through with the recommendations from others, to be honest, unless they are really good salesmen. I use Amazon to browse reviews, but it’s fairly time-consuming because you can’t trust everything that’s said there, thanks to the relative prevalence of sockpuppets, plus some people bash books for no other reason but personal grudge or perpetual hemorrhoids. So I find myself returning to the novels I’ve read a gazillion times (and that are also safe accidental plagiarism -wise).
***

Curiously enough, I have no problem beta-reading. It’s fun. Maybe it’s more appealing because I feel like I contribute to something even though many stories I beta-read tend to have more hiccoughs than a published novel — which is understandable (our WIP doesn’t have just hiccoughs, it has effing TB).

Still, it feels like not reading as much as I used to deprives me of so many things. Partly it feels like being the only absolutist at a kegger, partly like I was that asshole player who shows up to the band practice but never practices on her own at home.

Should I worry? Should I just wait for this to pass? (it’s a phase, right, RIGHT?) Maybe I should just force myself to read more. Promise myself I have to read something new (and preferably in English) at least a little bit every evening before going to sleep, and that it has to be a novel, not a comic or a children’s book or a fitness magazine.

Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.

Truth be told, I hope I’m the only one with this reader’s block ‘cause it SUCKS, but on the other hand it would be nice to learn I’m not the only loser on the block and how others have dealt with it.

Turku Medieval Fair 2013

Since T. K. Trian has also dabbled in some medieval type of fantasy in the past, we decided to make a little excursion to Finland’s old capital, Turku, and visit a three-day Medieval Fair held in the historical center of this old trade city.

While one can do a load of research at home for their writing, in the end nothing really beats the real thing. Unfortunately the absence of time travel technology limits our choices, but Turku Medieval Fair definitely didn’t leave us cold.

We arrived to Turku on June 28th and decided to spend the evening browsing the stands at the fair, leaving the jousting show and a museum tour for the next day.

Here’s a little pictorama of the two days:

 

Food

There were some amazing foods sold at the fair; roasted nuts, caramelized apples, strips of meat straight from a whole pig, lollipops, salmiak, licorice, bratwurst-cabbage wraps, rye bread made by monks. and of course, beverages such as mead and beer. You really didn’t have to go hungry while adventuring around the market area (which was huge, spanning over a historical marketsquare, a park, and two riversides. Here are some pictures of the delicacies.

Caramel Apples. These were amazing!

T. Trian’s cinnamon lollipop

I haz noms! CHOMP!

Cabbage wrap. So delicious.

 

Crafts

We also got to see fair folk at their medieval-type tasks. Of course the blacksmiths were most interesting to us, as we have a blacksmith character in our fantasy story, Red Bricks and Black Leather. It was a great opportunity to ask about making an armor and weapons, how long it would take, and so on. Hearing all this straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, makes this type of research a lot of fun, and you get to meet new people too.

Blacksmiths at work. We met at least four, and they were all metalheads. Go figure.

But there were also soap makers (like in the Clutch song), bakers, washers, tanners, bow makers, painters, musicians… so many talents, so little time to acquaint oneself with them all. It would have been lovely to buy a bow, but they sure were expensive. We did buy a nifty dagger though!

reaver

The namesake of our latest fantasy story, the Reaver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joust

This was possibly the most interesting event of the fair. We both adore horses, so the jousting show was nothing short of exciting, hence we also have a lot of pictures from there. But look at these animals, aren’t they majestic? And the skill level of the riders was also impressive. This is definitely something we’d love to try out ourselves someday! We are going riding next weekend (no mounted combat though) and instead of chargers, we’ll ride Icelandic horses!

The only female rider didn’t participate in this. Perhaps the lance was too heavy?

… but she was one fearless rider nonetheless. And isn’t that horse just the quintessential white steed of a noble knight?

This pair was fierce!

They had to hit this little pole with a lance from a gallop. And many of them did. What a feat!

Every horse and rider (4 of them in total) also carried a banner. This bay horse was the biggest of them. Don’t they just look majestic?

They even rode through a fire gate. Imagine training those horses not to fear fire. Wowzers!

Here you can really see what marvellous clothing and gear they carried. After the show she told us the armor weighed over 20kg / 45lbs. Wonder how comfortable it is to wear for long times…

The Fast & the Furious: Medieval Edition

After the show, the riders answered questions and let the audience pet the horses. Nobody died, but the mount in blue won 🙂

Naturally any event with combat has to have capable physicians to tend to the wounded.

 

Medicine

Speaking of physicians, we also learned a bunch of new things about medieval medicine (as well as what was believed useful up until the early 20th century). You rid the body of evil to cure just about any ailment. You can do it in a number of ways.

1. First these lovely guys (historically. These two were actually girls) will examine you…

doctors

The black robes and bone-white beaks were particularly reassuring.

2. … by pinching your nipple to discover what was ailing you…

nipple

“Does it hurt when I do this?”

3. … then get rid of the bad blood. Because everyone knows bloodloss is healthy.

bloodletting

They used instruments like these or…

… big-ass leeches.

4. Unfortunately we don’t have a picture of the syringe, but to round up the treatment, the patient was lastly purged with a hefty enema. Got a headache? Let blood and have an enema. Got fever? Let blood and have an enema. Got indigestion? Let blood and have an enema. Got the plague? Let blood and have an enema. Got beheaded? Let blood and have an enema. There was nothing this combination couldn’t cure. The wonders of science…

Well, let’s wrap up this report from the comfort of a park bench. It’s time to return to writing with the help of newfound insight and knowledge of the ways of the days of yore. Godspeed to all ye faithful!

T. K. Trian