Tina K. Russell

July 12, 2009

Dignity, honor, and pride

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:57 pm

To the Editor:

David Brooks’s search for dignity is misplaced. Dignity, as a social device, didn’t survive World War II.

Yet, while the criteria may be different, there are people who possess that hard-to-define quality called “class,” which is a practical manifestation of kindness, respect for others, proper upbringing and the everyday application of the Golden Rule.

In his day, some derided the joke-telling Lincoln as undignified, yet no president had more class.

What should concern Mr. Brooks is the vanishing of personal honor, in government, business and family, which frees powerful men to cheat on their wives and their taxes, exploit workers, lie to voters and cheat stockholders and consumers with impunity.

Sheldon Bunin

Jackson Heights, Queens, July 7, 2009

via Letters – The Demise of Dignity in America – NYTimes.com.

Pride is your best friend and your worst enemy. At its best, pride forces you to have standards for yourself, to maintain what you’ve invested in so much. At its worst, pride is a sense of entitlement, a shamelessness that you justify with delusions of superiority.

There’s a Yu-Gi-Oh! manga story where Yugi faces the arrogant, cheating Bandit Keith (he of “In America!”), who refuses to play by the rules of the “Duelist Kingdom” island tournament because he’s not an official contestant. However, Keith plans to use his cheating ways to defeat enough players to force the judges to recognize him. In Keith’s mind, the island is a no-man’s-land where the rules don’t apply to him.

When Yugi defeats Keith fair and squire, Keith is dumbfounded. He thought his cheating strategies were perfect. Keith was too pig-headed to examine his own weaknesses before presuming victory.

So, Yugi gives him some advice. “Do you know what the rule of this island is?” he asks.

Keith huffs.

“A duelist’s pride,” Yugi says.

You wouldn’t think Keith’s worst vice was not having enough pride, and in a way, it was not. Keith had pride, but not the right kind.

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February 3, 2009

Learning the Tropes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 7:15 pm

What Do You Mean, It’s Not Didactic? – Television Tropes & Idioms
Right, so you’re looking through the library and come across a copy of Moby Dick. First published in 1851? Wow, if it’s still being published after more than 150 years, it must be good! You’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel, so you eagerly check it out and head home.

Later, you open it up and discover there’s a preface. Might as well read that to get an idea of the context it was written, and so maybe enjoy it even more. You start reading, and naturally the preface begins by summarizing the plot… wait, why are you annoyed? You weren’t planning on reading it for the story, were you? This isn’t just literature, it’s a work of True Art! In the minds of Really Clever Literary Critics, the true worth of a book, movie, or TV series is not in telling an engrossing story with interesting characters, but in allowing people to write long, complex, deep essays on the true meaning of the subject matter, whatever they think that may be. Once the critics have done this sort of analysis, they can objectively declare these works as True Art: it doesn’t matter how much you personally like or dislike these works so long as you understand the deeper meaning behind them. Only ignorant fools don’t understand. Such an attitude may be expressed in several ways:

You can even get away with Completely Missing The Point if you’re a Really Serious Critic who wants to reveal all sorts of Family Unfriendly Aesops inside a work, whether or not they have anything to do with the actual characters or plot. Goodness forbid that the author(s) wanted you to do so. How long will it be before high school/college students are forced to write long-winded essays about the philosophical and socio-religious undertones of Harry Potter? (Answer: Already happened.)

Note that having the plot given away becomes less and less of an issue the older the subject is. Most people who haven’t read, for example, Moby Dick will still be familiar with key plot points due to Popcultural Osmosis. See It Was His Sled.

See also True Art Is Angsty, True Art Is Incomprehensible.

Good God, this website is brilliant! It’s already sucked away hours of my life. It’s a complete listing of clichés that have appeared in (despite the site’s title) every fictional work, ever. All are named, identified, and catalogued. It feels like a certain consumer comeuppance. And, as such tropes are not necessarily bad (as the site eagerly points out), it’s like revealing that the emperor has no clothes—and hey, the emporer’s not that bad looking. He could be Mr. September on the Vainly Deceptive Heads of State swimsuit calendar. (I hope there’s a trope entry for what I just did, going too far on an allusion. You know, like instead of going out on a limb, you’ve staked out a tree for a week as part of an anti-logging public protest, only to find that the threatened tree you needed to protect is a couple meters over and already chopped down. It distracts from the text.)

December 22, 2008

Dear Maddie

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:08 am

Life According To Maddie (According To Me)

Maddie Blaustein died this week. I… I don’t know what to say. She was an accomplished comics writer (I know she did Static, among others) and voice actress, having roles on Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and yes, some Sonic games. She was one of my heroes, and I always dreamed I’d write to her and, because we’re both transsexual, she’d feel a certain kinship and write back, and I’d treasure her response forever.

There’s a huge hole in me now. I guess this is one of those lessons about how now is the best time to do anything, since you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But also, I just lost a woman I’ve had immense respect for, a woman who showed me what I can become. Rest in peace, Maddie… I already miss you deeply.

December 18, 2008

Dogbert economics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 2:22 pm

Dilbert comic strip for 12/13/2008 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.
Dilbert.com

It’s rather scary when an entire global financial crisis can be so accurately represented by a snarky, three-panel Dilbert comic. Anyway, this comic inspired me to use the Dilbert.com strip editor to tell the rest of the story. The first link below is to the above strip, but with new dialogue by me in the last panel. The second link is to a different strip, but I’ve rewritten the whole thing to make it a “sequel” to this one. Please read!

AAA Rated

Dead Cow Crisis

June 21, 2008

Tina the Tech Writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 12:51 am

There’s a Dilbert character named Tina the Tech Writer. Not only does she have the world’s most excellent first name, but she seems to share just about every one of my personal hang-ups. Read on for my favorite Tina strips, brought to you by the new Dilbert website (which is, by the way, excellent).

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