Thursday, April 18, 2013

Final Project

Our group decided to write a short story with case-notes about Salvic going crazy after taking the emotional option in a VR trip covering the zoo story. We tied the zoo story into our story by making Salvic act it out in a way. We hope that you enjoy the story; we did.

Our Final project

If you are viewing this blog because of the glogster link, the post that you are supposed to read is the previous one about the zoo story.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hey There, Want to Hear a Story?

Hello my lovely subscribers, this is me... or at least I think it is. As usual, it’s time for announcements and questions... always questions... always seeking something which sometimes turns out to be nothing more important than a park bench. SaltyOreo asked me why I choose to blog. Well Salty, I blog because it gives me a connection... or at least I like to think it does, to other people. Granted, it’s pixels on a screen in my mind, talking through data being transferred around the world, but it is some kind of connection nonetheless. Do you know why connections are important? I’ll tell you why connections are important, but first let me tell you what UtopiaDreamer has asked me to do my blog on this time... oh it’s a doozy, you can be sure of that. She asked me this time if I would do a blog on Jersey Shore... you want to know something Utopia? You have some of the worst ideas that I have ever heard... and I have heard many many bad ideas. I’m going to guess that you have an IQ to match theirs? I’m going to guess that your fake tan also matches and that you write to this blog committedly, despite my obvious attempts to dissuade you, because I actually acknowledge your existence, because I actually connect with you in some way rather than feigning disinterest. Connections... I was supposed to tell you about connections... but first I need to tell you a story. That’s why you are here isn’t it, a story?

As usual, I sat down with my drink and snack, I hooked myself up to the VR machine, and I experienced a story. This story was written by Edward Albee, and is called “the zoo story.” The story is about a man talking to another man. Simple yet eloquent in it’s own way. You see, one of the men had everything figured out, the other thought that he did... the poor guy. Jerry, the guy that had everything figured out, knew that connections were key. He didn’t have the best of lives, living in a run down place with assorted neighbors, a disgusting landlady that wanted him in a … let us say, carnal, way, and I truly didn’t have a friend in the world. I will say again for my point’s sake, that he knew that connections were key. What Jerry did not have though, was connections to people. The other man, however, had many connections. He lived a good life with a wife, children, cats and parakeets. The man had connections with his family and doubtlessly he had many a friend to talk to. The thing that this other man did not have was the knowledge that connections were key... are you seeing the theme here? Desperate for connections, I went to the zoo, looking for that spark between humans and animals to study so that Jerry might find that spark between people as well. While at the zoo, I figured out how to get that spark, that connection, so he walked north until he come to the other man, sitting, reading, thinking about nothing as far as I could tell. That is where the connection started you see? The man had his bench and was enjoying his day, oblivious to the blessings of connections that he had. Being a man with such good connections, I asked him if he wanted to know what happened to me at the zoo. I sparked a conversation you see, I sparked a conversation about random things. About the birds, and cats, and dogs and garbage scented landladies. He didn’t understand at first, but I’m sure that in the end, he understood me well enough. If not it’s his loss for I found what I needed in that connection we made. Yes, we made a connection alright. Perhaps it was more physical than I intended, but a connection was made and I know that value of that. Did I ever tell you what I did at the zoo? What I learned? I’ll tell you that later. For now I need to ask you something my ethereal connections. I know that you are no more tangible than the hologram figures that line my bedroom wall, but you are some sort of connections to me. What am I to you? Tell me, I want to understand... I’m afraid that I don’t have much time left...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fate, or Decision, That 'Tis the Question.

Hello my lovely subscribers, this is Salvic, back with another commentary of ancient texts... okay, maybe not ancient, but old as dirt I think is still applicable. Before I get to that though, you guys (and gals, I wouldn’t want to forget the lovely ladies out there) know the drill. It’s Q&A time as well as a few announcements. First off, I want to congratulate the user UntamedMage for his correct guess of Breaking Benjamin, and the song was “I Will Not Bow”. Oddly enough, it seems that the song title has a little to do with our story today, but I’m skipping ahead... we will just call that a little spoiler. UntamedMage, your mental album should be available to you whenever you want it; it’s a great album, I hope you enjoy it. DelilahTruth asked me what my real name is. She seems to assume that it is not really Salvic. Well Delilah, you know what they say about assumptions... they make an ass out of you and me (I’m joking). Unfortunately Salvic is not my real name. I will not tell you my real name because quite frankly, it’s not important, nor do I care for it overly much. Please, simply call me Salvic. Now, UtopiaDreamer, I love your enthusiasm and persistence, but I’m not going to do a blog on My Little Ponies... was there even a book written about them? Not that I would be surprised if there was, but...  just... no. Now that we have settled that, shall we get onto the story?

Spork4Hire suggested to me that Shakespeare's Hamlet would be an interesting story to cover. Not two seconds later, I received a message from FlowStoneMarble suggesting Sophocles’ Oedipus. I was fairly familiar with the two stories and thought to myself... why not do both of them? Well my followers, that is precisely what I did. I got my customary drink and snack, sat down, and hooked myself up for roughly seven hours of VR. Rather than comment on the stories themselves, I’ll highlight the main points, and I’ll tell you about a related theme that I noticed the two shared.

The story of Hamlet is about a prince whose father died. The prince was told by his ghost father that it was his uncle that killed him and that he must avenge the father. Knowing that the murdering uncle married his widowed mother made the deceased king’s request all the more desirable. From here on out the story is full of political intrigue, plots of murder and backstabbing, even amongst best of friends. At the end, most of the main characters lie dead, either by suicide, or murder. It’s a tragic tale really. Only the epic soap-opera’s of the 90’s match the drama that is tossed around in this story.

Oedipus is a tragic tale as well. While running away from a prophecy foretelling the murder of his father and the incest with his mother, Oedipus was met on the road by a group of men. They got into a fight and he ended up killing them in self defense. When Oedipus reached the city of Thebes, he solved a sphinx’s riddle which in turn freed the city of her tyranny. As reward, they made Oedipus their king. Oedipus married the former, deceased king’s wife and they ended up having children. Many years later, the town is beset by a terrible plague of infertility. An oracle tells the king that the person that killed the old king is the reason for the plague and that until that individual is either banished, or killed, the plague would continue to torment the town. After an eye witness of the event is brought forward, Oedipus discovers that he is the murderer of the former king, that the king was one of the men that he had met on the road while running away from the family that had raised him. To top it off, he found out that the people that had raised him were not his real parents but that his father was the very man that he had killed on the road in self defense, and that his mother was none other than his wife. Upon this revelation, his mother/wife hung herself, and Oedipus, upon discovering this, gouged his eyes out in shame and sorrow... lovely tale.

Now, my readers, I come to the point that I saw the two shared. Chances are that you might be wondering what it is I saw that these two stories have in common other than the tragic nature; if so, consider this. When you look at both stories, to me, there is an overwhelming theme of how greed atrophies all good things. In the case of Hamlet the uncles greed for power, and lust for the king’s wife, prompts him to murder his own brother in cold blood. From there it all spirals down, siring hate, vengeance, sorrow, deceit, and death to everyone around him. You might be saying at this point that sure, greed permeates Hamlet, but how was Oedipus greedy? Well, as far as I can tell, fate had a plan for Oedipus. Oedipus was running away from a prophesy and in doing so, caused it to happen. His transgression of sin was wanting to live life, and do things, his way. When fate dictates that you do something, it is going to happen anyway; If you try to fight against it, you usually only end up hurting yourself, and others, in the process. He wanted to take control of his life and was greedy for that control. He determined that he could avoid the whole thing if he “outsmarted” the gods. The gods had other plans for him.

That raises a question to me though... Do you feel that either Hamlet or Oedipus had a choice with what they did? Hamlet was haunted by his father’s ghost, imploring him to end his uncle. Oedipus was being pawn to the gods’ game of chess. To me Oedipus had no say in what happened, no choice in the matter because he had a distinct lack of information. The only real choice that I could see was his decision to try to run away from his fate. Hamlet, on the other hand, was haunted by his father, true, but made a calculated effort to kill his uncle, and to do so in a way that would ensure that the uncle would go to hell. My question to you, readers, and one that I hope you share with us, is this: did either of them really have any choice in the matter; was either of them blameless in the end? Also I’ll give you something else to consider for yourself: Have you ever tried to run away from fate/God/karma/whatever else you might believe in? How did that go for you? Was it pointless? Was the decision based out of the greed of wanting to live life on your terms rather than what fate decreed? If so, I guess that you are reading this which leads me to believe that it’s safe to assume that your life turned out better than the poor unfortunate souls that we discussed. As always, look for the underlined letters if you want a chance to win some cool, vintage music. This has been Salvic Rodvic, and I’m out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Other Side of Perception

Hello lovely subscribers. This is Salvic, bringing you another look into the minds of the past. I have a very nice treat for you this time, but as always, you will have to contain your enthusiasm long enough for our Q&A and a few announcements. First off, I would like to thank those of you that attempted my music challenge last time. The band was Incubus, and the song was called Privilege. The user Jaspendable was the first to give me the correct answer and a line from the song. You can expect the mental album to be available to you, probably by the time you read these words. Now, I had a question from the member Riots4Sale: “Dear Salvic, if you had to choose between being paralyzed or never being able to access the net again, which would it be and why?” Well... that is quite a question; so, I figured I’d give it a response. I would have to choose being paralyzed. For those of you that have been with me for awhile, you know that I grew up on the net and to me, if it was removed from my life, it would be as bad as losing a sense like sight or smell. Besides, as advanced as VR is becoming nowadays, I wouldn’t be surprised if within my lifetime, we were all hooked up to VR, lying in a bed being taken care of by machines in the first place. Why would I need to be able to move? It seems that UtopiaDreamer has left us yet another suggestion for next time. Unfortunately Utopia, I again will have to deny your request. Although the Twilight series is marginally better than your last suggestion, it still is not quite as old as I’m looking for. I am also looking for stories that will not take quite as much time to cover, (I’m a rather busy man) and I’m also looking for stories that have a bit more... let us call it literary merit. Again, as one of my most loyal fans that keeps submitting request after request, just to be turned down, I encourage you to keep submitting them. It seems as if you will do so no matter how many times I shrug off the recommendations. So, why not smile and encourage?

Okay, okay, I know that you are all antsy for the story that I reviewed in VR this time. I told you that it was a treat and man do I mean it. This trip takes us to a story called the “Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and recommended to be my the user CelengylSword. Basically, the thing that caught my interest was the viewpoints that I could assume. I had two options, which is usually not very many, but I could be either the woman in the room, or the woman in the wallpaper. I looked up the story’s synopsis, and from what I can tell, the original story is about a woman that is struggling with a mental problem that her husband/doctor called a nervous depression and is spending the summer on vacation in a grand, aristocratic looking house. She has been confined to her room to rest and relax. Being there alone, she eventually goes crazy, believing that a woman is trapped behind the wallpaper and is trying to escape. Now... I have been through VR nodules looking through the eyes of inanimate objects or animals before, but never before have I gotten the opportunity to look through the eyes of one of the characters’ delusional fantasies. I thought that the journey would be an interesting one and so I chose that view, got my usual snack that I managed not to touch throughout the captivating nodule, and experienced an experience that I can safely say was a first. I chose to take the thought option as well, meaning that I would think and feel the emotions of the eyes I was looking through. I don’t know if I will do so again with such a twisted form of a story... It was quite real... too real.

It started out as a winter retreat. I was happy and content with my life. I had a husband; (odd when you are a heterosexual male, but I digress) I had friends and a loving family. My husband felt that he needed a vacation from his job as a mortician. He needed some time away because his narcolepsy was acting up. He would fall asleep anywhere and there was no sense waking him. Relaxation usually did him a world of good. When we got to the house that he bought the summer before for just this reason, I couldn’t help but think about what a dump it was. The house was rather small, very modern, but it was unfinished. It had almost no courtyard to speak of, and the room that I was going to be staying in had bare, wood-plank walls. Leaning against the wall in the corner next to the window were several rolls of wallpaper. Me being me, I was bored as could be in the tiny house secluded from the world. My husband suggested that I could put the wallpaper up if I got bored. He pointed out to me that he would likely just be in the way if he were to fall asleep while helping me, and we agreed that if I were to get bored enough, I would do it myself and find joy in it. I quickly got to that point and so unrolled the wallpaper to see a beautiful and organized design. Carefully, I started to put the wallpaper up, admiring the design of it as I went. The pattern was enticing, friendly and the yellow color was so warm. Immediately I felt a sense of joy just being around the paper.

The days came and went. When I would get bored, I would put up another section of wallpaper until finally, the job was done and I was left with nothing to do but admire my work. Gradually the pattern started to change. It was a subtle difference at the start, an entropy of some sort started to feather the once crisp edges of the design. I thought that I was just seeing things, but the more I studied the pattern, the more I was sure that it was changing. Here a piece would move, a crisp outline of a woman would morph into a melted sculpture overnight. Where I would see clear eyes before, blurry dots would stare back at me. I felt like the wall was melting around me and I was trapped, transfixed, my eyes glued to the mess that was being crafted from perfection.

For days on end I stared at it, watching something that I once loved become something that I neither understood, nor particularly liked. Gradually, a hatred started festering in my heart. The pattern that looked to me like a woman had become a hideous monster, reaching for me, daring me to step closer. I knew that it was just paper, and under it was nothing more than the remnants of a long dead tree turned into building material; but at the same time, I felt with every fiber of my being that the paper needed to be destroyed or else the thing inside would escape.

At this point readers, I was scared. Never before had I taken a thought option, but I felt that you guys (and gals) deserved a show. The character in this version of the story was terrified and so I, too, felt the same way. If I could describe the malevolence the paper had to you, I would; just know that it felt like everything wrong in the world rolled into a ball and put out for display.

One day, I had enough. I conquered my fear and the paper was going to be destroyed. Piece by stubborn piece I ripped it off the wall, discarding the evil that it was. The monster on the other side was trying to get to me but when I saw it coming, I would creep to another part of the room and start again there. I swear, I wore a groove in the wallpaper from my incessant creeping, but I had to stay away from the monster in the wall. Suddenly the monster was upon me, tearing at the paper from the other side; somehow... I fell through. Full of fear, I found myself kneeling there with a rope in my hand. I heard the door to the new room I was in burst open. My husband was standing there, looked at me, and fell to the ground asleep. I knew that if I did not keep creeping around the room, that the monster would find the hole that we fell into and follow me back through. I crept around and around, crawling over my husband every few minutes. He always was in the way.

Snapped back to reality in the sudden way that the current VR does (it seems like they could make the spiral down into reality a little less harsh, but what do I know?), I found my heartbeat racing and sweat soaking my shirt. The danger was so real; the monster was right there. I knew that I was in VR, I knew that nothing could actually hurt me; however, you find, even in the real world, that your mind is much stronger than reality. I went ahead and experienced the VR nodule with the emotions turned off, and I watched the original version. It really hit me how different the outlook was between the two characters when it came to the same wallpaper. What one person finds beautiful, another finds ugly. It really brings to light the fact that we are all unique in our tastes. It might be something to consider the next time that you want to criticize someone for the clothes that they wear, or the color sub-thermal that they decide to light that day. What makes you think that your opinion is any better than any other persons opinion? With that I will leave you with another song. If you are interested in the next mental album, go back and find the underlined letters again. I hope that you enjoyed this adventure, remember to consider the views of others as just as valid as your own. This has been Salvic Rodvic and I'm out.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Casting Stones

Hello all you lovey readers, it's Salvic here with a look into the minds of the past. Before I get into the story, (I know you are excited to hear about it, but you will have to wait) It's Q&A time. UtopiaDreamer had yet another request of me and asked me if I would consider doing a blog on the book series "50 Shades of Grey".... umm, to that I would have to say no. First of all, while it is somewhat old, for some reason that I still can't comprehend, our great-grandmothers all read it while they were in their youth. I like to look at older stories than that. In my personal opinion, that particular series of books is nothing more than written pornography that I would just prefer I was not exposed to in a virtual reality, or VR as I like to refer to it, setting. Secondly, I would like to keep this blog at least respectable... think of the children! I'm sorry that I can't really use your request, but keep sending them in; the laws of statistics say that I will be able to use one eventually. My second question (I only have time for two, sorry lovelies) is from Gertrude Ironfist... interesting name, strong name. "Dear Salvic, I'm in love with you, will you marry me?" Well... Mrs. Ironfist... I'll have to pass. Please take no offense; it would just be unfair to all my other admirers. I do hope you understand.

Now, I know that you have been waiting patiently for what story that I decided to cover but trust me, it was well worth your wait. For this week’s blog, we go back to 1948 to a small town setting. This story, "The Lottery," written by Shirley Jackson, was recommended by the user UncagedMage, and has a powerful underlying message that I feel everyone will benefit from hearing.

As usual, I checked my netmail, poured myself a glass of Drazzer Cola, and got comfortable for the ride. The nodule gave me several options of which set of eyes to watch through. I could be a child, the husband, the woman that has an unfortunate time... or a bird sitting on a tree nearby. I figured that the bird would have a better overall view of the people involved in the story, so that's the view that I chose. The story starts off with a summer day. I'm sitting in a tree in the middle of a small town square, enjoying the sun on my feathers. (It's odd having feathers, just so you know) People start trickling in and gathering together around the town center. The men are talking, the boys playing, the girls watching the boys and giggling. The wives join the group talking to one another, spreading gossip here and there, and then they go to their husbands. What struck me as odd at this point in the story is that it was the middle of the day. These people seemed to simply drop their jobs and lives and said "Hey, I think that I'm going to go to the town square for a meeting." How long has it been since that was the norm? In our current society, time is highly valued, and we better be getting paid a lot of credits in order to drop something else. To these people, it was just something that they did. They didn't need any other reason other than that it was the thing to do... kind of makes me want that particular aspect of society to come back. "Well boss, I'm going out to grab a bite to eat in the middle of this important meeting. It is just what we do. I'm so very glad that you understand..." I digress, so back to the story.

Suddenly an old man came to the square carrying a worn, black painted box. The box was placed on a stool and two men, one a boy really, came and held the box while the old man stirred something inside it up. A lady came to the meeting late and apologized exclaiming that she forgot what day it was. I heard hushed whispers, usually children asking parents why they used the black box, or if the lottery had always been done. A few questions were asked by the old man about people being absent and if they were, who would draw for them. Once that was settled, the old man started calling out the names of heads of the household. One by one, the man of the house (or in a few cases boy, or woman) stepped forward and hesitantly took a piece of what looked to be paper from the box. They were calling this meeting a lottery. Now, where I come from, winning the lottery would be a welcome thing indeed; however, these people seemed on edge, not wanting to draw a paper from the box. I wondered to myself... "What kind of lottery could this be?"

Somewhere in the middle of the picking papers, someone commented out loud that the village up north was talking about giving up the lottery. An old man retorted that young folk thought that nothing was ever good enough for them, and that the next thing they would know would be that the young folk would want them to go back to living in caves. He then went on to say that there had always been a lottery, and that and old saying said that if you had one, you would get a good harvest, and that if they did not have the lottery they would all end up eating chickweed and acorns. To me, this a classic example of elderly people not liking change and doing everything in their power to stop it from happening. (All you elderly people reading this, no offense intended... after all, you are obviously not afraid of change if you follow me.)

After the papers were picked, the old man running the show told everyone to look at the papers. Everyone waited bated breath as the men opened the papers. The the wives immediately started asking who got it. A man named Bill seemed to get what they were looking for, and his wife immediately started complaining that he didn't have the proper amount of time to choose. I'll admit, at this point, I do not have a clue what the "Prize" is. I assume that it's some sort of tax, or chore that the town will have them do. Judging from her reaction, I suspected that the man might have to go to war, or the wife would have to cook and clean up after the whole town for the rest of the year... boy was I surprised when I found out, and like me, you will have to wait to know yourself.

Papers were placed back in the box and it was mixed back up again. One for each member of the family it seemed. The wife was still complaining and her husband said to shut up. In modern times, saying shut up is not that big a deal, but back then, from what I have read, it was. This must have been a tense time for them for him to tell her to shut up in public like that. One by one, the wife complaining throughout the whole process, each member of the family save the youngest son (the father helped him) picked a paper out of the box. One by one, the family opened the slips. The wife wouldn't show the crowd hers. By process of elimination, it was known that she won the lottery and the organizer made her husband show the crowd. She again claimed that it wasn't fair as the crowd surrounded her and started pelting her with rocks. They needed to conclude the lottery quickly so that they wouldn't miss lunch. The town didn't seem to care that the woman didn't find her fortune particularly lucky.

Now if you are anything like me, you consider the story barbaric. Tell me this, my lovely subscribers: Can you honestly tell me that you have never done anything solely because of tradition? The people in this story didn't know why the lottery happened but largely followed along out of habit and tradition. Come on... you know you do it. How many of you have kissed your loved one into the new year? How many of you say "bless you" when someone sneezes? Just like those things that we have been brought up to do out of habit, these people held a tradition that, while brutal and senseless to our modern day minds, was simply what was expected in their culture. Before you throw the first metaphorical stone at the stone-throwing characters in this story, let me suggest to you that you evaluate your lives and see all the stones you yourself have been throwing. Do you make fun of someone just because everyone else does, because it has become a tradition to your circle of friends? Do you say or do things simply to fit in with what everyone else expects? Is there anything else that you do, yet have no recollection of why you do them? These things are for you to dwell on, not to tell me about. What I would like you to tell me about is some old literature, that has been made into a VR nodule, that you would like to hear my insight on. Any other questions are welcome as well, and don't forget to tell your friends about me. Be sure to like and subscribe if you haven't already. Also, I decided to try something new this week. many of you know that I am fond of old music, mostly rock and alternative. I think that it's a travesty that many people don't know these great songs that I love. In the blog post is a name of a band and the song that I want you to listen to. Just look for the bolded and underlined letters, look up the song, listen to it, and write me a line of lyrics from it. I'll give the first person to correctly post me a line of lyrics from that song, a mental encryption of the album it came from. This has been Salvic Rodvic and I'm out.