Can Noir Be Classified As A Separate Film Genre?

Since the phasing out of film noir and the mainstreaming of color television of the late 50’s, it can be said that it left cinema, but there have been lots of films that have replicated the characteristics that tie noir films together, which they are unofficially classified as “neo-noir.” The problem that occurs with a film being classified as a film genre is that it is French for “black film,” which has to do with the format of the films being made at the time.

Even Billy Wilder, the director of the well-known film noir “Double Indemnity,” never classified his films as film noir.

To provide historical context, films noir have been taking advantage of the limitations imposed upon the directors and producers, either due to a low budget or because of the Hayes Code. Finding more creative freedom within restrictions, or “the cracks in the system” as director Martin Scorcese described, may sound paradoxical, but this allowed the creation of subtleties and unique cinematographic techniques, such as the extensive use of shadows, that can draw the viewer in.

Film critic Paul Schrader, although arguing that film noir was not a genre, did state that its important quality was its tone and mood. An example of this type of subtlety is from the film “Detour” during the part when Tom Neal begins to lose his mind, and the scene represents this deteriorating state with the camera zooming in- and out-of-focus.

Noir can also seep into other genres, such as science fiction, with an example being “Blade Runner,” starring Harrison Ford. But the film genre that film noir most closely related to was the gangster film genre.

A way that film noir can be specified is when their characterization typically involves anti-heroes plagued with paranoia and insecurity. This is what makes the corrupt lawyer Joe Morse in Abraham Polonsky’s “Force of Evil” become more entrenched in the gambling racket, and even acknowledging that he might go to jail for his actions and always thinks the police are coming for him when he tells Doris:

“Don’t be afraid. You don’t know what it is to have real fear in you. You don’t know what it is to wake up in the morning, go to sleep at night, eat your lunch, and read the papers and hear the horns blowing in the streets and the horns blowing in the clubs. And all the time, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whatever you see, and WHEREVER YOU ARE, you’re afraid in your heart. Is that what life is?”

A major theme that defines film noir as a separate genre comes from Martin Scorcese when commenting on the plot of “Force of Evil”:

“It’s not just the individual who’s corrupted, but the entire system.”

It is a film genre that finds its roots in the disillusioned view of the world in post-World War II America. Since there were pulp writers like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Jack Cain whose works were adapted into this new genre, there were also directors who migrated from Germany, such as Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder, who were direct witnesses of tyranny and systemic brutality that became major themes in their work.

The controversy in pinpointing a film as “film noir” lies when not all of the films include the typical tropes found within them. Although some of the more well-known films noir like Billy Wilders’ “Double Indemnity” have a femme fatale, there is also “Scarlet Street” where it is the man who manipulates his woman to manipulate another man. Not every protagonist has to be the detective, which is a common stereotype of film noir. Although there is no definite location for any film noir setting, the films usually take place in a big city, like New York City or Los Angeles.

I would say that it can be a quasi-genre. If there were to be any neologism, that would be the best one I can accurately pinpoint. I know there are film scholars who say that film noir is a feeling. Well, there’s obviously something deeper than some favorable mixture of cells in the brain. It’s clear that film noir does more than just stimulate introspection at the dark side of humanity.

How Fantasy Creatures Can Alter Human Interaction With Nature

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


A key component of world-building is not just what types of fantasy creatures should be included, but how to find the connections between them, the environment, humans, religion, and geopolitical entities such as kingdoms, empires, city-states, and tribes. Creatures such as dragons, griffins, and mammoths can change warfare, migrations, human survival, and the very ecology itself.

The Targaryen dynasty especially proved this point, by escaping the destruction of Valyria and settling in Westeros. Though they did more than setting up their own little nation on Dragonstone Island, rather they conquered the entire continent of Westeros and subjugated entire kingdoms, all through the use of dragons as instruments of war. This can only be possible in regions like pre-Targaryen Westeros when there was no presence of dragons or any other form of the animal capable of fighting against such creatures because it would mean that there would be no defense against conquest by the dragon-riding invaders.

A foreign invading group would bring disasters foreign to the native population. This parallels the use of guns and diseases brought by Europeans when conquering the rest of the world. In the case of the Americas, the indigenous population was not immune from smallpox until the Europeans brought it, which indirectly decimated them.

If foreign agents like diseases can cause this type of damage to entire populations in the real world, then foreign creatures, such as dragons, can prove to be apocalyptically destructive in the fantasy world. A notable example of a dragon that fits that description is Smaug from “The Hobbit” who conquers an entire castle of dwarves and converts it into a lair surrounded by a hoard of gold. This is when fantasy creatures cannot be tamed and become a destructive force.

When these creatures are tamed, they retain a symbiotic relationship with their human captors that transcend use as weapons. In the case of Victor Milan’s “Dinosaur Knights,” (which is a fantasy novel that replaces dragons with dinosaurs) the hides of dinosaurs are made into protective armor, which would make sense considering how dinosaurs are also used as instruments of war and the only rough surface that can protect the owner from a war-hadrosaur’s bite is the skin of a dinosaur who’s skin is already adapted enough to withstand bites and scratches.

The uses for attack and defense would ensure that there is a cycle of dependency between humans and dragons. Of course, the use of dragons would go beyond being used in warfare. If these types of creatures have the ability to be domesticated and rode by humans, fly at great distances, and breathe fire, then the possibilities of traveling the world would be quite literally boundless. This is especially true when Jaenara Balaerys, a Ghiscari dragon-rider, explored all of Sothoryos, one of the continents of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series.

Can you imagine that level of exploration becoming more commonplace as more creatures are introduced? This would be where readers would find a more clandestine and complex system of warfare which consists of entire theaters of war consisting of dragons. While there would be ground warfare with armies of cavalry and phalanxes, there would also concurrently be dragon-riders from above.

Even though fantasy creatures do not exist in real life, it can be argued that the very image of them was enough to change human interaction with nature, by inspiring superstitions, mythologies, and sigils on coats-of-arms. The inspirations for dragons also existed within the real-world, specifically by theories that dragon myths came from ancient observations of dinosaur fossils, which lead to the speculations of a race of dragons (and what leads Milan to include dinosaurs in his fantasy series).

Of course, this opens up Pandora’s box, but all of the world’s evils do not pop out, but the creatures from every mythology around the world. Not to be too political, but a lot of the most popular fantasy works consist of mythological creatures from European interpretations, such as dragons, dwarves, elves, etc. If European dragons can exist in a fictional world, who is to say that Chinese dragons cannot also exist in this world? If multiple mythologies can exist in one cosmopolitan mythopoeia than the possibilities would be endless when it comes to migration patterns and cross-breeding.

What if dragons become an invasive species, by outcompeting all the other animal life and out-consuming all of their prey and plant life? If one were to apply eco-literary theory to dragons in mythology, it can be argued that they would be catastrophic to humans and the environment. Perhaps the human civilizations would focus less on their own squabbles and more towards that scaly threat to their crops and livestock.

However destructive dragons are to everything living and nonliving, it is definitely obvious that these creatures define the animalistic power within fantasy. Dragons do more than provide the fantasy label, rather they dramatically reshape the connection humans have to the biosphere in their world. The existence of dragons plunges the reader into a world of epic uncertainty, leaving behind the doldrums of daily life and into the world where humans and creatures that represent the former’s power can exist.

Is Literary Fiction Elitist?

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


This type of accusation can only come from one literary form’s view of the world as opposed to the other form, which is genre fiction which includes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It is a debate that has been continuing for a long time and my answer may appear to be a small ripple.

I was initially inspired to write this article as a response to a video by the YouTuber CuteFuzzyWeasel, who posted a video about how his friend ended their friendship after differences in opinion about literary and genre fiction. He then referenced an article his friend sent him that supposedly aided his argument about the importance of literary fiction, though CuteFuzzyWeasel could not remember the title and rather just said the keywords “literary fiction Huffington Post.” As soon as I entered those words in the search engine, the only article that appeared was by Steven Petite and was bluntly titled “Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction.”

If that was the article he was talking about, then I think he was misinformed throughout the latter half of the video, because he rants about how Petite thought science fiction was inferior to literary fiction because the former does not speak to the human condition. Petite actually wrote that genre and literary fiction could not be measured on superiority or inferiority, rather they were different in how they viewed the world. While genre fiction tends to be macrocosmic, focusing on what is out there; literary fiction is microcosmic, focusing on what is inside. The only moment, I thought, Petite, did show bias was when he wrote that the writing style was simpler in conventional genre fiction, but other than that, I did not detect any other favoritism towards literary fiction.

Although there continue to be courses dedicated to genre fiction (such as a course about vampires), there was a bias towards literary fiction when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s in English (and pursuing my Master’s in English). It is perhaps for the reason that literary fiction offered insights into various real-world topics, such as Caribbean multi-racial identity and religion as a form of guidance in colonial America. Since literary fiction comes in the form of journals, novels, and essays written by people who come from all wealth and ethnic backgrounds, I would say that it does more to unite people than divide them.

Though, I want to be fair to this YouTuber, since he sarcastically suggested three interesting prompts that anyone might write. I think he truly underestimates their value because those prompts can actually speak to the human condition because they are either relatable or possible and there would be complicated emotions playing about in the stories. There definitely would be people willing to purchase and read stories dedicated to those prompts, because there are chances that those buyers may have been suicidal and diagnosed with cancer; or they were homosexual office workers entering a relationship with their bosses or young women sleeping with older men to help their ailing marriages. If such topics can relate to people who were given the hardest or strangest treatment by life itself, then surely it would not be considered elitist, since elitist literature would involve characters who were aristocrats or wealthy people in general.

For that reason, literary fiction was originally thought to be more connected to the reader since it develops a sense of empathy on behalf of the reader and the writer, however, there have been new breakthroughs which came to the conclusion that a lifetime of reading literature actually increases empathy. So in that way, literary fiction is not that separate from genre fiction when trying to appeal to human sensibility.

Although it is impossible to make the outright claim that literary fiction is elitist, it does tend to be viewed as being above petty commercial demand, therefore it does not have to be adjusted to suit a large number of people. Of course, if the romance/erotica genre is considered literary fiction, then there is an entire business model dedicated to marketing towards women, specifically from such publishing houses as Harlequin Enterprises. The label of literary fiction does tend to develop a murky definition as it would need to broaden itself as far as it can reach. If the criteria of literary fiction is that it takes place in the real world, then not only would romance be considered literary fiction, but also crime noir novels (though that genre also has a specific business model).

So based on this observation, it can be fair to say that literary fiction can market itself as much as fantasy, science fiction, and horror; so it cannot be called elitist. And just like genre fiction, the sub-genres can comingle. However, this can only go so far in genre fiction, for the world-building is what distinguishes them. If the setting of the story is set on a distant planet like Arrakis inhabited by humans with the assistance of technology and science, then it would become science fiction. If it takes place in a fictional world such as Middle-Earth where magic is the governing force and there are mythical creatures such as elves, dwarves, and orcs, then it would qualify as fantasy. Whereas in literary fiction, there really is no distinction made between the setting and how it operates, since it would mostly take place in the real world.

As for me personally, a literary fiction novel can be “not an escape from reality, but into reality.” Although there are many ways to pinpoint what exactly qualifies as literary fiction, what can make it relatable to the common folk are the subject matters. However, it really is important to just note that there really is no difference between those two forms of literature, since they both demand the same care and attention from the readers.

AOG Poetry | San Adoratè Ak Payen Yo

DISCLAIMER: This poem was originally posted on Odyssey. This Haitian Creole translation of my poem was provided by Joannah (Cjoannah22) through her Fiverr service.


Dife gaye sou tout tè a,

Menm jan larivyè te ka pentire ak san,

Ame avèk yon bwòs penti

Epi rechaje ak katouch akrilik plizyè koulè,

Bòs pent la pentire dènye teksti li sou mond chaje kouch sa a.

Koulè Gri sann ki te itilize pou kay sèvant yo

Ak koulè kadav mawon epi koulè dekonpozisyon vèt pal

Eske se sèl wa ki anfòm pou gouvène yon teritwa

Kouvri anba kadav adoratè ak payen yo.

Flè tap dekonpoze sèlman lè batay la fini.

Ap kriye pou pwoteksyon kont payen yo, sèvant yo priye bondye yo.

Yo tap dewoule drapo yo pou libète yo

Epi pwosperite tap vin tounen bri tanbou yo

Epi men kap lonje pou ede yo tap sèlman pran epe yo.

Yo gen pwòp lwayote yo, men se pa fyète oubyen souverènte.

Rasin yo tap rafrechi ak san adoratè yo tout kote.

Mwen mande chape!

Epi pann pwojè san valè sa a

(sou mi an wi)

Paske se ak sèl move zimaj ke-w ka pentire lagè

Epil pa ka eksplike ak mo oubyen ide teyorik.

Aprè tout sa, ou pap janm ka detwi.

Lanmò se sèl bagay ki pou ta pou bay enkyetid olye de mesajel yo

AOG Poetry | Adoratzaile Eta Fedegabeen Odola

DISCLAIMER: This poem was originally posted on Odyssey. This Basque translation of my poem was provided by Arkaitz (Gekko223) through his Fiverr service.


Suak lurran zehar zabaltzen da,

odol-kolore ibaiertz margotuta bezala,

brotxa batekin

eta kolore askoko bala akriliko kargarekin armaturik,

Egizu margolaria pinta dezan bere azkenengo ehundura geruza askoko mundu honen gainean.

Gris errautsa lehen ziren eraikinetan

eta gorpu marroi eta berde motelen gainbehera

dira lur honetan erreina dezaketen errege bakarrak

Fedegabe eta adoratzaileen hildako gorputzez forraturik.

Loreek bakarrik ospatzen dute borroka amaitzean.

Fedegabeek negarrez babesarengatik, zerbitzariak otoitzen bere jainkoei.

Haiek bere banderak aterako lituzkete bakeagatik

Eta oparotasuna haien danborretako taupada bihurtuko litzateke

Eta laguntza bila doazen eskuak bakarrik haien espatak aurkituko lituzkete

Haiek dute leialtasuna, baina ez harrotasuna edo burujabetza.

Sustraiak odolarekin freskatuko litzateke alde guztien adortzaileen odolez.

Ihes egizu erregutzen dizut!

Eta ezeki ezazu propiektu zentzugabe hau

(Horma gainean dena)

Bakarrik irudi lazgarri batekin gerra pintatu ahal dute

Eta ez hitz abstraktu edo ideiez azaldurik.

Edozein ulermenetatik, ezin izango zara inoiz suntsiturik.

Heriotza kezkatzeko gauza bakarra izango litzateke bere mezularien ordez.

Every Imperfection Is A Work Of Art

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


Recently, I had been creating experimental artwork with photography and software programs; as well as posting them on my Flickr account. Though, while they may appear to be of a Warholian quality, they do pose an interesting idea: Even imperfections in the art can still make good art.

To produce eye-popping art, it would involve a lot of juxtapositions that are necessary to create connections which were not even seen, to begin with, and which trigger a completely different response from the viewer. Notable examples of these connections being made are the cover artwork of Metallica’s album “Load,” which features a really obscure image of a red blob on a black background, looking like it was swishing about underwater; and their other album “Reload” contains what looks like a burning sky. It turned out that both covers come from artworks titled “Semen & Blood II” and “Piss and Blood XXVI” by Andres Serrano. The titles are quite self-explanatory.

I do not think I would ever go THAT far to create art, but I do think that if it attracted a world-renowned band like Metallica, then there must be some sort of significance that abstract art has. Specifically, the viewer would assign that significance to those artworks by conceptualizing the images into many symbolic variations which deviate far from the actual sources of the artwork. In the headline picture for this article, it looks like a forest, with all the green surrounding it, and there is what looks like the brown stem. Or considering how there is a lot of reds and greens in the form of dots, the picture looks like a Christmas-themed picture.

The reality is that the picture is actually shredded paper, with mixtures of modifications from the editing option in my default picture viewer as well as from PowerPoint.

Perhaps, the appeal of this type of art is to push creativity to its limits as well. This may be done in order to capture nature itself without any preparations or coordination. In other words, what these imperfections are able to encapsulate is the truth, with no filter or need to put everything into place, for everything has its own place.

In the case of the popular YouTube gaming channel, Monster Factory, they seek to push the limit of character creation in video games. What they do is customize a character, but attempt to extrapolate the gaming mechanics to the point where the gaming bugs start to show. This is mainly done for comedic effect, but this was analyzed much deeper by YouTuber Kyle Kallgren and written about by gaming journalist Film Crit Hulk.

Considering how limit-pushing is what makes art, this makes another point that nothing is useless or a mistake and that everything can be made into infinite artful manifestations. This would make any seemingly useless object, as the cliché phrase goes, an “art form.” The iconic face of abstract art, Andy Warhol, knew this most definitely. It isn’t simply because of their existences in themselves, but how they can be manipulated in order to elicit a profound reaction by the viewer. In plenty of cases, it would become commercial. When I first saw those Metallica album covers, I did not think about the sources of where they came from, rather what they were trying to evoke.

Kyle Kallgren points out that Monster Factory, through their pushing the boundaries of video games, seek to create many narratives beyond the one they were already presented within the video games. In my case, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then my pictures write out a myriad of stories deciphered from what anybody would see upon first glance, as well as seeing the gestalt upon further inquiry.

10 Noteworthy Moments In “Star Wars: Episodes I-VI”

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


I know for the last article I wrote about “Star Wars,” I mentioned letting the hate flow through me. However, hate leads to suffering; and I do not want anyone to suffer. In fact, I want everyone reading to think about the moments they like from the “Star Wars” series.

Also in this article, I will include information about the seven episodes of the “Star Wars” series, but I try to include at least one from every episode. Again, this involves the prequels and the re-editions. Within the notoriously hated prequels are moments that tie them to the Original Trilogy as well as the subtle changes to the re-editions. The honorable mentions section includes intrinsic parts of the film series that are too complicated to pinpoint and are articles unto themselves.

Again there are spoilers in the Force.

10. Anakin/Vader Temptation Scenes (Episodes III, V)

This is the parallel that I think needs to be emphasized when arguing that the Prequels can coexist with the Original Trilogy, perhaps over a few drinks at the Mos Eisley cantina.

The critical moments that happen during these two scenes are what emphasize Anakin/Vader’s arrogant nature by assassinating the Emperor he helped put into power and wanting to take his place. Darth Vader tempts Luke to join him in doing so just after telling him the famous declaration “I am your father;” whereas Anakin wants to do the same with Padme who knows that he has turned over to the Dark Side.

In the previous article, I did write about the flaws, such as Padme being reduced to a weak-willed wife, Anakin being the chosen one, and the Hayden Christensen ghost as poor ways to connect the Prequels to the Original Trilogy; but I think that these two scenes are the saber crystals in the rough. For they highlight the tragic downfall, physically, politically, and morally, of a brave Jedi knight who entices power just like his master.

The flaw with the Episode III one is that it could have paralleled chillingly if Anakin said, “We can rule the galaxy as husband-and-wife.”

9. Darth Maul (Episode I)

It really says a lot about a film when the only character that’s interesting is the one who barely speaks. Let alone the antagonist.

What really got my attention was when Darth Maul ambushed Qui-Gon. The Jedi master and Anakin are waddling through the Tatooine desert trying to make it back to the ship until suddenly–BOOM!–the double-edged light-saber is activated and the red and the green clash!

But what really makes Darth Maul worth it is the fight scene between him and Obi Wan and Qui-Gon. The Gregorian score in the background heightens the fight to an epic level.

Truly a wonderfully terrifying villain; one who is silent and assassin-like.

8. Battle of Geonosis (Episode II)

This battle has everything: light-sabers, laser-guns, star-ships, droids, clones, Geonosians, Jedi, Sith, coliseum-bred beasts, and a Mandalorian. The event that came before the battle was thrilling. The coliseum actually forced the Jedi Knights to fight their way out without the use of their light sabers. Of course, I did mention in my last article that I had a problem with droids and clones, which is why this event is #8. However epically raw this moment is, what does ruin it is the plasticity.

This scene is very well escalated, from a gladiatorial battle of survival to a full-out battle, almost as though the Coliseum shifted its catering from the Sith to the viewing audience.

7. C3PO as a Translator (Episode VI)

As someone who hopes to pursue a Master’s in Linguistics, I am fascinated by C3PO’s purpose as a translator. It also makes him an important character besides being R2D2’s whinny tag-along used for comedic fodder.

He is also important in that he is worshipped as a golden god by the Ewoks, which was the one thing that prevented Luke and his friends from being eaten. Although it appears to be a minor scene, it definitely does show the subtle power of the Force when Luke attempts to inspire awe in the Ewoks by Force-levitating C3PO to create the illusion that he is all-powerful.

I especially like the reenacting the events of the three films, such as the destruction of the death star. He utilizes the Ewok language as well as sound effects, such as light-sabers igniting. This scene is important since it is how Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance are depicted as heroes in a mythology newly woven. One doesn’t need to have subtitles to understand how much the Ewoks come to respect them.

6. Bar Scenes (Episodes II, IV)

There is a fascination at navigating the wretched hives of scum and villainy. When you walk into a cantina like Mos Eisley, you find an unpredictable environment where aliens and humans alike might just blast each other (you wouldn’t even know who did it first), but you also find a world of diversity, particularly among the aliens.

5. Anakin Confronting Palpatine (Episode III)

The tension really builds up in this brilliant scene as Anakin and Palpatine are pacing around and the camera focuses on both of them individually.

Although Hayden Christiansen gives off a forced performance, Ian McDiarmid does a terrific job at slowly melting away Chancellor Palpatine’s kind, grandfatherly facade and revealing himself as Darth Sidious as he tempts Anakin to join the Dark Side. It goes to show that Darth Sidious was revealed before his light-saber-deflecting Sith lightning.

This can harken back (or forward) to when Emperor Palpatine tempted Luke with the Dark Side in Episode VI as he watched his comrades and friends get killed by the Imperial Fleet. This leads to the Emperor attempting to appeal to Luke’s anger by telling him to strike him down. He attempts to, leaving the Emperor to cackle, knowing how easy it was to reach into Luke’s emotions, as he did with Anakin’s in the prequels. Indeed, in this scene, he attempts to sympathize with Anakin by mentioning his lack of place within the Jedi Council, thus falsely giving him a sense of worth.

The music also changes from a silent, peaceful moment to an insidious one (excuse the pun).

The setting also made the scene great, considering how there was a panoramic picture in the background depicting battles. This elegantly juxtaposed with the confrontation, as though warning the audience that there will chaos that will spawn from this confrontation (and sure enough, films-worth of chaos came).

4. Jango Fett Introduction (Episode II)

Why couldn’t we have more dialogue like this in the prequels? In the Director’s Commentary of “Episode II,” Lucas himself described the dialogue as “clipped and stark.” Yes, exactly! All of the dialogue should have been like this, not as filler, time-wasters, or simple character-establishing. What made dialogue in the original series great was its quotable nature. In the prequels, the dialogue is also quotable but in an ironic, humorous way.

What is important is how they talk under the guise of civility while also hinting at plans to kill each other. It is a witty dialogue that has a noirish undertone to it and one that fits in the unpredictable galaxy of clones and the emerging Sith.

Think about what Jango said,

“I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.”

It is what I would expect to hear from Han Solo and is quotable on its own merit. That quote in itself provides a glimpse into the perils of the galaxy far, far away.

What is also clever is the way Jango speaks to his “son,” Boba, in their own language coded to hide Jango’s intention of pursuing Obi Wan. If there is anything I learned as an English major is that people use language for different contexts. In this case, in one context, Jango uses the same implications that Obi Wan is using; while in the other instance, he is informing Boba to prepare to flee to Geonosis and he needed to hide his suit.

There are so many things happening all in this one instance. I’d rather hear more dialogue like this than Anakin’s and Padme’s. I also like how ominously slow the musical score is during the exchange. I am also convinced that “Episode II” should have revolved around Obi Wan as the main protagonist and Jango Fett as the main antagonist, but that’s another article.

3. Shakespearean Actors for Important Roles (Episodes IV-VI)

There is a level of prestige that is brought to a film when the most iconic characters, Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine, are played by actors typically found reenacting Shakespeare’s plays.

However, Alec Guinness actually hated his role as Obi Wan and thought of the “Star Wars” series as childish. If anyone in his family were to read this, I would like to say that his role as Obi Wan was not wasted. In fact, I would argue the exact opposite, that he made the “Star Wars” series the icon that it continues to be. His role as Obi Wan also reflects on the teachers and mentors that we may have had in our regular lives, which makes his role more important.

2. Luke Unmasking his Father (Episode VI)

This is a powerful, emotionally stirring scene where Darth Vader makes the transition from machine to man. The background music is eerily low and slow as it reveals who was behind the mask.

However much the prequels can be criticized for, what it did serve the purpose of doing was become a character study of Anakin Skywalker before he fell to the Dark Side. This scene in the Original Trilogy makes the prequels worth producing and the moment all the more impactful.

However, it was a little unusual that all of the Storm-Troopers ran about did not notice their lord unmasked.

Honorable Mentions

Different Attires (Episodes IV-VI): In my previous article, I placed the lack of immersive clothing as one of my main grievances of the Star Wars prequels.

Monsters (Episodes I-VI): If the Sith don’t kill you, then the forces of nature probably will. Whether it’s an asteroid worm or a wampum, there are a lot of unpredictable dangers in this galaxy.

Landscape Shots (Episodes I-VI): this includes space where the Battle of Yavin takes place. What makes a landscape shot so picturesque is the mixing of reality and CGI. In the prequels and the re-editions, the scenery is modeled with CGI mixed with paintings, an Italian palace (for the city of Naboo), photographs, as well as pre-existing footage. I said in the previous article that I didn’t mind subtle CGI retconning. This is one of the moments where I prefer it. including the celebration ending montage at the end of Episode VI.

1. Luke Slaying “Darth Vader” on Dagobah (Episode V)

This was truly a remarkable scene concerning Luke’s Jedi training on Dagobah. This was the part where Luke got to explore the evils that would have been within him, by facing a façade of Darth Vader. The slow motion and the fogginess really does capture the dream-like terror that would have consumed Luke; and the audience who would also be surprised that Darth Vader may have found out where Luke really was. This scene is brilliant in how it meddles with Luke as well as the audience. When Luke decapitates “Darth Vader,” he discovers it was not his father, but his own face, coldly looking back at the viewers.

What this scene shows is the disturbing revelation that your greatest enemy is yourself and harkens back to the literary trope of “Man versus himself.” To Luke, anyone can join the Dark Side.

10 Moments I Dislike In “Star Wars: Episodes I-VI”

DISCLAIMER: This articles was originally posted on Odyssey.


I enjoy the “Star Wars” series as an authentic part of American art and entertainment. My beef with it has more to do with the inconsistencies, the lack of scientific logic, the re-editions and the stylistic choices than some of the more obvious reasons, like Jar-Jar Binks. Of course, I have excluded “Episode VII” and “Rogue” (as well as “Episode VIII” and the Han Solo film when they come out) and focused on the prequels and the re-editions.

The first five reasons are not as important to me and are worthy of eyes-rolling, whereas the last five reasons leave me crawling through the Mustafar lava grounds screaming “I haychoo!” I am not familiar with the “Expanded Universe” where a lot of the explanations can be found and I am merely looking upon the film series on its own grounds.

At this point, I am pretty much beating a dead Dewback by engaging in prequel-bashing now in the era of “Disney Presents a Lucasfilms Production,” but I never got a chance to express what I felt about the series proper. These are my well-thought-out personal opinions, so please do not take them seriously. There will of course be spoilers for anyone who has not watched “Episodes I through IV” (though that would be impossible at this point).

10. Jedi Rocks (Episode VI)

In comparison, the original “Lapti Nek” exhibited an exotic yet intimidating rhythm. In this new edition, while the scenery most certainly looks that way, including an extra scene showing the fearful slave facing the dreaded Rancor, the music is pretty schlocky and really ruins the anxiety that one is supposed to feel when being inside Jabba’s palace. I don’t have a problem with CGI retconning if it’s subtle, like maybe not have these monstrosities’ mouths practically engulfing the screen?

9. Qui-Gon Jinn as Obi Wan’s Master (Episode I)

Really, his only purpose was to introduce Anakin to the life of a Jedi, going so far as to bet his entire ship on a kid he barely knows; then he just so happens to be conveniently killed off in the end. That seemed to be the only use he had; even as a Force-ghost in “Episode II” he couldn’t prevent Anakin from killing a Tusken tribe. His strength and sagacity were truly undervalued in the prequels. There was also no mention of him in “Episode IV” by Obi Wan. For me, this only separates the prequels from the original series, though it gets worse down the list.

8. Crucial “Original Trilogy” Origins (Episode III)

I want to be clear about something: “Episode III” is my favorite prequel. It effectively captures the human nature within Anakin Skywalker as opposed to the two earlier films. My criticism lies with the fact that it felt rushed, almost as though trying to maintain pace with connecting the prequels to the original series. There are just so many events happening all at the last minute (or last two hours). General Grievous and Count Dooku die? Boom, done! Palpatine forms the Galactic Empire? Boom, done! The Jedi are being purged? Boom, done! Yoda is exiled to Dagobah? Boom, done! Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader? Boom, done! The Death Star is being built? Boom, done! A lot of this material could have been more built up in “Episode II,” if there weren’t meaningless moments in that installment (which are later in the list). In some ways “Episode III” tied itself to the original series to an extent that compensated for the inadequacy of “Episode II.”

7. Droids and Clone Stormtroopers (Episodes I and II)

George Lucas, in the Director’s Commentary looking back in retrospect at them, said that he intentionally meant for the droids to be goofy and not able to fight against a Jedi Knight, which definitely destroys the purpose of having an efficient automated force and is a waste of resources. There were also plenty of scenes showcasing armies of droids and clones that look plastic. This extensive use of CGI is what starkly divides the prequels from the original series. If that was not bad enough, but the attempt it does at connection makes it worse. The way C3PO was used as a CGI character in Geonosis really ruins it, primarily with the unneeded switching of heads with a droid.

As for the clones, it creates a logical conundrum. Why bother having clones who have the ability to think for themselves when you could have droids that execute your every command without question? Of course, Obi Wan did tell Luke that he and Anakin fought in the Clone Wars and it is the major focus of “Episode II.” My main issue with the clone army is the way they are also presented. I found myself re-watching “Episode II” and thinking “Nope, they could’ve added extras.” Coleman, one of the CGI designers in the Director’s Commentary in “Episode II,” said that the dirt and grunginess on the Stormtroopers’ suits were intended to make the clones look battle-worn and realistic. Sorry, they still look animated.

6. Sarlacc Re-Edition (Episode VI)

I can remember as a kid hearing the skin-peeling shriek. It was not out of amazement or fear, but an uncomfortable irritation.

If the sarlacc is now supposed to be this worm-like creature, then why bother having the rows of teeth within the pit? This new sarlacc looks more like a worm-octopus chimera than an intimidating creature fully adapted to the Tatooine desert. What made the Original Trilogy so impactful was the level of unpredictability that genuinely put the characters in danger, whether it would be a giant asteroid worm, the yeti-like Wampa, or the tribal Ewoks. Just like #10, this re-edition turned it into what Jar-Jar would step on and call “icky-goo.”

5. Lack of Immersion in Different Planets or Space (Episodes I-III)

This characteristic was where the prequels have failed and the Original Trilogy succeeded; which involved the characters being placed–or displaced–in whatever world they were in or even in space. In the Original Trilogy, the characters wear their environments, such as heavy coats on Hoth or camouflage in the Endor moon. In the prequels, the characters wear the same Jedi garbs, even in clearly inhospitable places like Mustafar, an underwater passage to a Gungan city, and Count Dooku’s space station (even when General Grievous broke the windshield, which I’m pretty sure would have reduced Anakin and Obi Wan into cold, shriveled masses). Special suits would have been needed in all of those places, and not some thingamajigs that you bite into.

This is where my main criticism of Jar-Jar Binks comes in, which has to do with his entire purpose on Tatooine. At least he had a purpose on Naboo, helping the Jedi Knights navigate his home-world they were unfamiliar with. Since Jar-Jar is from an aquatic, amphibious species, then he would have shriveled to death under the sweltering Tatooine suns. The only importance Lucas seemed to have for Jar-Jar was to bring more slap-stick and toilet humor to another planet.

4. Anakin/Padme Romance (Episodes II-III)

I have no other words to sum it up than to say that it is like sand; coarse, rough, irritating and it gets everywhere.

I did not feel that connection between them. For “Episodes II and III,” I was more interested in what Obi Wan was doing than in their shallow dialogue and stiff movement. There was no sensation that this was a relationship that needed to be kept secret or that they were actually confined to their roles in galactic society, with Padme as a senator-queen and Anakin as her Jedi bodyguard.

“I’m haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me.” I do not think I have any more to describe this sentence other than annoyance and cringiness. I am no Don Juan, but I am pretty sure using pseudo-poetic language on a girl would turn her off and no amount of Jedi mind tricks can convince her otherwise.

Upon looking at the love chemistry between Han Solo and Princess Leia, it was real because it involved two egos butting heads with an affectionate intensity. It also did not help to know that the senator-queen, who used her intelligence and headstrongness to navigate galactic politics, was turned into a simpering, helpless wife begging Anakin to turn from the Dark Side, even though there were plenty of red flags to suggest that he just might become tyrannical in the galaxy. Another factor that bothered me was Anakin’s tendency towards the Dark Side was hammered into the dialogue with Padme in “Episode II,” almost trying too hard to remind the audience that he will become Darth Vader.

3. Anakin As The Chosen One (Episode I-III)

A lot of fans had a problem with midichlorians, however I do not have much of a problem with that theme, especially since George Lucas, in the “Episode I” commentary, always planned to have an explanation for the Force but was reduced to using “fortune-cookie explanations” in the Original Trilogy. My main criticism in that area has to do with the fact that Darth Vader is no longer a uniquely menacing villain more machine than man and has become a virgin-born figure of prophecy (Basically, Star Wars Jesus). That’s ignoring the whininess of Anakin in “Episodes II and III” (Sorry dude, but a lot of people would kill to be head of the Jedi Council. At least you were considered in the first place). I also think Anakin should not have been a major focus in “Episode I,” especially since the burdening expectation of playing the chosen one took its toll on Jake Lloyd in an all-too-familiar Hollywood tragedy of post-child-actor living.

How did Anakin’s nativity even work? Do midichlorians have DNA? Are they sentient, microscopic creatures? Not only that, but Anakin was considered to contain so much Force, yet in the prequels he barely uses it outside of fighting. Again, the “Expanded Universe” and entire generations of devoted fans have more answers than I do. There was only one part in “Episode III” when he, as Darth Vader, used the Force in his greatest capacity to destroy everything around him before infamously declaring “No!” I can understand if he would have used it with subtlety, such as engaging in dangerous pod-racing as a young boy or taunting Luke Skywalker in a fight in “Episode V”; but can he lift an X-Wing out of a Dagobah swamp like Yoda can?

If Anakin was sent to destroy the Sith not join them, then it looks like hokey religions are no match against a good blaster…or the destruction of galactic democracy.

2. Jabba In “A New Hope” (Episode IV)

CGI Jabba looks absolutely nothing like the one from “Episode IV.” It was also tragic that CGI Jabba from “Episode I” looked better than this one. If anything, this and reasons six through seven should be shown to a Film Production 101 class on the example of what makes good props and bad CGI in terms of natural movement. Not only that but it was adapted from a scene when Jabba the Hutt was originally supposed to be a human with an Irish accent. I’m not kidding. The re-edited scene looks awkward in its tail-stomping self-satisfaction. And just like the original scene, Han sarcastically calls him a “wonderful human being.” This shows just how out-of-place this scene is and one of the reasons why it is one of the worst moments on this list.

It also removes away any malignant mystique that would surround the very name “Jabba the Hutt.” It would be like having a scene in “Episode IV” when Darth Vader is shown without his helmet and mask and flat-out states he is Luke’s father. There is no way, at that point, to lure the viewer in with his/her own imagination about how evil and sinister Jabba the Hutt would be.

What frustrates me even more is the fact that this scene was picked out of all of the deleted scenes in Episode IV that had potential for revision; especially the ones involving Luke’s life in Tatooine. Had they been included in the final cut, it would have made Luke a more sympathetic character who had a life prior to being forced on this quest. Then again, there is no point crying over spilled blue milk.

(Dis)honorable Mentions

1. Accents (Episodes I-VI): It would appear universal that every human in the galaxy far, far away has a default British accent; Han Solo speaks an American West accent; Jar-Jar Binks, Watto, and Gunray speak stereotypical accents; Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker (well) cannot pull off any accent considering his scratchy acting. It is an overlooked detail that has no consistency as to why the way the characters speak even matters. Then again, it is not a detail worth obsessing over.

2. Greedo Shoots First (Episode IV): I did include this on the list at one point. I know this is a problem for entire generations of fans, but I don’t really have a big problem with the scene because it happened for a brief moment and it didn’t really define Han’s character. Even if Greedo shot first and Han defended himself, he was still a smuggler with a bounty on his head. I do think that it was an unnecessary change and just an example that CGI can be the kiss of death for a film, in this case leaving the viewer to kiss the blaster.

3. Jar-Jar in Tatooine (Episode I): I originally put this as its own reason in order to fill in the “Jar-Jar Binks Is Why The Prequels Suck” requirement. I know that a lot of people have a problem with Jar-Jar Binks and I remember being a little kid when “Episode I” first came out. Jar-Jar really didn’t appeal to me nor his “How Rude!” catchphrase. Since my main criticism involved this part, I decided to amalgamate it with the related problems in the prequels.

1. Hayden Christensen As Redeemed Anakin (Episode VI)

If the third reason was bad enough, what this scene does is set a cynical precedent for it. It is basically saying that if you are the chosen one, you can kill younglings, destroy entire planets, Force-choke your pregnant wife, betray your council, and break your brotherly connection to your best friend, and you would become a Force-ghost in your youthful form so long as you have a secret son who convinces you to turn from the Dark Side. Also think about why Darth Vader was redeemed; because he killed Emperor Palpatine. This ignores the fact that he has said in the past that he wanted to do just that, but not to redeem himself but to take his place. How does killing the same emperor Anakin helped bring into power outweigh the Rebel Alliance’s destroying all of the inner workings of the Galactic Empire (including blowing up two planet-sized death machines)?

There is a YouTuber who talked about how the scene was terrible since it undermined the intelligence of the viewer who may not have known who redeemed Anakin Skywalker was. As much as I enjoy his videos (which actually inspired me to make my own Top 10 list), where I politely disagree is when he put this scene in #3, but I put mine in #1. By making this choice in the re-editions, George Lucas not only besmirched the viewers, but also Sebastian Shaw’s contribution to the Star Wars franchise. I know I said that Qui-Gon Jinn as Obi Wan’s Master was Reason #9, but I would rather Liam Neeson be included as a Force-ghost among Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and (yes) Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker.

While there are fans that disagree with this scene, there are those who approve of it and argue that it shows us Anakin before his fall from grace. The problem is that it would mean that Anakin could never have been redeemed in his current form and only in his younger form, as James T. from the website “Den of the Geek!” would argue (who also placed this scene as the #1 Crime against the Original Star Wars Trilogy). There already was a view of redeemed Anakin after his fall from grace in the original edition. Sebastian Shaw portrayed Darth Vader without his mask as well as Anakin Skywalker without the metal suit, the mechanical body parts, or the burnt deformities.

But enough of my First-World kvetching. Obviously, there will be people who will disagree with me and that’s perfectly alright. I will say that the “Star Wars” series is successful in that it blurs the distinction between magic and science and brings the hero’s journey and old myths to a galaxy far, far, away, but these were moments that can definitely ruin the experience. In these cases, the lack of creativity, inspiration, and logic I find disturbing.

7 Impacts Literature Should Have In Your Everyday Life

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.


Whether it is a class assignment or out of enjoyment, the ways that literature, fiction and non-fiction alike, can seep into your daily life is often otherwise overlooked.

1. Develop empathy

This is limited to reading literary fiction (though all well-read literature can inspire empathy), but if Austen and Dickens can make you step into the role of a protagonist with relatable imperfections, then chances are you are put into that character’s mind.

This was proven by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano of the New School for Social Research (NSSR), who conducted five experiments with 1,000 participants who read randomly assigned excerpts from works by Danielle Steele, Gillian Flynt, and Anton Chekhov. At the end, they were told how to identify emotions in others and it turned out that the participants who read literary fiction were more accurate than the those who did not.

Not only that, but the readers used the same psychological process of developing relationships which is also used for reading literary fiction, according to Kidd. Although it is impossible to pinpoint specifically the development of empathy when it comes to reading literary fiction, what this study shows is one additional bit of understanding of the human condition.

2. Ability to see what makes good grammar

It is obvious that people do not use the words “inchoate” or “unctuous” in their daily speech, but reading literature does provide a glimpse into the grammatical prestige that is tied to famous literary works. In other words, in what ways does the grammar appear correct, otherwise it would not be taught in schools. The literature probably would have also had to go through the editing process, which would involve meticulous corrections.

3. Develop more in-depth critical thinking

Analysis was taught to me when I first became an English major through reading the works of Faulkner, Melville, Poe, Oates, Cather, and many other classic American writers. But my education was not just simply reading their works, but identifying what argumentation they presented (when it dealt with speeches by early environmentalist John Muir and the men present at the Salem Witch Trials) or how symbolism is used to represent political points (such as the boat in Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd” bearing the name “Rights-Of-Man”). When you read, you merely summarize “what” but when you analyze you also ask “who, where, and probably why.”

If this can be applied towards literature, then it can be applied anywhere.

4. Gain multi-disciplined knowledge

This is a no-brainer (except technically it IS a brainer), however this entry has more to do with textbooks and not just simply obtaining knowledge from them, but developing an interdisciplinary framework. This would enable you to use the logic of one field when solving a problem from another field.

5. Enhance imagination

Another no-brainer. This is a problem for English-learning students when trying to extract meaning from a text. Imagination mainly has to do with the interconnecting of emotion, previously held knowledge, and the literature that is read. Literature enhances your view of the world alongside the already accumulated knowledge.

6. Quote

Reading literature enables you to demonstrate your cultural intelligence by quoting authors that are well-known. It also shows evidence that you actually read the text from where the quote comes from. It also shows that you are able to summarize and condense a large, integral part of the text into its most important quote.

7. Develop friendships

A common love of the same author can bring people together. This is where book clubs are established. As mentioned in Reason #1, it helps develop empathy, which could therefore lead to friendship.


Image Attribution: Twitter

AOG Short Story | The Search For A Slab of Stone

DISCLAIMER: This was a fantasy story I wrote years ago taking place in a fictional world resembling Dark Age England.


The rushing of the Langoth River appeared soothing, but it couldn’t compensate for its crashing waves. It also couldn’t deny the reflection of a knight, clad in animal hide, boots, and dull, iron breastplate, gauntlets, and helm, with a buckler at his waist. Such a knight was standing over it, clutching his ax, the blade wrapped around his neck, preparing to rip apart his throat with one fell swoop. Tears bubbled under his reddening eyes, barely lifting his upper eyelids due to lack of sleep. The tear drops traveled along his face, meeting with the crusted vomit within his brown beard.  He hesitated as he continued to remember.

The burden of holding the ax made Cluthar weary and losing of muscle. He dropped the ax and fell to his knees before the river, crying bitterly. He stared down at the river, contemplating whether to rip out his throat or to drown himself.

“No!” Cluthar concluded, “A slaughtering animal such as myself deserves to be slaughtered by the very same ax!”

He felt that, at this moment, his fate had already been decided, that he will spend an eternity in Hell. Cluthar had little energy to purge any further, he just looked down at the river, with all of its algae and fish and eels populating it.

He then turned around and saw the burh, a castle strategically located on a mountainous hill surrounding itself with walls, barbicans, gateways, and murder-holes.  Now Albobur was nothing more than a pile of shit on the earth, with its insects dwelling on it, him the ugliest, most vile insect in all of Natland.  He could remember the holding he and his wife, Warthelma, once had.  It had animals for harvest, for plowing; it had exotic animals from the Spring Empire and beyond for Lord Gunthild’s delight; it had over forty acres of paradise. Cluthar and Warthelma had tenants and cotters of their own right, something Cluthar once was; they also had the biggest house in the burh.

It wasn’t enough to begin with. He had wanted to please Warthelma ever since they first laid eyes on each other. Cluthar, a lowly cotter, who dwelt in the cottage of his late father, raised up the ranks as Lord Gunthild’s retainer, and Warthelma, the daughter of a merchant family, known for buying up holdings or parts of holdings in Albobur, were destined for each other.

That damned slab!  That Slab of Odokyn was said to have promised him whatever he wanted for a price, as the oracle told him during her trances. Cluthar remembered finding a sorcerer, living in the Cave of Fate, in possession of the slab, who immediately granted him whatever he desired. Such a slab granted him that glorious holding, making Warthelma the happiest woman in the entire burh. A year later it was all gone. His bitter sadness turned to rage.  He took the ax away from his neck, put the blade on his palm, bled it, and deposited the blood into the Langoth River.  The drops of blood spread and contorted in the river until it was all gone.  He then exclaimed to the seemingly never-ending plains, “I, Cluthar son of Vilhelm of Albobur, will kill the sorcerer of the Slab of Odokyn!”


After swearing the vow underneath the Albobur walls, the wedding, and the bridal party, Cluthar still felt burdened, having no connections to the Lord Gunthild of Albobur due to his commoner status. Atop the inner walls of Albobur, staring down, through the crenellations, at the plains beyond terraces of meadows, the only thing that he was grateful for was not meeting an end like the knight Walchomund the Short-lived; The moment he was knighted he was beloved, a month later he was killed by members of another clan for his relation with the Lady Mykilogifa. That was different, he thought. They were not married. Then again, Cluthar himself was a commoner while Walchomund was Lord Richard‘s son. What truly saddened him the most was that he was only granted a small amount of acres, a measly acre with an overreaching meadow surrounding it.

“My husband,” said a voice behind him. He turned, knowing very well that it was his wife, Warthelma, a beautiful woman with yellowish brown hair, round face, and blue eyes, garbed in a red dress, made from the finest cotton of the Spring Empire, as bragged by her family as her wedding gift.

He wrapped his arm around her waist, and said softly, “A woman risks her life appearing here. What do you want?”

“I was about to ask you that,” she said. Something was on her mind, he knew, something in that soft girl he first glimpsed at during his training. Never had she felt the way he appeared now.

“All I want is you.”

“You haven‘t been happy, have you?”

“There‘s nothing to be happy about, for you to be married to the son of Vilhelm Cairnbuilder,” said Cluthar, pitying himself.

“You are an honorable man, upholding the protection of Albobur…”

“I was just a poor cotter, who killed an ale-taster for attempting the lord‘s life. A big oaf that thrust a cleaver into his back became a big oaf with full body armor patrolling the walls of Albobur.”

“Enough!” she cried, “You are a knight! You are the symbol of honor and respect!”

“I would believe that if it had any benefit,” said Cluthar, “Amongst the walls, inner, outer, east, west, rear, I feel lower than a drunkard and a prostitute-hoarding monk.”

“You are one of the closest people to Lord Gunthild. A knight is one of the most respected individuals, by commoner and lord.”

“Not if you’re the Corpserobber‘s son.” Vilhelm was one of the lowest people in Albobur, constantly stealing from the graves of honest men and women before burying them. Hopefully the spirits of the people that he ravaged will haunt him for eternity.

“I know you better than that,” she said, with a wavering voice, “You were willing to risk paying the carnal fine in that meadow between the outer walls and the inner walls, where we knew each other very well.”

“You are worth more than any fine, but I don‘t know how to please you.”

This brought a quick silence, that was immediately shattered, when Warthelma said, “That‘s it…You‘re sad about something, what? After all the avoidances, with only Os to watch our fucking, all the wedding gifts, all the bread, beer, meat, and pies treated during the bridal party, what am I doing wrong?!”

It was always apparent to her that Cluthar was never happy, knowing that he rarely smiled, always calling himself an “animal” after they had their way with each other. It never came to this point and it was clear that she really meant all that she said. He now knew he couldn’t hide this façade of resilience any longer.

Her face was becoming red and tears were streaming down her face. “Look at me! Acknowledge me as a loser, as the worst thing to ever happen to you but say something!”

Cluthar said quietly, “It isn‘t that I don‘t love you, it‘s that I love you so much and I have no practical way of pleasing you.”


He suddenly realized, out here in the Nanut Plains, half a merchant’s journey from Albobur, that he was disoriented from lack of sleep, food, and drink. He fought back his desire for sustenance, wishing to die on the Nanut Plains. Cluthar wanted only to be a shriveled, frail corpse upon the grass, where the wild hounds and crows would feed on him. Animals eat animals. The way he kept walking would help assure his wish. The moment he will continue living is when he reaches the Cave of Fate.

Cluthar turned back, the burh becoming more and more obscure and fading of color. The grey-blue of the morning sky surrounded by clouds was within his view beyond that. He turned back to his facing direction. As he could see, there were no holdings around, no mountainous burhs, no imperial fortresses or towns, no one settled amongst the Nanut Plains, only some deer and rabbits. Was there no gain, or no one to even brave it? It made no matter.

Suddenly, he saw four obscure figures coming towards him. Apparently, they must have saw him, as they raced towards him. Cluthar pulled out his ax and his buckler and braced himself for those four. His suspicions were correct, as he could see the tattered wear of their armor, one of them wearing a red cape, each armed with a gladius and a buckler in their hands. They were foederati, upon looking at their armor and their diversity. Natlandians are mainly characterized by their round faces and dark hair, whilst these deserters before him had square faces and aquiline noses. Clearly they were soldiers from the kingdom of Isen, bordering the Spring Empire and the sea that Natland rested on.

They surrounded Cluthar. He looked at all of them, readying himself for the first strike by tightening his ax. His heart started racing with adrenaline as the possibility of death awaited him; a good death if it meant an end to all the suffering or a gruesome death which he most deserved.

“You’re only one person,” said the leader, the one in front of him, “No matter, you are still dead.”

“I don‘t want any trouble,” said Cluthar, with a whinny in his voice due to thirst. Apparently, THEY want trouble, since they’re the ones surrounding me.

“You‘re after the Slab of Odokyn, aren‘t you?!” yelled the one behind him.

“We deserted our blithering Chief Wighelm for it,” said the one next to him, “Or ‘Vigelmus‘, or whatever that traitor to his tribe wants to call himself. More Spring than Isenian.”

“I just want to help my wife!” shouted Cluthar, “She‘s dead!”

“A shame,” said the leader, “I was hoping to have her for myself.”

Cluthar tightened his ax and clenched his teeth real hard. Forget the Slab! Or the sorcerer! Or the burh! Or anything! This cowardly bastard had the audacity to betray his own king and to badmouth the happiest woman in Albobur. However, as a knight, he wasn’t stupid enough to lunge first, he would have to wait for his opportunity, so he only allowed his rage to keep boiling.

“No matter, my replacement as king is much greater than your little wife,” the leader said, then raced towards him, gladius raised. Cluthar blocked his downward cut, pushed him back, and planted his ax into the ringleader’s throat. Blood sprayed all over him.

He turned around and immediately blocked another attack. He dashed forward from another attack behind, taking his ax with him. Cluthar was now facing three deserters. Cluthar rushed at one of them with a sideway swipe, who immediately blocked him. He quickly got defensive when the others joined their attacks. Suddenly, the one he tried rushing at kicked his heels, causing him to fall upon the grass. As the others were about to kill him, Cluthar swiped his ax towards one of the deserter’s feet. He howled as he fell on top of Cluthar, who pushed him off and quickly brought himself up, parrying every cut coming towards him. He dashed backwards to face two of the deserters.

It was clear to Cluthar that they were panicking at the sight of this Natlandian knight, who already took down two Spring foederati. One of them stabbed with his blade, but missed. The other attempted to cut Cluthar, who blocked him. Cluthar struck, but was guarded. The other rushed at him, pushing him, and just as he was about to kill him Cluthar dodged it barely, only to have a gash on his arm. Ignoring it, Cluthar ran his ax against his back. Cluthar was feeling lightheaded from the wound, already adding to his hunger and thirst. The last one had a sighs of relief, knowing he might still have a chance to live. Immediately he charged at Cluthar with an undercut. He guards against it. Cluthar guards against multiple strikes. The last deserter lunged forward, only to have his neck exposed, which Cluthar took the chance to strike. He falls.

Cluthar heard the moaning of the one deserter who lost his foot.  He found him and silenced him with his ax gashed between his eyes. Still lightheaded, he tore piece of the cape from the ringleader and wrapped it around his wound, which was bleeding badly. He also found a sack carried by one of them. He opened it, finding bacon and other military rations. Ravenously, he ate, quelling his hunger. At the bottom, he found a skin of wine, which he drank at the same rate. He was still lightheaded, then everything in his sight became obscure, an amorphous blur, the plains becoming fuzzy greens and yellows and the sky becoming greys and whites. The satiation of his hunger and thirst did not alleviate his case of sleep deprivation or blood loss. The only things that mattered to him were the Slab, the sorcerer, and that ringleader who wanted to rape his wife had she been alive. Rage continued to quell within him as the plains and the sky became black.

AOG Poetry | The Blood Of Worshippers And Infidels

DISCLAIMER: This poem was originally posted on Odyssey.


Fires smear throughout the land,

As the blood-painted riverbank would,

With the arming of a paintbrush

And the reloading of acrylic bullets of many colors,

Make the painter brush his final texturing upon this multi-layered world.

Ash-grey of what used to be their buildings would be the serfs’ concern

And the corpse-brown and the pale-green of decay

Are the only kings fit to reign over a land

Tapestried with the dead bodies of worshippers and infidels.

Flowers would only fester when the battle is over.

Whimpering for protection from the infidels, the serfs pray to their gods.

They would unfurl their flags for their freedoms

And prosperity would become the beating of their drums

And the hands that reach for help would only reach for their blades.

They own their loyalty, but not pride or sovereignty.

Roots would be refreshed with the blood of worshippers of all sides.

Escape I implore!

And hang this meaningless project

(Upon the wall that is),

For war can only be painted with a grisly image

And not explained by abstract words or ideas.

Beyond any grasp, you will never be destroyed.

Death would be the only thing to worry about instead of its messengers.

10 Writerly Pet Peeves


DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.

These are the moments where as a writer, I have definitely encountered these instances to the point when they become integrated as pet peeves. These either happen when reading, writing, sharing my work, or frequenting a literary magazine.

1. Being told that your writing reminds someone of [insert film/tv series]

When you are in the business of writing, you do not rely on film or television (which have extremely narrow in-sight into the story even with over-the-top CGI) to materialize a story, rather your imagination and observing the writing styles of authors by whom you were inspired. This becomes a problem when being told “Oh, that reminds me of ‘Homeland.’ That reminds me of ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’ That reminds me of ‘House of Cards’.” For all of the stories that I wrote that prompted those responses, I never watched any of those films or shows (though I can picture Nicole Kidman portraying one of my female characters in one of my stories). The thing is that literature inspires film, not vice versa. So the next time you say [insert one of my writings] reminds you of a work of medium, please make sure that the medium is the exact same one that I am working with.

2. Misinterpreting the point of the writing

I can remember sharing a story taking place in another planet and explicitly describing the physical appearances of the alien race, and an acquaintance remarked to another person, well-intentionally, how it was post-apocalyptic. I do not think I can tell you how heart-broken I was. It was the most I ever been throughout my time of writing in this life. However, there was a moment in a fiction-writing class when I shared a Macbeth adaptation and I never felt as ecstatic as I ever been, because everyone understood what I was trying to get at with my characters. I guess you could say that I am deeply invested in how people interpret the text. Normally I do not care what their personal interpretations, but what I do care is what people think is MY personal interpretation. It comes with growing up struggling with basic communication and having to go to speech therapy every Thursday, which I think developed into this Pet Peeve.

3. “How are you going to make a living off it?”

I think an important answer to that is to simply say that all of us, regardless of who any of us are, write whether we want to or not; whether it is at work, school, or home; even sending a text message relies writing it in the first place. What am I saying? I am saying that writing is one of the most underestimated skills in society and one that requires many variations of help for those who need it. That is where writing becomes an employable skill as a teacher, analyst, copy-writer, editor, content creator, etc.

4. “Do you base your characters off real people?”

My answer: If they do, then they are entirely coincidental. Engaging in petty wish-fulfillment fantasies is not characteristic of a good writer, because you are not make your writing complex and instead of developing the personalities of all the characters, you are reducing them into two-dimensional tropes. Some of the greatest works of literature in the English language involve characters with a wide array of personalities, emotions, and desires, such as Jay Gatsby.

5. “What about yourself?”

It is true that the protagonists tend to reflect the writer, however this goes back to the previous Pet Peeve and my article about a creative writing YouTuber, since this also involves distancing on the part of the writer, because the protagonist is NOT the writer. Although it is important to develop the relatability of the protagonist, he/she should also relate to the readers as well, because the writer is not just writing for himself/herself, rather to an audience who will want to purchase and read the story.

6. When you cannot get that RIGHT word count or that RIGHT genre

This happens when you write to submit to a literary magazine. Usually, they accept short stories with up to 7,500 words and nothing more. On the one hand, you do not want it to be too short, but then you become so invested in the story that you exceed the limit. In either case, the writing becomes harder than the search for literary magazines open to submissions.

Another problem involves getting that right genre, including all the sub-genres; such as a literary magazine looking for horror short stories, but is not looking for psychological thrillers rather Lovecraftian horror. If that was not enough, there is also the issue of pinpointing all of the winning tropes that some literary magazines will list that will increase the chance of acceptance of publication. I have definitely received rejection letters stating “We really love your writing, but it is just not in our markets.”

7. When you are recommended by a literary magazine to read their works before submitting–which you have to pay for.

Paul K. “Meanjin 1965.” Flickr. Taken on 24 May 2008.
If the whole purpose is to accept submissions, then what is the point for them to pay to read and attempt to emulate the type of work that they have little to no chance of actually getting published on a literary magazine? To a writer who refuses to make the purchase, it makes submission either a stroke of luck or just not worth it in the context of money and time.

8. When characters go off on speech-long dialogue

Unless someone is explaining something (even then it would still betray the writer’s purpose by boring the reader), usually it is natural within dialogue to speak one or two sentences and let the other person respond, thus creating a back-and-forth interaction that makes the conversation fluid. It immediately draws the reader out of the story when the characters bloviate and not even be winded out. Even a master of literature like George R. R. Martin was not immune in his early works from writing corrupt characters declaring how evil and holier-than-thou they are.

9. When the protagonists are in perfect proportion

This has to do with other people’s writings–more specifically with any first drafts or fan-fiction and even well-known, published books. This does not include all of them, but there is a common theme that I noticed, which is that the protagonists, whether they are male or female, are physically perfect. The men have muscular frames and are 6’2 and the women have beautiful faces and the perfect bodies.

I am sorry, but in the real world, the majority of people do not fit into those “perfect” categories (at least not in all of the categories). I sure as hell do not fit into those perfect male categories! Not only that, but there are plenty of people who meet these “odd” qualities. There are people who have a physical disadvantage (such as being wheelchair-bound), women who are taller than men, and the people who do fit the perfect categories are not-so-perfect inside. Referencing Pet Peeve #4, the most memorable characters do not reflect the stereotypes that existed in those times. In this case, there are plenty of disabled characters who are memorable such as Richard III and Tyrion Lannister.

A trope that definitely fits this Pet Peeve in Young Adult novels is the protagonist being this teenage girl who has magical powers, is the chosen one, and can just destroy men twice her size. That is not to say that you cannot have stories like that, but just like any other story that is really wish-fulfillment fantasy, it really takes away the gravity of the story, because I am definitely sure that no one–especially not teenage girls–have magical powers.

10. Collecting books that I have trouble getting around to read

There is actually a Japanese word for this. If that is the case, then the biggest problem that I have when it comes to finding inspiration to write is actually finding it. Either I am busy researching, doing homework, or I read a few pages in bed before putting it on my nightstand and falling asleep. If only I can get rid of my tsundoku, then I would be able to develop literary tastes and even add new literary influences.