Project Reflection #5

Week Five was actually the most productive week for me, I think.

First off, I should comment of the last few blog posts I made for the project, though I will continue this blog probably until… I don’t know, if the series ever ends or I lose interest in it. The latter is not likely at all.

The first post I made was about the royal family of the Daylight Hours. The posts I’ve edited/created in this category are King Claus, Princess Boa, and Finnegan Hobb. The main royal we hear about throughout book one and two is Princess Boa who spurned Christopher Carrion and instead married Finnegan Hobb, and seconds after their vows a dragon killed her. That’s not spoilery because the moment we’re introduced to her name by the crew of the Belbelo we know she was a tragic figure. I talk about how Boa is presented to us using the popular website TVTropes. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing I have yet to tell. I need to branch out to more Abarat readers. The royal family of Day in Abarat is a pretty sad group altogether. The king grew fat in grief, the Bridegroom prince went on a killing vendetta, and the Crown Prince Quiffin went mostly under the radar. I think the age of monarchy is past in Abarat but anything is possible for the last two books.

I made another post discussing the navigation aspects of making a wiki, which I have classmate Jordan Malm to thank for the suggestion. The wikis I enjoy are those that are easily navigable with links in every corner and pictures to compliment. There were no such things on AbaratWiki and I didn’t make them until late. Source code/JavaScript is still very confusing for me so the Welcome Page still looks a little bland even with the new navigation box. In case you like it, that painting you see is my favorite image painted for the books. It’s called The Beautiful Moment and it depicts every island in the Abarat including the Time Out Of Time. I also decided to add Infoboxes to every major character because they make it easy to get the basic stats on a character, though I still have some formatting trouble. I’ve made an Infobox for Candy, Malingo, Christopher Carrion, and Mater Motley. That was interesting as I can’t be entirely sure if Carrion and Mater are completely human. They’re quite magical and are painted to look like zombies. I also formatted their pages and info in the layout that I prefer. I’ll talk about that later.

I learned how to add sources, but I haven’t learned how to have the link take the reader to the exact part of the website that includes the quotes by the author. Those are the sources I use, by the way, only words spewed by the author from Facebook, Twitter, or interviews he’s done. They’re all nicely listed on the author’s website. Quotes can be found there that go all the way back to the early-to-mid nineties when Abarat was originally a collection of 25 short stories called Clive Barker’s Book of Hours. The pages I added sources to are here and here. They are the articles for the last two books in the series yet to be published.

In this post that borders on lecture and immaturity, I take one section of the article on Christopher Carrion, tell what is wrong with it, and then show what I added. I’m not going to claim to have perfect grammar, and small errors are nothing to be too upset about but this section about Carrion’s abilities was written very badly. I can’t say I blame them for they obviously had read the books and knew the basics of what they were saying but they did not phrase it well. Also, I completely changed the layout of the character pages that were created before I started here because I feel like they gave away too much information in all the wrong places. If a reader is on the wiki it’s their own fault if they see a spoiler, but I believe the information should be quite sequential to what happens in the books. For instance, on the page for Candy I start with an appearance and character section, a layout idea I learned from A Wiki of Ice and Fire. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but there is one part I wasn’t sure about leaving. When talking about her hair, someone else had wrote “She cuts it short to hide along some monks on Sona Plume.” While that does happen early in book two, it doesn’t really give anything away so I left it there. Before I had changed it the first section was title Overview and it gave away the biggest plot detail in Candy’s life that is supposed to be a shock at the end of book two, though experienced readers may figure it out. I’ve said it on this blog before so I’ll say it again. Candy has the soul of the dead Princess Boa attached to her own. That information is revealed later, so I feel it should be put later in the article, which it has been. It’s lonely right now, but it shall have to be patient until I finish a decent summary.

I didn’t get to make a post on making a more in-depth article on my favorite character Malingo and his strange species Geshrats, but I wish I had the time. I really like the relationship that develops between Malingo and Candy. It’s not exactly romantic, though I’d like it if it was. Candy inspires him to rise about his master and he is able to go from slave to independent character. Geshrats are a very looked down upon species in the Abarat, but I really like them. Well, Malingo is the only one that shows up and as such gives us a taste of what their potential is.

That was my week on the wiki, my last week of the my Wiki Project, but not my last week of editing it. My new mission is putting infoboxes on every character that has a large influence on the plot or is connected to the main characters and learning all about source code to make some great box formats. Actually my old mission isn’t complete and probably never will be, for a wiki is constantly changing. I’ve put in a request to ‘adopt’ the wiki and become the main administrator/bureaucrat. I’m hoping it gets approved.

I leave off with a video based on the painting I mentioned earlier, The Beautiful Moment. It features an interactive look at the background image I’ve chosen for this blog.

 

Correction

I figured that if I’m going to do article clean-ups, I should at least show the proof a bit. This is the following text under a section titled “Abilities” for the character Christopher Carrion.

“Carrion uses nightmares found in his liquid collar to send nightmares to his prisoners. These nightmares are monsters that swim from inside Carrions brain into his collar made of flesh. They give off a eerie light. These nightmares instile fear inside Carrions enemies and his prisoners often do not survive. Many people know of these nightmares and fear them greatly for they make your greates nightmares come true. Carrion’s collar later breakes in a fight with Mater Motley and his nightmares multiply rapidly in hopes of protecting their master.”

This is wrong, and confusing for a mental picture. First it states that his nightmares are found in his “liquid collar.” Yes, I realize they mean a collar filled with liquid, but the placement of the words suggests his collar is made of liquid to me. Then it states that the nightmares are “monsters that swim from inside Carrions brain into his collar made of flesh. They give off a eerie light.” First I guess I’ll make fun of their grammar the Facebook way. *Carrion’s *an eerie. Secondly, this is a very bad way to describe it in my opinion. When it describes the nightmares as monsters, it suggest some sort of physical form. Maybe like a leprechuan sized yeti with wings? What else comes to mind when you say monster? My way of desribing the nightmares are snakish forms of lightning. That at least fits in with the next description of them giving off an eerie light. The worst part about this is that it states that nightmares swim from his brain into his “collar made of flesh.” First it was liquid, now it’s flesh? I don’t want to be too critical but I have to call into question the credibility of whoever wrote this. Carrion’s collar that wraps around his head is not made of liquid or flesh. It’s not specified what it is made out of, but it does say “translucent material.” I picture dsome sort of plastic or polycarbonate when I first read about Carrion. Later its suggested it’s a type of glass. But when they say collar made of liquid, I think some sort of suspended water or even gelatin. When they say collar made of flesh, I’m think some animal or human’s skin and muscle ripped off and sewed into a collar. That’s certainly not out of Carrion’s range of evil doings, but clearly not how the book describes his collar. The picture in the article shows Carrion, his collars, and his nightmares, so I’m not sure just how the editor who wrote that got so far off.

Anyways, I’ve replaced the “Abilities” description with this:

Carrion is a very gifted sorcerer, able to conjure a great many things. He can use the powdered bones of a mummified body to create a giant moth, and also see through the eyes of it. Somehow he has found a way to harness his nightmares in a semi-corporeal form as long, snaky forms of lightning. With these he is said to be able to relive his nightmares when they run against his skin. He also suggested that he is able to interrogate dead bodies if he has to.

Although, I have to say I’m really not too partial on an abilities section, but I’ll leave it up for now until I find a better way to say what needs to be said about his particular brand of dark magic.

Happy Nightmares.

Sources and Navigation

Today I begin work on adding sources to the articles that have information that comes from anything other than the book, such as the article for book four, Abarat: The Price of Dreams.

WHICH THE AUTHOR HAS JUST ANNOUNCED IS FINISHED AND WILL BE GOING THROUGH A SELF-EDITING PHASE!!!

Sorry, I’m back. That was the fourteen year old part of me.

So using advice from Jordan Malm, I’ve started to add navigation tools to start a clean-up phase. The past four weeks I’ve barely scratched the surface on cleaning the wiki and focused on adding content. These are what I’ve got so far. I’ve made the main page a welcoming page with a box for articles that beginners will probably be interested in, the books, main characters… I had to use source code, which is a concept that I’ve never really used before so for now it will be a little messy. But now the page has five easy links to the books, and the characters. Until I get a better knowledge of using source code, I’ll keep the welcome page as is but I’m not a very big fan of it.

This page here is the first time I’ve used an infobox. I think it’s a great edition even though its a little bit uneven than I would like. My next process will be adding infoboxes to all the main characters, possibly places and islands. It’s a tool that is very helpful in almost all other wikis I’ve used.

Finally, today I’m going to start adding sources to the few articles that I include quotes from the author and/or future plans by him indicated by interviews and his online presence. Like my earlier burst of enthusiasm, I will take Clive Barker’s Facebook post which announced that the initial draft is done and use it as a source. After the book comes out I’m sure I’ll clean that up even more.

Also, I’ll be linking every wiki page to every other wiki page, helping with the much needed navigation.

Abaratian Royalty

So in the midst of creating the articles and summaries that I thought needed to be done immediately, I forgot that one of the things I also wanted to focus on was cleaning the articles. I have done this but I haven’t made it clear which ones. Tonight I am writing this post to talk about the articles I have recently edited, why I chose the way I edited them, and talking about the royal families of the Abarat.

We start with the Princess Boa. From her first mention in the series, in Gallows Forest by a soul-searching Christopher Carrion, we’re introduced to a character who was well-loved. Carrion, a man whose grandmother actually sewed his lips together because he said the word love, fully admits to himself that he loved her. He wanted to marry her because she was a daughter of the King of Day and he was the Lord of Midnight. Their union would bring peace. But Boa had doubts about it all even though her father and brother Prince Quiffin were all for the marriage and its potential for daylight and nighttime alliances. Carrion believed it would actually lead to an Age of Everlasting Love, as he remembers writing in one of the letters he sent when courting her. The Fantomaya believed her soul was important to the future of the Abarat. I don’t want to give it away too much, but her soul still is important. Hehe.

So Princess Boa is presented to us as what TVTropes calls the Princess Classic. I would like to once again stress that when I mention TVTropes I don’t mean to criticize the story, as it is one my absolute favorites, but Tropes are in literally everything. They can be cliche at times but everything has them. And also, we find out later that Boa’s character is more, for lack of better word, complex than the initial praising we hear of her.

I edited her article to make it easier to read. It introduces her as a character. It has an Appearance and Character section where I discuss her back story, personality/other traits, and her looks, though that last one is a little slim on details. I’ve based this format on A Wiki of Ice and Fire’s format for characters. I also did this to prevent spoilers from being seen so easily. There used to be an Overview section and below that an In The Books section with three smaller places for her role in each book. But none of the Roles were filled out, and the Overview had information from all three books in it, some quite spoilerific. If no one claims that word soon I declare it mine. So I got rid of all those and just moved around the information. Get ready for the spoilers now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Stop reading now if you are in book one and don’t want to know.

Boa’s soul after she died was attached to Candy’s soul. It’s heavily suggested in book one with various hints, but nothing is actually said about it. Its confirmed at the end of book two, which if you’re a fan like me left you feeling like Boa finally speaking to Candy was such a great scene and suggested good things to come. Couldn’t be more wrong. I don’t want to outright say it, but Boa is less like the paragon of innocent Princesses and more like this. I love you, TVTropes.

So next, we have King Claus of Day and Finnegan Hobb the Bridegroom. King Claus is Boa’s father. After her death, Claus became a compulsive eater in his grief and some say he weighs over 1000 pounds. He lives, eats, and travels in a large car. TVTropes classifies him as Adipose Rex, a common trope that involves a king that is obese. The only things that connect him is the fact that he is a king and he is obese. We don’t know his other personality traits because he’s not made an appearance yet, so his personality doesn’t fit the traditional jolly fat king who parties all the time. That’s the fun of tropes, but I digress. Then again, that’s about it for King Claus. Good king of daylight, daughter died, he was sad about it and (quite understandably I’d say) ate a lot in mourning.

Lastly, we have Finnegan Hobb. He is the Bridegroom of Princess Boa, formerly at least. Ever since she was slain, he has had a vendetta against dragons, or worms as they’re called, because these dragons are not noble enough to take on the title dragon. He spends the sixteen years after Boa’s death hunting down and killing worms. This had been compared to the character of Prince Rillian of The Chronicles of Narnia who goes on a quest to kill the green serpent who kills his mother but goes missing for years. Not a plagiarism or rip-off in my mind because Finnegan wasn’t kidnapped. More of a homage, and I love homages. Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down The Bones says the it’s arrogant for a writer to think their writing is original and we are all influenced by what we read. If Finnegan is meant as a homage to Rillian that is nothing out of the ordinary for writers to do. I’ve actually started to read the books with a more lurking eye because I do believe he makes some homages to other works at times. I’ll try to make a post about this later, but for now I’ll just say that Kaspar Wolfswinkel is an interesting version of a Mad Hatter.

Finnegan is eventually found by the crew of the sunken Belbelo on the Nonce, the island at three o’clock in the afternoon. He is in the midst of a dragon battle. I know I’ve praised TVTropes a lot in this and other posts, but here is a place where I think they are quite wrong. They qualify Finnegan’s vendetta against worms as the “Love Makes You Evil” trope, stating Finnegan Hob’s love for Princess Boa causes him to commit mass genocide against all dragons when a single dragon kills Boa. Genocide it may be, but I fail to understand why that’s considered evil in this story’s context. The worms here, while able to speak and even have a royal seat, the Scaly Throne, and the concept of heirs, are nothing but evil. Every instance we see them they are needlessly killing and trying to eat relatively peaceful creatures. They especially love eating children. In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, a character named Melisandre says “If half an onion is black with rot, it is a rotten onion. A man is good or he is evil.” While certainly up for debate, especially in that series’ world with so many blurred lines of morality, the message speaks volumes I think. There is good, and there is evil. Daylight in the Abarat is usually considered good whereas Nighttime is evil. There are exceptions but early on in the series we are told there is perfect evil and perfect good in Abarat. Just refer back to this posts’ opening line, the opening line of the series. So I don’t consider Finnegan’s vendetta against the worms evil. The worms are evil.

That’s all I have tonight

Studio Tour

This week instead of a weekly reflection we are doing studio tours of the other projects of our classmates. Without further ado, we begin.

The popular perception of Minecraft: like playing Legos with friends. I was one of the kids who didn’t enjoy the tiny blocks so when I first played Minecraft I was not impressed. As the friends I was playing with would tell you, I didn’t try very hard, so therefore I didn’t “get” the game. I think I was playing a much-older version with them, because the only “point” to the game seemed to be building a house and hiding at night. I’ll be honest right now; I went home and asked my 11-year old brother Mackensie to help me with this. He is playing the game all the time, so he showed me what certain elements of Matt Lavrenz’ blog were about. Since I haven’t played the game in over a year, maybe more maybe less, but a very long time, I only remember certain aspects of the game. Various pop culture images and talks among fans of the game where I work, I’ve deduces that what I was doing was not at all the potential of what the game does offer. As Matt puts it on his project proposal, “Minecraft is a game with no goals or tasks so players can get bored quickly if they don’t have any ideas.” I am one of those players with no ideas. I did say before that I didn’t enjoy Legos as a kid. The game is known as a sandbox game, or open world game. The games I enjoy are pretty clear cut when it comes to missions and goals, so sandbox games usually bore me. Matt’s posts have shown the aspects of the game that are not just picking up different color squares. He details how to get to Hell, or as the ratings system would call it, the Nether. I do remember seeing this a few times when I was watching my brothers play. It’s a fairly creepy-looking place. Matt details the various enemies you will run into in the Nether, how to kill some of them, and why they’re useful to game play. My favorite post of his is title Moving Day. He chronicles his discovery that he lived on an island that could be lacking in resources and his subsequent move to the mainland. After he makes a new settlement, he decides to start a farm with cows, sheep, and wheat. And these animals can breed with each other. His journey was told with various pictures of different times in the game. It was more than I thought possible when I had first played the game.

Overall, Matt’s blog fits his Project Proposal’s description in my opinion. His posts offer tutorials, ideas, and entertainment. I have often spoken negatively of the game in the past, but that’s just me bashing pop culture phenomena. Picks and Blocks has shown me things about the games I’ve never really seen before, and showed me a side of the game I might actually enjoy.

I’ve spent so much time rereading the Abarat books and working on that wiki that I didn’t even realize another classmate was doing a similar thing as me, for much of the same reasons. Ryan Heilman’s project, The Age of Fire Wiki Reconstruction Project, is, in his words, an under-appreciated series of books. This is the same thing I think of the Abarat series for my own project. I’ve never heard of the Age of Fire series, but really anything that involves dragons could probably catch my interest. Upon my first look at the Age of Fire wiki I notice it’s being hosted on Wikia.com, so I am already logged in. I look at the history of the Age of Fire activity and I see the name Oh Heil Yeah many times, either making edits or adding whole articles. Some articles are very short, seemingly minor characters. Others are more detailed, such as an article about a Queen named Tighlia, who I’m assuming has a large role to play.  When I realized the majority of the books are about dragons as opposed to humans it sparked my interest. Usually dragons are tools for humans. McCaffrey’s dragons are ridden by humans. Martin’s dragons are wild, but mostly tools and children for Daenerys Targaryen. I haven’t read much fiction with dragons as the actual protagonists. I wasn’t sure if I should read the summary since it seemed like an interesting series, but of course the people above me on the list will have to read my summary, so I read what Age of Fire is all about. From there it was easier to look at Ryan’s contributions. They seem to have lived up to what he says on his Project Proposal. In addition to creating articles, he has edited many of them. I laughed when I read his weekly reflection and he had done the same thing I had done with the Abarat wiki, which was forgetting to log in and have his contributions be labeled as a random wikia user. One thing I would’ve liked to see on the wiki is art and illustrations of the characters, but Ryan did say that he wouldn’t focus so much on that. In the future I can definitely see myself reading this book series, and I probably never would have heard of it had it not been for Ryan’s project.

Finally, we move onto Matt Adam’s project, Research Paper Representation Via Wikki. His wikki is about a personal wiki rather than a wiki for a large community. He is using the wiki as a place for notes while he is working on his Masters thesis. The setup is interesting. I’ve never seen a wiki like this before. It is made with the company PBworks which used to be known as PBwiki. Matt takes many notes from many sources and adds them onto his wiki. I’m not very familiar with the writers and works he is referencing, but I like the fact that his wiki is, as his Project Proposal says, an attempt to “decentralize and hyper-text the generally linear entity that is a research paper.” I think it does a good job at doing so by separating different themes that will make up the content of the paper, such as Civil Disobedience, Nature, and Correspondence.

These were three very different types of projects to research, and it shows how much variety wikis and blogs can offer, from Minecraft to Thesis papers.

The Criss-Cross Man – Night Hours, Part Three

“Houlihan, Houlihan,

The Criss-Cross man,

The Criss-Cross man,

Fetch yourself a holy man

Do it fast

Fast as you can,

Because here comes Houlihan,

The Criss-Cross man—

This dark rhyme is said by Malingo when Candy is being held captive by Kaspar Wolfswinkel. Otto Houlihan is a notorious character among the Abaratians. His crimes are apparently numerous. He is employed by the man known as absolute evil throughout the land, Lord of Midnight Christopher Carrion.

He has checkerboard tattoos on his face, which is probably where the nickname Criss-Cross Man comes from. To me, personally, he isn’t much of a deep character. He is lieutenant and assassin that serves Carrion, but there doesn’t seem to be much depth after that. It is mentioned that he used to go to school with fellow badman Kaspar Wolfswinkel, but until book two it seems he is merely a hunter that Candy and Malingo run from.

The first part of book two deals with his relentless pursuit of the two after their adventures in the Twenty-Fifth Hour at the end of book one. As I will post later in my summary, the prologue of book two only seems to show a few purposes. One is that even a fearful man such as Houlihan can show fear, though it seems quite minimal. It also reestablishes his role as “evil guy chasing good girl.” And my favorite part of the series, we get to see Christopher Carrion grab his Nightmares out of their tank and let them feed on the fear of a man who worked for him. Their snaky, lightning forms wrap around the man as he screams in horrid pain, and then the man dies. The Nightmares crawl back to Carrion, waiting for the next meal.

I don’t know why, but there’s just something about a character who has semi-corporeal forms of his own nightmares rubbing against his skin to relive them that is just amazing to me… Whoops, I’ve shifted focus.

So, Houlihan the Criss-Cross man fills the role as hunter, or as TVTropes puts it, The Dragon. And though there is not much depth there, it is still a fun read when he chases Candy through a carnival freak show and various other places.

The Hat Man – Night Hours, Part Two

“It’s my house. I can lie in my house if I want to. I can run around in the nude yelling hallelujahs if I so desire.”

If there’s one thing Candy can’t stand, its liars. Especially those who defend their right to lie, like Kaspar Wolfswinkel says in the above quote.

The first interaction Candy has with evil, discounting Mendelson Shape because he loses her quite fast, is with a man named Kaspar Wolfswinkel. He is a short man in a bright yellow suit who wears many hats on his head. Candy first goes to him thinking he will protect her from a tribe of feral cats. But as she learns on the inside of the house, the cats were trying to protect her from Kaspar. Evil is still a relative term this early in the story, but based on Kaspar’s acts in the few chapters we see of him he definitely fits the parameters.

He is a vile man. He constantly drinks rum. He keeps a slave that he “bought in an honest transaction.” He also killed his friends in order to harness their power for himself, the source of which is their hats. This explains the ridiculous hats that sit on his head, but not why he wears a bright yellow suit, interestingly. He must simply like the color yellow.

Kaspar is an important step in Candy’s journey, if a rather unpleasant one. In Kaspar’s house she first meets Malingo, an orange creature called a Geshrat. Malingo is treated very cruelly by Kaspar, and is often reminded of how low Geshrats supposedly are. Not much is known about Geshrats, but they seem to be looked down upon by many people in the islands. Jimothi Tarrie, a nice character on the same island as Kaspar, seems surprised that a Geshrat is able to use magic. Kaspar bought Malingo from Malingo’s father, which tells a little about slave practices in the Abarat. It also shows what kind of person Kaspar is.

But in the grand scheme of things, Kaspar is a small character, or so says Jimothi Tarrie. He is a sad, pitiful character who drinks his misery and beats slaves to feel better about himself. From his first appearance in the book to his last, we are meant to hate Kaspar. And we are fools when we think seeing Malingo and Candy fly away from his island is the last we see of Ol’ Banana Suit, as Candy refers to him as.