Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually make these things, but I've got one for this year: blog more! I'm awful at blogging. The fact that this blog is the third I've made, but the first to get past more than two posts, says something, I think.

I've collected a few possible things to blog about:

Games (Card, mostly)
How to Linux (once I download it on something or fix the GRUB error on the drive I already have it downloaded to. It'll be Xubuntu, by the way, unless otherwise stated.)
What [Media] Teaches Me
How to TiddlyWiki (the internet needs more of these)
Help With Writing (Writing and Editing)
How to Crochet?
Help With Art (A request)
How to Music Theory (And some 'This Might Be How to Music I'm Not Sure' posts, because I am an amateur (like really really amateur) composer.)
Programming and Debugging notes (it's going to happen; I'm taking an intro-to-programming class next quarter)
Flash Fictions
How to Internet

I hope to make several of these a series. I might even set up a schedule sometime! No one really reads my blog right now other than a few I link some posts to, so I feel at liberty to do really whatever I want XD

That is all~

Card Games: "May I?"

Card playing is a big thing in my family. Whenever it's a big holiday, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's, we play hours of card games. I've come to notice, however, that when I look up the rules of some of these games, they are often different variations on what we play.

So, I've decided to put some of our rules up here! I hypothesize that the cause of mutation is caused by a lack of a physical record; we teach each other card games orally, instead of reading from something written.

Our favorite game to play is a Rummy variant, called "May I?" I looked up some other variants (one which I shall dub 'EVIL "May I?"'), none of which were played the same as ours.

*I apologize in advance if some of the symbols for cards I use are not the same as standardized rules. I will also be using 'she' as the preferred pronoun throughout this series, since I usually game with other women. XD

"May I?" (Honsvick Style)


Be the player with the least amount of points by the last round. The best way to achieve this is try to be the first one to go out each round, or at least down. 


We usually play with 4 or 5 people, but it can be played with 3-6+ (more than 6 starts to get painful, but possible. More than 2-3 decks are required for more.). We start out with two standard decks, with the Jokers (which are Wild Cards), but add in a third deck around 10-12 cards, depending on how many people there are. 

Each person is dealt the required amount of cards each round. The dealer begins with the person to her left and ends with herself; make sure everyone has their respective pile of cards (or else the luck is screwed up. Don't mess with the luck). 

When the person to the dealer's left is ready to begin, she picks up the top card from the deck and turns it over. 


There are seven rounds. For each round, there is a different amount of cards needed, as well as different combinations of cards to win. 

A set: (at least) three cards, all of the same value. (e.g., Seven, Seven, Seven.)
A run: a sequence of (at least) four cards in the same suit. You cannot bridge the gap with a run: no King, Ace, Two. A234 and JaQKA are fine.

1. 7 cards: Two sets
2. 8 cards: One set, one run 
3. 9 cards: Two runs 
4. 10 cards: Three sets 
5. 11 cards: Two sets, one run 
6. 12 cards: Two Runs One Set
7. 13 cards: Three Runs

Theoretically, this pattern could continue endlessly. Two sets == 6 cards, which is one less than 7. One set, one run == 7 cards, which is one less than 8. So on and so forth. However, at 14 cards, you have two choices: 2 runs, 2 sets, or 3 sets, 1 run. We never play past 7 rounds for this reason.  

Note: A player cannot lay down more than the required sets/runs. 

Play of Cards:

A player begins her turn by drawing the top card from either the deck or the discard pile. A player ends her turn by discarding to the discard pile. 

Going Down: When a player has all the cards she needs for that round (e.g., Two Sets for Round 1), she may lay her cards down face-up on the table. This must be done during her turn; she cannot lay her hand down in between turns or during someone else's turn. 

Going out: A player wins a round when she gets rid of all her cards . She can do this by laying either on her own cards (adding to a set or extending a run), or by laying on someone else's (who is also down) cards. 

Her last card must be discarded; in this version, a player cannot play-out (which makes it easier, really). 

If a player is not down, she cannot play on another, already-down player's cards. However, if another player has a Joker in their laid-down sets/runs, any other player (whose turn it is) may replace the Joker with the proper card and take the Joker. 

May I-ing: In between turns*, if a player (P1) sees a card she needs, she may ask the player whose turn is about to begin (P3), "May I?" If P3 does not want the card on the discard pile, she will say, "You may." (If P3 does want the card, she gets it, no questions asked.) P1 then takes the top card from the discard pile AND the top card from the deck. 

However, if P4 wants the card on the discard pile and also asks, "May I?" (and P3 agrees), then P4 gets the card instead of P1, because P4 comes in the rotation before P1. 

Each player has only two May-I's (per round). May-I's make it harder to go out, for each adds two cards to a player's hand. A player can keep track of her May-I's by counting her cards (e.g., Round 1: 9 cards means 1 May-I. 11 cards means 2). A player who is down has no need (and should not want) to May-I.

Multiple May-Is in a row can occur. If P1 wanted the top discard card and May-Ied it, then P2 wants the new top discard card, she may May-I it. 

*We always play that a player cannot May-I during someone's turn, but I'm told this is a rule the group needs to decide before the game begins. Can you May-I during someone's turn? 


Points are tallied at the end of each round and accumulate.

She who goes out receives 0 points for that round.

All who lay down count only what they are still holding (i.e. their cards on the table don't count towards points.)

Those who do not lay down might ragequit (or just weep quietly), depending on how many points they have in their hand.

2-9: Face value
10-K: 10 points
A: 15 points
Joker: 25 points

It IS possible to never go out and win the game, generally by collecting all low cards and discarding all one's high cards. It makes other people want to strangle you, however. 

Something else a player can do, if she wants to troll the other players, is collect all the cards everyone else needs. This is generally a bad tactic for winning, since high cards are often included, but it gives a player who never wins the satisfaction of cackling throughout the entire game. (One of my aunts does this.) 

Adding A Player In: 

Players can jump in mid-game (at the beginning of a round, of course). However, they must adopt the losing score as their own; they don't start at 0 points as everyone does at the very beginning of the game. 

"May I?" (EVIL Style)

This is one of the variants I found online. (First post). It makes our variant seem like we're playing Nerf. As my sister says, this one would involve "twice the crying." It's slightly modified, since some of the rules don't make sense. (How are you supposed to lay down 12 cards when all you have is 11? Theoretically, it is possible, since when you draw, you have one more card than you were dealt, but I feel like you shouldn't just lay down to go out.)


Be the player with the least amount of points by the last round. The best way to do this is to go out each round. 


Shuffle three standard decks together. Game for 3-6 players. 

For the first four rounds, deal 11 cards to each player. For the last two rounds, deal 13 cards to each player. The dealer begins with the person to her left and ends with herself; make sure everyone has their respective pile of cards.

When the person to the dealer's left is ready to begin, she picks up the top card from the deck and turns it over. 


There are six rounds. For each round, a different combination of cards is needed to win.

A set: (at least) three cards, all of the same value. (e.g., Seven, Seven, Seven.)
A run: a sequence of (at least) four cards in the same suit. Aces CANNOT be used as 1 in this version; they can only be used after a K. 

1. One set, one run. (7 cards to lay down)
2. Two runs. (8)
3. Three sets. (9)
4. Two sets, one run. (10)
5. Two runs, one set. (11)
6. Three runs. (12)

A player cannot lay down more than the required sets/runs.  

Play of Cards: 

A player begins her turn by drawing the top card from either the deck or the discard pile. A player ends her turn by discarding to the discard pile. 

Going Down: When a player has all the cards she needs for that round (e.g. Two Sets for Round 1), she may lay her cards down face-up on the table. This must be done during her turn; she cannot lay her hand down in between turns or during someone else's turn. 

Going out: A player wins a round when she gets rid of all her cards . She can do this by laying either on her own cards (adding to a set or extending a run), or by laying on someone else's (who is also down) cards*. 

Her last card must be played on either her own cards or on someone else's; in this version, a player cannot discard-out.

If a player is not down, she cannot play on another, already-down player's cards.

*Jokers may be replaced in a run and will move “up” in the run unless there is already an Ace at the top, then they will move down. They will stay with the run and may not be replaced once a run is full. 

May I-ing: In between turns, if a player (P1) sees a card she needs, she may ask the player whose turn is about to begin (P3), "May I?" If P3 does not want the card on the discard pile, she will say, "You may." (If P3 does want the card, she gets it, no questions asked.) P1 then takes the top card from the discard pile and TWO cards from the top of the deck. 

If more than P1 says, "May I?" it is she who said it first who gets the card. If it is a close call as to who said it first, a loud disputation will settle the matter, with P3's word being final. 

Each player has only two May-I's (per round). May-I's make it harder to go out, for each adds two cards to a player's hand. A player can keep track of her May-I's by counting her cards (e.g., Round 1: 9 cards means 1 May-I. 11 cards means 2). A player who is down has no need (and should not want) to May-I.


She who went out scores 0 points for that round. 

Those who do not go out might ragequit (or just weep quietly), depending on how many points they have in their hand. (This version says nothing about people who go down getting freebies.)

2-7: 5 points
8-K: 10 points
A: 20 points
Joker: 50 points

Other Variants: 

Variant one: 
  1. 2 decks. Each round gets 10 cards.
  2. NO Jokers, NO wild cards.
  3. Begin with only two sets for 6 cards to lay down. 
  4. Remove 'three runs' round. 
  5. Players may use May-Is as much as they would like, only drawing one card from the deck. Players can May-I multiple times at once. (May-I the top card, then May-I the next top card.)
  6. You can only discard-out.
  7. Aces are only worth 15 points and can be used both low and high (a 14 card run is possible, if there were such a thing). Bridging is not allowed, however.
  8. In the last round (Two runs, one set) NO ONE may May-I a card unless it is her WINNING CARD. She does not draw a penalty at this point, either, but goes out immediately.

Variant Two: 
  1. No Jokers; Twos are wild.
  2. Two rounds are added (to the Evil Style): Three runs, and an abnormal round: One set, one run of 7 
  3. "You cannot have an out card." I have no idea what this means. Do you?

Variant Three: 

This version of May-I combines many of the rules from all the versions. Reading it may also make reading my guide easier to read, by the way; I've never explained a card game before in writing. A few terms are different--contract, melding, laying off, etc.,--but the idea is the same.

  1. Dealing is the same as the Honsvick Style
  2. There are no Jokers; Twos are wild. (Variant Two)
  3. The round combinations are the same as the Honsvick Style.
  4. It has an alternate version of the last round; Two Sets, One Run and no discard, instead of Three Runs. The round ends immediately after 'melding' all the cards (a.k.a. going down) (Variant One, sort of). 
  5. Play ends if all the cards run out and there is no winner. (That sucks. Just add another deck in in our version. XD)
  6. The person that asks for a May-I first gets it (Evil Style).
  7. You cannot take a deuce from the meld it is a part of (Evil Style). 
  8. Number cards are all face-value, except for Twos, which are 20 points. Face cards are 10 points, and Aces are 15. 
  9. Aces can only be played as high. (Evil Style)

Variant Four: 

Another guide I found online with the variant name "Contract Rummy." Good to know. This uses some of the same language from the other guide. 

  1. Three to five players; optimum four. 
  2. Two decks WITH Jokers.
  3. There should be one less Joker than there are players; three players play with 106, four with 107, five with 108. (Interessant!) 
  4. Seven rounds; in the first three rounds, players recieve 10 cards each. In the last four, they receive 12.
  5. No discard on last round (three runs). 
  6. You may not lay off (play off) other people's cards on the same turn you lay down.
  7. You must discard-out for every round except round 7.
  8. Play ends if all the cards run out.
  9. If several people want to May-I a card, it goes to the player earliest in rotation. 
  10. There is no limit on May-Is, but one player cannot successively take more than one card from the discard pile.
  11. Jokers gained by stealing from someone else's meld MUST be played THAT TURN. It cannot be saved for play later.
  12. Contigious sequences (or runs) are not allowed; no runs of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, 6, 7, 8. There must be a gap, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and  3, 4, 5, 6, or 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, 7, 8, 9.
  13. In round seven, one of the sequences must be longer than four cards.
  14. Numbered Cards are their face value, Face cards are 10, Aces 15, Jokers 15. 
  15. There is no rule stating whether Aces are high or not. 
  16. A variation: No Jokers.
  17. Liverpool Rummy is another game similar to Contract Rummy. 

I'm sure there's more out there, but there's what my initial search pulled up. I think if I search "Contract Rummy," I'd get all sorts more rules. Whee!

What's your favorite version of "May I?"

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I remember it almost as it was yesterday. I was sitting in my chair, drinking herbal tea, Skyping my friends, and then suddenly--disaster struck.

Skype closed.

Immediately, my heart spiked as a window opened up, prompting me to download the latest version of Skype or I would never use it again. I had knew this was coming, ever since Microsoft bought Skype out (blasted M$).

Reluctantly, after battling Google for an answer to keep my beloved version, I finally downloaded the latest version of Skype.

Since then, I have been plagued by automatic updates without my even knowing, sometimes: I would open up Skype to see a small notification saying, "We've downloaded the latest version of Skype so you have the latest improvements and bug fixes!" ("We're doing this for your own good, Mariah. You don't know what you're doing. Just let us help you. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Imagine a world where happiness abounds . . . all because you let us handle your updates. You don't even have to worry about it . . .")

My Skype continued to get weirder, shinier, and more "user friendly," (no doubt, since that's what M$ is all about). And I hated it.

Today, however, was the last straw. With the upgrade to Skype 7.0, Skype almost stopped working every time I switched over to type in something (correction: It DID. It would either lag incredibly, or it would freeze and show "Skype (Not Responding)").

So, to Google I went, praying desperately for a solution. And I found one--now I'm sitting pretty on version of Skype (*cackles maniacally* Take that, M$!).

So, you want to downgrade Skype? Here it goes. (Note: I'm not talking to you like you're five, I'm just trying to be clear)
Step One: Remove Skype

Gotta get rid of the newest version to replace it with an old version. 
  1. Go to Control Panel 
  2. Go to Programs and Features
  3. Find Skype
  4. Uninstall
Step Two: Download the Setup of the version of Skype you want. 

M$ has blanketed over almost everything I pulled up today; I think I actually had the setup for already stored on my computer. I think there's a way to search in the Skype files for the old versions, but I don't know how; Google is your friend if you want to look into that. I have a few lying around: or (File Hippo)

Have fun looking for other versions (and I hope those 6.21 versions don't go out of style for you).

Step Three: Replace the SkypeSetup.exe with the SkypeSetup.exe You Want

Now that you have your beloved version, you must trick Skype into thinking it's updating all the way. 
  1. Navigate to C:\Users\<YourUsername>\AppData\Local\Temp
  2. Scroll down to SkypeSetup.exe (Ignore the Skype folder)
  3. Delete the SkypeSetup.exe and the other Skype files surrounding it (I had three things; the SkypeSetup, Skype Toolbars, and some other Skype setup thingy I got rid of just in case, since it 'contained all the information and data needed for version 7.0').
  4. Copy your SkypeSetup.exe version that you like (probably under the name of "SkypeSetup_<version>.exe"; I renamed it to "SkypeSetup.exe") into the Temp folder.
  5. Right-Click on the File and go into Properties
  6. Check the 'Read Only' button
  7. Apply
Step Four: Download Your Version of Skype
  1. Download your version of Skype from the SkypeSetup.exe (I had a copy on my desktop I downloaded from; I don't know if you can download from the Temp file, but probably)
  2. Open Skype and bask in your victory.
Step Five: Disable the Skype Updater.

This gets rid of Skype's ability to check for and download updates automatically.
  1. Go to Services (Start > Run > Type "Services.msc"; search your computer for it; go through the Control Panel; Task Manager > Services > Open Services)
  2. Find 'Skype Updater' 
  3. Right click on it and go into Properties. 
  4. Under "Startup Type," select "Disabled."
  5. Apply.
(Optional) Step Six: Block Ads

Does your version still have ads? These ad-blocking techniques never worked for me (at least not for the newer versions), but apparently they work for everybody else. XD So, here's what I've heard:
  1. Go to Control Panel > Internet Options > Security > Restricted Sites > Sites
  2. Add http://apps.skype.com/ (this blocks your entire home page, seemingly . . . that's never happened for me, so maybe my computer is trolling XD) and http://g.msn.com/ . 
  3. Bask in your victory and in your ad-free pages. 

Hope this all was helpful! Fight the automatic, involuntary updates, everybody! Have fun debugging. 

Monday, December 22, 2014


Merry (Early) Christmas! Have a story about snow and pirates.

A coughing fit woke the captain from his rest. He sat up, blankets falling off of him.

"Yagh!" he exclaimed at the frigid air, yanking the covers back up as he fumbled on the ground for his shirt.

Dim light shone through his window; he stumbled across the room, resting his arm on the wall above the hole as he peered through. Ice crusted over the outside, making it impossible to see.

"The hell?" he muttered, wondering if he was drunk. He could swear he wasn't, however. Shaking his head, he tumbled to the door, throwing it open. A rush of cold air met him, as well as the cabin boy.

"Cap'n!" exclaimed Jono, who was poised to knock on the door. The small lad was bundled up in a winter coat, his brown hair peeking out from beneath his cap. "Cap'n, somethin's goin' on up yonder that we thinks ya should see." The boy's breath fogged the air when he spoke.

"I was just headin' up there, lad," he replied, grabbing his coat and shoving his arms into it. "Lead th' way."

The young man nodded, turning and running up the stairs on booted feet. The captain pounded up after him, though he kept a hand on the wall for support; his legs didn't seem to be working quite properly. Perhaps he had had something to drink and was hungover now.

"What in th' gods' name . . ." he swore as Jono opened the door and snow blew through. Stepping outside, he shielded his eyes against a world of white. "Lenos! What th' hell is goin' on?"

"I haven't the slightest, Captain," his first mate replied. "One moment, the sun was shining, and the next, it wasn't."

The captain took a step forward, nearabout tripping. "Blast! I can't seem t' walk straight," he growled.

"Almost none of us can," replied Lenos, coming up alongside the captain with a steadying hand on the wall. "The sea has frozen over, rendering our sea-legs useless."

"Frozen over?" the captain questioned, looking out at the ocean. There was only ice, as far as the eye could see. "What in Saeson's unholy name . . . ?"

A mighty rumble rippled throughout the ice and ship, causing a chorus of yells to go up as many fell to their knees. The captain swore, but steadied himself as the rumbling continued.

"Look!" cried one of the sailors. "Of to th' starboard port, look!"

Attention turned towards the location, where a great castle had rose up out of the sea.

"That would appear to be the castle of the Sorceress of the North," Lenos noted.

"How th' hell can ye tell?" the captain asked.

"Well, how many other sorcerers do you know that would go out of their way to cause someone trouble?"

"Point taken." The captain sighed, melting snow on his beard with a plume of warm breath. "It would seem th' only option is t' go 'n' investigate."

"Aye, Captain," Lenos said. "I'll have the men get ready."


Saturday, December 6, 2014


For anyone who has read my profile on here, I believe it states somewhere that I'm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints. I do strive to live the standards set by my church, and sometimes this can run me into problems. The one that I see most often (other than, "You don't drink coffee?!) and the one that bothers me the most is when people get uptight about me not agreeing with LGTB stuff.

What brings this up is a comment recently left on my Figment profile:
Thanks for the offer to swap! I liked your story 'Beloved' but as you've said several things I disagree with on your wall ('I don't heart swaps' and that homophobic bit about not being able to read about LGBT) I decided not to heart it. 
I haven't responded to this person, since these sort of people throw me in utter disbelief.

I don't agree with LGTB stuff, but that doesn't mean I don't have plenty of friends who do, or who participate in that. I have several bi friends, several gender-fluid friends, and a few lesbian friends--I don't think I know anyone who is gay or transgender, but I feel my point remains the same.

While I believe that LGTB is wrong, I don't discriminate against these people. I also believe that people can do whatever the heck they want, and that means they can go out and do stuff I don't believe in.

What gets me more about some of the people in the LGTB community  (I do stress "some"; I don't know tons of them), or those who strongly support it, is that they're rude. I don't go, "I don't want to be around you because you're lesbian/bi," but I've had a few people tell me off because they don't want to be "judged" for having a same-sex boyfriend or girlfriend when all I've asked them to do is not talk so much about it around me, since I don't want to hear about that stuff (and I don't want to hear that sort of relationship gushy stuff about straight people). I don't tell LGTB people, "You're the devil's child!" It's not like I haven't sinned at all in my life.

This poster on my wall liked my story, but because she disagreed with who I am, she decided against giving me a heart (which I guess she deems highly important to me if she's going to use it to try and convince me that I should feel guilty for being "homophobic.") It's like, "Alright, I'm the 'homophobic' and 'bigoted' one, yet I'm not the one being rude here. That makes sense."

What this says to me is that it's alright to discriminate against someone because of their beliefs. Yet, if I went out and did something like that--"I won't give you a heart on this story you wrote that's great because you believe LGTB is okay even though your story had nothing to do with that stuff"--I would be burned at the stake. 

America likes to pride itself on equality, but, while we truly are far better about it today, we appear to have a long way to go. I can't state my beliefs--exercise my right to say whatever I wanna say--without being discriminated against for it, which is exactly what LGTB people and activists claim to have a problem with: They can't be who they want to be without being discriminated against for it. While this has merit--LGTB have been treated very badly and sometimes quite unfairly--why they do this to other people is beyond me. It certainly doesn't win their side any brownie points.

What I'm trying to say here is treat people how you wanna be treated. If you are rude to people, expect rudeness in return; if you don't expect it, you're a hypocrite. Being nice to people doesn't always make people be nice to you in return, but at least you're being a good person.

P.S. I don't know why she doesn't agree with me not doing heart-swaps. Heart-swaps are cheating. Refer to earlier post.

P.S.S. The contest is FINALLY over. I don't think I mentioned this here, but Figment extended the deadline from the 26th of November to yesterday (the 5th of December) TWO DAYS before the contest ended, without warning. It was ridiculously irritating.

P.S.S.S. Edit: I lied. They extended the contest again. Jack wagons.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Duty Calls

Currently (as any who read some previous posts know), I am participating in a contest on Figment.com that is a heart-based contest. What this means is that I have to get as many people to read my entry to get as many votes, or 'heart,' as I can on it. In order to get my entry read, I usually have to promise people I'll take a look at something of theirs and leave feedback in return.

It's a time-consuming and exhausting process. Each vote is a battle. It takes hours to accumulate any significant amount of votes on entries. The success at seeing oneself slowly rise to a winning position is glorious and relieving because of how much time and effort was put into it.

Recently, I've noticed two contestants rising in the ranks . . . because they're asking for something Figment users would deem a 'heart-swap.' It basically goes: "Hey, can you heart my story in return for a heart on one of yours?" Seeing this, after working so many hours on trying to honestly accrue votes and struggling to win this battle--it can make one a little more than irritated.

One of these contestants posted thrice on my wall; the first two times, I ignored her heart-swap request and simply deleted it. The third time, I decided to take a look at her story simply so I could get her to stop bothering me, and also to tell her that I feel heart-swaps are unethical--basically cheating. I will relay the comments to you.

Miss Camacho's swap request:
Could you please heart my story? (it's only 750 words)http://figment.com/books/862657-No-Title I will comment and heart any story of yours up to 2,000 words! Please help me by hearting it!

Me (in the comments of No Title):
No, I will not heart your story; firstly, I feel it's rude to ask for a straight-up heart swap when others are trying very hard to honestly swap to win this contest. People are spending hours in front of their computers reading story after story and giving the best reviews and comments they can in order to help others improve their stories--it's just not right for you to ask for a heart swap. This is the epitome of the reason everyone hates heart-based contests; they put so much effort into trying to win and then someone just comes in and swoops up the victory unfairly. I cannot stress enough to you how unethical I find this. 
Secondly, I didn't really like this entry. The idea is good, but I think it's currently just a start; it feels too inconsistent. His parents are loving, but then they're not because everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. He has the power to come back to life, but he apparently also has a power of super hearing? What about when he dies and comes back to life--the first time he died, he came back with no memory; what about the other times? 
There's also the concern of other people noticing that Andrew dies repeatedly--how does he avoid that? 
It just doesn't feel cohesive to me and I didn't feel any emotional impact from the character at the ending. He woke up and he was kinda, "Oh, everyone is dead. Okay."
Take my feedback into consideration or don't; I suppose I was already biased against your story because of the approach. 
Miss Camacho's response (on my profile):
I just said if you heart mine I would heart yours and give you a comment. Either way YOU had the better deal. YOU ARE THE RUDE ONE. WHAT DID I DO THAT WAS SOOOOO AWFUL TO YOU?????? if you didn't want to you could have said no thanks on my profile. Only rude people do that on someones story that they worked hard on.
Miss Camacho's responses (on my story):
I just said if you heart mine I would heart yours [... ((see the rest of 'Miss Camacho's response (on my profile)'))]
and (as a second comment):
And yes I am being rude since you attacked me on my story first.
My reply (on Miss Camacho's profile):
I'm sorry that it came off as an attack on your story. That wasn't what I meant to do at all. The issue I had was your heart-swap request. 
I never said you were a rude person. I simply pointed out that the act of asking only for hearts--whether or not I get the better deal--is wrong. You did nothing that was 'so awful' to me, and I'm not sure I did something so awful to you to merit this reaction, other than tell you my honest opinion about your swapping approach--"No thanks" would not have conveyed "this is unethical." 
By they way, thanks for the feedback on "Beloved." :) 
Miss Camacho's reply (on my profile):
 uh huh, You meant to be rude otherwise you would not have written it on my story. How would I not have felt attacked????? If you wrote that on anyone elses story I guarantee that they would have been upset and felt attacked because that is exactly what you did.
My response (on Miss Camacho's profile)
Dear Melanie Camacho,
Attacking your story would not have been leaving potentially helpful feedback. You feel attacked because you don't like that I called you out, and therefore do not want to listen to anything I have to say. 
Example of attacking a story or person: "This story was awful! There were so many mistakes I spotted that there's just no hope. You have no chance of winning. Loser!" 
I did not state that. I stated that, currently, it is inconsistent and I would suggest revising it, along with the fact that I fervently do not approve of heart-swaps. Perhaps the comment 'because then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked' could be taken in a condescending manner, but it was meant to be a light-hearted jest about the similarity of the line 'but all of that changed when my brother was born' to a recurring line of a popular show. 
The other parts of my comments were exactly what I would have left on "No Title" if it were written by someone else; they are something I would have said even if I agreed to swap with you, for they are concept issues and points that I feel need to be addressed. Perhaps I could have presented them in a less brusque manner, but they are the feedback I would give, nevertheless. I sincerely did not like the entry because of its inconsistency; I would have not voted for it even had it been presented by a different author in a different manner. 
I believe it can be made into a contest-winning entry, but it needs work. What you have currently appears to me as only a beginning of potential. 
I also mentioned that you could ignore my feedback if you'd like, since I didn't know if you would be inclined to care about anything I had to say after you learned I do not approve of heart-swaps.
If I meant to be rude, I would have gone about it in a different way. I would have left a comment on your story with no relevance to the story whatsoever with an attacking statement about you being an awful, rude person. 
I did not do either of those things, although you seem to have interpreted it as such. Since I was not asking for a return to your swap request, I did not post on your wall with my thoughts; at the time, I believed I could leave a single post with honest opinions without being retaliated upon and therefore relieve you of the inconvenience of having a thousand emails in your inbox from me about something you clearly do not care to hear. 
I regret that you took it in an unintended manner, but I will not apologize for wanting to be fair: Heart-swaps are not fair to your competition, and I do not believe informing you of this merits hate-spam on my wall or stories.
Miss Camacho's response (on my profile):
You cry that you didn't mean mean to be rude BUT the fact remains that you were. Also saying that you were biased because of the heart thing doesn't help either. Spoilsport just because I was catching up. Most of you had weeks more than I did. I wrote mine five days ago. You were just mad because I was almost beating you.
Also have I mentioned ANYTHING about the review part??? Nope. Sorry. I've only mentioned your rant at the beginning which you could have easily put on my wall but no you chose to try to make me look bad instead.
My most recent reply (on her profile):
Dear Miss Camacho, 
I'm sorry; I misread the lovely comment on "Beloved" as 'you attacked my story' and not 'you attacked me.' I was confused.  
Nevertheless, I am not irritated because you're catching up. I have not been irritated at the other nine contestants in the competition for jumping over me, or getting so ridiculously far out of reach that I couldn't ever beat them since they had weeks more than me to gather votes. I am irritated because heart-swaps are unethical and not honest; people who have been struggling to even come close to being in the running for winning now have to work harder against unfair odds. 
The better way to approach catching up with other contestants would be promising to get to your side of the swap as soon as the contest is ended; it's only a few days away, so many people would figure that that's enough time for honesty to be kept. 
It was not my intention for her to blow up at me like that, though I may have known it was coming. However, I do not feel I am in the wrong, nor do I feel I am a rude person for not voting for an entry that I do not think should win over mine. I have voted for some of the other entries, but Miss Camacho's story was not up to par. I am of the belief that all she wanted to hear was, "Ohmigosh this is so good I hope you keep writing and you totally have the contest in the bag," accompanied by a heart.

Apparently, she values lying or ignorance more than honesty. Would she rather she end up like Spongetta Parrish on American Idol with "I'll be in my Studio?" I firmly believe Sanderson will not be impressed with her entry at the level it is currently written.

I am currently holding 6th place in the contest, and I have worked for over a month to get there. There are other people who have less time than me and possibly better entries than me that are struggling to get into the top ten before the deadline cuts them off--which is exactly one week from now.

It is unethical to approve of or participate in heart-swaps; this is the greatest downside to any writing site I have ever been on, but it's ever that much more prevalent on Figment.

I'm thinking of starting another blog specifically for these sorts of things and name it Summer Glau Letters. I suppose arguing with someone foolish makes me foolish, though, doesn't it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What Disney Teaches Me: Flynn Rider

"You leave me no choice . . . here comes the smolder."
When I first watched Tangled, I was in love with everything--especially Flynn. Who couldn't love the swashbuckling, dashing, and hilarious thief with the adorable sob story and who appears to be entirely entranced by an innocent, naive, young Rapunzel? 

They appear to be the 'perfect' couple; Flynn's dry humor added with Rapunzel's positive outlook make for fantastic foils. He protects her when danger comes by, but isn't exempt from being saved by her (see: "I've Got a Dream" prelude). And let's be honest: it can make some of our inner fangirls squee when he looks at Rapunzel, or tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.

However, thinking over the film brought me to see Eugene Fitz Herbert in a more insidious light.

"Guys, I want a castle."

First, we see the daring thief with his two thieving companions--obviously, from his charming looks and charismatic opening, we can instantly see that Flynn is the more likable of the trio. He's friendly and jovial, while the Stabbington Brothers are big, scary-looking, and mean-sounding.

"Hay fever?"
Flynn further endears himself to viewers as he casually makes conversation with a guard while in the act of robbing the kingdom, resulting in a chase, which he appears to be entirely okay with--going so far as to comment on a poster of himself, delaying him and his companions (and also conveying what could be either lighthearted joviality . . . or possibly narcissism disguised as such).
Oh, you poor thing.
And then the real problems begin. Merry chase through the forest, and then they're cornered. It was right of the two brothers not to trust Flynn with the satchel . . . 

"I am wounded!"
. . . because he wasn't planning on letting them have their part of the payout. He left them to die, while he made off with the bounty; he told the Stabbington Brothers that they could trust him, but then steals the satchel and takes off. He stabbed the Stabbingtons in the back (pun wasn't intended, but it happened), and it was possibly premeditated: he was the one that alerted the guards to their presence. Perhaps he planned that he would dupe them out of the crown beforehand.

Now, this could have easily been redeemed, if only Flynn had heard them talking about betraying him first. In that scenario, it would have been perfectly acceptable for Flynn to do what he did; the Stabbington Brothers would be the ones who were in the fault. But they didn't. 

Flynn betrayed them without any provocation. 

Later, he tries to scare Rapunzel into chickening out back to her tower and just giving him the satchel. Kudos to our spunky heroine for not doing that and bothering Flynn further. 

He's greedy. One could argue that this changes, because he gives the crown back to the Stabbington Brothers at the end of the show, but by then, he has the girl with him who can grant eternal youth (and who is later revealed to be the lost princess!). 

"A fair trade: a crown for the girl with the magic hair."
What makes it worse is that Flynn receives has hardly any consequences for doing these things--mainly the one about stabbing his partners in the back. He appears to change from a scoundrel to a loving, tender-hearted gentleman in under three days. People don't change in three days. 

I don't think 'fairy tale rules' apply here, considering that, to the best of his knowledge, two people were going to die over his betrayal.

The only repercussion for betraying the Stabbington Brothers he receives is it eventually puts him in a position where Rapunzel thinks he's betrayed her. 

Now, Flynn might have some redeeming qualities. After all, he went to find Rapunzel after she thought he had betrayed her. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save Rapunzel; he didn't know that her tears could heal him, nor did he know that cutting off the magic would kill the witch. 

However, in the words of Kuzco, "Nobody is that heartless!" (Emperor's New Groove). Or, at least, no one with half a heart. Rapunzel was willing to give herself to a life a slavery to save him. Wouldn't it be a little guilt-tripping to know that every breath you take has been bought by the enslavement of another person?

It'd have been like selling a baby to someone, considering how naive and innocent Rapunzel was.

"I've got dreams like you--no, really!--just much less . . . touchy-feely,
and mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny~ on an island that I own
un-arrested and alone! Surrounded by enormous piles of money!"
Besides, Flynn then asks Rapunzel to marry him--then he gets a castle, an island that he owns, and a lot of money.

Well played, thief. Well played.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Being Loved is a Powerful Thing

I wrote another entry for the Brandon Sanderson contest. This one is split up into five mini-chapters. They'd be longer if I didn't have only 1000 words to work with!




"I killed your parents." 

A tear leaked down Layenne's rosy cheek as she trembled. "I love you," she whispered harshly, fist clenching at her side.

"I know," I replied softly, looking out the window over my kingdom. "I know." 


"My wish?" I questioned. Words were on my tongue immediately: power, gold, land, food enough to last a lifetime--but there was always a price for offers like this. "What's the catch?"

The fae-woman smiled, holding up a slender finger. "Clever you are, which will take you far. There is no trick to this--only in what you wish." 

I rested my ax on my shoulder as I considered her. She was a young-looking thing, though she was likely hundreds of years old. Curly, lovely, white hair spilled down her sky-cloaked back, shimmering like the white caps of the ocean as she walked. Sly, icy-blue eyes watched me from a perfect oval face, and pale lips parted in a smile.

I had come upon her while I was trekking to my cabin in the woods, as I did every day after work. The fae were an odd lot; they found it a shame to be in the mortal realm. So, in exchange for me telling no one of her visit, she would grant me a wish.

I frowned, not sure what to make of her riddle. "What do you mean?" 

"Yours may have a twist; it might not." Her voice was like the music of a siren.

I tilted my head, and began to think for a wish that would overcome common pitfalls found in stories. 

"What is your name?" I asked.

She gave a laugh like the clinking of icicles falling from a tree. "Rarely do I meet one as you," she mused. "I am called Winter. What is your wish, young lumberman?"

I rubbed the handle of my ax with my thumb, pursing my lips. "I wish . . . to be loved by all who know me."

She paused, then narrowed her eyes as she grinned, revealing cruel, sharp teeth. "It is done," she said as an icy cold wind picked up around us, biting into my skin. "I won't regret your wish." 

Before I could ask her what she meant by that, she vanished.


"I want t' promote you."

My ax bit into the cedar tree, and Arvid waited patiently for me to pull it out. Three days had passed since I met Winter. "Promote me?" I asked finally, turning to him. 

"Yes," he said. "I'd like you t' come t' Market with me and sell th' lumber." 

"Why so suddenly?" 

"You're th' best man I got 'round 'ere," he said, then raised a hand to a Jerold as the older, more experienced lumberjack passed. "No offense."

"None taken!" Jerold said, grinning as he looked to me. "Everyone here thinks the same."

"Alright, then," I agreed. "I'll come with you to Market."


I hopped down from the front of the wagon to help Arvid unload lumber to some rich man's cart. A woman oversaw the work, along with some men. She was dressed in a fine wool coat, and her dark brown hair brushed against her shoulders each time she turned her head to watch someone work with owlish eyes.

"Lumberjack," she called to me as I was returning to the cart. 

I paused. "Yeah?"

"What's your name?" she asked curiously, climbing down from her perch on her wagon. "I haven't seen you at Market before."

"Davin Sen, m'lady," I said, tipping my hat. 

"Don't you recognize me?" she questioned curiously.

"'Fraid not. Should I?" 

She covered a smile with a gloved hand. "I'm Layenne. Princess Layenne."

"Oh," I said dumbly, and then gave a short bow. 

She giggled. "I like you. Come with me, Davin. I have someone I want you to meet." 


"Davin! We're going to be late," Layenne declared as she swept into the room. She clapped in delight at my appearance. "You look positively devastating!"

Admiring myself in the mirror, I smiled. I did look devilish in the three-pieced, black suit. I would likely be the center of attention that night, much as had happened the last few balls. I ran a hair through my blond hair, and turned to her.

She was my perfect compliment, dressed in a lovely white cloth that wrapped around her body like the feathers on a swan. Her smile lit up the room as she came over to me, tugging my clothing into place. I gently took her hands, and she looked up at me.

"I love you," she said, and I knew she was telling the absolute truth.

It warmed me. No one said it out loud except her, though I knew everyone did. Three months had passed since my wish, and my life had never been better. Not a word of anger was ever directed my way any more, and there were very few that wouldn't give me whatever I wished.

"That's why we're getting married," I reminded her with a smile, then gave her a soft kiss. 


"Step down from the throne." 

"Not so soon, young Davin," King Aldric said in his slow way, giving me a smile. "I have a little life in me yet. The kingdom will be yours and my daughter's before long."

That was not soon enough.  I wanted the kingdom now. "Can you call mother in for me?" I asked, sitting down. 

Just a minute later, Queen Delmi stepped into the study, with her maidservant, Alyssa, supporting her at her side. "You have need of me?" she asked, exhaling as she was helped into the third chair. "You may go, Alyssa."

The girl gave a small curtsy, her wistful eyes lingering on me as she left the room. I smiled; her attention was rightly placed.

"I do," I said, standing. "Your time has passed."

"Davin?" the queen asked with some concern as I unsheathed my sword, although her love for me was strong enough to contest the concern.

Just as I would have it.


Thursday, October 16, 2014


Did I mention I'm in a poetry class? Welp, I'm in a poetry class. My teacher and I don't really agree on the ways poetry should be written (he likes enjamblement (cool word, that. Enjamblement. Just say it a few times out loud) and I cringe whenever I see an enjambled sentence. Enjambled), but it's going well so far.

I also have the sneaking suspicious he doesn't like giving full marks, because I couldn't find any fault with my last two assignments . . . of course, that might be me thinking spitefully, but y'know.

I liked my latest piece of poetry that I made up on the fly for my assignment, so here it is!:

Cucumber Melon
By Mariah Burkett
Flipping the bottle this way and that,
I sit it on the table,
Watching as little silvery-green blimps
push their way to the surface;
Leaving little bubbles in their wake,
Like streams of fairy dust.
I twist the ridged cap,
And breathe in a sweet perfume--
Not an overpowering scent,
But that which smells of summer;
Of fruits and gatherings;
Of cantaloupes and cucumbers.
I touch the viscous liquid,
Then gather some in my palms,
And turn the faucet on.
Rubbing smooth green between my hands,
And listening to tiny bubbles pop,
I dip my fingers in rushing, warm water. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2nd Draft of Counterfeit

People had issues with my characterization, what the power was, the chapter structure, and a few other things in my story. So, I've rewritten it, and hopefully it's better now!

Here it is!


Who the hell let a reporter into my office? I thought with a scowl as my door swung in, permitting a young woman. The permeating scent of stubborn determination filled the air like a bad perfume, and she strode to my desk, extending her hand while flashing a winning smile.

"Good morning, High President," she greeted cheerily, blue eyes sparkling. She had an odd clip to her voice—a familiar accent, but one I couldn't place. "I'm Laura Brown."

I considered her for a moment, then, still frowning, deigned to stand and shake her hand. "Good morning. Now I would appreciate it if you leave. I'm busy enough without rude interruptions."

"Actually, that's what I'm here to talk to you about," she said, stepping away and making herself comfortable in one of the chairs across from me and folded one black-clad leg over the other, her foot bouncing happily.

Laura's aura was confident—only the slightest amount of fear tinted it. She knew that  I could have security come and toss her out if I chose.  How did she get in here, though? Who didn't run this past me?

Reporters were a obstinate lot. They were the sort of people that I had a hard time dissuading from bothering me.

"What's it like to be the ruler of the world?" she asked, and I could feel smugness in her aura at the fact that I had not called for security yet.

Exhausting. And fairly boring. "Busy enough," I said, sitting back down and taking my reading glasses off, "even without a nosy reporter in my office." It wasn't the right thing to say to get her to go away—I knew that it would be harder than that. Like the time I had had to convince the congressmen to lower the age for the American Presidential office.

Laura didn't take the hint; instead, her aura grew more bold after a moment of irritation, and I finally turned my attention fully to reading her.

I'm not about to let this opportunity slip out of my hands, she was thinking as she opened her mouth to speak.

God, I'd wish she'd leave already. I have things to do. Annoyingly dry things—I was far off from eliminating the paper system of the 'old' world—but I had to do them nevertheless.

I held up a hand, stopping her before she began. "I am not interested in discussing—"

"You're bored," she interjected idly, cutting me off.

"Excuse me?" I asked, though I was more surprised than irritated.
"There's nothing else for you to do, nowhere else up the ladder to go," she told me matter-of-factly as she flicked the end of her pony tail over her shoulder.

How did she . . . ? I thought with surprise, scrutinizing her closer.

Like a shark sensing blood, she pursued, the scent of triumph tainting the air. "Rising to power was like a game to you. Each step higher was just another piece to take out."

Though they had to be guesses, her guesses sounded confident. Very confident.

My ascent to power was public record. It had taken a lot of political maneuvering, greasing of hands, and countless debates. Fortunately, I had always had money and some power in the political world—my parents had had connections, even back then—and it hadn't taken long for me to shoot up the ladder.

As confident as me, I realized, remembering how I had climbed up the social ladder. Could it be possible . . . ?

"What makes you say that?" I questioned while leaning back in my seat.

Giving the same, perfect-teeth smile, she continued as the scent of triumph and smugness growing stronger. "As soon as you turned eighteen, you ran for mayor of Seattle. Against the odds, you won. Then you made state governor. Next thing everyone knows, you're the king of the world a short ten years later."

A year had passed since then, and I was having some troubles wrangling down rebel groups from several of the more mulish countries who refused to accept a once-American as their leader.

Wait, I thought with surprise as I realized something. She had gotten me to ask her a question. Blazes. I didn't respond to her prodding—she hadn't asked a question, after all—instead frowning deeper and starting to pick apart her aura. This was a foe worthy of my full attention.

You don't know me. The message came through brightly, and shock grew through me as she gave me a sly smile. I wonder how you came to power without the aid of something greater?

Inconceivable, I thought, baffled by the thought that there was another like me. There had never been another who could match what I could do.

"Do you consider yourself a good man?" she asked—another question that caught me off guard.

Dammit. I had to stop letting her do that.

I was hesitant to answer the question, which would give me away if she really was like me. Indeed, I could feel her aura shifting, although she waited for me to respond this time. "No," I finally said, shifting a paper on my desk. "I don't. When was the last time you elected a good man, though?"

"We didn't elect you," she informed me, and I gave a small nod. This was true. Democracy was a step I had skipped when I started taking over the other countries. "What do you consider yourself?"

It was a question I had asked myself for a long time. Though I had never thought myself a good man, I had done great things since I took over. I had ended world hunger. I was on the way to achieving world peace. I had allowed new technologies to come forth that had been repressed—a water-powered car, for one.

In those aspects, I was a hero to many. But the lengths I had gone to achieve to achieve power, and the reasons, were not heroic by any means. Using the ability to sense wants and hear thoughts to emotionally—and otherwise—manipulate people had never been the trademark of a hero. I bent  

 "A villain, perhaps," I said. I had, after all, abused an extraordinary gift given to me to attain a position unlike any other. Then I cursed myself again. She was a bloody reporter. Whatever I said today might be in tomorrow's news.

But . . . the allure of someone who was like me at all was strong.  

"And why is that?" she questioned further, leaning forward.

After a long moment, I said, "Because there was no one to stop me."

She smiled broader, and I could hear from her aura a distinct message:

Not anymore.  

"I believe that will be all," she said, standing.

I stood with her, extending a hand while smiling at the challenge—something new and foreign, but welcome. "Well met, Laura Brown."

Monday, October 6, 2014


The End

"So," the woman sitting before me asked, smoothing her skirt down as she picked up her pencil and notebook. "What's it like to be the ruler of the world?"

"Frankly?" I replied "Exhausting." I leaned back in my chair, looking lazily out over the city.

This was not the expected answer. I could feel the surprise emanating from her. The blonde reporter looked up sharply, bangs swaying on her forehead. "Excuse me?"

"First there was the political maneuvering to get to this spot," I said idly, wiping off a speck of dust from the seat of my black chair. "Then there's the baggage that people expect you to take care of when you're the leader." I sighed, standing and turning to the window completely, clasping my hands behind my back. "What good is owning the world if no one follows you? In order to keep my kingdom, short of making everyone hate and fear me, I have to please the people."

"Well . . ." the reporter said as her pencil scratched frantically across paper. She cleared her throat after a moment. "Not a lot is known about how you rose to power . . . ."

"Mm," I said, rolling my shoulders. "Okay. I'll bite."

What could it hurt to tell everyone, now that I was the undisputed ruler? Perhaps a hero would rise against me.


The Beginning

"I had always been a people-pleaser. In school, I was always the 'teacher's pet.' I wanted people to think the best of me, and I always knew just what to say to get people on my good side. In essence, I had a superpower--and unlikely one, but one nevertheless." 

I paused, thinking as I tapped my thumb over the other. The girl was anticipating my next words, her aura abuzz with curiosity. I smiled to myself, then continued.

"I've had it all my life, yet I know no one else who can do what I can--I can sense what people want to hear. I can 'read' people's emotions, as it were."

The woman shifted in her seat as she scribbled. You can tell what I'm thinking? her aura seemed to say, the sharp scent of trepidation in the air. I glanced back at her with my smile, and her eyes darted away.

"Years passed. I graduated high school with a diploma, and found I had nothing. Years of sucking up to teachers, my parents, and other students had gotten me nowhere--except for a stinking diploma, which any old loser can get. 

"That's when I decided I was done. I had honed my art enough at this point that I knew what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be teased for being a kiss-ass anymore. I wanted people to kiss my ass, for once in my life.

"It didn't start out as 'world domination.' First it was becoming mayor of the city. I can't tell you how many hands I had to shake, how many meetings I had to attend, the debates I had to give . . . but in a short six months, I was elected president of the city." 

I paused to chuckle. "I wanted people to bow down to me, and how they did. And then, I realized, I wanted more. Next it was creeping up to becoming state governor. Then I slowly worked my way up to being a congressman--I barely met the minimum criteria of being twenty-five, at the time.

"Little did people know, six years later, at age thirty-one, I would be the youngest president--or likely the youngest, anyways. I never was all that good at history--America had ever seen. 

"And then, like dominoes, the others fell before me." I smiled. The foreign nations had been a bit harder to conquer than America, due to their obstinacy, but I had won in the end. "It's easy to win when you know what everyone wants--and you have the power to grant it."

Everything in Between

Her pencil scribbling on the page was the only thing heard in the office for a moment. She wanted to get all of this new information down.

Then there was silence in the office as I continued to survey the city below. I could feel her aura behind me--wondrous, in awe of me. That was to be expected.

"You once declared yourself as evil," she finally said, her aura becoming curious again.

The way of a reporter, I mused. In awe one moment, then right after you again.

"Why is that?" she questioned when I didn't respond.

By the time I had taken over the world, the world didn't know what had happened. One minute there were wars and contentions, and the next, unified beneath my flag.

"I'm evil because there was no one to stop me," I replied simply.

The confusion was evident all over her face. I didn't need a supernatural ability to sense it. "How would that make you evil?" she questioned. "You ended wars--world hunger, even. You're a hero!"

A wry smile twisted my face. "Just because you can doesn't always mean you should. I could manipulate you right now into sleeping with me."

"But you aren't," she pointed out, emphasizing it with a pencil wag at me.

"Yes. Mostly because I have no interest in doing such a thing," I mused. I didn't care because I could manipulate anyone the hell I wanted to sleep with me. People had ceased to be of great interest to me long ago, after so many years of twisting them to what I wanted. "However, I used base emotional manipulation to get where I am today. Tell me . . . when has that ever been the act of a hero?"

She paused, mouth open as if to respond. Then she shut it, frowning as she scrutinized me. Her aura was wary--almost betrayed. A counterfeit, it accused.

It would be right.

I smirked. "What was your name, again?"