11 Jul 2013

Subject 13 #27 - Commentary

By the time I wrote this, I was out of the job from hell.  I still had some lingering issues from it, like a strong dislike of telephones, but the need to squish someone for incompetency had passed.  I was working at a Federal government site, where there was a minimum expected competency with computers, such as knowing the difference between a left click and a right and how to turn a PC on.  A user having extraordinary trouble could be referred for extra training.  Problems with users yelling at the techs tended to get referred up the chain for correction.  In short, a decent workplace, but looking amazing after the hellhole of being a front line phone firewall.  Nasty is calmer now, though she still has her moments of swearing.  She doesn't hit people as much, though she did have the warning from Issue 26 looming over her head.

Another thing to be aware of is that the issues are getting longer.  Even in the first dozen issues, I started realizing that I'd cut some off short and make an effort to go longer.  The next few, though, go into more detail, more dialogue, and get longer.  I hadn't started writing in NaNoWriMo, yet, but I had a few years of entering the Anime North fanfic contest.  Writing came far easier at this point.

Ms Funke has turned into a bit of a running gag.  She has a poor memory for names.  She predates Prof. Trelawney in the Harry Potter novels; the absent-minded professor is a well-known trope.  Nasty is a better artist than she thinks; the redhead has a confidence problem that the Consortium is already aware of.  Once off balance, though, Nasty has trouble coping.  What was supposed to be a simple work has cascaded into a situation where her flaws are on, or will be on, display.

A bit of insight into the social circles of Fieldson appears, too.  Cynthia and Rusty don't get along, as seen by the drop in temperature in the washroom.  Cynthia is good at keeping secrets; she'd make a great mastermind if she was a villain.  She is also good at social manipulation.  Cynthia wields gossip as a weapon.

A side note here - Nasty, Rusty, Cynthia, and Emily all have red hair, as do Cinder and Ember.  It wasn't really my intent to have that many redheads; it's starting to strain belief.  Red hair is relatively rare; I tended to be one of at most two students in a class with it.  Here, though, we have four students with red hair of different shades.  Rusty got her nickname from her hair colour; she kept it because she feels her real name, Jane, gets lost too easily in the crowd.  Back in New York, though, Nasty is the only named character with red hair.  Maria's is black, for the record.

As Nasty's world collapses around her, she gets to deal with a new complication - a father figure.  Not mentioned at any point in previous issues is Nasty's father.  Maria is a single mother; there is no "Mr. Giuliani" anywhere.  It's a plot point that will be addressed, but not while Nasty is in Rochester.  Beyond that, Nasty now has Martin acting as her father.  Neither really know what to do from experience; they're running on best guess.  With the suggestion of counselling (read: a way for me to explain Nasty getting calmer and less swear-y), Martin and Nasty get to leave and fumble their way through being a happy family.

The tape - TIVO was still in its infancy and not available in Canada* and VCRs were still common when the issue was first written - is the Pyro Twins' message to the mayor of Rochester.  Nasty goes full MST3K on it; she has zero patience with the antics.  To be fair, I wrote the Twins like that on purpose, to contrast against Nasty and her more serious approach.  Not quite at the level of Batman versus the Joker, but I needed a bit of lightness somewhere.  Right now, the Twins' abilities are more informed than anything else.  They haven't had screen time in action.

The rest of the issue had Nasty juggling several elements from Fieldson, with Christine and the drama club, and Rusty and the art project.  Once again, Nasty gets placed into an uncomfortable position, one where her natural instinct - smacking someone - won't work.  Nasty has some maturing to do.  She's getting there, but there's always room for improvement.

Coming up tomorrow, the Pyro Twins attack!
Saturday, over at MuseHack, how to repair the Star Wars prequels, with an eye on how to prepare for your own project.
Coming soon, more NaNo prep work, introducing two new story ideas, and more Traveller work.

* Canadian cable companies tend to be on the trailing edge of the tech curve.


  1. Oh dear. That last episode was a bit of a mess. I think mainly because not only was it longer, it failed to advance the plot in any conceivable way. And while I have nothing against character development, Nasty doesn't seem to be using it to develop! She just keeps falling back on "life sux" instead of trying to do something about it!! (Her swearing is even rubbing off on Rusty! o.O )

    First, she's freaking out over the art project, because she's going to have to do it. She is? Look, is she thinking she'll be at the school next week or not?! She whips her opinion back and forth on that like a pendulum, even within this same episode!

    Second, what is it that Cynthia said which made Nasty think she had to tell Anne at lunch? Because everything still seems circumstantial, and not urgent. Nasty must think so too, because even though she passes on the message through "dad", later when she and Anne are alone in the same room NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING.

    Third, Nasty accepts this strange guy as her dad without him saying ANYTHING? I thought it was one of the Consortium agents! It could have been, as a couple issues ago they were going to look into an alter ego, and what better place than a late entry into a private school. But no, fortunately, Nasty is psychic. Except when it comes to VPs.

    Fourth, what's the deal with the package? Did it contain the videotape? Did they seriously expect her to watch that at school? Much more plausible might have been her father picking her up for lunch, or family emergency, and showing her then. Or if, as Martin stated, the bag contained "a note" with some sandwiches, what was so urgent? The existence of the tape?

    Fifth, how does inviting Christine home for dinner in ANY way help with the cover? She was going to show choreography with Somei. But Somei's not invited? What part of Martin's brain thought having teenaged girls at the house that night, after the tape escalating the mission, when Jessica had already provided the excuse of not feeling well, would be necessary for the cover?? Or, y'know, would assist in focussing on the mission?! Or bike repair? Or does he see something suspicious in Chris that we don't??

    Sixth! I was initially confused when Nasty was watching the videotape because at first it seemed like she was reviewing files, not looking at new material. She also hit STOP apparently before the end of the tape, but then told Anne she watched it. That just seems irresponsible. Does she not care about doing a good job anymore? Maybe not - "Bad day" tags three times in the episode.

    Seventh! So much on the art project still! I can give a bit of a bye on this, since Christine works as a good foil for getting at Nasty's body image issues. Which also indirectly accesses Rusty. But what happened to the rest of the plot?? And the changeroom thing felt weird, maybe because I'm a guy.

    ... okay, that's it. Also, interesting that you point out the number of redheads. It's true that it isn't common; that might be something that would stand out more visually. The issues with Nasty having no idea how to react to a father were also good (though it still troubles me that the Foundation wouldn't have generated a better cover). There's also a moment in the episode where Nasty thinks of her mother again... somewhat interesting that she's not making comparisons with Anne. Perhaps she does see Anne more as a mentor than a parent, as referenced last time.

  2. It was a mess. I think it was one part delaying the Pyro Twins and one part having a time gap between writing the two parts. This issue could probably be dropped without affecting much. The only thing outstanding from #26 was the warning. The rest of the issue is a lesson in reading previous parts before continuing and having a direction and how not to do it.

    Nasty does see Anne as a mentor and supervisor, not as a parent. Anne is on a fine line between mentor and parent; Nasty needs one but Anne isn't the person to fulfill the role.