The Sims 2 Machinima I Made When I Was A Teenager

When I was 13 years old, I happened upon the wonderful world of Sims 2 machinima.

I’m not sure which one I saw first, but I remember getting really, really obsessed with AliaMovies’s A Pleasant View. I totally disagreed with some of the shipping choices (Lilith/Dustin? even if it was only a brief one-time thing, HERESY!), but I liked watching what the creator had done with her Pleasantview, and she was pretty good with cinematography. So, I decided to make my own miniseries.

Main character choice was obvious: I would make it all about Lilith Pleasant. She was (and still is) my favorite character, and I kind of had a crush on her, though I hadn’t fully realized I was a lesbian yet. I would touch on all the families of Pleasantview, but Lilith would be the hero. In the course of writing this, I turned her into an utter Mary-Sue, which is kind of funny since Mary-Sue is literally her mom’s real first name. In my defense, I was a teenager, and Mary-Sue Pleasant is a canon character whom I did not name.

The series was called Lilith’s Journal.

Yes, I am the true identity of the former YouTube machinima writer LilithPleasant13.

Looking back on the series, the thing that makes me cringe the most is the music. Some tracks are blatantly lifted from A Pleasant View, and the rest are from my own personal taste from the time, which meant it was mostly crap. I recently went back and watched some of the videos and hearing the specific Avril Lavigne songs I used kind of makes me want to stab my eardrums. In the years since making Lilith’s Journal, I happened upon the wonderful world of symphonic metal, and since then I haven’t really been able to listen to pop music without wondering where the crashing guitars and full orchestra are.

I was also truly horrible at writing characters. As previously mentioned, Lilith became an utter Mary-Sue. Her dad and sister became largely one-dimensional villains, and most of the characters were reduced to flat cardboard cutouts of their personalities as my uninformed young-teen brain saw them. I even made a love interest, Mallory Ink,* from scratch; now that I think about it, she was a blatant self-insert Relationship Sue. If the series had continued, she would have gotten even worse. The story was simplistic and I pretty much wrote it as I went along, though as I got toward the end I started to figure out where the plot would go. I was even planning a second season.

Why did I stop? Well, I got a new computer, and I didn’t know back then how to get my savegame from the old computer to the new, and I never got around to constructing stuff on the new computer so that I could continue the series. Plus, I don’t think my new computer even had Windows Movie Maker. I found some new obsession to work on, probably one of my ridiculous Raven-ripoff characters. I was a teenager.

Oddly enough, at that point, the series was pretty popular. It wasn’t as popular as A Pleasant View, but I just looked up my old channel… and it still has almost 300 subscribers, which is roughly a third of AliaMovies’s current subscriber count. It makes me kind of proud.

If you’re wondering why I never deleted that channel, or why I left in the first place… well, I forgot the password a long time ago, and the email address the channel was attached to is now defunct, so I can’t really recover it. Plus, sometimes you just need to look at your old work and remind yourself how far you’ve come.

If you want to watch the series, I won’t stop you. Just… prepare yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Lilith’s Journal, and you want me to make Episode 11… I probably won’t be doing it, at least not how I originally intended. The way it was going to go was, their plan worked, and an alien tagged along with them because she wanted to go see the Curious brothers and their alien baby. Then they returned to Pleasantview just in time. Dina ran off in a huff, preparing some new scheme… and was promptly struck by lightning. The final shot would have shown Mallory watching, implying that Mallory is some kind of witch. Yeah, that’s why I said she gets worse in terms of Mary-Sue-ness. She has magic powers.

In my defense, I was a freaking teenager.


*I don’t think I ever mentioned Mallory’s last name in the series. So if you used to watch the series, now you know. It was Ink.

Confession of a Punctuation Pedant

I have something to tell you. It may make you laugh, it may confuse you, and you might disagree with it, but it’s a part of my personality and I don’t know if I am ever going to get over it.

I have a pathological hatred of em-dashes.

Before I go on, I must give the obligatory disclaimers. Yes, I do acknowledge that there are cases in which the em-dash is proper punctuation. Yes, some of the best writers in the world use the em-dash. Yes, I myself have used the em-dash on multiple occasions, though I feel dirty every time I do and strive mightily to avoid it. There are even some cases were the em-dash is *urp* the best punctuation to use. *swallows gastroesophageal reflux*

My aversion to the em-dash can be traced back to an incident when I was in sixth grade. I had written a paper for my English class, and though I don’t remember what it was about, I do remember sending it to my mom for proofreading. I was pretty excited, because I figured that I’d done a good job and she would tell me so. I had always been told that I was a good writer, so I had come to accept that as a fact, as if anything I wrote was automatically brilliant. I mean, I was a good writer, right? How could a good writer write something that wasn’t good?

Instead, my mom broke from the ego-stroking that I was used to and gave me a nice, large helping of real criticism. One of the things that she mentioned was that I should cut down on my use of dashes. Dashes, she said, were a mark of lazy writing.

I’m not sure exactly why I’ve taken that so much to heart, but I think it probably has to do with my further experiences. As my academic career dragged on, full of high-school-level literary analysis and tame research papers with thin bibliographies, I started really noticing the em-dash, and especially noticing that it seemed to crop up far more often in less-polished works. Eventually, it got to the point where I would twitch upon seeing one without even reading the surrounding text. Today, I average fewer than one em-dash per page, at the most. My senior thesis contains only three em-dashes, excluding those which appear in block quotes; that comes to a total of fewer than one em-dash per ten pages. My novel draft currently contains a grand total of zero em-dashes.

Ultimately, I think this falls into the category of my bizarre idiosyncrasies, along with my general avoidance of bitter flavors and inexplicable love for numbers that are divisible by three. My brain has latched onto it, and it will always be in there, popping up to excise the em-dash from my writing like a line of computer code seared into my synapses.

This has more of an effect on my everyday life than those other two, though. I can generally steer clear of bitter things by not drinking coffee or eating Brussels sprouts, and the love of multiples of three doesn’t come with a corresponding hatred of other numbers. The only numbers I really don’t like are weird, even things, like 14 and 46, and even then it’s not as if I actively cringe at them. They’re just… kind of meh, that’s all.

Em-dashes, on the other hand, are a double-whammy of real-life inconvenience: they cause inexplicable twitching, and they are everywhere. I have to keep myself from going off at them when I’m called on to proofread things, because if I just went by my own instincts, I’d endeavor to replace every single fucking em-dash in the goddamn world with something better. Heck, I would even rewrite the wording of those cases where the em-dash is the only correct punctuation, just to get rid of the damn em-dash. It’s kind of a problem.

Do any fellow grammar-people have a strange personal Berserk Button like this? It would be quite nice to know that I’m not alone.

Of Course My First Comment Comes from a Spambot

Wonders of the Internet, amirite?

I check into this blog, just to see if it’s gotten any hits, and there’s a pending comment on my first post. I can tell from the wording that it’s completely unrelated to anything I wrote, and it’s attached to a Twitter handle. Out of curiosity, I tweaked my firewall settings to gank any and all conceivable viruses, right-clicked the Twitter link, and selected “open in incognito window.”

Unsurprisingly, it was a porn feed, and not even a good one at that. Definitely a bot. (Who the hell even gets their porn on Twitter? It’s a social network; unless you have an account specifically for finding pictures of people fucking, your friends and relatives could find out what you like looking at… and even then, you’re still pretty likely to get busted.)

So, that concludes that little experiment. The comment in question will not be approved for public viewing. From now on, all spambots will be blocked, though I may showcase any particularly hilarious non-sequitur comments on the blog just for fun.

I Swear My Thought Processes Make Sense

A couple weeks ago, I was talking with a friend over Skype. In the background, I heard a faint “caw.”

“Are there crows on your end?” I asked.

“Yep,” said my friend. The conversation paused, and for a moment there was nothing but ambient road noise coming through my headphones. Then he chimed in with, “They’re mocking me.”

My brain immediately went through roughly the following process:

  • Birds are mocking my friend
  • My friend’s sister once made a Facebook post about how he looks like Nicolas Cage
  • Nicolas Cage is the origin of “my hair is a bird, your argument is invalid”
  • The birds must be making fun of his hair.

This makes a lot more sense than the way it went down in my brain. The actual thought process went down both the “birds” and “Nicolas Cage” routes at once, and I only figured out the role of that one Facebook post in retrospect. Half the time I can’t even identify what triggers the specific leap in logic that my brain takes and decides to run with as if it’s the baton in an Olympic relay race.

I clumsily mumbled something along the lines of, “They must be making fun of your hair.” That felt awkward, so I immediately topped it off with a disproportionate amount of explanation, desperately trying to trace my bizarre thought process. In the end, I think we both came out feeling awkward and confused, and I only say “I think” because I can’t fully speak for my friend. He sounded confused, but I might have been projecting.

In any case, we quickly changed the topic to D&D.