Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween: the abandoned insane asylum edition

I used to live in a haunted town. (Apparently I moved to a haunted city, because there are ghost tours advertised around here, too. But, digression.) Haunted enough to land us on an episode of Scariest Places on Earth, with a haunted dorm, cemetery (several, actually), and woods.

But my favorite has always been the old insane asylum:

Here's the front of the building. This part is still used--they turned it into a museum. Back in the fall of 2009 I crept around and took pictures of the place, which I am posting for you today in honor of Halloween. (My apologies for not being a better photographer.)

And pictures of the totally abandoned wings. Some part of one of the floors (the first, I think) was turned into art studios, but vast expanses of this building sit totally untouched. I don't know how often people go inside, but if you don't work here, it's nearly impossible to get a look at the old rooms. One entire half of the building (which is huge and done in the Kirkbride style) goes completely unused as far as I'm aware.

There's a ghost story about a deaf and dumb patient who escaped from her room and made it into one of the attic spaces. Nobody could find her and she couldn't cry for help, and she ended up dying in the attic. They found her later, and when they removed her body, a stain where she'd lain remained on the floor--a stain that will not wash off.

They didn't put names on the gravestones, just numbers.

Right next to this cemetery is the tuberculosis ward--it is even more run-down than the main building. They don't use it for anything.

People broke in here all the time--so they went so far as to put barbed wire on top of the fence. If you COULD get past the fence (and people used to all the time) you'd see creepy paintings on the walls when it was used as a daycare. I think there's an old piano in there, too. Now, there's no barbed wire. They've cleared out the courtyard and cemented all the windows and all the doors. No getting inside anymore.

Some pictures I managed to grab through a window:

In my entire life, I've never seen a ghost, or a glimmer of paranormal activity. I've been inside the insane asylum (LEGALLY! Someone took me inside! Unfortunately I have no pictures, though I can tell you that there are rooms with words scratched into the windowsills by the former patients), and I've gone looking for some of the most haunted spots in that county (which are very hard to find.) Apparently even my elementary school was haunted. But no ghosts. 

Has anyone ever had an experience you couldn't explain?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roundtable: Hello, Mary Sue

Paraphrased from TV Tropes Wiki: Mary Sue is a somewhat derogatory term used to describe a particular type of character. This much everyone seems to agree on. What that character type is, exactly, differs wildly from circle to circle, often from person to person.

This month our teens had plenty to say about Mary Sues in fiction...

Alexandra: So, topics tonight: Something we covered a bit last time that I thought deserved more attention which is: THE MARY SUE! Also, let’s share horror recs in honor of Halloween.
Chihuahua Zero: The Mary Sue. :3 
Chihuahua Zero: The writer's forum I'm at had a ball game with that topic. 
Riv Re: Bella! 
Jessica: Oh, the Mary Sue. Everyone's favorite.  
Riv Re: Wait. Sorry. I meant "MAry Sue." 
Alexandra: I'm sensing that the Mary Sue might be the most interesting thing... 
Katy: Agree 20:21
Lennon: I'm gonna take a big risk here and say something I'm sure everyone is going to disagree with: I don't think Bella is a Mary Sue.
Katy: No, Lennon? Why not? 
Chihuahua Zero: @Lennon: Well, the thing is about the concept of Mary Sue is that it has many definitions. 
Chihuahua Zero: Basically, what is a Mary Sue? 
Alexandra: Yes, I was going to ask a question related to what is a Mary Sue, and that is this: people say that the term is overused so much and to encompass so many different ideas that it has lost all meaning. 
Alexandra: Do we think it has lost all meaning? 
Lennon: Okay, well the Mary Sue I'm familiar with is the "perfect character" 
Jessica: I do feel like it has become very broad.
Lennon: Bella Swan is a selfish, childish, sleazy teenager. 
Alexandra: Good point, Lennon. 
Lennon: Thank you. 
Riv Re: I feel like the Mary Sue is either perfect, or the complete opposite, in simple terms.
Chihuahua Zero: Here’s an article I wrote on the topic: {And here’s Katy jumping in after the conversation to say YES, this article is fantastic and you should definitely click through to read it!}
Alexandra: So in that regard, Bella isn't perfect by any means. 
Lennon: I do like the Twilight Series though.
Chihuahua Zero: While I think "Mary Sue" might have degraded as an umbrella term, I still think that there are many different subtypes we need to look out for. 
Lennon: {Katy jumping in again to point out that this link features some cheeky cartoon renditions of common “Mary Sues,” not rendered by Lennon.}
Alexandra: Here are two other definitions that are pretty widely regarded: 1) that the Mary Sue is just an author-insert. (Which I think does fit Bella Swan). And 2) that the Mary Sue is SPESHUL. Maybe not perfect, but she stands out for being SUPER UNIQUE and SPARKLY. 
Riv Re: Wait. So are vampires all Mary Sues? 
Alexandra: CZ, that article is fab.
Alexandra: Haha sparkly in a metaphoric sense.
Jessica: I have always thought of them as sort of author inserts...and someone who the story happens TO vs a character who makes choices, has agency, does stuff.
Alexandra: LOL Lennon, just clicked the link you posted. Hilarious! Whoever made that is a genius.
Alexandra: Jessica, I love that second thing you said because it's so true but I don't feel like people point it out very often. 
Katy: Jess, that’s pretty much the way I look at Mary Sues too. That's why I've always thought of Bella as one. But with Lennon's definition, she's not. 
Karen: Speeessshhhuuullll 
Lennon: I don't think Mary Sues exist anymore, or at least that characters shouldn't be labeled as one.
Chihuahua Zero: Hmm...I wouldn't say Mary Sues don't exist anymore, but I think the classic definition is now rare. 
Jessica: yeah, it's tough to discuss which characters have MS elements when there are so many definitions.
Chihuahua Zero: As long as there are new writers, there will always be Mary Sues in some form. 
Alexandra: I think that the term has become too broad to have any meaning, and instead it would be more helpful to rename some of these more specific elements of why a heroine isn't working for a reader, versus just saying "Mary Sue!" and that being it. 
Lennon: I just think there are well written characters and not-so-well written characters 
Katy: I agree, Lennon. And I think passivity often leads to not-so-well written. 
Alexandra: CZ, what definitions do you think have eclipsed the classic definition? (And we could even get more classic and say that Mary Sue used to come from fan fiction!) 
Jessica: agree, Alexandra. I feel like it's become a blanket name for "female character I didn't like for whatever reason." 
Riv Re: As a Gary Lew who does nothing -- Percy Jackson 
Chihuahua Zero: @Alexandra: I haven't encountered any real examples, but a hypothetical scenario is the "Anti-Sue". 
Alexandra: Passivity is a problem -- characters don't have to develop as much, which can make them feel like author-inserts or "speshul" because readers can't really know them. 
Chihuahua Zero: The "Anti-Sue" is basically an attempt to avoid Mary Sue, but instead making the character implausibility flawed yet adored. 
Alexandra: CZ, dude, yes 
Lennon: I love fan fiction and the stories are filled with them 
Alexandra: Gary Lew or Gary Stu.
Alexandra: I've also heard Marty Stu.
Alexandra: You guys, 10 years ago I was ALL OVER the Harry Potter fan fiction, and I came across so many Mary Sues in that. 
Chihuahua Zero: Mary Sues are most common at sites like Fanfiction.Net. Basically, where no gatekeepers exist. But that doesn't mean Mary Sues can't exist in published works. 
Jessica: I feel like a lot of these ff stories with Mary Sue characters (and also some published works with Mary Sue characters) can get ridiculously popular. People seem drawn to these "author insert" characters on some level 
Lennon: what is wrong with the author insert exactly?
Chihuahua Zero: The thing about Mary Sues is that they're larger-than-life. Larger-than-life, if not generic, can be fascinating. 
Katy: Sometimes because the Mary Sue author-inserts are so "regular," people can easily relate and see themselves in the characters.
Lennon: Writing is an escape, why shouldn’t the author have some fun?
Alexandra: Jessica, sometimes I think "author insert" can also turn into "reader insert." 
Alexandra: Katy, that's what I think. 
Jessica: SO true, which we can see from Twilight's popularity.
Jessica: <--- LOVED me some Twilight, so I am not talking crap.
Lennon: I like Twilight, just saying.
Katy: Oh, I liked Twilight fine too (until BD, that is... *shudder*) 
Riv Re: Confession: when I started my MS as a wee little middle schooler, my main character was sort of an "author insert." 5"5, chocolate brown eyes, short messy brown hair, healthy complexion, ME. 
Alexandra: I don't think learning to write good characters by beginning with author inserts is a bad thing, though. A LOT of people base characters on people they know, so it makes sense that we'd also base characters on ourselves. I mean, I doubt that there's any author out there who hasn't used personal characteristics in some regard in a few characters. 
Karen: It's ok, Rive Re, I'm a Mary Sue in real life so I like to make my characters that way. 
Chihuahua Zero: In middle school, most of my protagonists were similar in appearance. Lately, they've been diversifying. 20:38
Karen: Every book. Every time. 
Katy: Riv, my very first MC was an author insert too. I learned a lot from that writing experience though.
Alexandra: I totally learned. I made Lily Potter into a Mary Sue. 
Chihuahua Zero: I think writing Mary Sues is a part of growing as a writer. The question is: Will you become skillful enough to write characters beyond the concept. 
Chihuahua Zero: My first real MC was an author insert. The second major one was a generic fantasy hero. Both have been exiled from canon. 
Alexandra: The protag of my "practice novel" was me. 
Riv Re: Yeah, my MC is more developed too. I should hope that I learned a bit about writing in the past few years. 20:39
Jessica: I think this is also why a lot of people start out writing fan fiction... the characters/canon are already there, and you can practice with what's given.
Alexandra: I don't like giving much physical descriptions of my MCs. I tend to give hair color and general body type, but other than that unless there's a plot reason to describe something, I don't. 
Alexandra: Jessica, great point! 
Katy: Same, Alexandra... Other than my super hot love interests. 
Alexandra: Haha, Katy, Alison and I had a discussion about that! We describe the love interests, but we rationalized it with the fact that the MCloves them so...of course they'd notice every single detail. 
Lennon: I have a question…
Riv Re: shoot…
Lennon: Why is it only female characters that get called on for being "Mary Sue"s? Males ones exist too.
Chihuahua Zero: I think because there are more female writers…
Jessica: Oh man, Lennon...I was trying to figure out how to ask the same question.
Jessica: I am right there with you on that one.
Riv Re: There's Gary/Larry Stew/Lew. 
Lennon: Yeah, but people are more quick to call a girl on it.
Alexandra: Oh, male ones exist, Lennon. If you've ever read that book THE NAME OF THE WIND...biggest "Gary Stu" EVER, by SEVERAL definitions of the term.
Riv Re: But, and I may get screamed at about this -- it's a half-baked idea -- men are easier to write than girls. Especially in the POV.
Alexandra: Eragon, I'd argue, too.
Chihuahua Zero: Hey, anyone read Daniel X? 
Alexandra: CZ, I tried, and I could not. 
Jessica: Oh man, Alexandra, you are the first person I have heard say something negative about The Name Of The Wind. I haven't read it, but my friends are all obsessed with it. OBSESSED. 
Jessica: But I feel like people don't get all HULK RAGE over these male characters like they do with female Mary Sue characters. 
Alexandra: Jessica...I had HULK RAGE over the protag of THE NAME OF THE WIND 
Lennon: I know they exist but no one really comments when a male character is a Gary Sue 
Karen: hulk rage *giggles* 
Jessica: tee hee 
Alexandra: Seriously, y'all. He's got red hair, he's smarter than people four years older than him, he has no money but convinces a very prestigious university to give him money to attend. By the age of like 25 or something, he's already got a bajillion legends about him. 
Alexandra: I can't even. I CAN'T EVEN. 
Riv Re: maybe it all comes back to the MASSIVE topic of having higher expectations for women, etc. 
Alexandra: I have hulk rage that so many female characters get called Mary Sue when TNOTW is hailed as some uber-original fantasy. It's not. I read SO MUCH FANTASY and it's so very much the same as ALL THE OTHER FANTASY OUT THERE 
Alexandra: Ok done now. 
Riv Re: Question: Anyone read Game of Thrones and see any MSs, male or female? 
Alexandra: Eddard Stark is probably a MS. I think Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones is probably like there a version for the author's perfect love interest? 
Chihuahua Zero: Daniel X...maybe I shouldn't try to expand on that. I've already ranted about him. 
Alexandra: Daniel X can form genius-level thoughts at age 3. Is there anything else to say about him? 
Chihuahua Zero: Nope. 
Katy: That's sort of like Ender from Ender's Game, right? 
Lennon: Do NOT bring up that awful monstrosity.
Katy: uh oh! 
Alexandra: I've never read Ender's Game! 
Chihuahua Zero: Hey, can I bring up a topic that I wrote about on my blog yesterday? It's off-topic, but... 
Alexandra: Oh yes, CZ…
Katy: (I did not love EG, Alexandra.) 
Alexandra: (Good to know. I will skip it) 
Jessica: (I haven't read it because of my personal feelings for the author) 
Alexandra: On the topic of Mary Sues...I will someday put my cat into one of my novels. So there will be Cat Sue.
Jessica: Yay for Cat Sue! 
Katy: So, maybe we can wrap up with recs of our favorite scary book(s) in the spirit of Halloween? 
Alexandra: Yeah! Good idea 
Jessica: Meep...scary books are scary.
Jessica: <-- delicate flower 
Alexandra: Jessica, me too. My "scary book" will probably not scare most people.
Chihuahua Zero: I don't have a costume yet...should I go as a literal bookworm? 
Katy: I'm hard to scare, and CZ: YES! 
Riv Re: erm...haven't read any good horror in years… Hunger Games? 
Katy: Have you guys read Lisa McMann's CRYER'S CROSS? Very creepy.
Alexandra: Nooo... I have some Stephen King sitting on my "to read" shelf (my literal to read shelf in my house) and I'm afraid to touch it. 
Jessica: I picked up TEN by Gretchen McNeil at her signing. It's sitting here scaring the pants off of me... and I haven't even started reading it yet. 
Alexandra: speaking of TEN, Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE is really good 
Katy: TEN isn't too bad, Jess. It's a good book, but more campy-scary than disturbing-scary 
Chihuahua Zero: 72 HOURS ON THE MOON was more horror than I expected it to be. It had more death than I expected. 
Alexandra: I can only handle camp horror like Sleepy Hollow. Real Horror (Amityville Horror, Saw, etc) scares me waaaaay too much!
Alexandra: Sandman, the comic, is cool. Disliked Stardust, though.
Riv Re: anyone have some Neil Gaiman to rec? I haven't had a chance to pick up THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, or anything else yet (coraline, for example).
Katy: I haven't read any NG, but I love Coraline the movie. It scared the bejeesus out of my 5-year-old! 

What are YOUR thoughts on the Mary Sue?
Any super-scary favorite books  to recommend?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Comment of the Week

Soooo, I'm a little late. Okay, a lot late. I'm not even going to defend myself. I dropped the ball plain and simple. *hangs head in shame* But better late than never, so ladies and gents, I present to you, the comment of the week winner...  

Brooke Younker !

I'm with Riv Re here. Choosing *one* author is hard! There's John Green, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling... I have to choose Patrick Ness for this one, though, simply because of the way his Chaos Walking Trilogy left me so emotionally wrung out. More so than any other book/series I've read by far. I also usually don't cry at books (or movies, for that matter)--the first novel in his trilogy, though, left me not only in near full-on tears. Each book seriously left me in a daze for several days after finishing them. They were that powerful. And not only did he craft the main characters well, but he crafted the villains so well that even though I hated them, a small part of me still loved and sympathized with them too, which I think is one of the most important things for a book so centered on the villain to have. Essentially, his books are the kind that I aspire to write; the kind that leaves the reader thinking about them for years after finishing (I'll also note that though I love Patrick Ness, I haven't re-read his trilogy since I finished *because* it was so emotionally draining.

Thanks so much to everyone who commented. Next week, we'll have another question and the chance to win a book from our vault--except next week the winner will probably be announced on time became I'm not posting it.

Happy Monday!

What My Students Are Reading

This school year I made the move from high school to middle school, and now I'm teaching 8th grade English. 8th graders are at an odd age range when it comes to books. They are a bit too old for most Middle Grade and still not quite ready for everything that YA has to offer - they turn 13 at some point in the school year, so they really are right at that threshold between tween and teen.

I've been chatting with friends about what my kids like to read, so I thought it would be a good idea to share with you, YA Confidential readers, what Real Life 8th Graders are reading and what they want to read.

Vampires and Werewolves and Zombies, Oh My!
After hearing all the time from the publishing world how dead paranormal is, I was pretty shocked by how many of my students wanted to read it. I'm constantly asked for vampire books (but "not Twilight vampires"), werewolves, werewolves fighting vampires, and zombies. I book talked This Is Not A Test at the beginning of the year, and now all they want is zombies, zombies, and more zombies. So, paranormal may be dead somewhere down the line in publishing, but real life kids are definitely wanting to read it. I can't keep it on my shelves.

What the heck is a FAERIE?
As they browse the paranormal stacks, one thing my students constantly ask me is, "What does this word mean?" And I know before I even look at the book that they are pointing to the word faerie. I explain what a faerie is / what it means, and every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME, they get irritated. "Why can't they just spell it the normal way?" Then they always put the book back. At this age they are extremely literal, and they get annoyed when things don't make sense the way they think they should. So the word faerie, even though it doesn't mean the same sort of creature as fairy, annoys them, and they continually refuse to read faerie books.

"Girl" Books 
Weirdly enough, everyone seems obsessed with the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison. Boys and Girls. This is extra weird because I had this entire series in my high school classroom and I could never get anyone to read them. I would hand them to girls all the time, but they would always give up halfway through the first book. I don't know if it was the Brit slang or what, but no one could get into them. These kids, though, they're eating them up. I think because the titles have words like "thong," "sex god," and "nunga nungas" in them. Every single one of these books is gone from my shelf at all times, and they get passed around like crazy.

Also passed around like crazy, even with the guys: Gossip Girl, The Au-Pairs, anything with a scantily clad girl on the front cover. I think the guys are curious about what's inside, like they hold the secret to getting a girl or something, and I think this is actually pretty smart.

"We shouldn't be reading this."
When moving from high school to middle school, I was pretty concerned about what books I should include in my classroom library. In high school, my policy was ALL THE BOOKS, but I knew I couldn't do that in 8th grade. In the end I decided anything from the MG or YA shelf in the bookstore was okay, and I let the parents know that's what would be available to their students. The funny thing is, I don't even have to worry about what is appropriate for these kids because they absolutely know what they should and shouldn't be reading.

It's awesome to me the way the self-censor. I recommended a book to a kid, and he put it back within a few minutes of reading it, letting me know that, "This book has a bad word in it. I don't want to read it." Anything with too much violence, sex, or language, they stop reading it and put it back immediately.

The funny thing is, I now have this reputation as having this shelf full of "books we shouldn't be reading," (their words) like I'm trying to corrupt them or something.

Judging A Book By It's Cover
They absolutely judge books by their cover. I handed a reluctant reader The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, thinking he would love it. But he scoffed at the cover. He pointed to the word Indian and then the drawings on the front, and said he would never read this book. It didn't matter that I promised him it was funny, or that I showed him the illustrations inside. He didn't like the cover or the title for whatever reason and refused to give it a try. This happens with many, many books. They won't even spend time reading the back cover if they don't like the picture on the cover and the title.

What They're Asking Me For
More illustrated books, a la Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (They absolutely love Diary of a Wimpy Kid!) Steampunk. (Honestly, I'm a little surprised they know what this is. But it makes me happy!) Paranormal...lots of it. Mysteries, especially girl mysteries. Friendship stories. ALL THE RICK RIORDAN. (Seriously. They love his books.)

What do you think about my students' reading choices? Any surprises? 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ask-a-Dude: Memory Edition!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: How can my boyfriend remember the entire Denver Broncos starting lineup but forget my birthday? 

A: In his defense, if you were known for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the waning minutes of game play, he might remember a lot more about you.

I'm not suggesting you become an NFL team in order to make your guy have better recall. Unless that's an option. Because, seriously, the only way science could create a more perfect male fantasy is by putting boobs on a beer can.

Side note: isn't it odd that the expression "as useful as boobs on a beer can" means exactly the opposite to women as it does to men?

But I digress.

Where was I? Damn, I just had it, too. It was something about birthdays and guys and how we never remember. . . 

Ah, yes. Memory.

Memory is a fickle she-beast. And I do mean "she" because studies indicate that gender affects memory. Science tells us that women are simply better at remembering certain types of information. Without even checking the peer-reviewed journal Duh! where these findings were first published, I'm sure this is true. My wife can remember EVERY $@%! MISTAKE I'VE EVER MADE!

These studies show that woman are demonstrably better in the area of verbal episodic memory. These are memories associated closely with words (as opposed to images). For example, if she closely associates a friend's wedding with its memorably romantic vows, a woman is more likely than her boyfriend to accurately remember how many champagne flutes he drained before making a pass at the bride's mother.

But companion studies also point to men having better visual episodic memory. Again, referring to the scholarly No Doi Magazine, research reveals that guys have better recall when they mentally associate an event with your ass, er, I mean, something visual.

Perhaps these findings identify an avenue for helping your boyfriend remember your birthday. Or you could go with the tried and true, emotionally searing the date into his brain A Clockwork Orange style.

August. . .August something?

But eye-forceps are so expensive. Plus: eye boogers.

Thomas Harris, in his novel Hannibal, offers a suggestion based on male memory patterns. In this sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter remembers phone numbers, PIN codes, addresses and other tidbits of his victims' lives with perfect accuracy even while being incarcerated and having zero access to Facebook (Lecter's Relationship Status: Hungry).

It turns out that Lecter uses a technique called the Method of Loci to create a "memory palace" where he stores otherwise forgettable data points. Am I saying you should only date serial killers? No. But be honest. Wouldn't it be kinda nice if, the day after you told your new boyfriend about the bitchy salesclerk who brought you a size 12 when you distinctly remember asking for a size 8, the clerk went "missing?" You could savor this minor victory over the delicious lunch of meat medallions your awesome new boyfriend packed for you!

No? Moving on.

The Method of Loci encodes data points (a birthday or a phone number) on a familiar location (a childhood home or a favorite museum). If the location is familiar enough and the data point is encoded properly, all your boyfriend needs to do is walk into his memory palace, step into the room he's reserved for memories of you and then look at the appointed spot for the information he seeks.

Give it a try. Ask your boyfriend to remember a place he'll have no trouble navigating. It should have enough rooms that one can be dedicated exclusively to you. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW HIM TO TELL YOU WHAT HE'S USING FOR HIS MEMORY PALACE! The last thing you want is to find out that the reason your boyfriend has become so good at remembering what kind of flowers your mom likes is because he's been encoding memories about you in this memory palace:

Why so mad, baby? I put all your memories in the VIP room.
Okay, now that he's chosen a memory palace he knows well, ask your boyfriend to take your birthdate and use it to create a visual image. It can be anything, a picture, a sculpture, a lewd soap carving. The more outrageous the image, the more likely he is to remember it. Again, it is very important HE DOES NOT SHARE HIS IMAGE WITH YOU! Would you still date him if you found out this was his visual image for your January birthday?

Ponies help Bronies remember
No. You wouldn't. It's okay to have some secrets.

So your boyfriend has taken your birthday, let's say it's March 3rd, and turned it into an image of a marching band walking in lock-step over the edge of a giant number 3 and falling into a huge bowl of red velvet cake batter which explodes into a shower of Pandora Bracelet charms.

Boom. Birthdate? Encoded! Cake preference? Encoded! Gift idea which you only mentioned a million times and was pictured in the local jeweler's catalog he found in his By The Power of Grayskull! t-shirt where you knew he wouldn't miss it? Encoded.  

Now, all he has to do is take that image and install it in the Hey, Gurl room of his memory palace, which is a mental image of a place he knows better than any other (like his mother's smothering cloak of maternal obsession and all its many pockets - you know it's true).

You're probably thinking this is hard work and that it's unlikely your boyfriend will put this kind of effort into remembering something that's important to you when he can barely be counted on to remember how much you HATE it when he farts in bed and yells "Dutch oven!" But that's kinda the point. Yes, the visual cues play into his neuro-evolutionary adaptation to survival. But the process of making an effort is also key. Just trying is half the battle.

Tell him what's important to you and then try to help him remember it by introducing him to these mnemonic techniques. Honestly, you don't really have another option.

It's not like science has come up with a personal device that can easily store and retrieve information, one with a calendar function and multiple yearly alarms capable of alerting the user to upcoming birthdays and special occasions. That would be awesome, right, if such sorcery existed? But it would have to be portable and rechargeable. And even then, you'd still have to convince your boyfriend to carry it every where, every day.

Yeah, you keep living in your robotopia, with its nuclear bed sheets and farms animals made of algae.

I'll just sit here holding my breath for that bit of vaporware to show up in the pages of How to Use a Phone, for Dumwads Magazine.

Copil writes for No Sh!t, Sherlock, the journal of information that everyone knows but insists isn't true until it appears in print. He can also be found on Twitter (@Copil).

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