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Published: Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:18:00 -0400


Auntie SparkNotes: I Committed Artistic Appropriation

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:18:00 -0400

Dear Auntie, I post art on the Internet, and a month ago, someone requested that I make a drawing for them based off a picture of a character they found on Google. I drew the picture, posted it, and went to sleep. When I woke up, I got an angry message from a person saying that they were the original artist of that character. When I went to their profile, I found not only the original artwork but also a post made by her exposing me for doing so (justifiably). I took down the picture, sent a private apology to the original artist, and made my own public post apologizing for what I did. I was wrong, I hurt the original artist, and I would never do it again. The original artist accepted my apology, took down her post, and started following me herself, but I'm still keeping my original post up and putting a link to it in the description. The link is still in my description today, and I don't want to take it down because I don't want to be dishonest about it. The last thing I need is for people to forget about it, discover it again, and make an Encyclopedia Dramatica article over it. But then again, wouldn't I deserve an ED article? I was so stupid and horrible for hurting this artist. How could I, someone who's been drawing since I could remember, not know to not do that in the first place!? I've never done anything bad or mean to anyone on the Internet before, but now that's not true. Am I a mean person? Or am I just stupid? No. As in, no, you're not mean, and no, you're not stupid—and in truth, Auntie SparkNotes is more than a little bewildered that these are the only options available! I mean, how about you made a mistake? One for which you apologized immediately, and which was hardly a catastrophe to begin with?! Even if your particular creative community considers it in bad taste to produce an original piece based on someone else's character (and considering the ubiquity of fan art on the internet in general, I think it's safe to say that this is hardly a universal position), the original artist was not hurt by your drawing in any objective sense of the word. Offended, maybe, or annoyed. But the idea that you harmed her is patently absurd, and you are being ridiculously hard on yourself over what was, at worst, an unintended breach of etiquette. So as for what you deserve, sweet pea, it's to move on with your life and your art without giving this another thought. To continue dwelling on it and apologizing for it is to imbue it with a significance it just doesn't deserve. You are a person. You contain multitudes. And while you will of course make mistakes, you are not defined by them, and you certainly do not have to spend the rest of your life apologizing for them—regardless of what the outrage junkies in your digital social circle might think. Which brings me to this: to condemn you as mean, thoughtless, stupid, and/or horrible for having unwittingly produced a drawing based on a character invented by someone else is something that no reasonable or decent person should do. But if that kind of condemnation is par for the course in your particular community—and if you can't even move on after apologizing for a mistake because people are just that eager to dig up your old dirt and make you feel bad about it, forever — then I'd like you to think seriously and honestly about whether this community is really the best place for you to hang around. Because the most disturbing thing about your letter is not that you failed to follow the best practices for internet artists; it's that you seem to have internalized some intensely dysfunctional ideas about how you deserve to be treated by your peers online. The dynamic you've described isn't just incredibly unhealthy, but the virtual antithesis of the kind of messy experimentation that artists should be free to indulge in. Nobody ever produced great art by being cautious and frightened, and nothing kills creativity faster than having to live in terror of ever making a mistake. And if it's making you unhappy (and for what it's worth, it sure soun[...]

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, As Told in a Series of Texts

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:00:11 -0400

There have only been two good inventions in the history of mankind: texting, and Harry Potter. (I guess fire, penicillin, and the internal combustion engine are also up there, but for the sake of this intro let’s pretend they’re not.) Texting allows me to talk to people from the comfort of my own couch while I’m elbows-deep in Netflix, potato chips, and self-loathing. Harry Potter was the book series that shaped my childhood. And if there’s anything we’ve learned from peanut butter and jelly, mac n’ cheese, or The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, it’s that you can always mash two good things together to create one really great thing. With that in mind, here’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as told in texts. Looking for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as told in a series of texts? We’ve got you covered.

Every Book on Your English Syllabus, Summed Up in a Single Sentence

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:00:48 -0400

Look, I don’t need to know why you’re here. I don’t need to know what misfortune has befallen you, what dark and winding road has led you to this low, low point in your life wherein you are Googling things like "[book title] summed up in a single sentence." You hear me? If you have a test in twenty minutes that you didn’t study for, I don’t want to know about it. As far as I am concerned, you simply have a passion for books and a thirst for knowledge. So, with that said, here they are—all the books you’ll ever have to read for English class (or at least some of them), summed up in a single sentence.

How to Ace Your College Admissions Interview

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 10:00:15 -0400

Interviews can strike fear into even the most stout-hearted of college applicants; questions like “What’s your greatest weakness?” and “Can you describe yourself in three words?” seem purposely designed to trip you up. Since many colleges require applicants to take part in “alumni interviews” (wherein you sit down with a past grad of the school and engage in some low-key #humblebragging), you probably can’t escape this particular gauntlet of fire—but you can prepare for it (and hopefully avoid any Ron Weasley-esque hyperventilation). Below are a few tips for not only surviving your alumni interview, but acing it. The First Interaction You'll probably receive an email or text from an alum explaining where you should meet them for your interview (if they ask for suggestions on a meeting place, you can't go wrong with a quiet coffee shop). Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to respond with the most brilliant, witty text/email you've ever written, but make sure to proofread anything you send. If you say “your” instead of “you’re” or “to” instead of “too,” you’re not really putting your best foot forward. And unless they make a joke, it's probably best to stick to a straightforward, polite response—save the gifs for after you meet/hit it off.  The Presentation Your first impression will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so make it a good one. Arrive on time and dressed appropriately; business casual is the safest option, but the most important thing you can wear is a smile (it's cheesy, but it's true). If you’re an introvert or naturally anxious, you may struggle to maintain positive body language and a confident speaking voice—but remember that the alum is on your side, and isn't trying to trip you up. Try your best to be engaged and personable—even if you come across as nervous and/or incredibly sweaty, your interviewer will see that you're truly invested in getting into their university, and that's what matters most. The Conversation A common mistake here is trying too hard to impress your interviewer. If the college wants one of their alumni to interview you, they already think you’re cool and accomplished, so there's no need to spend 45 minutes bragging about yourself (there's also no need, ever, to quote Drake. You can't pull it off). Instead, focus on a few unique anecdotes that really express who you are, and then talk up the school you’re applying to—explain why you're so passionate about attending, and talk about the programs you'd love to participate in, and how the school could change your life. If you're able to express your genuine excitement for the university, there's a great chance that your interviewer will be left with a fantastic impression of you, and you'll be that much closer to attending your dream college!

Open Thread for Weekend of July 21!

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 09:00:18 -0400

13 Books That Went from 0 to 100 Real Quick

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:00:51 -0400

When it comes to books, there is a Point A and a Point B, and then a bunch of stuff that happens in the middle. Writers are generally pretty good about including that middle bit—explaining, over the course of many chapters, how Point A led to Point B, how tensions slowly but surely escalated so that the climax seems both believable and inevitable—but I think we can all agree life would be far funnier if they weren't. Here, for your amusement and mine, is what a bunch of books would look like stripped of all context, background, and rising action. The Great Gatsby, chapter 3: Gatsby throws a party The Great Gatsby, chapter 8: Gatsby takes the fall for vehicular manslaughter Lord of the Flies, chapter 2: Jack is mean to Ralph Lord of the Flies, chapter 12: Jack hunts Ralph for sport and sets the island on fire A Separate Peace, chapter 1: Gene and Finny are having a fun time down by the river A Separate Peace, chapter 12: Finny dies in surgery and it’s all Gene’s fault The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, chapter 1: Tom outsmarts his Aunt Polly The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, chapter 32: Tom gets trapped in a cave and must keep from succumbing to hunger, exhaustion, and dehydration if he wants to make it out alive. Oh and there’s a murderer on the loose Macbeth, Act 1: Macbeth gets a promotion Macbeth, Act 3: Macbeth is haunted by the ghost of the man he more or less killed Romeo and Juliet, Act 1: Juliet hasn’t given much thought to marriage Romeo and Juliet, Act 5: Juliet commits suicide for a boy she met four days ago Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, chapter 2: Harry never gets any birthday presents Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 34: Harry must walk calmly into death’s waiting arms Hamlet, Act 1: Hamlet is acting kind of moody lately Hamlet, Act 5: Hamlet is murdering people, caressing skulls, and leaping into graves Wuthering Heights, chapter 7: Heathcliff has bad table manners Wuthering Heights, chapter 27: Heathcliff kidnaps multiple people and holds them hostage in his basement The Odyssey, book 1: Odysseus never returned home from the war The Odyssey, book 22: Odysseus returns home and immediately murders 117 people To Kill a Mockingbird, chapter 2: Scout gets into trouble at school To Kill a Mockingbird, chapter 28: Scout almost gets stabbed to death in a ham costume Great Expectations, chapter 2: Pip steals a pie and feels bad about it Great Expectations, chapter 46: Pip voluntarily helps a wanted criminal flee from justice The Catcher in the Rye, chapter 4: Holden is having problems with his roommate The Catcher in the Rye, chapter 22: Holden comes to terms with the inevitability of death

Quilt Covers That Tell It Like It Is

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:00:59 -0400

The Breakup Predictor

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 10:00:30 -0400

Are you and your SO rock steady, or is one of you on the verge of bebopping out? [viralQuiz id=69] This quiz was originally published in June 2016

Open Thread for July 20!

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:00:05 -0400

Auntie SparkNotes: What Does It All Mean?!

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:01:15 -0400

Dear Auntie Sparknotes, I was raised in a very Catholic household. While I never subscribed to my parents' more conservative beliefs, I had always believed in God and an afterlife up until a few years ago. Believing in God made me happy and gave me hope. However, I started having serious doubts about my beliefs during my junior year of high school. Nothing major happened. I just started to think more critically, and the idea of a God or a Heaven began to seem less and less plausible. I wanted to keep believing, but it just didn't make logical sense to me anymore. It's been two years since then, and I'm still feeling really lost. I no longer have a sense of higher purpose, and everything feels pointless now. I know that I should try to create my own meaning, but I don't know how. I think about death constantly. I worry about how I'm never going to see my loved ones again after they die. I feel like nothing matters, so I don't do anything at all. I even tried going to a free counseling session at my college, but it was useless. The counsellor's advice basically boiled down to, "Just try to be positive, and stop thinking about death." Trust me, I would if I could. I'm really feeling kind of hopeless at the moment. Is it possible to live a fulfilling life while simultaneously holding the belief that everything is pointless? How do I find meaning without a God? Man, is that the saddest question Auntie SparkNotes has ever been asked. I mean, geez, kiddo; you might as well ask how a movie can be any good if there's no post-credits scene after the story ends. Whether or not there's bonus content, the two hours you spent enthralled by the movie still matters. And whether or not there's life after death, the life you live before death still has meaning. Even before you began to entertain doubts about the existence of a god or a heaven, did you really, honestly believe that the entire purpose of life is just to get through it in order to see what comes next? I certainly hope not. Regardless of your religious beliefs, that's no way to live. So if you don't believe in a god or an afterlife—or even if you're simply not sure—then the takeaway from that is not that life itself is pointless. It's that life is the point. I mean, if this is all we get—eighty revolutions around the sun, give or take, followed by a return to the nothingness from whence we came—then the time we spend together here on earth is the only thing that means anything, and we'd better make the best and the most of it. We'd better read all the books, pet all the dogs, watch all the sunsets; we'd better laugh and cry and kiss and argue and fall in love; we'd better plant trees and mentor children and otherwise do what we can to leave the world in decent shape for the humans who'll make this journey after us. Most especially, we'd better be good to each other, because there won't be another chance. And on this topic, I can't do better than to refer you to the words of Ann Druyan, the widow of famous astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, written after her husband's death. Neither Druyan nor Sagan believed in a god or an afterlife—but look how meaningful it was for them to live, and to love, knowing that this life is all there is: "That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful." Which brings us back to you, and the truth you must reckon with: everyone you know is going to die someday, and more to[...]