Writing poll from Tess

Well, after a week in Louisiana, I realized that I hadn’t posted on Steeplechase in quite a bit. So I decided upon a quick update on the state of lierary things in my Microcosm.

Now, I want some participation, but I know that it isn’t easy to get answers from your average Reader viewer. Understanding that, I have put together a system that should make it easy for you.

In the post below, I will be assigning numbers to responses. When you wish to respond, all you have to do is to type the number of your response in the comments – no composition required. It sounds confusing but it will become clear as you read. Hopefully.

Ready to begin?

I am currently in a dilemma, trying to decide which of my numerous projects to work on. I’m certainly full of ideas, but not will power to do them all at once. Which do you think I ought to work on?

For NaNoWriMo 2016 I wrote a very thrown-together tale about a girl who was trying to cope with her older brother’s absence. At the same time, her brother’s horse Falconer was dealing with the loss of his best friend. An unlikely love springs up between the two, which translates into a full-time friendship. Although it is a very good idea, it needs a tonne of work to be something really moving. If vote to revise my NaNoWriMo project, “A Charger In Command”, comment the number 1.

Camp NaNoWriMo this April also  held some surprises, as I set out to write about something that I knew absolutely nothing about (Feudal Japan) and after a lot of Wikiresearch came back with a lot of new inspiration and the skeleton of a really good  story. Skeleton meaning that so much meat and sinww needs to be put onto it that it would wind up a completely different story. But still. If you think I should revise my Camp NaNoWriMo project, “The Taiso Senshu”, comment the number 2.

Possibiliy number three is one that has occupied my creative juices since last November. It’s a dog story, but not really the sort I have ever seen told. The only hiccup that I have run into is that I can’t decide how it ought to end. This doesn’t mean I can’t start it, though. If you think I should finally begin the canine story I have been thinking about for what seems like decades, which is entitled “The Vagabond”, by the way, then type the number 3.

And now we come to the last option. I was asked once to make up an AG GOTY story. Of course, knowing me, you should be able to guess what talent I have given my heroine…not all equestriannes are Western riders, AG. It actually sounds like it could be one of her stories. If you are more inclined in my writing my GOTY story that’s been milling about my head for a while, type 4.

One last thing!

If you like this new and improved easy responses thingy, then give me a winking face with your number! Thanks for your cooperation, and remember, my writing until November depends upon your whim! I will post the result of our poll on Wednesday.

{Tess}

Summer Goals

Ahhh….summer. Which, here where I live, translates to Saharan temperatures and hurricanal winds. Nevertheless, I have goals for summer, just like every other blogger in the world, and I’m sharing them so that you can keep me accountable. Ready?

1. Consistently wake up at 6:00 am.

I love sunrises. Especially West Texan sunrises. Maybe that’ll get me out of bed.

 

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2. Write 30,000 words of The Vagabond.

Yes, this is the dog story. Yes, I have made changes on it. Yes, I’ve added wolves. No, I haven’t started yet.

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3. Learn a little bit of piano.

I’ve got some piano-teacher software laying about to be used with a USB keyboard (great for people with space issues!). So hopefully I’ll be able to use it this summer. Disclaimer: I am not especially musically inclined, but still, it’s good to know the basics.

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4. Ride my bike twice weekly.

Biking is one of the best ways to get exercise, and I love how you can get about quickly on it. So let’s get Traveller out and ride him more often. (Who doesn’t name their bicycle?) Haha, I lucked upon a picture of my exact bike!

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5. Blog more often.

“More often” is somewhat indefinite, but still, it’s a start. I need to blog more often this summer.

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6. Animate.

I want to do more animations like the ones I did in this post. Who knows? If I get good enough, I could make an entire movie….. (I didn’t draw this photo!)

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Aaaand that really is it. Because I’m lazy and want to have a good summer just the way it is.

What kinds of things are you doing this summer?

{Tess}

Amateur Art Dump (May 8, 2017)

I hate you, WordPress. Why won’t you let me use my ‘r’ and ‘l’? You have forced me to resort to writing this out on another application and pasting it into the writer-thing. It’s even affected (or, shall I say, infected) my commenting. Is anyone else having this problem? It’s driving me slightly insane.

Weird Automattic issues aside, here’s the latest amateur art dump, ranked, as usual, from my least favourite to my favourite.

A friend and I took a quiz, and our results came back with her being a Golden Retriever and me being a Saint Bernard. (I never really thought I was the Saint Bernard type, but oh well.) So I drew a portrait of the two of us. As dogs, of course.

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I tried using my ADF on my printer, so these are a little lower-quality than usual. Oh well, though, you can see the lines.

(Suddenly, my ‘r’-‘l’ problem is fixed. Coincedence? I think not.)

In speaking of canine front views, here’s a lackluster wolf. But a wolf nonetheless.

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(ADF, why the line?)

Ignore the pawprint in the corner. I was explaining something on one of my drawings.

Next we have a horse & rider.

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The rider’s side-glancing eyes are slightly unnerving. Almost creepy.

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Here’s a wolf. This is the first three-quarter angle that I’ve done, and I’m super proud of it. I like the eyes especially.

(This is Sanya, for anyone who knows about le wolf story. Not like anyone does, though. Blast. The wolf’s name is Sanya!)

Okay, time for the better drawings.

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I am about to die over the 3/4 angle here. This is one of the first times I have tried that, and I’m so proud. It’s based off a familiar, duly-loved Stallion of the Cimmaron….

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Words do not describe how proud I am of this. Seriously. He’s amazing. Here’s a comparison:

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See! Not exact, but pretty close anyways. Close enough to tell who he is.

Question: Is anyone interested in any more Spirits? He’s so much fun to draw. Maybe some horses drawn in his style? Just let me know.

Also, I’m going out of town on Thursday. I’ll be finishing The Plastic Challenge and reporting on something really, really awesome. Although I won’t have any photos. But still, look forward to it!

See you around!

{Tess}

Winner, winner, chicken dinner (and review of my cake batter)

Ha. I knew the title would catch your eye. Doesn’t food always catch the eyes of humans? But this post has nothing to do with food. It’s about a lame achievement I made this April.

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Now, you must play the fanfare I won for winning Camp.

Well, no one awarded it to me but myself, but I think I deserve it, right? I wrote fifteen thousand words. The track is seventeen seconds long. That’s about eight hundred eighty-two words per second.

(Off-topic: I could listen to the Lego Universe Soundtrack for hours and never grow tired of it. The mix of brass and violins and interesting percussion is so intriguing, and the feeling I get when I listen to them is nothing short of an adrenaline rush. They have been my life soundtrack for a year or so now and I’m not growing cold on them. Brian Tyler is awesome! Here’s the link to the entire soundtrack via Youtube: Link! My personal favourites are Rocket Escape, Battlegrounds, Monument Race, Blastoff, Nimbus Plaza, Nimbus Station, Red Blocks, Pet Cove, General Forestry, Forbidden Valley, Ninjago Monastery, and Battle Against Frakjaw, which I have linked for your convenience. You can thank my brother Mac for this discourse, because he was the one who got me hooked on this.)

So, my Camp project. It was an idea made up a couple of weeks days hours before camp started. I wanted to write a story about feudal Japan, but it would have bugged me if it were inaccurate. But I didn’t want to go and do a bunch of research on feudal Japan. So I just infused Japanese culture into somewhere that I never expressly mentioned was Japan, I’d be good, right?

Bam. The Taiso Senshu was born. And it probably won’t make a bit of sense because I sprinkled too many Japanese words in it. So many that I’m not even going to bother identifying them for you. Now is a good time to practice your context clues. 😛

The story’s track was different when I began writing it than when I finished it. When I began, I was writing a story about Kaori Sasaki. She was the niece of the main taiso kyoshi and thus steeped in taiso since birth, practically. But the only other female senshu wasn’t a very shining example. She had one chance to prove herself to the other senshu or else she’d have Hanoka Norman’s fate.

As much as I liked that story, the story I finished with went something like this:

Akio Hayashi was trained from birth to infiltrate the taiso senshu and give the Farukon the information leading to their fate. He was supposed to not say a word, to avoid camraderie with the enemy. Yet, in an accident, he breaks his vow of silence by accident, and strikes up an unlikely alliance with Kaori, the only senshu he deems worthy of his time. (Akio has an extreme superiority complex.) But now he’s got a problem – stay loyal to the Farukon, or stay loyal to the senshu?

It’s a lot better reading it, I promise. There were several things I needed to fix, though, and here’s a long to-do list of those things.

  • Change the setting slightly
  • Focus the plot
  • Re-do the POV from an all-Kaori to a half-Akio, half-Kaori
  • Change the details I ended up changing

I’d give The Taiso Senshu a 3.9/10 right now. Maybe once I’ve baked my cake batter, it’ll taste better. (See what I did there?)

Did you win Camp? How many words did you write?

{Tess}

Book Review: Mara, Daughter of the Nile

Wow. Two posts in two days! I’m on a roll!

I apologise for the scrambly review yesterday – I was a bit too excited to care whether I used too many exclamation points or not. Now, I am sane (though no less adoring of that film) and ready to review the novel I have just finished reading – Mara, Daughter of the Nile.

Precautionary statement: This review will likely contain spoilers. For a total surprise, skip this post altogether.

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Specifications:

Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Published: 1953
Pages: 279
MSRP: $6.99

Not a bad price for an extremely compelling historical novel.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile is set in Ancient Egypt, during the rule of Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BC). In it, Mara, a slave girl yearning for her freedom, is employed by one of Hatshepsut’s agents to get information on the queen’s half-brother, Thutmose, who may or may not be trying to take the throne. But as she is carrying out her missions for Lord Nahareh, another lord approaches her. His name is Lord Sheftu, and he is an agent for Thutmose. He wants to restore whom he believes is the proper ruler onto the throne of the Black Land, who is none other than Thutmose. All Mara wants is her freedom and possibly some gold, so she accepts the offer, realising a bit too late that she is now a double-spy caught in what could become a fierce revolution. She also realises that she loves Lord Sheftu, despite his cold attitude toward her. When her duplicity is discovered, Mara must make the choice – help the cause she originally was supporting, or help Sheftu and all the rebel friends she has met.

(my description)

The thing that made this read special was the extremely descriptive writing. I felt ported immediately into a time I hadn’t known more than sterotypes about just from the way the words flew off the pages at me. An example of the author’s writing:

The innkeeper closed the door behind them, his broad face wreathed in smiles. He was a hulk of a man, vast of girth and guileless of countenance, dressed in a rumpled shenti and huge copper ear hoops. He pattered ahead of them, the earrings bouncing and his paunch preceding him, through a tiny entryway and into a large square room which was smoky with torchlight and smelled of beer and roasting meat.

Not only do I see a pudgy, sweatily good-natured man, I also see a dark, stale, loud room with plenty of ill-to-do characters guffawing within. I felt like I was in the story, not just reading about it, and the author definitely knows the techniques of foreshadowing and contrasting.

Pushing past the blaringly obvious hist-fict genre, I’d say this story is 50% romance and 50% adventure. There’s enough action scattered between the romantic scenes to make the story thrilling and gritty, yet enough romance and intrigue balancing out the excitement to give it direction.

The characters are likeable when they ought to be and abhorrable when they need to be. In the same way that I loved Nekokh, the cynical riverman who ended up being my favourite character, I hated Sahure, the wily juggler who was meant to be disliked. I loved Innani, the Syrian princess that fit in with the Egyptians as much as a bird fits in with fish.

Content: There is a lot of historical drinking (after all, it’s not like noblemen drink water), numerous mentions of false gods (this is Egypt) and likewise using their names as exclamations or expletives. I don’t think it’s appropriate for children, persay, but tweens and older should be able to 1) fully understand the plot and dialouge, and 2) understand that anything that seems funny nowadays is cultural. Plus, the reading level is pretty high.

From a religious standpoint, this book is a useful tool for understanding Egypt from a Biblical perspective. The most blaring example of this is in what Egyptians thought about darkness. They mention several times in this book that “the darkness is laden with evil spirits” (not an exact quote). Think about the plague of Darkness for a minute…

I think my favourite chapter was chapter 18, which is undoubtedly the most exciting chapter. You know I’m a thrill-seeker…;P

Overall, I give this book a 9.5/10. The best word to describe it is intriguing, I think.

The verdict:

YEA!

{Tess}

Movie Review: The Fate Of The Furious

Precautionary statements:
This review will contain major SPOILERS. If you don’t plan on watching the film, or if you are the kind who likes to know everything about a flick before watching it, then this is the review for you.

This review also will get rambly at parts, so stay with me. I have a lot to say about it.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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Yesterday, courtesy of my wonderful mum, I went to see The Fate of the Furious. I hadn’t been to theater since The Peanuts Movie, so I was pretty excited…but a little turned off by the previews, I might add. Seriously, it was a 3-2-1-1: three sensual movies all rated R, two beat-sheet action films, one really creepy horror film. Seriously, no one needs to see movies about playboys, mummies coming back to life, lifeguards who obviously aren’t doing their jobs, or anthromorphic apes fighting humans. Apes have the wrong anatomy to ride horses, anyways!

But there was one film I actually did want to see. How many days is it till Dunkirk comes out?! Look forward to a review for that this summer :).

After kind of being shell-shocked by all the evil previews, I was quite relieved that the film finally began. If you want a rundown on the plot, go Google it. 😛

I went into this film without having seen any of the previous films or a true action movie (National Treasure doesn’t count, does it?), so I was eager to see what would befall my adventure-loving spirit.

Content-wise, this movie is pretty good for PG-13. There is a good bit of swearing, but certainly less than Band of Brothers. I really don’t see that as a problem when the ones watching it know not to imitate, i.e, anyone over 13. Frequent uses of the “Big Five” swear words, plus a couple of British ones (we’ll get to that!). There is only one scene with racing party girls (you know, the one’s at the beginning and end of those car-racing games at the arcade), and it barely lasts thirty seconds. I was forewarned, and you can be too – look away when you see the first one. When you see an engine out of your peripherals, then you can look back.

Action. Sooooo much awweesommme acctionnn. I have a weak spot for things blowing up and big brawls and whatever, so I was really excited. Seriously, cars began to drive themselves. Seriously, whoever has a GPS in their car needs to tear it out. That’s terrifying to think that your car could be one of the ones that Cipher hacks to fly out of the parking garage onto the convoy carrying the nuclear football. Or one of the ones she controls to chase said convoy. And the part where they have Dom trapped in the grappling hooks? AWESOME. Until he hoses them and flips all their cars. 😥

The story of this started right after the movie started. There was no fiddling around waiting for something to happen. Seriously, Cipher was introduced in the third scene. But the previous two weren’t unimportant either – for someone who hadn’t been following these characters for seven movies, I liked Dom the minute I saw him. And when he agreed to race for his cousin’s (or was it his nephew’s?) car, I was like, “Yay! A race!” The Cuban N2O won after all. I would never have thought of throwing the car in reverse to avoid the rapidly flaming engine. He won, but threw the car into the ocean. And gave his cousin/nephew (I can’t remember which) his ’70s Impala. Wicked!

The characters of this film were the kind that you liked on sight. I loved Dom and Letty the moment they leaned over the engine, Luke Hobbs the minute I saw he was a family man, Deckerd the Brit the minute he began to trash talk. Well, my like for Deckerd may have been because he was British. And that he didn’t get riled up when Luke told him he was going to beat his blank like a Cherokee drum.

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Left to right – Deckerd, Rhodes, “Mr. Nobody”, Roman, Cipher, Dom, Letty, Tej, Ramsey, “Little Nobody” Eric, and Luke.

My personal favourite out of these characters was Letty. I loved to see a combat-boot-wearing, kick-your-rear kind of woman who’s not catty, who’s sensitive but not flowery, and believes in Dom no matter what everyone else says. She didn’t over-wear her makeup. She wasn’t a throw-in because the team needed a girl to make the sexist activists happy. She wasn’t an advocate of feminism (finally!) She was an honest-to-goodness good character, and her attitude toward the others was something that should have been modelled long ago.

Letty is on the team because she wants to help. She isn’t trying to “show everyone what girls can do” or “show the men that she’s just as good as they are”. In fact, she’s the one who supports Dom in everything he does. Even when the rest of the team is convinced that “Dominic Toretto’s gone rogue”, she still believes that he knows what he’s doing. Which pays off in the end, because he did sort of know what he was doing. It was when his son got involved that things got complicated. Whoa, spoilers. :P.

I have to say that my favourite scene was when Deckerd gets Baby Toretto, later named Brian, out of the plane. It is extremely funny.

I found out from my mom that the reason they named the baby Brian was to commemorate a cast member who died in a horrible car crash. That was a nice way to remember him without CGI (I was shocked to find out that you could do that!).

Some people say that this film is unrealistic, but hey, isn’t every movie? I really think this flick was fun, action-packed, and awesome. If you’re not touched by swearing, then I would suggest that any action-loving person go see it.

I’m sorry this was sort of scribbly, but with a movie as free-flowing as this one, I figured the review ought to be the same way.

Final verdict:

YEA!

(for good characters, non-stop action, and visual appropriateness. AND BRIAN TYLER DID THE MUSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

{Tess}

Sarah Briel’s wish may just have come true

If I recall correctly, Sarah Briel mentioned to me in a comment that she would love to see what my drawings would look like animated. That began the gear-turning in my head, until finally the idea was executed last night. Now I’m addicted.

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No background, and the refresh frame sort of bugs me, the way it makes it choppy. But hey! It’s my first animation. And it really moves! The little wolf buddy wags his little wolf tail! Gah!

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This is today’s animation. Just a bit more detail. I like this one a bit better than the first. Although the hills move around unnaturally.

Things to work on: stillness of things that need to be still. And editing skills. Perhpas they’d be smoother if I scanned them better.

What do you think? Would it be interesting to see more animations? Let me know.

{Tess}

Amateur Art Update

(Before we begin: why is it that just when I get used to how the WordPress post editor is, Automattic changes it? 8-| )

It has been epochs since I’ve posted some amateur art, though I have been drawing prolifically. But to ease your worries, I’ve picked only my best sixteen to show. Not all of them.

Also, I read the survey results, and although I can’t draw cats (sorry, whoever that was) for a hill of beans, I have been trying to diversify. Slightly.

We’ll begin with the sketchy, not-so-great stuff.

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(Lions are cats, right?)

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more huskies

The copper husky turned out better than the grey. The grey’s head almost looks too small. Oh well.

(Side note: I have been studying Pirkei Avot with a friend, so naturally, you’ll see some interesting quotes on some of these drawings, like this one. More on Pirkei Avot here.)

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I already edited it so that line A is level. 😛 I accidentally drew the horse over-jumping, so I just altered the angle. 🙂

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Here’s another jumper.

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More Pirkei Avot. I like the rider’s posture.

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Still more Pirkei Avot. I like the horse’s big, pretty eyes. I tried to give the chestnut a wall eye, but it was too late, and it just ended up looking odd.

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More Pirkei Avot. The quality is getting slightly better…

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(Sorry for the high exposure.) Better?

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Better….

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This is intended to be a female wolf. Better….

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From that same sketch. Better!

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Pongo from 101 Dalmatians.

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Lady and Tramp. Do I actually need to tell you where this is from?

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I had considered entering this in the Western Horseman Youth Art contest. Any encouragement?

I saved the best for last.

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I JUST drew that this morning, copying from an online picture. I love it. The mouth looks just right! Hooray!

That just about wraps things up. I hope you enjoyed the more diverse selection of drawings.

{Tess}

International Women’s Day

(NOTE: This short essay is not meant to be confrontational; this is just my musings on feminism, really. If you disagree with me, please be polite.)

Today is International Women’s Day, yet another “girl power” event that has left me chagrined as to the purpose of it. For years, people have been chasing after the bone-on-a-stick called “Gender Equality”. Yet what they don’t realise is that unless there is a change in their attitude, they’re never going to reach that goal. Let me explain.

Our society has made us think that women a minority, yet somehow, they have become more powerful than men. For example, Paw Patrol, the Nick Jr. TV show, was given several reviews like this one:

…However, my goodness, how on earth did a show get out of development that suffers from the Smurfette Principle on a major children’s network in 2013?? For a while, there was only one female pup: Skye. Now, she is pretty awesome. She can fly! She’s my 3 year-old boy’s favorite character. But in terms of gender equity, this show is stuck firmly in 1952. If you’re a boy, you can be anything you want, but if you’re a girl, you have to be the “pink one”. We know a lot of preschool girls who love this show too, and there is no reason on earth that any of the other pups couldn’t have been a girl. They added another girl pup in a later season, but she is a snow dog in what seems to be a southern California setting. I’m sure she’s really super useful and all, but come on. Couldn’t she at least have been a paramedic pup, which the crew is obviously missing? No doubt they will add another boy pup to do that job… Ugh.

Yet somehow, shows like My Little Pony, Barbie In The Dreamhouse, Doc McStuffins, and numerous others, have mostly and sometimes entirely female casts, but aren’t called sexist. And even when boys do exist in those shows, they are mostly: a) dates/crushes; b) dads; or c) random shopkeepers or staff.

I have also noticed that in the little boy TV shows, when they add a girl, she is light-years more likeable than when they add a boy into a little girl’s TV show. Take Ashima, from Thomas and Friends‘ newest movie, The Great Race.

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She’s motivated, polite, hard-working, and friendly (and actually sort of attractive for being a talking train). That’s a big contrast from Ken, who, as far as I know, is just there to give Barbie a date.

I think that if girls want to be equal with boys, let them be equal, not favoured because they’re girls.

Let me quote a spokesperson from HIT entertainment, who said this when he was confronted about the ratio of male engines to female engines in Thomas and Friends:

“Every engine has a job to do whether that’s hauling materials around the Island of Sodor or pulling passengers – gender is irrelevant.”

Or, translated: Everyone has a job to do, whether it’s a desk job or an active job – gender shouldn’t be a tool in the hands of the media to make a big pity party.

This is why I won’t be participating in any of the big festivities held on this day for women.

{Tess}