Author Topic: PC123: Black Feather  (Read 19146 times)

Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
on: September 21, 2010, 02:49:12 PM
PodCastleeasy as123: Black Feather

by K. Tempest Bradford

Read by Amal El-Mohtar

Originally published in Interfictions

Exactly one year before she saw the raven, Brenna began to dream of
flying.  Sometimes she was in a plane, sometimes she was in a bird,
sometimes she was just herself–surrounded by sky, clouds, and
too-thin-to-breathe air.  In the dark, in the light, over cities and
oceans and fields, she flew.  Every night for a year.

Then, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month, the dreams changed.
They ended with a crash and fire and the feeling of falling.  Most
nights she almost didn’t wake up in time.

Exactly one year from the night the dreams began, Brenna struggled out
of sleep, the phantom smell of burning metal still in her nose.  She
reached out for Scott–he was not there.  He was never there.  He had
never been there.  She fell back onto her pillows and groaned.
Another dream of flying, another reaching out for Scott; she wished
she could stop doing both.

Rated PG: Contains Death, Life, and Ravens.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 05:47:15 PM by Heradel »

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #1 on: September 21, 2010, 02:59:25 PM
  This story did a great job of making itself feel very dreamlike. In fact it did such a good job that I found it very hard to follow. I may have to listen a second time because I'm not 100% sure what actually happened.

  I personally did not like the repeated use of "back, and back, and back", but this may be largely because after the second time my wife asked in the narrator was a chicken. After that I could not help but focus on it.

  A very pretty story, but not really to my liking.

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


seth.e.shaw

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #2 on: September 22, 2010, 03:20:34 AM
I am not a fan of this story's style—I wouldn't have sought it out—but when it was over I found I enjoyed it anyway.

Once it was revealed the protagonist had native-american ancestry I subconsciously started viewing the dream sequences as parts of a vision quest. After reflecting on this thought I find the story even more compelling. The contrast between the psychologist's & Scott's dream-remembering [I don't recall the term the story used] attempts themselves is interesting enough but the contrasts with the naturally occurring dreams is even more so and deserves more reflection.

Will post for more excellent audio fiction


momerath

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #3 on: September 22, 2010, 10:57:39 AM
I enjoyed the story as it went along, but the ending wasn't as powerful for me. Maybe it happened too quickly?



Baine

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Reply #4 on: September 22, 2010, 10:34:06 PM
I really liked this one the mood was well set and the hole going back in to pat life's and finding you're worst fear was an amazing.



Lamb E.

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #5 on: September 22, 2010, 10:40:32 PM
The tempo of the story was very dreamlike - I'm reminded of those sleep deprived days after a bout of insomnia.  Although I enjoyed the story overall, the end fell a little flat for me.



Arcana

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #6 on: September 23, 2010, 01:05:52 AM
It was very dreamlike.  I've always heard the tale told with the twelve brothers turned into black swans rather than ravens, so this was an interesting and different take for me.



Grayven

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 35
Reply #7 on: September 23, 2010, 01:12:41 AM
But why did the brothers get killed?



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #8 on: September 23, 2010, 04:53:34 AM
You know, I feel like I often end up being the voice of conventional narrative, the grumbling grognard who shows up to kvetch about how stories need to make sense and communicate something and other stuff like that.

And then stories like this come along and show me that I'm sometimes wrong.

That doesn't mean that conventionally making narrative sense isn't usually a good thing, but it isn't always necessary. Some stories, like this one, pull off miracles without it. Not despite lacking sense, but because they aren't tied down by little things like "sense," "coherence" and "story." I love the dream within a dream within a dream. I love that the boyfriend was also the hanged man. I love the bent and recursive fairytale archetypes, wrapped around a character of complicated heritage.

All in all, one of the best stories I've experienced in a while. Five out of five zeppelins, and they're all on fire.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Forgetmenot

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #9 on: September 23, 2010, 08:39:29 AM
I was worried when I first started listening because it seemed so very much like one of my favorite farietales, the one with the 7 black swan brothers. But this story acknowleged that tale and still had more to say. I liked it



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #10 on: September 23, 2010, 03:24:23 PM
I'm not a fan of this vein of fantasy, I'm afraid.  I like the dream images, but literally nothing happened of interest in the real world.  Dream, dream, dream, hypnosis, dream, hypnosis, dream, dream.  I never really believed that her 12 brothers actually existed so I came out of the story just thinking that she could really use a therapist.



jenfullmoon

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 46
Reply #11 on: September 23, 2010, 03:57:13 PM
I'm not a fan of this vein of fantasy, I'm afraid.  I like the dream images, but literally nothing happened of interest in the real world.  Dream, dream, dream, hypnosis, dream, hypnosis, dream, dream.  I never really believed that her 12 brothers actually existed so I came out of the story just thinking that she could really use a therapist.

Yeah... I would have liked it better had it been NOTHING but a dream story. I was interested in the 12 brothers story, but if it's only in a dream? Eh.

But then again, I've never really been into dream stuff.



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #12 on: September 23, 2010, 06:12:11 PM
Hey all - apparently, I confused several people about where to go for the exclusive stories for forumites, so I'm just popping by again to point everyone to the I <3 Escape Artists thread. Apologies for not being clear enough!

This is not a recording.

Yet.  :)


Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #13 on: September 23, 2010, 07:07:38 PM
I thought it was very poetic, but I don't really understand what happened.

I did like the dream within a dream within a dream within a dream part. If only she'd had a top to spin... ;)



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #14 on: September 23, 2010, 08:16:39 PM
Doubleplus meh. This story did nothing for me except occupy forty minutes of my time, during which I might have listened to Skepticality instead.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


soapturtle

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 16
    • soapturtle.net
Reply #15 on: September 23, 2010, 09:21:49 PM
It was OK.  I wanted to love it, I really did.

I also liked that the boyfriend was the hanged man and and the 12 brothers tie in, but overall, just... Ok.
I felt like this story had potential to be really compelling and something I couldn't stop listening to, so I stopped doing whatever else I was occupied with.  Instead it was the opposite, I turned off the story for several hours while having to get some work done.  I didn't even realize I hadn't finished it until I came back to my itunes. :/

When asked nicely, I sometimes read things for people on the internet.
Blog : Voice : Twitter: @soapturtle


Duriyah

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Reply #16 on: September 23, 2010, 11:04:27 PM
I really enjoyed listening to this story. The language and reading were lovely and, as others have said, had a very dreamlike feel. Figuring out parallels between the dream/myth imagery and reality kept my interest and pulled me along in the story. But the ending left me feeling empty. Okay, so she went through the initiation that she needed to...got over her fear of flying or death or independence or whatever. But nothing really happened.  It was all imagery, no substance.

But then, that's kind of what dreams are like, and maybe that was the point. Maybe the whole story a dream.



alllie

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 174
    • alllieblog
Reply #17 on: September 24, 2010, 12:50:17 PM
Flying is not controlled falling. Gliding is controlled falling.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #18 on: September 24, 2010, 01:25:30 PM
Flying is not controlled falling. Gliding is controlled falling.

Yes!  That claim did bug me, but I guess it's dream logic, so it doesn't have to make sense?



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #19 on: September 24, 2010, 01:27:40 PM
Flying is not controlled falling. Gliding is controlled falling.

How so? I'd say it's pretty apt.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #20 on: September 24, 2010, 01:42:42 PM
Flying is not controlled falling. Gliding is controlled falling.

How so? I'd say it's pretty apt.

Gliding is controlled falling, pretty much by definition.
A bird taking off the ground or an airplane lifting off a runway, I wouldn't call those things controlled falling.  They are rising in the air under their own power, not what I would call controlled falling.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #21 on: September 24, 2010, 08:10:26 PM
Flying is not controlled falling. Gliding is controlled falling.

How so? I'd say it's pretty apt.

Gliding is controlled falling, pretty much by definition.
A bird taking off the ground or an airplane lifting off a runway, I wouldn't call those things controlled falling.  They are rising in the air under their own power, not what I would call controlled falling.

The counter-argument, however, is that airplanes and birds don't really fly under their own power. They exploit a law of gas dynamics so that the world does most of the work for them.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #22 on: September 25, 2010, 01:19:22 AM
Gliding is controlled falling, pretty much by definition.
A bird taking off the ground or an airplane lifting off a runway, I wouldn't call those things controlled falling.  They are rising in the air under their own power, not what I would call controlled falling.

The counter-argument, however, is that airplanes and birds don't really fly under their own power. They exploit a law of gas dynamics so that the world does most of the work for them.

I don't see it. If a bird stops flapping its wings, but leaves them spread, it glides. If it pulls them in, it falls.

If a plane stops its engines, it drops like a brick.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


stripedog

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #23 on: September 25, 2010, 04:31:09 AM
This struck me as a particular kind of inward-facing story. I didn't mind the lack of action - the surreal prose fit the subject matter, and I liked how the dreams, past lives, and fairy-tale tasks all melted together into a whole that seemed oddly cohesive. I think it all works because the author firmly grounded us inside Brenna's - and only Brenna's - head. Any kind of external anchor - for example, giving us Scott's perspective on Brenna's behavior - would have destroyed this fragile fairy tale of death and flight.

Also, Good work Dave and Crew on suckering another "long-time listener" into his "first call" on the forums.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #24 on: September 25, 2010, 04:58:59 AM
Gliding is controlled falling, pretty much by definition.
A bird taking off the ground or an airplane lifting off a runway, I wouldn't call those things controlled falling.  They are rising in the air under their own power, not what I would call controlled falling.

The counter-argument, however, is that airplanes and birds don't really fly under their own power. They exploit a law of gas dynamics so that the world does most of the work for them.

I don't see it. If a bird stops flapping its wings, but leaves them spread, it glides. If it pulls them in, it falls.

If a plane stops its engines, it drops like a brick.

Birds are just better at it.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #25 on: September 25, 2010, 02:57:54 PM
The counter-argument, however, is that airplanes and birds don't really fly under their own power. They exploit a law of gas dynamics so that the world does most of the work for them.

I don't see it. If a bird stops flapping its wings, but leaves them spread, it glides. If it pulls them in, it falls.

If a plane stops its engines, it drops like a brick.

Birds are just better at it.

Point is, when they cease to use their own power, they are no longer flying.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


slag

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 50
Reply #26 on: September 25, 2010, 04:24:40 PM
I liked the idea that she's trying to uncover this past "fantasy" life at the same time I kind of wanted to hear a little
more magic coming from the story as well. I am all for the mystery of dreams and such, but the entire time I was waiting for
something to occur in her "real" world as well. The narrator's stoic voice helps add to that I think, by giving the character of
Brenda an almost depressed feel.
Not to say that the story depressed me, but I could feel a bit of the frustration she was feeling as the dreams were leading up
to, both I and her hoped, some kind of fantastical revelation about herself and her brothers, and for me her situation in the story
itself.

"Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol' storm right square in the eye and he says, "Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it."


icegirl

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 20
Reply #27 on: September 26, 2010, 01:51:16 AM
I really enjoy this story - ravens, past lives and all... An interesting conjunction of older myths that was told well. It reveals enough without telling it all.

btw Ravens do spend a lot of time just riding the wind - I see them out my window every day and I found the descriptions apt.



jrt14

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #28 on: September 27, 2010, 04:40:24 AM
I think I would have enjoyed this story more if there was more background on the brothers and why the king felt like he had to kill them. I thought it was touching to hear how she held onto her twin in the womb and tried to keep him alive. Over all it was OK, but near the end it got very confusing and I had trouble keeping track of the dream world.

Flying is not controlled falling. Gliding is controlled falling.

How so? I'd say it's pretty apt.

When you are gliding, you are using just the wind to control how you travel. A glider must start on a high cliff or mountain side. When flying in a plane, you have an engine that moves you through the air, and you can control where, and how you travel. Somehow, I do not think birds are falling normally. That was just what Brenna had tell herself to be able to let go.



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #29 on: September 27, 2010, 05:42:59 AM
Awesome story.  I really enjoyed the thematic meat of this one, the simultaneous desire to change the past and inability to refuse the sacrifice, the idea that sometimes you just have to accept what is.  I appreciate that the brothers were not vengeance-oriented, as so often happens in such stories.  Lots of interesting symbolic threads that connect all over the place.  Chewy.

Stories like this are one of the reasons I like PodCastle.



Hambitron

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • Flickrstream
Reply #30 on: September 28, 2010, 04:48:13 AM
from jeff bridges latest movie i prefer the spin of, "funny how falling feels like flying. for a little while"
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 04:51:32 AM by Hambitron »

I will not fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from your extraordinary mind.


Wilson Fowlie

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1475
    • The Maple Leaf Singers
Reply #31 on: September 28, 2010, 04:25:09 PM
"That wasn't flying!  That was -- falling with style!" - Woody

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


UrsulasShadow

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #32 on: September 28, 2010, 10:29:10 PM
I really liked this story.  I have had dreams of flying, and missing brothers, and a fear of heights all my life.  The dreamlike quality of the story spoke to me personally.  I'd love to think that I was as well-loved as the protagonist.



raetsel

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
    • MCL & Me
Reply #33 on: September 29, 2010, 08:42:47 AM
Like others I felt  the dream-like quality of the story was very well worked out.

This is a case where hearing it as a podcast is better than reading it on the page where you might be tempted to go back and re-read a passage to work out exactly what happened. Instead you have to just go with the flow as you listen and try to work out as you go along.

The imagery is very well expressed to make it heavy with portent.

At the end I was left pondering what did it all mean but that was a plus point for the story not a minus.

Simon x




woodchuck

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Reply #34 on: September 29, 2010, 01:08:25 PM
I enjoyed the mystical, native american element in this story.  I've always enjoyed stories of that kind and this one was a great addition to them all.  Great reading on the part of the Narrator.



thegreatzandrini

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #35 on: September 29, 2010, 11:30:37 PM
The author really captured the feeling of being in a dream, but it didn't really draw me in.  I'm not a fan of dreamy and vague narrative in general, maybe because I don't usually remember my dreams, but I prefer a little bit more of a cohesive plot.  Also, I didn't feel much attachment to anyone in the story--not even Brenna--so it was hard to get into it.



bunnmr

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #36 on: September 30, 2010, 08:13:36 AM
Just too dreamy for me.



jjtraw

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 24
Reply #37 on: September 30, 2010, 08:24:00 PM
I'm fascinated by ravens and crows, and the complicated mythology and symbology surrounding them. Even so, this story didn't resonate with me. Brenna was just so passive. Everyone around her was doing things to her, or for her, or at her - she was the absorber of the actions of others.  Until the very end, when she finally made a decision and did something. I'm still not sure what she did, or what her decision was, or even what the question was. But at that point the narrative ceased to feel so oppressive, and ended well.

That and - like a previous poster, the repeated phrase "back and back and back" just made me think of chickens.



malaclypse

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Reply #38 on: September 30, 2010, 10:48:40 PM
I am, and will always be, a total sucker for raven stories. And I love that she acknowledged the distinct lack of ravens in that part of the country. More Tempest, please?



Marguerite

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 305
    • Cast of Wonders
Reply #39 on: October 01, 2010, 06:54:03 PM
I was worried when I first started listening because it seemed so very much like one of my favorite farietales, the one with the 7 black swan brothers. But this story acknowleged that tale and still had more to say. I liked it

I liked that about this story, how you could pick out threads of other tales all woven together to make a unique story.  I also greatly enjoyed the dream narrative style, where you couldn't really tell what was going on, especially at the end.  And how aspects of her real life (Scott, for example) started to get mixed up with the reality forming out of her dreams.

Alea Iacta Est!


LaShawn

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 550
  • Writer Mommies Rule!
    • The Cafe in the Woods
Reply #40 on: December 14, 2010, 04:32:33 PM
Very dreamy. The fairy tale of the 12 brothers have always been one of my favorite stories. I like how Tempest melded that into her story. Liked it a lot, though I must confess, every time I heard the line, "Flying is controlled falling", I kept thinking about Arthur Dent learning to fly in the Hitchhiker series.

--
Visit LaShawn at The Cafe in the Woods:
http://tbonecafe.wordpress.com
Another writer's antiblog: In Touch With Yours Truly


Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3996
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #41 on: January 14, 2012, 06:25:38 AM
Very dreamy. The fairy tale of the 12 brothers have always been one of my favorite stories. I like how Tempest melded that into her story. Liked it a lot, though I must confess, every time I heard the line, "Flying is controlled falling", I kept thinking about Arthur Dent learning to fly in the Hitchhiker series.

"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. … Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties."

I spent most of my time during this story thinking about Arthur Dent.

The part that wasn't occupied by Arthur Dent and a a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea, was occupied with the Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. And how much I really didn't like that story, except for the part with Pickman. And maybe the part with the cats. I need my dream stories to come with murderous moon cats and Pickman, and this one had neither.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #42 on: January 18, 2012, 05:49:05 PM
a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea,

That's my favorite joke from Hitchhiker's Guide.  I think of it often, trying to imagine what it tasted like.

I've read a few slush stories that used a similar negativized description, but not for comedy.  Something like "Doris was as beautiful as Agnes wasn't."  That sort of thing doesn't really work as a serious description, because (in this case) beauty is a spectrum, not a binary set.  All that sentence does is block out a single value in the spectrum, still leaving infinite values remaining.  But it's fun when used for comedy, simply because of that vagueness.  :)



Wilson Fowlie

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1475
    • The Maple Leaf Singers
Reply #43 on: March 30, 2012, 05:27:30 PM
I've read a few slush stories that used a similar negativized description, but not for comedy.  Something like "Doris was as beautiful as Agnes wasn't."  That sort of thing doesn't really work as a serious description, because (in this case) beauty is a spectrum, not a binary set.  All that sentence does is block out a single value in the spectrum, still leaving infinite values remaining.

That may be literally true in a mathematical sense, but it's not at all what the author intends by it. To use your example, the author does have a spectrum in mind, with beauty at one end and lack of beauty at the other. Doris and Agnes are at points equidistant from the midpoint, but on opposite sides of it. If it were a numerical scale, their absolute values would be equal, but their signs wouldn't match.


Edit: fixed a grammar error.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 09:25:45 PM by Wilson Fowlie »

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #44 on: April 02, 2012, 01:45:05 PM
I've read a few slush stories that used a similar negativized description, but not for comedy.  Something like "Doris was as beautiful as Agnes wasn't."  That sort of thing doesn't really work as a serious description, because (in this case) beauty is a spectrum, not a binary set.  All that sentence does is block out a single value in the spectrum, still leaving infinite values remaining.

That may be literally true in a mathematical sense, but it's not what at all what the author intends by it. To use your example, the author does have a spectrum in mind, with beauty at one end and lack of beauty at the other. Doris and Agnes are at points equidistant from the midpoint, but on opposite sides of it. If it were a numerical scale, their absolute values would be equal, but their signs wouldn't match.

I do understand what the author is trying to say in cases like that.  I just find the method clumsy and it works way too hard on being clever instead of providing a description that I can actually use to flesh out my internal image of the story.  

And yes, I'm a geek, so the fact that it makes little semantic sense when read literally does annoy me.  I've started watching Big Bang Theory lately, and Sheldon (annoying as he can be) said it well:  "That's a semantically null sentence." (in response to "we'll see what we can see").  In this case it's not precisely null, since we know that the two are not precisely as attractive as each other, but it has infinitesimal semantic value.

Actually, I do rather like your explanation of their beauties having the same absolute magnitude but having different signs, that makes some sense to me, though it's not how I would've thought of a scale of beauty.  In that case a 0 value would not be an ugly person but one who is utterly unremarkable.  Interesting...
« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 01:52:54 PM by Unblinking »