Fruitcake, Fireworks, and Fiction
Isn't it obvious I love alliteration?
Anyway, since the holidays just ended (I'm bracing myself for the Chinese New Year), one thing that seems to be lacking is fruitcake. Yes, I'm one of those rare people who actually loves fruitcake. I don't mind if it's been passed down from the nth person. Fruitcake is like wine (perhaps because it does have wine): it only tastes better with age. So instead of giving fruitcake to your worst enemy (or perhaps uses it as a paperweight), you can always give them to me.
A few years ago, fireworks was discouraged from the country, especially during that period of harsh economic times. Well, some would say we're still in harsh economic times, but Manila never seemed to lack in fireworks (what is this pyrolympics I keep on hearing?). Of course aside from my prejudice against fireworks because of the sulfuric smell it gives off, fireworks costs money that would have been better spent elsewhere (following that same logic, I don't see how people can afford to own mobile phones, but don't have the budget to put food on the table). And along with all those explosions in the sky are explosions closer to earth. I have a friend whose hands lack a digit because of a childhood fireworks accident. More recently, a coworker lost her entire home to a fire, the cause of which is supposedly fireworks (or so the news says). The only thing she managed to save was her cellphone. Thankfully her family is safe and sound, albeit with nothing but the shirt on their backs. (Talk about starting the New Year fresh.)
Finally, for our fiction entry, I just noticed that the allure of some of my hobbies is the fact that they have stories. Take the CCG Magic: The Gathering. For a few year, it was simply a hodgepodge of various legends (i.e. Arabian Nights) and setting flavor. It was only later on that it shifted into high gear, when it started having an overarching story, from the adventures of Gerard to his ancestor Urza. The original novel-line which was simply a hodgepodge of stories (can't blame the writers because well, there really was no centralized story) sold mediocre. It was only with Magic: The Gathering's rebranding of sorts (and Wizards of the Coast themselves starting to publish their own novels) that the books started selling well (not as much as New York Time's Best Sellers, mind you, but probably way better than the profits of its predecessor). One of D&D's most popular settings also possess good fiction. Dragonlance probably wouldn't be as popular if it weren't for the novels by Weis and Hickman. As for Forgotten Realms, while the PC games did give it a huge boost, writers like R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood made it interesting in the first place thanks to their compelling stories and more importantly, lasting characters. Mind you, don't confuse setting with story. It's the difference between reading a history book, and a historical novel. Or between The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings. Setting, of course, has fictional elements, but it lacks the narrative and entertaining framework of fiction. While fiction is not a necessity in order to achieve success, it does help out a lot.