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The Ba Sing Se Times, Issue 50: 1 December

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48px-5161988.png From the editor
KettleMeetPot

So. Here we are, at the very start of December, ready to pass one last month by and rush feet-first into 2013... That is, unless we are all felled by a world-wide apocalypse on the 21st! However, I digress... That's another long story that my painfully human mind does not have the patience (or capacity) to write on. But don't worry, there'll be more to come next edition if I'm still here!

Today, the theme is genesis. Not the bible version, no, but pertaining to the creation and continued production of The Legend of Korra from its parent Avatar: The Last Airbender. With three more books on the way next year, you've got to wonder with the slew of current doubts... Will they be better than what we got with the first book, and will they be able to hold on to the fans that A:TLA generated with its brilliant execution?

48px-5161988.png An Addendum: TLoK
KettleMeetPot

So far, it can unanimously concluded that The Legend of Korra is not comparable in terms of the pure brilliance of the first series - something that should not (and has not) come as a surprise to many. However, there is a difference between if a series is comparable, and if that same series, at the very least, meets the minimum standards of what made its predecessor a thing of unparalleled beauty. What I'm talking about here is a series that does not merely appeal to the lowest common denominator, the unwitting young children who will watch any cartoon, but is resourceful and brilliant enough to paint a picture and a story that even adults are hooked into watching. So far, I have seen none of the polish and raw idealism of the previous series in TLoK, something that disappoints me, but does not surprise me.

From the very beginning, I did not expect a miracle out of the new mini-series. It was not created simply out of the desire of the creators to continue their story, to give life to their vision - Mike and Bryan were both in favor of sticking to their excellent ending of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Everyone could see that it was a forced hand, something wrought out of corporate interest rather than an artistic one or even because the fans wanted it (which in this case, they very well did)... And that did not leave me with high hopes, especially considering the number of episodes that were to be originally released. I knew it would be competent at worst - a sequel is always worse, right? - though that did not help with the disappointment that came after.

I must admit, I did expect something less gimmicky and less superficial than what we got out of TLoK. Then again, neither did I expect an extension on the to-do list, certainly not up to three more books and forty new episodes. Personally, I still like TLoK. But to a very, very specific margin - kinda similar to how you like an annoying cousin that can still manage to stay in your good books with some well-placed inappropriate humor. However, with my mediocre experience with the series, and the very obvious corporate tug of Nickelodeon at the strings, I must wonder - is it worth it?

Is it worth continuing upon the coat-tails of a once mini-series that does not do nearly enough justice to the old one which has left most, if not all of us, nostalgic as hell? Might I add, not for the right reasons? Certainly, they have not been bad, but neither have they been good, speaking from my own experience - and that does not leave me with much faith. The setting, the characters, the plot, the devices and twists... They do not leave much to remember. And I am very much convinced that these new books will go the same way with the current circumstances - purely since no one really truthfully cares about the success of the series. Heck, it seems to be good business practice these days to drag a once successful series through the mud if it happens to make more money. So, I wonder, is it better to gratuitously accept mediocrity? Is it better to make these episodes, a dime-a-dozen no less, without artistic integrity, for money, for exploitation of the name, and to make up for past failures?

48px-5114102.png The Dai Li
WaterbenderTaikai

The thoughts in your head: “Oh, the Dai Li; here we go again! Another occasion upon which Minni…chi…wait! *sees Aang waterbending and the name “WaterbenderTaikai”* Ha! Made you look! ;) Oh yes, my friend! You read that correctly. Somebody talking about the Dai Li who doesn’t possess the name “Minnichi”. Why? Oh, well, I read all of the produced “’’Silent Hero in Emerald’’” chapters (eight in one night even) and I must say that Minnichi is one heck of a writer! Might I also say that she has made me into a Dai Li monsterfan. With that said, let’s get on with the program! "A: TLA recap"-- The Dai Li were a group of totally amazing, ninja earthbenders that, honestly, should have gotten the elaboration they deserved. (To make up for that, go read “Silent Hero in Emerald”.) They were the secret police of Ba Sing Se that were founded by Avatar Kyoshi after a peasant uprising. Led by Grand Secretariat Long Feng, the Dai Li were a vital part of the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se, a cabal that reduced Earth King Kuei to only a mere figurehead. The Dai Li later were under the control of Princess Azula during the Coup of Ba Sing Se. The Dai Li kept the peace in the last utopia on Earth. This task would be accomplished by not allowing anybody mention the Hundred Year War within the walls, which led them to interrogations, captures, and most importantly, brainwashing. The practice of brainwashing was used to keep the Impenetrable City’s citizens from mentioning the War. The Dai Li also utilized it to create a group of women that would act as tour guides across the Earth Kingdom capital. Using their brainwashing techniques, the Dai Li would convince those women that their name was Joo Dee, every single one. Azula later made Joo Dee the “Supreme Bureaucratic Administrator” of the city in order to secure a successful coup. The major controversy about the Dai Li among ‘’Avatar’’ fans was whether or not brainwashing was okay. Some may think that brainwashing normal people to believe that “there [was] no war within the walls” is just absolutely wrong and hate the Dai Li because of it. Some (Minnichi) think that the Dai Li were still awesome, even though they did use such principles.

I, in all honesty, think that the Dai Li were just totally awesome and super cool. Yet I still think that brainwashing is bad. So, I love the Dai Li, but don’t really like brainwashing. *shrugs*

So…what do ‘’you’’ think? Do you agree that the Dai Li were wicked cool? Or do you not like them because of their brainwashing ideals? Do you not like them for a different reason? The questions arise. What are ‘’your’’ opinions of the Dai Li?

I could go on and on about the Dai Li, but frankly, I think that KMP wants users to read more columns than just one. Hehe. :) If you would like to read a great fanon that describes more about the Dai Li, be sure to check out “’’Silent Hero in Emerald’’” by Minnichi. If you would like to read more about the Dai Li themselves, check out ‘’Avatar’’ Wiki’s A-class Dai Li article.

from the fanon portal
50px-5047861.png Newest Fanon Shenanigans
Minnichi

~Looks around and sees that no one's written the news report for her~ Dangit!  (Mutters grouchy gibberish to self and begins typing) 

(Ahem) Why hello, most wonderful and lively Fanon Portal of Avatar Wiki! :D The user activity is so out-of-hand these days, it's like everyone's fighting to be involved and present their writing in the Ba Sing Se Times before I do! You can totally tell by the way the Fanon Review Squad members' schedules are starting to gather an abnormally large number of empty spots, and how voting for featured fanons and their articles has almost become a matter of "nomination = automatic feature!" Yes, activity is just booming so much nowadays... 

Welllll, truth is we all probably saw this coming. A decrease of activity in the main would surely mean a decrease of fanon activity as well, after all. Perhaps some of us believed that fanon-writing would actually increase during this time, to make up for the absence of new releases in the cartoon. But from what I've seen from author-packed places like Fanfiction.net, truth is that new fanons arise with new releases. The hype of the show makes one rekindle their love for everything Avatar, and soon their obsession leads them to try writing a story of their own (especially if there's something *cough a ship* that they don't agree with in the cartoon). So with this in mind, I comfortably believe that things in the fanon portal, like the rest of the Wiki, will get rolling again once The Legend of Korra's second book commences.  

Despite going through slow times, however, the activities of a select group of authors in the portal always remain strong. (Not to mention a lot of said authors happen to be admins, so they're probably going to stick around) Nothing stays neglected, and everything from the usergroups, Advertising cycle, to the featured fanons on the front page are still taken care of with the same high quality. Furthermore, we still somehow have enough activity for the survival of the White Lotus Sentinel newsletter every two weeks, so things may not be as bad as they seem. It's during these times that I encourage anyone who reads this to give a big thank-you to all those involved users who ensure that there's still a functioning fanon portal for you to return to when your urge to write hits again. In slow times like these, I actually believe that those who are truly passionate about writing reveal themselves, because they'll still be going at it no matter what the show's doing... Just food for thought. 

Now aside from my random reflection of the state of the fanon portal, there're still a few new happenings worth mentioning. Two highly active usergroups, the Fanonbenders and the Fanon Review Squad have decided to tackle the issue of member inactivity. For groups like these, in which work is assigned continually, it's easy not to notice members who begin to move onto other things. An outcome may be an ever-growing list of inactive users who are technically members, and it recently was decided that an inactivity limit should be assigned to avoid this. Being a member of such groups doesn't mean that you're not allowed to fall behind occasionally, but you've gotta remember that having your name in there means you're going to return to your obligations in a reasonable amount of time. The Review Squad has implemented a two-month limit with this in mind, and we're now down to 4 members as a result. So for anyone who reads this, just remember that a usergroup isn't just an extra title for you. If you notice your activity dying down for a prolonged period of time, please recognize that you may no longer be following your group's standards and should consider resignation. And now with these new policies being made, your fellow members may end up removing you first if you don't address the issue yourself. 

...Hmm, this article's getting kind of long for someone who was feeling lazy about writing it. (Minnichi = infinite rambling power) Anyway, moving down to the last random happenings in the fanon portal. For the month of December, Typhoonmaster's Elements of Life and Omashu Rocks's Deck the Halls! have been chosen as the featured fanon series and fanon article ! Congratulations to both of these authors, who deserve all the praise they've already gotten even before the feature. On that note, don't forget to nominate your favorite fanons to be featured in January! (And no, you're not allowed to use "The world's going to end" as an excuse not to.) 

50px-5047861.png Fanon Review: Avatar: Advent of Earth by The Faceless One
Minnichi

So it seems I've survived another Ba Sing Se Times issue under the cold, heartless editor, KettleMeetPot, who would've denied a poor author their chance for a well-deserved review feature in this newsletter had I not typed this time (which I got pretty close to doing). Consider it a warning to all of you wishing to join the newsletter staff, who'll discover the dark ways in which our newest admin drives us workers. o_o *realizes that KMP is always watching* (Ahem) I mean OH I just love working for KMP, he's just a great big bag of sunshine! Sunshine I say! :D So wonderful that I have to glorify him before proceeding to comment on Avatar: Advent of Earth by The Faceless One. *Chuckles nervously* 


Tarrlok's hideout

It's 220 ASC, thirty years after Korra's death, and the legacy of the Avatar is all but forgotten. Killed in her sleep by a force that to this day remains a mystery, Korra was not reincarnated. Naturally, her spiritual disappearance was followed by a short era of mass hysteria, but... as the four nations remained undisturbed by conflict in her absence, her memory slowly faded from the earth. Three decades passed, and still, this peace remained.

The same cannot be said for our world, which seems to be stuck in an era of conflict, and struggle.

However, one fateful day, a wormhole inexplicably opens, leading from our solar system to a destination unknown. Unbeknownst to our technologically advanced civilization, on the other side lies the Avatar Earth, where a historic event is taking place. The United Republic of Nations, commonly abbreviated to “the URN”, has won a worldwide space race, and is leading its sister nations into the final frontier by sending a rocket filled with intrepid individuals to its only moon. However, this groundbreaking expedition takes an unexpected turn when another wormhole suddenly opens out of nowhere, and sucks the rocket in! Thus, it and its crew soon come flying out the other end, in the skies of Our Earth!

Faced with the scientific discovery of the millennia, the Humans of Earth form a great alliance composed of NASA, CNSA, and a few other space administrations, with the goal of designing a manned mission through the wormhole, and ultimately establishing a beneficial relationship with the denizens of the world it leads to.

This is probably one of the best combinations of "our world" and the Avatarverse on the Wiki. Prior to this review, The Faceless One had many inquiries for me about improvement and revisions, and I could tell that he's one who puts in the right kind of effort for high-quality writing. And rading this fanon, I can tell y'all that I wasn't mistaken! 

The Scores

  • Plot - 8.8: I really like the plot of this story, simple as that. It's not easy to throw together so many intricate elements, and I've rarely seen it pulled off as well as this. And I love most how the author pays attention to every detail. However, it's ironically the sense of detail that we have to be careful of sometimes. The plot is wonderful, no doubt, but I noticed instances in which certain events were elaborated to the extent of slowing down the story a bit. When these stretch long enough, a reader may even become confused as to what the central plot is every once in a while. So while I loved reading all the wonderfully described bits of information in the fanon, I'll have to advise the author to remember to let the reader see a clear connection of each bit to the plot. Lastly, I'm aware that two sets of protagonists are introduced in different locations. It's clear that they're going to meet, so right now I'd like to see more elaboration of why they're connected to each other. Pretty minor things overall to critique on. Movin' on! 
  • Organization - 9.5: Everything was very, very, very clear. I like that. The only reason there's any deduction here is because of what I said earlier about the plot, with the whole issue of tying protagonists together and keeping a strong focus on the main story. But other than that I literally have nothing to say. The author's done a very nice job here! 
  • Creativity – 8.5: The way the author combines two completely different world is what marks his creativity, and I have nothing but praise in that regard. However, it's the way in which the individual worlds are presented that tends to sound a tad too familiar at times. Republic City is already a little more like our modern world, which makes it harder to describe daily life without sounding familiar. But I just see some patterns in the way the characters act at times that occasionally comes off as cliche. Ying's character, for one, seems so familiar due to the sheer amount of movies with 'genius inventors' who create things that always go wrong. While it's okay to have this kind of character, I'd advise the author to stray from that pattern a little more, especially when it comes to the dialogue of said character. Furthermore, be careful not to let notably 'bad' characters (like Chen's sister) come off as stereotypically evil; they could use more balance, but that'll be covered in the character development section. Overall very creative, but these are just some things I'd be careful of. 
  • Writing – 9.0 (x3): This author's writing impressed me in all kinds of ways - especially in those visual descriptions! Just beautiful. I love how he goes through every detail, physical and conceptual, to give the reader a clear picture 100% of the time. The critique here, though, falls under some of those conceptual categories like writing style and flow. Going back to the plot issue, it's equally as important to know when it's right to provide vivid detail as it is to know how to write said details. While your writing quality may be high, readers are still affected if you begin describing things not directly related to the story. This is not saying that you should omit talking about those things (for example, date/romance issues) because it's great to have a full, well-rounded story, but it can all go to waste the moment someone feels that things are dragging. Now I've read lots of well-known draggy things (cough Shakespeare) without a problem, but I know many will stop midway because of it. So in all honesty your writing quality itself doesn't really need to be fixed, but you've just got to gear it into the right mood and make it clear to us all why each and every detail needs to be read. Anddd that's all I have to say here! 
  • Character Development - 8.5 (x2): I'm thinking this is mainly due to the story having only 3 chapters and a prologue released so far. Still, there were some issues that could have been avoided in character development that tie to that thing I mentioned earlier about stereotypes. Like everyone else probably does, I wish so badly that all those great personality types weren't so hyped up in popular media, so that we wouldn't have a problem if we adopted them in our characters! But alas, they've become those huge stereotypes, so readers tend to see nothing else if your characters show the same traits. I believe the best thing for the characters now is some more description of what makes them unique; you could even give some specific details about things they like, or what their morals are. And again, you should be careful around people like Min, who hasn't shown any character outside of pure evil since the start of the story - and even evil people are still human beings, after all. So to sum it up, balance out the antagonists a bit and spiff up your protagonists, but I like where you're going so far! Keep it up. 
  • Action - 9.0: Most of the action I'm considering here isn't actually combat; I was very impressed by the author's descriptions of explosions, crashes, experiments gone wrong, etc. And from what I've seen in those scenes, I'm confident that he will do just fine when more physical fighting takes place. There's just a deduction here because I notice that one little detail tends to be left out: setting. Well actually he does include it, but I mean that things around the action scene start to grow a little vague at times, namely the time of day, weather, and sometimes surrounding buildings. They're mentioned, but I just feel like the author sometimes stops a little short when describing the new environment, and new things always have to have lots of detail. Again this is really only a critique that comes with non-combat action scenes. That aside, this author most definitely knows how to write in this category, so I'd say he doesn't have to worry too much. 
  • Believability – 8.8: This author provides all the wonderful details tying the two worlds together, and I'll even say he does it brilliantly. But there are just certain things that one can't leave too mysterious, such as the portal in the sky or this recurring character called him. The secret does not have to be revealed, but there're just times I feel that the 'reveal progress' stays in the same place for too long, and as a result starts to lack the details that make it believable. A very minor thing to comment on as always, but just something to consider. 

Overall Score: 8.86

50px-4298791.png Epic Rap Battle: Vortex Style
Suzon

Featuring two heroes from Mageddon725's Avatar- Aftermath and Burning Earth and AvatarRokusGhost's Avatar: Energy Saga...


Yun Zhen versus Kaddo, begin!

Kaddo: Yun, I already won, cuz you parents both gone, and your the next one, I mean you hardly can even defeat, Yuan Chong, and another thing, your so cocky, come and get it, I know what you'd like to suck, but you won't get it. Hey don't sweat it, and while your up, can you ask Ty Lee to make me a sandwhich? I mean we all know she likes me, cause your so outlandish!

Yun Zhen: I'll use my Siesmic Sense, to dispense, you in the ground, than I'll come around, turn it into your, burial ground, look whose talking now, Ty Lee could beat you Kaddo, she'd steal your face like Koh, thats as far as it'll go, than I'll drop you to the floor, swoop in with my fist, call it T.K.O. and I won't be done, it won't be fun, I won't be nice, shove it up your bum, kill you and take your head, to Piandao I must bring it!

Kaddo: Oh your so big, cept for you two inch pinch, a girl wouldn't get with you, and you can't take a hit. Grab a knife and slice you open, put a cherry on you, call you a banana split! Man, your rhymes are so whack, that you get so soft, you can't even jack. Oh, snap, did that hurt, heaer let me kiss your boo-boo, than I'll control you, thats that freaky voodoo!

Yun Zhen: Hey Kaddo, can we just be friends, you see, I'm real mature, so I'd like to make amends, as long as you admit, that I'm better than you, that's how come my creator wrote Vortex, Chapter Two, what number are you? Oh guess you don't know, oh thats fine, and another thing, why don't you go suck face with Brawki?

...

Who Won?! Who's next?!?! You decide by commenting below!

50px-3467474.png Fanon Advertising Report 
Godsrule

Hey there . It is I Godsrule here to give you another update on FAS. Last time Minnichi gave me hard soft time about wandering off topic so this time I will attempt to stay as on topic as I can! So the promotion of EoL is done and now me move on to Humble's HOA. As for the winner of the FAS contest we had four contestants. Typhoonmaster, TheLoKnessmonster, WaterbenderTaikai, and yours truly, Godsrule. According to random.org WaterbenderTaikai won. Remember if you give your thoughts you may win an illustraion paid by Minnichi. (Who says, "Bwahaha my luring of contestants with custom fanon drawings is working!!! >:D") Now they are onto the promotion of Humble Imaginations' Helping One Another.


Family


HOA is a beautiful collection of one-shots happing before or during LoK. In the FAS contest for it everyone did a good job so I felt I shall describe it with quotes.

She has always paid attention to detail; her descriptions are vivid and beautiful. In Helping One Another, she explores the minds of different characters in great believablity. When a young Asami attends her mother's funeral; she sees so much grief around her, but she retains her innocence as as child. Anyone who reads this fanon will be blown away by the way Humble can effortlessly portray a character. - Typhoonmaster
I could feel Asami's sadness and anger to Hiroshi. I could feel the happiness of Pabu upon finding Mako. The emotion and deep, deep feeling that Humble pours into her very descriptive chapters is simply stunning. Her excellence wows me. She is just an amazing writer has created a beautiful fanon that is sure to become a classic. - WaterbenderTaikai
I'd say my favorite chapter is the one about Pabu, because it expands on a character that we really can't know too much about. The other ones were also great though. - TheLoKnessmonster
Humble is great at crafting her stories and really deserved to be FFA for November. It is as good as EoL IMO. I am full of praise but I wish she could make it longer. - Godsrule

Click to see the Fanon

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Out of the following, what do you most believe in with the current handling of the series?
 
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Why do you, the average user, usually avoid contributing articles to this newsletter? (We've had some shortage crises because of you, just saying.)
 
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The poll was created at 07:41 on December 3, 2012, and so far 101 people voted.
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