thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Writer,


I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I hope to get from my recipient. But if details aren't your thing, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering to write in one of these tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Or, if you want to know more, read on.

About Me )

Chunder and Honks Poems - K. R. Fabian, Chunder, Honks )

Historical Farm (UK TV), Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn )

If You’re Over Me - Years & Years (Music Video), no characters )

Men’s Basketball RPF, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird )

Nomads, Eileen Flax, Veronique Pommier )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
This Yuletide, I got two amazing stories, both about Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and their obsession with Very Manly Manliness and also each other’s dicks:

prizefighter the frenzied pace (2238 words) by indigostohelit
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Jazz Age Writer RPF
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: F. Scott Fitzgerald/Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald/Zelda Fitzgerald
Characters: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Alice Babette Toklas
Additional Tags: Paris (City), Jazz Age, Jealousy, Implied/Referenced Self-Harm, Implied/Referenced Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism, Pining, Love Triangles, Writers

Hemingway is drunk.

This isn't worth remarking on.

This story is beautiful, and glorious, and full of Hemingway being drunk and his own worst enemy, which is a) how I like him and b) how I genuinely think he was. Bonus: Zelda and Gertrude Stein being way better than Ernest and Scott, as is only right and just.


Five Conversations with a Drunk Hemingway (1267 words) by tuesday
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Jazz Age Writer RPF
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: F. Scott Fitzgerald/Ernest Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway & Zelda Fitzgerald
Characters: Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Additional Tags: Anachronistic, Alternate Universe, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Background Alice B. Toklas/Gertrude Stein, Background F. Scott Fitzgerald/Zelda Fitzgerald, 5+1 Things, Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism, Functional Alcholics, Yuletide Treat

Plus one party of 20s expats in Paris. In which Hemingway writes his slam book early, events happen all out of order, and all his friends are done with his shit.

This story is an AU in which Moveable Feast came out much, much earlier, while the subjects were all in Paris and could read about it. Hemingway spends a lot of time drunk and being yelled at (by Jazz Age luminaries) because he’s terrible, which I deeply appreciate.

I wrote one story:

13 Genuinely Awful Things About Steven (9905 words) by thefourthvine
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Buzzfeed: Worth It (Web Series)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Andrew Ilnyckyj/Steven Lim
Characters: Andrew Ilnyckyj, Steven Lim, Adam Bianchi

Andrew’s learned to like cake, he’s learned to like oysters, and he’s learned to like Steven.

This was one of those years when my assignment was right in my wheelhouse. Panpipe’s prompt was basically “first times and realizing they’re in love,” and yes. Yes, I can write that. (Yes, I will write that in basically any fandom I know, in fact.) And I did.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Over on Twitter, [personal profile] afrikate asked me why buying an actual paper comic book was so hard for me. As it happens, I wrote up what it was like the last time time I did it, but then as usual I didn’t post it and it went to join the giant family of unposted things on my hard drive. But I’m posting it now, for two reasons:
  1. It would take me all day to explain this in tweets.
  2. This post is now a time machine! It can take you back to visit the blissful days of 2015, and honestly that is something I dream about these days, so. Time machine post it is! (With a 2018 coda.)

A 2015 Adventure

Recently, I went to a comic shop.

Several years ago, I discussed my history of shopping for comics, so I'm not going into all that again. It's enough to say that I did not approach this with enthusiasm or any sense that it would go well. But one of my friends got her hands on the Rivers of London comic, and after she showed me some scans from it, I knew I was going to have to try to find it.

I do know how to shop for comics, so I was in luck there. (Comics industry, possibly think about the fact that to buy your stuff, people have to already know how to buy your stuff.) Like, for example, I knew better than just to head off to a store in naive hope. Instead, I opened up the comic shop locator website. Then I picked up my phone, despite my profound loathing of phones, and started dialing. (Number of things I buy that require multiple phone calls before purchase: …at this point, pretty much just comics and real estate. And when we bought this house I think I made about as many phone calls as I did to find this one comic book.)

Shop #1:

Woman who answered the phone: "We're sold out of #1. We have #2."
Me: "Thank you!"

Hey, I thought as I hung up. Maybe this is going to be easy after all!

Shop #2:

Dude who answered, disdainfully: "We don't carry Titan comics. They're media tie-ins."
Me, in my head: So your shop is entirely free of, say, Star Wars stuff? I bet.
Me, out loud: "Thank you!"

Shop #3:

Dude who answered: "The what now?"
Me: "The Rivers of London comic, published by Titan."
Dude: "…I have no idea. Let me find someone to ask."
[Several minutes pass. I am not put on hold, so I can hear distant voices. One occasionally says "London."]
Dude, returning from his journey: "No, we don't have the London thing."
Me: "Thank you!"

At around this point, I ceased to feel like maybe this would be easy.

Shop #4:

Woman who answered: "You'd better talk to Troy."
Troy: "Oh man, no, I don't have that. But let me give you a phone number. You call this guy, okay? He knows all this stuff. He might have it and if not he can tell you how to get it."
Me: "Okay, thank you!"
Troy: "Definitely call this guy. Are you ready? [Number.]"

Shop (I hope, although to be honest I might have just randomly called a guy on his personal phone; he answered with "Hi") #5:

Guy who knows all this stuff: "Rivers of London, yeah, the miniseries, right? Why do you want it? What did you need? Like, digital, or a studio copy, or for a collection?"
Me, feeling like I have perhaps bitten off more than I can chew: "…I want to read it?"
Him: "Yeah, I get you, you just want the book. I wish I could get it for you but I probably can't. Titan didn't print a lot, the distributors didn't buy a lot, and it's sold out as far as I know. Titan's kind of hard to deal with." [pause while typing occurs] "Yeah, I can't get it. You know what, you should try online. Amazon or eBay. That's your best shot."
[This interests me, because physical bookstore employees are shot dead on the spot if they so much as mention Amazon when talking to you. So either comic shops don't have that policy, or Troy really did give me the phone number of a random comics enthusiast who welcomes phone calls from strangers.]
Me: "I already checked Amazon. They don't have it."
Him: "Wow, really? Uh, you could wait until they publish the collection, usually with Titan I just wait and get the compilation."
Me: "Yeah, but that's not until April 2016." [Of course I checked before I embarked on this odyssey; I don't seek out suffering.]
Him: "Oh, okay, yeah, that's pretty far off. EBay, that's what you need now."
Me: "Thank you!"

Time elapsed: fifteen minutes or so. I then proceeded to eBay, where I bought Rivers of London #1 in under a minute, for approximately twice its cover price. (But it came promptly and with its own bag and board. And it was easy to buy and I didn't have to go to a special store or talk to anyone on the phone. I don't regret the purchase, is what I'm saying.)

But wait, you may be thinking, assuming you've made it this far. Didn't you say you went to a comic book shop? I did! Remember Shop #1, where they had the second one but not the first one? I went there.

I had to bring my son, the earthling, with me. Last time I took him to a comics shop, he was quietly terrified, but he's seven now, so I had faith in his ability to weather the experience.

Comics Shop #1 is close to my house geographically but, it turns out, not temporally. I live in 2015. The shop lives in 1999. It was dark and slightly overwarm, just the way comic shops used to be in the '90s. It was stocked and organized by arcane, secret means, just like in days of yore. It had a lot of irritated handwritten signs up on topics like reading without purchasing; I'm pretty sure I saw those exact signs in a different state in 1999. And you had to know more about comics than I do these days to shop there, or else you had to know exactly what you wanted and ask someone who had been inducted into the Dark Comic Shop Arts.

But! There was a woman working at the counter. (And a black guy patiently flipping through a long box as the only other customer. That was fairly new, too; I don't remember seeing very many people who weren't white at comic shops -- or in comic books -- in the '90s.) And there were no hideously objectifying posters of mostly naked ladies on display. (The last time I went into a comic shop, it had a life-sized Slave Leia, heavily enhanced in the boob region, opposite the front door, so I was very pleased.)

Something I noticed that I wouldn't have before I had a kid: the display facing the door -- what someone would see when they first walked in -- was labeled "ALL AGES COMICS." And someone had made a mostly-successful effort to get all the really kid-unfriendly titles (and breakable items) up above the height of your average seven year old. (The earthling did find one that had a cover that is going to haunt me -- pictures of zombie clowns should be straight-up illegal, folks -- but he was unbothered.) I suspect these people genuinely expect to have small children in their store.

Also of interest to me: there was a display shelf that seemed to be maybe geared towards women and girls. Or it might just have been built around the interests of an employee; the selection, as apparently required by this particular shop, was somewhat idiosyncratic. It had My Little Pony and Nimona and various manga, but also some Avengers and Captain Marvel and something to do with Hawkeye. (If you're wondering how anyone is supposed to find anything in this shop: I have no idea. I spent twenty minutes in there and could find no better method than randomly wandering around and picking stuff up. Nothing was labeled, or alphabetized, or grouped by publisher or common characters. Issues of titles were not near other issues of the same title. And I have no idea what stuff was hiding in the long boxes stored under every shelf. Could've been tentacle beasts in there for all I know.)

The earthling went off to look at Star Wars stuff -- his interests have started to overlap with the average comic book shop customer's -- and I went to inquire about my book.

And they had it. Excitement! Success! Triumph that took only an hour of my time! (This seems like less of a triumph when I think about how it took me an hour to hunt down and purchase a single four-dollar item, so I am in fact choosing not to think about that.) Eventually, I managed to chivvy the earthling out of there, at the cost of a Star Wars comic book that I later read and realized I had to hide from him for a few years. As we left, I asked the woman at the counter if they would reserve a copy of Rivers of London #3 for me. "Okay," she said, and pulled out a scrap of paper, on which she carefully wrote my name and phone number, promising to call me when it was in. And they did in fact call! So I guess the -- um, slip of paper system? -- works.

  1. It's always the 1990s in a comics shop. Technology has not really affected them. Yes, I could use a website to get a list of all the comics shops near me, but I still had to pick up the phone and talk to a bunch of them, until I found a shop (or, I greatly fear, just a random person) that could tell me what I needed to know. And none of them had what I wanted; you still can't decide you want a comic book at any time, even weeks, after its release date and be able to count on getting hold of it just by going to a store, even if you, like me, live in a major metropolitan area with dozens of stores nearby. Also, at least one store potentially maintains their customer list on small scraps of paper, which is a truly inexplicable decision on their part. Computers exist, people!

  2. But it's a better 1990s than it used to be. There are women behind the counter and people of color in the stores. The shop I went to sure wasn't accessible (in any sense of the word -- anyone who uses a mobility aid isn't getting past the front door of that place) or easy to browse in, but it had made a noticeable effort to appeal to customers who were not white men aged 15-22. And, frankly, that's a major improvement. I realize "not actively unwelcoming" is a low bar, but it's one the comics industry didn't pass the last time I tried, so I'll take it.

    And, hey, clearly the industry can change. So maybe someday they can figure out how to make buying comics as easy as buying basically anything else at all except certain brands of luxury purses and radioactive materials. I believe in you, comic shops!

2018 Coda

I did finish buying the Rivers of London series from that shop. I have not been back since. When I wanted to read Squirrel Girl and Hawkguy last year, I bought them from Comixology. Nice clear beautiful digital copies, right on my tablet, for not much money, and it took me approximately 30 seconds to buy each one. So at some point comic book shops may finally arrive in the present day, and I hope they do, but I won’t be there to notice it.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Writer Person,


I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I hope to get from my recipient. But if details aren't your thing, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering to write in one of these tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Or, if you want to know more, read on.

Me )

Basketball RPF, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird )

Jazz Age Writer RPF, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald )

Historical Farm (UK TV), Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
(Trying to get back into the habit of posting, so this is a random piece of personal telephonic history!)

Lately, I’ve been in a bemusing battle of wills with my phone, where I tell it to sync certain songs and only those songs, and it does grab the ones I tell it to, but also randomly adds other songs from my music library, often ones I’ve never listened to. When I told Best Beloved about this, her take was that I should just live with it. I questioned the Queen of Solving Problems Right Now, Immediately, Using a Hatchet as Necessary on her surprising stance and she pointed out that she knew me in college. When I had the Let Me Call You Sweetheart phone.

See, my college did not have voicemail for landlines in the dorm, and this was back when people still used landlines sometimes. My parents, who were sending a 15 year old off to college, thought they might like to leave messages for me at some point, and so they bought me a combined phone/answering machine to take with me. And for a while, it worked as advertised: people called, I did not answer, they were invited to leave a message, they did, I sometimes listened to the message, I very occasionally called them back. (This is as good as it ever gets with me and telephones. Our relationship can best be described as “mutual disdain.” That’s also why I didn’t have a cell phone back then; smartphones hadn’t happened yet, and I could think of exactly zero reasons why I might want to be MORE available for phone calls.)

At some point late in the first semester, though, people who left messages started to sound a little amused. And then, after a month or so, they began sounding more … annoyed. I checked my outgoing message to make sure no one had recorded weird stuff on it, because, you know, college, but it was still normal and fine. So I shrugged and accepted it, until one of my friends suggested I call my own phone.

I did. The outgoing message played, exactly as recorded. But after it, I was treated to an extremely tinny instrumental version of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” that sounded like it was played on the buttons of a phone, followed by the customary leave-a-message beep. Bewildered, I checked the box, which I had saved for moving convenience. No mention of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” No mention of it on the manufacturer’s website, either. My phone had apparently developed a musical mind of its own.

Huh, I thought, and went about my life.

A few weeks after that, people started sounding really annoyed in my messages. I called my phone again. It now sounded like this:

Me, in a recording: Hi! You’ve reached me, and you know what to do.
Phone: Let me CALL you SWEETheart/I’m in love with YOU/Let me hear you WHISper/That you love me too
[Pause, as though the phone is about to emit that life-giving leave-a-message beep]
Phone: Let me CALL you SWEETheart/I’m in love with YOU/Let me hear you WHISper/That you love me too
[Pause, which only serves to raise hopes that will soon be dashed]
Phone: Let me CALL you SWEETheart…
[Repeat a painful number of times]

Eventually, it broke off in the middle of a line and beeped.

Well. There are only so many times that you want to hear that song, that way, and my phone had begun exceeding people’s lifetime limits in the course of a single call. I apologized, but what could I do? You can’t reason with a phone.

The year ended. I packed the phone into its box and took it home with me for the summer, which it apparently spent plotting. Then I brought it back to school.

Shortly after the school year started, I discovered that my phone had developed a new glitch. If I did pick it up when it rang, I couldn’t hear the person on the other end. On the other hand, if I waited until the answering machine got it and then picked it up, I could hear them, but they couldn’t hear anything I said. However, after extensive experimentation, I discovered they could still hear the beeps if I pressed buttons on the phone. So, as any reasonable person would, I changed my outgoing message to:

“Hi! My phone is broken. If I pick up, I can hear you but you won’t hear me. I’ll beep to show I’m there. Ask yes or no questions and I’ll give one beep for yes and two beeps for no. Thanks!”

(If you are now going WHY DIDN’T YOU BUY A NEW PHONE? – it never even occurred to me. Technically, some communication was still possible with the phone, after all, and I inherited from my father a gene that makes me very anxious in the presence of new objects. This is why my family had a garage door that you could only make work by inserting a penny into the innards of the opener, and that often went up and down on its own, sometimes as many as 60 times in an evening. It’s why I kept, for over a year, a computer chair that would occasionally just collapse, dumping me on the floor, and why I’m sitting on a partially broken chair as I type this. It’s … just who my people are, I guess. We are not so much “make do and mend” as “it’s fine, everything is fine, please stop talking about buying new things because that is the worst thing in the world to do and I’d rather just sit on the floor in the dark forever.”)

This led to a period of my college career where, to call me, you had to:
  1. Sit through what was, by then, up to 15 minutes of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” (I know because people timed it, since there wasn’t a lot else to do, and then shared the times with me. I think maybe they were trying to suggest to me that I should buy a new phone, but that kind of subtlety was never going to work. I mean, I come from a family that could afford a new toaster and willingly chose to keep the old one, even though it caught fire from time to time, enlivening many a morning. “Let’s just get a new one” is not a phrase in my vocabulary.)
  2. Listen to my outgoing message.
  3. After the first beep, say, “Hello? Are you there? It’s me, please pick up.”
  4. Wait for the beep that would indicate that I had in fact picked up.
  5. Hold a séance-like session with me wherein you were restricted to yes or no questions or, in cases where that just would not work, you had to count beeps for each letter of the alphabet. (You know: A=1, B=2, etc. Let me tell you from grim experience: it takes a LONG time to beep out even a single word, and also you tend to forget where you are halfway through letters like M and T. I honestly take my hat off to the fraudulent mediums of old. They worked for their money, by gum.)
  6. Hope that the phone didn’t just cut out altogether in the middle of the séance, as it was known to do.
Basically, communicating with spirits was, overall, probably slightly easier than talking to me. I for real do not know why anyone bothered. They did, though, which shows you what excellent and patient friends and family I have had in my life.

If you’re wondering about the resolution of this odyssey of disintegrating telecommunications technology: eventually my parents got tired of only being able to communicate with their youngest child via beeps. My mother (who does not have the “hates new things” gene) suggested several times that I buy a new one, but I beeped twice for no each time, so she, in direct violation of our precious familial traditions, went out and bought a new one and sent it to me at school. I kept it in its box in my room and avoided looking directly at it for a week or so, but then word spread among my friends that I had a new phone and was still using Mr. Beepy, and they basically held a technological intervention until I installed the new phone. (It worked fine for a year and then developed a glitch where it clicked a lot and would only record the first 15 seconds of a message, and no one minded at all because at least it wasn’t playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” My life motto: I can always get over the bar, because I dug a hole in the ground and buried it.)

But times change! Humans age and progress and develop workarounds for their flaws! Which is why, when BB and I were attempting to explain this telephonic family history to our nine-year-old earthling (challenging, as he has never known an answering machine or a time when humans made phone calls to humans other than their senators), we had this conversation, which tells you everything you need to know about the people we’ve become:

Me, thinking back: You know, I probably should have just bought a new phone instead of beeping at people for months.
BB, also thinking back: I should have just broken your phone completely after it started playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” more than once per call. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.

Anyway. That was the start of my long and complex adult relationship with phones. I wended my way through many glitches and minor disasters to arrive where I currently am: in possession of a phone that has its own opinions about music. And, upon reflection, I am prepared to be satisfied with that.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
For this Yuletide, I was the delighted recipient of three stories! Two were for the song Devil Went Down to Georgia:

All Seven (1330 words) by Llwyden ferch Gyfrinach
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Devil Went Down to Georgia (Song)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: The Devil/Johnny (Devil Went Down to Georgia)
Characters: The Devil, Johnny (Devil Went Down to Georgia)
Additional Tags: Seven Deadly Sins, Gambling, Pride

Pride is the father of all sin, and the devil knows pride.

Johnny's got it in abundance.

The Devil went down to Georgia (and totally got off with Johnny) (4659 words) by wendymarlowe
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Devil Went Down to Georgia (Song)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: The Devil/Johnny
Characters: The Devil, Johnny (Devil Went Down to Georgia)
Additional Tags: Yuletide Treat, Yuletide 2016, because this song deserves ALL THE SMUT

The Devil went down to Georgia and got a lot more than he bargained for. (What he bargained for, in this case, being Johnny's soul. And what he got being sex. It was a good deal.)

And one was for the Murder Most Unladylike series:

Polka Dot Skulls (2878 words) by Metal_Chocobo
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Murder Most Unladylike Series - Robin Stevens
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Hazel Wong/Daisy Wells
Characters: Hazel Wong, Daisy Wells
Additional Tags: College, Canon-Typical Racism, Love Confessions, Yuletide Treat

The plan has always been for Hazel and Daisy to attend university together.

I wrote one story:

Solid Copy (14668 words) by thefourthvine
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Losers (2010)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Carlos "Cougar" Alvarez/Jake Jensen
Additional Tags: Telepathy

Jensen shifted his gaze to Cougar. “I really thought that if I ever had to say the words ‘telepathic disaster,’ it’d be a lot cooler than this is turning out to be.”

I'd like to thank my lovely recipient, [personal profile] minim_calibre, for giving me prompts that were basically a license to go full-bore ridiculous trope on this fandom; writing this was a fabulous distraction from the eleventh circle of hell, also known as the 2016 US election. I originally had plans for a slightly darker take, but then, well, reality occurred. So: froth and tropes! Froth and tropes EVERYWHERE.

It was a great Yuletide all the way around, basically.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Writer Person,


I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I hope to get from my recipient. But if details aren't your thing, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering to write in one of these tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Or, if you want to know more, read on.

Me )

Basketball RPF, Earvin Johnson, Larry Bird )

The Devil Went down to Georgia (song), Johnny/Devil )

Mars Evacuees series - Sophia McDougall, Any )

Murder Most Unladylike Series - Robin Stevens, Daisy Wells, Hazel Wong )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The One That Proves That What Actually Felled the Roman Empire Was a Lack of Sartorial Adaptability.Chosen Man, by Sineala. The Eagle, Marcus Flavius Aquila/Esca Mac Cunoval.

Can you love a ship without ever knowing the canon? Well, if you can't, this project is in some serious trouble, because, uh, I don't watch a lot of canon. (I have now reached the point in my life where I'm getting judged by my own son for not watching enough canon. Child, I did not bring you into this world so you could say in wondering tones, "You've only seen NINE episodes of Doctor Who?" And anyway it's more like 11, thank you.) But in some cases, I don't need to see the canon. And by "don't need," I mean, "Shhhh, just let me sit here and pretend that this is canon, because it should be. It should be."

So, the Canon, to the Best of My Knowledge: there are these dudes named Marcus and Esca. Marcus is a Roman soldier. Esca is his slave. And...I think they're in love? I don't know. I read a couple of recaps of the movie and was like, wow, if there's another explanation for this than "they're committed life partners," it's not coming through here. And to be honest, even if you take it as read that it's Marcus and Esca, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, the recaps of the movie aren't the easiest thing in the world to follow. I'm guessing it probably makes more sense if you watch it.

But I am okay with not understanding it, because the fic, well. The fic makes it all so clear! And this is the perfect, Platonic ideal of Eagle fic, at least for me. Ridiculous devotion? Yup, we have it. Culture clash? Indeed. Being really good at stuff? Present! Working together to do important things? Hail, hail, the gang's all here, let's get this show on the road. And, yes, okay, it does take like 100,000 words of longing and adventure and lying the mud for them to get the show on the road, but that is a plus. I like slow burns, okay? We already discussed this. I am Team Slower Is Better, and If It Takes Five Years I Am Fine with That, Maybe They Can Have Adventures While They Pine and/or Yearn.

(I have a sneaking suspicion that this whole Ships I Have Loved project is going to reveal a lot of terrible things about my id. Which – like – I am braced for that, but to be honest I am hoping I don't notice and nobody tells me. I definitely don't want to look into the abyss, but I also don't particularly want it or anything else to look into me, if that makes sense. My id probably cannot stand up to abyssal scrutiny.)

So, this fic – yes, I am now back to that – is an AU in which Marcus and Esca are both soldiers in the Roman Army, with Marcus in command of the Actual Worst Unit in the Entire Empire, except really they're not; the Roman Empire is just not prepared to deal with their kind of awesomeness. So there's competence and learning the ropes and a slow burn and battle and complications, and basically if I could I would read versions of this story every day for the rest of my life. Like, this story, but in SPACE! Or this story, but with DRAGONS! What I'm saying is that this should really be a genre all of its own, and I shake my fist at the publishing industry for not understanding that.

But unfortunately it is not a whole genre, so I have no choice but to re-read this one. A lot. But carefully, so I don't wear it out. I assume everyone in the world has already read this story, but if you have, now is a good time to read it again! And if you haven't, good news: now is your time to be alive.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The One I Really Shouldn't Have Re-Read While Reading Rick Riordan's Work Aloud to the Earthling. I Keep Waiting for Percy to Manifest His Mutant Powers Now. Pantheon, by Yahtzee. X-Men First Class, Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr. (Plus Emma Frost/Scott Summers and Rogue/Wolverine.)

I warned you these wouldn't be in any kind of order, and we've definitely diverged from my shipping history timeline now. But this is still a very old ship of mine. Okay, sure, XMFC came out in 2011, and, uh, I still haven't seen it. (Look, I'm not going to make any more excuses; let's all just accept that I live in culture-free zone and only know of modern movies/TV shows/comics because people tweet about them.) No matter. I've been shipping Professor X and Magneto since before I knew what fic was. They are one of my original No Heterosexual Explanation pairings, and their many-decades-long thing where they were probably lovers, and then definitely enemies, and then possibly lovers and enemies at the same time, and then there were visits in prison, and battles, and speeches, and elections, and I think someone built a vigilante team and someone else built a country – look, all I'm saying is these dudes have a lot of history together, and in that entire extremely lengthy history, they were always either pining for each other or banging each other, regardless of what else they were doing. This is my firm belief. I wear this tinhat proudly.

It's a very compelling ship, is what I'm saying. It deserves very compelling fic. Fortunately, it has so, so many stories, so many that picking just one wasn't easy. But this fic. THIS FIC.

This a fantastic AU – the characters fit so perfectly into the world of Ancient Rome, but they also stay perfectly themselves. (In fact, given the nature of comics canon, they're probably more themselves than they are in like 90% of their actual canon appearances. Comics: actual published fic since like 1966. And some of it is not such great fic, either.) But, also, I love this story because it doesn't precisely follow any of the canon stories I know about, but it still captures this pairing absolutely – all the ways they fit together (yes, fine, take a moment to be twelve, I'll wait) and all the ways they differ. In short, this is an AU doing what AUs do best: distilling these people and their story to their essence, and making that essence all the more visible.

Plus, I love the worldbuilding. (Show me good worldbuilding and you have my undivided attention, for sure.) I love the way the mutants and their mutations fit into the time's worldview and cultures. It's worth reading for that alone. Or, hey, read it for the 130k words of glorious plot, or the excellence of a slave rebellion, or – look, it's worth reading from pretty much every perspective. I'm always thrilled with I share a fandom with Yahtzee, and stories like this are the reason why.

(If you can read it, that is. Warnings: This story has rape, graphic violence, and animal harm. I'm not kidding about any of that, but for me, this story is worth it.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The One with the Matchmaking Robots. Pro Tip: Everything Everywhere Is Better with Matchmaking Robots. Nice Work If You Can Get It, by astolat. Mike Donovan/Greg Powell, I, Robot (book).

So. Harriet and Peter set my expectations for het romance. What did it for queer romance? It should have been Jeeves and Wooster. I spent years obsessively collecting everything PG Wodehouse ever wrote, and I read each of his books at least twenty times and giggled helplessly through every reading. But somehow they never tripped the ship circuit in my brain. No. What did that – and this is so stereotypically me I can hardly stand it – was I, Robot.

Specifically, Greg Powell and Mike Donovan. Twelve-year-old me did not understand precisely why she was re-reading the Powell and Donovan stories so obsessively; she just knew she couldn't stop.

But adult me knows why.

The Powell and Donovan stories taught me that fictional queer romance occurs between two people who depend on each other, care about each other, and look after each other, and that there will need to be robots and also me to imagine the kissing part for any kind of consummation to be achieved. So, yeah, thanks, Asimov. You formatted my brain for fic. (And robots. And fic about robots.) In fact, I discovered while writing this rec that one of the things I spent my adult life believing was I, Robot canon is, in fact, actually fic I told myself at the age of 13. Proud of you, teenage me!

Sadly, telling myself fic was for many years the only way to get my fix for this pairing. For mysterious reasons – or, okay, possibly for the entirely understandable reason that it's a book of short stories first published in 1950 – there's not a whole lot of I, Robot fic out there. But what is there comes mostly from Yuletide, and one of those stories was written for me. I love it helplessly.

See, Asimov had many good traits – amazing work ethic, solid scientific knowledge, an entirely reasonable dislike of wide open spaces – but many of his stories are kind of, um. Forever locked in the world of 1950. So I deeply love how this story is so very much an Asimov story – it has the messed-up robots, the frantic problem-solving, and the feel of the canon - but it's also a story with an actual human relationship between actual humans, something Asimov did not always remember to put in his stories. (Fun Asimov fact: at least two of his most human, likable, realistic characters are robots.) And, of course, this story has the kissing that Asimov inexplicably forgot to put in.

Basically, when I read this story ten years ago (holy shit, an actual decade ago), my inner teenager smiled blissfully, finally satisfied. And when I read it now, I feel exactly the same way: all's right with the world. Everything is as I always knew it should be. The ur-ship is manifest at last.

Do you need to know the fandom to read this? Oh my god, so much no. Here's a complete primer: there's these two dudes. They work on robots in remote locations in the solar system. Shit always goes wrong and they always fix it. And they should kiss. There. That's the whole fandom. And this is a before-the-canon story that gives you considerably more background than Asimov ever managed. Go! Read!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So, uh. Mistakes were made. See, there was this neat meme going around on Twitter – one like equals one ship – and I was really enjoying seeing what everyone had stored deep in the depths of their pairing wardrobe. Except most people were tweeting pictures, and the last thing I want to do is google a whole bunch of names and spend time squinting at the screen going, "But is that the actual Jim and Blair from the Sentinel? ...What did they look like, even?" So instead I thought I'd do fic recs. I could easily come up with a dozen or so pairings and a dozen or so recs, and I didn't expect to get more likes than that.

Instead, I ended up with 66 likes.

So, over the next, uh, probably months, possibly years, I will be doing a very deep dive into my pairing wardrobe. (Yes, I do have 66 pairings. I counted. The sad truth is that even this will not empty my pockets of all pairings. I'm a ship magpie, apparently.) No particular order, because honestly this project is already ridiculous enough. I'll try not to use stories I've recommended before, but in some cases I'll do it anyway, because some pairings have to be mentioned, even if I've already recommended every story about them.

Are you ready for this? I am definitely not ready for this. There should be a special name for a meme that gets way out of hand. Memelanche? Whatever. Here comes my memelanche of pairings, one fic rec at a time.

Let's start with a classic.

The One That Made Me Realize the Horror of Having a Soulmate with a Really Long Name in a Wristname AU. (Like, Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla's Soulmate Presumably Has a Full Sleeve Wristname, So I Hope They Like Tattoos.) Gentle Antidote, by x_los. Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey, Lord Peter Wimsey series.

Okay, so, if I'm doing an All the Ships I've Loved Before meme, let's start off with one of the ones that formatted my brain. I read the Peter Wimsey novels as an impressionable 12 year old, and I tell you what: that's the wrong damn time to read them. Developing brains and Dorothy Sayers are a potent, terrible mix; I will never stop expecting fictional het romances to require five years, five hundred pages of persiflage, and at minimum two dead bodies before any sort of consummation can be achieved. This is why I am terrible at reading published het romances. The characters meet and kiss and fall in love and bang in the space of like a week, and my hindbrain goes, "Nope. This is not how straight romance goes. I know this from my learnings. Where are the corpses? Where is the part where she refuses him fifty times and walks across England to avoid dealing with her feelings? Where's the banter and telegrams and Latin proposals?" My brain knows what it is due and just won't accept less. Sayers has a lot to answer for, basically.

But it turns out I do not require the years/persiflage/bodies in every single case, and, oddly, this pairing is one of the cases where I don't. At least in the hands of a writer as skilled as this, in a story as good as "Gentle Antidote." This is honestly everything I've ever wanted from a Harriet/Peter story – them, being so completely them, which will always be enough for me – and also everything I've ever wanted from a wristname AU – good worldbuilding, sensible reactions, total buy-in to the concept, wristnames that don't solve every problem and actually create a few, a happy ending.

This story makes me as happy as any two of the books it took Sayers to accomplish the feat of getting these extremely difficult people together. Partly that happiness comes from the sheer perfection of every word, and partly it's from my knowledge of everything the characters are going to avoid and accomplish, thanks to wristnames. (Hail, wristnames! I welcome our tropey overlord.) And while I think the former joy will be available to anyone who knows what a wristname is, the second pleasure is probably only for those who have read Sayers's Harriet Vane stories. (Which, I mean, is not time wasted or anything.)

But whether you've read Sayers or not, I recommend this story; it's the perfect story for the ur-ship. (Or one of them. But, well, we're going to get there. One pairing down, 65 to go.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The other night, I told this story to my sister, who had somehow never heard it before. She demanded that I write it down. (I sincerely hope she's not planning to use this as some kind of college life advice for my nephew.)

There are three things you need to know to understand this story, provided you are not my sister:
  1. I started college at 15.
  2. I almost immediately got mono and didn't realize it, assuming that I was sleeping 16 hours a day because sleep was the best thing in the world and I'd suddenly gotten really good at it.
  3. I made most of my bad decisions – like, most of the bad decisions I would ever make, and almost all the ones I could think of – before starting college.
These were not things I had in common with my freshman cohort. Any of them, as far as I could tell. They were all older than I was, they seemed to have all the energy in the world, and they had come to college to make those bad decisions they'd been dreaming of all these years but apparently couldn't quite commit to until they were away from parental backup and support.

Bad decisions this way. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The redoubtable Cousin Z, my oldest nephew, is -- oh god oh god -- going to college next fall. He applied to many schools and got into most of them, and now, through assiduous research, careful internal debate, and, very likely, a color-coded spreadsheet with many tabs, he's narrowed down his options to Reed and Whitman. And now he's trying to make that final choice.

Z had very good experiences visiting both schools, including talking with a Whitman admissions officer who described the school in Harry Potter house terms. He also went to an accepted-students reception for Reed where he went to hide in the kitchen because people, and then so many other guests (and also the host) had the same idea that it ended up being a reception-within-the-reception for people who hate receptions, all of them hiding in the kitchen and talking about how much they wished they weren't there.

Z is a very introverted person who is interested in applied math (his intended major), Doctor Who, social justice, Harry Potter, politics, Game of Thrones, and economics. His hobbies are reading fic, playing and writing music for his cello, and spending many hours at Starbucks with his study groups. (Also making color-coded spreadsheets.) He likes both Reed and Whitman because they're smaller schools where he felt comfortable on the campus, in large part because the students seemed like geeky introverts and giant weirdos, so pretty much his people.

It seems like either school could be a happy place for him. But this is Z, so he is in hardcore information-gathering mode. He could use more data. (Z could always use more data.) He needs to know the differences between the two! Find a way to make a choice! My question for you is: do you know anything about Reed or Whitman? Do you have any experiences to relate or any data Z can gather? It would help.

Thank you!


Dec. 26th, 2015 11:52 am
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I am an extremely lucky Yuletider once again, because this year I got four gifts. (Thank you, wonderful writers!) Three delightful Historical Farm stories:

Wizardry Most Humble & High (1007 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Historical Farm (UK TV), Kate and Cecelia - Caroline Stevermer & Patricia Wrede
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn
Additional Tags: Historical Reenactment, Alternate Universe - Magic, Footnotes, Yuletide Treat

Fragments of Tudor Monastery Farm: With Magic Edition. Now with extra footnotes and my 'I co-majored in history and at the moment I am Really Into The Tudor Era' feelings. Thank you oh thefourthvine for the opportunity to write this treat - I hope it is enjoyable and non terrible. Happy Yule! Note: This particular magic au is a crossover with a book series but it's not something you need to be familiar with to read this story (there are some little things in here for people who have though)

Marstober (1861 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Historical Farm (UK TV)
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands, Ruth Goodman
Additional Tags: Historical Farm RPF in the Future, Not much farming unfortunately, Peter is from Earth, Ruth is from Mars, Alex is from Space, preslash

Mars is stripping the suavity from Alex's bones.

Alien Invasion Farm (1041 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Historical Farm (UK TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Science Fiction

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn go back in time to relive the day-to-day life of a farmer during the alien invasion.

So if you share my love of Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Alex Langlands being extremely them while farming on Mars or with magic or during the alien invasion that is just around the corner, go! Read.

And if you share my love of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson soulbonding (and how could you not?), let me introduce you to my wonderful fourth gift, which I am entirely sure is documenting what really happened:

No-Look Pass (1138 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Retired Basketball Player RPF, Basketball RPF
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Larry Bird & Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Characters: Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Additional Tags: Soul Bond, Basketball, Yuletide Treat

Blind Pass: Also known as a no-look pass, the blind pass is performed when a player looks in one direction but passes the ball to his target in another direction. Blind passes are risky and infrequently attempted, but when done correctly, can confuse the defense.

- “Basketball Moves: Blind Pass,” Wikipedia.

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So, today over lunch I decided to read some stuff that wasn't mathematical economics, just to sort of remember there are other words out there.

Annnnnd so I read this Ask Bear column, and then I stewed for a while, and then I wrote this rushed, angry rant before I went back to my mathematical economics.

The letter in that column comes from a questioning 22 year old who is potentially starting down that "hang on, am I -- queer?" path that a lot of us have walked. I've walked it myself! It is scenic and has many twists and turns. The letter writer is in a very traditional and appropriate place for starting on that path: he (I'm assuming) has many questions and is not sure what comes next or what he has to do to be a good possibly queer person.

Bear's response, summarized: you can absolutely be queer, sounds like you might be, and oh, by the way, before you explore that queer identity at all, you'd better come out. To everyone. You have to, to be a good human.

I really wanted to believe Bear didn't tell a questioning 22 year old that he had to come out of the closet before he is allowed to see if he might potentially be queer. But I tweeted my rage (as is the custom of my people), and several Twitter friends got the same read from it, so I just want to remind everyone of something important.

No one can tell you that you have to come out. Not if they're queer, not if they're out, not if they're an activist, not if they are the Fairy Queen of the Queer Isles (my dream job!), never. (The one exception to this: your partner(s) in queerness get a say. But even they don't get to issue a fiat like Bear did in this letter.)

There are three major reasons for this.
  1. Coming out is a dangerous endeavor for many people in this world. And you are the best evaluator of your physical, emotional, and social safety. I think Bear may just have forgotten, since he apparently lives in a polytransqueer wonderland, that coming out can be risky. That his letter writer may have to face familial rejection, social rejection, harassment, homelessness, abuse -- that, in short, a lot of bad things might happen to the LW if he comes out. (Queer folks struggling with this issue, take heart: it is apparently entirely possible to get to a place in your life where you can forget this!) Bear may also have forgotten that those same things may also happen to the dude LW is into, and that they may together choose to be closeted for safety reasons, and that is absolutely fine. (It isn't fine that people have to make that choice, of course, but blaming people for picking the best of a number of bad options is classic oppressor bullshit, and I'm embarrassed to see any of my fellow queers doing it.)

  2. Coming out is a process, and the LW is at the very beginning of it. (People can be at the very beginning at any point in their lives. They can go back to the beginning at any point in their lives. And they can spend as long as they need to there. This is not some sort of board game, folks, where you can just pass go and collect your Queer Person ID.) Bear ordered him to go straight from starting college to taking the Bar Exam, without going through any of the intervening bits. But those bits are important, and they make you ready for the later bits, and only you, the queer person, know how you're doing in the process, or what you're ready for right now.

  3. You don't owe anyone your story. Let me repeat that, slightly louder: you don't owe anyone your story. Bear strongly implies that his questioning letter writer should come out because social justice. And, no, that is not a burden queer folks have to bear; we do not have to build a bridge to our own equality with our bare hands using bricks made out of our lives, our bodies, and our hearts. (Unless, of course, we choose to. Many of us make that choice, in big ways and small. But it's our choice to do that.)

    Many, many of our straight allies say the same thing in other words. For example, they say that gay people who come out are heroes, and gay people who make choices other than absolute and total openness are weak, and that is bullshit, and it's extremely harmful bullshit. You are not required to come out to Make the World Safe for Queers, you are not required to come out to Be a Good Queer, you are not required to come out for any reason at all ever except that you want to and are ready to. Your story is yours. You tell it how you want to, when you want to, if you want to
So, Bear's Letter Writer, if you're out there, here is some alternate advice from a different middle-aged queer who has come out a whole, whole, whole bunch:

Letter Writer, you can do whatever you want to with your guy (provided he consents, of course), with whatever level of disclosure you both agree on. It's important to be honest with him about where you are with respect to coming out, whether that is "I will actually have a panic attack if you touch me in public" or "I am totally okay with our friends knowing, but I cannot face having some kind of formal announcement right now" or "let's tell everyone including our extremely homophobic extended family members and then POST LOTS OF TOPLESS MAKING OUT PHOTOS ON FACEBOOK HA HA HA." (You may be in a different place than any of these, or experiencing a combination of all three. That's normal.) Then it's important to listen to what he says about where he is. If there's a big difference -- if you're at panic attacks and he's at Facebook, say -- then be aware that that is going to be an issue in your relationship, and be prepared to work on it.

Your queer journey is belongs to you, Letter Writer. You and those you choose to share it with are the only people who get to say how it goes, and that includes coming out, if you decide to do that. Speaking as a supportive bystander, though, I hope your queer journey is awesome. Good luck!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Writer Person,

We matched! So first know that I am extremely fond of you already, because clearly you are a person of taste and discernment, loving one of these small fandoms as much as I do.

I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I hope to get from my recipient. But if details aren't your thing, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering for one of my tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Or, if you want to know more, read on.

Me! )

Historical Farm (UK TV), Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands )

Retired Basketball Player RPF, Magic Johnson/Larry Bird )

Schusev State Museum of Architecture Discover the Full Story ad campaign, Any )
thefourthvine: Girl in pajamas with laptop. (I sleep with computers.)
I read Brenna Clarke Grey's post on why she quit Goodreads and decided to write up my own recent unfun experience there. (I haven't quit the site, but I'm on hiatus from it. Again.)

In January 2015 I was hungry for fiction and had run through my friends' recommendations, so I started looking through Goodreads. I found a book called Flight of the Silvers, by Daniel Price. The reviews were largely positive and the summary seemed interesting. I downloaded a sample and decided it was engaging enough to buy.

Trouble began shortly thereafter. At the 20% mark, I knew this book and I would never be friends. The story wasn't right for me for many reasons, ranging from Science Doesn't WORK That Way to These Women Are Like No Human I've Ever Known to Please Stop Using That Word Please Stop PLEASE JUST STOP. The pacing fell off as the author tried to manage more characters and a more divided plot than he knew how to handle. There were long chunks of text that desperately needed editing. And I was frustrated by the fact that one of the characters, Hannah, was described pretty much only by her boobs. Her characterization could be summarized as "the attractive one with the giant hooters." Her plot role was "the mobile boobs that everyone either admires or is jealous of." The obsession with her breasts was like a dripping tap: ignorable right up until it becomes all you can think about it. I read distractedly, waiting grimly for the next mention of Hannah and Her Boobs. (As there were typically multiple mentions per page in any section she was in, it was never a long wait.)

From 25% on, my notes in the ebook consist of:
  1. Increasingly sarcastic comments on some of the mentions of Hannah's boobs (they come too often to note all of them).
  2. Complaints about overuse of the word "shined." (Three months after reading the book, I'm still flinching when I see it. It was really overused.)
  3. Lengthy strings of question marks after some of the seriously, um, interesting word choices in the book. (After a while, I started to slip some exclamation points in these, too.)
Here's an example. At one point, one of the characters describes a pseudoscience substance as "both airy and dense." A male character (one of the good guys, of course; misogyny is a noted good guy trait) responds, "Huh. Just like Hannah." The next part, a direct quote: "More people laughed as the actress irreverently narrowed her eyes at Zack. He shined a preening smirk." Okay, so I think we can see that this is, just in general, really bad writing (he shined a preening smirk?), but what the hell is irreverently doing in that sentence? It makes no sense. My note on this one: "????? wtf wtf wtf EW also shined NO." As you can probably tell, the book was getting to me.

We all know how this goes. The bad writing distracted me from the, you know, actual story. (I probably missed a lot of it, which is what bad writing does: it gets between you and what the writer is trying to convey.) The pacing, already flawed, entirely stopped carrying me. I reached the point where I was looking for things to do instead of reading, which is weird for me. I'd read a page, spend five minutes on twitter, and come back and realize I had no memory of what I'd read, also very weird for me.

I should have walked away. I didn't.

When I was done (so very done) with the book, I went to Goodreads and reviewed it. I have to either adore or truly despise a book to churn out a 3000-word review of it. Flight of the Silvers didn't seem worth that, so instead of detailing all my problems with it, I wrote a description of what reading it felt like to me. The word "boobs" is featured very heavily. And that was it. Two people read my review, I think. No one really pays attention to that stuff.

All of this is textbook standard reader behavior. I bought a book, I read it, I didn't like it, I complained about it to my friends. And that should have been the end of it.

Except. Then Daniel Price read my review. And he got mad, which is totally understandable; someone slamming your work is always tough to swallow. (I'm going to guess that most authors know better than to read one-star reviews for this reason.) And then he decided to respond, which was probably not the best choice he could have made. His response makes me so embarrassed on his behalf that I've never read it all the way through; I get maybe a quarter of the way through skimming it and my brain just shuts down. But, basically, as far as I can tell, he was trying to be funny. He missed that mark for me, but maybe that was because I was, you know, writhing in secondhand embarrassment. Or maybe that's because I was his target rather than his audience. Hard to say.

And then a few of his fans got involved, which was inevitable -- they love his work, they saw him doing this, they assumed it was okay. (Guess how many comments it took before someone accused me of being his ex-girlfriend. GUESS.) He also started complaining about me on Twitter, which encouraged more of his followers to comment angrily on my review.

In response, I did a Dumb Thing (because not responding is the only way to deal with this stuff) and complained about this situation on Twitter myself, which meant that my friends started reading my review and Price's response. (This is how my review ended up the first one on the book's page on Goodreads. Authors, if you're looking for motivation not to get into it with a reviewer, there's a point to consider.) My friends also started searching through the other reviews. And noticing stuff. Several of them pointed out that while other reviewers complained about the boob fixation, Price only got publically mad at the lady who did. This may not be a coincidence.

The commenters on my review got personally insulting (remember, folks, it's not that you disagree with the reviewer, it's that the reviewer is a terrible person and a troll or simply a bitch) and kind of gross. I stopped visiting the page, which kept me from getting notifications about further comments. My friends kept on following them, though, so I got occasional updates on the situation. It apparently took Price a week or two to stop complaining about me on Twitter. (Or, I guess, for my friends to stop looking.) It took longer before his fans stopped insulting me on Goodreads. (If they ever have.)

And here's the thing: this is, by itself, a minor incident. But it isn't fun. It isn't how I want to interact with a community, or something I want to deal with. And I realized that using Goodreads meant accepting a chance of this kind of bullshit every time I posted a less than five-star review. There is a lot I like about Goodreads, but I am not that invested in reviewing in that space, not enough that it's actually worth being harassed by an author and his fans. So I finished my self-assigned challenge (rate the first 24 books I read this year) in February and started avoiding Goodreads again. I'll maybe try again next year. Who can say?

Is there a way to avoid this? I don't know. But Goodreads doesn't seem interested in trying. And, in the end, this part of the internet isn't important enough to me to wade through the sewage.

Wanted: a mostly sewageless place to review and discuss books.

(Also wanted, always wanted: recommendations for great books you've read lately.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Last year, I went to a con in Chicago. On Saturday morning, I took the elevator from my room (fourth floor) to the con suite (second floor). Also on that elevator: a dude taking it to the first floor. As soon as I pressed the button, he said chidingly, "Two floors! Should've walked it." And then he literally, actually tutted at me. "Tut tut tut" went the arbiter of everyone else's body and abilities. Just so I'd know for sure that I'd been bad and been judged for it.

Now. There were a couple of conversations we could have had at this point. I could have told elevator dude the truth: that I have lupus (please please don't make the House joke; you have no idea how many times I've heard the House joke, and I promise you that sometimes it is in fact lupus), so I keep an eye on my energy and pain levels and try to save some of whatever ability I have for later. That I'm especially careful to do that when I'm at an event or traveling, because I don't want to be in my room exhausted or in pain when a thing I really wanted to do is happening two floors away, and I really don't want to be in pain and out of energy while traveling in modern American airports (apparent motto: "If you can't stand for four hours and run two miles full-tilt while carrying two weeks' supplies, lol no go fuck yourself"). So I'm careful. I don't push it. In the mornings, I might take the elevator, which the hotel did, after all, install for people to use.

I could also have told elevator dude to go fuck himself, which is the other honest conversation we could have had at that point. It is seriously none of his business whether I use the stairs, or the elevator, or rappel down the outside of the building, or maybe just dissolve into primordial ooze and drip down the walls.

But, you know, confrontation is another energy burner. I wanted to save my energy for having fun with my friends, the people I came to see. So I said something non-committal. Elevator dude wasn't done, though. "You should always find the stairs, first thing when you check into a hotel," this dude who was maybe ten years older than me and in no way my father said. "Did you know you're not allowed to use the elevator during a fire? Whenever you check into a hotel, you should think: what if there's a fire?"

Indeed, elevator dude. What if? What if, in my second decade of staying alone in hotels, you had not come along to tell me how to do it? I might have done it wrong, and then I would surely have burned to death in a fiery inferno, just as I have at least once a year throughout my adulthood, despite my mother giving me pretty much exactly those instructions back when I was seven and actually needed them.

Fortunately, at that point, we arrived at the second floor. I headed to the con suite and settled in. Some minutes later, I mentioned the mansplainer in the elevator and his profound concern for my well-being in case of fire. I didn't complain about the "should've walked" comment, largely because I didn't expect any support for it; I know an apparently able-bodied (and fat!) woman taking the elevator is cause for judgment in this world. (In some places, going by the general response, it's borderline actionable.) And most people at that particular table didn't know the details of my medical status, since in general, when given the choice between talking with my friends about lupus or talking with them about people banging, or being unicorn space eagles, or both, I tend to choose the pointy space birds and their sexytimes.

"Why would anyone say that to you?" one of the women at the table asked, in that mystified dudes-why-are-you? tone. "How does that even come up?"

So I explained about how we got on the topic of elevators. As soon as I said, "He said I should've taken the stairs," ten women around the table looked up and angry cat hissed in unison. It was like they'd rehearsed it for weeks after months of watching angry cats and studying their motivations. Truly a beautiful moment.

From this experience I learned some things:
  1. Support matters. Those women and their instinctive and audible anger didn't just make me feel better; they actually changed the way I remember the event. They became what was important about it rather than elevator dude. His judgment has become small and insignificant to me, and in fact I smile when I think about him, because he's inextricably linked to that moment ten people became Team Angry Cat for me.

  2. A lot of times, I don't reach for support because I don't expect it. I don't talk about the random elevator dude type aggravations of life, because I assume there's a good chance most people will side with the elevator dudes of the world. It's worth it to find the places where that isn't true. And it's worth it to reach for support when I can.

  3. I need to look for more chances to be on other people's Team Angry Cat. I don't need to know about that person's life or judge their worthiness; if they've experienced harassment or microaggressions, I'm gonna try to support them.

  4. I'd pay significant money for a YouTube series that was just ten women angry cat hissing at ability enforcers and mansplainers and dudes shouting "smile, baby!" at random ladies and so on.
Oh, yeah, and to the ten members of that particular Team Angry Cat: thank you. You're the best, and I will hiss for you anytime.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
It's Valentine's Day, so I would like to share a Cautionary Tale for the Youth of Today.

Once upon a time, my wife and I were teenaged college students who did not think before we got together, and by "got together," I mean "had sex for the first time," because did I mention we were teenagers in college? We did not bother with dating. So, you know, we let our passions overwhelm us, and didn't think before we had sex, and guess what happened? We checked the calendar the next day, noticed it was 2/15, and realized we had had sex for the first time on Valentine's Day.

Obviously this creates serious lifelong problems in terms of celebrating our anniversary. All because we were careless. Don't be like us.

"But TFV," I hear you saying. "You said she's your wife. Why not celebrate the anniversary of your marriage instead?"

Now, I could give you all kinds of excellent reasons, like that we couldn't get legally married until long after we were de facto married, because of governmental concern that allowing two people of the same sex to get married might cause a small black hole to form at the center of our planet and end the world. (Their caution is understandable considering the grave risks.) But that's not actually why. Let me tell you about our wedding.

We had a baby the year we got married, and also we are the least romantic people and least party-oriented people on earth, so we selected the "cheap courthouse wedding" option. We had a limited choice of dates, because we could only get married in the registrar's office on Fridays, and the election at which California voters would take away our civil rights was coming up fast. So we took the single reservation slot that was available when we got our marriage license.

On the day, we drove to the courthouse, met up with my mother, sister, brother-in-law (who had to be there to hold our baby), and oldest nephew, and had a five-minute civil ceremony conducted by a dude who finished with "and don't forget to file as married filing jointly on your state taxes next year." And then we left and the next couple and their friends and family came in.

And they were all in Viking costumes, because Best Beloved and I got married on 10/31. Our wedding anniversary is on Halloween.

What I'm saying is, youth of today, if there is a single message of wisdom I can share with you, it is check your fucking calendar before you fuck for the first time, and if it's a major holiday, wait. Otherwise you might end up like us, celebrating an anniversary that is not actually on any of the major dates of your relationship. (If you're really entirely like us, you will also never remember exactly what day you picked out to celebrate your pretend anniversary, but that's another story.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
You guys YOU GUYS I have been the recipient of a Yuletide miracle! Let me tell you my awesome Yuletide tale.

Okay, so some months ago I started playing 80 Days, the amazing interactive fiction game (on iOs and Android, not that I am suggesting you go download and play it immediately, except of course I totally am), and it was great. So great. So so so great.

I tried to convince all my friends to play it, as is the custom of my people. Most of them were like, "Well, uh, it sounds…interesting. I will definitely play it. Sometime." But that's mostly what happens when you try to persuade people to try the things you love, so I wasn't downcast. I just waited like a sea lion (although I hope I was slightly less annoying), ready to casually insert 80 Days into any conversation that seemed even marginally relevant. (I was probably not actually less annoying.)

One of the people I thought would love it immensely was [personal profile] norah. I've known her since I was just getting into fandom, and she is my real-life and fandom BFF, and I know her tastes, just as she knows mine. But, sadly, she did not bite on my delightful hook, baited with inclusive steampunk and robots and joy.

Well, she's very busy. Later, I figured. Someday I'd persuade her. I vowed not to give up. (Being friends with me is awesome, folks.)

A couple of months later, I requested 80 Days for Yuletide. And I got it, and it was amazing. I think I got two paragraphs in before I said to Best Beloved, "Wow. This is really good." Halfway through, I corrected myself: "This is really, really, really good. This is great." It was. Also it seemed tailored for me, well beyond Yuletide typical, as I noted in my incoherent and flailing comment to my Mystery Author.

There was much Yuletide joy in my heart.

And then. And then. Today, at 4:25, I got a text from Norah. She said, essentially, "Hey so stories are revealed and GUESS WHAT I WROTE YOURS."

I texted back, entirely coherently, "UM OMG WHAAAAAAAAT EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" (Text with me and get all the extra letters, free of charge!)

See, Norah and I exchange assignment emails every year, and support each other through Yuletide, and generally are all up in each other's Yuletide-y business. (One year we ended up co-writing both our assignments.) So I knew she was writing Moby Dick this year. I knew her recipient and everything! Her recipient wasn't me!

Except I did not know. She got a fake assignment from the Yuletide mods so she could conceal her true one. And then she spent two months pretend-complaining to me about her pretend assignment while actually writing her real assignment. And -- seriously -- sending said real assignment TO MY WIFE.

About two months ago, my wife apparently got a phone call at work from Norah. ("At first I thought someone had died," BB told me today.) Norah said, "Hey, I have TFV as my Yuletide assignment, so can you alpha-read?"

BB said, "I don't keep secrets from her! I'm really bad at keeping secrets from her! But -- okay, yes, I will. I will do my best." AND SHE DID. For two months, as she read and my actual Yuletide gift and cheered on my actual Yuletide writer, she gamely acted like she had no idea who was assigned to me or what I would be getting. (She even emailed Norah a play-by-play of me reading the story for the first time. Recruit your recipient's spouse(s) and profit, Yuletiders.)


It's a great story. I mean, it's lesbian robot airship pirates, which is, honestly, basically everything I look for in fiction and also would be my entire bucket list if I had one. (So far I've only managed the lesbian part, but look out, airships. I'm coming for you.) And now, every time I read it, in addition to reveling in the gorgeous story, I'm going to remember that I am loved, and by amazing, talented, kind, and generous people.

Truly, it is a Yuletide miracle, wrapped in secrecy, with a sweet and chewy lesbian robot pirate center.

My heart grew three sizes today.

Beside me singing in the Wilderness (15998 words) by norah
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: 80 Days (Video Game 2014)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Characters: Behiye bint Kasim, Bulbul, Manussiha
Additional Tags: Steampunk, Robot Harm, Character of Color, Action/Adventure, Misses Clause Challenge, Pirates

The adventures of Behiye bint Kasim, Captain of the pirate ship Canavar, and her engineer and companion Bulbul.

thefourthvine: A weird festive creature. Text: "Yuletide squee!" (Yuletide Woot!)
I am the luckiest Yuletider, because I got a story featuring ROBOTS and AIRSHIP PIRATES and SWASHBUCKLING and I am basically swooning over its amazingness.

And you totally don't need to know the fandom to read this! The canon is 80 Days, an interactive fiction game that reimagines Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days in an inclusive, non-England-centered steampunk universe. There, now you know everything you need to know to read the story, and you totally should, because it is great.

Beside me singing in the Wilderness (15992 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: 80 Days (Video Game 2014)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Characters: Behiye bint Kasim, Bulbul, Manussiha
Additional Tags: Steampunk, Robot Harm, Character of Color, Action/Adventure, Misses Clause Challenge, Pirates

The adventures of Behiye bint Kasim, Captain of the pirate ship Canavar, and her engineer and companion Bulbul.

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Writer Person,

We matched! So basically know that I am extremely fond of you already, because clearly you are a person of taste and discernment, loving one of these small fandoms as much as I do.

I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I always hope to get from my recipient. But if that's not you, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering for one of my tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Or, if you want to know more, read on.

Me! )

80 Days, Manussiha )

Retired Basketball Player RPF, Magic Johnson/Larry Bird )

Tour of the Merrimack -- R. M. Meluch, Augustus/John Farragut )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Recently, I started thinking about the moments of being openly gay that I never see in fic. This was supposed to be a list of those.

It isn't.


Ever since we moved to this house, I've gone to the same pharmacy several times a month to pick up prescriptions. In the beginning, the earthling was with me in the sling, and later he'd accompany me walking on his own feet. There was a cashier, Maria, who always talked to him and me, who was friendly and remembered us and grabbed our prescriptions before we even got to the front of the line.

One day about a year ago I went to the pharmacy after the earthling was in bed. "Oh, where's your son?" Maria asked.

"He's at home with my wife. It's after his bedtime."

"…Oh," she said.

Since then, when I go, she still recognizes me, earthling or no, but she's all business. No chat, no talking about how big the earthling has gotten, no asking me about my day. There are a thousand possible reasons for this. At least. Most of them have nothing to do with me. Maybe she got yelled at for chatting with customers too much. Maybe she's been having a bad year. It could be anything. I know that.

But I will always wonder if it's because I'm queer. I can't not wonder. My queerness inflects every interaction I have like this, whether I acknowledge it ("my wife") or avoid it ("my partner"). And because queerness is not visible, cannot be known until I make it known, I often have situations like this, where there was a before and there is now an after and things are different. This is one of the minor costs of being openly queer: the voice in the back of your head that is always going, is this because I'm gay?


Coming out is supposed to happen in One Big Moment. Usually your One Big Moment involves coming out to your parents; sometimes, especially in fiction, it's coming out at a press conference or in front of an audience or something. But wherever it happens, the concept is the same: in that moment, your whole life changes. Before, you were closeted and ashamed, and after, you become open and honest. You have chewed your way out of the cocoon of secrecy to emerge as a beautiful gay butterfly!

My family doesn't do big moments well. I was in college, I was 19, I was in the apartment I shared with Best Beloved. And my mother called. After some chat, she got around to the purpose of her call.

"Last year," she said, "you told me you'd never get married. And I'm worrying about that. You're young and I don't want you to be alone forever."

"I won't be alone," I said. "I just won't be married because it's not legal for me to be. But I already consider myself married."

I should, at this (big and momentous!) point, mention a few things: this call was taking place in the morning, and my sister, Laura, was living with our mother at this time.

"Oh," my mother said. And right then, Laura, who is not and never has been entirely human in the mornings, came into the room.

"Is there milk?" she said crankily.

"In the refrigerator," my mother said to her. To me, she said, "Who are you married to?"

"[Best Beloved]," I said, honestly bewildered. (I thought they knew! Like -- why did they think we lived together? I assumed we'd been on the same page for years.)

"Oh," my mother said, reaching for a suitable reaction.

"No, there isn't," Laura said, attaining new heights of crankiness. "Are we out?"

"Your sister's a lesbian," my mother snapped at Laura. I think she meant: shut up about milk for a second. I'm trying to have a significant conversation and you're making it difficult.

Laura has never given a shit about anyone's sexual preference first thing in the morning. "That's nice," she said, summoning up every single fuck she could give about something before breakfast. "Are we out of milk or what?"

And at that point I think we all gave up on pretending this was a significant moment and just kind of moved on with our lives. I accepted that "That's nice. Are we out of milk or what?" would be my family's main reaction to my sexuality. Later that day, just to be sure we were all in the loop -- since my parents seemed strangely slow and clueless about these things -- I told my father in email. The paragraph dedicated to that revelation took a backseat to four paragraphs of discussion about my stupid physics professor. Those were my priorities.

He probably read it and wondered if he was out of milk.

Just to top things off, that night I realized to my eternal embarrassment that this all took place on National Coming Out Day, a "holiday" I don't even support. (Come out. Don't come out. Whatever you want, on your own terms. I'm not going to pressure you and no one else should, either. It's a bullshit concept.)

So my One Big Moment was -- not. It was not big. It was not dramatic. It was, to be honest, pretty comical. The most emotion experienced by anyone was Laura's sincere and honest anger about my mother using the last of the milk without even considering whether other people had had breakfast yet. It didn't even manage to be a single moment, since I spread it over most of a day.

This was probably much better preparation for the rest of my life than I thought at the time.


"Are you sisters?"

"No. No, we're… not sisters."

"Oh. Haha! You look just like each other."


In college, I fainted outside the student union building during finals week and ended up at student health. The nurse practitioner had only one question for me, phrased two dozen different ways: "Could you be pregnant?"

"No," I said. "I can't be pregnant."

She was already starting her next question before I finished my answer. "But did you have sex recently?"

I hesitated. Back then, coming out still felt like a big thing every time I did it. And, yes, I'd had sex with Best Beloved many times that month, but I knew she meant sex that involved a penis in my vagina. Did I really need to get into my current sexual history in detail with this woman? "No," I finally said, but my hesitation had convinced her.

"Are you sure?"


"Not at all?"


"Not even a teeny weeny bit?" she wheedled.

I just stared at her, trying to figure out how you have a teeny weeny bit of sex.

She moved on. "Did you black out, or take any drugs, or wake up and not know where you were at all recently?"

She'd accurately described most of my high school career, but those days were long gone. And I didn't think accidentally falling asleep after midnight in the bone lab counted. Dead people can't get you pregnant. "No."

We went around and around. After fifteen minutes, she was still finding new ways to ask if I might be pregnant, and I was watching time tick by and just yearning for a diagnosis already. Finally, she said, "What are you using for birth control?"

I gave up. My desire not to come out to her had lost out to my desire to be done with this question forever. "Lesbianism," I said. "I'm using lesbianism for birth control."

She nodded but did not deviate from her script. "So you're not on the pill? Did you have sex this month?"

"I only have sex with my girlfriend," I said, trying to make this whole lesbianism thing clearer. "She can't get me pregnant."

She sent me to get some blood tests. One of them was for hCG: a pregnancy test. I got it then and I get it now. The number of college girls who claim they can't possibly be pregnant and are wrong is greater than the number of college girls who have stress-induced fainting.

But I came out! It was an effort! And… she didn't even listen to me. Back then, it didn't matter to her the way it mattered to me.


After a while, it stops mattering. You do it so many times that it just gets old and dull and meaningless. But you don't get to stop there. Coming out is endless. I've done it thousands of times by now, each moment of coming out blurring together in my head until it's just a lifetime of saying over and over: "I'm a lesbian. I have a wife. I'm queer. I'm not straight." I don't play the pronoun game anymore, I don't reach for the careful, neutral phrasing, and so I'm coming out all the time, without even thinking about it. And it's so boring that I sometimes forget that it's new information, and sometimes a brand-new experience, for the person I'm coming out to.

"Is your husband Jewish?" the earthling's friend's mother asked me.

"My wife, actually. No, she's not."

And I was ready to move on, but she was freezing up. I've done this so many times I can monitor people's thoughts as they have them -- I can read them like thought bubbles.

She's a lesbian.

Wait. What do I say?

Oh no, I've waited too long and she thinks I'm a horrible bigot, even though I'm Canadian.

"Oh," she said, clearly wishing she was saying something else. But what? But what?

The earthling's friend, David, looked up at me. "Girls can't have a wife," he said confidently.

David's mother made a tiny horrified noise. I didn't even need to look at her to know that she was thinking now she thinks my children are horrible and bigoted too.

But children are easy. Children are never any problem. "Yes, they can," I said to David. "Men can marry men and women can marry women, and I'm married to [earthling]'s mommy." (Straight parents, a tip for you: The key is to sound blandly confident. Use the same tone you'd use to say, "Actually, the capital of California is Sacramento.")

David took the conversation back to what matters to small children: themselves. "My mommy is married to my daddy," he informed me, and he and the earthling went back to playing with leaves and sticks.

A minute later, David's mother, having processed her horror and figured out what to say, chimed in with, "Of course women and women can be married!" She pretty clearly had a whole speech ready, but too late. Small children learn hundreds of new things every week, and they just don't have a lot of time to spend on any single irrelevant, unimportant new fact, like that women can be married to women. David had already filed this away, and he wasn't listening anymore.

David's mother left the conversation embarrassed and worried. She was the only person involved who had any feelings about it at all. These days, it doesn't matter to me the way it matters to other people.


My family is pretty basic: two adults and a child. But even now, when we can legally be married, legally file taxes together, legally be co-parents -- even now, forms almost never have room for us. There's the basic ones that assume that each child has a mother and a father, of course, but recently we filled out some for the school distract that had a ton of options: mother/grandmother/legal guardian/caregiver/foster parent/other. And father/grandfather/legal guardian/caregiver/foster parent/other. The only possibility that seemed not to have occurred to the school was two parents of the same sex.

I always cross out "father" and write "mother" over it. I cross out "husband" and write "wife." Often, this leads to unhappiness on the part of a receptionist or records keeper somewhere. "But the computer doesn't have a place for that! Can I just put sister?"

"She's not my sister, and she is responsible for my medical bills if I die."

"I'll just put sister."

But then sometimes I pick up a form that says Parent 1 and Parent 2, or Spouse 1 and Spouse 2, or something along those lines.

As soon as I see that, I look behind the desk, analyzing. Who works in this office who is queer? I want to ask. Because we only ever fit on forms designed by people like us.


"Are you sisters?"

"No, we're not related."

"Oh, just really good friends then, huh? You look so much alike! You must get that a lot."

"Yeah, we get it a lot."


In college, I had a therapist. One day, she asked, "Are you still together with [Best Beloved]?"

"Yeah," I said, confused. I mean. I'd been with BB for years. Surely it would have come up in therapy if we'd broken up? I figured I'd have some feelings about it and all.

"Huh," she said. "I'm surprised. I guess I just see lesbian relationships as more ephemeral than straight ones." She continued on thoughtfully, "I don't know why that is. You'd think I'd know better; my sister's been with her partner for a decade, after all. Well. I'll have to do some work on that, won't I?"

For the record, she was a very good therapist.

This week, I took the earthling to his pediatrician, Dr. G. Dr. G has known him since he was born, and she's known us since I was six months pregnant. BB and I met her together at the pre-birth interview thing, and BB was there in the hospital when the earthling was born, and BB comes to appointments when she can.

As Dr. G entered some data about the earthling into her computer, she asked, "Are you still with [BB]?"

I blinked at her. "We just celebrated our twenty-first anniversary," I said, after a moment's pause.

"Oh! Wow! Congratulations," she said, and we moved on.

I really doubt she's ever asked my sister, whose kids also see this doctor, if she's still married to her husband. I've been married longer; BB was at my sister's wedding. But, hey, my marriage is ephemeral, right? It could end at any time. Unremarked upon, even.

For the record, Dr. G is a very good pediatrician.


"Are you twins?"


"You look like twins!"

"No, we're not related."

"Wow! You look just like each other. How crazy is that, huh?"


It's just a reflex by now.

We were checking in for a spa day that my mother schedule for us: me, my sister (except technically not my sister, who is always late), and Best Beloved. "Oh, are you all Ruth's daughters?" the receptionist asked.

"No. Laura and I are. [BB] is my wife," I said.

And I could, of course, see her thoughts as they happened:

Oh, they're lesbians!

I am entirely and sincerely pro-gay, and so is my workplace. I voted against Prop 8! Yay, gay people!

…But what do I say now?

"Oh," she said, straightening up a little.

Wait, that sounds dismissive. Say something else! Say a better thing! Say the right thing!

"That's great!" she said.

I glanced up at her. "Yes, it is." And then I went back to texting my sister to find out where she was.


"Are you twins?"

"No. She's my wife."

"…Oh. Um."


Straight people, I will tell you a secret: there is no right response. Just listen and get on with your lives. I've learned to.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
A long time ago, I had a lot to say in rants about how people were DOING IT WRONG and should NOT WRITE THIS WAY but rather THIS OTHER WAY. (And, if I'm gonna be honest, those rants are all still there, just waiting for me to type them. Let me tell you about the Should You Use the Pluperfect? flowchart I made the other day. Or not, because honestly, TFV, nobody wants to hear that.) I was all, "People! Write better!"

Sorry, past me -- you were wrong. What I should have been saying was, "People! Write more! (Even if it's really bad!)"

Because, yes, I still think the word sensitized needs to be left to lie fallow for a decade. Where it can maybe cavort with its friend, lave. I still sometimes want to ban thesauruses. I still feel like maybe those weeping cocks should see a doctor, or perhaps a therapist.

But these days, I also think we're lucky to have those stories. I probably won't be reading them, but I'm happy they exist, for three reasons.

Writing is good. People are writing! For fun! Good news! Seriously, if I had spent more time writing down the hideously painful Mary Sue fan fiction I dreamed up when I was a wee teen, I might have spent less time on, you know, drugs and sucking the cocks of random strangers without protection. I'm always happy to see someone making better choices than I made.

Maybe you're now saying, "Okay, fine, but do they have to post those Mary Sue stories where I can see them?" If so, you're being a dick. Cut it out. The Archive of Our Own is not the Archive of Just What You Want to Read. It's the Archive of Fanworks. Is it a fanwork? Then it belongs there! And if you're incapable of scrolling past something, it's not that the Mary Sue writers are in the wrong place, it's that you are. (Also, I'm sorry, but I don't know where would be the right place for you. Everywhere is going to have stuff you don't like, because tastes are individual and all that. Maybe the internet just isn't for you.)

Crap is important. Sturgeon's law is right, but it misses the point. Ninety percent of everything has to be shit. That's how you get the 10% that's good.

Your favorite writers, fan fiction, published fiction, published fan fiction, whatever -- they didn't start out writing that way. There was a time when they wrote unspeakably awful crap. Writing unspeakably awful crap is how you learn to write only moderately awful crap, and then eventually maybe decent stuff, and then, if you're lucky, actually good things. There are not two classes of people, those who are good writers and those who are bad writers, so that all you have to do to have only great stuff is scare away all the bad writers. There are people who used to write bad stuff, and there are people who are currently writing bad stuff, and there's a lot of crossover between the two. Some of the second category will one day be the first category. (Also, tomorrow some of the first category will move back to the second. No one hits it out of ballpark every time.) If you want to read new good stuff tomorrow, encourage the people writing bad stuff today. (And also maybe help them get betas. Betas are great.)

And, no, those people don't have to hide their work away until it gets better. They can share it with anyone who wants to read it. If they want to post it, they should. Wanting to is reason enough. (Although if you want another reason -- posting is how community happens. Which is how things like betas happen. People who share their work get better faster.)

Crap is a sign of life. New bad stories are a sign that this genre -- fan fiction, the genre I adore the most - is alive and well. Bad stories mean new people are trying to write in it, and people are trying to do new things with it, and maybe new people are joining the audience, too. When only the best and most popular are writing in a genre, it's on its deathbed. (See: Westerns and Louis L'Amour.) I want this genre to be here forever, because I want to read it forever. So I'm happy that teenagers are posting Mary Sue stories to the Archive of Our Own.

Does that mean you have to be happy? Nope. I can't make you do anything. (I can think you're wrong, but hey, being wrong on the internet is a time-honored tradition among our people.) But when you start making fun of a writer and bullying her in the comments of her story, simply because she's writing something you think is bad and embarrassing, well, that's when I say: shut the fuck up or get the fuck out. Because she's not a problem. She's just doing what we're all doing -- having fun, playing with words, throwing something out there on the internet to see if other people like it.

But you. You're trying to stop someone from having fun. You're trying to shame people into not writing anymore. And that, folks -- that is the definition of shitty behavior. (Mary Sue fantasies, on the other hand, are just the definition of human behavior.) It's bad for people, it's bad for the future, and it's bad for the genre. So you're a problem.

Please go away, problems, and let all of us write out our ids out in peace.

(And, yes, this was triggered by one specific story and some of the responses it's getting on the AO3. But it applies to all of them, all the fan fiction we don't like out there. Okay, I'm done.)


Oct. 23rd, 2013 10:35 am
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, this is totally self-interested. Shinny Studio is considering printing a run of t-shirts with this on them:

Steel City Penguins

And I really, really want one. But she can only print them if she gets enough orders. So if you're a Penguins fan (or, I guess, just a fan of helmeted lowercase penguins), check out the order information post. (More pictures there, including an actual shirt on an actual person!)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
This story was written for [personal profile] pentapus's Treehouse Reversebang challenge - she drew artwork for me, and I wrote a story inspired by it.

The unicorn came as a mild surprise. The length - the story was supposed to be a thousand words long - came as a more major one, and I'd like to thank pentapus for being patient as I battled my way to the end of this.

This was an incredible challenge, delightful to do, and even if you don't read the story, you should at least visit to see the artwork, which I have mentally titled "Sidney Crosby Confronts an Unimpressed Unicorn."

Highway Unicorn (20133 words) by thefourthvine, pentapus
Chapters: 4/4
Fandom: Hockey RPF
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin
Additional Tags: Urban Fantasy, Treehouse Reversebang

He saw the horn poking out from the pony's head, golden and straight and somehow delicate-looking despite the empty tuna can hanging off of it. The unicorn horn. "The fuck," Sidney said out loud, his eye skipping from the horn over the greyish-white body to the graceful gold-toned hooves.

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Dear Author Person,

We matched! So basically know that I am extremely fond of you already, because clearly you are a person of taste and discernment, loving one of these small fandoms as much as I do.

I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I hope to get from my recipient. But if that's not you, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering for one of my tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Me! )

Baseball RPF, Jose Fernandez/Yasiel Puig )

Basketball RPF, Magic Johnson/Larry Bird )

Flotsam, by David Wiesner )

Want You Bad (song), Narrator/Narrator's girlfriend )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Over on Twitter, people had questions about hockery RPF fandom folks, so we put together a poll. (When in doubt, TICKYBOXES. That is my motto.) If you've read/watched/listened to hockey RPF fanworks, please come take the poll! (And if you know anyone who's in the fandom, please tell them about it, too. Some data good, more data better.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, so a recent casual mention of blanket permission statements on Twitter taught me that:
  1. There are a lot of authors who would love to be podficced who don't have blanket permission statements. (If you're in this boat: a permissions statement doesn't guarantee anything, but the lack of one certainly lessens your chances considerably.)
  2. Many of these authors don't necessarily know what a BP statement is, or how to write one. (Spoiler: I'm going to cover this in considerable detail starting in about three paragraphs.)
  3. A lot of people don't know that podficcers keep track of who has a blanket permission statement and refer to the list regularly. (In other words, you basically only have to do it once, and then you're done unless something changes. Good deal! Also, good idea to check to be sure you're on it if you want to be.)
  4. A lot of people don't know how important having a statement - any statement, even if it's "no" or "maybe" - is to other fans.
So I thought I would talk about permission statements, since they are the greatest thing ever and I want everyone to have one.

Many years ago, I used to have the following experience:
  1. PM arrives from a person I don't know.
  2. I cringe and recoil and try to pretend it hasn't arrived, because PMs freak me right out.
  3. I avoid with varying levels of success for varying levels of time.
  4. Eventually I open it (maybe).
  5. It is a podfic request! That's awesome!
  6. ...Now I have to PM the podficcer back. Oh no.
  7. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. Because communication is hard.
  8. If I don't, guilt.
  9. If I do, podfic!
It was an elaborate and moderately horrible process, obviously made that way entirely by my own idiosyncratic brain, and I loved that podfic happened but wished there was a way to tell podficcers to JUST DO IT PLEASE DON'T ASK JUST DO IT. For a while I tried putting JUST DO IT in my profile, but my profile was wordy and no one ever read all the way through it, so it didn't help (that I know of).

And then someone told me of the concept of blanket permission. And it was like the sun had risen. There was a way! A way to say yes, fine, go transform with my very best wishes, no need to ask! So I left a comment on some long-ago post saying so, and my relationship with podfic became a guilt- and stress-free one. Bliss.

Blanket permission is wonderful, is what I'm saying. Since I know podficcers now, I know that the stress was not entirely or even mostly on my side during my long, drawn-out struggles with my brain; the podficcer, who I used to sort of blithely assume had sent the PM and then forgotten about it, was actually probably checking her email reeeeeally regularly and hoping hoping hoping and oh god just GET BACK TO ME I just want to KNOW either WAY oh god are you even ALIVE? So blanket permission saves considerable wear and tear on both sides.

I am a big fan, basically. So, first, here's an example blanket permission statement. If you're already sold on permissions statements, go write one or modify this or just copy it and add it to your AO3 profile or wherever else you post your stories (if you comment here saying you've done so, I can make sure you're on the BP list, even!) and you're done.

"If you want to podfic any of my stories, go right ahead - no need to ask permission. Just please link back to the original story when you post your work, and let me know so I can go revel in whatever awesome thing you've done. Same goes for art or other creative or transformative works you might feel inspired to do. Just don't use my work for anything commercial, please!"

If you want to know more, or you aren't sure, or you have special circumstances, read on!

If you're thinking, yes, but I don't actually just want to say yes to everything, fear not! Blanket permission is a misnomer. (Or, okay, it isn't - it just means "this is the statement that covers everything you need to know." But it sort of sounds like you have to say yes to everything, no limits, no conditions when you give one. You don't!) You can say "sure, do what thou wilt" in one, but you can also be more specific. It's more like negotiated consent, actually - you say what you're comfortable with and what you want and need, and then a podficcer who is thinking about doing one of your stories can read it and decide if it matches what she wants and needs, making the process safer and easier for everyone.

So, for example, you can say, "Feel free to podfic anything except any story I've tagged juvenilia." Or you can say, "Feel free to podfic anything, but if it's posted archive-locked, I would like the podfic to also be archive-locked." Or whatever! State your conditions up front, basically.

You can even say, "I'm very open to podfic, and I will mostly say yes, but I still would like you to ask." This seems like a useless statement, but it includes two very important points: you are open to podfic and you will probably say yes. Many podficcers spend time trying to figure out if an author is potentially podfic-friendly before they ask permission. I have seen people do a LOT trying to figure this out, including:
  • Checking the blanket permission list
  • Checking all the author's profiles and masterlists everywhere, hoping one got missed (it happens, which is why it's a good idea for you to check, too)
  • Checking to see if there are other podfics of the author's work (which means she gave permission before and thus might again)
  • Checking to see if the author has pro-podfic friends
  • Asking the author's pro-podfic friends or betas if they know how the author feels about it
  • Asking other podficcers to see if they've ever asked the author for permission
  • And so on
Seriously. This process is a tense one for podficcers. Many of them work really hard to alleviate that tension somewhat before they take the leap of emailing a stranger for permission to do a fanwork. (Many of them have given up entirely and only podfic people with permissions statements, which is why not having one really reduces your chances of getting podficced.) So just saying somewhere public that you're into it is useful.

Your blanket permission statement can even look like this: "Please do not podfic any of my stories." (Or, in other words, a blanket no.) If you're going to say no to every request you get, why not just say that no in front and spare everyone, including you, the extra work? Plus, if you put yourself on the blanket no list, it will apply forever. Podficcers keep track. (Truth. When I started modifying my blanket permission statement, I was surprised to discover that the exact comment I'd left on that long-ago post had been carefully copy-pasted to Fanlore, which started years after that comment was made.) If you make a public statement of blanket no, you're done with podfic (unless you change your mind), and you've made everyone's lives easier. GO THERE, is my suggestion.

If you have other questions, I'm here to help. (Or more likely just ask people who know the answers, actually, but I stand willing to do that.) I want everyone to have a permissions statement, so we can have a world of blissfully consensual transformative works! (And don't forget to comment if you've added one, or if you've got one already but you're not on the list.)


Thanks to [ profile] ParakaPodfic for reading over this and giving me a podficcer perspective on it. Further viewpoints welcome, of course, from podficcers, authors, lurkers, fanknitters, all kinds of people - comment away. But please don't say "podfic is creepy" or similar. I want this to be a place of fanwork acceptance. Thank you!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
SO. Let us say there is a person who lives in Colorado who really really wants to learn to vid. (This person is not me. I do not live in Colorado.) How - how does this person go about this? Are there Colorado-based vidders who can mentor? Someone who does email or chat support for newbies? Online resources that are helpful? What takes a person from Not Vidding to Vidding? (I really want her to learn to vid because, um, she's going to make a vid I want to see. Look, a lot of fandom is enlightened self-interest, okay?)

All suggestions welcome!
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I've been feeling snippety lately. Probably because I'm ramping up for the inevitable [ profile] sixteenwins payoff post; my predictions for these NHL Playoffs weren't exactly golden, either. (Though I do have a fifty-fifty chance of getting the Cup winner right. Go me?) So, as I did before (with inverted tropes and kidfic), I'm doing little bits from stories about marriage. (And one kind of longer bit, because I couldn't figure out what to cut. Snippets are hard on wordy folk.) One of last year's snippets turned into a real story; maybe one of these will do the same.

In the meantime: four snapshots of marriage stories. All hockey RPF.

ETA: Since I am an AWFUL PERSON, I forgot to thank my betas! [personal profile] thehoyden beta-read the whole thing, [personal profile] anna_unfolding was the Anze/Bobby beta, and [personal profile] shihadchick was the Oilers beta. And, of course, Best Beloved was the alpha-reader. Thanks, all.

Intentional but still stupid marriage! )

Post-hockey marriage! )

Secret divorce! )

REALLY secret marriage! )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Hey, does anyone remember the greatest Nike commercial ever made? It turns out there's more of it! Like, a whole documentary of it! Except it's set in the past, not the future, and the dudes are some guys named Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Or, to put it another way - I have witnessed both cinematic greatness and an actual soulbonding story in real life. And it was called:

Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals

Okay, so the title should already suggest that we are in for something incredibly special here. How often do legitimate sports documentary people select the word "courtship" for the titles of their works? NOT OFTEN is my guess, but I think the discussion around the table immediately after viewing the rough cut went something like this:

Marketer: How 'bout we call it Magic & Bird: A Love Story?
Producer: Accurate, but it lacks punch.
Director: I kind of want a basketball reference in the title.
Marketer: You mean a basketball reference besides the names of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird? You don't think that's already kind of enough?
Director: Well, basketball is one of the major elements of this story.
Marketer: ...I guess.
Producer: I know! Magic & Bird: A Basketball Love Story!
Marketer, cringing: That's a great option, but let's keep looking.
Associate: Hey, how about Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals? See, it's got COURT right in the name, and also it doesn't run the risk of getting shelved in YA fiction.
Director, wild-eyed and feverish: Brilliant. Brilliant. God, that's everything I wanted. It expresses the totality of it, the substance, the quintessence, if you will...
[Awkward pause while no one looks at the director.]
Marketer: So, the next time we make one of these, it's definitely not going to be about two dudes in love, right?
Producer: Absolutely not. Next up is some weird hockey thing involving the Blackhawks.

I really can't see any other way this could have gone; I thought, before I watched it, that the title was over the top, but if anything it was understated.

And know this: it was not my intention to livetweet my viewing of this thing, but I was kind of overcome. Many times. The first time during the opening credits, which was when Magic and Bird began talking about their overpowering love. And I entered some kind of state for the entire last half-hour. I lost control of my ability to punctuate, write in lower case, and, in some cases, breathe. (If you want to view my total collapse, I storified my tweets, with notes. This contains spoilers, although not any spoilers beyond "And really bad stuff happened, but LOVE TRIUMPHED," which is basically a spoiler for like 40% of fiction. And also this totally true documentary.)

If you don't want to read all the tweets, though, I can give you the gist with just two of them. Near the beginning, I said:

Hey did you know Larry Bird and Magic Johnson soulbonded at Worlds? Because I think this documentary just told me they soulbonded at Worlds.

The reason I tweeted this is that LARRY BIRD AND MAGIC JOHNSON SOULBONDED AT WORLDS. (And then Larry Bird rejected his bondmate, that dick. Though the bond endures! He comes through in the end!) The documentary essentially comes right out and says so. Like, I turned to Best Beloved and said, "I've read this story. It was Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews, but it was this exact story."

And then, towards the end, I tweeted this direct quote from the actual documentary, which is a factual type thing:

“Decades removed from the height of their rivalry, their bond endures. Two impossibly different men with a connection only they can fully grasp.”

I mean, this isn't just a love story. It's also about the rise of the NBA, and about race relations in the US, and obviously about HIV and AIDS. And it's good and informative on all those topics. But also it's about these two dudes, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, who were awesome at basketball. And, oh yeah, totally soulbonded.

No matter how much I talk about this, I can't do it justice, because you have to see it to believe. Even if you don't like sports. Even if you have no idea who Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are. Even if you are a member of an alien race or an NSA employee monitoring this for exceptionally improbable national security reasons. Watch this documentary. It will astound you. (And my thanks to all the people who insisted I see this. It was even more than you promised it would be. SO MUCH MORE.)
thefourthvine: A picture of my kid looking solemn. (Earthling solemn green)
The earthling is four, and he's loved the Pigeon for half his life. This is an enduring love, is what I'm saying. And during all that time, he's believed that Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a basically unfair book. The Pigeon should get to drive the bus, is his feeling. It's not like there are any good reasons why not, beyond what a bus driver who didn't even stick around to drive his own bus wants.

But recently we bought the earthling the Pigeon app, and that has taken his Pigeon-bus anguish to new heights. You can change a lot of things about the story in the app, but you can't change the one thing the earthling desperately wants to. No matter what, you have to keep telling the Pigeon no.

I can only conclude that this strikes the earthling as terribly, fundamentally wrong. He's complained to us. He's protested to the app. Every time he plays the app, he gets his stuffed Pigeon out and lets him drive all the cars and trucks he owns, carefully playing through his ideal scenario, which goes like this:

"Can I drive the car transporter?" Pigeon says.

"Yes, you can. I'll help you."

"I'm so happy! This is the best day ever. I'm driving the car transporter!" Pigeon says.

This is an actual transcription, word-for-word, of one of his recent rounds of Pigeon Gets to Drive the Things. (Including the dialogue tags, because the earthling knows you have to specify who's talking.)

So it was against this background of extreme concern over rampant Pigeon-related injustice that I uttered the word "petition" to the earthling yesterday.

"What's petition?" he asked.

I tried to explain. "A petition is a letter you write to someone, asking for something you think should happen. And you sign it, and other people who agree with you sign it, and it's a way of showing that lots of people feel this way."

"Oh," he said, thinking. "Can we write a petition?"

"You have to have a thing you want to happen," I told him. "Like better lunches at school."

"Or the Pigeon to drive the bus?" he asked. I agreed that that is a thing you could write a petition about. "Let's do that," he said.

"But you need a reason," I said. "A good reason why the Pigeon should drive the bus."

"It will make him happy," he said. He thought some more. "He keeps asking and no one ever says yes. You have to say no even if you want yes."

"Any more?" I asked.

He thought some more. "It makes me sad to see him always get said no," he told me.

"You mean you'd rather see him get what he's dreamed of and worked for?" I asked, interpreting some.

"YES," the earthling said.

Those are perfectly good reasons, in my opinion. So, yeah, I made a petition for the earthling. And I'm asking you to sign it. Tell your friends, tell your family: we want the Pigeon to ride the bus. He's been asking for ten years and no one has EVER said yes. It's time to figure out how to make it happen.

Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

(Note: You can sign from anywhere in the world. You don't have to be in the US.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Fastening One Heart to Every Falling Thing (51519 words) by thefourthvine
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Hockey RPF
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin, Evgeni Malkin/Alexander Ovechkin
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe, Alternate Universe - Soulbond, Trope Subversion/Inversion

Geno can't. Sidney won't.

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I wrote one story for Yuletide 2012, for the doughty [personal profile] shrift, who gave me the best prompts in the world.

This Side of Paradise (17031 words) by thefourthvine
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Losers (2010)
Rating: Explicit
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Carlos "Cougar" Alvarez/Jake Jensen

"I'm a good boyfriend," Cougar said.

I tell you what: in the planning stages, this story seemed like it would be fun and short, but it really only delivered on the fun front. I blame Jensen. Key lesson learned this Yuletide: If you want to write a Yuletide story that's less than 10k, don't use the motormouth's point of view. Use the PoV of the laconic guy with the sarcastic eyebrows. I mean, Cougar doesn't go into lengthy digressions about rude Canadians and the etiquette of three-ways and Star Trek.

And speaking of geeky movies, I totally salute [personal profile] thehoyden and [personal profile] frostfire for pointing out, during my Fucking Chris Evans Is in Fucking Everything breakdown, that he's never been in Star Trek. (And I salute [personal profile] frostfire for this conversation via IM while I was deep in the middle of writing this:

Frostfire: Hi! How are you?
Frostfire: Did you watch Wrath of Khan again?
Frostfire: Awwwwwww.

Fandom: the place where people will always understand when you're sobbing incoherently about how he TOUCHES HIS CHAIR OH GOD.)

So, anyway. This story, thanks to Why Jake Can't Shut Up Jensen, became so long that I was in the painful position of not even being able to complain on Twitter about how long it was, because that might de-anon me. But it was a barrel of fun to write, for real.

And Nestra, Norah, Queue, and thehoyden were heroes of Yuletide for beta-reading this with such aplomb. Thanks, guys! Next year, I will try for shorter, and also way fewer run-on sentences. I swear.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
I was going to do this as one general end-of-Yuletide wrap-up, the way I usually do, but the authors aren't revealed yet, and I don't want to wait any longer to brag about my gifts. So, hey: I got cool stuff! I got two fantastic stories:

My Only Self (4587 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Space Girl - The Imagined Village
Rating: Explicit
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Space Girl/Servo Robot Rocket Pilot
Characters: Space Girl, Servo Robot Rocket Pilot

In the aftermath of a disastrous accident, Space Girl and her robot find a new understanding of each other—and possibly, forgiveness.

This is a story for the song Space Girl, by the Imagined Village, and it is wonderful. (It's also the first time I've read my Yuletide story and had suspicions about who wrote it.) Even if you've never heard the song (although I maintain that it is well worth a listen), if you like robots or technological sex or human-machine interaction, this is a story that is designed for you. (Well, technically I guess it was designed for me. Still.) Read!

And because I am the Luckiest Yuletider, I also got:

this obsessive idea (2847 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Literary RPF
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Charles Baudelaire/Jeanne Duval
Characters: Charles Baudelaire, Édouard Manet, Jeanne Duval

Paris, 1863. Édouard's new painting is finished, and he must decide if he should submit it to the Salon for consideration. Charles can't bring himself to care.

All those of you who have, through the years, looked at my ridiculous Charles Baudelaire prompt and wished someone else would write it: SOMEONE DID WRITE IT. And whoever it was did an amazing job. This story is incredible. Beautifully written, and it perfectly integrates the demons and terrors of Baudelaire's imagination with reality, so neither he nor you is ever sure what's real. So, so great.

And both of these stories deserve way more love than they've gotten. PLEASE GO LOVE MY STORIES THE WAY I DO.
thefourthvine: Art from Forsaken, with the text "I know politics bore you." (Politicis)
My son is in preschool right now. Since Newtown, I've been staring at his school, at his building, at his classmates, and thinking of all those kids who are dead now. I don't think any parent can help that.

And, hey, I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop that from happening again. Suggestions I've heard from gun control proponents: Reduce gun access, reduce rate of fire, increase waiting periods, make smart guns (with biometric chips to prevent firing by someone other than owner) mandatory.

Suggestion I've heard again and again from gun fanatics: Arm teachers. When every teacher has a gun, every child will be safe.

And that's what I want to talk about today. )
thefourthvine: Art from Forsaken, with the text "I know politics bore you." (Politicis)
(TW: abortion and the politics thereof.)

(Additional warning: serious business.)

Recently, I tweeted this:

"If you’re pro-life, you’d better also be pro-welfare. If you vote pro-life but against welfare, you’re actually pro-child-misery."

I assume this requires no explanation, but here's a brief one. Women know when they shouldn't have a baby. Many of them, when that is true, seek abortion. If your vote prevents them from getting it, you've forced a child to be born in a bad situation - just to name two examples, that child is at much higher risk of poverty and at much greater risk of living in a household affected by domestic violence. (Yes, you've also inflicted a great deal of harm on the woman herself, but if you're pro-life, you're okay with that. So we're focusing on the child, here. The person you claim you want to protect.) Welfare is one of the means we use to protect children in bad situations. If you simultaneously vote to stop abortion and to cut welfare (and, I might add, other government services), then what you're really saying is, "I'm absolutely in favor of children suffering. I'm entirely willing to increase the number of children in harm's way in this country, and I'm also entirely willing to make sure there's no help for them. Because that's easier and better for me."

In short: congratulations, you're a fucking asshole.

So tweeting this was interesting. I got a lot of FUCK YEAH type replies. I also got some replies from righties. And my discussions with them all fell apart at the same place.

"But the woman should take responsibility!"

"The woman should work to support her kid!"

"The man should stay and help raise his child!"

Yup. Every conversation fell apart as soon as the righty used the word "should."

Here is a true fact: fuck should. Should has no place in policy. We make laws about what is actually happening, not what would happen in an ideal universe, because, newsflash: we don't live in an ideal universe.

So I would point out that hey, this isn't how the world actually works. In reality, men leave. In reality, women can't simultaneously support their kids and pay for childcare on a minimum-wage income. In reality, a woman forced to have a child is in a bad situation, and it is likely to get worse, and if we have a law that put her in that place, that's on all of us. (And in case you think I'm just talking about abortion, and if we just allow abortion we can cut the safety net no problem: until we fix education, racism, abuse, addiction, and poverty, among other major issues, we've still got to step in. Because we owe it to our fellow humans not to let them suffer needlessly when we can help. The end.)

And the social conservative would either step out of the conversation entirely, or go into a sort of a critical error of the brain, except the blue screen of death in this case was just the repetition of the words "personal responsibility" and "should."

Social conservatives appear to think that if they just make laws that perfectly reflect their ideal universe, that universe will somehow be willed into being.

This hasn't worked yet. It's never going to work. It's fucking stupid. And these conservatives actually already know that. (Proof: most of these people are Christians, and Christians are supposed to be into peace and against killing, and yet I never once heard any of them argue that we should abolish the military.) They're just using their talisman words, "should" and "responsibility," to avoid confronting the fact that they, themselves, are personally responsible for the suffering of children.

So this has resulted in the formation of my new rule of political discourse: If you can't phrase your political argument without the word "should," you can't participate in the discussion at all. Seriously. Go away. You're done with politics; you need to take up model airplane building or knitting or something. (Tell the plane that the parts SHOULD be easy to put together! Tell the wool that it SHOULD NOT tangle!)

It's time for people who make some attempt to see reality to design policy.
thefourthvine: A weird festive creature. Text: "Yuletide squee!" (Yuletide Woot!)
Dear Author Person,

We matched! So, hey, here's some good news: three of my four requests this year are five minute fandoms - you can master all three of them in the time it takes to eat a sandwich. I hope that is a joy and a comfort to you, especially if we matched on the fourth request, which is, um, slightly more complicated.

I am, as always, going to provide you with all the details, because that's what I always hope to get from my recipient. But if that's not you, please tap out of this letter now. Just know that I really, really cannot handle child or animal harm or death, and I love you for volunteering for one of my tiny fandoms. See you on the 25th!

Me! )

This Is Where It Starts )

CinderFella -Todrick Hall )

Space Girl, by the Imagined Village )

Literary RPF (Charles Baudelaire) )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
This is a recs set with a special purpose: to give some entertainment to [profile] thetankisclean, whose three-year-old son, Gus, has brain cancer. Obviously this is not a thing I can fix or even help with, but kidfic is her happy place. So I am recommending some long, happy kidfics for her; at least this way she'll have something to read on the many sleepless nights in her near future. (So far, by the way, the news on Gus is basically all good, or at least all the news that followed "he has brain cancer." I'm hoping hard that things stay good for Gus. And if you pray, [profile] thetankisclean has asked that people please pray for him to reach ten healthy and strong and relapse-free.)

The Only Fan Fiction Ever to Make Jeweled Teeth Endearing. (Note: Jeweled Teeth Are NOT Endearing.) The Place of That Desire, by [ profile] yekoc. Swimming RPF, Ryan Lochte/Michael Phelps.

For those of you who, like me, were not really paying attention to the 2012 Olympics, let me assure you: Ryan Lochte is an appalling human being. This dude recently picked Auburn to win a college football game between Texas A&M and LSU, so we can see that he is not the brightest brick in the Duplo box. He has a signature word, and it's such an awful one that I refuse to type it here because I might teach my autocorrect terrible habits. He once tweeted "A Qm" (complete, total tweet) and people favorited the hell out of it as vintage Lochte at the very peak of his communications prowess.

And that's not even getting into his - attire issues. I mean, okay, I knew he had some weird thing about jeweled "grills," but I managed to persuade myself that this must merely mean buttons or maybe Elton John type sunglasses until I was in the middle of this story, when I could resist no longer. I googled. And then I bowed my head and WEPT FOR HUMANITY. (Don't google. If you haven't seen it, DON'T GOOGLE. Just know that he wears bejeweled mouthpieces and be grateful that the phenomenon hasn't spread to other sports. Or, if it has already spread to other sports, don't tell me about it.) And then I showed the picture to Best Beloved so we could weep a little more together. (TFV Marriage Tip #121: Spend a little time each day being mutually appalled together.)

But when we were done, I wiped my tears and kept reading, because this story is fantastic. I have a special love for stories that manage to make seriously disastrous people lovable without erasing any of their problematic elements. And I basically worship this story for convincing me that Ryan Lochte, Ryan Lochte, would be adorable with a baby. And good with a baby. And an actual quality parent. And that he's - yeah, okay, lovable.

Frankly, this story is not just sweet and adorable, and it doesn't just have its best scene take place in a pool, it's also deeply inspiring. At least if you are the kind of person (me) who can be inspired by the discovery that even profoundly flawed human beings can still be reasonably awesome ones. And if that's not enough for you, this has perhaps the best coming out scene in all of recorded fan fiction. At least if you like your coming out scenes the way I do. (My impression of coming out was forever warped by my own experience of it, which was notable for the following conversation between my mother and sister:

My sister, cranky because seriously don't talk to her in the morning she's a fuzzy ball of snit until ten: Are we out of milk?
My mother, on the phone to me: Your sister's a lesbian.

If you're going to come out, and you're worried about the response you might get, I encourage you to practice on my sister in the morning. Okay, really any time, but you'll get much more amusing results if you start early.)

Location of the mother: Absent. But, I mean, this is a character who had unprotected sex with Ryan Lochte, so I can't think anyone would be surprised.

The One That Leaves Me Wishing I Could Download All the Adorable Photos Taken During the Story. Whyyyyy Can't I Make Photos Appear with Just the Power of My Brain? I Swear I Would Use My Power Only for Good! Enough to Crush Your Veins, by [personal profile] doctor_denmark. Hockey RPF, Jeff Skinner/Eric Staal.

When this story first came out, I had several late-night arguments with people about it. And that is definitely a sign of a quality story: people, some of whom have CHILDREN and all of whom have to get up in the morning, spending precious sleep time a) reading a story and b) communicating with friends in other locations who are also up way too late reading the same story. (My father, when I was little, used to tell me about a strange time in our country's history when almost everyone watched the SAME TV SHOWS at the SAME TIME. It was like the world's least social party, the way he described it. "That'll never happen again, of course," he said. If he were alive today, I would tell him that it still does happen. Sort of. In the sense of several thousand people all reading the same pornographic fan fiction story at the same time and mutually shrieking about it via email and Twitter. The thing about my dad is that he would probably have found that inspiring proof of humanity's basic amazingness.)

Anyway. So basically this is the story that put nanny AUs in a box marked done for me, because I'm never going to be able to read all the way through another one without taking this one out and reading it again. It is GREAT. It is CLASSIC. And it works for me - well, okay, first it works for me because the toddler OC is an actual toddler. (I cannot read stories featuring alien toddlers from another dimension. Unless of course they are billed that way. Which reminds me: why don't people write Vulcan toddlers more often? WHERE IS THE VULCAN TODDLER FIC?) But mostly it works because it takes an abused, overused plot element (two people who really need to talk to each other and yet don't) and perfects it. This is how that's supposed to be done, is basically what I take away from this story: two people being idiots, yes, but because of reasons! It makes all the difference.

And, oh, there is so much glorious stuff here. I don't want to spoil it for you, but trust me: if this is the kind of thing you like, then you will basically want to wallow in this story, roll around in it, maybe print out a copy so you can put hearts in the margins in some places. Not that I have done any of those things. (Except I do re-read this basically every time I'm sick, which, given that I have my very own germ vector, means I've re-read it at least 20 times since it was posted. In April. One area of raising a toddler where this story does not achieve realism is in the area of constant illness, but I just assume Eric and Jeff and Joey all have superhuman immune systems, which are probably issued to you free through public health care up in Canada.)

Location of the mother: Present (albeit temporarily in another country)! A good parent who is ACTUALLY INVOLVED IN HER CHILD'S LIFE WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

The One That Confirms My Theory That Airports Were Put in This World to Test Us to Destruction. Don't You Shake Alone, by [personal profile] dira. Generation Kill, Brad Colbert/Nate Fick.

I always feel like I'm cheating when I recommend a story by Dira. Everyone knows she's good by now, right? Everyone who would even consider reading a lengthy Generation Kill based kidfic did so immediately after she posted it, right? It's like: Dira wrote a good story. In other news, Neil deGrasse Tyson is a basically perfect human being and this Labrador Retriever puppy is cute enough to make your teeth hurt.

But in the end, I don't recommend a story based on whether I think there's an English-reading fan anywhere in the solar system who is unaware of it; I recommend a story because a) I want to write about it and b) I want Best Beloved to read it. (She refuses to read stories I go on about at length unless I actually sit down and write about them. This is the motivation for like 90% of the recommendations I've made in the past four years. TFV Marriage Tip #382: Know how to motivate your partner, and then use that knowledge to make her do things she actually wants to do anyway.)

So. This story is incredible. And not just because it's frankly adorable kidfic set against a background of realistic PTSD, which is not something most writers could manage. This story - like, I read this and I cannot believe that Dira doesn't have children, because she depicts, perfectly and clearly, the complete sea change a new baby brings to your life, and how being a new parent is kind of like - well, in birth classes they talk about "pain with a purpose," because the purpose is supposed to make all the difference. As far as labor goes, this is bullshit. Labor pain is pain. (It's pain with an END, which is way more important than a purpose, at least to me.) But being the parent of a new baby actually is pain with a purpose, and the purpose is making you attach so fiercely to a tiny helpless human that you would cheerfully kill hundreds of people to protect the useless larva that has kept you from sleeping or doing any uninterrupted tasks for the past three months. If human beings were intelligently designed, it was by someone with a massively warped sense of humor.

And if there was ever a fandom designed to underscore the warped nature of human reproduction and development, Generation Kill is that fandom. No one gets how fucked up basically everything is like Marines, is what I'm saying. Plus, the fundamentals of baby care involve a lot of sleep deprivation and random bodily fluids. Again, sort of the wheelhouse of the US Marines. (I'd suggest everyone hire a Marine as a babysitter, but it would have a deleterious effect on the vocabulary of the next generation.)

So this story is just fundamentally right. Plus, you know, hot, sweet, gorgeous, perfect - enough said GO READ.

Location of the mother: Planned absence.

The One That Proves That What Every Parent Really Needs Is Superhuman Senses and Magical Powers. I - Find This Unfair. Kindred, by [ profile] maldoror_gw. Naruto, Gaara/Rock Lee.

Yes, okay, technically this is a sequel (although you could read it as a standalone, but why in god's name would you want to?) to Diplomatic Relations. I'm recommending it anyway because:
  1. It is a great story in its own right.

  2. If you haven't read Diplomatic Relations yet, that's a tragedy, and if you want to live a tragedy that is your choice and I can't be held responsible. All I can do is try to show you the light.
So. Either you should go read Diplomatic Relations, stopping off if necessary at my original recommendation of it, or you have already done this task (and thus been fitter, happier, and more productive for the past four years) and are ready to move directly on to Kindred. Either way, let me tell you about Kindred.

My own theory for how [ profile] maldoror_gw decided to write this story is that she was sitting in her home one day, thoughtfully considering Gaara, as you do, and she suddenly realized there was something even more terrifying to contemplate than Gaara in love: Gaara with a CHILD. Parenting a child. Raising a child! (If you have no idea who Gaara is, it shouldn't hold you back from reading this story, by the way. He's a psychopathic, demon-infested ninja whose childhood consisted entirely of trauma and killing. But as an adult he's really much improved, and some optimistic people even believe he might have a facial expression someday. In short: spacetoaster!) It really is the kind of concept to give you nightmares.

But this story is the exact opposite of a nightmare. Yes, that's in part because Rock Lee, whatever his other faults (mostly excessive enthusiasm and sincerity, and if you don't think sincerity can be a fault, obviously you need to read up on Rock Lee), was basically designed to be a good parent (despite having a traumatic childhood; as far as I can tell from my limited exposure to Naruto, the number of ninjas with traumatic childhoods is all of them). But it's also because Gaara is used to working around his faults, and there is no more accurate description of parenthood than that.

This story is funny, fun, and touching, basically all the things good kidfic should be. Plus it features ninjas in love. I'm not sure how things can ever be better than that. (Okay, maybe if you also added robots? I don't know, it might be overkill, but in my experience robots usually make things better.)

Location of the mother: Deceased, but this is Naruto, where like 80% of adults don't make it past 30, or at least that's how it looks to me from my place of total lack of canon knowledge. (To give you some idea, Rock Lee was orphaned at an early age. Gaara's mother died when he was born and his father died later; you could list "Gaara" as the cause of death for both of them with reasonable accuracy.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
It's Yuletide time! And thus time to bring out the Yuletide advice posts.

Every year I try to persuade someone new to Yuletide to sign up for it. I don't always succeed, but I always try. And part of what I offer to support them in the Yuletide hurly-burly is advice on signing up and selecting fandoms. And then I thought: what if there are other people, people who are signing up for the first time even though they are not being harassed by me, who might also want to know this stuff? Anything is possible!

So I am sharing. Selecting fandoms for Yuletide, TFV style.

The central thesis here - my single key piece of advice - is basically DON'T DO WHAT I HAVE DONE. And while I've made mistakes every single year, my first few years I made doozies. Let's discuss my errors, so that you can either learn from them or, you know, just laugh at me. Either one is a totally valid choice.

2004 was my first year, and I signed up in a total panic. I couldn't believe I was doing it, actually signing up for Yuletide. Because - this amazing challenge that actually got me into fandom! And me, who had never actually written any fan fiction! Surely a bad combination. Also I had a high fever. And that's why, instead of actually looking at all the fandoms, I went through the fandom list from the top - this was waaaaay back when, and the fandom list was this drop-down box with a billion options, ordered alphabetically. I just picked the first three fandoms I knew, fandoms that all began with A, and went back to bed.

This was an error. I missed several key steps in the offering process, including:
  • Considering what people might want in that fandom.
  • Considering how it would be to write in that fandom.
  • Imagining what a story in that fandom might actually look like, coming from me.
  • Involving my brain at any point in the process.
This is why I ended up getting assigned All Creatures Great and Small. Which, okay, back then the format for Yuletide fandoms wasn't written in stone the way it is now, and I didn't even know that there was a British TV miniseries based on the books. So I was offering the books. My recipient was requesting the miniseries. Problem! Also the books are these totally heartwarming stories told in a distinctive first person voice. I - do not do heartwarming. Another problem! One I really should have considered before I got my assignment. As I did not, by all rights my first Yuletide should have been a disaster. A fandom mismatch! A fandom I couldn't actually write! Oh god whyyyyyy? CUE PANIC.

I have three people to thank for getting me through that Yuletide: Best Beloved, who read and edited and soothed and supported, [personal profile] laurashapiro, who beta-read the story after BB was through with it, and Cassie, our beloved and much-missed Labrador Retriever, whose lifestyle choices (chew all the things, basically) gave me something to write about. I also have to thank [ profile] artyartie, who saved my life by providing a very useful prompt, and who was the best recipient a first-time Yuletider could hope for. (Dear recipients everywhere: if you really want to make your writer's day, come back a year later and say how much you still love your story. [ profile] artyartie did that for me, and my confidence as a Yuletider totally soared. Which I needed.)

My take-home lessons from my first Yuletide: Read the whole list of fandoms. Also, get a loved one to review your signup for sanity.

The next year, 2005, I was determined! I would do Yuletide again! I would make fewer mistakes this time! It was a good thing my goal did not involve making no mistakes, let's just say. I downloaded a spreadsheet with all the nominated fandoms on it and eliminated everything I didn't know, followed by everything I couldn't write. Then I considered what was left. This was a much better process. Unfortunately, I missed two key steps, which were:
  • Considering what people might want in the fandom.
  • Remembering that I might be assigned either gen or pairing.
The previous year, I'd been assigned gen. (For which I am eternally grateful to the Great Yuletide Sorter, because I don't think I could have stood it otherwise. I am bad at porn anyway, and given everything else I did wrong that first year, oh god no no no.) I forgot that lots of people, me included, sometimes want fan fiction that has sex in it. I had not, at this point in my fannish career, written any explicit porn. (There are many people who do Yuletide who are only really interested in writing gen or very non-explicit romance. At least some of them game their signups considerably to avoid fandoms where straight up smut is a likely request. I did not do this. This was an error.) And that was how I ended up getting assigned Mr. and Mrs. Smith, with the prompt of "hot het porn." I had never written het. I had never written explicit porn. I had never written anything hot. CUE PANIC.

I survived this Yuletide thanks to Best Beloved, my amazing betas, and my Emergency Yuletide Whining Filter. Best Beloved in particular went above and beyond the call of duty by saying such things as "get her hands on his cock right now" and "I really think you ought to get her skin-tight pants off before they have penis-in-vagina sex" and also reminding me that while I cannot write porn, I can write teasing indefinitely. And [personal profile] queue wins points forever for being the person to point out, gently and kindly, that I had given John two cocks, and this was not canonical.

My take-home lessons from Yuletide 2005: Sometimes people want pairings, and even porn. Also, only write doublecock porn if your recipient specifically requests doublecock porn.

In future years, I learned advanced lessons about considering what kind of time you have, what kind of Yuletide experience you want to have, what access to the source you have. But the basics are pretty simple:
  1. Get to a short list somehow. I go through the entire list of fandoms and delete everything I don't know and then everything I couldn't write, but you can do it however you want.

  2. When you have that short list, look at each one of them. Imagine how you would feel if you got it assigned to you. Imagine opening up your assignment letter and discovering that this is your fandom, that you have only a few weeks to write at least a thousand words in it. Imagine what story you'd write.

  3. Think about what stories a recipient might request. Common requests include:
    • A pairing of any two of the nominated characters. M/m, m/f, and f/f are all options, here. Threesomes are also a possibility, although I think less likely (based entirely on how I've never received a request for one; yes, this is SCIENCE).
    • Background. The history of a character, the history of some institution, how everything got to wherever it is in the canon.
    • Futurefic. How things turn out after the story ends.
    • Something just like canon - another episode, say.
    • Worldbuilding. This is obviously especially likely in any canon that takes place in a world obviously and significantly different than ours.
    Imagine writing each one of these types.

  4. If, after all that, you feel good about it, leave that fandom in. And if you can't imagine writing a story for it, throw it out.
Take whatever is left and divide it into two lists: fandoms for which you must specify characters (always an excellent choice if you're, say, happy to write Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, but aren't really sure you could hack Bill/Ted's mom) and fandoms for which you can honestly offer any and all characters (because you are happy to write Bill/Ted's mom, or Bill/Billy the Kid, or Socrates/Joan of Arc!). Pick your top five specific-characters fandoms and offer those (or, if you have fewer than five, offer them all). Make the rest your bucket list.

And then PROFIT. Or, okay, don't profit, because this is fan fiction. My point is: click that submit button and go on your merry way. (Until you get your assignment letter a week or two later and inaugurate the great tradition of Yuletide Panic, at least if you're me.)

Anyone else have any tips to share?
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Sometimes you see something and think, "I want more of this. So much more." And so you make it a Yuletide fandom. And sometimes you see a thing and think, "There is more to this story, and I want to know what it is," and so you make it a Yuletide fandom. This is both of those things. Go ahead, watch. It's better unspoiled, and it's three minutes long.

It's the video for Camille Harp's cover of "I'm on Fire."

Okay, so you've seen it now, right? So, like, there's an obvious narrative here, but what I love is that it doesn't quite work; it doesn't explain everything that we're seeing. THERE ARE SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. (And unanswered questions are what a Yuletide fandom needs to thrive! Or at least to get to a thousand words of story.) What does she say to the dude over the phone? It can't be what we're hearing. What exactly does the dude think when he gets there? He's not pissed off and rageful, more rueful, like, well, crap, she got me. Might as well drink some of this alcohol she left for me and study the photo she partly burned and ponder this story that all three of us know so much better than the viewer. And what is this woman? She's wearing a tank top on a cold night and yet is obviously not cold, and also she seems sort of - strange. My own theory is some kind of supernatural deal, here (succubus for ladies?), but there are so many possibilities.

And then there's also the possibility for hot femslash. Which, you know, I am bang alongside. Basically, this is a no-lose Yuletide fandom.

(And even if you aren't interested in Yuletide, still click through so you do not miss the awesome genderswitched cover of "I'm on Fire." You can't tell me that isn't relevant to your interests.)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
For my second sixteenwins payoff, I had to (Had to! Like it's a chore!) talk about kidfic. And, okay. I have always adored kidfic, but ever since I had a kid of my own, it's been - complicated. I still want all the characters to have all the kids, except the characters who obviously should not be permitted within fifty feet of children, but I have all these - opinions and standards and issues and shit. It's awful when reality gets in the way of your legitimate enjoyment of fan fiction.

So I guess I could have given [ profile] quettaser a lengthy screed on my kidfic issues, but I'm trying to produce something she'll actually read all the way through. So instead: four summaries and snippets from kidfic stories I yearn to read. YEARN.

Thanks to my Flyers beta, [personal profile] paxpinnae, my Habs beta, [personal profile] katarin, and my pre-readers, [ profile] thehoyden and Best Beloved.

Traditional kidfic! )

Non-traditional kidfic! )

Uncommon kidfic! )

Id kidfic! )

Poll! )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So, I put together two brackets for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and - I didn't think the Kings would win, okay? (I take comfort in the fact that no one thought the Kings would win. As the playoffs went on, I spent a lot of time collecting especially querulous articles talking about the Kings. Professional hockey commentators seemed a touch cranky. I can only conclude that the Kings fucked up their brackets, too.)

So, in the particular pool I was in, you have to pony up not money, but fannish stuff. I offered words. I have many, and other people generally want fewer of them, but in this case [ profile] quettaser inexplicably wanted more of them. Her request:

Request! )

Now, extremely conveniently, just before she posted this request, I spent some time whining to [personal profile] frostfire about the particular manifestation my Bitter Old Fandom Queen disease was taking. Namely, I want all the tropes. But I want them backwards. So in part one of my payoff, I'm going to write about how, now that hockey fandom has done - okay, most of the tropes, although there is always room for more, or for that matter for the same ones again - it is time to shake the tropes, turn them inside out, and see what's in their pockets. (Not recommended with Jeff Carter or Mike Richards, since what's in their pockets this summer is: an assortment of, uh, entirely legal substances, condoms, lube, phone numbers scrawled on beer-stained napkins, an SD card containing the video of the threesome they had with the Cup, a half-eaten PowerBar from the sweep against the Blues, a badly-photoshopped picture of Paul Holmgren rimming himself, and a small laminated card that Kings management gave to all the players that says "Hi! I am a Stanley Cup winner. If I am found too drunk to walk or talk, please call my team and someone will be sent to collect me. REWARD.")

So, here are some inside-out tropes that I really, really yearn to see in hockey fandom. (And, uh, sorry, [ profile] quettaser; I am a Penguins fan, which I think means we are sworn enemies for life and if we ever meet in person you are required to consume 3/8ths of my liver. But in both this and the kidfic post, I made a sincere attempt to include some Flyers content. And we can at least meet peaceably in the drunken, homoerotic presence of the Flyers West.) I have included concepts, summaries, and also story snippets.

Thanks to [personal profile] paxpinnae for being the Flyers fan beta, and to [ profile] thehoyden and Best Beloved for general pre-reading.

Also in fairness I should note that I have 30k more words written on the full version of one of these. I. Look. It's been a long postseason, okay?

Accidental marriage! But not. )

Amnesia! But not. )

Prostitution! But not. )

Gay chicken! But not. )
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, so after my mistaken public posting earlier today, several people led me to an epiphany, which goes like this: why not share my list of Yuletide fandom links? Maybe people will be swayed and nominate them! Or swayed and WRITE them! Or, you know, just squee with me, so I have joy to tide me over until actual Yuletide.

So here's another one. Everyone I've shown this to has had roughly the same reaction, which goes like this:
  1. I - am not sure I can stand this. Do I really have to watch ALL SIX MINUTES?
  2. Things are looking up! Maybe it won't be torture!
  4. No. No, I was wrong, because this is clearly the greatest.
  5. WRONG AGAIN. That's for SURE the greatest.
  6. Ahahahahahaha.
  7. Awwwwwwwww.
  8. ...It's over? And I can't even buy the music? Suuuuuuuuuck. Better watch it again, I guess.
My point is, it is really important to muscle through the initial part, which is a little hard to take if you aren't a fan of wistfulness, to get to the parts that are the greatest. And I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'm going to link here and then discuss for a bit. Ready? Watch the WHOLE THING.

CinderFella, by Todrick Hall. (Warning for rapid cutting and flashing lights.)

There. If that didn't make you happy, I don't even want to know, because it makes me really, really happy. And I knew as soon as I saw it that it would be a Yuletide fandom for me, because I would take any story in this fandom. The main pairing, obviously - I want to know their happily ever after, because I am seriously invested in it. The princesses, oh hell yes, I want to know all about that - every detail, if you will. The fairy godmother! I want to know what she does on her days off. Anything. Anything at all.

My only real complaint here is that as far as I know I can't actually buy the music. But everything else is glorious.
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
So, this was in actual fact supposed to be a private post for future (Yuletide!) reference - yes, I really am the person who makes private posts with Yuletide fandom suggestions throughout the year, and it has always served me in good stead - but since I made it public I think I should leave it public. Bottom line:

Watch this commercial, which features basketball players growing up and then fucking each other. You think I'm kidding? You tell me what comes after the last shot. I seriously can't think of anything that doesn't involve cock no matter how hard I try.

(And then prepare to write it for Yuuuuuuuletide!)
thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, I am fully aware that there is a solution to this somewhere on Google, but I am also aware that the chances of me finding it anytime in the next brief forever are very slim. (Basically, I had a con, which was great and good and wonderful. And then I came back from the con and realized my life is booked for eternity. And also everyone is sick and we are all apparently going to stay that way for roughly the same length of time. I wish there was a rule that illness and busyness were mutually exclusive, but no. Unfair, I say, unfair.)

So. I have a new main computer. Yay! Because of a disastrous third-party software misfire, I used the native Windows file transfer utility to move everything from my old XP computer to my new Windows 7 computer. (Yes, I know Macs are perfect and made of unicorn snot and that using one is basically the same as achieving union with the godhead. This is why I have a Mac laptop. But my main computer cannot be a Mac for work reasons the end.)

In the process, all my music transferred over, and all my iTunes data - play counts and playlists, particularly - transferred over, but iTunes can't find my music. It's not where it used to be. (And the folder in which it lives is locked? I think?) I do not want to lose all that data, because I'm not even sure how to navigate my sprawling music collection without it. On the other hand, iTunes is unusable at this point, which means my iPod is unupdateable, which means I am sad and bereft and pathetic. And Apple of course will not provide me with any support on this front, as I am evil, and Microsoft supporting anything - okay, I'll just stop here while you get the laughter out of your system

And, like I said, I am sure there is a fix for this, and I am also sure sufficient application to Google would tell me what that is. But I'm hoping someone out there already knows what it is. And can tell me. Ideally in steps that can be easily understood by a person on a lot of cough syrup, but at this point I will take helpful links or just basically anything. Even if the answer is that I'm doomed and must do a fresh install of iTunes, that would be useful to know because it would keep me from hoping.

Help? Someone? Please?

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Okay, so. Today I tried on all my dresses and discovered, to my extreme lack of joy, that exactly two of them still fit over my post-breastfeeding boobs. Like, I thought the boobs were supposed to go back to normal, and in fact I thought they had, but after I saw myself in my pre-pregnancy all things to all parties dress (which I love and cannot stand the thought of getting rid of), with boob up as far as my ears, I was forced to conclude that that had maaaaaybe not happened.

So. Last year at VVC, I told myself that the next time I went, I would damned well bring a dress and wear it to Club Vivid. Obviously, my boobs are calling my bluff, since my choices now consist of:
  1. A nursing dress that, ironically, wouldn't fit over my boobs when I was nursing. It fits now. Pros: It is soft and comfy! It's kind of vaguely pretty! Cons: It's a nursing dress, and I'm not nursing anymore. Also, its style aesthetic can best be described as "schoolmarm who wants ready access to her boobs."

  2. A black lace dress that no one in this house remembers buying. Pros: It fits. And it's black. Cons: I'm not sure it ever was in style. It can best be described as "gothic schoolmarm."

  3. Pajamas. Pros: Comfortable. Cons: Not sure I want to be the girl who wore pajamas to the ball.

  4. My retired swimsuit. This is a suit I bought when I apparently believed I'd be attending a lot of underwater evening parties; it's black with a little drape and a short skirt and basically looks nothing like a swimsuit. Cons: Really not sure I want to be the girl who wore a swimsuit to the ball. Pros: Might be the most appropriate piece of attire I own that still fits over my boobs. Plus, if the hotel floods, I will be completely prepared and in a position to mock the attractive, well-dressed people flailing in their non-water-resistant clothing.
Since I am currently in an aggressive state of dither over all things relating to the trip (my brain currently sounds like this: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEE, with occasionally side trips into what I was even thinking deciding to go somewhere), I can't decide. HELP.

Poll #11366 Dress Me
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 252

What should I wear to the ball?

View Answers

The nursing schoolmarm dress. Ready access to your boobs can only be an advantage at a fannish con.
10 (4.0%)

The gothic schoolmarm dress. Black lace is the background for glowsticks this summer.
149 (59.1%)

The pajamas. Might as well not give any fucks at all, right?
25 (9.9%)

The swimsuit. The way the climate is currently behaving, being constantly prepared for sudden flooding is an A+ choice.
68 (27.0%)

thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
The other night, Best Beloved and I were reading before sleeping, as is the custom of our people, and I had to take a break from the story. In the days when I did most of my fan fiction reading on a computer, that meant just switching to another tab. But now I do most of it on my Kindle, and I can't switch in and out as quickly. (On the other hand, it's way easier to read fan fiction before bed.) So for short breaks, I just kind of - look away from the screen. Which is what I did.

"What?" BB said, looking up from her own Kindle.

"It's getting gross," I told her. I may have sounded a trifle grim when I said it.

There was a pause as she tried to figure out if she wanted to know, and decided she probably didn't, and then realized she couldn't stop herself from asking anyway. (This is, by the way, self-destructive curiosity. Normally I'm the one who has it. Not this time.) "Like - blood?" she asked. "Serial killers?"

"They're having feelings all over the place," I said. And I meant it.

See, even in stories, I prefer feelings in small doses. When people start having impassioned conversations in which they share their innermost thoughts, I have to stare into space for a while, even if they are totally great and in-character conversations and the story is awesome.

I realized, after BB finished laughing openly at me and returned to her book (in which people probably had feelings left, right, and center without her flinching at all, because she is weird enough that she believes a serial killing is more disgusting than emoting) that this was totally related to a question [personal profile] bethbethbeth posed quite a while back, about people's favorite character types.

This might lead you to believe that my favorite character is the strong silent type. And, okay, I do enjoy reading about people who, if they have a feeling, have to go ford a stream or hack through a jungle or venture into deepest space to deal with the trauma. But that isn't my type.

My type is the spacetoaster. I love spacetoasters. I can get into all kinds of fandoms and I can like all kinds of characters, but only a spacetoaster will force me to turn my brain into a sort of heart annex to hold all my feelings of love. (Yes. Irony: I live it.)

So it's probably pretty obvious, but I'd still like to define the spacetoaster.

A toaster, see, is someone with a feelings dysfunction. Maybe the toaster has few feelings. Maybe the toaster has lots of feelings and is totally bewildered by them. Maybe the toaster has spent a lifetime getting distance from any and all feelings, only to be suddenly confronted by them and fail to deal. Whatever. My point is: toasters don't get feelings. They spend a lot of their lives watching other people emote and wishing to be elsewhere, or having feelings themselves and thinking they're maybe hungry or something. (And, yes, there is a bond of sympathy here. I once had an argument with an art therapist in which I finally said, "But I don't have feelings all the time." "You do," she told me, using the tone that therapists used to get with teenaged me after half an hour or so of attempted therapy. "Everyone has feelings all the time. You just don't acknowledge them." And then the hour was up, thank god, but I still think I was right. Sometimes I don't have any particular feelings.)

But not all toasters meet my character needs. There are lots of people who are coldly efficient, or coldly correct, or coldly distant who in no way grip me, or at least don't specially grip me, because I am specifically interested in spacetoasters: toasters who are alien, or alienated. Or maybe just easiest to describe in alien terms. Whatever. My point is, if you have an alienesque person who dreams in black and white, a person who acts like all her feelings are beamed in from a space station orbiting Jupiter, you have a character I'm going to want to meet, and read about, and write about, and possibly pin up on my super-secret Wall of Spacetoasters.

This is why my reaction to Spock was, basically, where have you been all my life, you dreamy, dreamy spacetoaster? Spock is the exemplar, the archetype, the essence of spacetoasterdom. If you're looking for a spacetoaster, you can do no better than Spock. And if you're trying to build a better spacetoaster, I'm just going to have to laugh at you, because they don't get better than Spock. (Although I encourage you to try. So, so strongly encourage you to try.)

But there are other spacetoasters out there, of course. Benton Fraser, I would submit, is a spacetoaster - a guy routinely labeled a freak even by his fellow Mounties, whose only successful emotional relationship, as the series begins, has been with a dog. (Many spacetoasters are better with animals or babies than with adult humans.) Aeryn Sun would rather shoot everyone in a building, or indeed on a planet, than have a single heartfelt sharing moment, and she is, again, an actual alien: spacetoaster! (And, man, maybe it's just that I never really watch - uh, anything, basically - but to me it looks like there is a serious shortage of lady spacetoasters out there. Someone needs to get to work on that, stat. I mean, I get the sense that Temperance Brennan may be a spacetoaster, but I also get the sense that she's on an ensemble show, and I still have scars from the last ensemble show I tried to watch. Beyond that, and of course my beloved Queen of Attolia, I've got nothing.) Jamie Hyneman has three certified expressions, last had a feeling in the fall of '39, and is weird even to other Mythbusters: spacetoaster, spacetoaster, spacetoaster. Abed Nadir is, as far as I can make out, the result of Dan Harmon's actual attempt to build a better spacetoaster. (He failed, of course. There's only one Spock. But Abed is awesome, even so.) And then there's Sidney Crosby, who only has feelings during and about hockey, and who may actually be from space. Spacetoaster. (In fact, the word itself comes from a pathetically long email exchange on the subject of one Sidney Crosby. I am not going to implicate my co-conspirator, though, on the grounds that she might then refuse to finish a story I really want to read. Guess what it's about!)

So, you believe you may have a spacetoaster on your hands, but you aren't quite sure? Here are some signs! (Please note that, like many tests, this is not intended to diagnose. A high score merely provides a basis for further testing. The real proof of the spacetoaster is in the story.)
  1. Is your character highly competent at something that is not feelings or people? (If yes, +10 spacetoaster points.)
  2. Try writing a story from your suspected spacetoaster's first-person point of view. Then write the same story from some other character's point of view. If the first character requires more words to get to the same place, and those words aren't in dialogue, you may have a spacetoaster on your hands. (+1 spacetoaster point for every additional thousand words. In extreme cases, you can just stop the test here; some spacetoaster points of view can add 50k words to a story.)
  3. Imagine writing a story in which your suspected spacetoaster is a robot. Now imagine writing a story in which the same character spends fifteen minutes discussing his or her feelings intensely and sincerely. (+5 spacetoaster points if the robot was easier. +10 spacetoaster points if you fell over laughing when you tried to picture the second scenario. +15 if your character is actually already a robot.)
  4. Picture your possible spacetoaster receiving a heartfelt hug from an acquaintance. (+5 spacetoaster points if the character stands there stiffly. +10 if he or she recoils, flees, or flinches. +15 if it is impossible to picture an acquaintance hugging your character because the Do Not Touch field is so strong with this one.)
  5. Take a random sampling of five stories about the suspected spacetoaster, or five episodes, whatever you have. Count the number of times the character fails to understand some extremely basic human concept. (Example: if you want to kiss someone, that might mean you are attracted to that person!) (+1 point/incidence.)
  6. Consider the same random sample. Give one spacetoaster point for each incidence of the following:
    • Someone calls the character an alien.
    • The character must engage in some level of research (reading texts, calling friends or relations, setting up an elaborate double-blind study, whatever) to understand a joke.
    • The character avoids an emotional scene.
    • The character fails to notice an emotional scene.
    • The character wishes to be a robot.
    • The character fails to respond appropriately to a fairly basic cultural concept. (Example: not really understanding the rules of visiting a friend at home.)
Total up your points. The higher the number, the more likely it is that you should email me with news of your spacetoastery discovery. What, you thought you were taking this test for you? Don't be silly. (You might not even appreciate spacetoasters. Although I hope you do.) This is my attempt to get you to tell me about your favorite spacetoasters, because I might have missed some. And I'm sick. There's nothing like a spacetoaster when you're sick. The hopeless way she stares at you in distressed confusion, pats you awkwardly on the shoulder, and then disappears and comes back with a welding torch - it just sets you right up.


thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
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