Tell them stories, twenty years on

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:34 am
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
[personal profile] dolorosa_12
I wrote this two days ago on my Wordpress reviewing blog, but I thought it was worth reposting here on Dreamwidth as well.

Twenty years ago (or nineteen years, nine months, and about twenty days ago, if you want to get really technical), I was a restless thirteen-year-old, stuck inside during a rainy week on holiday down the south coast of New South Wales. It was the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve, which meant that I was carting around a massive haul of books, given to me for both my birthday and Christmas. I had read all my new books -- all except one, whose cover put me off. My younger sister, fed up with me moping around the house complaining of 'nothing to read,' made the very sensible point that I hadn't read that book. 'I don't like books about animals,' I objected. She insisted. I am forever grateful that she did. Feeling resentful, I sat down to read Northern Lights (or, as my edition was called, The Golden Compass), the first in Philip Pullman's sweeping, expansive children's trilogy, His Dark Materials. I was hooked from the first page, inhaled the book in one sitting, and, once I'd finished it, opened it up at the beginning and reread it without pause. I reread the book four times over the course of that one-week holiday.

It's hard to describe what it felt like, to read that story as a thirteen-year-old. I was already a voracious reader, and I had already encountered many beloved stories, books I would reread incessantly, or borrow repeatedly from the local library. There were already books I felt fannish about, and whose characters I identified with and drew courage from. But this was different. It was like being seen for the first time. It was as if ideas, beliefs and fears I had long felt but was not yet able to articulate had been given voice and shape on the page. As a teenager, my many rereads of Northern Lights (and, after impatient waits of one year and three years, respectively, for its follow-ups The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) helped guide both my reading tastes, and my burgeoning sense of political awareness. My love of the series got me a paid newspaper reviewing gig at the age of sixteen, and I continued to freelance as a reviewer for various Australian broadsheets for ten years after that.

Ten years ago (or, if you want to get technical, ten years, nine months, and a couple of days ago), I was in a bad place. I had returned to my hometown after graduating university, and although I had a good job and a lot of family support, I was desperately unhappy, and felt isolated and directionless. All my friends seemed to have adjusted to adult life in a way that I was incapable of, and I felt left behind. In a fit of desperation I — who mistrusted the internet and who barely went online except to check email — typed 'His Dark Materials fansite' into Google. I found something that saved me. 2007 was not a good year, but it was made infinitely more bearable by the incredible collection of people — most of whom lived on the other side of the world — who hung out in the forums of that site. Most of them had been there for years, and were all talked out about His Dark Materials, so instead they analysed other books, shared music tips, or just vented about their daily lives. Although by their standards I was a latecomer, they welcomed me with open arms. For a long time, the only thing that got me through the day was the prospect of hanging out in the IRC chat room they'd set up — the international composition of this group of fans (plus the fact that most of them were students or otherwise kept odd hours) meant that someone was always around at all hours. This was my first foray into online fandom, and I made friends for life. Meeting the sraffies — as we called ourselves — was like coming home. Being with them was, like reading the books that had brought us all together, like being seen for the first time. I was able to relax and be myself and feel safe in a way that I hadn't really anywhere since becoming an adult. Ten years have passed since then, and the group of us have gone through so many things together. We've graduated from university, changed jobs and careers, had books and academic articles published, moved cities, emigrated, fallen in and out of love (in some cases, with each other), mourned deaths, and supported each other through whatever life threw at us. We travel specifically to meet up with each other, and if work, study, or holidays bring us by chance to each others' cities, we make a point to hang out. One of the friends I met through His Dark Materials was even a bridesmaid at my wedding.

I recently did a reread of the trilogy, wanting to refresh my memory before reading Pullman's much anticipated foray back into the world of His Dark Materials. I was anxious that it wouldn't affect me as it had when I was younger, that I would pick up on flaws, that its emotional notes would leave me unmoved. I shouldn't have worried. Reading Pullman's words again, returning to that world, was like falling into water. Like the best and most meaningful of stories, it gave me something different, as it had done with each reread, and reading it as a thirty-two-year-old woman was different to reading it as a thirteen-year-old girl, or when I was in my twenties. But, like Lyra relearning to read the alethiometer as an adult after losing the unconscious ease with which she read it as a child, it was a deeper, richer experience — not better, not worse, just different. In the years since I first opened Northern Lights and read those resonant first words, Lyra and her dæmon, I've finished high school. I've graduated three times from two different universities, with an Honours degree, MPhil, and doctorate. I've changed careers three times. I've emigrated, lived in two new countries, acquired a new citizenship, learnt two new languages (as well as many dead languages), presented at conferences, been published academically in two very different fields, fallen in love, had my heart broken, and fallen in love again. In those years, I found my home, and I found myself again. In other words, I've done exactly what His Dark Materials urges: live, as much as I can, feel, as much as I can bear, and learn, as much as I am able. On Thursday, I will collect my preordered copy of La Belle Sauvage, the first of Pullman's prequel trilogy that will return readers to the world of His Dark Materials. I will sit down and read it in a desperate, yearning rush. I wonder what the twenty years that follow will bring. I know that having read this new book — and those that follow — will help me cope with whatever those next years throw at me.

I'm tilting at windmills today!

Oct. 19th, 2017 01:26 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Emailed three different news sites asking when the hell they intend to start moderating their comments. Seriously, a free-for-all where everybody shouts as loud as they can is not conducive to free speech.
ride_4ever: (due Diligence)
[personal profile] ride_4ever
Check out all the fen offering their fannish talents to raise money for Puerto Rico after the destruction done by Hurricane Maria: Fandom Loves Puerto Rico Charity Auction on Dreamwidth. The auction is now open and will close on October 23rd.
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
But it's pricey! The total cost was going to be near $2000, with a six-day-a-week commitment.

Then I realized I can just pay for the labs, which is the only part I really want anyway, and that's a third the price and a one-day-a-week commitment.

She said she'll consider it.

It's not necessary for her to take a Regents in August (fully nine months earlier than any of her peers...), I'd just like her to.

Also, finally figured out what cake I'll bake tomorrow for her birthday. How does rosewater and ginger sound? If I ever find my rosewater, I mean. It's because I read this article, but anyway, it's a good idea. I've been rocking the rosewater lassi lately that I get at the supermarket.

**************


The Microbes That Supercharge Termite Guts

For ornery shelter cats, 2nd chance is a job chasing mice

What Star Wars taught scientists about sperm

Inside The Weird Texas Tradition of Enormous Homecoming Corsages

Book's challenge: Can you do squats like Justice Ginsburg?

Why a New Zealand Library’s Books Kept Vanishing, Then Reappearing (Happy ending!)

How Domestication Ruined Dogs' Pack Instincts

Star Wars themes, but with the major and minor reversed. (This is like the Mirror version of the music, I guess? I can just picture evil Tom Paris on classic movie night in the Holodeck, rubbing his beard as he watches this version of the trilogy, the one in which the mighty emperor defeats the puny rebellion.)

Hero dog: 'Animal guardian' saves 8 pet goats, orphaned deer from wine country fires

Filling the early universe with knots can explain why the world is three-dimensional

Baba Yaga on the Ganges

Why Parents Make Flawed Choices About Their Kids' Schooling (My experience tells me it's close to impossible to explain to people that a school that starts with high-performing kids and ends with high-performing kids is not doing as much as a school that starts with low-performing kids and ends with kids that are in or approaching the middle. They just don't understand, or want to understand. Also, Stuy is overrated.)

Judge orders government to allow detained teen immigrant's abortion (Only read this second link if you want to be stunned and horrified by the world's most ridiculous anti-abortion argument ever.)

Understanding the coevolving web of life as a network

Fish Depression Is Not a Joke (Sad ending. Journalist should've rescued Fish Bruce Lee.)

After victory in Raqqa over IS, Kurds face tricky peace

Despite potential trade sanctions, Kurds continue with exports

China Is Quietly Reshaping the World

Lawsuit: Bighorn sheep threatened by domestic sheep grazing

As anti-drug push's toll grows in the Philippines, so does church's pushback

The true cost of a plate of food: $1 in New York, $320 in South Sudan (Sorta - the prices are adjusted in a weird way to account for different spending power)

Leaked ICE Guide Offers Unprecedented View of Agency’s Asset Forfeiture Tactics

Why Are Prosecutors Putting Innocent Witnesses in Jail?

The Crazy Flood of Tech Revelations in the Russia Investigation

The Russian Troll Farm That Weaponized Facebook Had American Boots on the Ground

No, US Didn’t ‘Stand By’ Indonesian Genocide—It Actively Participated

The Trump Administration Is Letting Americans Die in Puerto Rico, Nurses Say

Trump’s Dangerous Spin on Puerto Rico’s Suffering

Hurricanes Make the Need to Dismantle Colonial Economics in the Caribbean Increasingly Urgent

The Danger of President Pence

A Gun to His Head as a Child. In Prison as an Adult.

Chilling Photos of the Hundreds of Thousands of Rohingya Fleeing Burma

I will have a book log tomorrow, but

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:02 pm
korafox: (braindead)
[personal profile] korafox
I need someone to give me a second opinion on this.

Sitting in traffic this evening, I spotted a vanity plate that read "RIKARD". 

So, that car is clearly the property of a Star Trek slasher, right?  

Right?

Running late

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:40 pm
silver_chipmunk: (Default)
[personal profile] silver_chipmunk
I have to work at 9 tomorrow, yuck, so I need to be in bed soon.

Work went very well, I got a good audience for my program, so that worked out well. I was really quite afraid it would flop.

After work the FWiB called, and we had a nice talk, and then I went out to Carvel with [personal profile] mashfanficchick and her mother. We didn't get dinner though so I am nuking something right now.

After Carvel we went to Target, and spent rather more time and money than we should have in the Halloween section.

I had texted The kid and asked her to call and she said she would, but of course she waited til late, I missed it and had to call her back. But we had a very nice conversation.

Roadkill told [personal profile] mashfanficchick to tell me he's waiting to hear about the cats, so this still might happen.

Gratitude List:

1. The Kid.

2. The FWiB.

3. Carvel trips.

4. Got an audience today.

5. Dinner.

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2017 07:40 pm
skygiants: (wife of bath)
[personal profile] skygiants
I didn't deliberately read up on seventeenth-century English history history in preparation for A Skinful of Shadows; it was just a fortunate coincidence that I'd just finished Aphra Behn: A Secret Life right beforehand (thanks to [personal profile] saramily, who came into possession of the book and shoved it into my hands.)

The thing about the English Civil War and everything that surrounds it is that it's remarkably difficult to pick a team, from the modern perspective. On the one side, you've got Puritans and repressive morality and NO PLAYS OR GOOD TIMES FOR ANYONE, but also democracy and egalitarianism and a rejection of the divine right of kings and the aristocracy! On the other side, you've got GLORY IN THE DIVINELY ORDAINED KING AND THE PERFECTION OF THE ESTABLISHED SOCIAL ORDER, but also people can have a good time every once in a while and make sex jokes if they feel like it.

Anyway, one fact that seems pretty certain about Aphra Behn is that she grew up during the Interregnum and wrote during the Restoration, and was very much on Team Divine Kings Are Great. Would Puritans let a woman write saucy plays for the stage? NO SIRREE, NOT AT ALL, three cheers for the monarchy and the dissolute aristocracy!

There aren't all that many facts that are certain about Aphra Behn, especially her early years -- the first several chapters of this book involve a lot of posed hypotheticals about who she might have been, how she might have got her start, and who might have recruited her into the spying business. It does seem fairly certain she was a spy: code name Astrea, Agent 160. (Me, to [personal profile] aamcnamara, after seeing Or last month: "I don't know that I buy all that Agent 160 business, there's no way that was something they did in the 1660s!" I apologize for doubting you, Liz Duffy Adams.)

Admittedly she was the kind of spy who spent most of her spy mission stuck in a hotel in Antwerp writing irritated letters back to King Charles' intelligence bureaucracy, explaining that she would happily continue with her spying mission and do all the things they wished her to do if only they would send her enough money to PAY HER DANG HOTEL BILL. (They did not.)

Besides her unpaid expense reports, most of what is known about Aphra Behn comes from her context and her publications, and the things she wrote in them -- only some of which can absolutely definitively be traced to her at all; several of her short stories and novellas are disputed, including one of the ones I found most interesting, "Love-Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister." This early three-volume novel is extremely thinly-veiled RPF about a wildly trashy historical trial involving King Charles' illegitimate son, his best friend, the best friend's wife, and the best friend's sister-in-law. All of these people then went on to be involved in a major rebellion, which the second and third volume of "Love-Letters" cheerfully fictionalizes basically as it was happening, in the real world.

One of the first English novels ever written by a woman [if it was indeed written by Aphra Behn], and arguably the first novel written EVER, and it's basically one of Chuck Tingle's political satires. This is kind of amazing to me.

OK, but back to things we think we're fairly sure we do know about Aphra Behn! She wrote a lot about herself talking, and about men judging her for how much she talked; she wrote a lot of things that were extremely homoerotic; she also wrote a lot about impotence; she was often short on money; she cheerfully stole other people's plots, then got mad when people accused her of stealing other people's plots; she rarely wrote anything that was traditionally romantic, and most of her work seems to have an extremely wicked bite to it. She did not read Latin, which did not stop her from contributing to volumes of translations of things from Latin. She was almost certainly not a member of the nobility, but she believed in divine right, and divine order, and divine King Charles, even though it seems likely from her writing that she did not believe personally in religion, or God, and the King probably never did pay her bills. An extremely interesting and contradictory person, living in an interesting and contradictory time.

And now I think I need to go find a good biography of Nell Gwyn - she's barely relevant to this biography (Aphra Behn dedicated a play to her, but there's no other information available about their relationship) and yet Janet Todd cannot resist throwing in a couple of her favorite historical Nell Gwyn one-liners and they're all SO GOOD.

GODDAMMIT.

Oct. 18th, 2017 03:24 pm
kore: (Default)
[personal profile] kore
It's been coming for a long while now, but....still. Damn.



Marvel Is Marvel exchange

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:04 am
tielan: (AVG - maria)
[personal profile] tielan

banner by broadbeam


The idea here is to organize a gift exchange designed for Marvel and its many branched runs, authors, related and unrelated fandoms. The idea is to include the X-Men side and the Avengers side and every other side that non-Marvel fans don't realize is Marvel. The idea is to include any timeline you want, any world you want, any character you want, so long as it's Marvel.

NOW OPEN FOR NOMINATIONS

Dreamwidth Community | LiveJournal Feed | 2017 AO3 Collection | 2017 Tagset
  • Nominations: Sunday, September 24 - Saturday, October 14
  • Sign Ups: Tuesday, October 17 - Sunday, October 29
  • Assignments Out: Monday, November 6
  • Works Due: Saturday, December 9
  • Works Revealed: Sunday, December 17
  • Authors Revealed: Sunday, December 24

so very streaky

Oct. 18th, 2017 02:40 pm
solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] solarbird
I've still got this damned head cold or whatever it is and it's awful and won't go away. I was feeling better yesterday but that didn't last.

I was fuckin' terrible today in lunchtime Overwatch. Well, as Widow, anyway. I was good as Tracer as always, and the weird thing is, the one time I wasn't terrible as Widow, it was in deathmatch, where I was surprisingly competitive against a pretty heavy set of enemies including three Pharahs and a D.va, which is not normally a recipe for competitiveness but I was.

So I was feeling pretty okay in warmup. But christ, go into quickplay and suddenly it's WHAT IS SNIPERS? and I can't hit a shot to save my life. (And that included while winning. So.)

This is in huge contrast to yesterday where I was not just playing well, but had another entire game of being the Widowmaker I want to be. Defence in Hollywood, 70% scope accuracy, eight criticals, golds in objective kills and objective time and silver in total kills, enemy Bastion got so sick of me that he tried being enemy Widow and yeah that did not help, enemy Pharah kept trying to go over the gate wall and I just kept one-shotting her out of the air until she got so mad that on their last serious push she apparently decided "y'know what, fuck the objective, fuck the game, I'm killing that fucking Widowmaker at least once" and went through the security office while I was busy with other people, jumped me from behind and let loose her one and only ult at point-blank range just for me.

Honestly, I felt quite flattered.

I guess the short form is I am still a work in progress, and it shows.

Birthday fic: The Watcher's Mistress

Oct. 18th, 2017 09:29 pm
elisi: (Missy)
[personal profile] elisi
It's still the 18th here... I wrote a quick birthday fic for the one and only [personal profile] owlboy, and figured I ought to share it.

Character/pairing: Missy/Giles
Fandoms: Doctor Who/Buffy
Length: Just over 200 words
Rating: Um, Teen? (just to be on the safe side)
Also on AO3

Missy/Giles - what more could you need to know? )

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2017 03:31 pm
slashmarks: (Leo)
[personal profile] slashmarks
So, having made a resolution to try to use dreamwidth more and had the daily come up on Habitica without having read enough for a review post lately, I am going to try to write about something else.

The first subject that came to mind was writing process, so here goes.

There is a lot of advice on the internet that tells you to write every day on one project/novel at a time until it is finished. This is not bad advice per se; I would even say it is probably the first thing a new writer who wants to write more should try, in part because it will give you the most practice, and at the beginning that is the important part; and in part because it apparently works very well for a lot of people going around with the specific problem "I am not getting anything written."

However. )

[yawn]

Oct. 18th, 2017 10:04 am
gorgeousnerd: #GN written in the red font from my layout on a black background. (Default)
[personal profile] gorgeousnerd
1. [community profile] fandomlovespuertorico has started auctions! I'm offering One Direction, My Chemical Romance, Dan and Phil, and Disney's Descendants fic here, but there's a bunch of different kinds of fandoms and types of things offered. Check more out here. Auction ends October 23rd.

Feel free to spread the Tumblr link too!

2. I felt very under the weather yesterday, and I'm not sure why? Maybe just a bad day. I can usually pick some kind of main cause or worsening factor, but I think yesterday was mostly just "you're chronically ill and you're going to have days like that sometimes". My planning format really came through, though - I did a couple of my most important things and let everything else go and went to bed early at least knowing that I did things to help myself long-term but that I was still listening to myself. Balance! It's a thing!

(Also working on forgiving myself when I don't do that, but that's what I'm in therapy for, in part.)

3. Wednesday Reading time!

Books. )

guest gift dilemma

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:05 am
the_shoshanna: a menu (menu)
[personal profile] the_shoshanna
This weekend I'm going to a workshop in Ontario, and I'll be staying three nights in the home of someone who has offered to host a workshop attendee. I don't know this person/people -- I don't even have a name or address yet, and may not be told until I arrive on Friday afternoon. Not that a name or address would tell me anything except how much time to allot to get back and forth between bed and workshop...

I'd like to bring a guest gift, as a way of saying thank you, but I'm finding myself paralyzed. (Also short on time, but that's a separate issue.) The traditional gift is food, right? Something homemade, that carries the signification of "I put work into this" as well as the general good feeling associated with sharing food. Or wine, which lacks the homemade aspect but adds extra celebratoriness to the good feeling aspect.

But, knowing nothing about the person I might be staying with, I'm finding myself blocked with worry about what might be appropriate. Alcohol is problematic enough for enough people that I'd rather not bring it -- plus I should bring something I'd want to consume myself, in case they invite me to share, and I'd rather not drink while I'm there. But food is difficult too. Sweets/desserts are the usual gift, for the special-treat feeling, and I'd rather not eat sweets either, really, but I can cope. But what if they're gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, sugar-free, kosher, halal, allergic, diabetic? Is there a universally suitable food gift? Is it okay if I bring something they can't eat? What if I accidentally hit on something to which they're so allergic that just having it in the house is a problem? Aaaaaaaa.

I definitely don't feel that a gift is required, and given time restrictions, I may end up bringing nothing anyway. But I'd like to if I can -- if I can think of something!

Uh, any suggestions?

Wednesday Reading

Oct. 18th, 2017 08:44 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight was a moderately entertaining space story featuring Carol Danvers in Spaaaace with Abigail Brand and three members of Alpha Flight: Aurora, Sasquatch, and my personal favorite, Puck. One annoyance: an entertaining Latina character turned out to be an alien in disguise. Bonus points for portraying human characters of different sizes and the politics of assorted aliens.

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! Vol. 2: Don't Stop Me-Ow remains really cute and fun and drawn in manga-esque style. Vampire Jubilee and her adopted son showed up in this one, as did Jessica Jones and Hellcat's two ex-husbands. Also there was karaoke. In contintuity, this fell into the time period when She-Hulk was in a coma, but that plotline managed to feel hopeful even though Patsy/Hellcat was unhappy.

Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison is a mixed bag. There was some insightful commentary on the history of comics from the pov of a major comics writer. There were also some memoir elements and psychological musings that sometimes got a little too convoluted for my taste. I think the book was compiled from various essays and interviews, which would explain why it sometimes looped back on the same ideas after meandering the byways.
Warning for dated but not apparently derogatory use of the word tranny.

But I enjoyed it, overall, for sections like this:

Where Superman strove for modernity in everything from the image of its hero to the kinetic editing of its torn-from-the-headlines narrative, the Batman strip reveled in the trashy aesthetic of the mystery pulps and the penny dreadfuls.

From the very beginning, Batman habitually found himself dealing with crimes involving chemicals and crazy people, and over the years he would take on innumerable villains armed with lethal Laughing Gas, mind-control lipstick, Fear Dust, toxic aerosols, and "artificial phobia" pills. Indeed, his career had barely begun before he was heroically inhaling countless bizarre chemical concoctions cooked up by mad blackmarket alchemists. Superman might have faced a few psychic attacks, but, even if it was against his will every time, Batman was hip to serious mind-bending drugs. Batman knew what it was like to trip balls without seriously losing his shit, and that savoir faire added another layer to his outlaw sexiness and alluring aura of decadence and wealth.

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Never Give Up, Never Surrender

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