As should be eminently clear by now, my introduction to fanfiction came about through the pleasure I took in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That has stuck with me for over eighteen years by now, and will doubtless last for quite a while to come. And I’ve enjoyed stories in other fandoms, especially since so many of the Buffyfic writers I followed were less single-minded than I am in their areas of interest, even while my primary allegiance remained fixed on the Sunnydale crew.
My first introduction to non-Buffy fanfic — the first I remember, anyway, and certainly the first I remember enjoying — was “Banging Your Head Against a Red-Haired Brick Wall” (X-Files) by Blair Provence. There have been other really good ones over the years; excellent examples include marylane23’s “Hollywood Makeover” (Veronica Mars) and astolat’s “Queen of Spades” (Casino Royale). Those are single-shots, though, and remembered pleasures, not anything to do with anything that’s still going on …
An exception is Chris Dee’s Cat Tales, a collection of Batman/
It’s certainly been worth it for me.
I’ll be doing a night-to-morning split at work the next couple of days; that is, work till past midnight tonight, then show up at 7AM tomorrow for the next shift. Since the drive to and from my house is 45 minutes, and given the amount of time I need to adequately get ready in the morning, I’ll be lucky to manage as much as five hours’ sleep. After that, no problems. And this is a distinct improvement on the way my schedule has been. Yeah, I want a different job.
I talked with Susan on Tuesday night since the work-sleep stuff had made me miss our normal Saturday conversation. It was a good call, but short. She was frustrated that she wanted to talk with someone about the latest episode of Sherlock, but none of her roommates or co-workers watch the show. I hadn’t seen it, either, but I watched it that night and then tried to call her Wednesday. Couldn’t catch her in, though, and it’ll probably be another couple of days before I get another chance. Okay, I tried.
Some weeks ago, I read the Last Adventure of Constance Verity which, while not (nor aspiring to be) great literature, was fun and entertaining, with lots of good lines and lots of good moments. A continuing theme was … not exactly the subverting of adventure tropes, but the weary recognition of them as a continuing pattern. The title character’s having experienced fantastic adventures since she was seven years old — occasionally, more than one on the same day — meant she had lots of experience in detecting patterns and repeating themes.
One of them that particularly stuck in my mind … I’m very loosely paraphrasing here, since I no longer have the text at hand: Connie had fought ninjas before. She could take them on five, six at a time, sometimes dozens at a time. When they only sent one ninja after her, though … yeah, one could be a problem.
Haven’t we seen that over and over? Our hero has to be an extraordinary person, so he does great against teams of generic ninjas, yet the single ninja who has been designated as his nemesis … that one makes for an epic fight, regardless of how easily he handled the hordes preceding. There was even a (very different) example in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the Turok-han was presented as the ultimate vampire, beating the crap out of her in their first encounter and requiring a long Thunderdome-type showdown for her to finally defeat … yet, in the last episode, a few dozen brand-new Slayers are fighting hundreds of Turok-han (with thousands more awaiting their turn), and basically holding their own.
Buffy fandom, particular the fanfic section, found itself having to offer a number of hypotheses as to how this could be so. Hence, the trope that the book cited above was able to point out for comedic effect.
It’s a trope, a familiar and even slightly silly trope. At the same time, is it really all that unrealistic?
Documentation on the ninjas of classical Japan (except back then they were identified as shinobi) identify different levels or rankings: jōnin (“upper man”) was the highest rank, with various chūnin (“middle man”) serving as assistants to the jōnin, and genin (“lower man”) the ‘commoners’ who actually carried out missions. This accords with experiences of my own. When I was watching movies as a kid, a black belt in martial arts designated someone as a total bad-ass, an expert fighter, all but unbeatable … but when I began studying the arts myself there were black belts all over the place, and some were good and some were really good and some were fantastically good, and some made you go I wonder where he bought that belt, because he sure as heck didn’t earn it? Likewise, during my time in the Army I occasionally found myself associating with various special forces troops (sometimes from different nations), and they were definitely not uniform in caliber.
So, if you think about it, it makes sense. Need to hit an ordinary target, send a ninja. More difficult target, a team of ninjas, or one to three high-level ninjas. A seriously formidable target, send the best you have, which is usually one person. In that context, smaller numbers definitely would indicate increasing deadliness.
It was still funny, though.
The windshield wiper fluid is now flowing properly again (which is good; even with no precipitation, schmutz from the road would collect on my windshield, which especially was a problem when driving home at night with oncoming headlights turning my view into a near-opaque sheet), and the snow is melting, but the day is gray. More snow coming? Could be.
Scheduling changes at work look positive. I have two days off after tonight’s shift — looking forward to it — and two next week. For several months, it was work a few days, off a day, work a few, off one … it’s not the same thing, you just don’t get the feeling of as much rest even if the totals are technically the same. As I observed a few days ago, I’m almost at two years on this job; aside from the Army, that’s the longest I’ve been in one place in the past fifteen years. Which makes it a shame that, now the new year is here, I’m looking around for something different.
Lots of stuff at home that needs to be done, and I let it go undone for far too long. Maybe I can begin making inroads again.
So the days are finally getting longer again (praise God), but temperatures here took a sharp drop a few days ago. Not really cold, but enough to freeze my windshield washer tank. Which is odd, because the washer fluid is supposed to be good for -20°F, much lower than the temp ever got (and the partial bottle of the stuff in my trunk isn’t even close to frozen). Best I can figure, whenever I got my tires repaired, the mechanics must have topped off my reservoir with regular bug juice (‘part of the service’).
Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. What about my pain?
So last week I watched Passengers, a sci-fi flick involving two people on an interstellar colony transport waking from hibernation 90 years prematurely (i.e., long before the liner arrives and anyone else is scheduled to awake). And, of course …
( SPOILERS AHEAD )
There’s an American Legion post in the town where I work (not live), and I’ve been there a few times and had a decent time. Lately, my work schedule has made that non-feasible, and the times I could have gone, I just didn’t feel like it. Maybe some other time.
This past Sunday I attended Mass for the first time in weeks. Not a positive experience, I was in a totally non-fellowship mood and waiting for it to be over. And the man next to me — a stranger — took my hand at one of the points where it’s customary to do so, except I’d pointedly avoided being available for that (had both hands down on the back of the pew in front of me), and my internal reaction was ‘Seriously? Damn your presumption!’, but I did and said nothing and he likewise let go at the customary time. The point here isn’t that he did anything wrong but that my mood/
After she’d had a long time of frustration, I eventually created a new e-mail account for Susan so I could create a new Skype account for her (somehow she’d lost the password to the old one, and never could get reconnected). Now that she’s back on, she spends a lot of time in group chats with the kids (Kevin and sroni), but it’s always at times when I’m not around to participate. Good for them, I guess, but some part of me still feels left out.
The manager at work who was off for so long (following childbirth) is back now, and the schedules are changing to reflect her style. During the transition, I’m working seven days in a row: end of this week, beginning of next. Maybe once we’ve finished that part, my schedule will be more suitable for letting me get other things done.
And that’s all for now.
I’m following the flap about LiveJournal with some small interest but next to no comprehension. I’ve had my LJ account mirrored at Dreamwidth for years now, so switching over would be a negligible effort. I just plain don’t like Dreamwidth as much, though, so I’d rather stay where I am unless there’s some strong reason to move.
Hard to believe my wife Susan has been away for six months now (yes, I helped her move to California at the beginning of July). By September of 2018 she’ll have in enough time with the VA to retire, but will need to stay on the job where she is till July of 2019 to cement that as her “high three” for calculating retirement pay. Until very recently, our son Kevin was planning to bring Amber (GRANDDAUGHTER!) back to the States at the end of this month to have her baptized at the church where he and Mei-li were married … but now Susan is talking about us delaying that so all of us (she and I, Kevin and Mei-li and Amber, sroni and Conal) can meet together this time next year. Maybe for a short European vacation, maybe a cruise, the details are still up in the air. I’d rather not have to wait another year, but the truth is that I need to spend the next several months getting various repairs finished in our house (heat/air, water, electricity, gas). This just wouldn’t be a good time for a visit.
The Snowflake Challenge is on again, but I decided to skip this year. I’ve had good experiences in the past, but last year’s entries found me repeating ground I’d already trod a few times before, and I didn’t want to put in the effort for diminishing reward. That may have been a miscalculation, because so far the daily challenges have been somewhat different from before. I most probably won’t try to start in late (even though I could make up previous entries readily enough), but I recommend it for viewing and participating.
My schedule is still shaking out at work. I’ve been there almost two years now — the end of this month will be two years — but there have been a lot of changes, and things seem always to be in flux. Just have to see how that goes.
Today I watched “Final Girl” on Netflix. It was … unsatisfying. Not only because the story felt incomplete, but because I felt that I myself could sense more in the background than the movie itself ever showed.
To begin with, what was Veronica being trained for? Her handler picked her up when she was a child, first mobilized her when she was a young woman, but we never saw any sense of a larger mission. (Film summaries say she was trained from childhood to deal with the four preppie assholes who made a hobby of hunting and killing young women, but she’d been in training much longer than they’d been active. That’s in the first place; in the second, the hardest part of catching a serial killer is establishing his identity, so if these guys were already known, they could have been apprehended and prosecuted easily.) It doesn’t hold together logically, nor was there any reason for Veronica to be sent to go along with their little game other than to give the movie a chance to show her visiting payback against them.
It didn’t hold together. It didn’t work. And, as I said above, I could feel possibilities that were never touched.
The child Veronica was far too accepting of the death of her parents: one might even say ‘unmoved’. The man interviewing her (and later taking on the role of her trainer) said a “very bad man” had killed his wife and daughter. These elements could have been used for a much more imaginative story of a sociopath — the trainer — being put on a leash and tasked to prepare another sociopath — child Veronica — to carry out distasteful work that nonetheless needed to be done. (Yes, in this scenario he would have been the “very bad man” who killed his family.) So, okay, it’s only a general notion, and it would have required a lot of work, but it really could have been made into something.
I also watched “Avengers Grimm”. That one was just plain dumb … but, once over, it was over. “Final Girl” leaves me with the feeling of a lot of unfulfilled potential, and that annoys me.
Last year I set myself to write an even dozen stories, as listed/described in this post. That did not work out at all; something about having deadlines choked me, and I wound up finishing only four.
My intention is to finish out that dozen this year. I’ve actually made beginnings on two of them, and have calculated that one page a day will be enough to deliver what I need over the long haul. So let’s just see how it goes this time through.
This year’s Circle of Friends Remix — at cof_remix — is now finished. This was a thorny one, for three reasons. First, one of our intended participants vanished after signing up, and we’ve heard nothing since. Second, sroni (who finished her own assignment handily enough, and did a pinch-hit for eilandesq to tide things over) has had occasional health issues that prevented her from another pinch-hit she fully intended to do, so that the circle is, for the first time, not complete.
The third reason was me. I had serious problems.
I knew the story I wanted to tell. I knew how I wanted it to end. Getting there, however, fought me every step of the way. Even when I finally had the story finished, I wasn’t confident in it, so I sought opinions elsewhere and let it sit for a while so I could go back to it with sorta-fresh eyes … with one thing and another, I now have it posted exactly two months after the announced deadline. Need to not do any more of that.
At any rate, the listing is as follows:
eilandesq: remix of jedibuttercup, with “Memories of a Fallen Technopagan”
jedibuttercup: remix of sroni, with “Some Reassembly Required”
sroni: remix of sevendeadlyfun, with “Bittersweet Symphony”
sroni: remix of eilandesq, with “Sharp Knife of a Short Life” (‘filler’ story while aadler’s fic was still in process)
aadler: remix of eilandesq, with “There Ought to Be Clowns”
I recommend that anyone who hasn’t already done so go check out these stories, and offer your appreciation to the authors.