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tried to eat the safe banana
11 July 2016 @ 07:56 pm
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.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
18 June 2016 @ 08:57 pm
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.)

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
05 June 2016 @ 09:19 pm
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!

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
30 May 2016 @ 08:17 pm
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.)

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: wimsey
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
15 April 2016 @ 08:22 am
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.Collapse )

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
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!

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
26 December 2015 @ 11:52 am
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
Summary:

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
Summary:

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
Summary:

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
Summary:

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.



Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
15 December 2015 @ 02:10 pm
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!

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: [rant]
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
18 October 2015 @ 02:07 pm
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!Collapse )

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

Retired Basketball Player RPF, Magic Johnson/Larry BirdCollapse )

Schusev State Museum of Architecture Discover the Full Story ad campaign, AnyCollapse )

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: yuletide