tried to eat the safe banana
01 December 2006 @ 06:54 am
Yes, yes. I know from the recent poll that many of you are right now whimpering, “What, more vid recs? Where are the stories, damn it?” (I also learned that a surprising number of you apparently need only animals to make your lives complete - penguins, llamas, puppies, whatever. Have I mentioned recently how totally awesome you all are?) But a) I had this post in progress before the poll, so it’s not like I’m deliberately taunting you, and b) I have a good reason for doing a vids set today. (There will be stories soon, though. Really.)

See, this is the first day of vidvent, which is a really cool concept - giving vid feedback for the holidays, basically. (To learn more about it, go to this post. You can do as much or as little as you like; it’s a very low-key challenge.) I’m going to make my own attempt to do this, although, given how much I suck at coloring inside the lines, odds are good that I’ll make an honest effort, sure, but what will really happen is that I’ll send 24 pieces of vid feedback on the same day next March or something. Still, I’m going to try. (Shut up, Yoda.)

And it would be cool if some of you did, too. Doesn’t have to be for vids, either. You could do it for stories, too, because - well, I sometimes wonder if feedback doesn’t decline a bit around the holidays. I know that for me December is basically one long streak of Yuletide angst followed by a totally obscene, off-the-charts FF binge. I’m not sure what happens, precisely. I come out of my binge sometime in the middle of January, all covered in fragments of text and with only the vaguest memories of what I did. I just have to hope I didn’t, you know, get naked with someone’s Scrooge/Cratchit story or whatever. My point is that during December I am even worse than usual about leaving feedback. (I suspect that for much of the month I don’t actually meet all the statutory requirements for being alive, never mind actually communicating on any subject whatsoever.)

But this year, I plan to try. Wish me luck. My next conversation with you may be a slurred, “Augggh what did I do last month and oh my god is that a jingle bell piercing?” sometime in January, but the effort will be there.

And, to celebrate the first day of vidvent, here’s some vid recs!

The One with the Eye-Fuckingest Cowboys I Ever Did See. Big Country, by gwyn_r. Magnificent Seven, Chris/Vin.

You so don't need to know the fandom to love this vid, and I am the living proof, because I love it - it makes me deeply, deeply happy - and I will be the first to admit that I do not know from this fandom. I gather that it's about cowboys. I gather that there are horses. I gather that there are these two guys who ride on horses a lot and are so totally doing it. Also, one of them quite clearly has both Trauma and Issues. Needless to say, I gathered all that from this vid. There could be lions and tigers and naked slave boys in the parts of the canon that Gwyn didn't use, and I would never know it.

Except I almost did know it, because this vid damn near made me snuffle around looking for Magnificent 7 recs; it is a bundle of pimpery in a very pretty package. (Shush. I meant the gorgeous camera work and the, well, big country. Country, people. No actual packages, big or otherwise, are showcased during the course of this vid.) This is pretty amazing, given that it is, going by the vid, a Dreaded Hat Fandom. (See, I have a hard time telling people apart, and most TV shows are cast with people who look exactly the same. I know, I know, it's terribly speciesist of me to say "all you humans look alike," but you mostly do, at least when it comes to your faces. So I have to look for identifying details that I can easily pick out in close-up shots. Like hair. Hair is key. Unfortunately, in some fandoms, hair is covered by a hat, and I spiral into hopeless confusion. So until somebody kindly creates a TV show in which every single character is a different color, and I mean like green or purple, or wears his name on his shirt in large block letters, I basically have to wince away from Dreaded Hat Fandoms. But, wow, this one almost got me, hats and all.)

Because, oh, it is so gorgeous. And slashy. I have no idea which one is Chris and which one is Vin, so I think of them as Issues Boy (he has the trauma) and Country Boy (Gwyn, at any rate, links him to the earth and the sky a lot). (No one should start singing "thank god I'm a country boy" here. No, really not.) And I tell you this: judging by this vid, Issues Boy's issues are obviously going to be resolved through some time in rugged terrain with Country Boy, and I do mean with Country Boy.

Seriously. Watch this vid, and the fan fiction will write itself in your head. Gwyn titled her announcement post "cowboys in love," and I just can't put it any better than that.

The One That Asks, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Gregory House? I Mean, Without Killing Him or Turning into Him?" Bukowski, by Shalott, aka astolat. House.

I just - let me just quote from the song here: "God, who'd wanna be such an asshole?" Now. If you know anything about House - and what I know could be written on two sides of a quarter, but I don't let that hold me back from the sweeping authoritative statements - you know that this is perhaps the most perfect song choice in existence. (And apparently we have tzikeh to thank for that, so thank you, tzikeh.)

And, wow. I think maybe House is a tough show to vid; I get the sense that its appeal comes a lot more from dialog and a lot less from pure visuals. (But, hey, I could be wrong. I'm basing this entirely on what I've gathered from vids.)

But this one? This totally works, probably because of the magical combination of perfect song choice, fabulous editing, and House's remarkable, um, clarity of character. (Seriously. Has the actor won an award yet? He should have. He has the best damn body language I have ever seen on a TV character.) For me, this vid pretty much sums up why, in another time and place, House would be one of my main fandoms: House is a character I'd love despite myself, a character I'd love even though he was anything but lovable.

And this vid captures that character perfectly.

Plus, come on. It's set to a song about Charles Bukowski. Can there be a better reason to download it?

Is It Hot in Here, or Is It Just This Vid? Boom Boom Ba, by charmax. Xena, Xena/Gabrielle.

I mentioned this a while back as a vid everyone must see, but I realized just today that I'd never written a proper recommendation for it. So here it is, the proper recommendation:

This is the sexiest vid you will ever see.

Oh, I have other stuff I could say - the use of color in this is jaw-dropping and the movement, my god, I could write a fucking essay on the way Charmax uses movement to create mood and the illusion of continuity and direct the viewer's eye and match the music. But that essay would only distract you from the central point, here, which is that this vid is sex. And dancing. And the dancing is also sex. So, basically, this vid is pure sex.

Download it, and you will not be sorry. I don't care if you haven't a clue who these people are. (Xena is the dark-haired one. I think she's maybe a god, and I also think she used to be bad but she isn't anymore. Gabrielle is the blonde. She's not a god. She writes scrolls. That's what I know, and it's more than enough to get this vid.) My only regret is that I missed the super-high-quality version Charmax had uploaded for a while, but trust me, the 50 MB one is just fine.

So, so much more than fine. Also, did I mention the sexiness?

The One I Watch When I Think a Day in My Life Has Been Hard. I Mean, It Could Always Be Worse: I Could Be Psychic. A Day in the Life, by Shalott, aka astolat, and Speranza, aka cesperanza. Dead Zone.

When I re-watched this so I could write up the summary for it, my first thought was: "Oh, I need to warn people this is canon-dependent." And then I remembered that when I first watched this vid, I hadn't seen any Dead Zone. And, sure, I missed some nuances, but I got the gist of it just fine. (The gist: it's hard to be Johnny Smith.)

This is another vid I'd commend for song choice, but doubly so, because - seriously, I wouldn't have imagined there was a way to make "A Day in the Life" (by the Beatles) into a coherent single-fandom vid. Switches in mood and - um, can I say narrative about a song? Well, I'm going to, and if it's wrong, someone tell me what I should have said instead - narrative are critical to vids, yes, but this song kind of takes that to extremes.

But then, Johnny Smith's life is not exactly without its switches and sharp 180s, you know? So, as it turns out, he fits with this song really damn well. (All together now: “Poor Johnny.”)

Actually, this vid was one of the things that finally convinced me to watch some Dead Zone; any single canon that contains all of the stuff in here had to be worth seeing, you know? (For the record: it is. At least, the parts I’ve seen are.) And the same goes for the vid; there’s a lot of stuff packed into it, and it is both dense and rich. And, okay, that made it sound kind of like the fruitcake of the vidding world, but here's the thing: you'll actually like this.

(No offense to fruitcake-lovers, of course; I honor and respect your culinary perversity.)

The One That Allows Masks to Take Their Rightful Place Beside Clowns, Mimes, and Puppets in the Pantheon of Massively Creepy Things. Meds, by Destiny, aka dcallingchaos. Nip/Tuck, gen. (The vid’s at the bottom of the page.)

I feel kind of like I should warn for disturbing content here, except, well, the disturbing content is the vid. And, see, I have no idea what the vid’s narrative is exactly; I think you’d have to know more about the fandom to be sure. What I know about Nip/Tuck is that, going by the YouTube snippets misspamela posts from time to time, there are two guys on this show, and they are the gayest two straight guys ever.

But the gay is not quite so evident in this vid, which is, as far as I can tell, about a serial - um, not killer, since he doesn’t kill. Cutter? A serial cutter of other people’s faces. Who is crazy, and maybe his crazy is kind of contagious. And, yes, that's creepy.

The vid makes it much, much creepier, though. It is quite effects-intensive, and those effects combine to create this kind of insane, jerky, god-what’s-even-true-anymore atmosphere, with lots of twitchiness and tension. And the thing is, what you see on-screen isn’t even that disturbing. (It’s not fluffy bunnies, either, mind you. Did I mention the serial cutter?) But the vid itself kind of magnifies the disturbingness, and what you get is - well, a vid that puts you slightly on edge. A bit more on edge if you re-watch it late late at night while you’re writing the rec for it, actually. Um. Yeah, I’m looking over my shoulder from time to time, here.

So it's an impressive use of effects, plus the equivalent of an entire suspense movie in three minutes. You want to see this vid.

(Side note: me being able to rec this at all is a total triumph of fannish networking over my own disorganization, by the way. I apparently originally got this vid on a rec from cupidsbow and then immediately forgot that. So when it came time to rec it, I didn’t know the fandom and couldn’t figure out who did it. I wandered over to vidfinders, where three separate people figured out what the fandom was and who the vidder was and basically did everything but tie my shoes for me. The moral of this story: lost vids can be found, folks. So if you’ve been avoiding sending feedback on something because you have no idea who to send feedback to, fandom is here to help.)
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
Family has been on my mind a lot lately. Guess what that means? Family fan fiction, yup.

The One That Proves Conclusively That the DCU Is Where There's a Daddy Issue Under Every Rock, and Where Family Therapists Can Never, Ever Get Life Insurance. Reconcilable Differences, by Shalott, aka astolat. Fused and bastardized Smallville and DCU, Clark Kent/Lex Luthor. See, now, one of the things I love about Smallville is the family stories - Clark and Lex and their assorted parents just give rise to so many glorious disasters, you know? But that raises the question: what would happen if they were parents? Well, in the DCU canon, they are. Of the same kid, one Kon-El, aka Connor Kent, who got a raw fucking deal from DCU, but we're not going to talk about that now. Because this, this is the story that makes it all better. (Okay, 70% better. I'm never going to forgive DC entirely. I am just not that big a person.) See, even before the Recent Events of Unforgivable Unfairness Kon kind of - I mean, he's got an evil genius for one parent, and a tights-wearing superdork for the other, and also he starts out in life 13, which is so unfair there aren't even words. And Clark always treated him like a kind of...well. Inconvenience.

In this story, Lex gets a chance to have his say, and a chance to show that just because someone is an evil genius doesn't necessarily mean he's a bad person. (I know, I know. Lex brings these little brain twisters into our lives, and, really, I'm grateful.) Tim (Drake, aka Robin 3 and 5, and, seriously, if you don't know about him: OMG TIIIIIIIM! Sorry, I get incoherent when I'm talking about the Timbat.) also gets a chance to be, well, the Tim he was always meant to be. (He pulls off a feat in this story that should go down in the record books. Actually, I suspect it is going down in at least two record books; it's just that Batman and Lex Luthor aren't likely to look on it as a positive accomplishment, which it so obviously is.) I loved this story basically from the third paragraph, but I managed to contain the noises of undignified glee until I got to the scene with the underage drinking. Best underage drinking scene ever. And no one even has sex! (In that specific scene, I mean.)

The One That, Considered in Comparison with the Previous Rec, Indicates That John Sheppard's Parents Were Worse Than Lex Luthor. I Hope They Feel Terrible. Lost in Waiting, by laceymcbain. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. See, now, I would have said that a story featuring a virgin John Sheppard would need to be a massive, massive AU - like trinityofone's Priest John AU, say. So what alarms me about this story is how AU it isn't. I mean, I won't say that this is canon John, exactly - but he's. Okay. Am I the only one who looks at the way John acts and compares it to what the writers seem to believe about him and thinks, those are not the same people? (If I am, then, well, prepare for me to sound like an idiot.) This story is about, not the John they write about, but the John I see on the screen.

And, whoa, what a fucked up John he is, too. (And, hello, no, I am not saying virginity makes you a fucked up person. You can be a virgin at 38 and be an absolutely level, balanced, sane, and stable person - and, even if you're not exactly balanced, well. I am hardly one to suggest that the people having loads of random sex with assorted other people whose names they don't know - or want to - are the truly healthy ones. Been there, done that, had the subsequent decade of therapy, people.) This is a guy who, on his Pegasus Galaxy Embarkation Form, presumably wrote "Personal Item: One DVD of an old football game, and three million massive, hairy issues, including two so large they will also be part-time staff members." And, you know, you have to wonder. The Ancients: a bunch of irresponsible, skeevy people with dominance issues. John Sheppard: Issues Boy. Jack O'Neill: Repression of Issues Boy. Maybe the ATA gene has side effects, is my point here. It'd explain a lot about the Ancients and their massively unfortunate science experiments.

The One That Shows That Even If You, Yourself, Are More or Less Free of Family Issues, They Can Still by God Reach out and Grab You. (Yes, They Are in Fact Like Monsters in the Closet. Only with More Fangs.) Family Portrait, by dsudis. Dead Zone, Walt Bannerman/Sarah Bannerman/Johnny Smith. (Although not so intently that gen fans could not read this. No, the people who should avoid this one are those who are liable to be upset by - well, can I just say disturbing content and let it go at that?) In the life sweepstakes, Johnny Smith has completely and totally lost. You know how, at the end of Season 2, the Buffy writers tried to take away her entire life? They didn't get nearly as cruel as the assorted Dead Zone writers and creators did. I guess that just proves the old axiom: when Stephen King sets out to destroy your life, boy howdy are you screwed. And if that's not an old axiom, it should be.

This story proves that nothing is normal, simple, or easy if you're Johnny Smith. And, okay, I know those of you with children would probably laugh at the idea of school supply shopping being easy. (In fact, I'd like to take a moment right here and now to apologize to my father for the year I would only accept folders not manufactured on the planet earth. Or that might as well have been my criterion, given how many I refused.) But at least you've never had a vision while school supply shopping. (And if you have, I trust and hope that you, at any rate, were simply standing too close to the permanent markers.) Because, really, a vision can ruin your whole day, as we learn here. Of course, we also learn that it can lead to a future of glorious threesomes. One of the many things I love about FF is that in it, Johnny's life doesn't always totally suck.

The One That Can Serve As Inspiration to Non-Traditional Families Everywhere. Well. Non-Traditional Families That Do a Heck of a Lot of Demon Slaying, Anyway. Family Comes First, by ethrosdemon. Supernatural, gen. (Or, if you prefer, non-explicit Sam Winchester/OFC.) I'd like to pause here to squeeze ethrosdemon until she damn near pops for writing a Supernatural story I can actually read. Oh, SPN: you have so many fabulous writers, and I want to read you so much, and yet you are denied to me (although, major points to maygra, who came up with a way that I could read at least some SPN - give that girl a prize, is my thinking on that one). I mean, apart from any personal problems of my own, so much SPN FF keeps me up at nights, insisting that the dogs patrol the house every five minutes and flinching away from shadows, noises, and my own hands. (Look. I am not good with horror. Seriously. You don't want to know about the night I read Misery after mandatory lights out in a psychiatric hospital, but suffice to say that it proved that I really, really, really am not destined to be cuddlebunnies with the horror genre. There's this scene in that book where - well, I won't go into it, but I still see spots and get dizzy when I think about it.)

I love this story because it shows that love isn't the only thing that makes a family. You also need, in nearly all cases, at least a few tablespoons of fucked-up-ness. Of course, given the background of the Winchester gang, that's more like "8 cups of fucked-up-ness, whipped to a light and pleasing froth and folded in," but this is not necessarily a bad thing. It just gives me all the more joy when they manage to make it work. For definitions of "work" that include "a non-traditional, multi-parent family that goes back to demon-slaying after the kid goes into first grade," but tradition is important, people. If your father was a demon-slayer, by god, you should be, too. Or, okay. You can try to avoid it, but the demons will probably come for you in the end anyway. (And, wow. That gives me an entirely new perspective on "They fuck you up, your mum and dad/They may not mean to, but they do." In the Winchester edition of Larkin's poems, I'm betting the next two lines are, "They curse you with the fiends they had/Then add some extra, just for you.")
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
(True story about the title of this set: I had to look up the actual lyrics. I grew up singing the version of this song that goes, "I'm never in one place/I'm distributed over all space/I'm the electron." I...yeah. I was raised among the physicists, and I learned their tragically geeky native folkways only too well. As shown by the fact that I mutinously refused to transcribe the lyrics as written and just damn well fixed that comma splice.)

So. Last week was crappy for me, the kind of week that might make other people load up the car and drive off into the west (although, given where I live, it had better be a really short drive, 'cause if we didn't stop for pancakes five minutes in, we'd hit the ocean). I'm not a big fan of the random travel, though. (I'm not, um. Actually much of a fan of travel at all. My ideal journey is one taken by someone else, someone who wrote about it and then sent me a free copy of the book. Travel essays? Very much so. Actual travel, with strangers and hotel rooms and unfamiliar food? I need some time to work up to that.) So I just read road trip stories. And then I recommend them to you all, in case you also had a crappy week.

If you did, this set is dedicated to you. With my love and my intentions of staying very much in one place: fan fiction about travel.

The Story from When the World Was Young and Dreamed Not of the Big Gay (Interspecies) Love. But That Didn't Mean the Big Gay Love Wasn't Happening, You Know? Seawrack, by Hossgal, aka leadensky. Lord of the Rings, genish, or maybe it's Legolas/Gimli - who can say?

See, this story illustrates perfectly the problem I have recommending in LotR and all the other universes created back in the days when your average writer thought of The Gay as the unspeakable vice of the Greeks: namely, that it's impossible to tell what's gen and what's non-explicit slash. I mean, on the one hand, here we have a story in which Gimli frantically seeks out a missing Legolas, finds him navigating entirely based on feelings, curls up with him under a blanket, and asks him to swear that they will be together forever. To me, that reads like slash - hell, I've read 3,000 dS stories with that plot line. On the other hand, J.R.R. himself could've written precisely this story, and he didn't even write het romance; as far as I can tell, he deeply, deeply wished that sentient beings reproduced via courtly exchanges of epic poetry.

But, confusion or no, I had to recommend this. It's beautiful - it really does read like something Tolkien could've written, if he'd miraculously recovered from his two most annoying writing habits* - and it fits perfectly into the canon. And it's all about travel - about a trip Gimli takes through Middle Earth, and about a trip he and Legolas will take across the sea. Plus, pretty much all of LotR is about travel, and yet I don't think I've ever put an LotR story into a travel set - obviously a tragic omission, now remedied with this gorgeous, gorgeous (and ambiguously slashy) piece.

The Story That Proves That Psychometric Clairvoyants Bring a Whole New Meaning to the Concept of "Do What You Have to Do." The Big Picture, by cesperanza. Dead Zone, Johnny Smith/Walt Bannerman.

Any summary I could write for this story would sound like the start of a joke. "So, this small-town sheriff and his psychic friend are on a road trip..." (Don't ask me what the punchline would be. You do not want to live the horror that is me trying to tell a joke.) But, you know, that isn't it at all. Well, I mean, Speranza wrote it; the story summary could be "Two characters fuck their way across time, space, and three separate parallel dimensions," and somehow there would be plot and humor and tension, like, all this storytelling everywhere. She's just that way, and I salute her for it.

So. Not a joke. (And, really, we should all be glad. Because the thing is, I get, like, hideously polite silence when I try to tell jokes. Except sometimes people do laugh, but if they do, it will be in the middle. Not at the funny part, in other words. When the punchline comes, it will still be hideously polite silence, sometimes followed by an encouraging, "...Yes. And then what happened?") Instead, there's plot galore - this is pretty much a classic procedural mystery story, with the added kink that the mystery is in the future. And that, right there, is what fascinates me about this story. I don't want to spoil it, but - this story sets up an ethical dilemma that is, um. Damn. It really is impossible to talk about this without spoiling it. Suffice to say that it'd be tough to write this story as anything but fan fiction, and if anyone wants to discuss it further than that, I am all for it, because wow.

The Story That Demonstrates That N'Sync Is a Powerful Force, Uniting People Who, Let's Face It, We Probably Don't Actually Want to Be Together. Anywhere But Here, by Sarah T., aka harriet_spy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, gen.

You know, I spent this entire story riveted to the screen, and that is just totally unlike me, for the record; generally I have to pause at potentially embarrassing or disturbing or sad moments, play some Spider or Sudoku or something and brace for the inevitable. (It isn't inevitable, of course, but it feels that way. And if that hasn't told you entirely too much about my way of handling change (DENY DENY DENY), this will: I also tend, at those moments, to re-read the paragraphs of the story that I've already enjoyed, as reassurance and encouragement. There are some stories I can recite whole chunks of because of this tendency of mine.) This story is filled with disturbing moments, and yet I couldn't stop. Something about the road trip construction, perhaps; there is always this kind of what-happens-next imperative to a road trip story.

Or, hey, it could be the people who are on the road trip: Ethan Rayne and Dawn Summers are not precisely the perfect candidates for a fun buddy-movie style drive to Vegas. (As a total side note, people, please: link me to the story about Ethan, Giles, and John Constantine hanging out together in the 1970s, and maybe being in a bad band and doing a lot of really bad-ass magic. Please. They were meant to be, seriously.) There's a surprising amount of fun on the way to the seriously-I-mean-it-this-time inevitable chaos and disaster, though, and it made me - it made me want to see even more of this. Which should tell you precisely how amazing and compelling this story is, since I am not usually the person who wants to see good characters go bad, and I am so not a fan of chaos. But it's just - yeah. It's a story that I would've said couldn't work, and now I can't help wanting to see a whole universe based on it. Wow.

The Story That Will Fill You with a Strange Desire to Seek Cold, Cold Places and Order Wine in Them. Fight This Urge. Antarctica Has Some Down Sides, I Hear. Harsh Continent, by 30toseoul. Stargate: Atlantis, gen. (Look. It was posted in a slash community, but I see nothing in here that I don't see in the canon, so...gen, I guess, is what I'm gonna call it.)

This is just - this is just the most perfect Sheppard-in-Antarctica story ever. For one thing, it feels real. (I read this story a lot, trying to figure out what it is, stylistically speaking, that gives it the air of authenticity. I have no answer as yet, although I have, as you might expect, several theories.) For another - this is Sheppard at the end of the road; this story made me realize that when Sheppard said, in Rising, that Antarctica was the only continent he'd never been on, what he meant was that it was the only continent he wasn't finished with. Which makes the whole Pegasus Galaxy trip rather unsurprising, and now I want to poke him and make fun, all: "No matter what the coin said, you were going through the wormhole, 'cause where else could you go? But some people are just so good at their little denial games."

And, at the core, that's what this story is for me: an incredibly revealing look at the character of one John Sheppard, USAF. He handles Antarctica precisely the same way we'll see him handling unfamiliar planets in Pegasus - basically, he's lost most of the time, and never really knows what he's doing when he's on the ground, but he manages surprisingly well anyway. And he interacts with the assembled McMurdo, SGC, and military staff pretty much the way he will with people on Atlantis: he smiles, gets people to like him without letting them know him, and gives in way too much to Rodney McKay. So, you know, I love this story. A lot. Yup yup yup.

-Footnote-

* Namely, PoV disorders (like, he's always telling us about a battle from the perspective of a character who is hearing about it from a guy who wasn't there but heard it from these two other guys who were) and inability to break up the narrative to indicate simultaneity; if two characters were separate - and they often were - but doing things at the same time, he'd tell all of character A's story, even if it lasted for 100 pages and most of a century, and then switch over to character B, slam the plot into reverse, and start all over again, back in Rivendell or wherever. What, you thought I didn't actually have a list? I always have a list, people.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
In the past, I've gone into the concept of the Aliens Make Them Do It story - oh, have I ever - but aliens can't take full responsibility for all the sexing, you know. Even the most assiduously lascivious extra-terrestrial needs a break sometime. But never fear, because anything, properly applied, can get the characters into the appropriately compromising positions. So today I salute the creativity and thoughtfulness and downright old-fashioned gumption of those authors who move beyond mere aliens to embrace a world in which everything makes the characters have sex.

The Story That Demonstrates Just How Embarrassing It Can Be to Have Your Father Take an Active Interest in Your Sex Life. Especially When Your Father Is Famous for Having Sex While Wearing a Swan Costume. (Huh. Does That Make Zeus a Furry?) An Affair to Remember, by Scarlette Sky and Randi DuMois. (Does anyone have LJ names or websites for them?) Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, Hercules/Iolaus. (Note: this story has some formatting issues, but it's so worth it.) Clearly, there's been some discrimination going on; I mean, gods can be just as perverse as any alien you care to name, and yet this is the first story I've ever read in which the Gods Make Them Do It. Which is a pity. Obviously, Hercules should be absolutely full of gods with NC-17 agendas, but according to my Fandom Informer (marycrawford, and seriously, people - don't ever let her come near you with links unless you just want to spend upwards of a day giggling over a little pig in a Hercules outfit), it isn't. This story makes up for a lot, though, particularly with Hercules's spectacular cluelessness and his seriously inappropriate triumph. (Note for the denser demigods out there: "Take that, Ares!" really isn't appropriate pillow talk.)

And, seriously, do not even tell me you don't know this fandom well enough to read in it, because those Greek myths you read as a kid are all the orientation you need for this story. But, okay, want a summary of it? Ares: war god with anger management issues. Zeus: slut who looks nice on a throne. Hercules: son of Zeus and a mortal woman (I'm not even sure if it's still Alcmene in this canon) who looks heroic in costumes that would make any average mortal despair. Iolaus: witty, scrappy sidekick. Xena: unnaturally fond of leather. Joxer: I haven't a clue - something I have in common with him, judging by this story - but he seems like one of those guys who is bags of fun to have around right up until you have to punch him in the mouth, and sometimes he's still fun after that, especially given how he really doesn't hold it against you. There you go. Now go read this and be inspired to write lots of other stories in which the Gods Make Them Do It. It would be a blight on all of fandom if a handful of old-time myth writers beat us on the perviness score, and yet have I seen the story in which Rodney McKay is seduced by a golden shower? Uh, no. And I don't want to. But the gods are totally fair game.

The Story That Focuses on the Unexpected Bonuses People Get for Being Touched by a Psychic. And, Wow, "Touched by a Psychic" Would Totally Work As an AU Title for This Canon. Walt Bannerman Is Gay, by Tangerine, aka tangeriner. Dead Zone, Walt Bannerman/Bruce Lewis. You know, I really didn't think a Johnnyless pairing could work in this fandom. The canon is very focused on him, on his visions, his point of view - unusually so for a TV series. (Actually, maybe lots of TV shows do this. But I only know TV shows from fandom, and usually fannish TV shows are about either a duo or an ensemble, and the point of view isn't so locked onto just one character.) So, you know, this story, written from Bruce's point of view and with Johnny only making cameos, has the potential to feel very much out of line, very off. It doesn't, or it doesn't to me. Instead, it's a look at the world surrounding Johnny, this more mundane Cleaves Mills where people just try to do their jobs, sometimes with the help of Johnny's visions, yeah, but never with OMGWTFArmageddon, not to mention a totally malfunctioning brain, looming over them every minute of every day.

And that's what made this pairing work for me. Turns out there's a weird symmetry about it, because these are the two people whose lives have been most warped, but not fundamentally altered, by Johnny's dead zone. In other words, these are the two people who best qualify to have the Psychic Make Them Do It. And there's a twist in that which I am not going to spoil for you, but that twist made me even more happy that I'd gone along for this nearly vision-free ride. Because, yeah, Bruce and Walt are still affected by the Psychic Mojo here, but they're also their own people, and the thing about people is that things never go according to plan once they get involved. Even the psychic can't change that. Maybe it's just my delight in ornery displays of free will talking, but I love that.

The Story in Which Ray and Fraser Prove That It Is Entirely Possible to Die of Stubbornness, and They're Just the Boys to Do It. An Incident Along a Poorly Guarded Border, by kindkit. Due South, Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski. And from psychics with - well, not specifically needs, more like a mystical imperative, we go to an entirely other kind of mystical imperative. Specifically, here we have the Vaguely Ethnic Spirits of Magical Realism Make Them Do It. Well, so does they weather, but - seriously, sometimes Ray and Fraser get into this place of being total blockheads, and it takes being hit over the head with their impending deaths to get them to kiss. (And this despite the fact that they've already done it in the canon.) This is what happens to them here (hardly surprising, I'm guessing, given that I elected to bring it up in the story summary), and the metaphorical clue-in-the-form-of-a-brick is a snarky Inuit, which I just love beyond the telling of it. I mean, it's bad enough when you need a near death experience and a spiritual intervention to get you together with someone, but when your Big Fat Honking Clue is mocking your denseness, well, it's time to loosen up and fuck right, folks.

Fortunately, Ray and Fraser manage to do just that. And there are so many joys here - seeing Ray and Fraser tag-team on their spiritual advisor is worth the price of admission (well, I mean, it would be if there was a price) all by itself. And it's wonderful to see that Ray and Fraser have standards, because, yeah, okay - it's one thing to initiate sexual relations at the behest of a deceased Inuit, but letting that Inuit watch crosses the line. Frankly, we could all stand to follow their example. (Or at least I could. My lines are not what they once were. And I don't mean when I was wee and innocent; I mean my lines have migrated substantially since this time last week. Fandom: consistently enabling me to achieve new moral lows.)

The Story That Is Going to Give Your Universal Remote a Serious Complex. The Scientific Method, by cupidsbow. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/A Whole Bunch of Bystanders, Innocent and Otherwise, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. What, you thought I could get all the way through a "by god, something makes them do it" set without bringing SGA into it? Allow me to chortle heartily, because this is the fandom that brings all the inexplicably sex-focused deii ex machina to the yard. (And ceremonial altar and science lab and emergency snow shelter and prison cell and alien brothel and rustic glade.) So here we have that great favorite of mine: Ancient Technology Makes Them Do It, and when I say "them," I mean, well - see the pairing label. Because, you know, maybe Rodney can kill people with his brain. None of us is surprised by that, really. But John can make people come with his brain, totally without meaning to, and that is even less surprising. (Let's face it. If ever there was a man who could have an orgy accidentally, John would be that guy. Hell, is that guy.)

I'm as disturbingly vocal a fan of something-makes-them-do-it stories as you would ever fear to find, but it's actually the little details that make me love this story. I love Exceedingly Competent Rodney demonstrating that all that field experience is good for something. I love the way John and Rodney negotiate one of those embarrassing mess hall scenes with such consummate skill that you'd think they had uncomfortable post-sex conversations all the time. I love, love, love the name Rodney and Zelenka gave the Ancient device in question; I assume it's a tip of the hat to James Randi, and it made me snicker helplessly the first time I read this. All in all, this story is fan fiction equivalent of chocolate ice cream, and I don't mean some newfangled, flash-in-the-pan thing like brownie superfudge chunk; I mean chocolate ice cream: sweet, satisfying, and classic.
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
06 March 2006 @ 08:01 am
First, an administrative note: About half of my LJ comment notifications are showing up with nothing in them. At all. Except for the name of the person who left it. Which means that unless the comment is in my journal, or I can guess where the comment was left (like, it's from someone whose journal I left a comment in earlier), I have no way of reading them. If you really need to say something to me, in other words, email is the way to go; thefourthvine at gmail dot com. (Which I originally mistyped as "thefourthvine at gmail dot come." Bodes ill for the set, I'm thinking.)

So. If you were wondering about the State of the TFV, that state is: moody. (Or, in terror alert levels, "Run for the hills. We can live off the land until this is over.") I've been moody all week - not any actual mood, mind you. No, I've been fairly okay there, but my coefficient of moody friction is way, way lower than usual, so I know that the slightest push can convert my potential moodiness to kinetic moodiness, and then they will have to call out the National Guard. That's the way I've been this week.

I'm sure you can imagine the trepidation with which I have approached the internet. I mean, I love this habitation of links and string, but it's not a good place if you're right on the edge of qualifying for Superfund money to clean up your toxic emotions, you know?

And now I'm listening to my neighbors, or rather their teenagers, who are having a party. I'm not sure what the party is for, but if I had to pick a single word to describe its theme, I would go with: bass. Like, the kind where it isn't music so much as it is a seismic tremor capable of triggering alerts as far off as Texas. And I find myself wondering - see, I know it would be a bad idea to force people to live in communities based entirely around musical preferences. It would be, right? I mean, aside from the fact that I would inevitably end up living in the "No Detectable Taste of Any Kind" community, you'd have - you'd have, like, the people who force themselves to listen to Eminem so they don't have to live with the Classical Snots Who Still Believe That Elvis Is a Flash in the Pan, and you'd have the hideous shame of discovering that your recent illicit drunken download of the complete oeuvres of Britney Spears and Celine Dion meant no one wanted to live next to you anymore. That kind of thing.

But, still. I watch my windows vibrate - and these aren't even next door neighbors, mind you; this is the house behind the house next door to us - and I think, Hmmm. Maybe. And, let's see, who'd have to move? Us or them?

So, what with everything, it seemed like a great time to recommend a Random Mishmash of Stuff That Makes Me Cheerful. Go mishmash!

Best Not Exactly FF (But More Than Close Enough) to Feature a Pirate Queen-in-Residence, Which, I Now Realize, Is Exactly What I Want to Be If I Grow Up. Ever so slightly longer but not quite as thick: Toward a quantitative literary sexology of Harry Potter fanfiction, by blythely and circe_tigana. Harry Potter fandom. Well. I have to assume most of you read the title, giggled, said, "Oh, that's fabulous," and clicked. So I'm addressing this strictly to people so strange and unearthly that they don't want to propose marriage to both authors immediately after reading the title. And my first message to you sad few is: seriously, you can take a Spock imitation too far. Fake pointy ears are acceptable in many communities, but failing to find mock academic papers amusing is most definitely not.

And please don't tell me that you're excused because you don't read Harry Potter. You aren't. You'll recognize the concept under study here immediately, possibly with little cries of horror. (Or, if you don't, please tell me about your fandom.) If you've ever read any slash, or any academic papers of any kind, or you've even written a paper or a research report, this is a link for you. And, honestly, if you haven't done at least one of those things, I have to wonder what you're doing here, so how about leaving a comment and telling me? Those are your choices: explain how you've spent your life on Mars, breathing shallowly and avoiding porn and peer-reviewed journals, or go read this. (Hint: pick the latter one.) You'll thank me later. And don't miss the endnotes, which cheer me up more than any SSRI ever could; I don't know precisely how I lived before I read, "The authors wish to thank ... Flowery Twat and Sparcck for peer review." Flowery Twat should be given an award for the excellence of her name, which all by itself is enough to make me downright buoyant.

[Ah. Much better. The toxic emotional sludge is retreating.]

Best FF Featuring What Is, I Believe, the Least Romantic Proposition Ever in All of FF. Given the Characters, I Would Expect Nothing Less. My Sleepy Blue Ocean, by Sandy, aka circusgirl. Scrubs, John Dorian/Perry Cox. It's hard not to be made happy by someone whose life is both weirder and gayer than your own. (That would be J.D., for those not following along at home.) And that's true even when the topic is a wee bit sensitive, because death is just another source of weird gayness for J.D.; if Death actually showed up in Scrubs, he'd do something serious and dramatic, yeah, but he'd be carrying a trick scythe. (For those who are worried about reading a death story: it's a death of a character I'd not previously heard of, who I am pretty sure died in the canon, and also this story didn't seem very sad to me, if a personal testimonial is any good to you.)

In this story, the fine folks of Sacred Heart help J.D. through the five (or six) stages of grieving: Turk forswears mashed potatoes, Janitor reveals his inner, self-published depths (which are just as sticky and disturbing as you'd expect), Carla bonds with J.D. and ruins his shirt, and Dr. Cox goes above and beyond (and wants to hate himself for it, but can't quite manage it). There's a special appearance by Sister Utherina, also known as Yet Another Reason to Fear Nuns. And in the end, J.D.'s problems are solved with spicy pork rinds (no one tell me what those are; seriously, I am not kidding) and sexual healing. Scrubs fan fiction: you have to love it. (And you also have to write it, people. I consider the absence of a large body of Scrubs FF in this universe to be the definitive refutation of Pangloss.)

[Toxic sludge is way off in the distance, emitting little cries of pain.]

Best FF That Demonstrates the Importance of Thinking Outside the Box, Especially If You Are Currently Destined to Die Inside It. The Definition of Stupid, by Tangerine, aka tangeriner. Dead Zone, Johnny Smith/Walt Bannerman. I think this story had me when Johnny describes himself and Walt as frat boys trying to be superheroes, because that's a lot of the charm of the show; these guys weren't meant to be superheroes. Johnny, okay, he's got some of the Chosen One vibe going down, what with all the Only You Can Avert the Apocalypse stuff, and, well, just the visions themselves, but even so, he'd really rather be a teacher. Or, hey, married to Walt's wife. And Walt is totally not meant to be a superhero; he's a cop who doesn't have supersenses or anything. But, you know, there's these visions, so Walt has to try. They both try. And they mostly succeed. Um, sort of.

So. Right. The story. See, I love this story. There are always a few stories that define Yuletide morning for me, and last year, this was one of them; the obituaries, in particular, made for perfect holiday reading ("died suddenly in a sardine can"). (This does leave me with one tiny question: am I the only person on earth who doesn't have a list of stuff to do if I know it's my last night alive? Because I don't. Thinking about it, off the cuff, I'd probably tell Best Beloved and the dogs that I love them, try to call my friends, maybe post some kind of So Long and Thanks for All the Porn message here. Then I'd have sex and go to sleep, because if there's a single word that defines how I want to go, that word is "obliviously." But, you know, I only made that list just now. Am I leaving stuff off? Do the rest of you have detailed ones, all, Tell Muffy I never loved her and Hear Lumina play the piano one last time? I can't be the only one who never really thought about it, right? Right?) And I love - yes, I'm back to the story again - love love the ending. Any Dead Zone story has to be about Johnny, and any story about Johnny has to be about Sarah and Walt, and I love so much that Tangerine gave us that. Plus, hey - sex in a sardine can is always fun.

[Status Report: TFV - cheerful. Sludge - very very sorry for its sins.]

Best FF That Has Given Me a New Motto: "Life Hates Me, but I Hate Life More." Existence As Interesting As Possible, by waxjism. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard. Of course, SGA almost always makes me cheerful; I rejoice in the existence of a fandom so inundated with crack that no one blinks at mere telepathy or MPreg anymore, and it's not serious crack if only one person changes species. (I am quite seriously and patiently waiting for someone to write the story where Rodney finds this gun-shaped Ancient thing, and John is all excited and tries it out, but it doesn't do anything until he accidentally points it at Rodney, at which point they discover it's the Ancient version of Calvin's transmogrifier gun. "Colonel, I expect you to get me back. I liked that body, and don't you dare roll your eyes at that. At least you still have eyes! And - wait. Are you thinking about a turkey sandwich?" "Well, yeah. I'm hungry, Rodney." "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!")

But this story (which is totally not crack, even though in a different fandom unicorns would pretty much guarantee a crack rating of +++) also makes me insanely happy, because: dragon. The SG universe is sadly lacking in canon dragons (and don't tell me it's only in fanon that they encounter that kind of shit; promo pictures suggest that poor John Crichton ran into Merlin the second the SG folks got ahold of him). Thank god we have FF to make up the lack. And, seriously, if dragons won't get you to this story, consider John and Rodney stuck on a planet for the better part of two months, with nothing but unicorns and serious seismic instability for company. See? This story is most definitely a source of happiness in my life, and if you haven't read it, know that it can cheer you up, too.

[So. I feel better. And I imagine the Sludge feels better, too, in its new life as a bath tile cleanser. Fan fiction heals, my friends.]
 
 
tried to eat the safe banana
09 December 2005 @ 06:02 pm
Okay, first, a cry for help. A long time ago, some kind person emailed me a list of body swap stories, including "Being Benton Fraser" and a Farscape story with John in Aeryn's body and Aeryn in Rygel's body (possibly based on an episode). Not too long after, that email account did a spectacular flame-out, the kind fandom can only dream of emulating, and took down with it all my neatly-stored emails of that kind. I'm hoping someone out there can help me find a) the Farscape story - there was a root vegetable involved, as I recall - and b) the person who sent me the recs. I've been looking forever, and I officially give up. Anyone? Help? Please?

Second thing, of course, is my list of stories for you. I'd like you to join me today for a Very Special Edition of the Slashy Awards. See, I've been sensing some malaise out there, some disaffection with the world in general. norah was particularly plaintive in her cry to be on vacation this week, and I'm getting the sense that a lot of my friends list would also like to be anywhere but where they are. Of course, I can't really help you. I mean, I can't send y'all to Fiji for the fresh mango juice and the friendly goldfish. But I can remind you of fan fiction where the characters do that. So if "shipwrecked and comatose" actually sounds like an excellent deal right about now, this set is for you.

See the Historic World's Largest Toenail in Buttfuck, Nebraska! Adventures in America's Heartland, by pearl_o. due South, Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser. You know, I love Fraser. I do. But I think we can all agree that he has the potential to be a somewhat challenging companion, particularly in certain kinds of activities. Like, for example, recreational travel. He absolutely would want to stop to read every historic marker on the entire freeway, when all real travelers know that what they all say is: "Something happened here. But you've never heard of it, and we have no intention of telling you about it in any kind of detail, because otherwise you might get some sleep instead of wondering about it all night. And don't even think about googling it; the motels out here don't have wireless, sucker." (I, um. I was betrayed in my youth by a few historic markers. Does it show?) Of course, Ray would not precisely be the world's most pleasant companion either. See, for both of them, it's about the journey; just, for Fraser, it's about the scenery he can take in, but for Ray it's about the vehicle he's traveling in. So I wouldn't advise you to leave home with these guys, but that's fine, because really we all want them to leave home together. And that, my friends - that is very entertaining indeed.

Experience the Glory of Nature and the Majesty of the Elements on an Unplanned and Unwelcome Sabbatical in Panama! Limbo, by julad. The Sentinel, Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg. This came from the ts_ficathons challenge Getting a Sense for Cliches. The challenge stories are fascinating reading, in large part because a lot of writers who were in TS of old participated in the challenge for one last playdate with the boys. It was unexpectedly gripping (...definitely way better than historical markers) to see how style changes and other fandoms and time affected each author's voice and style, and it was even more gripping to see how their relationship with TS and Jim and Blair had changed. Everyone who has been writing a while should head back to a first fandom from time to time. For my entertainment, of course. (What, you thought I was going to tell you it'd make you a better person or something? Yeah. And would you trust me if I did promise that?) This story does a brilliant job of dealing with one of those little weak spots that are part of the ineffable charm of the TS canon, namely that Blair's final solution to the whole accidental-outing-of-Jim problem is not actually one that is going to work for very long. But not to worry; Jim and Blair are up to the job. This story shows us that we have nothing to fear except lawyers and pulpless orange juice. And that Jim and Blair belong together. Really, it makes me want to say something incredibly sentimental, and I would, but I'm afraid I'd sprain something, so no. Just - you know. Read this.

Decipher the Unimaginable Mysteries of the Local Cuisine and Culture in Rural Minnesota! The Empty Well, by Destina Fortunato, aka destina. Stargate: SG-1, Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson. Oh, how I love the SG1 team; they're wonderful together. And in this story, they're all very much in their accustomed roles: Jack catching fish, Teal'c efficiently dismembering the fish, Carter pondering the space-time implications of the fish, and Daniel refusing to eat the fish for moral reasons. And then they sustain numerous casualties during the course of a very dangerous children's game. (Very dangerous. I've played that game with the most competitive woman on the earth. It is a game that kills, people, and if there was any sense in the world the people who go on and on about video games would be working to ban this instead.) Seriously, I love these people to death. (And, you know, past it. Several times.) Just as good are Jack and Daniel by themselves, each decrypting heavily encoded messages in their own way. I love this story for the hope it gives me for SG1, including a happy ending in the face of nearly insurmountable odds, and I love it for one of my all-time favorite Jack and Daniel exchanges. (Daniel: "Think outside the box." Jack: "I like the box.") Really, just read this. You won't be sorry. And you won't have to catch any fish to do it, either.

Choose Your Companions Wisely for Your Whirlwind Just-the-Low-Spots Tour of Southern North America! Arizona, Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico City, by seperis. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay. And, um. Don't be reading that last one if you like your endings happy, okay? Or, let me put it is this way - if you do read it, and it makes you sad, blame the author, not me. I can only rec what they give me, you know. (The eternal plight of the recommender, it just brings tears to your eyes. So very tragic.) But do read this. Why? Well, how's this: John is an assassin hired to kill Rodney McKay. And then there is sex. (See, and this is why I love the SGA fandom; I can think of several excellent and original stories with that basic plotline. Seriously, at some point soon I will able to assemble a set on almost any theme at all just from SGA. Not that I will. Just knowing that the possibility exists will be enough for me to die happy.) And now I'm kind of up a tree without a chainsaw here. I can either get detailed, which will be all spoil-y, or carry on with the non-specific encouraging praise, which, face it, if those were going to get you to read this, you would have already clicked away from this page, or go for the tragically over-specific praise. ("For a story with such a lot of stomach trouble in it, really, it's amazingly sexy!") I think the wisest option would be d: none of the above. Also known as: shutting up now.

Get Back to Nature, Commune with the Future, and Have Lots of Sex All Over the Great State of Maine! Dirigo, by Speranza, aka cesperanza. Dead Zone, Johnny Smith/Sarah Bannerman/Walt Bannerman. This is a brilliant story, and I think you'll appreciate how brilliant when I tell you I love it even though it took me more than a week to get through the first part. See, the first part, it's not the most comfortable part of the story. It's actually, for me, by far the least comfortable part. And normally authors suck you in and then make you tense, but Speranza pretty much just hits you with it from word one. Or, actually, you know what? It isn't her, really. It's me. Because, see, the dinner party that damn near killed me dead isn't nearly as excruciating as I thought it was going to be. It just took me a while to read the actual words; I was all night-before-school-starts anticipating of the very worst. It isn't as bad as all that. Just, you know, uncomfortable. But so very worth it; trust me here. Doesn't matter if you don't know the characters, doesn't matter if you don't know the show, doesn't matter if you don't like threesomes - read this. You won't be sorry. Although, in all fairness, I have to say that this is not a crew you should trust when they break out the good china; there's another dinner party in here that stopped my reading cold for much of a night. (I had to have a fight with myself. It went like this:

TFV's Paranoia: Oh, god, this has the potential for unbridled disaster. There is only one way this can possibly go, and if she isn't on that track, I'm doomed.
TFV's Confidence: Trust Speranza. She handled the other dinner pretty well, didn't she? You always get worked up over nothing. It'll be fine. Read.
TFV's Paranoia: But if she screws this up at all I will never be able to read her work again. That would be a very bad thing!

Fortunately, at that point my inner drill sergeant showed up and made the point that I was damned well going to finish the story and everyone knew it, so I should suck it up, goddammit. Which I did, and it turned out that everything went the way I needed it to go after all, so my angst was for entertainment purposes only.) But, again: worth it! Wonderful, and so very worth it! Just keep a few tension sheets on hand for the dinner parties, is my advice.