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08 May 2009 @ 09:20 pm
Eight Days of Happiness: Original Fiction on the Internets  
The One with Magic Horseradish. Beat That, Harry Potter. Why Is This Night Different?, by Janni Lee Simner.

This one might only make people who have celebrated Passover happy, but as it so happens, I am one of those people! And we are talking about things that make me happy, so.

Okay. I sat through Seders as a small child waiting intently for the moment when we opened the door for Elijah. Beyond that, it was just a lot of Hebrew before we got to eat anything. (For reasons that turned out to be very good ones, no one went into much detail with me about, you know, the plagues of Egypt and so on. Why was this a good idea? Well, to give you some idea: I cried through The Prince of Egypt, and when I say "through," I mean that I started during the opening credits and kept on pretty much until the closing ones, traumatizing Best Beloved and astonishing the kids around us. At one point Best Beloved turned to me and whispered, "Why are you crying for Ramses? You do realize he's killing your people, right? You can't root for both sides!" But in fact I am perfectly capable of, if not rooting for, at least crying for both sides, even if one of the sides is, you know, pretty much intent on enslaving and killing me. This is why I don't like team sports or elections much.)

Anyway, my point is: to me a Seder is lots of talking before you get food, and the world's most terrible wine. (Is there some kind of religious requirement that Passover wine has to be bad? Someone must make good Passover wine, right?) So when I say this story brought new meaning to Seders for me, it doesn't exactly mean it rocked my religious world. It's just that most rituals would be a lot more meaningful if you added vampires, I think.

And I also love this because - look. I, too, read The Vampire Lestat as a wee proto-slasher, and I too loved it despite all its flaws because OMG LOUIS/LESTAT 4EVA SQUEEEEE, except I was much too snotty as a young teenager ever to type anything like that. (If I had been in internet fandom as a fourteen-year-old, I would have been the person starting wank about improper use of semicolons. As opposed to now, when I just kind of rant about it in my head. I have grown as a person and mellowed with age for sure.) But sometimes I want the other side of vampires, where they are not sexy, not deliciously homoerotic, not pretty pretty princesses with body glitter, but rather, you know, crazed undead killing machines who probably smell like old blood, which those of you who have smelled it will know is not a supersexy aroma likely to be heavily featured in the next BPAL set. And this story does indeed feature that kind of vampire.

So, overall, this story makes me happy twice. (And I think there's a Doors song about that. Anyone who sings it gets a fork to the ear.)

The One That Demonstrates That Power to the People Sometimes Just Results in Electrocution. Figuratively Speaking. Wikihistory, by Desmond Warzel.

For many months after reading this story, Best Beloved and I would be discussing some internet storm, and we would end up by saying one thing at pretty much the same time:

We're adults; can we keep sight of what's important around here?

And that line is why this story makes me happy. I mean, yes, it will certainly appeal to anyone who has spent any time reading Wikipedia talk pages, where you can meet people who have true and intense rage over pickled vegetable classification, who would, if they could just get their attendants to let them out, go and hurt people over their hideous bad wrongness with respect to pickled vegetables. (The sad part, actually, is that most of them are not locked up, and are probably perfectly kind and decent people who just, for some reason, lose their shit when pickled vegetables come on the scene.) And it will certainly make you deeply appreciate the various time agencies who have, in fiction, kept control of time travel out of the hands of the common person. (Okay, many of those agencies are various kinds of evil and oppressive and so on, but at least they aren't streaking at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which is absolutely the first thing that would happen if college students got hold of a time machine.)

But most of all, this story reminds me, every time I read it, that people are often Wrong on the Internet. And even when they aren't, they are very much inclined to obsess over minor side issues. (Of which I am guilty! Totally and completely guilty! I've definitely been Wrong on the Internet, too, but at least I'm sorry about that. I am proud of being obsessed with minor side issues, which makes me one of the internet crazies.) The last line of this story reminds me to bring it back to what really matters.

And to open a damn window, from time to time.
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on May 9th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
But sometimes I want the other side of vampires, where they are not sexy, not deliciously homoerotic, not pretty pretty princesses with body glitter, but rather, you know, crazed undead killing machines who probably smell like old blood, which those of you who have smelled it will know is not a supersexy aroma likely to be heavily featured in the next BPAL set.
Well, BPAL does have a blood note in several scents, so you never know. That is the joy of BPAL!
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
Oh my god. Does it seriously smell like old blood, or does it just smell like the metal tang of new blood? Because I guess I could see the latter as a minor note in a scent, but the former? NEVER EVER EVER.

I will probably have to put a cold cloth on my head just from imagining it. Ew.
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on May 10th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I was actually wondering how many times Beth has used it, so I went and did a search of the GC and LE scents. As far as I can work out, it's about 14 scents that have a blood note in them, and another 3 or 4 with 'blood musk' which may or may not be releated. So not all that many when you think of the size of the catalogue and number of LEs we've had.

I haven't tried anything with a blood note myself, but I have seen people say they really love it and will try anything that has that note in it, so I don't think it smells too bad? It depends on your personal taste and body chemistry, I guess.

Here are some reveiws from the BPAL forum of scents with blood in them:

There's several from Carnaval Diabolique line, which is appropriate for an evil carnaval series ("Carnaval Diabolique: No weapons, no cameras, no holy water").
The Blood Garden: Blood accord, bitter clove, English ivy, Tempranillo grape, red currant, oak, leather, blackberry leaf, and ginger lily.
The Chapel: Black incense, bitter wine, brimstone, and blood.
The Grand Inquisitor's Heratic's Fork: Coppery dried blood, metal, vetiver, and bonfire smoke.

The sea foams blood: Blood rising through an ocean wave.
(From the Marchen series, from Egle, Queen of Serpents.)

Thorns: Thorn-spiked vines, blood, and tears.
(From the Marchen series, from Rapunzal.)

Eau de Ghoul: Dessicated skin coated in blackened ginger, cinnamon, and mold-flecked dirt, with cumin, bitter clove, leather, and dried blood.
(From Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.)

The Dole of the King's Daughter: Red roses, blood-flecked lilies, upturned earth, yew branches, and blood mingled with river sand.
(From the Irish Bards LE series.)

John Barlecorn: Barley, beer, blood, and whiskey.
(From the Halloween 2008 LE series.)

Mort de Cesar: Conspiracy and murder in the Theatre of Pompey: balsam of Peru, bitter clove, motia attar, amber musk, opoponax, cypress, red wine grapes, tagetes, spikenard, and blood accord.
(LE from the Lunacy update before the Ides of March.)

I don't want anyone reading this who's not familar with BPAL to think all BPAL is similar to the above! One of the great things about BPAL is its huge range.

Edited because responding by email = coding fail.

Edited at 2009-05-10 03:53 am (UTC)
Lacey McBain: SPN Angellaceymcbain on May 9th, 2009 05:33 am (UTC)
I haven't had a ton of time for reading fic lately, but I have to say, I've always, always enjoyed both your recs and the headers for the recs. They always makes me laugh/smile.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
Re: thanks!
Thank you! And I have noticed that you've been crazy busy lately. Life will do that to you. *g*
ratscoatratscoat on May 9th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
Passover Trauma
At my family Passover Seder we read in English, and when I was three no one could figure out why I was crying until I stopped long enough to yell "They're killing babies!" and everyone looked at what passage we were at.

This year someone gave the little children finger puppets for each plague to wave as the adults read. The Death of First born puppet was a baby with X X for eyes. It was waved enthusiastically.

So I'm looking forward to mustering up the courage to read your rec because I have a bit of Passover related trauma to work through first. Your recs are always worth it though, I'll manage somehow. :)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Passover Trauma
I think people honestly forget that the basic storyline in Passover is really, really disturbing. I mean, after you've heard it twenty or thirty times - okay, I still cry, but I can see how someone might get inured. But at first exposure, it's BRUTAL.

And I don't even know what to say about the dead baby puppet. Either that's awesome or disturbing, and I really don't know which.

As one Passover trauma victim to another, though, I think this story will do you good.
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
I think I love it just from the description. I must read it immediately! *clicks*
torchflambeau on May 9th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)
*taps your shoulder* Excuse me? I can't get this fork out of my ear. Help help.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
People with forks in their ears probably deserve said forks for reasons of Unfortunate Song Choice. There will be no help coming from me. But consider the bright side: your fork will serve as a warning to others!
exceptinsectsexceptinsects on May 9th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
I love that Wikihistory story so much I actually gave them 5 bucks when I first read it.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
That is true, true love. *admires you*
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on May 9th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
Interesting spam you got there...
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
*violent eyeroll*

I have no idea why I'm getting so much of it, but the CAPTCHA isn't working anymore. I think I'm just going to have to bag anonymous comments, much as I hate to.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music: House: Cuddy needs boozepaper_tzipporah on May 9th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
No, there is no good Passover wine. Passover wine is inherently bad. This is why my (mostly-secular) family always had really really good wine at Passover, and also sometimes food that was not remotely kosher (is that oversized cous-cous? that can't be kosher for Passover! we're ashkenazi, not sephardic!), and also why I can never remember year to year which foods I'm allowed to eat.

However, if you get stuck at a seder with actual Passover wine (OH GOD MANISCHEWITZ IS SO GROSS), try doing a couple shots of something like tequila before the sun goes does down. By the time the whole super-long reading portion starts, you'll be drunk enough not to care AND drunk enough that the wine might actually taste okay.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on May 9th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
But whyyyyyy is Passover wine so bad? Is it a punishment? If so, what did we do as a people that was THAT wrong?

(My family tends to go the "token Passover wine" route, where we have, yes, a bottle of the bad stuff, but also bottles of the good stuff, and you take your sip of gag-inducing wine and then get a glass of something to take the pain away. Unless you prefer the Passover wine. Sometimes small children actually like it.)
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on May 9th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)

It looks like it's pretty darn fiddly to make so that might have something to do with it.


Passover, an eight-day springtime festival, commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. Based on the injunction against eating or possessing leavened bread for eight days, Passover involves a unique set of kosher laws. Kosher consumers are most careful about what they eat on Passover. In fact, people who do not observe kosher year-round do so on Passover. According to some accounts, 40% of the kosher market revolves around the Passover holiday.

Passover’s restrictions guard against eating food products containing any edible fermented grain products known as chometz. Included in this category are wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye which have been leavened due to contact with water. People of the Jewish faith are expected not to derive any pleasure or benefit whatsoever from chometz. Furthermore, they may not own chometz or have chometz in his possession.

Ensuring that foods are kosher for Passover is even more difficult than during the rest of the year because many of the ingredients that are routinely used and produced under kosher supervision are not kosher for Passover. Barley, wheat, rye, oats, and spelt are permitted only for the baking of matzoh and matzoh meal products. Flour of these grains is mixed with water and baked in less than eighteen minutes under rabbinic supervision. Furthermore, American Jews of Eastern or Western European descent avoid legumes such as soy, peanuts, and peas, as well as corn and rice.

Not only do foods require special preparation in order to be acceptable for use during Passover, but all equipment used for the production of kosher for Passover items must also be kosher for Passover. Even foods and household products which meet the strict, year-round dietary regulations, and are considered kosher, are nevertheless often unacceptable, or require special preparation for Passover use in the Jewish home in order to be kosher for Passover.

In order for a wine to be kosher, it must be created under a rabbi's immediate supervision, with only Sabbath-observant Jewish males touching the grapes from the crushing phase through the bottling. While all wines require some sort of mold (yeast) for fermentation, kosher for Passover wine must be made from a mold that has not been grown on bread (such as sugar or fruit) and must exclude several common preservatives, like potassium sorbate. Sometimes the label will say "mevushal" or "non mevushal." Mevushal means the wine has been flash-pasteurized to 175 degrees Fahrenheit (79.44 C) and may be opened and served by a non-observant person. "

Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on May 9th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
this claims to know about at least one good wine

strangerian on May 9th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
the other side of vampires, where they are not sexy, not deliciously homoerotic, not pretty pretty princesses with body glitter, but rather, you know, crazed undead killing machines

Just here to name-check Poppy Z. Brite, for the crazed undead killing machines who are *also*, somehow (and only for meanings of "somehow" involving blood kinks) deliciously homoerotic amid their grunge. Of course, I didn't like them myself. Nope. Of course not. I only still own the book for... um, research purposes.

I might also argue that the literary history of vampires, Polidori and Stoker forward, is a process of making them less brutish and undead and more fit for polite company, which cultimates in the sunshine-glitter and super-boyfriend aspects. What next? Is there a way to make them *more* socially acceptable, yet curiously Special? I fear to speculate.
tried to eat the safe banana: Daisythefourthvine on May 10th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
Poppy Z Brite, you say? Hmmmm. I will remember this for the next time I feel like reading about pointy teeth!

What next? Is there a way to make them *more* socially acceptable, yet curiously Special?

Have them teach kindergarten? Oh, wait, maybe that's the way to go: vampire kidfic? Or Bridget Jones' Diary type chicklit, except Mark Darcy is a vampire? I don't know. It's tough to beat sparkles.
strangerian on May 10th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear. Cute vampire pets! My Little Vampire Pony. Vampire Charlotte's Web. Come Home, Vampire Lassie.

I'll bet you could find vampire-theme LOLcats as it is, if only by repurposing Basement Cat a tiny bit.
day-to-day with hurt feelingscccccontroversy on September 2nd, 2009 08:56 am (UTC)
Late to the party, but I have to jump in:


There, I said it! And I won't unsay it!!