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15 February 2011 @ 09:48 pm
215: Unbelievably, I AM Posting Set 215 on 2/15. Celebrate with Me!  
I admit it: I am totally posting this set because I wanted to have the entry number match the date. The idea seized me and would not let go. So: small fandoms!

I'm still avoiding new fan fiction, though. Because of persistent visions of Sherlock and John, sex researchers. Which I am not writing.

...Maybe only the outline.

The One That Suggests That If You Move to California, You Will Turn into a Bronzed Surfer God. Sadly, This Is Not the Case. There's Only a One in Ten Chance, Actually. And These Days Surfers Tend to Use Sunscreen. California Is Not What It Used to Be. Baby-sitter's Club the Next Generation #6: Byron and the God of California, by [dreamwidth.org profile] zelempa. Baby-sitter's Club, Byron Pike/Jeff Schafer.

(Note: If you download from AO3, don't download this one. The image files are integral to the story, and they don't come through, at least not in the mobi version.)

I admit it: I have never read a Baby-sitter's Club book. I spent my childhood reading book series from other generations and countries, meaning I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what things like conkers and ginger beer were. (If you're curious: Conkers are chestnuts that you put on a string and swing at other people's conkers for purposes of entertainment. You can probably tell this was invented back before they had Mario Kart. And ginger beer, which is always part of the phrase lashings of ginger beer, like it's some kind of BDSM toy, is just like ginger ale, except disgusting.)

So my point is, I missed out on the Baby-sitter's Club. I don't know who the characters are, or why there's an incredibly long series about them, or why there's that weird hyphen and a misplaced apostrophe in the title. It does not matter. I loved this story. I loved the inner workings of the Baby-sitter's Club. I loved the babysitting tales. (I, too, clocked in my hours as a caretaker of small children. I was known as the Babysitter Who Will Not Let the Kids Watch TV.) Most of all, I loved the coming out of one Byron Pike, and his very adorable relationship with Jeff, the God of California. (Not in the sense of having actual dominion, as far as I could tell. Any actual god of California would have power over the freeways.)

The thing is, the whole thing is so gentle. I mean, Bryon does stress and angst about being gay, and about Jeff, but in the way teenagers angst over everything that's seriously important to them - haircuts, unjust parental rulings, fights with friends. And all of his friends (and brothers, and holy god were there really identical triplets in the original books?) handle it pretty well. In other words, this is a sweet, cute teenage relationship story. It just so happens that the relationship is gay, and the guys in it are gay, and - I just love that. It's coming out and dealing with your first romance the way it really should be.

Read this. And do not miss the end notes, which are profoundly hilarious. I would read every one of those. With pleasure. If the Baby-sitter's Club was even half this good, I truly regret wasting my childhood with Enid Blyton.

The One That Teaches Us That When Phantoms from Your Past Life Show up, They Bring Bad Coffee. Sincerely, L. Cohen, by [dreamwidth.org profile] resonant. Famous Blue Raincoat, Narrator/Rival.

Every Yuletide, I consider requesting stories for two Leonard Cohen songs, and this is one of them. (The other is Suzanne, and I admit that I mostly want a story for that because I once happened upon this blog post where the blogger said she spent her twenties trying to be Suzanne. And I just - I thought living in a Leonard Cohen song was pretty much the definition of hell. Why would you want to be Suzanne? But that's not a good reason for requesting a story, so I always suppress the urge.)

The thing about Famous Blue Raincoat that always draws me in is, well, there's obviously a story here, and we only hear part of it, and I want to know more. (What draws other people to Famous Blue Raincoat is something entirely else, apparently. While googling for the lyrics, I found Judith Fitzgerald's analysis of the song, and, look. I am sure she is a wonderful, shiny person. And I am sure that it is something wrong with me, that this song does not make me think of "the narrator wearing (against the elements) the flesh of the Beloved" or, um, "a more or less accurate portrait of the doppelgänger coming to grips with a world where grand-central chaos reigns supreme." (I've read that story! But not in this fandom.) My amusement at this is entirely my issue.)

Anyway. I think about asking for this fandom every year. And every year I decide, no, better not, because - well. It seems dangerous. How could anyone get it right? Probably best just to leave it alone.

But this story is absolutely right. I am glad Resonant didn't leave it alone. It's everything I could possibly want from Famous Blue Raincoat fan fiction - enough of the story to satisfy me, enough of the characters to feel like I know them. (Seriously, I think I fucked the rival. No, I think I fucked three separate versions of him; he's that guy we all used to date, and are very glad we don't anymore.) But not so much that there aren't any mysteries left.

This is note-perfect, in other words; a gorgeous entry in a truly challenging fandom.

And now I will never need to ask for this fandom in Yuletide. Because the ideal story has already been written for it.

The One That Teaches Us That There Should Be a Special DSM Category for a Diagnosis Performed by Clueless Psychiatrist. A Mind Overborne, by [dreamwidth.org profile] astolat. Dracula, Count Dracula/R. M. Renfield. Read the warnings on this one, people.

(Note for my fellow downloaders: I haven't tried downloading this one, but you probably should read it on the Archive. If you miss the images in this one, you miss the better half of the story!)

I tend to avoid Dracula-related stories, and not for any of the reasons you might imagine. (Wimpiness, dislike of things relating to death, aversion to velvet - I mean, I own all those things, but they aren't why I avoid Draculosity.) My main reason is. Well. When I was in middle school, I was in a painful middle-school-type production of Dracula. This means that any writer attempting to convey sincere gothic atmosphere and creeping dread and general darkness has to overcome my memory of the middle school Renfield, who was cast entirely because he was one of the three boys available. He did not believe in memorizing lines, and at one point forgot to take off his baseball cap before going on stage. Also, said writer has to overcome my recollection of my own contribution to the play. And the costume's. Never before or since have I worn an article of clothing so clearly and obviously inspired by vomit. (Our costumes were selected by what fit us. I already had boobs. This dress was the only thing that closed over them. That is trauma central when you're 12, people.)

Astolat actually managed to overcome this major obstacle in this story. I read this and I totally forget about the first Renfield I ever knew, who made 11340 jokes about my boobs, and also punched Dracula in the kidneys during dress rehearsal. (Dracula cried, which is perfectly understandable, but it's another challenging image for any author trying to convey actual menace.) I actually care about Astolat's Renfield, for one thing, and I actually worry about what happens to him. (Nothing good, for the record. This is Dracula, people.)

But what really sells this story for me is the interlinear notes from the psychiatrist on Renfield's case. I just - I love that narrative, how there's a whole second story in there. I love how it's simultaneously meta (with period commentary on the sexual nature of the Dracula myth!) and creepy (with a very real NO OH GOD NO DON'T OPEN THE DOOR feeling about it). This story, in short, is awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that I don't even mind the flashbacks to middle school. How often can you say that about anything?

The One That Will Leave You Wondering Why We Don't Have a Channel Pointy. Presumably It Would Show Buffy Reruns. When I consider how my homes is gones, by [dreamwidth.org profile] jadelennox. The True Meaning of Smekday, gen.

I am going to try very sincerely not to write more words in the recommendation for this than are in the actual, you know, thing itself. But I can make no promises. I am not succinct, like J.Lo.

And those of you who have not read The True Meaning of Smekday are even now crunkling your brows and saying, "...Succinct like J.Lo? Is that sort of like being badass like Colin Meloy?" But if you haven't read The True Meaning of Smekday, I - I just don't know what I can say to you. It is a wonderful book. And it features J.Lo! (You can read a sample, and also 10 reasons to read the actual book, assuming "because TFV said so" isn't enough reason for you although I would like to know why not, here.)

So. Presumably all the people who are tragically Smekday-free are off looking at the website, and now I'm just talking to people who know how Boov talk. So I say to you: this is a poem. Written by a Boov. And it is just like the book: hilarious and moving both. The first time I read this, I was smiling and tearing up at the same time, which is an impressive feat.

Although this poem did leave me yearning to watch Poompitude whilst Frying, which is, tragically, impossible. (Man, no wonder the Boov conquered us: They had all the best TV shows.)

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
an_sceal on February 16th, 2011 06:13 am (UTC)
If the Baby-sitter's Club was even half this good, I truly regret wasting my childhood with Enid Blyton.

I say this as someone who owned BSC books #1 - #86, AND all the Super Specials.

They were so very, very NOT as good as this story. And I don't remember (though I should. I should have her freaking bio MEMORIZED.) if Ann M. Martin was an only child or not, but she wrote some of the most gloriously romanticized sibling interactions I've ever seen.

In any case, lord, no, they were NOT good. But they were FUN. And they were the reason I made $500 babysitting, the year I turned 12.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
I checked on Wikipedia! Martin has one sister. But apparently in her books she wrote about fantasy sisters and brothers?

And they were the reason I made $500 babysitting, the year I turned 12.

Enid Blyton never taught me anything so useful! *shakes fist*

Although I still did manage to make a bundle of money as a sitter. Still. *shakes fist again*
(no subject) - an_sceal on February 18th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 18th, 2011 04:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - an_sceal on February 18th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 18th, 2011 06:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - an_sceal on February 21st, 2011 05:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 06:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
sophia_sol on February 16th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
I respectfully submit that ginger beer is better than gingerale. Also, its proper name is "grog", cf Swallows and Amazons.
worryingly jolly batman: nita & kitlabellementeuse on February 16th, 2011 08:44 am (UTC)
I came here to leave this exact comment. TFV, have you read S&A? Because YOU SHOULD.
(no subject) - wiseoldwol on February 16th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sophia_sol on February 16th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on February 16th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
TFV, happily the apostrophe is not misplaced! It is a club for babysitters, a club of baby-sitters, thus the baby-sitter's club.

Also, I am so glad you posted a date specific rec set because I felt sad the chance had been lost. :)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
The apostrophe is totally misplaced! It's a club for more than one babysitter, so it should be the Babysitters' Club! Also, there is the issue of that HYPHEN. *twitches*

Also, I am so glad you posted a date specific rec set because I felt sad the chance had been lost. :)

As it turned out, so did I. Normally I wouldn't post so soon after having just, you know, posted, but - 215! On 2/15! It'll take me like three years to work around to the 300s, so I had to seize the day.
(no subject) - dzurlady on February 17th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
Gummo Bergman's "Silent Strawberries": Humanuarymarginaliana on February 16th, 2011 12:57 pm (UTC)
When I consider how my homes is gones is pretty much one of my favorite things in the universe.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
Naturally! It's because a) you have taste and b) only rarely does the universe manage to produce anything as awesome as that.
starfishchick on February 16th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, there really were identical triplets.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
What I love is the suggestion that, okay, having had this extremely rare event happen to you - motherfucking TRIPLETS - you would go out and have FOUR MORE BABIES. On, unless I misunderstood what Zelempa said in her story, each subsequent year.

Dear Ann M. Martin:

That's crazypants.

(no subject) - starfishchick on February 16th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
I am never merry when I hear sweet musicpaper_tzipporah on February 16th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
Wait, Colin Meloy isn't badass?
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Nope. Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but, no. You might be confused because his picture is in the dictionary under "badass," but if you look closely, you will notice it's in the antonym section.
JaneDavittjanedavitt on February 16th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
My daughter Lauren (10) is obsessed with the BSC books. There are around 130 and spinoffs and I go around thrift stores rooting around for them. She's got about 30 left to get.

They're repetitive to a large degree but they do seem to tackle problems kids would face (racism, divorced parents, bullying) and they're very sweet and wholesome (which dates them, I guess :-))

Conkers, is, I think now banned in many schools in England, which makes me want to hit someone over the head with one. It was part of growing up. You got your conker (horse chestnut), soaked it in vinegar to harden it, put a hole through it with a needle, and threaded it onto string. Then you find someone and have a match. They hold theirs out and you whack at it with your conker. It swings, often painfully smacking them on the knuckles. Then they hit yours. Repeat until one is smashed. I had one giant that had won many many matches by the end of the seaon (yes, you kept count).

Good times :-)

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
My daughter Lauren (10) is obsessed with the BSC books. There are around 130 and spinoffs and I go around thrift stores rooting around for them. She's got about 30 left to get.

I have immense sympathy with Lauren. My Blyton obsession led to a lot of desperate searching, especially since many of her books were never published in the US.

Conkers, is, I think now banned in many schools in England, which makes me want to hit someone over the head with one. It was part of growing up.

Okay, to me conkers does not sound like any fun at all, but - what is the reasoning behind banning them? Are they afraid people will get conker shards in their eyes? Use conkers as a weapon of mass destruction? I'm confused!
(no subject) - janedavitt on February 16th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
I made this beat with my panflute and my keyboard: anastasia ask your analystjanet_carter on February 16th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, man, I read the BSC but also spent a lot of time trying to figure out conkers. Not to mention the rules of cricket. That fic got the style of the BSC books down (including the detailed descriptions of outfits, and the second-chapter summary of the series premise), except that they never had such a believable and interesting romance - they were more lessons about recycling and other topics of the late eighties/early nineties, not so much pining. But they have some great id-hitting tropes - there were SUPER-SPECIALS where EVERYONE GOT SNOWED IN or WENT TO DISNEYWORLD TOGETHER or other awesome things that didn't lead to porn.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on February 16th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
OH GOD CRICKET. SO CONFUSING. I was still utterly confused about cricket when I read Murder Must Advertise. I spent a lot of time when I was about 13 attempting to parse the cricket chapter of that book.

there were SUPER-SPECIALS where EVERYONE GOT SNOWED IN or WENT TO DISNEYWORLD TOGETHER or other awesome things that didn't lead to porn.

Bizarre, because I'm used to those things leading to porn! (And I think, if Zelempa wrote the super-special she describes at the end of her story, there WOULD be porn. And the world would be a better place for it.) Still, an excellent concept.

Although I'm glad Blyton never went there. If the Famous Five had all gone to Disneyworld together, they would have spent their entire time talking about how much it sucked, and also how much Americans sucked.
(no subject) - dzurlady on February 17th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
misspamelamisspamela on February 16th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
I never heard of Enid Blyton until Calathea mentioned her, and now you!

I had every. single. BSC. book. That story is absolute perfection.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on February 17th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
OMG DO NOT READ BLYTON. It's - it's one thing you're young and you spend all your time reading British children's books anyway. I mean, as a kid I loved basically every word to fall from her pen. But I tried to read one as an adult, and oh god. Oh god. Oh god NO.

Rowan would probably like them, though. I was about her age when I got heavily, and I do mean HEAVILY, into all things Blyton. Of course, you might prefer simply to have her stare into a blender set to puree, on the grounds that it would be a more constructive use of her time.
blah blah blah: Zoe Smileunusualdemoness on February 17th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC)
I know I read a bunch of BSC books when I was a kid, even watched the movies, but I can't for the life of me remember anything about them. :/

Oh well, off to read the fic. I can't believe there even is BSC fic. Yuletide is awesome.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV umbrellathefourthvine on February 17th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
The good news is that you don't need to remember the BSC books to read the story. And, also, people who do remember the books assure me that the story is way, way better. So it's probably a good thing you deleted all that stuff from your hard drive. *g*
Rena Katzuneprofessorkatze on February 17th, 2011 05:31 am (UTC)
*waits expectantly for sex researcher fic*
to write the unwritable wrongzelempa on February 17th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the rec! I just wanted to let everyone know that I added plaintext versions of the handwritten elements in my BSC story (they're hidden in AO3, but visible on MOBI since it ignores both img tags and css). So you can now download to your MOBI device without missing any plot elements.

If anyone has any further issues please let me know. zelempa @ gmail !

Thanks again, and to everyone who left kudos and comments! :)
if we grow up we are going to be famouscadenzamuse on September 3rd, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)

In fact, I once posted this in an LJ entry:

It's just, there's so much there, y'all. A speaker who is writing a letter at four in the morning to the man who stole away his woman (wife/fiancee/girlfriend, take your pick), in which he admits that "I'm glad that you stood in my way" and "thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes / I thought it was there for good so I never tried"! In which he admits that although he was upset about the betrayal, "I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you / I'm glad you stood in my way"! In which he is apparently lying in bed with The Woman that they both had a relationship with--that they both loved and took care of and built up and were loved by and taken care of and built up by--and he lets the recipient know this and that "Well I see Jane's awake-- / She sends her regards"! In which he envisions the recipient as "I see you there with the rose in your teeth / One more thin gypsy thief," an image that is at once romantic and devious and tragic! In which The Woman gives him a lock of the letter recipient's hair that she had as a memento when they were cheating on him! And finally, finally, in the Tori Amos cover, she sings, "If you ever come by for Jane...no, for me / Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free"! !!!

Try and tell me that the letter writer and the recipient weren't sleeping together. No, seriously, just try.

And tell me that he doesn't come back to New York sometime, from the desert where he's living in solitude, and come by the house where the writer and Jane are now living together again while Jane is out, and take the writer out for coffee or dinner and then take him back to the house to have slow, loving, regretful sex in Jane and the author's bed. And maybe that's the end of it, with some threesome sex when Jane gets home from work, and the recipient heads back into the desert to live alone again. Or maybe he moves back to New York, rents a place, a cheap hotel or apartment, and goes by to see Jane and Leonard* for dinner every couple of weeks, goes on long walks with Leonard and talks about philosophy and life and edges around the subject of Jane, makes Jane laugh and brings her wine or bread to go with dinner and doesn't sleep with her, and the betrayals between all three of them slowly start to mend. Maybe the recipient and Leonard keep sleeping together, occasionally, by accident. Maybe they all do. Maybe the recipient moves into the spare bedroom of their house, or maybe he just stays nearby, and comes by for dinner, and one night he kisses Jane in front of Leonard, and everything is okay again, and they all live happily and polyamorously ever after.

Now. Somebody write me that fic, dammit!

*The letter is signed "L. Cohen," but Wikipedia says that Leonard Cohen said it wasn't necessarily about any actual affair, more about how he kept shooting himself in the foot romantically with his jealousy, so I am not at all tied down to meticulously researching the life of Leonard Cohen and shoving actual people into this. Obviously.

(I just wanted to tell you that before I go see someone else's canon about Famous Blue Raincoat, that cannot be unseen. But that is my head-canon.)