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28 October 2006 @ 10:03 am
153: On the Day of the Dead, When the Year Too Dies  
Best Beloved suggested that, what with the whole Halloween and Day of the Dead thing that's happening around this time of year (not to mention my dogs' holiday of choice, which is known as Barking at the Place Where a Black Cat Probably Was Three Days Ago), it would be a perfect occasion for death stories. I agreed.

And then I kind of wimped out. But, hey, what I went with fulfills the theme, too, because what better way to celebrate the end of October than with a few of your best undead friends?

The One That Proves That There Are Two Teenaged Boys on This Earth Using the Internet for Something Other Than Porn and Networked Video Games. Yes, Really. I'm As Shocked As You Are. Going Under, by Aphrael (does anyone know if she's on LJ?). Hikaru no Go, Shindou Hikaru/Touya Akira.

One of the things I just purely love about Hikaru no Go is that the whole premise - sixth-grader haunted by the friendly ghost of the best-ever Go player - is just kind of, I don't know, taken for granted. Hikaru spends his time worrying that someone might find out about his ghost, sure, but it's about the same way he'd worry about doing something that could get him grounded. After the first day or so, there's no real reaction of, "Holy shit, a fucking ghost." (Which is totally understandable; if I'd been haunted at that age, I likely would've taken it with the same relatively blase air. Everything's kind of weird when you're a kid; for all you know, everyone could have ghosts and just not have thought to mention it to you yet.)

But the lack of holy fucking shit, a ghost reactions means the supernatural element of the canon doesn't really get explored. Which is why I love this story, which says, "Hey. Where there's one ghost, might there not also be another?"

Indeed there might. And just because Sai is the cutest, prettiest, smartest, friendliest, and most emotionally labile ghost you could ever hope to meet, that doesn't mean that other ghosts might not have, well, other agendas. We can't all be bought off with games of Go, vending machines, and fake fish, you know. (Although I have to wonder about those of us who can't be. Are we demanding too much? I mean, the universe supplies Go, vending machines, and fake fish, and yet somehow we want more. You realize this is what happened to the Roman Empire, people. Forget what Gibbon told you: the first sign of decline is a been-there, done-that attitude toward vending machines.) So. Hikaru's got a new ghost. And this one, uh, doesn't have much interest in Go.

The One That Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Concepts of Avoidance and Denial. Law of Conservation, by Lucia Zephyr, aka lucia_tanaka. Numb3rs, Charlie Eppes/Larry Fleinhardt.

And we go from the bad kind of ghost to - well, a whole different bad kind of ghost. Because, let's face it, you don't want to be haunted by anyone weird and creepy. But you don't really want to be haunted by anyone you know, either, because then that person has to be - and I don't want to harp on the obvious here, but, well, it's worth considering - dead. (I suppose the worst case scenario would be being haunted by a weird and creepy loved one. Yeah, my brain went to a bad place, too. Or, oh my god - my really and truly worst case scenario would be being haunted by myself, c. age 15. Weird, creepy, and as irritating as all hell: the undead unholy trifecta!)

And, of course, that's what's happening here. The thing I find interesting about this story is that - well, in due South, we take this kind of haunting for granted. Your dead father can come back to visit, and it's nothing more than an ongoing annoyance and about ten points off your yearly psychiatric evaluation. But taken out of its context - I don't know. I found this story sad, sad in a way I would never find Bob Fraser sad. And I'd put that down to a character I love being dead, except - well, I don't really know these characters. I had to look up Larry's last name to post this, even. But still: sad.

I suppose, transplanted into another reality and onto a different character, this kind of haunting looks like stasis, stagnation, and, well, tragedy. In particular, I find the last line very, very sad. But I'm curious if other people interpret this story that way, or if I'm just weirdly sensitive about this one. (Even if you do - it's a short story, and I'm going to be offering the antidote with the next rec, so don't let me saying something is sad scare you away. Anyway - I cry when I throw away frying pans. My sense of the sad is not necessarily anyone else's.)

The One That Proves That Your Really Good Friends Can Keep Embarrassing You Even After They're Dead. Divine Intervention, by Perpetual Motion, aka perpet_fic. Scrubs, J.D./Perry Cox.

But, hey. Haunting by a loved one doesn't have to be sad, you know? Particularly, in Scrubs stories it doesn't have to be sad. I mean, sure, tragic death and all, but if the people on Scrubs let that get to them, they'd have nervous breakdowns every episode instead of twice a season. The key thing is to get J.D. and Cox on appropriate terms, and if that means hanging around being obnoxious, well, I know one dead guy who is more than up to the task.

(No. It's not the Janitor. Are you kidding? If he predeceased J.D., he sure as shit wouldn't come back to help him get laid; he'd steal all his pens and make sure his coffee was always stone cold and that he never got laid again. Those cold, ghostly fingers can deliver quite the coitus interrupting pinch, you know, and oh my god I'm writing a ghost!Janitor story summary inside another story summary. Why didn't someone stop me?)

Just think, though, about how much it would suck to have to fix Dr. Cox before you could go to your eternal reward. That would be - that would be like the booby prize of the entire afterlife. (And, yes, thank you to all the Todds in the audience who just said, "I'd sure like to prize her boobies.") Or maybe that's the special hell we all keep talking about. Hmmm. Yeah. That makes a surprising amount of sense, actually. See y'all there! And fear not - we will prevail. Even Dr. Cox won't be able to hold out against all of fandom working as a concerted team. (Although, god, I don't want to think about wank in the afterlife. You talk about your truly eternal kerfluffles.)

The One That Provides an Inspirational Example of Triumphing and Achieving Success in Life and Love Despite the Setback of Being Basically Dead. Rodney's Bad Day, by boochicken. Stargate: Atlantis, Rodney McKay/John Sheppard.

Given that Rodney's average day in the Pegasus Galaxy involves a near-death experience, it stands to reason that a bad day would involve an actual death experience. Or, in this case, more of your undead-type experience. Fortunately, Rodney's genius is totally up to the task of coping with vampirism. The keys, as demonstrated by Rodney, are to whip up some even higher SPF sunscreen. And, where possible, try to avoid biting your co-workers. (Unless they ask nicely.)

In this story, we get to see Rodney go through the Five Stages of Coping with Your Own Undeath (denial, creeping people out, anger, struggle with unfortunate appetites, and, in the fullness of time, using your powers for good). Being Rodney, he manages this with aplomb, provided you're willing to define "aplomb" as "mostly not eating anyone." After all, this is Pegasus. You can't survive 15 minutes on Atlantis if you let little things like being undead get you down.

(No, really. You can't, because something worse is always just around the corner. You know that Life Events Scale that assigns a numerical value to the stressfulness of various life events, and you check off the things that have happened to you in the last year and add up the points and find out you should be very, very sick, or maybe just crazy? Well, I bet Kate Heightmeyer is currently hard at work on the Pegasus Galaxy version. It starts off:

Destroyed universe: 10000
Committed genocide (own race): 1000
Nearly committed genocide (own race): 900
Committed genocide (other race): 800
Destroyed galaxy: 750

And, much further down, goes through such entries as:

Died (but got better): 73
Nearly died from someone else's incompetence:63
Nearly died saving everyone: 61
Had family or team member turned into hostile creature or entity: 60
Spent more than 48 hours trapped in an enclosed space with Rodney McKay: 59
Mutated: 58
Held captive (with torture): 57
Quantum mirror encounter: 55
Cloned: 51
Time travel (with paradox): 43

And so on. Unfortunately, her research is slightly hampered by the fact that, by even the most generous calculations, they should've had their first stress-induced death five weeks into the mission, and that death would set off a chain reaction of stress, stress-related illnesses, and stress-related deaths that would result in everyone being dead in under three months. She continues to work on it, though. It's a nice way to relax between running the Possessions, Mutations, and Violent Personality Changes Support Circle (Motto: "Friends Helping Friends, Even When They Happen Not to Be Quite Themselves Right at the Moment") and her "So It's Friday and You're Not Dead Yet: Coping with the Shock" lectures.)
 
 
 
mir8lle on October 28th, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
You know...I think I almost enjoy reading your recs more than the stories you are reccing. Is that a bad thing? Heightmeyer ftw!
tried to eat the safe banana: All the bees are ded.thefourthvine on October 28th, 2006 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

And you know she's working on it. Psychiatrists need assessment tools, and it's just like everything else they brought from earth: these things need to be recalibrated before they can be used in Pegasus. (In fact, I can see her handing all these "recalibrated assessments" over to the person who comes to cover her for her while she's on earth leave. I bet her smile is absolutely evil.)
(no subject) - mir8lle on October 28th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 04:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
I made this beat with my panflute and my keyboardjanet_carter on October 28th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
The youngest shall open the oldest hills
Anyway - I cry when I throw away frying pans. My sense of the sad is not necessarily anyone else's.

I apologize to the frying pans, and tell them what a good job they did for years, because I'm worried that their feelings will be hurt.

Anyway, your recs are, as always, beyond delightful to read, as is that Scrubs story. Thank you!
tried to eat the safe banana: Batgirl in glassesthefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks
I apologize to the frying pans, and tell them what a good job they did for years, because I'm worried that their feelings will be hurt.

Oh my god, I thought it was just me. I cry because they did a good job, for years and years, and this is no way to repay their loyalty. (Unless, of course, they were bad frying pans or whatever, in which case I am stern and resolute: they've had their second and third chances, and now it is over between us.)

(When I was four or five, I read an article in the newspaper that had me crying for days. This family, down on their luck, were living out of their car, when their car broke down on the freeway (where no one can live, of course). My parents kept reassuring me that the people were fine and being helped and the whole point of the story was that a good Samaritan gave them another car. But they didn't understand, and I was unable to explain, that it was the car I was upset for, abandoned like that.)
Re: The youngest shall open the oldest hills - fanofall on October 29th, 2006 02:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
Luce: Varying degrees of con-artistrylucia_tanaka on October 28th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
Um... wow. You turned my little fic into a super-rec. Thank you so much. It's probably my favorite work, the first bit of writing when I was shooting for some deeper than a few laughs. That someone- anyone- noticed it is the kind of thing that makes my muse wake up and go, "nap's over, let's roll".

Which is good, since NaNoWriMo is only a few days away. *dances*

So, yes, thank you so much for the glowing rec. Even though you didn't know Larry's last name. (Shame on you. He is the best thing on that show. *shakes finger at you*)

I got my first real rec! *dances* You're the best thing ever!
tried to eat the safe banana: Writingthefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC)
It's probably my favorite work, the first bit of writing when I was shooting for some deeper than a few laughs.

You certainly got there for me. *sniffle*

Which is good, since NaNoWriMo is only a few days away.

*sad*

I did NaNo in 2002, but I've never had the time since then; at this point, I figure writing my Yuletide story is about as much of a November writing challenge as I can do.

Even though you didn't know Larry's last name. (Shame on you. He is the best thing on that show. *shakes finger at you*)

Hey, I get partial credit! I knew it started with F! I just couldn't remember where to go from there - Fleegman? Flanders? Feynman? (I run into this problem a lot, actually; you can pick up a lot by reading just the FF for a given canon, but oddly enough you can't always get the full names of the characters. Thank god for IMDb.)
(no subject) - lucia_tanaka on October 29th, 2006 01:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
Bagheera: disguisebagheera_san on October 28th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
That SGA rec isn't actually a rec. It's fic. Good fic. :D
tried to eat the safe banana: Batgirl in glassesthefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:27 am (UTC)
*grins*

Thank you! (In truth, it's got me modifying all kinds of psychological assessments for life in the Pegasus Galaxy. Like, Rorschach cards II and IV are clearly the Wraith cards. And she's probably ripped the paranoia scale out of the MMPI. (I'd dump psychasthenia, too.))
shayheyred: BleachGinshayheyred on October 28th, 2006 06:39 pm (UTC)
Oh thank you, thank you, for the HnG rec. It's a story I've never read, fairly new as I am to the fandom, and though I love Hikaru and Touya, my heart belongs to Sai and the ghostly elements of the series. So it is with relish that I bookmark this story and shall set about reading it this evening.
tried to eat the safe banana: HnG Akira Hikaruthefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
I love Sai, too, but there's not a lot of FF about him (especially given that I don't want Sai pairings, just Sai gen).

And if you're new to the fandom, let me know if you want my list of basically every HnG story I'd read a second time - these aren't all stories I'd rec by any means, but there isn't a lot of FF for HnG, so I figure every little bit helps.

*loves Hikaru no Go to pieces*
(no subject) - shayheyred on October 29th, 2006 12:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
abbyleeabbylee on October 28th, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)
Dammit. I've seen people talking about Hikaru no Go before, but I don't think I really paid attention to what it was about. Except... yeah, now I totally want to see it.

Suggestions for how I do that? Or not something you can help with?

I love reading your recs, they're definitely as awesome as the stories themselves.
tried to eat the safe banana: Gothefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:51 am (UTC)
I'm always happy to help someone else experience the love that is Hikaru no Go! (And HnG is indeed love.) If you want to download the anime, grab an FTP client and connect to ftp://ftp.hikago.flirble.org. (If that doesn't work for you, let me know.) Very fast downloads.

The manga - unfortunately, I can't find the link raucousraven had for downloads of this (she gave it to me and I forgot to bookmark it, which means it is Lost Forever, unless she's more organized than I am), but if you want it, let me know; I'll happily upload the scanlations for you.

And if you do download and then decide you want FF - well, I have a Long List of basically every HnG story I'd be willing to read a second time (that I've found thus far; I'm hoping there are still more out there), and I'm always happy to share.
(no subject) - dzurlady on October 29th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dzurlady on October 29th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dzurlady on October 29th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
wychwood on October 28th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Eeeh for Susan Cooper references! *g*

...I got nothing. Except that I read the SGA story you recced last week, and it was indeed hilarious. I love Rodney's total refusal to accept that anything in his life should change as a result of something as minor as turning into a vampire.
tried to eat the safe banana: Very nearly Rodneythefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)
Eeeh for Susan Cooper references!

You know, I think this set's title has garnered more remarks than any other title I've ever used. Just proves that your basic fangirl has excellent taste in reading material, because what's better than the Dark Is Rising series? Nothing, basically.

I love Rodney's total refusal to accept that anything in his life should change as a result of something as minor as turning into a vampire.

Well, you know how it is. You can't let the litle things get you down, or you'll never be able to do all the universe-saving you need to.
out_there on October 28th, 2006 09:34 pm (UTC)
(And, yes, thank you to all the Todds in the audience who just said, "I'd sure like to prize her boobies.")

*raises hand guiltily*

I totally did that. I'm almost ashamed of myself.
tried to eat the safe banana: Smilethefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)
That's nothing to be ashamed of. The Todd is an inspiration to us all.

(No, really. I gave Best Beloved a lecture on this very topic last week, and now I'm banned from watching any more Scrubs episodes for a month. ...It's probably for the best. But still: yay, Todd! And yay for the Todd in all of us.)
kalimyre: McShep flexible by mmmchellekalimyre on October 28th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
Your subject line is making me nuts because I remember it but I can't quite remember where I saw it. A book, maybe? There's... like something after it about youngest and oldest and I'm thinking it's an old favorite of mine, something I read as a kid. Please to tell me what it's from?
tried to eat the safe banana: Bookthefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
It's from Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series (specifically, the Grey King):

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the Light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan's Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden hand shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon's sword the Dark shall fall.

You probably also remember the poem about the six Signs (from The Dark Is Rising and Green Witch):

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Three shall return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the Grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold;
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the Light at last, silver on the tree.
(no subject) - dzurlady on October 29th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kalimyre on October 30th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
Iphiginia Saberhagen: Green John and Rodney from mmmchellefanofall on October 29th, 2006 02:15 am (UTC)
I bet Kate Heightmeyer is currently hard at work on the Pegasus Galaxy version.

Oh, God, and you KNOW she's trying to factor in "Meeting with member(s) of International Oversight Committee or United States Air Force (in Pegasus Galaxy" versus "Meeting with member(s) of International Oversight Committee or United States Air Force (Milky Way Galaxy)" because she has to be able to account for the reasons all the holes keep showing up in walls.
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA Ronon smilethefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 05:37 am (UTC)
Yes! And she's like, "Is Jack O'Neill's presence at Oversight Committee meetings an added stress factor, because he's Jack O'Neill? Or does it actually reduce stress, because he distracts everyone?"

She sits up at night thinking of these things, and keeps a pen and notepad by her bedside so she can write down what she remembers in the night. ("Any Ancient tech encounter - 1 point/day. Hostile Ancient tech encounter - 10 points. Horny Ancient tech encounter - 11 points. Standing directly between Ancient tech and McKay - 15 points. 16 if he's in coffee withdrawal.")
the pirate queen of norway: fire on the mountainashkitty on October 29th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC)
No idea about the fandoms, but I approve of the subject line. ;)
tried to eat the safe banana: Bookthefourthvine on October 29th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)
I love the Dark Is Rising series. In fact, it's getting to be time for my yearly re-read of book 2.

*hearts*
(no subject) - ashkitty on October 29th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
plus one skeletondelurker on October 29th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)
Or, oh my god - my really and truly worst case scenario would be being haunted by myself, c. age 15. Weird, creepy, and as irritating as all hell: the undead unholy trifecta!
Hee!

Also - and how nice is fandom, when I know that I can talk to someone about this without getting the Blank Stare of Incomprehensibility (Yours, Not Mine) from them - this reminds me of my occasional ponderings about whether or not I (as a young child) would recognise an older me, and then leads me to wonder whether or not Dead 15yo You would realise that she was haunting herself (Dead 15yo You would have to be from an alternative reality, of course, because otherwise it would just be like normal - I haunt myself all the damn time), and the wacky hijinks such an idea would give rise to, were this a TV show. (A very disturbing TV show.)
plus one skeletondelurker on October 29th, 2006 05:39 am (UTC)
*rereads sentence* Um. Sorry! Feel free to give me the Blank Stare of Incomprehensibility all you want.
Paceuspaceus on October 29th, 2006 06:55 am (UTC)
The SGA story is lovely. I never thought there would be a vampire story in this fandom (although now I wonder why it didn't occur to me -- there are centaur stories, after all), and this one is excellent!

I really like your rec too, because Heightmeyer. There should be more Heightmeyer fics, which there probably are, so I'm going to go investigate right now.
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glass: Puddlejumper and gate - goldie_galdzurlady on October 29th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
SGA is more science-y than fantasy, and the fic reflects that. I mean, you can do fantasy, but it's hard to do as well. Which isn't to say that it's not cool when it happens.
gurrier: Rodney boundgurrier on October 29th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)
Being Rodney, he manages this with aplomb, provided you're willing to define "aplomb" as "mostly not eating anyone."

Best review ever!

tried to eat the safe banana: Smilethefourthvine on October 30th, 2006 06:24 am (UTC)
*beams*

Thank you!
no hesitation, no delaykitaloon on October 29th, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)
That subject line just dredged up my long-forgotten obsession with those books. They're fantastic halloween-thanksgiving-christmas reading.

HnG is my first (probably) permanent fic-without-canon fandom, but I still enjoy it greatly.

The frying pan thing reminds me of a book my friend was telling me about, which featured an old man who didn't throw his pots away when they broke because they were his friends. I was about to say somethign snarky when I remembered my many tattered, beloved old books that I can't bear to give away.
tried to eat the safe banana: Bookthefourthvine on October 30th, 2006 06:31 am (UTC)
That subject line just dredged up my long-forgotten obsession with those books.

Then my work here is done. *pleased*

They're fantastic halloween-thanksgiving-christmas reading.

They are, although you have to read them out of order: 3 is definitely a Halloween story, while 2 is clearly the Christmas story.

HnG is my first (probably) permanent fic-without-canon fandom, but I still enjoy it greatly.

I totally support reading FF without canon, of course, but if you run out of HnG stuff - and you will, sad to say - the canon works just as well. The canon is totally wonderful, in fact; I can promise you that. (It's one of my very few canon-first fandoms; even when I know the canon at all, I usually worked back to it from the FF. So it's amazing to me to have known the canon first on this one, and I'm very proud of that fact.)

a book my friend was telling me about, which featured an old man who didn't throw his pots away when they broke because they were his friends.

Ooo. If you get a chance, I'd love to know the name of the book.
(no subject) - kitaloon on October 30th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)