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19 May 2007 @ 04:37 pm
167: When I Find Myself in Times of Trouble, Crack and Cliches Comfort Me  
And, frankly, I'm going to need the comfort. I will be spending the next week - seven glorious days! - shut in a very expensive hotel room (five minutes away from where I live) with two large dogs, one of whom does not like new things and howls if you leave him alone for any reason whatsoever, and the other of whom is going to view this as the best thing that has ever happened to her, and also terrify the housekeepers. And who has an unholy ability to manipulate new environments to her advantage.

I - I know I'll get through this. And worse things happen every day, and some of them have even happened to me, and there's a time when we'll all look back on this and laugh. (That time, I predict, will be when we are on massive medication overdoses.) It's just that right now, my near future is looking to be kind of unpleasant, especially given everything I have to do to be ready for this adventure. And there's also the fact that I expect to be hearing bad news no later than this Friday, when I will be already fairly unhappy, on account of, you know, spending a week trapped in a hotel room. With insane dogs.

Seriously. Odds that I will survive this? At least 99%, and I know it, and that's a very good thing. Odds that I will survive this with my dignity and sanity intact? So vanishingly small that I might actually hit the "it's a one-in-a-million shot, but it just might work!" exclusion.

Obviously, the thing to do right now is ignore all the things I have to get done today, not to mention my impending doom, and recommend some happy-making stories. And I don't know about you, but there's nothing that makes me happier than fan fiction cliches put to good use. (I think we all know what I mean by "good use," too. Oh, hush, I do not only think about sex. Just, you know. Sometimes. And one of the stories I'm about to rec is basically gen, so there.)

On to the fan fiction, then. And if anyone has any suggestions for surviving my immediate future - things to read, games that can be played in a hotel room you can't leave (ideally involving two large dogs in a way that will keep them quiet), breathing exercises, pocket universes where time passes more quickly that I could escape to - I'm entirely ready to hear them.

In the meantime, cliches. Which I dig. (And, OMG, someone please send me the link for the Canada shirts - I saw one a week ago, and it was profoundly awesome.)

The One That Reveals at Least Two Great Truths. One of Them Is That in Any Group of Teenagers, You Have More Repressed Sexual Overtones Than You Can Shake a Stick At. The Other I Leave As an Exercise for the Reader. Game Theory, by penknife. X-Men, gen. (And some might question me calling it gen, but, well. This story does indeed have all kinds of subtext, just gallons of it in fact, but so did every variation of this game I ever played. Which was an unfortunate number of them. Oh my god, I am so grateful to be done with adolescence I can't even begin to tell you. I would rather spend the rest of my life trapped in a hotel room bored out of my skull with two even more bored dogs than spend a single week back as a teenager, and I mean that. I mean, given time and the test, I'm sure I can think of lots of fun things to do with complimentary toiletries.)

So. As you will already have gathered, this is about a party game (which means it's also about a form of culturally-mandated torture, in my opinion); the game is Truth or Dare, which is something of a cliche in fan fiction and in real life. As a veteran of it in real life, I can tell you that, in my experience, it takes a maximum of three rounds for the game to get either boring or mean, unless everyone is intoxicated, in which case it gets either silly or mean.

It was kind of inevitable, given the players here - Marie, Jubilee, John, Bobby, Kitty, and Peter (which I initially mistyped as "Petter" - oh, I am going to have to proofread this entry really closely, I can already see that) - that this would go the dangerous route. And it does, in a way that is so perfectly in character and so perfectly adolescent that I seriously cringe in memory every time I read this.

But that's only half of what I love about this story. (Yes, I love the cringing, in this particular case. What's not to love about a story that reminds you of all the reasons you should give thanks every day that you grew up?) The other half is Kitty's perspective. Penknife's Kitty is the smart, observant, and socially, um, limited girl many of us were back in our teen years. Except she quite literally has the ability to sink through the floor. I tell you, there were times, especially in middle school, when I would've sold my soul to be able to do that. Or to turn invisible. Either one. So for me, this is like revisiting my teen years, except that no one is tripping or having sex, everyone has mutant abilities, and I can get out whenever I want to. How could that be other than awesome?

The One That - Well, I'm Not Sure. Either It Proves That a True Bat Will Go to Any Lengths for Useful Knowledge, or It Proves That a True Bat Is a Vaguely Repressed and Very Twisty Fucker. You Make the Call! Things We Have Never Done, by derryderrydown. D.C. Universe, Dick Grayson/Roy Harper, with minor Garfield Logan/Victor Stone.

Another great party game cliche is Never Have I Ever, also called I Have Never. We all know how this is played (and if you don't, this story explains it, although what you do with that knowledge is of course up to you), and we all know that in a mixed-sex group, if "I have never had sex with a [person of a given sex]" hasn't made its ordained-by-the-petty-minded-gods-of-party-games appearance within three rounds, then everyone playing has some practical experience with bisexuality. Need I explain why this is such a popular concept in slash fiction? No. No, I need not, because you all have brains in your heads. (Also, many of you have been there. Greetings, fellow unfortunate-sexual-decisions-following-drinking-games alumni! The fruit plate is over there.)

But what I do need to explain, maybe, is why I love this cliche so damn much. See, because - you can't just start out the story with the "I have never had sex with [whatever]." Or I guess you can, but I, for one, would feel cheated. Because the great lure here - aside from the sex, which, yes, yay - is the stuff that comes first. I just love seeing what people think of for characters to have done. And not done. (Actually, I love this so much that one of my favorite I Have Never stories on earth is a gen one, if you can believe that, and there are several other stories I love all the way up to the Obligatory Sexual History Reveal.)

Derry does a spectacular job with that, here, coming up with what I think may be one of the meanest "I have never" statements ever devised for the superheroes of the DCU, and also dealing very nicely with the problem of having a player who has done everything, which is quite a challenge in the DCU fandom.*

So, you know, I am a very happy camper (...okay, reader) with this story, even before we get to Dick and Roy and the cocksucking lessons. Which I think is more than a sufficient explanation of why you need to read this story immediately. Party games! Happy campers! Cocksucking lessons! ...Oh my god, I just - I just almost made a terrifying Scouting joke. Save me from myself, people.

The One That Proves That Ancient Technology Is Hard on the Repressed. And Even Harder on Sudden Inexplicable Frogs. Straight As a Circle, by toomuchplor. Stargate: Atlantis, John Sheppard/Rodney McKay, John Sheppard/Kate Heightmeyer. (Warning: minor squicks for embarrassment and animal harm. People, I promise you, you won't care. It's that awesome. Also, you'll know when to skim, if need be.)

I'm pretty sure everyone even remotely interested in this fandom has already read this, but I had to recommend it anyway, because this is the most awesome cliche use in the whole history of fandom. John Sheppard wakes up straight. I mean, if that doesn't make you clap your hands and squeal like a little girl, then - hey, there's medication that can help you. Look into it.

It's got everything an SGA fangirl could want: John Sheppard being repressed and very, very gay, Ancient technology being obstreperous and very, very difficult, and native persons being inscrutable and very, very stubborn. Plus Rodney McKay being, you know, Rodney. And also handling a difficult situation with surprising grace, which is something I love about him that doesn't get showcased too often. (Yes, he also fucks up difficult situations sometimes. But it's not like that is rare in this canon.) I think my favorite part of this, though, is - well. Okay. You know how genderswap stories often have, at least in part, a "Hey, human sexuality really is much more of a continuum than I'd previously imagined!" resolution? This totally turns that on its head, and I just love how this whole concept forces John to - well, deal with his issues.

And, yes. I firmly believe it would take a massive lifestyle change, meddling Ancient technology, and a skilled psychiatrist - plus a lot of patience on everyone's part - for him to begin to do that. He's not, as far as I can tell, exactly the "I enjoy processing my issues to achieve a higher state of consciousness" kind of guy. More of a "Let's just repress this and with any luck I'll die before I have to think about it, okay?" guy. And I love that. But I also love the sneaky things fan fiction writers do to get him past that. And this - this is gorgeous sneakiness of a very high and refined order.

The One That Proves That the Key to Drinking with Others Is Knowing When to Flee to a Distant Part of the Bar, and When to Lock Yourself in a Bathroom and Wait for the Climax. So to Speak. Getting off on a Technicality, by nestra. Sports Night, Dan Rydell/Casey McCall.

If I had to write a list of My Personal Sports Night Canon, some of the entries would probably look like this. (Although, sadly, there would be lots of others. I have Theories. Oh, do I have ever have Theories. Also Opinions.)
  • Danny and Casey are destined to be together. No, really. It is fate. And it is very important. Do not fuck with the Danny and Casey together forever thing.

  • Kim can be evil, but evil can be a force for good. The same can be said of Natalie and Dana, and if that makes you wonder about Aaron Sorkin - um. Probably it should, but that's a whole other list.

  • Jeremy is the world's greatest living example of the innocent bystander. It's like what he was born to be.

  • The people of Sports Night spend about 15 hours a day together, at least five days a week, working under stressful conditions. Alcohol is often involved. If you don't think untoward things happen there from time to time, you may not have a clear understanding of how humans work; some remedial research is indicated.
And, see, I'm not sure if those items would make my list because of my knowledge of canon (and I actually do have some, which is something I'm so proud of you cannot even begin to imagine it), or because of, well, this story.

Because, wow. Nestra hits those notes so beautifully she might as well have written this story because of a future me zooming back in time to force people to write fan fiction that I knew I'd want to read. (And, yes. Given a time machine, I would so totally do that. Don't even claim you wouldn't, either.) Of course, if that's how it happened, Future Me was probably crazed and unwashed and just muttering, "Sports Night! Kissing! Dan! Casey!" And Nestra, alarmed but very much on her game, pulled out something brilliant that she'd already written. Because one thing Future Me has probably forgotten (on account of tragic time-travel-related insanity - or possibly just trapped-in-hotel-room insanity; we have no idea when I'm going to start my jaunt into the past, after all) is that you can't force awesomeness. And this is awesome.

The cliche, by the way, is a dare. (Yes, we started with a dare, and we're ending with one. I think we should take a moment to meditate on the beauty of that, because frankly with my writing actual coherent closure doesn't happen all that often.) And Kim is doing the daring. So, of course, Dan and Casey are fucked. (In all senses of the word.)


* Although the ultimate challenge there, I think, would be having Methos in an I Have Never game. I mean, Methos says, "I have never died," and everyone at the table protests, and he makes it, "I have never died permanently, then - you all knew what I meant." Of course, nobody drinks.

The next round, Methos can say either, "I have never given birth" or "I have never had children." And if it's an all-Immortal game, no one drinks then, either.

Basically, Methos is the guaranteed pass round of I Have Never, because if he's never done it, neither has anyone else. Oh, I guess at a multi-fandom table you could have him say something like, "I've never been to another planet," at which point John Sheppard, Teal'c, and Clark Kent all drink. But, failing multiple crossovers selected with extreme care, Methos's turn is a built-in opportunity for everyone to sober up just enough to discuss some of the things he did drink on. ("I - with the goat. I didn't think he'd drink there." "You didn't? Fool. But my question - I mean, when in god's name did he detonate a nuclear device?")
Veracopracat on May 19th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
Your footnote makes me happy in ways I can't begin to describe.
tried to eat the safe banana: Smilethefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)

Yay! (For further happiness, see puritybrown's comment, which is making me imagine grand and glorious things.)
threerings: HL methos_ROGthreerings on May 20th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
Methos in an I Have Never game


Someone MUST write this now. I would pay money. We should take up a collection.
tried to eat the safe banana: Antiquitythefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
You know, I posted that with the secret hope that a wise HL fan would swoop in and say, "Oh, silly - that's a really common story in the fandom. Behold! Links!" And there would be much rejoicing.

*is very disappointed that this has not happened yet*
(no subject) - threerings on May 20th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - liddle_oldman on May 20th, 2007 02:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
j00j on May 20th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
hmm... Jack Harkness and Methos in the *same* game of Never Have I Ever-- fun, frightening, or simply overkill? I don't know, but I still want to read that story.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Feonixriftfeonixrift on May 20th, 2007 12:48 am (UTC)
Methos... Nukes... Oh Dear.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)
It is one of those situations that seems a bit, um, fraught with the potential for disaster, doesn't it? I mean, in addition to the nuclear disaster aspect of things.

And yet.

(You know, I'm told they never settled in canon if being at ground zero for a nuclear bomb would kill an immortal. *makes thinky face*)
(no subject) - eveningblue on May 21st, 2007 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
luna: kal-eltangleofthorns on May 20th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Hey, I might have a rec for you--or did you rec this story to me? I can't remember where I found it.

The Aphanes, by to_cry_about

Long-form XF gen featuring a pile of original characters and pitch-perfect worldbuilding. Sad and smart and with a tragically unfinished slashy sequel--I need to remember to e-mail the author and wonder if the rest will ever be posted.

It is totally the opposite of crack and cliches, despite the many OCs, but you might enjoy it anyway if you for some reason have empty reading time to fill.
tried to eat the safe banana: I sleep with computers.thefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 05:59 am (UTC)
OMG yay awesome thank you! (And this gives me an excellent idea. If I do have internet access during the Week of Practicing for My Inevitable Future as a Shut-In, I can post a poll and whine for people to link me to entertaining things. I can be a leech on the face of the internets!)

Also: does this mean you know X-Files canon? I have been looking for a person who has seen the series for a bit now, because Best Beloved is watching it and wants some advice.
(no subject) - tangleofthorns on May 20th, 2007 03:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - emily_shore on May 20th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
Methos does indeed win. Yay Methos!
calligrafiti on May 20th, 2007 01:36 am (UTC)
It depends on the dog, of course, but generally I've found larger dogs do surprisingly well in small spaces. It's the wee ones that get hyper. Unless one of your dogs has some border collie in him/her, in which case just give that dog the car keys and hope s/he avoids the cops. Anyway, this might be a good time to work on training type stuff. Dogs often like the attention, it can keep them from being bored, and maybe you've always wanted a dog who can do that dog-owner dancing thing they show on Animal Planet as a break bit between dog show segments.

Good luck!
tried to eat the safe banana: Dogthefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:15 am (UTC)
I think they'll do okay in the small space. I'm most worried about the howling-if-left-alone from Mr. Separation Anxiety. He gets over it in a bit, but - I don't think hotel neighbors are going to be willing to wait a bit. And the boredom from Ms. Ooo! What's This? is sort of an ancillary worry, since she's used to having a house and a yard to play in.

Sadly, Mr. Separation Anxiety already knows all the commands he can learn; if we try to teach him another one, he loses one of the ones he's already got. (Also, it takes about nine months to teach him something new. I am not kidding. He's not the brightest dog on the block.) And our other dog - well, she's got lots of commands, and even more words, and the problem is that she learns really really fast, and I'm basically out of things to teach her, aside from "This is the new magic spot" and "Find the hidden thing."

Although, you know, the dog-owner dancing is an awesome idea. I just figure she should have a better partner than me. But, hey, maybe I could teach her to strut backwards! That's a new trick, and it shouldn't be all that easy for her to learn.

And thanks for the luck. I'll need it.
nestra on May 20th, 2007 01:52 am (UTC)
Thanks for the rec! I might have done an undignified dance when I saw this pop up. And if you'd prefer to link to my site, the story is here -- whatever you prefer is fine, of course.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
In general, I tend to link to LJ, because I figure that way writers have more chance at feedback, always a good thing. (Plus, some people are weird about following off-LJ links.) But the backup link is good to have, especially since I trust and hope and assume that your site will not be going anywhere. (It had better not be going anywhere, anyway. *clings*)

And thank you for the story, which is a regular re-read for me. Your Dan and Casey make me so happy, and I love SN so helplessly.
Professor Liddle-Oldmanliddle_oldman on May 20th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
"Someday we'll look back at this and laugh nervously".

Erm -- why are you staying in a hotel room with dogs near your home? Or should I ask? Or should I know this?
tried to eat the safe banana: Adult nowthefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)

Yes, someday we will look back and laugh nervously, especially since we'll know It Could Happen Again. At any time. Houses cannot be trusted, and ours has decided NOW is the time for plumbing work to be done. Which will mean our house won't have any plumbing for a week. And, well, call me soft, but I don't want to return to Dark Ages unless I just have to.

(And we can't even go anywhere interesting in the time, as Best Beloved can't take time off work right now. *sulks the sulk of the overprivileged*)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: Smilethefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:21 am (UTC)
Yay link yay! Thank you!

Perhaps I will order one as a reward for surviving this week. That seems like a good idea.
some nouns and the occasional propositionainsley on May 20th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
He's not, as far as I can tell, exactly the "I enjoy processing my issues to achieve a higher state of consciousness" kind of guy. More of a "Let's just repress this and with any luck I'll die before I have to think about it, okay?" guy.

You are So. Very. Right. about this. Which is one of the reasons I love him so (it's not *entirely* my decade-long crush on jflan)--I hope he'll be a positive influence on my overthinking self.
tried to eat the safe banana: SGA smart/prettythefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
Which is one of the reasons I love him so (it's not *entirely* my decade-long crush on jflan)--I hope he'll be a positive influence on my overthinking self.

Wow. You have a decade-long crush on the Flan? I - I think you win in both the precedence and persistence contests. I don't think I know anyone else who knew who he was before SGA. *impressed*

And I love Sheppard's grim refusal to think about certain things (FEELINGS OMG), but in a way I think for the opposite reason for you - I mean, he puts so much thought and effort into not thinking about things, at least in my own personal canon, that it kind of serves of proof to me of his intelligence and stubbornness, two traits that I find helplessly endearing.
(no subject) - ainsley on May 20th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on May 20th, 2007 02:35 am (UTC)
I have no idea about the dogs, TVF, but I feel for you. Is there a park nearby? Could you just - tire them out, so they sleep a lot? (I say this optimistically, as I have the impression that they are very active dogs, but still. At the very least it would get you out of the room?)
Also, if you are bored in your room, I find interesting thinky radio on the AM band (not news, necessarily, and definietly not talk back, but thoughtful programs about things that last for an hour - like BBC world, or here in Australia radio national with far too many great shows to single out *pimps! pimps wildly, and to everyone, for it is free and quality radio you can download from the site!*) to be a nice way to avoid getting bored. Especially since you don't have to look at a screen, like the tv, and the quality and interest is still there, even in the middle of the day and night.
tried to eat the safe banana: Dogthefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:47 am (UTC)
Is there a park nearby? Could you just - tire them out, so they sleep a lot?


It may be time for Return to the Dog Park. This is a good idea.

not news, necessarily, and definietly not talk back, but thoughtful programs about things that last for an hour - like BBC world, or here in Australia radio national with far too many great shows to single out *pimps! pimps wildly, and to everyone, for it is free and quality radio you can download from the site!*

Wow. This is an excellent thing, and I am downloading many interesting programs as we speak. And thank you for the pointer; I would normally never think of even looking for something like this, because I'm such a visual person - MUST READ EVERYTHING. And the coolest part about this is I can listen while doing something else, like entertaining dogs who are Very Very Bored (and whose minds are terrifyingly adept at making their boredom my problem).
(no subject) - dzurlady on May 20th, 2007 07:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dzurlady on May 20th, 2007 07:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - delurker on May 20th, 2007 10:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
[Insert funny quote here] (lol insert): Jared - Short haired hotnessfloridapeaches on May 20th, 2007 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you for the SGA fic link, because I did indeed somehow miss it.

Also? GOOD LUCK. *hugs* That sounds like the week from hell no doubt. *hugs more*
tried to eat the safe banana: Smilethefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:49 am (UTC)
YAY! This is why I recommend even the really famous stories, because of the very real possibility that someone, somewhere, might have missed them, and that would be a tragedy. Now I am a very satisfied recommender. *beams with pride*

(And thanks for the luck. And the hugs. I - I think I'll need them both.)
(Deleted comment)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:51 am (UTC)
Re: you are made of magic beans
OMG THAT IS THE BEST IDEA EVER. I - I need this to happen. Because it is a recipe for joy. Yes yes yes.

Except I could in no way play Methos, because I don't know the bugger very well at all. Nor could I recruit folks into this.

But you. You have Fannish Power. Also probably minions. And very excellent ideas. I'm just saying. *gazes at you with Doe Eyes of Great and Intense Hopefulness*
torchflambeau on May 20th, 2007 09:11 am (UTC)
and Peter (which I initially mistyped as "Petter" - oh, I am going to have to proofread this entry really closely, I can already see that)

Perfectly ordinary Swedish name.

No, really. So is Jerker. (They should be a comedy duo.)
tried to eat the safe banana: The world is my fandomthefourthvine on May 20th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
Really? AWESOME.

On the one hand, I would imagine Swedish persons named Petter and Jerker (these are men's names, yes?) are probably seriously tired of native English speakers giggling at them. On the other hand, it seems like there's a built-in international market they are failing to exploit, here.

*waits patiently for said Swedish persons to get on the ball*

(Also, man, I suddenly want to know about the Swedes on the Atlantis expedition. It's international, right? There must be a scientist somewhere with a first name like Petter or Jerker, and you know the military contingent is never going to stop finding that funny.)