thedeadparrot: (boston)
(posted by on Dec. 3rd, 2015 07:15 pm)
for [personal profile] escritoireazul
(I'm happy to take more topics!)

This is so tough for me to say because I consume a lot of media and I hate ranking things. So here's a list of 5 things I have enjoyed a lot over the past year! I will most assuredly forget things or leave things off that I will totally regret not mentioning earlier. Anyway, I'm just going to talk about what I liked about these things without caveats, even though they're imperfect and flawed.


This show was such a breath of fresh air! It's so easy for scifi/genre entertainment these days to be cynical and grimdark, and I'm no exception to that. It's so refreshing to have a show that is unabashedly humanist. It's not all sunshine and flowers. The world can be ugly and imperfect, too, But it's a show that believes human beings are worth caring about, that we can be better than we are. It's such a lovely and powerful message.

Jessica Jones

I noped out of Top of the Lake because it was so dismal and so bleak. I complained to a bunch of friends that I was sick of stories about 'men doing awful things to women'. I wanted more stories of 'women doing things'. And this is that show for me. It's all about women having agency, struggling to make correct decisions, even when the villain is the embodiment of a lack of agency. I loved the way the metaphors and the genre trappings fit together perfectly. I loved how many different types of female relationships and female characters are portrayed. I loved that it was a story about recovery not revenge.

Ms. Marvel (vol 1.)

It's a fairly standard 'girl gets powers, has to figure out how to use them and also how to maintain a secret identity', but it's done with such verve and detail and sweetness that I can't help but love it. The handling of Muslim identity was great. It taught me things I didn't know anything about. And I loved that I could see plenty of my teenage self in Kamala.

Magic Mike XXL

This movie is full of contradictions for me, but I can't help but be entertained by it anyway. Where the first movie is split between its desire to be gritty and real and also dirty-fun entertainment, this one throws out all the gritty realness in favor of going all-out on the dirty-fun entertainment. And strangely enough, it's a much better movie for that.

Inside Out

I am generally a sucker for Pixar, and this was just such a warm, heart-wrenching story of growing up, told in a delightful way. I legit cried like a baby in the theater because the emotions were so visceral to me. It makes its argument that we need to learn to be whole people, to embrace all the flawed, imperfect sides of ourself and use that knowledge to grow and become better. It doesn't make this journey easy. It's one of the hardest things in the entire world. And this movie is all about how difficult and how painful it can be and how rewarding it can be if you can succeed.
thedeadparrot: (obvious place)
(posted by on Nov. 27th, 2015 02:27 pm)
I had a blast doing the December posting meme last year.

Send me things to write about this year!
thedeadparrot: (oracle)
(posted by on Dec. 18th, 2014 07:52 pm)
for [personal profile] roga

What can I say about Gamergate that other people haven't said far better than me?

The first thing to understand is that Gamergate has always been here. The harassment and the anger and the weird defensive nerd rage are not new things to the gaming community. Anita Sarkeesian didn't wake up one morning in August and start getting death threats. Those have been coming towards her for years and years now.

What is new -- what is so horrifying -- is that those disparate factions of angry nerds found a way to come to together, to put up a banner that allowed them to find each other and make them sound semi-legitimate.

It is, after all, about ethics in gaming journalism.

The effects of it obviously do still reverberate, but it's always in odd ways. You can always find That Guy in the comments of particular articles, trotting out talking points, obsessed with 'objectivity', desperate to recruit for the cause. Feminism and 'SJWs' show up in odd unrelated conversational topics. The harassment and the spread of misinformation continues.

They probably won't ever go away. They were here before, and they're here now.

There's a few bright spots in the muck. I think perhaps this incident woke a few people up, that it opened some people's eyes to how bad it really is out there. There's plenty of mocking of Gamergate to go around, my favorite being the 'It's about ethics in X journalism!' meme showing up in unrelated topics. Feminists have a far larger platform to speak than ever before.

And so the gaming community keeps trucking forward. Anita Sarkeesian reaches more ears with every bit of high profile news coverage she earns. Brianna Wu continues to deal with posting creepy shit about her house and sad life events in her life. The indie games scene continues to grow. The big gaming sites tread on uncertain feet, denouncing the harassment without naming the group that encourages it.

And, well, for the rest of us? We keep on playing games.

P.S. This is probably a good time for me to purchase my very own 'Gaming's Feminist Illuminati' t-shirt.
thedeadparrot: (spock cat)
(posted by on Dec. 17th, 2014 09:35 pm)
for [personal profile] larissabernstein

The funny thing about my Trek feelings is that they're something that comes to me in bursts, depending on what I'm into and what I've just watched. The Trek universe is so large and so sprawling that tiny bits at a time is all I can seem to manage. Star Wars got me at the right time as a kid, and Trek was too odd and too cerebral for my tiny brain in comparison. But I've kept trying. And bit by bit, things have stuck with me.

So here's list of embarrassing things I can admit about the Treks that I've loved:

- That time I picked up Imzadi at the local K-Mart on a whim, and it was basically all the terrible longfic shippy fanfic feelings before I even knew what fanfic was. In retrospect, it's probably terrible, and I probably shouldn't be shipping Riker/Troi, but it was the first real introduction to Star Trek that stuck.

- Catching Voyager reruns and shipping Torres/Paris. This one, I did find fanfic for. There was this super long AU about Paris being an American soldier during WWII and Torres being a French rebel or something? It was based off a goofy holodeck adventure that was canon. I will probably be sad if I go look for it and I don't find it.

- When the rebooted Star Trek movie came out, I was all about Spock Prime feelings and his feelings for his Kirk, and it sparked a desire to go back and read and write TOS Kirk Spock fic. The purple prose in some of the older stuff is amazing. AMAZING. Also, Shatner/Nimoy RPF apparently was a thing I did. idek. My brain is pretty weird and difficult to make sense of, even to me.
thedeadparrot: (ents)
(posted by on Dec. 16th, 2014 06:26 pm)
for [personal profile] zulu

I am going to say front up that I (a) looked for my new place with the explicit eye of not wanting to renovate it and (b) am terrible at decorating.

That being said, I do have decorating plans! Sort of. The big things I have done so far have been to get a few new rugs and some new art to hang on my walls. I am so terrible at this, I have only used the existing hooks in the walls to attach my stuff. Oh yeah. I am a master artiste.

I have previously posted a picture of my new rug. My second one is still unrolled, waiting for me to get off my ass and rearrange my furniture to handle it. (I was waiting for the Yuletide deadline for that one.)

One thing I'm interested in is buying art from local artists who are doing cool stuff. The area here has more than enough of them, but it's definitely kind of challenging for me to show up and look at things because I am terrible at decorating, so I don't have a good sense of where things will go. Still, it has been good to go to craft fairs and open studios, at least to get a sense of what people are doing. Hopefully I'll get better at it.
thedeadparrot: (friday night lights)
(posted by on Dec. 15th, 2014 05:57 am)
for [personal profile] merisunshine36

I am terrible at being a product person, so I am terrible at answering this question. But here are my thoughts on this. Mostly off the cuff and pretty arbitrary. I'm a little too wedded to what I know of existing internet communities, I think. So. I'm sorry that this is probably not too inventive.

The Basics

Posting content. I guess this is first and foremost. Be able to post content without having to worry about hosting (lol, I know). Be able to post different types of content (text, videos, links, audio). Be able to separate out the transient sort of content (what I had for breakfast today) from the more permanent 'archived' content (that super awesome fic I wrote last week).

Discussion. Space to discuss things directly person-to-person. Comments. Nested comments. It's so easy for things to disappear as the streams go by. Let things remain on people's radars if they're still active. Keep active discussion floating back to the top with the option to ignore rather than the other way around.

Subscription to content. Content made by specific creators. Content that has certain tags. Content made by specific creators that have a certain tag. Any granularity that you can think of.

Finding things! It would be nice to be able to do sophisticated searches in an easy, accessible way. I'm thinking AO3-style here, though a lot less curated and a lot more freeform. Just being able to get the intersection of two tags would be super baller.

More complicated/sophisticated things

Community. Central places to find like-minded people who are interested in a certain topic. Removes the problem of finding people interested in your new shiny fandom and also the problem of finding content in your shiny new fandom. Or that one kink that five people in the universe also share. Or food discussion. Mmm. Food. These would be lightweight to create and would be moderated.

Filtering content. Like the Tumblr blacklist, sort of. Maybe even better. Maybe more like the LJ groups where you can separate out certain fannish tags and/or people into their own list so that you can follow people who post a lot and not have them take up half your stream for the day. Make archived content a separate stream from the transient content.

Make things go viral. There's a certain terrible beauty to the reblog button, I think. It makes sense to remove the effort of creating links to other content when you could just get the content to show up with just a few clicks. There's also an addictive quality to watching the notifications come in as well. Reblogs are inherently transient and would be treated as such. Unless you're a rec list. Maybe.

Public/Private. Fine-grained control on who can see what content. Private, locked-to-certain-people, public.

Sophisticated recommendations system. Noninvasive and totally optional. A separate page that shows you new content (archived and non-archived) based on content you've kudosed and content you've reblogged and content you've commented on.

Curated groupings of content. A little like Youtube's playlist functionality. Not just your own content, but other people's too. Would probably be useful for reclists and keeping track of series. Can subscribe to these (to show up in your stream) separate from subscribing to the original creator.

Posting autoplaying videos is verboten. This is non-negotiable. Seriously. What kind of monster are you?

Also, okay, I missed out on the part you actually cared about because I have been spacey for a while. *facepalm*

In terms of who could build it, I think I would say that I would love it if the OTW could be the ones to make the next great fannish platform, but I don't think they would ever be able to. They've done a great job with the AO3, don't get me wrong, but I think in order to keep up with the new evolving social media landscape, they'd need to be able to function like a startup and not like an open source project. They're just extremely different software development models, and without a team of coders willing to your bidding 40 hours a week, you won't get any of it done fast enough to compete with something like Tumblr.

Most fannish migrations happen because one thing is better than the thing we are on right now. Maybe not in every respect, but in aggregate. Tumblr enables visual fannish content and sharing of said content in ways LJ couldn't. LJ was enabled content and personal interactions that were more difficult in the days of mailing lists. Mailing lists were more accessible than zines. The next fannish migration will only come around when something significantly better than Tumblr comes around. The OTW will have to dream big in order to be able to make it. I don't think they'll be able to do it. The AO3 is in and of itself is inherently conservative. It was, at the time, a throwback to the days of giant archives that supported the mailing lists. It was an established pattern that they could figure out how to build off of. Creating a brand new social platform for fandom is a difficult, risky, and nearly impossible task for them in comparison.

I am worried, as I have mentioned before during this December Posting Meme, about the fact that fandom is constantly, constantly willing to host their content solely on platforms that we have zero voice and stake in. We build our infrastructure around an uncaring system, and the system is more than willing to completely revamp itself without talking to us first. It makes me sad. I understand the short term gains of just dumping things in one place vs. having to cross post everything everywhere.

But it still makes me sad.
thedeadparrot: (oracle)
(posted by on Dec. 14th, 2014 07:52 pm)
for [personal profile] merisunshine36

Okay, so the question was how does having a CS degree help me? And also, can I tell the difference between someone who has a tech degree and someone who doesn't?

How has my degree helped me? I think that there is a huge bootstrapping problem with coding jobs, in that it's hard to get a experience without having experience in the first place. There's ways around this, of course, but a CS degree is a bootstrap for that sort of thing. People like to see it when you first get out of college. Tech companies tend to recruit interns straight out of CS programs.

There's also a lot of underlying theory behind programming, and learning that can be helpful when learning a whole raft of different languages at the same time.

The name of my alma mater has also helped me get my foot in the door for certain job opportunities.

Other than that? It's not that important. I do know a bunch of people who did other things for their undergrad degrees, and they're great. Most of them made lateral moves within the company. There's nothing that will teach you like programming like having a programming job. The experience is completely different from doing university coding in any capacity -- classes or research.

But to talk about my degree in the most cynical terms is to ignore why I even got it in the first place. The reason I got a CS degree wasn't because I wanted a piece of paper at the end of it. The reason I got a CS degree is because I loved programming going into it, and the CS classes themselves blew my mind. There's just so much out there, between graphics and systems and computational theory and programming languages and algorithms and machine learning and and and... I could have studied something else, sure, but the world of CS is so beautiful and so wide and so vast, I don't regret the chance to have played in a lot of different fields. I certainly don't get a chance to do a lot of that now.
thedeadparrot: (going places)
(posted by on Dec. 13th, 2014 03:32 pm)
for [personal profile] merisunshine36

I know this is kind of a boring answer, but New York City will always have a place in my heart. I grew up in its orbit, about two hours out by train, and it imprinted itself. My love for it runs deep.

I'm a city person. There's something about the density of cities, not just of people, but of things, things to do and know and learn, that I love. I grew up in a pleasant suburb, and it was fine, but every time we would travel into New York City, it was like magic. You could walk everywhere, and on every block, there would be something new and interesting to look at.

I applied to Columbia for undergrad. Didn't get in. Not hugely disappointed in that overall, but if they had let me in, I might have had a moment of indecision based on the location alone.

I still go back to New York every so often. It makes for a convenient central location, and one of my close friends just moved there. Every time I go back, I remember why I loved it. Boston is my home, but it's far sparser, slower, smaller.

New York isn't afraid to smack you in the face with information overload from the first moment you step outside. It speeds along, dragging you along with its rhythms. I feel different when I'm in New York. The city transforms me. I still love it a little for that, and I think I always will.
thedeadparrot: (meditation)
(posted by on Dec. 12th, 2014 06:38 pm)
for [personal profile] wrabbit

This is always a hard one, because I consume a lot of media that I don't have any interest in looking for a fandom for.

The thing about fandoms and fanworks is that a lot of the time, my desire for fanworks is driven by flaws in the canons themselves. My friend M always says that the quality of a fandom is inversely proportional to the quality of the canon itself, and I've generally found this to be true.

The biggest one that applies, I think, is the Avatarverse, Avatar: the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Not only are the shows great in and of themselves, the fandom is notoriously wanky. I suspect that it's the wank, more than my satisfaction with canon that makes me less inclined to try it out.

I guess that's the nice thing about Yuletide, more than the fic itself, is the chance to find fic for things you wouldn't even have thought there would be fic for. There's something really cool about being able to see a familiar thing reflected through different eyes.
thedeadparrot: (atlantis)
(posted by on Dec. 11th, 2014 07:06 pm)
for [personal profile] nomelon
Posting Schedule

I think the high point in my fannish lifetime will always be, to me, SGA.

It's probably not true that it's the objectively best fandom that has ever lived. It had its problems: the utter dominance of McKay/Sheppard, the occasional flare-ups of wank, the obsession with convincing people that Joe Flannigan is the most beautiful person who has ever lived. My reflections on it are always going to be colored by the fact that it was a particular type of fandom that I hit at a particular time in my life.

But, seriously, it was a fucking awesome fandom. It was a fandom that made me hopeful about what fandoms could be. It was so full of thoughtful meta, ambitious sci-fi stories, fanworks that had the ability to be both deeply critical and celebratory about the original canon. It was also happening at the same time as racewank, which was both difficult and important to me. Race wasn't something I had been comfortable thinking about, growing up, and it was a rude and necessary awakening for me to go through. Acafandom became visible, and the discussion of fanworks as criticism came to the forefront.

It was a fandom that taught me so much, about how to write stories, how to think about stories, and how to think about myself. I don't know if we'll ever see the likes of it again, because it was just this confluence of super interesting things.

So how has fandom changed for me? The death of metafandom was kind of gutting, if only because it created a space for cross-fandom discussion, and it made it possible to feel like there was a singular Fandom, spread across our little fiefdoms. It was also an important space for discussing and policing fannish norms and offering advice on writing and posting and everything.

Tumblr obviously became big, and with it, I think I've lost a lot. We've gained things, GIFs and fanart and a more unwavering sense of social justice. But I feel like that sense of purpose I felt in SGA, that fic didn't just have to be fun and feelings-pleasing, but that it could mean things as well. Fan art could and should mean things. Fandom was a taking back, not just a leeching off of, the canons that it was based off of.

I wonder if something as depressing and as aching as Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose could or would be as big a hit as it was in the Tumblr era. I don't know, and it makes me sad.
thedeadparrot: (dylan jester)
(posted by on Dec. 10th, 2014 06:08 am)
for [personal profile] stultiloquentia
Posting Schedule

In order to understand how I ended up in Glee, you have to understand where I was before I was in Glee.

I know it can be hard to see sometimes from inside a fandom, but there's always this sort of consensus that forms around popular pairings, who these people are and how they interact with one another. I was sort of thinking about it earlier, calling it the Ur-Fic that people build their stories off of.

So there's X-Men: First Class fandom. What I wanted out of the Charles/Erik fic was a meeting of equals, an unstoppable force crashing headlong into an unmovable rock. That is my XMFC Ur-Fic. That is not the XMFC fandom's Ur-Fic, which is all about a brutish, domineering Erik meeting being soothed into civilization by the gentle, sweet, frequently-innocent Charles (on occasion, accompanied by Orientalized racism and/or ABO tropes). I loathed it. I wanted to set it on fire dump the ashes into the ocean.

And it made it frustrating to be in that fandom, where there was all this fic in the pairing that I wanted and that I ended up reading and hating, no matter what the objective quality of it was. Kind of like King Midas, surrounded by gold that he can't actually find nourishment in. (Yes, I'm being melodramatic. Fandom is srs bsnss.)

So. Yeah. That didn't last very long, a few months or so. I tried to be the change I wanted to see in fandom, but it felt like I was swimming upstream. Caring is difficult and draining. And most of the fandom was on Tumblr anyway. So I was especially clueless on how to do anything. It was easier to wander off than to stick around.

And then I kind of I left my job, and was super stressed for a while, and then I got a new job, so I was less stressed. I finally got my job offer over Thanksgiving vacation, which was great, and that Thanksgiving, they aired an episode of Glee.

When I am at my parents' house, I watch a lot of TV. It was a silly-looking superhero episode, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

It was terrible, of course, because it's Glee, but it was also centered around Kurt and Blaine's relationship woes, and I was charmed enough by it that I figured I'd go find out what the fic was like. I had a week off before my new job started, so I had plenty of time to just sit around and read whatever I could get my hands on. The fic was pretty good, lots of stuff that was long and meaty and full of drama.

The beautiful thing about Glee fandom was my absolute lack of giving a shit. I could read all of it, and I didn't care. Being a TV fandom, the characterizations tended to be more nuanced, had more depth, and 'being better than canon' is such a low bar to clear for this show that most fic clears it pretty easily. Plus, the power dynamics were allowed to shift and change. There are definitely people who lean one way or the other, but it was never so overwhelmingly homogeneous as it was in XMFC fandom. There was badfic in every color of the rainbow, and there was more every day.

So I stuck around.

And that's how I ended up in Glee.

Okay, back to my pinch hit now.
thedeadparrot: (oracle)
(posted by on Dec. 9th, 2014 07:04 am)
for [personal profile] vass
Posting Schedule

I am super cranky right now because I am damp (stupid rain) and tired (blergh, work stuff) and have been bombarded with various reminders that dudes can be pretty darn shitty (not even going to attempt to list all these out), so I am going to start out with an inflammatory statement.

Fandom is kind of terrible at building things.

Okay, so what do I mean by that? I have always liked the analogy of cultural scavengers, scouring the media landscape to find things that we can turn into narratives and stories that we find more pleasurable.

That's what we do with technology, too.

Think of the Yahoo mailing lists, filled with the announcements for the new story you just put up on your Geocities site.

Think of the webrings, a third-party service for linking together like-minded sites.

Think of the fic exchanges, built off the back of LJ's ability to screen comments to everyone except the moderators.

Think of the kink memes, a weird hybrid of anonymous LJ comments and Delicious bookmarking.

Think of Tumblr, however the fuck people manage to use it.

Sure, there are exceptions. But the AO3 is pretty much the only big ongoing technology/infrastructure project that I can think of in fandom right now. And it came out of a specific desire to control our own future. How much fannish history was straight-up lost when Geocities went down? How many people freaked out when LJ's new commenting system didn't support comment subjects anymore? How many rec lists for fandoms went nonfunctional when Delicious was sold to a new company? How does fandom manage to function on Tumblr at all? (Okay, I'll try to stop taking cheap shots at Tumblr. Mostly.) The AO3 is important, but it almost entirely stands alone. (There is still stuff like, was stuff like the Automated Archive. We are willing to do archives, apparently.)

Okay, so why? Why doesn't fandom do more things like this? Sure, writing code takes a lot of specialized skills that aren't easily developed, but so does vidding. Sure, organizing a lot of people takes a lot of work, but so does running a fic exchange.

I think it is part of the nature of fandom. We're not, by our nature, planners. We are distracted easily by the nearest, most interesting shiny thing. It's virtually impossible to see things in fandom planned one year out, much less five years out. How many WiPs have been lost to time?

Building software for fandom is tireless, thankless work. How many current AO3 coders can you name off the top of your head? Building software is also extremely time consuming. Code projects staffed by multiple experienced software developers working full time can take upwards of months, and after that, there's still bug fixing and maintenance and server costs.

And why bother in the first place? There's all this other stuff out there, given away for free. Why not just use that instead? We can repurpose it, of course, cut it up into scraps and figure out how to make it work.

But we didn't build it. It's still not ours.
thedeadparrot: (silent sigh)
(posted by on Dec. 8th, 2014 07:12 pm)
for [personal profile] stultiloquentia
Posting Schedule

So I guess there are a few different character types that I particularly glom onto: blatant assholes, secret assholes, earnest do-gooders, and computer nerds (this may or may not be dependent on how terribly written their technobabble is). Here, I'll dig into each one of these individually.

Blatant assholes

Examples: Mark Zuckerberg, House, other variations of Sherlock Holmes, Connor Walsh

One of my favorite narratives is assholes trying to figure out how to deal with feelings (generally romantic ones) and failing hard at it. I guess, in a way, it's a kind of emotional sadism on my part, but I think there's something really enjoyable about seeing that kind of suffering. In a world where coolness is defined by how little you care about girly things like 'feelings', I like watching them struggle with the fact that they are, in fact, human and have human weaknesses like the rest of us.

I have talked to many people who are more than happy to make assholes nicer than they are in canon, but I'm not one of them. I feel like it blandifies those characters, and I am worried that we are unable or unwilling to confront their flaws. Assholes are people, too. I don't mean this in the way that we should feel sorry for asshole characters, but as an acknowledgment that people are complicated, that you can write sympathetic assholes even when they're being total assholes.

The failure of Sherlock as a TV show to me will always be that they would much rather linger on how cool Sherlock is (cool being defined as 'deeply misanthropic and generally a shitty person') rather than make him human.

Secret Assholes

Examples: Wilson, Eduardo Saverin, Charles Xavier, Laura Roslin

Best enjoyed when paired with the blatant assholes. The idea, for me, is that there are characters who seem nice on the surface, but are really just as much of a dickweed as the blatant assholes, and this explains both how and why they tolerate the blatant assholes as friends.

I like the way their secret assholery gives them more layers and depth. It's easy to think of people as only one thing, that the face they present to the world is all that there is to them. I like the way the secret assholes are all about exposing the lie. Or they are a reminder that we are all attempting to be good, probably better people than we 'really' are, with varying levels of success. The secret asshole is a representation of that. Some revel in their secret assholery. Some are constantly doing battle with it. But either way, it's interesting to watch.

Earnest Do-gooders

Examples: Lois Lane, Superman/Clark Kent, half the cast of Glee (depending on what the writers are smoking that day), Jed Bartlet

This may seem weird, considering that I just wrote a lot of words about how much I like what seems to be the polar opposite of this. But frequently, the secret assholes can fit under this heading, too.

To me, the earnest do-gooder is not defined by their naiveté. I hate earnest do-gooders that are written that way, because it is hackneyed and cliched. The earnest do-gooder is defined by their conviction, their unrelenting desire to help people even when it is difficult and unpleasant and requires work. The earnest do-gooder does not have to be unwavering, but they have to have to choose to keep up the good fight, to continue to believe that acting is better than not acting.

I joke around that I am probably the most cynical person out of my friends. I can seem cheerful to some because it is very easy for people to clear the very low bar I set for them. When you carry around that much cynicism, it's easy to give up, inch by inch, on people and the world and the systems we live in. It's easy to check out and detach yourself from all of it. I got mine. Fuck you on getting yours.

The earnest do-gooder is then, to me, an aspirational character. They are a person who has faced down the shittiness of the world and has decided that they can clean up some of it, even if it's ultimately futile. It's a quality that I wish I had more of.

Computer Nerds

Examples: Hardison, Oliver, Oracle

This is probably self-explanatory, right? Blah blah blah overidentification blah blah blah.
thedeadparrot: (toph chop!)
(posted by on Dec. 7th, 2014 05:43 pm)
for [personal profile] stultiloquentia
Posting Schedule

This is not going to be a coherent post. If I were feeling metaphorical about it, I would say the weird jumps are representative of the Dim Sum itself, a lot of different, tiny plates of food. But mostly it's Sunday and I'm not feeling up to the task of organizing my thoughts.

I had a friend in college who refused to eat Dim Sum unless it was served in the most traditional style: on little carts that circle the room, piled high with anything and everything: dumplings, sesame balls, chicken feet. I am inclined to agree with her. There's something to be said about how you're served food changing the way you eat it. There's no challenge to eating a la carte Dim Sum, no impulse decisions, no sour-looking woman lifting up the covering of a plate to show you the hidden treats within, no frustration at having the same cart go by your table five times while the cart you really want gets stuck all the way across the room. Dim Sum isn't really a type of food. It's an experience.

I am super sad that Dum Sim never turned into a real thing. I would seriously play that game all the time.

We didn't have Dim Sum in my hometown growing up, but my parents taught me to love it. Whenever we'd end up in a new city while on vacation, the first thing my parents would do is find the Chinatown, and the next thing we'd do is find a Dim Sum place. Dim Sum is a Sunday morning food to me, around brunch, when your stomach is already starting to growl.

My favorite dumpling growing up was the shrimp dumpling. It's mostly just shrimp and probably some pork stuffed into this thin, clear, rice dumpling skin. One of my cousins and I used to get into weird fights about who could eat more of them. We'd have four bamboo dumpling trays (four dumplings each) arrayed on the table, and we'd eat as many of them as we could as fast as we could. This was probably a terrible idea.

My favorite dumpling now is the Xiao Long Bao, which literally translates to 'Little Dragon Bun', but most of the time it gets translated into English as 'Soup Dumpling'. It's not something you find in Dim Sum restaurants, because Dim Sum is Cantonese/Hong Kong food, and Xiao Long Bao are from Shanghai, but I thought I'd mention it here anyway, because dumplings are delicious.

Once, my parents and I brought a whole bunch of our extended family with us to Dim Sum. My mom thought this might mean that we'd have a longer meal -- it's very easy to feel full when the food is so greasy, so it usually takes us about half an hour -- but it only took all nine of us twenty minutes to order and polish off our food. People eat faster when they know they need to beat someone else to the dishes they want. Fact.

Dumplings are the real reason you go to Dim Sum. This is also a fact that I just made up right now.

Turnip cake was something I ate at home before I ever had it as part of Dim Sum. You can buy it in these giant frozen blocks at Chinese supermarkets, and then after you thaw it out, you slice it and toss the slices into hot pans to get a nice, crispy skin on it. My mom doesn't like heavy sauces, so we'd eat them plain, still very tasty. It wasn't until I went with friends in college that I discovered how amazing they are when you dip them into Hoisin.

Don't bring vegetarians to Dim Sum. I learned this the hard way.

My parents, even more than I am, are creatures of habit, so they almost never branch out and try new things. That is the danger of Dim Sum, to only ever eat the same 4-5 dishes you always eat. One of my coworkers has a rule that he will always try new thing when he goes out for Dim Sum. I envy his dedication.

Man, seriously, isn't Dum Sim the best name for a Dim Sum simulator ever?
thedeadparrot: (stuart + vince)
(posted by on Dec. 6th, 2014 03:26 pm)
for [personal profile] stultiloquentia
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I should probably start this post with the admission that I imprinted hard on Mulder/Scully as my first OTP, because that will probably make everything I say after this point make sense.

I think if I had to use one word to describe the kind of pairings I like it's 'messy'.

For me, messy doesn't necessarily mean that the characters are rivals or enemies. I actually don't like a lot of rival/enemies pairings (Harry/Draco was always mystifying and confusing to me). For me, messy means that there's a lot of history between two people, some of it good, some of it bad. Messy means that the relationship is not defined by just one thing, like romantic love or lust or even hatred, but other complicated feelings in there, too. Friendship, co-dependence, distrust, extreme trust, past betrayal. Messy means that there have been stages of the relationship that they have had to work through before they reach the romance.

I like the shading those sorts of dynamics bring to the fic in the end, the pining, the hesitation, the trust, the impact of past actions on future ones.

[personal profile] merisunshine36 and I joke around about our love of old people fic, but really, writing futurefic about older versions of the characters is really about adding more history to a pairing, adding more life stuff to work through, more complications and depth to what makes the relationships interesting to me.

To be fair, this doesn't necessarily apply to all the pairings that I have loved. I can get swept up by fandom's narratives pretty easily as well, see McKay/Sheppard, et. al., depending on how good the writing is. I am learning how to accept that fandom likes its pairings simple, clean and easy and straightforward.

But really, I just want that messiness: Charles and Erik trying to figure out how to resolve their fundamental differences in philosophy; House and Wilson arguing and hating and loving each other; Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien being so close and yet so far from what they want; Lois and Clark balancing their passion for journalism with their need to keep each other safe; Vince and Stuart carrying the weight of their childhood friendship together into adulthood; Mark and Eduardo growing up and figuring out their shit in the aftermath of betrayal; and, of course, Mulder and Scully, who have gone through hell and back together and don't even know how to trust anyone else anymore.
thedeadparrot: (staring at the sun)
(posted by on Dec. 4th, 2014 09:17 pm)
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Sex Criminals is a comic book series about sex.

That was probably a little self-obvious, right? It's in the title after all.

I had a discussion with some of my coworkers yesterday about comic books, ironically enough, and one of them talked about the distinct divide between superhero adjacent comics and comics that come out of the indie scene. Sex Criminals is definitely one of the former. When you're used to the language of superhero comics, how do you write a comic book about sex? Give people magic powers when they have orgasms, of course.

Of course.

Sex Criminals is a comic book series about a man and a woman robbing banks with magical sex powers.

Sex Criminals is a comic book series that uses magical sex powers as a way of talking about sex in a way that's sharp, nuanced, and funny.

Sex Criminals is a comic book series about confused teenagers trying to muddle their way through understanding how sex works.

Sex Criminals is a comic book series about adults falling in love with one another.

Sex Criminals is a comic book series that contains a long-running joke about a sex shop named Cumworld.

Sex Criminals is a comic book series that you clearly should read based on that criteria alone.

Have I mentioned that I want Sex Criminals AUs to be the new, hip AU in fandom? People should write all of them for me.
thedeadparrot: (flying)
(posted by on Dec. 4th, 2014 06:34 am)
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The problem with trying to recommend Saga to people is that it is always one or two steps away from sounding terrible.

"Okay," you say to a potential reader, "it's a Romeo and Juliet story, but it's not about their tragic love affair, it's about everything that comes after that point, like running away from bounty hunters who want to kidnap and/or kill them and their child. Oh, and instead of feuding families, it's warring planets (well, planet and its moon) because they're kind of space aliens, and it's not really science fiction, it's more like science fantasy, because they can do magic and stuff."

"Uh huhhhhh," the potential reader says, eyes glazing over.

"But it's really good!" you say.

"Right," the potential reader says. "Sure."

At least most of the internet agrees with me. That definitely makes the sell a little bit easier.

Half of the reason why I was willing to give Saga a chance was because I knew the writer's previous work, Ex Machina and Y: the Last Man. Ex Machina in particular stuck with me, tbh, probably because I have lots of technopathy feelings. It's the story of a superhero who has hung up his cape, such as it ever was, and runs for office as mayor of New York City and wins. It deals with the after effects of his time as a super hero (while he's still super powered, of course) and the political battles he needs to fight as mayor. It's never a particularly strong critique of superhero tropes or a particularly strong commentary on the nature of politics, but what it does do is just as important. It explores the interactions and intersections between the two, superheroism and politics, with unflinching honesty and genuine care.

And that's why you should read Saga.

Saga is about taking something that sounds kind of ridiculous on paper and making honest and funny. It doesn't shy away from those giddy science fantasy feelings of awe and adoration and wonder, but also it refuses to glorify war or use love as a magical spackle to fix all relationship problems or make bounty hunters cool rather than kind of pathetic and sad. At the heart of the series is a story about marriage and childrearing and family and how genuinely difficult all of those things are, exaggerated as they may be by the science fantasy setting. It takes that world and shades it full of feelings. Not the reflected feelings for hero's journey stories or fantasy stories long past, but feelings for these particular characters, these particular foibles and successes.

Oh, and not everyone is white.

Plus, the art is gorgeous.

Okay, caveat time. Some of the reason why it sounds so terrible is because early on, some elements feel like they were birthed from the brain of a teenage boy who has been unleashed on an HBO TV show. Whoa, sex and violence and cursing? I can do it however much I want wherever I want? Let's introduce a character while he's fucking another character! Let's have alien giants with huge balls! Let's have a female alien bounty hunter wander around topless! But those elements never overwhelm the story and they settle and recede into the background as the comic moves on.

Also, it takes forever for new issues and new volumes to come out, but that's probably to be expected considering how good it is.

Volume 4 comes out this month! I am so excited to get to read it.
thedeadparrot: (crouching tiger)
(posted by on Dec. 3rd, 2014 06:59 am)
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I had a hard time deciding what to write about here, because there's a lot of different foods that could fit this slot. But then I figured that I would go one level deeper: a particular nostalgia spice.

When I was younger, my parents had a grill on the back porch, and we would grill chicken on it. But it wasn't the same kind of grilling that the Irish-American family next door did, bland hamburger patties and store-bought hot dogs, where the real interesting flavors had to be added later. No, my mom would steep the chicken in a marinade overnight, so that you could eat it as soon as it came off the grill, and it would be delicious.

The components of the marinade were mostly familiar to me at the time -- soy sauce, garlic cloves, scallions, sliced ginger root, sugar -- but there was always one component that she used that was unfamiliar to me. It was a spice that she kept in a unlabeled plastic container in the cabinets, and she told me that she had gotten it from her own mother, my grandmother, who lived in Taiwan.

I guess it always had this air of mystery about it, then, this strange spice that came from the East. The smell of it would linger on my fingers for hours afterwards when I would help her with the prep work, even after I washed my hands.

I never did ask her what the name of it was, or if I did, I forgot it soon after. I didn't even realize how strongly the smell had imprinted on my brain until many, many years later after my parents moved and my mom got busy and we didn't grill chicken anymore.

When I was in college, I used to cook a lot more than I do now. Part of that was roommates, who I could fob my leftovers at and who could usually be counted on to be an extra pair of hands or eyes if I needed help in the kitchen, and part of that was having a schedule that was less rigidly enforced than that an office job. The thing about that was that I could be ambitious with my cooking adventures. One of my cooking adventures was an attempt at Chinese (Char Siu) Roast Pork, which could be a nostalgia food post in and of itself, and one of the ingredients of the marinade was Five Spice Powder.

It was extremely expensive at the local supermarket, I remember. But I did buy some. They say that smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory, and it really was true this time around. When I cracked open that seal and smelled that spice again for the first time in at least six-seven years, I was back at home, helping my mom turn those chicken legs while they were soaking in their marinade.

I made it a mission to find cheap Five Spice Powder after that, though now that I don't cook that much anymore, I don't really use it for anything. So it's mostly just taking up a comically large portion of my spice shelf. Oh well. Maybe I'll figure out how to cook with it again. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll just take it down from the shelf every once in a while and take a sniff, just so I can remind myself what it smells like.
thedeadparrot: (friday night lights)
(posted by on Dec. 2nd, 2014 07:14 am)
for [personal profile] scribe
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It is probably super obvious now, but I think I have fallen head-over-heels in love with How to Get Away with Murder. It's a weird kind of alchemy that gets me into a fandom, but I feel like in the days of Youtube and Tumblr and canonically queer couples, it's so much easier to juice fannish feelings with just a GIF of a smile or pained longing look.

And, I have to say, Connor and Oliver hit all my fannish buttons. Assholes being assholes, but with squishy, hurty underbellies! Tech nerds talking tech nerdy things! Did I mention the pining already? And not in the sad-tech-nerd pining after the cool-hot-guy but in the cool-hot-guy being incapable of dealing with how much he is pining after the tech-nerd-guy-who-won't-take-his-shit? And that the Asian guy gets to be nerdy and sexual and sexually desirable at the same time?

We're only at the mid-season finale, so there's a lot of different directions they can go in with canon, but I'm content to play around in the sandbox for now. I don't even mind all the schmoopy romantic fic, even though I would, as always, much rather see fic where their relationship is portrayed with half of the complexity of the show. And their relationship on the show is not all that complex (yet). It's still early for fandom to start churning out the long epics, but it might happen! I can hope!

If any of this pairing sounds interesting to you, dear reader, I already posted a playlist of all the Connor/Oliver scenes, but I figure I might as well post it again.
thedeadparrot: (cookies)
(posted by on Dec. 1st, 2014 07:00 pm)
for [personal profile] escritoireazul
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I'm going to talk about specific food that I love that I think other people should try immediately: Dolsot Bibimbap.

Here, have story about the first time I ate some:

It's a Korean food, which isn't super common yet, so I hadn't tried it until I was in college. I was at a Korean restaurant with a few of my friends, and only one of them had been to a Korean restaurant long enough to know what she was doing, so she ordered for us.

When the food arrived, she was away from the table answering a phone call, so we had no idea what we were doing. We all took spoonfuls of the Bibimbap, and it was okay, just vegetables and rice, still sizzling in a stone pot. When my friend came back, she looked at all of us like we were crazy. "That's not how you eat it," she said, and then proceeded to show us how it was done. She poured in the hot sauce and then mixed it, the rice and the vegetables and the meat all together, and all of a sudden, this previously bland, previously boring dish had flavors! and textures! and color! It was crazy good.

Nowadays, it's pretty much something I order every time I go to a Korean restaurant. I love the fact that it has so many different components. I love the weird DIY part of having to mix it yourself. I love being able to make it really spicy or not really spicy. I love the crispy rice thing that happens at the bottom if you don't mix it super thoroughly.

So yeah, definitely recommended that you try it out yourself the next time you're in a Korean restaurant. Make sure to get it in a stone bowl.

And don't forget to stir it before you dig in.


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