"I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth."

--Ursula K. Leguin

November 2009



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This journal is partially locked. Most fandom entries are public. Most daily-life entries and a certain amount of squee is locked. To read those entries, comment and ask to be added.

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Please note, all my fic posts here are summaries with links to my archive site. To search for fic most easily, you will want to visit my fic archive itself which has all the series/arc/pairing/character indexes and tags. *tips hat*

Apr. 12th, 2009

KHR: Mixed Messages

There are times when I really wonder about Amano, and this issue was one of them.

Spoilers ahead, of course.

She had an opportunity to do some really good character interaction and development, here, and she made it about halfway. Bianchi, as the voice of older experience, provides a frame for the idiocy the boys have recently been displaying; through her eyes we see all the younger characters in perspective, with sympathy for their emotional dilemmas and uncertainties but also a clear understanding that they are acting foolishly and immaturely. Through Bianchi’s prodding, Tsuna actually gets his head out of his ass and realizes that he’s been very selfish in his attempts to ’shelter’ the girls, and tells Kyouko what’s going on. Kyouko, in her turn, provides some much needed insight into the relation between Tsuna and his box. This is all lovely, and pretty sophisticated narrative.

Unfortunately, it’s undercut by the other things going on this issue.

The most bizarre one is the juxtaposition of explicit fanservice, in The Bath Scene, with Bianchi’s mature-person explanation. The combination of the wound over Chrome’s back and the shot of her bare ass was especially peculiar. Through the whole thing, over against the emotional and psychological complications, we have the kind of deliberate full-body nudity shots one expects to find at the start of an ecchi manga. The text-subtext clash was weird and distracting, and I have to wonder why Amano chose that particular setting and emphasis. Bathing scenes can be done in a non-fanservice way easily enough. Why did this moment of wisdom and insight need to be so explicitly sexualized, hm?

Then there’s the girls’ reaction to Bianchi’s explanation, which boils down to “Yes, the boys are being selfish and immature, but they’re manly to do so; let’s not try to hold them accountable any more and instead continue to enable their domestic helplessness”. Once again, the girls’ actions get used as comedy and not to actually spur significant action or development. Bianchi has to lie about what’s really happening to spark Tsuna’s realizations, which has the structural effect of emphasizing only his emotional growth. This badly undercut Kyouko’s display of insight regarding the Vongola box; I was very disappointed, because her character deserves better than to be a two dimensional yamato nadeshiko.

I didn’t find the aforementioned domestic helplessness particularly amusing, either. The reinforcement of exclusive gendered spheres makes me gag. The events of this issue would make a perfect set-up for allowing both the boys and the girls to learn and contribute a little something across those lines, but I do not, for one instant, believe Amano will take the opportunity. The way she handled this issue indicates nothing but a desire to wear the main characters even deeper into their gendered segregation.

Amano, get a grip on your Issues, please.

Apr. 10th, 2009

Weekly Manga Roundup

My response to TRC/Holic is pretty steady these days, and consists of something along the lines of: WTF Clamp?! I mean, the mother named the same thing as the soulmate was bad enough, but now we’re way into the weird spiritual incest and/or masturbation realm. And still no ending in sight. *sighs*

Naruto, on the other hand, is looking interesting, despite the continuing obliteration of the moral and psychological dynamics from the first two-thirds (ie teamwork). It looks like we may be shaping up for a round of “You use that word a lot…”. I am still wondering where the hell Sasuke et al are and how exactly he and/or Madara are going to play into this. I mean, the most emotionally satisfying thing would be for the current trio to break the pattern of the past trios and actually redeem the poor guy, but I’m becoming increasingly unconvinced of Kishimoto’s dedication to satisfying endings.

Bleach… well, now, I have mixed feelings this week. The Ulquiorra-Inoue dynamic got some halfway decent continuation, but little closure. He remains rather a mystery. I don’t actually object to that, but the way that dynamic crossed with the Ulquiorra-Ichigo was… distracting. There’s a lot of development happening, but it all seems to be subterranean. I’m hoping that soon we will get some greater in-action explication.

Apr. 8th, 2009

[Fic] It’s the Motion

Fic post from my archive.

It's the Motion

Gokudera thinks it's unfair how good Yamamoto looks on a motorcycle; Yamamoto thinks it's the perfect opportunity. Written for DW's inaugural comment porn meme with the prompt: Yamamoto/Gokudera, motorcycles as aphrodisiacs. Porn without Plot, I-4

It was easier, Hayato decided, when Yamamoto was actually driving the motorcycle. And it was easier because Yamamoto was an idiot, and liked to do silly, flashy moves, and it was easy to roll his eyes at someone popping a wheelie and laughing like a kid.

The hard part was when Yamamoto was holding still on the damn thing. And the hardest part was keeping his eyes away from long, long legs spread casually over a sleek machine and not, not, looking at the way worn denim pulled taut over Yamamoto's thighs.

In which Dreamwidth is not Microsoft

So, as Dreamwidth approaches the next big production step, I thought it would be worthwhile to make a post about this thing that comes next.

Next is open beta.

Open beta is NOT site launch.

Contrary to what Microsoft has tried to train the public to think for lo these many long years, "open beta" does not equal "stable product". Open beta is the smoke test. It's when we say "this seems pretty stable and the big things are done, it's time to load it up and jump up and down on it and see where the smoke comes out so we can fix that before actual product launch".

Site launch, in another handful of months, is what will declare "yes, this product is stable". Site launch is where we say "okay, this is a (though not the because we keep developing) stable product, this is version 1.0, we're open for all public business".

So, for those who are thinking of coming in during open beta, remember, not everything will be done. Not everything will work. It is just about certain that we will break something as we jump up and down on it at full load. Because that's what open beta means.

Come ahead, intrepid testers and explorers! Just remember this is not Microsoft and no one is pretending that it's all done and ready yet.

Apr. 5th, 2009

FMA: Brotherhood, premier

*contemplative* I am unsure quite what I think.

The visual style is very similar but more… flexible? It definitely partakes more of the manga Arakawa-version superdeformed style, which I’m not really partial to. I’ll have to see if the animated style really takes with me or not. The detail of the motion is definitely a plus, though.

I can get used to Miki doing Musting. He and Ohkawa both have that flex to their voicing of Mustang, so there’s a reasonable continuity. The one major difference touches on the one thing I’m very unsure of, though.

The characters aren’t as sharp. At least in this pilot episode, neither Ed nor Roy have the edge that the first series provided. A big part of that is the script; there’s just more slapstick going on. And I loved that edge, it was probably the thing that topped the list of “why I totally love this show”.

So, while I think it will be absolutely fascinating to see the manga storyline animated (supposing that is the goal), I don’t know if I will be as wildly in love with this second series as I was the first. I will hope otherwise, but we shall just have to see.

People are weird about food

Lois remarked on a book she'd read, today, The Diet Myth by Paul Campos. She included a quote I thought was right on the money:

The weight loss industry exploits cultural anxieties about fat to sell its customers products that don't work, over and over again, by convincing those customers that it is *they* who are defective. The failure of these products is ascribed to the moral weakness of those who purchase them, thus allowing the cycle to go on indefinitely. But the situation is more complex than this. It takes a great deal of cultural distortion to cause normal market mechanisms to break down so completely (blaming your customers for the catastrophic failure of your products isn't usually considered a sound business practice.)

The obesity myth thrives in contemporary America because America is an eating-disordered culture. Moreover, the prime symptoms of this situation -- our increasing rates of "overweight", bulimia, and anorexia -- are also symptoms of, and have become metaphors for, a broader set of cultural anxieties...

And it's dreadfully true. The diet industry is more pernicious than the tobacco companies, not least because of all the other industries that have formed themselves around this bizarre notion that humans should be skinny. US culture has astonishingly unhealthy standards of "beauty", and I believe they tie directly into the equally unhealthy sedentary culture. After all, if it's obvious on the face of it that one is never going to look like the models/actors/athletes/etc. without truly heroic and life-busting measures, and probably not even then, why bother trying at all? The lack of a sensible or sane target and body-image promotes apathy, and the lack of results from the "diets" does the same. The results of random negative stimulus are well proven.

Apr. 3rd, 2009

Saimono News Flash


Go vote in her/his interest-gauging poll if you have any interest in seeing the light novels published in English. And spread the word. Each volume has to sell a couple thousand copies to be cost-effective. Surely there are that many of us!

Apr. 2nd, 2009

Answers to Dreamwidth questions

Our lovely co-owner has been watching the DW posts and put a post of her own together to answer some of the questions that have come up frequently.

DW fact sheet

Just to add a few of my own:

The current default journal style will not likely be the final default style. It's just the first one that got ported over completely! There are still a few bugs with it, as with all things during closed beta. (If anyone currently in testing wants to make use of the Core 2 Testing skin I made, instead, feel free to copy this into a theme layer.)

The default site scheme is still being poked at a bit, but it should be readable now at high res and low, no matter your font size.

On other topics, I'm interested to see the culture that's developing. A number of people are a lot more open in their posting and disclosure of identity. Being the web-cynic I am I hope this doesn't come back and bite anyone as time goes on, but right now it's all very bright and cheerful. Some people are using DW for a new start and some are importing all their history. Special interest comms are starting to pop up. There's still sawdust everywhere and the wallpaper isn't hung, but the roof seems to be on and the plumbing is working!

Mar. 29th, 2009

Comment porn!

*giggling* So, Dreamwidth is having an inaugural comment-porn event, just for the fun of it. I've posted some prompts from the anime/manga side, if anyone wants to go and look or leave some more.

The Stepsister Scheme

One of the benefits of being a friend of the author is: sometimes you get free books.

And this was quite a good free book, so I’m reviewing it. Not in hopes of getting a copy of the next one at all, of course. I’m much too high-minded for that kind of thing. *looks suitably virtuous*

So let us consider The Stepsister Scheme, by Jim Hines. )

Mar. 26th, 2009

Dreamwidth Open Beta Date Set

Dreamwidth's open beta is coming!

The date is set, and on April 30th the site will launch open beta on full production hardware. At that time, the one-time sale of seed accounts (permanent accounts for $200) will begin.

Invite codes for free accounts will be released as the site proves it can handle the load, but anyone who wants an account can also pay $3 for a month of paid time, after which the account may then be let to lapse back to free. Or, you know, keep it paid and get all the frills.

Some major things that are in the pipe for open beta: journal importing, entry crossposting between sites, the watch/access split of the friends list, expanded standardized options for journal styles so that you can pick based on the look you like instead of being limited by the functionality you want, vastly improved maintainer options for communities.

A lot of other functions will not be finished by open beta. There will still be rough edges to be sanded down and anyone who moves over completely at that time can expect a few bobbles. I have to say, though, I've been very impressed by the number and vigor of DW's working programmers, so bobbles should be steadied reasonably quickly.

For those who want to look around the current testing site, you can start from Denise's journal. Check out the comms, look at people's journals to see what the closed beta testers have done while they kick the tires. Sign in with OpenID, if you want, and you will have a stripped down (non-posting) account to poke around with.

(And if you don't like pink, well, I submitted three alternate site schemes today, and you can see the screenshots here: Celerity, Blueshift, Gradation.)

Dreamwidth promises to be a very cool thing, and a project committed to Open Source. The improvements Dreamwidth is making are available to everyone to use, including LiveJournal. In addition to simplifying the installation of the software, plans include the ability to port LJ-based databases into the Dreamwidth system, so that LJ-based sites can easily switch over if they wish. No restrictions, no fee, no hook (and no more mind-bendingly complicated and undocumented code). And we're going to have drafts and real hierarchical tagging and memories that work and exporting to pdf in whole or by time-span or tag and and and... *waves hands* cool stuff!

I'm enthused. You can tell.

Take a look around. The testing site and all the improvements you can read about in dw_news and the other comms have been accomplished in nine months. Just nine. In people's spare time, because almost everyone working on this has a day job too. And this? Is just the beginning.

Mar. 25th, 2009

Sketch of characters getting older

I keep contemplating how the younger KHR characters got to their TYL selves, and what they are at that age and I think I want to jot this down.

Gokudera: Gokudera calms down as time goes on. This does not mean he becomes any less heart-bound to Tsuna, but as he becomes more confident of and secure in his place in the Family he stops needing to yell about it. The point at which Tsuna confirms that Gokudera is his right hand is the true turning point for this. As he calms, Gokudera becomes more efficient, his edge shows more clearly, and he starts to solidify a reputation quite separate from his old one of ‘feral punk’, one of absolute loyalty to Tsuna and his wishes and of complete incorruptibility–the Vongola’s feared right hand, as Gamma says. Given the ruthlessness we see in, for example, 61, I suspect that Gokudera becomes extremely dangerous as he becomes cooler and more effective, and that it is, in large part, only Tsuna’s kindness that restrains him.

This ran rather long )

Mar. 21st, 2009

Newmeme? Muse bait

So, xie_xie_xie made a rather entertaining post about how to lure straying muses back, and solicited her flist for their own tactics. I thought this sounded fun, and why not spread it around?

I have to admit, my own best results seem to fall along the ‘challenge’ line too. My muses and I generally share a very strong “I could do that better” reflex, so one thing that often produces results is to hit the biggest comm for a given fandom and look for trends that outrage me. If I haven’t written anything lately to reverse the ukefication of some character, that’s usually a pretty good bet (see: Ed, Yukimura, Tsuna).

Chatting with a likeminded writer often works, too, sometimes beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Prime examples: Tennis Sanctuary, The Bond Between the Land and Sea. Once the rhythm of “would’t it be cool” and “yeah, and then…” gets going, the positive feedback resonance tends to boot things right along.

So what about other people?


Mar. 20th, 2009

[Fic] Working Till the Sun Don’t Shine

Fic post from my archive.

Working Till the Sun Don't Shine

Gokudera has a stressful day and wants Yamamoto to help him unwind, which Yamamoto is perfectly happy to do. Pure Porn, I-4

Hayato closed the door to his office carefully, breathing deep and slow.

"That didn't go very well," Takeshi observed from where he stood looking out the window.

"No. It didn't," Hayato said, with what he thought was a commendable lack of screaming rage, under the circumstances. He hung his jacket on a chair and undid his tie with short, precise movements, eyes narrowed at empty air.

Mar. 18th, 2009

[Fic] Going Back Someday

Fic post from my archive.

Going Back Someday

Yamamoto comes to visit Gokudera and they navigate around their trust and need for each other--indirectly as always. Drama with Romantic Porn, I-4

"Takeshi?" He blinked, hands full of his front door and his math textbook, neither free to adjust his reading glasses the way he felt a momentary need to.

"Hey." Takeshi leaned in the doorway, grinning. "Thought it was about time I stopped in for a visit."

After over a month away. Hayato sniffed, but stood aside for him. "I suppose you might as well come in, yes."

Mar. 16th, 2009

[Fic] Comfort Food

Fic post from my archive.

Comfort Food

Gokudera is sick and being stubborn, and Yamamoto decides to step in. Unmitigated Fluff, I-2

Warning: May cause tooth decay. To prevent cavities, brush thoroughly after every reading.

"'mb fide," Gokudera muttered around his wad of handkerchief. It hadn't moved far all day, but when it had his nose had looked absolutely raw. "Not goig to slack off by job 'cause of a code."

Takeshi sighed and made a note to himself that Gokudera got more stubborn and foul-tempered when he was sick. He wouldn't have thought it was possible if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.

Mar. 13th, 2009

[Fic] Body Language

Fic post from my archive.

Body Language

Gokudera's trust issues are Yamamoto's new hobby; he has his work cut out for him. Drama with Romance, I-3

"Delivery!" Takeshi called, cheerfully, banging on Gokudera's door. It took a few minutes for Gokudera to answer the door, and another for him to finish staring in disbelief.

"What are you doing?"

"Bringing you dinner." Takeshi dangled the bag of carryout from raised fingers.

Mar. 12th, 2009

[Fic] Gray Willow Catkins

Fic post from my archive.

Gray Willow Catkins

Yamamoto decides Gokudera is broken and needs to be fixed. It takes a while to find the right opening. Drama with Romance, I-3

Gokudera's constant growling had always kind of amused him, and he admitted that every now and then he sort of poked Gokudera just to get him going. Like playing with a cat; a few scratches were fair trade for getting to watch it flail at you. Actually, Gokudera reminded him a lot of a cat, sometimes, a feral cat that would only let one person pet him without biting, and that person was Tsuna. Even when they'd just met it had made Takeshi wonder a little how often Gokudera must have gotten kicked, to be that way, and now he was wondering more seriously.

Mar. 11th, 2009

[Fic] May Flowers

Fic post from my archive.

May Flowers

Tsuna gives his people whatever they need, and Yamamoto is no exception. Porn with Characterization, I-4

It was easier, he thought, to give Gokudera what he needed. Gokudera was far more straightforward. When Yamamoto came to him, Tsuna had to look harder and make guesses.

Sometimes Yamamoto just sat quietly at his feet for an evening. Sometimes he wanted to hold Tsuna, to shelter and shield him, and Tsuna rested against his chest until his arms relaxed and loosened. Sometimes he wanted to touch, slow and gentle, and kissed Tsuna's fingers softly until he said yes.

And sometimes he needed to not be the protector, for a while.

Mar. 8th, 2009

One more try: when it’s not about you

So, a bunch of would-be allies have protested getting “flamed” or “piled on” or basically told to sit down and shut up, in Racefail 09, because they tried to join the discussion by contributing their own experience.

Well what did they expect?

In any discussion of privilege, stereotypes, oppression, agency, if you are on the plus side of the particular issue, do not try to join in with comments about your experience. It may seem like a gesture of sympathy and solidarity, but it isn’t. It’s you taking the focus away from the injured party. Don’t do that. It’s not about you.

Do not try to say that you are not privileged because, while you may be plus in this particular area, you are minus in others. For one thing, that’s flat wrong. If you are plus in this area, then you have privilege in this area. Trying to deny that by waving all the other areas in which you are minus just makes you part of the fail and ensures that the people who have to deal with a minus in the current discussion will have zero reason to respect your minus when that’s under discussion. For another thing, it’s beside the point. Because right now, it’s not about you.

Do not suggest that, yes, this is awful, and shouldn’t we all try to be colorblind (religion-blind, gender-blind, etc.). The only way anyone could imagine such a thing is a) possible or b) a good idea is by being plus in the area in question, and therefore not having to worry about it, not having to be aware of it constantly, not having to deal with how it makes you invisible or second class every day. Such a statement comes only out of a plus experience. Don’t make it. Because it’s not about you.

Do not, for the love of little pixels, try to tell anyone to calm down or be less angry. Do not try to join in by offering your own solution to the problem of being angry. Being angry isn’t the problem, it’s a reaction to the problem. More importantly, that isn’t your anger, so you don’t have any right to say what gets done with it. If it makes you uncomfortable, too bad. It isn’t about you.

You’re plus in a given debate and you still want to contribute? Listen. Don’t talk. Listen. Don’t tell about your own experience. Listen to someone else’s. Don’t deny the anger and don’t try to fix it. Listen to it. When you see another plus person failing in one of the above manners, step up and point out that it isn’t about them, and now is not the time for defensiveness or guilt. Now is the time for listening. Because the sad truth is that a lot of us listen better to people who are like us than to the people who actually have the experience under discussion. If you can redirect attention to where it currently should be, do it. That’s a bare first step, but it’s one that truly astonishing numbers of people seem unable to manage.

Also? Do not comment to this and prove the point in spades by talking about how your intrusion of your own experience into this or any similar discussion wasn’t like that. Because (all together now) it isn’t about you.