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Several fandom things
SSar's Beast
1. I just realised the fandom I have just written lots for is, itself, a coffeeshop AU. Robin McKinley's Sunshine is a vampire YA novel in which the main protagonist is a coffeehouse baker. The world of the novel is modern-day-life with a magic twist. (Stopping there. My thoughts on one-little-change alternate universes are lengthy and disorganised and not backed up by much actual theory.)

2. There's another YA book I am fond of, Alyzon Whitestarr by Isobelle Carmody, and apart from the plot details and spiritual questions about how to save the world, one aspect I enjoyed is the way people get described by scents, due to the quirks of the protagonist. So one person will smell like sewage because they're genuinely toxic and taking their trauma out on other people, and one person will smell like the sea, and one person will smell like hay (but ammonia when they're really worried. It's all mood-related). And this is kind of enjoyable to read about, the way good food writing is enjoyable to read about. I have contemplated asking for fic for this book, but I'm not quite sure where I'd want a story to fit in. It seems quite self-contained.

OTOH, I have recently realised I don't have to, if all I want is scent details: I just have to read a heck of a lot of alpha/beta/omega fic. The more you know. Thanks, fandom! I might stick to the worldbuilding types of fic in this genre, because I find I need to be in a particular mood to enjoy "biology made us do it and there is pining" types of romance stories, but you know. It's there!

3. Joel and I watched the first two episodes of "A Touch of Cloth", a very recent police procedural parody show. Good stuff. Joel described it to me as 'the British "Police Squad",' which, well, it isn't. Some of the running gags are brilliant; some feel overdone. To me, the difference is that "Police Squad" played its universe very straight; I love it when characters treat the absurd as the mundane, daring the reader/viewer to raise an eyebrow, instead of pausing for laughs. And the story behind the jokes was solid. I felt as though the story in "A Touch of Cloth" was a weaker frame to hang jokes off of, and the whole thing could have been summed up as the joke of 'It really is what you think it is!', with variations. But. Do watch it; more for the jokes in the background than in the foreground. And, to its credit, the show has both. Don't watch it while eating.

4. I have been re-reading the Black Jewels Trilogy and associated books. Gosh they're bad. But good. But bad. A world where "We can't actually talk about our problems, that might spoil the plot" is almost hard-coded. I am torn between wanting to talk about the interesting things, and putting camouflage covers on my book. And did I say "rape is not handled well" in my Yuletide dear author letter? Wow yes wow.

It's funny, for a series praised for its worldbuilding, and that provides an interesting society schema, what strikes me about the plot is the lack of imagination. Author needs drama? Let's have some more rape and murder. Or the long-running villains come up with another really stupid scheme, so that foiling it gives the protagonists something to do. If the author needs trauma, she looks at the last bad thing she did to a character, and then tries to top it - when surely a more interesting story would be little annoyances, fallouts of earlier problems, or what is happening to the whole society while the bigger players clash and regroup. (I am biased!) (And yes, there is some of that. But it feels token.)

Urgh. Now feeling defensive about attempting to analyse a series whose fans would all agree has a tonne of flaws. Maybe I should save that for literature? Dunno. Maybe I should work harder on breaking down that divide in my head between "fun books" and "worthy books".

5. I am enjoying "The Americans", a bit despite myself. I like it on several levels, it's just that whenever the characters do something a Bit Not Good, I wince in anticipation of a fallout that will be uncomfortable to watch. I may be setting myself up for discomfort in a show that is structured Us vs. Them, because obviously, not everyone can win.

Still: the show is set around real historical events, which I love so much more than "this is generically the 80s" or "this is generically the 50s", because it feels like we're getting a touch of narrative history in with our drama. The characters are flawed and interesting and intelligent. (There is a mix of things Paul calls 'good fieldcraft' and 'bad fieldcraft', and discussing which is which, after an episode, is highly entertaining.)

OK. Now back to giving myself a TEI/XML refresher (I originally opened my laptop to download jEdit and look into LaTeX, oops) and figuring out a lazy costume for tonight's supervillain/superhero party. To be followed by giving a stranger's exchange fic a light beta. Then maybe more Black Jewels reading. A good Saturday.

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re: 4 -- There's nothing wrong with liking problematic things, though, and wanting to work through them instead of tossing them aside.

Hehe. I guess I have some internalised elitism going on that says, "that's very nice that you've gone through university and learned to analyse texts, but why don't you continue stretching yourself by reading harder texts, not by applying those analytical skills to easy texts?"

And it's true, everything's problematic in some way, which often makes it interesting, and trying to read only the most earnest or purified or challenging stuff is kind of dishonest.

Also, sorry, seeing your name reminds me I have some of your fics to catch up on reading! ^!^

I want to have thoughtful things to say here but I am totally braindead sooo:

I have heard "The Americans" is enjoyable and I should watch it, but oh man now I think I mostly want to hear this Paul's thoughts on this topic like a lot.

(isn't it nice when my default icon is also a spy and therefore relevant? ...though not the Russian one. I have her too.)


Paul is my husband's best friend and one of my best friends too. Mostly they watch 24 together, but it seems we finally have a show we can all enjoy at once. I am not quite sure how to type up the Paul-fuelled discussions without spoiling the show, but, hm. I wonder if I can recommend it to you in other ways? What kinds of things do you most enjoy in TV?

Also, nice to hear from you. How are you going with the new job? (I take 'braindead' as a positive indicator there...')

Edited at 2013-04-27 02:04 am (UTC)

I plan to watch it! At some point. I am mostly just rubbish at watching tv (currently watching Homeland and House of Cards and stalled out about 3 episodes into each despite really enjoying and being interested in them). I'm no good at being a spectator and always find other things I'd rather be up to. So it can take me a long time to get round to them.

In tv, I very much enjoy complex political setups, layered and nuanced (but especially likeable) characters, loving marriages, banter, war, and gorgeous design work. Also shows where people run a lot. What about you?

It's nice to talk to you! Things are going fantastically, but also totally flat-out. It's a startup, so utter madness all the time, and I've pretty much thrown work-life balance to the wind. Luckily my boyfriend approves of this fact. But I do miss eating real meals (I think I've cooked dinner maybe once in the month since I started this job) and also talking to people! How have you been?

Well, The Americans has complex political setups, layered/nuanced characters (some of whom are likeable, none of whom are despicable), banter, and marriages that... hm... are not rock-solid, but are treated with respect and compassion. Mostly. I'm only about 6 episodes in. I think it's a pretty show to watch, though the title sequence seems weird to me. There is also a lot of running in the pilot episode.

Things I like in TV: set-ups that start simple and then get thoroughly explored. Consistent or developed character motivations. Shows where one single person isn't the hero. Snappy dialogue. Occasional meta jokes. A sense of fun, or a sense of passion (as in, 'this part of history is really interesting, viewers, let us show you how'). That's just off the top of my head.

I've been okay! All mimsy at work, though there have been some highlights. I was at a conference last week, run by my boss, of a kind that's really her specialty (get a bunch of smart people in a room and make them talk to each other about what they know and what they need to learn in a field of shared interest). That was fun.

All of my self-imposed deadlines for fic have been whooshing past me recently. Oops. I think I should have signed up for rarewomen to get some motivation. I'm on their pinch hit list and I'm watching things go by, but I can't write any of them. Ah well.

Off to see Iron Man 3 tonight. Should be a nice night out. :)

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