Sanguinity
Sometimes sanguine, sometimes sanguinary.
Recent Entries 
12th-Aug-2014 02:01 pm(no subject)
Escher Snakes
Who knew "just an elopement" would require this much in the way of logistics? (Everyone who is not us, I imagine.)

So very, very glad that we decided to not try for a "proper" wedding. We are so not cut out for that kind of thing. I mean, really.

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Escher Snakes
It took several years to get here, but we've finally finished Xena: Warrior Princess. (More accurately, we have approximately finished it. [personal profile] frayadjacent has assured me that 6x19 "Many Happy Returns" makes a fitting conclusion to the series -- it does -- and additionally, that there's apparently something reprehensible about the official finale. I trust my friends when they say that I would not enjoy whatever-it-is, and so I am content to stop here, knowing essentially nothing about what goes on in the final three episodes. [1])

Oh, but I wish I'd watched this show when it was airing. We didn't much watch TV that decade, but Xena and The L-Word were the two major pieces of media in the lesbian community in the early 2000's. We watched enough L-Word to be functionally literate about it, in a vague, "I know the names and archetypes of the characters" sort of way, but we entirely missed Xena. And now, finally getting around to playing catch-up nearly two decades late, I can see the shape of the feelings I would have had about it, had I watched it then. I feel like I cheated myself of something worth having.

(Which is not to say that I don't have feelings about the show now. But there's a lingering disconnectedness, a less-than-it-should-be-ness.)

Of course, the reason we made the effort to track down and watch some L-Word -- and by "track down" I mean "furtively handing off brown-paper-bagged VHS tapes to each other at work" -- but didn't make the effort for Xena, was because L-Word had explicitly canonical lesbian relationships and Xena didn't. Xena was all subtext, or so we understood. Blatant wink-wink-nudge-nudge we-all-know-what-we're-talking-about-here subtext -- Xena fists a fish, fergawdsakes, and calls it that -- but until the final season, it's all technically deniable. During the middle years, Xena is about as textbook an example of queerbaiting as you could want. (Although it felt more playful than a lot of queerbaiting, because they weren't spending a lot of energy on no-homoing.)

And then in the final season, they suggest that Xena/Gabrielle has been canon for a good long while now, they just hadn't bothered saying. They still don't show it, though: there's lingering room to deny that Xena/Gabrielle is a sexual relationship. They are self-acknowledged life-partners, and are similarly recognized as such by others, but it could yet be a platonic relationship. (Well, a platonic relationship with a lot of fish-eating jokes, however likely that seems. JUST HAVE THEM KISS-KISS ALREADY, argh!)

*goes back and checks airdates* You know, I think it was after that final season aired that I really started hearing the in-community buzz about it. (F'rex, the Other Lesbian Engineer passing me a note during a meeting that read, "What Would Xena Do?" What would she do? BURN IT ALL TO THE GROUND.)

So. At a rough estimate, there's two seasons of Xena & Gabrielle as friends, then three seasons of Xena-likes-to-eat-fish-har-har intespersed with technically-they-kissed-but-not-really, and then a season of "Xena/Gabrielle has been canon for a good long while now, didn't you notice?"

I have mixed feelings about the show ending with retroactive Xena/Gabrielle. On the one hand, yay, they made it canon? But there's also something about it that retroactively makes the intermediate section feel less playful. If we read that intermediate section as "ha-ha, you thought they were straight, joke's on you!" I think we can understand that the joke was supposed to be on homophobes who were overly invested in Xena and Gabrielle's straightness? And yet I feel like I got caught by some ick in the blowback of that joke. That when I said things like, "but it's still not canon, it's only subtext," that I was somehow acting just like the homophobes who also denied the subtext. When really, I wasn't inscribing heteronormativity on them, but pointing out how space had been deliberately left for inscribing heteronormativity on them. Meh.

I suppose my no-surprise-to-anyone conclusion is that I would have much preferred having Xena/Gabrielle be explicitly canon as we went, instead of retroactively canon: there is something deeply unsatisfying about most retcons, however much the text-as-it-currently-stands may be improved by the retcon being put into place. And then, you necessarily start getting into the thing about whether The Powers That Be would have permitted canonicall Xena/Gabrielle, blah blah.

...all of which comes back to: damn, but I wish I had watched this live, while the rest of my community was watching it. Because there's always some loss, reading a primary text outside of the context it was written in.

And I feel it particularly with this one.

---

[1] I broke. I have now read the synopses of the final three eps. I may yet pick them up at some point for completeness's sake, but I am fully content with taking the ending of "Many Happy Returns" -- Xena and Gabrielle flying off into the sunset together -- as the canon ending of the series.

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19th-Jun-2014 10:11 am - Graduation and Wedding Plans
Escher Snakes
Sunday was commencement. I walked, because [personal profile] grrlpup told me I had to. (I laugh: she and I only just barely showed up for our Reed graduation. But here she's been in charge of regalia and tickets and photos and inviting people and getting me there. It's like she's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSON.) My parents came down for it, too, so now graduation has been done all nice and proper-like, and there are cap-and-gown photos for both her family and mine.

(Her family have really been into it -- I have received many congratulations from them. But then, I spent a decent chunk of my visit at New Year's studying for comps in front of them. And word about that got around: every time extended family would come by to see us, they'd walk in the door saying, "Now, I know [Sang] is studying for her comps, so I'm not going to disturb her, but I did want to say hello real fast!" So I suppose it's not a surprise that now there's a big chorus of YAY SHE GRADUATED AFTER ALL coming from that quarter.) (My side of the family, I'm not sure anyone even knows I graduated, besides my parents.)

I knew pretty much no one at graduation -- so much time elapsed between my coursework and my graduation! -- but most of the master's grads weren't graduating with friends anyhow, so a lot of us were looking for someone to amiably kill the time with. And it turns out that having a moment of theater-induced panic and dropping a handful of safety pins into one's bag before one leaves the house, is a very effective icebreaker! I spent a decent chunk of time before the ceremony saying "You want a safety pin?" to people who were struggling with their robes or hoods, and then getting swamped with effusive gratitude. (One woman said to me, "You're wonderful! You're just like a grandma!" Which made me blink a bit. When I went back to school, I abruptly discovered that I code to twenty-somethings as "mom" nowadays, but this is the first time that I've had someone call me grandma.)

The ceremony was huge, btw, much different from my last one. Even after splitting the graduating class into several ceremonies, they still had to rent the Blazers' arena. So yes, I got to be on the Jumbotron in my cap and gown. For all of two seconds. :-P

 

And in other news, as [personal profile] grrlpup has already said elsewhere, now that marriage is finally legal in Oregon again, we finally stopped dithering and began making concrete plans.

...I never really said much in public when the federal courts overturned Oregon's Measure 36 a couple of weeks ago. Mostly because I had a huge range of emotions about it, and not all of them happy. (The unhappy ones were mostly blowback from the twenty-one years of crap we went through to get here. Plus, the sense of UNSTOPPABLE DOOM that one comes to associate with positive court rulings when for all one's adult life nearly every positive court ruling is followed by a ruthless backlash at the polls. Honestly, my first reaction nowadays tends to be oh shit when a positive ruling comes down from the courts, and it is really, really hard to shake that sense of impending nightmare.) But the court announced the overturn at noon one Monday a few weeks ago, she proposed again-again at lunch (and she looked at me this time!), and I said yes again-again, and then we agreed to let ourselves have some time to be chill before making concrete plans, because goddamn, maelstrom of emotions that needed time to settle.

But as [personal profile] grrlpup said in her own post: we've decided to elope on the anniversary of our original 1993 commitment ceremony, because that was the real wedding, and we don't want this one eclipsing that. We've also asked the officiant from our 2004 wedding (when Multnomah County made it briefly legal, before the subsequent ballot-box backlash that was only just now overturned) to be the officiant this time, too. Because it's been a long, long journey to get here, and he was there for part of it, and we'd like him to be there again. Plus, when the court voided our marriage license in 2005, his work got voided, too; it seems fitting to have him be part of setting it right again-again.

Also, we really liked him. Which is probably the best reason. :-)

So that's that moving forward.

 

...and you want to know what's really bizarre? How I can be writing about the ceremonies celebrating what are allegedly TWO BIG LIFE-CHANGING EVENTS, and yet my life feels so static. People ask, "So, what's been going on with you lately? Have any big plans for the summer?" and I wrack my brain for a bit, and then come back all, "Nah, not really." My brain, it is wired very strangely, I tell you.

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Escher Snakes
I owe you many posts -- including the one I keep meaning to write about New Russian Holmes -- but have not been making the time for it.

(In short, New Russian Holmes is doing many things that I have been craving in a Holmes adaptation. Those of you who enjoy thoughtful, literary adaptations that wrestle with thematic issues that canon sidestepped, you will enjoy this adaptation. There is one ep that was unsuccessful, imo, but given that I have barely seen an adaptation even try to discuss imperialism in the Holmes stories, I laud them for the attempt. And other eps -- like the one about police and policing -- have been so successful that they raised the hair on my arms. Alternatively, those of you who enjoy ridiculous dorks who engage in shenanigans and punching, you also will enjoy this adaptation. Episodes and fan-created English subtitles are available here: eight two-hour episodes, seven of which have been subtitled so far. Go watch, and then you will be in excellent position to argue with me about how wrong I am about everything when I finally get around to making that post.)

But! I am not here to discuss New Russian Holmes! I am actually here to say that I participated in the current round of holmestice, and I just today received a lovely story about Holmes, Watson and Mrs. Ricoletti. She gets glancing mention in ACD canon (the "abominable" Mrs. Ricoletti from when Holmes got out of housecleaning by teasing Watson with his old cases), but Bert Coules develops her more fully in his radio play, "The Striking Success of Miss Franny Blossom," in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (I have greatly enjoyed the Coules adapts, and adore what I've listened to so far of the Further Adventures: they expand on many things that the stories beg to be expanded upon. There is a spiritualism episode! Holmes trod the boards! How Holmes learned to look past the blinders of his education and class!)

But I digress again. Bert Coules expanded on Mrs. Ricoletti, and then my lovely mystery author expanded further, giving us a story about jealousy and maturity and opera:

Un dì, felice, eterea
Fandom: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Ricoletti
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Summary: In opera, a duet can begin with each performer singing their line separately, and then coming together harmoniously in the end. With just some minor chromaticisms, this is true of them as well.


And, of course, the fanwork I made will have been posted by the time we get to the June solstice. (And may have been posted already. I am not saying.) You are welcome to make your own guesses about what it was.

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23rd-May-2014 08:03 am - Mazel Tov!
Escher Snakes


We couldn't be there last night, but we are very much looking forward to being there this evening. :-D

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11th-May-2014 06:54 am - Rarewomen is Live
Escher Snakes
Rarewomen is live!

I received a sweet and entertaining Middleman fic, "The Roommate Transposition Irritation," by [archiveofourown.org profile] desertscribe, which captures so much of what I loved the show.

And I wrote a TSCC ghost story for [archiveofourown.org profile] teaotter about Jesse Flores's lives through the timelines: "Rabbit."

...and there are many more things besides! Go check out the collection!

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Escher Snakes
For [community profile] invisible_ficathon I wrote this for [personal profile] violsva:
Bee Culture for Detectives by [archiveofourown.org profile] sanguinity for [archiveofourown.org profile] violsva
Fandoms: Sherlock Holmes and Related Fandoms: Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock, Elementary, Practical Handbook of Bee Culture.
Tags: bees, 221B ficlets
Summary: Three Practical Handbooks of Bee Culture, their authors, and their other publications about beekeeping.
663 words
Invisible Ficathon, remember, is about writing fanfiction for works that exist only within another fictional work. In this case, my assigned fandom was the beekeeping monograph that Sherlock Holmes wrote during his retirement: Practical Handbook of Bee Culture With Some Observations on the Segregation of the Queen.

Of course, I approached this assignment as any reasonable geek would: I got my hands on every Edwardian beekeeping book I could find, hoping to benchmark what might or might not have been in Holmes's book. I quickly found myself in the position of loving the fuck out of all of these real bee books and desperately wanting to write fic about them, while simultaneously having every Holmes-specific bee-handbook fic idea morph into "His Last Bow" fic.

(I finally gave up fighting these things: I'm currently 8K into an bee-centric "His Last Bow" ACD fic, in which some of my favorite Edwardian bee books get a shout-out.)

As pure research fun, it was all incredibly satisfying, but as a strategy for completing my assignment, it was as frustrating as hell. However, noting that [personal profile] violsva had written for three Holmesian fandoms -- and that Practical Handbook canonically exists in two of the three -- I finally decided to do a trio of 221B ficlets, each from the hand of a different Sherlock Holmes, each being the introduction to some other monograph about bees.

I loved it as a concept, especially since it let me use a variety of shiny things that had caught my eye in my research, but I'm unsure if it's satisfying from the reader's side to jump eras, voices, and topics so quickly, and to never hear more than a tease about any of the mentioned cases. (I, um, appear to have written invisible fic of an invisible monograph, I am so very sorry.) Unfortunately, writing it was its own special hell: unwittingly, I had committed to writing the introductions to three academic papers. I hate writing paper introductions with a fiery, burning passion. I banged out several thousand words of tropey prompt-fic while I was working on this, trying to get coax my brain into writing each new set of two-hundred and twenty-one words.

...and in the end, I'm still not dead sure that I wrote Practical Handbook fic instead of Sherlock Holmes fic. But ah, well.

I was uncertain of the fic at go-live, but now that I've got a little distance from it, I've grown rather fond of it. And researching it was hella fun. :-)


While I was trying to coax myself into finishing "Bee Culture for Detectives," I wrote an Elementary Reichenbach fic:
Tellings the Bees by [archiveofourown.org profile] sanguinity
Fandom: Elementary
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Ms. Hudson
Tags: Reichenbach, bees
Summary: "It fell to me to tell the bees, though I had wanted another duty..." Watson doesn't return from Switzerland.
approx 900 words. Endnotes.
(I would apologize for the endnotes being over half again as long as the fic? Except that my conscience is clean: both of these characters are ginormous nerds in their fields of interest, you don't need the endnotes to understand the fic, and everything I included in the fic is there for a narrative reason. So there.)

And then [personal profile] amindamazed wrote a Mary Watson prequel for it:
The Steep Part of the Wind by [archiveofourown.org profile] hophophop
Fandom: Elementary
Characters: Joan Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Watson
Tags: Reichenbach
Summary: It’s been a scant twenty minutes since the airport shuttle dropped him off, twenty hours since he was cleared to leave Switzerland, twenty days since they determined this was the path they’d take. And yet he can’t formulate how long it’s been since he slept; he’s not sure what day it is. No matter; he feels every second from the moment Watson walked alone into the park etched into his cells.
"I was hoping to talk to my daughter."
approx 2400 words

Please note that these are both Reichenbach fics, thus both feature copious grief and angst as characters do terrible things to friends and family who really do not deserve it.

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Escher Snakes
The Invisible Ficathon collection opened early last week, and I received a lovely, lovely fic for the Forbidden Greeny Jungle Field Guide (from Zarah the Windseeker): Of Wood Wits, Bisimbi Bi Masa and Speculating Frogs.

(Zarah fans! Go show my author some love!)

I wrote a fic in that collection, too, if you feel like going looking for it. (It's not that difficult to identify; one person has already called it.)

Oh, and I should say: for the most part, you're not going to recognize the fandoms in that collection: most of them are little more than a title mentioned in some other work. Which means that you can browse without worrying that you don't know anything about the canon: for a lot of these, the canon never existed, which means that you know exactly as much about the source as anyone else does. :-)

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18th-Feb-2014 02:03 pm - Sanguinity's Musical Tastes
Escher Snakes
[personal profile] seekingferret asked:
Every time we talk about your taste in music, you are evasive. Meanwhile, I overshare effusively. What about your taste in music are you willing to share with the world?

That reads as evasive to you? Huh. I would have characterized it as, "When Sang has nothing to contribute to a conversation, she stops talking." Me and Ilsa, we don't really listen to music.

I got out of the habit of it in the mid/late nineties. I spent nearly a full decade working on manufacturing floors, 75-85db environments all, and the last thing I wanted when I got home was more sound. And somewhere in there I lost my ability to manage background music: nowadays it is a constant mental distraction from whatever I'm doing. When people ask, "Can we put some music on?" my reaction is always, "But... we were having such a nice conversation!"

(Weirdly, I do okay with music at coffeeshops and restaurants. I assume it has something to do with the mental filters that kick in when there are so many simultaneous aural distractions? But that's nearly the only place that I listen to music anymore. And obvs, I'm not running the tapedeck there, so who knows what it is I'm listening to. The people behind the counter usually don't.)

But you wanted to know about my tastes, such as they are. If I'm seeking out things on my own, I have a particular fondness for torch (my preferred genre to sing), blues, vocal jazz, country, and their myriad overlaps and interstices. (I know all of those overlaps and interstices have names, but I like everything in that millieu well enough that the divisions have little utility for me, especially since I spend so little time talking about music. In fact, worse than that: if I use the names, then people expect me to know enough about, say, slide guitar, to be able to have a convo with them about it. When really, it's little more than, "I've liked pretty well most of the slide guitar I've heard, and I own an album or two that really grabbed me." So, there's actually a strong social disincentive to learn the genre names.)

From there, it's mostly a grab-bag of things I've acquired from various social circles: Romantic and impressionist piano. 80s pop. Musical theater through '92 or so. (Sondheim, Sondheim, Sondheim, Sondheim.) Stuff that was popular in lesbian/feminist circles in the '90s. A smidge of death metal. A smidge of Arabic pop. Some minimalism (but not Glass). A dozen-or-so individual artists that are faves inherited from family or good friends.

There's some stuff I actively dislike -- throat singing, the Bulgarian women's choir, electronica/trance, and the genre I think of as "underproduced music by hipsters with thready voices who whine about their lives" (I'm sure it has a name, I'm going to have to ask [personal profile] bookherd to help me figure it out before next festivids) -- but the list of music I actively dislike is pretty short.

...and I'm not sure what else to say, but I'm willing to expand on any of that for you. I've got bookshelves that are private, but not so much with my music.

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Escher Snakes
Foundations by [archiveofourown.org profile] sanguinity
Fandom: Elementary
Characters: Marcus pov, Marcus/Joan
Tags: disability, mentions of child abuse
Summary: It's not the life that Marcus planned. But Marcus can build a new one.
approx 4600 words

Spoilers for 2x10 "Tremors" and 2x11 "Internal Audit", but divergent from 2x13 "All in the Family."
aka The One In Which Marcus Doesn't Take the Job in Demographics, Nor Does His Arm Get Better. In my head, it's a sequel-in-sprit to my Joan 2x10 fix-it Bedrock, but they're really both stand-alones.

On the Uses of Dogs in the Work of the Detective by [archiveofourown.org profile] sanguinity
Fandom: Sherlock
Characters: Sherlock, John, Redbeard
Tags: Sherlock's monographs, ACD Canon References
Summary: Redbeard would have been the best dog a Detective could hope for.
approx 700 words

In which Sherlock and John have a domestic, and Sherlock misses his dog. :-(
Yeah, I wrote a fic about Sherlock's feelings. A post-S3 fic about Sherlock's feelings. I don't know, either. I blame the Invisible Ficathon: I considered nominating the Sherlock Holmes monograph, "On the Uses of Dogs in the Work of a Detective" (and then decided not to), but then it kept knocking around in my head anyway.

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14th-Feb-2014 03:33 pm - Acting Like I Know Where My Towel Is
Escher Snakes
Today I:
  • got YAYS and a hug from the department secretary for passing comps
  • helped her with her knitting project
  • got a fancy signed letter certifying that I have indeed passed my comps
  • went to seminar
  • asked knowledgeable questions, suggested a resolution for an issue the presenter had, helped answer some other questions from the audience (to the point that the questions started being addressed to the three of us: the presenter, the supervising professor, and me)
  • accomplished this without annoying the presenter
  • did not slink out the back after, but introduced myself to the presenter, told him I was graduating soon and that I've been hoping to talk to someone from [$hisemployer], and asked if we could have lunch
  • got an enthusiastic response to that request, including an impromptu pitch for why I would want to work there
  • went to the Office of Graduate Studies to check up on lingering SNAFUS
  • learned that all SNAFUS are resolved, i.e., that both graduate certificates are already MINE MINE MINE YAY
  • and took care of a few miscellaneous errands.

In other words, I ADULTED LIKE A BOSS TODAY. (Next step: actually email presenter to set up time for lunch. And then refresh myself on WHAT ONE ACTUALLY TALKS ABOUT during these things. But that needs to wait until I'm at home.)

YAY GOOFING OFF FOR THE REST OF THE DAY

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Escher Snakes
I PASSED I PASSED I PASSED I PASSED I PASSED

And my advisor was super-considerate, he put RIGHT IN THE SUBJECT LINE that I passed, I am finished, and congratulations. So no adrenaline-fueled moment of BLAM BLAM BLAM while I clicked open the email to see what it contained.

I mean, we all know that I was pretty sure that I passed. But there's nothing like the email that says that YES, YES YOU DID.

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12th-Feb-2014 09:53 am - Diana of Themyscira: Greg Rucka's run
Escher Snakes
[personal profile] chaila asked about DIANA OF THEMYSCIRA. (Yes, yes, she asked elsewhere, but I'm gonna answer here, because I suspect we're gonna want to natter on a bit, and this format plays nicer for that.) So, keeping in mind that I've only read Rucka's run, i.e. Wonder Woman v2.195-226, plus his stand-alone The Hiketeia...

How I feel about this character:

I got to the end of Rucka's run -- v2.225 "Nothing Finished, Only Abandoned" -- and was frankly astonished to discover that I was reading a Christ narrative. Or more to the point: a Christ narrative that made emotional sense to me.

That has never happened. The Gospel crucifixion stories have no emotional valence for me: my usual response is a vague puzzlement that I'm supposed to be having profound feelings of some kind. Likewise, when I run across fictional Christ figures my usual responses are either 1) confusion about why the story stopped making sense, or 2) extreme eyerolling.

But when trying to puzzle through why 2.225 rang true for me, the key difference appears to be that Rucka successfully sold me on Diana herself. Her integrity. Sincerity. Mercy. Fierceness. Commitment. Compassion. Her hopes for the people of the world. Her deep faith in her god. (Both the validity of that faith, and the difficulties of that faith.) And Rucka sold me on these things 100%, without a hint of irony or cynicism or ouch-that-was-unfortunate caveats.

With the result that when Diana disbanded her staff, putting her Mission into their care while she went to turn herself into the Hague... It felt necessary and true and coherent and I mourned.

Of course, right at this moment I'm also pretty weirded out, because I just bought into a Christ narrative, wtfh.

But on the other hand: Diana. Whose compassion and integrity runs so fucking deep that you can hang a Christ narrative on her and it doesn't look absurd.

All the people I ship romantically with this character:

Io.

....or maybe I just think Io is the sexiest character who ever walked. (Leather apron with no bra and omg her MUSCLES and blades blades blades UNF.) I could point to various arc-points to make a shipping argument for Diana/Io, and what would be so satisfying about it. But by the Lasso of Truth, those arc-points are mostly happy circumstance: three-quarters of me sailing that ship is Io's leather apron with no bra. (Who the fuck decided to put her in a Sexy Bikini for 2.218 "The Calm"? Whoever he is, he needs to be taken out and shot.)

My non-romantic OTP for this character:

Batman. Sometimes those two are the only people in the room who understand each other, and who can consequently accord the other the respect each deserve. And sometimes they are at irresolvable loggerheads for precisely the same reason. I don't romantically ship them at all, but whoa, is that a relationship worth exploring. (And when you do, sometimes you have the lovely hilarity of one of the kids trying to coax the Dark Knight into eating pancakes!)

(Although someone's gonna need to explain to me Batman's response in v2.220 "Affirmative Defense," because I don't get it. Do I not get it because I didn't read "Sacrifice," parts 1-3, wherever they were? Or do I not get it for some other reason?)

My unpopular opinion about this character:

Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman is not corny. And my seven-year-old self is going to have words with anyone who thinks otherwise.

One thing I wish would happen / had happened with this character in canon:

Hahahaha, I've read less than one-half of one percent of Wonder Woman canon (and that's just counting her own title, let alone everything else she's appeared in), so for all I know, everything that I might wish would happen HAS ALREADY HAPPENED FIVE TIMES OVER.

But hell, let's talk about The Hiketeia.

Spoilers: It was never this cold in Themyscira...Collapse )

There you are, [personal profile] chaila. I HOPE IT WAS WORTH WAITING FOR.

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11th-Feb-2014 02:42 pm - Dear Invisible Author
Escher Snakes
Dear Invisible Author,

If you want to know about my tastes, here's the serious version (second paragraph) and the crack version. If you want to get advice from someone who knows me well, [personal profile] grrlpup is a great choice.

But I wouldn't worry about my tastes all that much; I'd rather see you write something that makes you happy. Because one of the very best things about fic is finding out what goes on in other people's heads. :-)


Specific-but-optional details about the requests follow!

Consider the Porpoise
(Appears in Grandmother's Pigeon by Louise Erdrich. The illustrations suggest it is a children's picture book.)

I adore this book: there are so very few natural history books by indigenous authors, and even fewer that center traditional knowledge. I love that it doesn't hedge about whether the old stories "really" happened or not.

Anyway, I'd love more fleshed-out stories of the early singers and riders, filling in between the fragments we do know? Additionally, I'm fascinated by the singer side of those first rider-singer partnerships: the author minimally discusses porpoise worldviews, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on why any particular porpoise might leave her school to throw in with a human instead.

Of course, if there is something about Consider the Porpoise that particularly fascinated you, please go ahead and write that!


The Forbidden Greeny Jungle Field Guide - The Great Explorers of Knowledge and Adventure
(Appears in Zarah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor; some excerpts appear in the text. Additionally, Appendix 820 was published as the short story, "From the Lost Diary of TreeFrog7.")

I love the weird team dynamics, I love the adventures, I love the inter- and intra-species politics, hell, I even love the ecology. (I'm something of an ecology nerd. You could write Real Plant Fic about the epic, millennia-long romance between a senient baobab and her jealous mycorrhizoi, and I'd be thrilled.)

In short, there is nothing about this book that I don't love. Go write the thing that makes you happy; I'm sure it'll make me happy, too.


Earthseed: Books of the Living - Lauren Oya Olamina
(Appears in the Parable series, by Octavia Butler. Some excerpts appear in the text.)

Dear Earthseed, I have no prompt for you, only the request: change the text, change yourself, change me.

Which should be entirely manageable! After all, all that you touch, you change; all that you change, changes you. (Fic authors are Earthseed through and through, are we not?)


A Treatise on the Binomial Theorem - Prof. James Moriarty

What more could possibly be said about the immortal Treatise at this late date? However, I have faith in you, my beloved Invisible Author, and I am sure you can come up with something.

If push comes to shove, you can always go completely crack and throw in some firefighting cephalopods. Or fantasy mathematics. Or update it to reflect that newfangled Elementary show. I DON'T CARE. I have complete trust in anyone who says, "I know! I'll offer Treatise! It'll turn out great!" Consequently, I'm eagerly looking forward to finding out what goes in that amazing head of yours.

 

...most of all, have fun and write something that makes you happy. I am looking forward to reading it!

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Escher Snakes
Comps put a wrench in my Festivids ambitions this year, but then that clusterfuck dragged on sooooo looooong that there was time to wedge in something short and straightforward, after all. And it would have made me sad if [personal profile] seekingferret didn't get a Danger 5 vid.

And so I made a ridiculous little Tucker vidlet, Bluebird of Fisticuffs. (fv-dw, fv-lj) [personal profile] seekingferret described it as "a short, ludicrous tribute to Tucker's bottled up WASP rage," but several commenters simply said, "hahahaha, what the hell?!" which is as fair a description as any.

Much thanks to [personal profile] bookherd (who knows a Danger 5 song when she hears one), [personal profile] grrlpup (who was as patient and supportive as ever), and Mystery Beta Who Wishes Not To Be Associated With This Vid (and who can blame zir?).

 

And I wish to heartily recommend the other Danger 5 vid in the exchange, [personal profile] jetpack_monkey's Battle Without Honor or Humanity. It may well be the definitive Danger 5 vid, by managing to parody Danger 5 itself. I didn't know such a thing could be done! And yet it did it excellently.

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7th-Feb-2014 11:13 am - SNOW DAY! \o/
Escher Snakes
Shall we have cinnamon toast for breakfast? And then go back to bed to sleep off the sugar coma? Y/Y?

They shut down the university at 2pm yesterday, and we spent the early evening on tenterhooks about whether they'd call snowday for Friday, too. It seemed likely: there was no chance of the snow melting overnight, as we're in the middle of a hard freeze, and The City of Roses doesn't invest in snow clearing equipment, because we don't have much use for it. (Usually when it snows here, it's all melted off again by 10am. Far cheaper to let everyone sleep in and wait until the roads are clear.) Also, all the "we're BAMF hard-core racers who race in any weather" races scheduled for the weekend (the Polar Plunge and the Worst Day of the Year Ride) were cancelling their Saturday races due to weather. (*snerk!*)

Around 8pm all the phones went off at once -- the landline and both cell phones -- and we did the victory dance while we ran around shushing all the phones. Because when all the phones go off at once, that's campus security with a Very Important Message. And while Elementary did teach us the possibilities of planning your Big Bank Heist for a time when a city is paralyzed by snow, we had our money on the message simply being "snow", and not "armed bank robber at large in the snow."

(A surprising number of campus security alerts are "armed bank robber at large.")

And BONUS, when I notified my employer that the University had called SNOW DAY for Friday, she immediately called SNOW DAY for our Saturday gig. Because she'd have to drive (what is ordinarily) two hours from Eugene to get here, Eugene has this snow worse than we do, and I'd be surprised if ODOT managed to get I-5 fully cleared today let alone after the additional inches they're expecting tonight.

(Yes, yes, the Northeasterners and Midwesterners are laughing that we shut down at 2-4 inches. But see above about how it's cheaper to shut down the city for a few days every few years, than it is to invest in anti-snow infrastructure and equipment. And, hmmmmm, it seems to me that the Northeastern and Midwestern cities also shut down for snow a few days every few years, no? Huh.)

In short: SNOW DAY! \o/

ETA: Cinnamon toast was lovely. Going for a walk in the snow was lovely. I am so taking a photo of Grrlpup's shoveling job on the front walk and sending it to her parents in Colorado to SHAME HER for her half-assed shoveling job. And there's still time to go back to bed again.

SNOW DAY! \o/

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1st-Feb-2014 10:45 am - Sherlock Holmes at OMSI
Escher Snakes
I was HOPING to finish up all the questions you asked before January was out, but HAHAHAHAsnort. Maybe I'll get them done before February is out.


[personal profile] language_escapes asked for my thoughts on OMSI's Sherlock Holmes Exhibit. (Which has moved on to her town now, but hasn't opened there yet.)

Equal parts Forensics, Holmesiana, and Holmesian-themed NightmareCollapse )

And that was my afternoon at the OMSI Holmes Exhibit.

And since I will not be able to tag along to watch [personal profile] language_escapes melting down with joy as she goes through it -- oh, how I wish I could! -- I am hoping for a FULL REPORT FROM HER OF EVERY SINGLE THING SHE FOUND SQUEEFUL AND WHY.

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Escher Snakes
[personal profile] jadelennox is running a ficathon for all the lovely books, tv shows, films, and such that exist only inside another work!

Think The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore by Rita Skeeter; The Itchy and Scratchy Show; Face Punch; Well, that about wraps it up for God by Oolon Colluphid; Li'l Gumshoe by Emerson Cod; Cougarton Abbey; or Head Girl Millie.

Invitation to Love! Guidebook to the Forbidden Greeny Jungle! Earthseed! On the Orbits of Asteroids! Pigs! in! Spaaaaaaace!

More details at [community profile] invisible_ficathon; rules and FAQ at AO3. And everyone is invited to nominate (nominations live through the 31st), even if you don't wish to write.

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Escher Snakes
[personal profile] frayadjacent asked: "What do you enjoy about math?"

It's pretty.

And by "pretty" I mean "so gorgeous as to make me go gape-jawed in wonder."

Which, for me, isn't animations of fractals or logarithmic spirals, but the structure of truth that mathematics generates, the gloriously lush web of interconnected statements undergirded only by logic itself. You begin with a few bland statements and then apply logical inference to them, asking what else must be true, then repeat and repeat and repeat some more, and without once cheating to get yourself across some sticky place, you end up with an entire coherent body of mathematics. (As a metaphor, let me tuck in a pretty fractal picture: begin with something basic and perhaps a little dull, apply a set of simple rules, repeat repeat repeat, and you end up with something that is lush beyond one's ability to fully visualize.) The only time most people have experienced this aspect of mathematics is with Euclidean geometry, but you can do it with all the math you've ever been taught, from grade-school on up. (My freshman year, we spent the first semester doing it with the natural numbers, beginning with zero, one, and addition, and ending with the entirety of the reals -- that is, all the "decimal" numbers, including the irrational ones like pi and square-roots -- and I was so dreamy-smitten by the process I cannot even tell you. I still vividly remember some of the assignments and proofs from that term. And then two years later, we finally made the jump to abstract algebra -- algebra that is not chained to the notion that counting "should" work the way you were taught in kindergarten -- and the wonder in that...! Rings and fields and groups, oh my!)

And then to make it even better, you can change one of your initial statements, play the game again, and end up with an entirely different body of mathematics, but one that is as rich and full as the first. (The metaphor extended: a simple difference in initial conditions, and you have a new fractal tree.) And then you can do it again, if you want. And again. And again! (Again, the metaphor: So many differences in initial conditions!)

Just, stunningly beautiful, that.

And beyond that, is what [personal profile] sqbr referred to the other day as "an isomorphism of ideas". Not only can you find yourself clambering around this stunningly detailed web of logical statements, thinking to yourself, "Damn, it leads all the way out here, who'd'a thought??" but the logical necessity of that structure is so tight, so coherent, that if you were to trace to this same part of the canopy via some other path, the two methods will never contradict each other in their conclusions about what's true and what isn't. Again, the metaphor: it is like thinking that you've got two separate binary fractal trees growing side-by-side, their canopies interlacing the same physical space but presumably disjoint, and then climbing up into that canopy and discovering that some given pine needle is growing from both trees.

...and Mathematics is not just pretty, it's romantic, too. Fruitlessly, hopelessly, heartbreakingly romantic. Because at some point you run into Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems: in any "worthwhile" mathematical system, there are true statements that cannot be proven. That is, there are objects that "ought" to be part of that lush canopy of true statements, and yet which... aren't. And not because you are a puny inadequate mortal human and can't figure out what chain of true statements lead there. No, it's that in all that infinitely dense-within-itself web of true statements, there are true statements that are forever isolated from the rest. True statements that can never be known to be true.

There is a point, I think, when most of us find ourselves so seduced that we can taste the dream inherent in Principia Mathematica. Only to discover that the very selfsame web of logic that seduced us with that dream, proves that the dream is forever unattainable.

It is like a knife in my soul.


...and [personal profile] frayadjacent continues the question: "Is there anything you dislike about it, and if so, what?"

I suggested that one of the characteristic emotional experiences of mathematics is going "omg, this statement is true, who'd'a thought??" That "surprise" factor is less about the math itself and more about the methods of mathematics permitting you to push beyond what you can fully comprehend with your own limited brainspace. (At the conclusion of my Real Analysis class, my professor put up the theorem that the entire course had been aiming at, and exclaimed, "And that's true! There's no reason whatsoever to think that it's true, and yet it is!!" Given that he had just spent one entire semester rigorously laying out the reasoning that the statement must be true, what he really meant was, "I can know this statement intimately enough to teach it, I can spend an entire semester walking you through the logic of its necessary truth, and yet I still cannot keep it all in my head, I still haven't internalized it, it still surprises me, it still doesn't feel like something that 'ought' to be true.") As I've suggested, the sensation of that is heady and thrilling and wondrous.

But it also can be incredibly frustrating, because you are forever running up against your own mental limitations, your own finite capacity to visualize and deduce. There's so much that you can't understand in toto, even if you understood all the steps. (We are forever taking things on the simple faith of having walked through the steps!) Consequently, there's frequently the sensation of being unutterably, persistently, frustratingly stupid, because I'm running my CPU at max capacity trying to even understand the freaking steps.

And that's the thing that I dislike: that there is so much that is within my grasp, but the sheer work of comprehending or retaining it is off-putting. The post of [personal profile] sqbr's that I linked? That's well within my ability to understand. If I read it at a "normal" pace (the pace I read non-mathematical stuff at: books, magazines, blog posts), I can get the general gist of what she's talking about: she's walking through an algebraic argument about what is commonly considered a geometric topic; it uses the expected mapping between those fields; the strategy is to use a more general case, one that encompasses the case we actually care about. But for me to actually read that post, to follow the details of the argument, to be able to say, "Okay, yes, that's true, I follow you, what's next?"... That would require putting all other things aside (what time I'm going to need to catch my bus, whether that noise is the cat wanting to be let in, what I am planning on doing after I finish reading this), and concentrating fully in an unattached, "it takes as long as it takes" sort of way.

Which is a chunk of mental commitment for a blog post.

I can't dip in and out of mathematics casually, I can't do it when I'm tired, I can't do it when I'm distracted, every three years I have to teach myself calculus again because I've forgotten it all and you saw what just happened with my comps when I was supposed to demonstrate the basics of coursework that I got unblemished A's in... It's so much work, and it makes me feel stupid, and it sucks.

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24th-Jan-2014 08:38 am - Some Ducks Claim to be Angels
Escher Snakes
Yesterday was the re-take of the portion of the comps I bombed back in November. You will all be relieved to hear that this time, the test I received was the test I studied for.

In fact, to the best of my ability to tell, she gave me the exact same test she gave me in November. (Right down to whiting-out problem #5.) I don't think she even changed the data on the ones where I was supposed to just perform the analysis by hand.

Let me tell you, it was a relief to see that it was that same exam again. Because while I had prepared for anything in the general vicinity of what I had bombed last November, plus a good deal more around the margins, that exam was sitting dead center of what I had prepared for.

And it went pretty smoothly. It would surprise me very much if that wasn't a clean, solid pass.


And because you will perhaps enjoy this story:

When I was preparing for my re-take, I re-did every homework assignment and exam problem still in my possession from when I first took these classes back in 2008. During that process, I discovered that the matrices from my 2008 linear regression final were still sitting in my calculator. Mind you, discovering that required hunting up the documentation for my calculator, because fuck if I remembered how it handled matrices (for a while, I couldn't even remember if it did), but this is the important point: that one problem from my 2008 linear regression final was already sitting in my calculator, worked to completion.

When I went to do my re-take yesterday? That one linear regression problem that I was supposed to work by hand was... the exact problem already sitting in my calculator from 2008. Which means that when I took this exam two months ago, and left pretty much everything blank, INCLUDING THAT ONE PROBLEM? Well, I am entirely sympathetic with my prof banging her head on the table. In fact, I may have done so myself, when I realized.


...and now to take back in hand the rest of my life, which I have been systematically neglecting with the excuse of "comps, comps, don't fucking talk to me, I have to deal with comps."

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