resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Since nobody claimed today, I'm going to answer the question nobody asked, which was: "What's new in the Christmas music collection this year?"

For those who haven't known me long, I collect Christmas music, and if you hate Christmas music because it's all either shiny shiny plastic or an unseemly show of sentimental piety, I might have a pleasant surprise for you.

My Christmas car playlist is up to 579 songs -- that's with all the instrumentals taken out, and only including songs that either have three or more stars or are brand-new and thus unrated. Every time iTunes upgrades, I have to go looking for another workaround to do what apparently no one but me wants to do, namely: first shuffle a playlist randomly, and then hang onto that random order and play them in that order every time. (Apple's random shuffle is actually random, which isn't good, because when I have a playlist of 579 songs, I get really cranky if I hear the same song twice in one day.)

Download six songs here:

  • Jackie Oates, The Halsway Carol. Trad-folk. "Sing for the coming of the longest night."
  • Joel Mabus, The One-Horse Open Sleigh. Solo acoustic guitar, old-time country feel.
  • The Miserable Offenders, A Stable Lamp Is Lighted. Because how could I resist a band called the Miserable Offenders? Piano and voices; the music's OK but I chose this one for the words. "And every stone shall cry, and straw like gold shall shine."
  • Kate Rusby, The Christmas Goose. Trad-folk. Basically a slightly bawdy joke turned to a ballad. (I discovered when I did a search for this that I have six songs with "goose" in the title, and I'm pretty sure they're all different.)
  • Blast From the Past, Joy in the Morning. A capella choir.
  • Thea Gilmore, Sol Invictus. A capella voices. Not Christmas, strictly speaking, but don't we all need a song of rebirth this year?

    Go here to add your own question.

    The questions thus far are under here. )
resonant: Three frogs in Santa hats (zenfen xmas)
[personal profile] muccamukk reminded me that it's time once again for the only time of year when I actually participate in DW life!

Here's how it works. Choose a date in December. Ask me a question. I'll make a post about your question on the date you choose.

Seems like these last few years I always introduce December with an explanation for how very disengaged I've been from fandom. My current theory is that starting a new life in a new city and a new job in a new field, while conducting a commuter marriage and getting ready to be kidlet-less when it's college time, is possible only by pretty much using my full supply of emotional energy with no reserve.

Not gonna lie: it sucks.

But I want to participate on the level that's doable for me. So bring on the questions! And let me know if you're participating so I can ask you things too.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Since I don't have questions for the last two days, I'm going to answer (the interesting parts of) the New Year meme, last seen at [personal profile] sara's.

And in January, I'm thinking I'll come up a couple of days a week and ask you questions!

With best wishes for a healing 2015 for all )
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] cathalin asks: What story do you most wish someone would write, that for some reason you aren't writing/won't write (original or fannish)? Who would it be about, and what would happen? (And if you can say, why would it be something someone else and not you would write?) Why would you like such a story? What tropes or ideas or etc. would it explore that you wish you could find more of?

I would really like someone else to write the definitive BBC Sherlock "taking account of Mary Morstan" story.

I would like it long and plotty, with canon-typical adventure. I would like it mostly about establishing a relationship of some sort between Mary and Sherlock, since the other two sides of that triangle are well established. I would like the story to have as many surprises about Mary as the canon did.

I would accept a wide range of resolutions, from Mary dead the way she is in book canon to happy settled threesome, but what I want is fifteen thousand words on how they got there, wherever there may be.

And I feel like a real wimp for saying this, but I tried to write it, and last summer's absolutely palpable stew of Mary-hate and Moffatt-hate just made the whole idea of wading into it feel icky.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] riverlight prompts: what tropes you love to write and any you hate!

Oh, I love tropes! They are to slash what iambic pentameter is to sonnets -- both something to give the story shape and something for it to push against and fight.

I love Aliens Made Them Do It and Sex Pollen and Forced Marriage and other tropes that take the decision out of their hands until afterwards.

I love first kisses like you wouldn't believe.

I love Hypothermia and Undercover In The Gay Nightclub and Pretend Marriage and other tropes that force them into close physical proximity.

I love Truth Serum and Vino Veritas and even the generally implausible Truth Or Dare Game, because it's incredibly sexy when people have to talk about sex and very moving when they have to talk about love, and the characters I like best usually won't do that unless you force them.

I love, love, love situations where characters have to sort of learn to have sex with each other -- for me that's the chief joy of virginity stories and of turning straight characters gay, and also of giving characters unusual sexual responses, unusual genitalia, different species, etc.

As for what I dislike --

I love yearning, but I hate it when it's all filled in with appearance-based self-hatred ("He's so handsome and I'm so ugly and boring, he could never possibly want me," etc.).

Alpha/Beta/Omega doesn't do anything for me unless I pretend it's a sex pollen story.

I'm an Episcopalian, which means I went to Sunday school with my priest's youngest daughter, which means priest AUs don't really have any visceral impact for me.

(When I look at that list, I really need to write more tropes, because they fill me with enthusiasm.)
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] notalwaysweak asks: have you ever been camping? What are your thoughts on camping?

I went camping a few times when I was a teenager, and I thought it was OK. I love rafting and hiking, and camping seemed to go along with them.

(Which reminds me: When I moved from a flat place to a hilly place, I swore I was going to join a hiking club, but I've been here for a year and a half now and I haven't done it. When spring comes, I should definitely at least show up for some day hikes.)

Now, though -- I mean, I'm not elderly or anything, but it's more difficult for me to get a good night's sleep in a bed in a comfortable room. I don't think I'd be eager to sleep on the ground again!
resonant: Three frogs in Santa hats (zenfen xmas)
[personal profile] wintercreek invites: Talk to us about Steve Rogers. Fic, meta, rambling, whatever. STEEEEEEEEEEEEEVE.

Oh, Steve! Your downcast face in the poster was the thing that lured me into the theater to see "Captain America" in the first place, even though at that time I thought that Marvel movies were likely to be Not My Kind Of Thing. Your homegrown scrappiness, surprising moments of sarcasm, and profound underlying sweetness made a fangirl of me, even though dark 'n' bespectacled is much more my type than blond 'n' built.

How I wish America were really like you.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] realpestilence prompted: favorite poem and favorite poet.

My favorite poet right now is Walt Whitman. This changes from time to time, but Whitman is meaning a lot to me right now.

I've also always had a soft spot for my adolescent favorite, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and for Don Marquis' Archy and Mehitabel poems. And I loved the early work of Marilyn Hacker, but her stuff spoke less to me once she stopped using poetic forms.

I couldn't really say I have one favorite poem, per se, but here's one I've been finding particularly meaningful for some years.

Angels Among the Servants )
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Hidden Virtues just taught me how to hook into the Teranerd network from home. Do you know what this means? This means that Friday can be a day without shoes!

(Hidden Virtues is my cubemate and trainer. She talks like the biggest slacker you ever met, while quietly doing more work than any three other people.)

Anyway. Ahem.

[personal profile] ranalore asked: Do you write to music? If so, what makes a good writing soundtrack?

If I'm in control of my surroundings, I write to blissful silence, because I'm very easily distracted by sounds.

But if I'm in a coffee shop or something, I'll play music softly to drown out the sounds of other people's conversations. But because I'm easily distracted by sound, this music has to be either instrumental or in a language I don't understand. (And I mean I can't understand any of it. My Spanish fluency is such that if I lived in a Spanish-speaking country I'd probably get held back a year before being sent to kindergarten, but a song in Spanish is just familiar enough to distract me.)

My Working Music playlist is a weird selection -- Renaissance and baroque, 1950s jazz, bluegrass and roots music, African pop, folk in various languages. Here's a sample:

Carolina Chocolate Drops, "Snowden's Jig": Oliver Mtukudzi, "Pindurai Mambo"; Oni Wytars Ensemble, "Fa mi cantar l'amor"; Peter Knight, "Seven Dancers"; Baltimore Consort, "Newcastle"
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] indywind offers this invitation to self-indulgence: an anecdote from your real life. (Your kidlet says the darnedest things, and I love how you share overheard remarks in such a way that I can practically hear them myself).

I'll give you two, one spouse-related and one kidlet-related.

1. So I'm sitting with my laptop, and the spouse gets up to go to bed, and I say, "Could you put out the lamp while you're up?"

He says, "I will put it out, and then I will put it out," and looks at me expectantly, and when I don't get it, he says, "It's from Othello." And he goes to walk upstairs.

"Hang on," I said, "can you put out the lamp?"

"Didn't I do that?" he says.

"No," I said, "you just made Shakespearean allusions at it."

2. So the spouse and I are complaining, which is one of our favorite pastimes: my co-worker talks all day and never does any work, and his classmates are slackers who don't do the required reading, and winter came too early, and I hate talking on the phone but my brother won't text, and so on.

The conversation turns to the children of one of our neighbors, and the spouse says to the kidlet, "You're not really doing your part in demonstrating the behavior expected of a teenage girl, you know."

She replies, "No, because you two are doing a better job of it."
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] runpunkrun asks: What's a favorite piece of writing advice you've picked up over the years?

I'm going to share two that have been particularly useful to me.

From [personal profile] julad: Make it more difficult for the characters.

And from the sadly defunct Eddie's Anti-Procrastination Site: You just have to keep starting.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] veronamay asks: what's your all-time favourite piece of fanon/headcanon? Describe in detail, including reasons why you love it. Can be something you came up with, or someone else's that you've adopted--just something you really love.

You know what's making me really happy right now? I've been gone from Harry Potter fandom for a long time, but I still sometimes go off into reveries in which Snape actually survived the series and went on to actually have a real life.

Back in the day, there were hundreds of stories on this topic -- I fondly remember some very late ones of [personal profile] dementordelta's. I'm out of touch; maybe people are still writing them.

Sorry -- I'm not really sufficiently fannishly connected right now to have a lot of headcanons regarding fandoms that are still getting new source material, except that I share with a lot of people the absolute conviction of Captain America's bisexuality.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Social)
[personal profile] cesperanza asks: what are the things that get you to write, fannishly? Have you been able to articulate the circumstances that get you from passive to active fannishness about a particular source?

I really love this question, because when I began giving it some thought, the answer was not at all what I expected it to be.

Read more... )
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] isis prompts: tell me about a favorite place you've visited on your travels, or a place you'd like to go to.

Ooh! I want to go to Skara Brae! It's a site on the Orkney Islands of Scotland that has a really surprisingly well-preserved Stone Age settlement. I mean, rooms, some little bits of furniture, hearths, drainage systems ...

I've always wanted to see Scotland. (Among other things, the only remotely interesting part of my ethnicity is the part that's from there.) In addition to Skara Brae, I'd also love to see Loch Ness.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] sage asks: What's your favorite thing from each season of the year? (Optional: least favorite?)

That's a fun question!

My favorite thing about summer is fresh tomatoes, but I have many least-favorite things about summer, chief among them being heat, humidity, and mosquitoes.

My favorite thing about fall is -- hm. I love so many things about fall. But I think maybe migrating geese, and the sound they make. Or maybe the color of the sky in October? My least favorite thing about fall is knowing winter's coming.

My favorite thing about winter is Christmas, and my least favorite thing about it is cold weather.

My favorite thing about spring is the smell of dirt when it's finally thawed. Fresh asparagus comes in a very close second. I can't think of any least favorite thing about spring, actually, except being braced for hot weather coming.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
Everything's all out of order, which I did not intend, but [personal profile] blnchflr asked: what has changed (most) about your writing?

I thought about going back and reading some of my old Sentinel stuff to answer this question, but I was afraid I wouldn't like it when I read it, so I didn't.

I do remember that when I started out, I wrote romance in a more emotionally explicit way -- I wanted feelings expressed directly in words, preferably at length, whereas now I enjoy the sense that profound things are happening while guys say, "Dude, uh, yeah."

My sex scenes have gotten shorter; I don't know if that's an improvement or not. But after a while I begin to feel that the words I'm writing are words that I've written before!

I still find it difficult to create plot --- in the sense of "action that's meaningful in terms of significant story conflicts," but also just in the sense of "things that happen that aren't talking or sex." But it's a lot easier than it used to be, and so my stories are going through fewer backs-and-forths with betas saying, "No, but, see, when it's this easy it's not really a story, is it."
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] marginaliana asks: What one thing would you most like to do in your life that you think is impossible for whatever reason (financial, laws of physics, etc)?

Last fall, I wrote an article on the tiny-house movement, and ever since then, I've had this yearning to live in a tiny house.

I think the appeal is partly a generalized longing for a simpler life with less stuff in it. (I mean, I just moved house a year and a half ago, and come springtime I'll have to do it again; who wouldn't wish only to own enough stuff to fill an old railway car?) And part of it is the Lure of the Little Bitty, and part of it is an introvert's longing for a tiny space with no room for anyone else in it.

And that's why I can't have it -- because the kind of tiny house I imagine is a one-person space, but I don't want to toss the spouse out in the street.

(Actually in my fantasies he has his own tiny house, close enough for visiting but far enough away that none of his stuff could migrate into my space!)
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] kass asks: Tell me, if you will, what you enjoy most about parenthood?

The kidlet, believe it or not, will be sixteen in three weeks.

More and more, I can see her coiling to spring away. I'm going to hate to see her go -- I would be happy if the three of us could live together indefinitely -- but on the other hand, she's looking forward to it so!

Parenthood, taken minute by minute, is sometimes a grind. Especially with small children, it's relentless -- however tired you might be, however many millions of dollars you would pay for an hour of uninterrupted solitude, you still have to be there.

You have to be there with a level of present-ness, of focused intelligence and attention, that very few jobs demand, ready to leap to stop a toddler from swallowing a cigarette butt, or to explain to a four-year-old that animals died so that we could eat meat, or to explain to a ten-year-old that you can't tell bad guys by the way they look, or to help a child understand that sometimes you get really angry at her dad, and sometimes you get really angry at her, and sometimes she gets really angry at you, and that's all OK and nobody's going to get hurt, even if your own childhood experience is that that wasn't true.

But for me it's been deeply joyful, too, in a number of ways:

Read more... )
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] armadillo1976 asks: Original fiction: have you written any? Do you feel you are going to? Why?

I've written two failed romance novels and one failed fantasy novels. (I consider it progress that each of them failed in a different way!)

Oh, and "Exog," a sci-fi erotica novella, which I still feel is publishable somewhere. But it has pretty standard slash proportions, which means too much sex for the SF publishers and too much other stuff for the erotica publishers.

It's something I've always wanted, to write a novel that I liked. Not even one that got published, necessarily -- just one that I thought was good.

I'm still planning on it.
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] princessofgeeks prompts: What you would tell your self of 20 years ago if you had the chance.

(Got behind because yesterday was so busy.)

Wow, this has been really thought-provoking. Twenty years ago, I was 30 years old; I had sort of accidentally moved out of journalism and into technical writing, and my career was feeling a little less weird and ill-fitting than it ever had. We'd just bought our first house, but I was still thinking we were going to get out of Corntown any time. I was four years from having a baby and four years from discovering fandom.

Looking back, I wasn't really as much of a grown-up as I thought I was.

First thing I wish I could tell myself is: Do not take the job working for the Space Alien. She will shred your self-esteem and it will take literally years to get over it.

But in more general terms:

1. Don't be so focused on writing as a career. You do have other skills.

2. Whatever is bothering you about a relationship, it isn't going to change by itself. You're going to have to learn how to talk about things that upset you and how to ask for what you need. Maybe don't wait twenty years to try therapy?

3. Be really careful about the things you decide to do "just for now." You would not believe how fast twenty years go by.

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