LIEUTENANT UHURA, YOU HAVE THE CONN.

Sir, I have the conn.

Stieg Larsson/Jane Austen/Harry Potter mashup
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I spent the holiday weekend doing basically two things: listening to the new Lady Gaga and rereading Jane Austen’s Emma. The Emma urge had struck me, weirdly, just as I was reaching the gripping climax of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I actually interrupted Larsson briefly to indulge it. I didn’t reread the whole novel straight, nor did I even read the physical book, because my copy is still packed away in plastic somewhere. Instead I jumped around in it online at the Republic of Pemberley, which has the full text. I cringe slightly to admit that, because I have mixed feelings about a website which has a little box at the bottom of each page that says, in cloying Austinese, “No, you’ve not lost your way. You remain safe within the borders of The Republic of Pemberley.” Actually I have mixed feelings about Austen fandom in general (which, it should be noted, is a distinct phenomenon from Austen herself, about whom I do not have mixed feelings).

Um…you all have read Emma, right? And all have the same microscopic familiarity with its text as with those of the Potter books, so that I can say “Box Hill” or “Mr. Dixon” or “barouche-landau” and you’ll reply, “Yeah – and??”

*hears crickets, but ignores them*  

Whatever the flaws of the Miramax Emma, Jeremy Northam hit the Box Hill scene out of the park. Don't even talk to me about Mark Strong, who was in Box Hill ragey mode for the ENTIRE ITV production - ugh. As for Jonny Lee Miller - try graduating from high school first, dude.**


Actually I’m pretty sure I know why the Emma urge struck me when it did. I’d just read about 500 pages of a book that features several rapes, plenty of incest, a lot of ethically appalling political and corporate behavior, and an explicit awareness of the prevalence of violence, especially sexual violence, against women. On some level I probably needed sexual succor; hence, Emma. It also might have something to do with the fact that the weather in New York is finally good, and in spring a not-that-young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of …whatever. Of Jane Austen, apparently. Or possibly with the fact that even if you’ve spent the last six months feeling dead set against sex, men or any combination of the two, there is nothing like having to study for two finals to make you want to spend the day writing Jane Austen porn* instead.

Cut to hide the terrifying girliness of this post from public view.Collapse )

Stieg Larsson predictions
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As soon as the readings were all done for my classes (well, actually I still have to look up vocabulary words for two scenes in Lorca's Bodas de Sangre; please don't tell my pendejo perezoso of a Spanish professor), I started The GIrl WIth the Dragon Tattoo. On the train home this evening I reached page 398 (out of 587), which also happens to be the climactic and terrible scene with the cat. If you've read it, you know the scene I mean. Alas, poor Tjorven!

I haven't even seen the Swedish film adaptation yet, so I have no opinion on whether the coming American one is redundant. But every time Blomqvist falls into bed with yet another woman, I become more convinced that the casting of Daniel Craig is entirely appropriate.

I will probably finish the book by the end of the weekend, most of which I will need to spend studying for two finals next week, so this is likely my last chance to go on record with a few predictions.

Warning: spoilers (?) behind the cut. Also, if you haven't read this book, a distinct possibility of boredom.Collapse )

Extreme fic avoidance
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I'm writing this from my office, where I arrived this morning at 8:30 with the intention to spend the morning working on a giant mailing that really should have been finished before the holidays and is going to cause me considerable pain upon my return next week when I have to tell my co-workers that yes, incredibly, it's still not finished. As my reward for coming in to work on a day off (my office is technically closed today), I was then going to spend the afternoon working on my long-neglected Snape fic.

It's past 4:30, and I think I might actually prefer going back to work on the mailing for the last few minutes before the guard kicks me out. You know that feeling of unreality, of can't get there from here, that you sometimes encounter when trying to return to a writing project you've set aside for weeks? The feeling you have when, in trying valiantly to arrive in the Writing Zone, you Splinch yourself? I haz it, in spades.


 
I've been trying to make myself write since my vacation began on the 17th. Instead, I've seen no fewer than seven movies (including, happily, Velvet Goldmine, which I've only had out from Netflix since April); cleaned my apartment;  finally called Apple about my desktop computer that crashed in early December (the prognosis is not good, and my Apple Care plan has conveniently expired); gone to a bunch of fancy-schmancy NYC coffee places to sample fancy-schmancy brewed-to-order beverages (cheaper than fancy-schmancy dinners, that's my reasoning); attempted to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Spanish (despite the Harry Potter element, this is a LOT like work); shopped for some hardcore, old-school wellies in the wake of the Slushpocalypse; gone into the office several times to work halfassedly on the mailing; and I don't know what all else. The usual life-maintenance stuff and trivial shit that always eats up half the day, whether you're working or not.

I haven't posted a new installment of the fic since chapter five went up in October. From the outside, I'm sure this looks like a classic case of WIP author flakeout, but it really wasn't. I just couldn't handle a full-time job, plus two night classes**, plus the fic. I wanted to be writing the fic all that time; Lord knows I would rather think about Snape than about how to use twelve unrelated Spanish words in a single paragraph. Now that I have the time, it seems I would rather do anything else.

And yet the writing needs to happen now, while it can. I'll be taking two classes in the spring semester also, so the time crunch is not going away any time soon. At the very least, I need to get chapter six posted, as an indication that I haven't flaked out/lost interest. The only problem (well, one of the problems) is that chapter six is, by my own reckoning, kind of boring. Several commenters who've followed along with the fic so far have been kind enough to imply that they were looking forward to the next installment, but chapter six will be rather a poor reward for a nearly three-month wait. Chapter seven is better, and an ideal scenario would have me posting it simultaneously with chapter six to sweeten the pot, but it needs even more work than chapter six does; whole sections are still unwritten.

Now might also be an opportune moment to finally say thank you to the mystery reader who nominated my fic for a Deathly Hallows Award for Best WIP. It didn't win - nor, given my nonexistent progress on the thing, should it have. But it was gratifying to have proof that someone had read it and remembered it for longer than ten seconds after they'd finished. So, whoever you are, mystery nominator - thank you. I'd like to promise I'll continue to justify your attention with a new installment just any old day now, but I've already learned that making promises and predictions about this fic will only get me in trouble. I'll do what I can, as soon as I can.

(I have a feeling that anyone reading this who's interested in reading the fic, "Advanced Potion-Making," has already done so, but for the record, it's here: marauderbigbang.dreamwidth.org/2604.html)

In the meantime: Happy 2011.


*This song sounded so nice over the opening credits of Velvet Goldmine that it made me put Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, an album I'd half-listened to and filed away for later, back into heavy rotation. It's good!

**Grades were just posted, and *feels vindicated, damn right* I got A's in both classes, so the fic was not sacrificed for nothing. Also, I still have my job, and under the circumstances this is something of an accomplishment too.

Redundant, ill-timed Deathly Hallows musings
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Not that I have time to be writing this or anything, but by next weekend when I can see this movie again my thoughts won’t be fresh. For a few minutes at least, DH should get to take precedence over my fucking Spanish oral report and the additional tarea for tomorrow which mi querida profesora hasn’t bothered to email to me after five days. I really don’t care that it’s a holiday weekend. I’m not on holiday. Why should she get to be? /bitterness

I thought the movie was a rousing success on two major fronts, easily overwhelming the inevitable quibbles. One was the fact of its being a great (the best so far) Trio movie. Two was the visuals.

The interaction amongst H-R-H held the screen so well on its own that I scarcely missed Hogwarts, which represents a significant one-upping of JKR by Yates. Nor did I miss the adult acting royalty while they were away. Yeah, DanRad and friends are riding a huge cumulative wave of audience affection, goodwill and haircut envy by now, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that The Kids Really Brought It.

Asymmetrically buttoned sweater jackets FTW!

Though it contained some unintentionally (?) awkward and ambiguous moments that threatened to derail the scene, I vote “aye” on the Harry/Hermione dance. I fear that even when it’s confined to the platonic level, DanRad’s chemistry with EmWat is greater than whatever he’s got going with Bonnie Wright, so there’s that. Although, actually, I admit to finding their blurrily topless kiss during the Horcrux exorcism scene rather sexy. Maybe it’s just that the Trio are so bursting with pulchritude lately that I’m dying to see them get it on with someone, anyone; even uninspired and/or canon ships would seem OK to me at this point. Even so, I was startled by and not necessarily on board with the amount of skin Bonnie Wright flashed DanRad in the highly unsubtle “zip me up” scene. It was kind of a good job that earless George walked in on them when he did, IMO.

My report is not ready and it's David Yates' fault. Fuck!Collapse )
 

Mi punto de romper (My breaking point)
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Last night in Spanish class, tuve un arrebato – I had a fit – when our professor assigned the homework for Wednesday’s class. It consisted of:

  • Writing a one-sentence synopsis of each paragraph of the short story we had read for that night’s class. The story, “Cine Prado” by the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska, is three pages long, 2000 words, 13 paragraphs. It is a reasonably advanced, if highly repetitive and tiresome, account of a movie buff who, mortally offended by the indecent onscreen behavior of his favorite actress, is writing her a “Dear Francoise” breakup letter (the actress in question is Francoise Arnoul, if that name means anything to you).
  • Writing a short composition (preferably a single sentence, I think, though I’m not totally clear on this because mi comprensión es como mierda – my comprehension is shit) using twelve unrelated Spanish words selected by various members of the class. (We are supposed to come to each class with una palabra nueva, a word that is new to us, and provide its definition in Spanish, plus synonyms and antonyms where applicable. Three people are chosen out of the class to write their words, definiciónes, etc., on the blackboard. These 12 words were the words presented in each of the last four classes.) The words are:




  1. Cifra (a code which requires a key to decipher)
  2. Estudio de grabación (recording studio)
  3. Ramo (a bouquet, as of flowers)
  4. Respaldar (to support or back up)
  5. Aguafiestas (“party pooper”)
  6. Travesura (misconduct or trickery)
  7. Gorronear (to mooch)
  8. Rezar (to recite religious text)
  9. Pesadilla (a nightmare)
  10. Declarar (like it sounds – to declare)
  11. Clarucho (soaked, drenched)
  12. Empujar (to shove, thrust)
Our sentence using these twelve words doesn’t have to be great literature, but it is supposed to be somewhat coherent.

¡NO MÁS! Collapse )

The Snapefic has landed, bumpily
fire_everything
Oy, but the posting of this fic has been a comedy of errors. First I was going to post it, then the Marauder mods were, then I was, except that I didn't have the login info to get in. Then I got the login info, but it was for the LJ end of the Bang rather than the DreamWidth end (because all the fics in this Bang are over 20,000 words, they were posted on DreamWidth to avoid the LJ character limit, then linked back), then I got the DW info and posted the fic, but the post was invisible on LJ because I didn't realize the header had to be posted to LJ while the fic itself was posted to DW. Even now there's an issue with the banner that one of my artists contributed, which hopefully will be fixed shortly.

But the thing itself is finally up, right over here: marauderbigbang.dreamwidth.org/2604.html

If for some reason that doesn't work, the link to the Marauder LJ site is community.livejournal.com/marauderbigbang/.

Have at it!

"Advanced Potion-Making": Thanks, props and gifts of non-toxic mead
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My long-ass fic about Snape, Advanced Potion-Making, will begin posting later today at the Marauder Big Bang site (community.livejournal.com/marauderbigbang/). (I’ll add a direct link to the initial post as soon as I have one).

Back home at my own LJ, however, there are several additional people and phenomena whose input and contributions to the fic (direct, indirect or subliminal) I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge.

• The Harry Potter Wikia and the Harry Potter Lexicon. I might have been able to write the fic without these two sources, but it would have taken three times as long and the fun of researching would have felt much less communal.

• The entire staff of Snapecast. These guys provided me with my entry point into the Snape fandom a little over a year ago, and did much not only to assist the thought process that guided my writing, but to reassure me that there was a whole audience out there that would care just as much about the points I was raising as I did. So many times, while listening to back episodes, I’d hear Becca or Rachael or Rose or Shannon express a wish for something to happen in a fic – Snape having his revenge on James Potter, for instance, or an answer to the question “Who taught Snape Occlumency, anyway?” – and exclaim, “I’m writing that! Really I am! Just wait!” If this story answers to any of those expressed fanfictional needs, I will be delighted.

Not featured in this fic

The Snapecast folks also provided me with a crucial reminder that there should be at least a little kink in this story. The Potions Master is a guy sufficiently lacking in even the basics of human affection that I actually think he’d get more than most people out of simple vanilla things, but I mean…this is Snape we’re talking about. Working Molly Weasley’s kitchen table into the mix (as per one Snapecaster’s expressed wish) proved logistically impossible (Molly Weasley herself is not in this fic, for one thing), but hopefully you will enjoy what I’ve come up with as a substitute.
 
• drinkingcocoa, a terrifically good writer and Harry Potter textual analyst, for her “Fully Knowable Severus Snape” essay, presented at Azkatraz in 2009 and posted at her journal here (drinkingcocoa.livejournal.com/24106.html). Her point about Snape and defense informed (among other things) my thinking about whether Snape had a different Patronus pre-silver doe and what it might have been; echoes of her thoughts about beauty and ugliness have also found their way into the story at several different points.

• Everyone on my friends list who engaged me in passionately nerdy discussion of the Potterverse, Jo Rowling, and Snape over the past year. Your assertions, questions and musings all found their way into the brain stew from whence this fic emerged. Deserving of particular shout-outs are (in alpha order) driftingquilldrinkingcocoakellychamblisspennswoods, and shyfoxling . Thanks, y’all!

• Finally, during the early stages of the writing of this fic, I listened to three songs from the Marauder era so repeatedly that they became its unofficial soundtrack, and it was with difficulty that I resisted the temptation to write one of them into the story. First, the Who’s “Bargain” (a somewhat Snilyish song, although Snape’s life following Lily’s death is no bargain and no one knows that better than he does); second, two songs about the sort of adolescent sex that Snape - and, in this story, Lily - (almost!) never had: “Go All the Way” by the Raspberries and “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones. All three are great songs that stood up well under slightly obsessive play. So thanks also to Pete Townshend; Eric Carmen and Wally Bryson; and J.J. O’Neil. Actually, thanks should go to Pete Townshend just on general principles; he is one of my favorite people.

Mi vida loca, plus a Snapefic update
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I feel a bit of a churl. For the last month I’ve had just enough spare time and energy to read f-listy posts as they went by, but not enough for the back-and-forth of commenting. This despite the fact that several of you were undergoing crises of fandom identity, making declarations of sexual identity, and posting delightful updates about your lives and kids. Since the posts on which I coulda/woulda/shoulda commented are all long gone by now, here is a brief summary of the responses I would have liked to have made to them at the time:

  • shyfoxling, please don’t leave the fandom! In spite of your supposed lack of contribution, you have somehow managed to become one of my favorite folks to hairsplit trivial points of Potter lore with. I hope you’re feeling better about stuff lately.
  • kellychambliss, in the words of a late-twentieth-century cinema classic, “I just know you’re gonna find your bike, Pee-wee!” If this makes absolutely no sense to you, how about “I hope you find your button, Snape"? OK, maybe I should just say it in English: I hope you get your fanfic groove back!
  • stupid_drawings, your post about asexuality was one of the best things I’ve read online in the last few months. But since about a hundred other people had already pointed out what was great about it by the time I got there, I kinda let it slide. Sorry about that. But it was still great!
  • drinkingcocoa, your girls are awesome. They have rockin’ hairstyles, too!

I really, seriously need a Time-Turner this semester. See the gory details below!

Perhaps the easiest way to explain why I haven’t had two extra brain cells to rub together lately is to make a list of the various things that have been in my handbag over the last few weeks (not, thankfully, at the same time).

Who cares? Get to the part about Snape!Collapse )

Reading matter quandary
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After a month’s worth of distractions and interruptions, I reached the end of Richard Price’s Clockers on the train this morning. Price is excellent, and he’s a New York writer (in subject matter, I mean, not residence). I’ll be reading more of him; I may even finally see The Color of Money because of him. What’s more, I can now finally see the film adaptation of Clockers, only fifteen years after it was released. Sorry about that, Spike.

This also means that new reading matter needs to be obtained at lunchtime. Not that I don’t have at least fifty unread books at home, but that’s not how these things work. It just isn’t their time, you know?

The candidates for lunchtime literary procurement are Eat Pray Love (if you’re rolling your eyes right now, I understand) and Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal. Below is a comparative study of the pros and cons of each choice.

I think the cover design actually deserves a bit of the credit for the commercial success of this book.

Eat Pray Love
Pros
  • Could finally develop an informed, independent opinion on the EPL phenomenon
  • Am interested in how Gilbert’s thought process leading to the decision not to have children compares to my own
  • If I start it now, could see the adaptation after the opening weekend crowds have dissipated but before it leaves theaters, and given the utter stasis of my Netflix queue lately, theater viewings are a movie’s only sure alternative to the void
  • Attractive cover, supple binding
  • Borders is ten minutes away and the book is undoubtedly on display within ten feet of the door
Cons
  • Looking like a walking gender cliché on the subway
  • Looking like a literary lemming on the subway
  • Providing free advertising for the book/movie on the subway

How could they possibly let a bad Spanish translation happen? It's only the second or third largest market in the world, you know?

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal
Pros
  • Would help my Spanish reading skills (and, if I read it aloud, oral skills) not to languish between now and the start of fall classes on August 26th
  • Might provide factual and/or spiritual assistance in the writing of my Snape fic (now due to the Marauder Big Bang mods on September 10)
  • Would provide an amusing spectacle for my fellow subway riders
  • It’s Harry Potter
Cons
  • Several Amazon reviews cast deep doubt on the quality of the translation. Unless there is some entrenched Latin American cultural antipathy toward the keeping of toads as pets that I’m unaware of, it is very worrisome to learn that in this translation, Trevor is a turtle.
  • The nearest library branch that has it is 30 blocks away, so I’d have to get on the subway, then actually remember how to use the Dewey decimal system in order to locate it
  • I don’t know where the Spanish section of Borders is, and finding it would likely mean getting sucked deep into the bowels of the store. Then again, I probably ought to learn where the Spanish section is for future reference.
I’m leaning toward the Gilbert, but if Borders has Piedra filosofal too, the indecision may persist until the evening commute. I welcome flist-y input and persuasion.

Harry Potter y los Tiempos Verbales de la Muerte*
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I mentioned in the previous post that only one of my two weekend projects was Snape-related, but on second thought, why can’t studying for my final involve Snape as well? Please join me as I attempt to master and differentiate twelve, count ‘em, twelve Spanish verb tenses by using them to describe major Snape-related events from the Harry Potter series.

Come share with me the pain of the Spanish subjunctive, a shadow set of verb tenses that seemingly exist for no other reason than that the rulemaking dudes at the Royal Spanish Academy were unable to accept doubt, desire, and emotion as legitimate subjects for standard human language to address.

And if you happen to habla or escribe español yourself, by all means jump in and correct my errors! ¡Do it now, before it’s too late! (My final is on Tuesday night.) I am also open to nerdy discussions on the finer points of second-year Spanish grammar.

“¡No me llames cobarde!” A perfect example of a negative tú command in action!

In the beginning, there were only three verb tenses, all indicative, and life was simple and idyllic.

Más verbos que son necesarios, después del corte.Collapse )

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