frayadjacent: Portrait of Buffy, text says "Buffy is my homegirl" (BtVS: Buffy is my homegirl)
[livejournal.com profile] kikimay asked for my Top 5 Buffyverse women!

Buffy Summers: For the ways she both resists and embraces her calling. For her kindness. For her determination. Because I love her sweet, silly early season self and her relatively hard, battle-worn late season self. Because she loves cheesy puns and figure skating and has a stuffed pig named Mr Gordo. Because the mission matters to her. Because she gets a visceral joy from slaying, and she knows that if she wasn't the Slayer, she'd lose an essential part of herself. Because she loves as deeply and brightly as the First Slayer tells her she does, and she expresses that love most fully not to a boyfriend, but to her sister.

Because her lot fucking sucks, and when she realises she can change it, can share her power and responsibility, she does.

Willow Rosenberg: I don't admire Willow the way I do Buffy, but I feel a lot of affection and sympathy for her and am in awe of the quality of her character arc over the show's seven seasons. Willow is intelligent, hard-working, ambitious and arrogant. She's insecure and in need of approval, and unlike Buffy and Tara, she doesn't have a super strong internal moral compass. She wants to fight the good fight alongside her friends, but she also wants to be important. She doesn't want to be wrong about anything ever, because if she isn't perfect then who will ever love her? If her friends don't need her, why would they want her around? She's at once complex and multifaceted yet very consistent. Sometimes she makes me angry, sometimes she makes me sick, but she is so very human and beautifully written and performed.

Cordelia Chase: it's possible I have a soft spot for pretty girls with hidden depths. She makes me laugh, she plays off other characters in a group incredibly well, and I love her transformation from selfish oblivious rich girl to a member of the team in Angel.

Tara MacLay: she brings a strength and emotional maturity to the Scoobies that no one else on either show possesses, with the interesting possible exception of Oz. The support she gives Buffy from "The Body" to "Older and Far Away" is wonderful and I love her so much for it. You deserved better, Tara.

Anya Jenkins: this last one was tough because I also love Dawn. Which matters more, my involuntary empathy for Dawn and admiration for how she grows in later seasons, or how much Anya makes me laugh? The episode "Selfless" was the eventual tiebreaker. Hands down my favorite character study episode -- when the character being studied isn't Buffy anyway.

Honorary mention (in addition to the one for Dawn) for Faith Lehane. She's a fantastic character, though funnily enough my favorite incarnation of her is on AtS S4/BtVS S7, when she's all emotionally mature and repenty. And when she arguably gets the least narrative attention.
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frayadjacent: Xena and Gab sexily staring into each other's eyes (Xena: Xena/Gab sexy)
This one is for [personal profile] endeni! I'm so sorry it's late.

I carry on about my love for my primary ship, Xena/Gabrielle, fairly often, at least for my level of dreamwidth talkiness. So I'll just say a few things that I love about this ship.

The first reason is that it's femslash, which I tend to go for more than het or guyslash (with the general acknowledgement that I'm not super shippy generally, and also the hopefully obvious caveat that I'm not criticising het or guyslash, just saying that it doesn't usually hit my buttons). Another reason: the characters have great chemistry together.

But the bigger reasons have to do with the kind of epic love story that Xena: Warrior Princess tells. Xena and Gabrielle's relationship is built on the kind of trust that comes from years of fighting alongside each other, seeing the best and worst in each other, and changing each other.

I also love that, while things like jealousy and insecurity exist in their relationship, it's not the primary source of drama in it (they're much too good at communicating for that, plus, like I said: years of trust). Their drama mainly comes from the ways that Xena's past comes back to haunt them. From their need to constantly negotiate the tensions between their love for each other, what kind of people they want to be, and what kind of people the world requires them to be.

I'd love to find an ace reading of Xena/Gabrielle, that presents their relationship as a powerful, emotionally strong and deeply committed asexual one. I think that would be cool. I think some of the Xena/Gabrielle "friendshippers" are probably homophobes and some of them are probably coming from a perspective like that one.

Other ships I like:

Root/Shaw from Person of Interest, my only antagonistic ship. Those two have amazing chemistry. (I stopped watching mid-S3, but [personal profile] goodbyebird's cap posts of Root/Shaw sometimes make me want to start again).

Buffy/Spike, but ONLY in season 7, and I like it as much as a non-sexual partnership as anything else. Their "I've seen the best and worst of you and fought at your side" thing is somewhat similar to Xena/Gabrielle in its appeal, though to a much lesser degree for me.

Mulan/Aurora in Once Upon a Time. I haven't watched since the mid-season hiatus last year, so my most recent thoughts on this one are that they disappointed me, but for a while there they were the butch/femme ship of my heart.

Willow/Tara, in seasons 4 & 5.

M'Lila/Lao Ma, in an AU where they both live. My only ship that isn't canon or super strong subtext, and entirely born out of vidding Become You and realising they'd be awesome together.

I feel like I should note that Tammi/Eric in Friday Night Lights would be my ship, except their ongoing conflict about how they prioritise Eric's career over Tammi's hits me way too close to home. It's well-handled by the show, but their relationship is often painful for me to watch.*

All in all, I'm a pretty boring shipper. I don't like relationship dynamics that seem unhealthy to me, I'm generally not into hateships, I am mostly delighted by loving, supportive, long-term (would not need to be monogamous, but usually are) partnerships. Especially if they are between women. I think this is related to why I have so few ships. ;)

*For the record, this is not an issue in my current relationship. I am one of the very few women scientists I know with a male partner who prioritises his career after mine.

frayadjacent: Close up of late-season Gabrielle in black & white (Xena: Gabrielle)
Your thoughts on the worldbuilding in The Steerswoman books. -- [personal profile] frith_in_thorns

 [Please note that, while there isn't a lot in the way of plot spoilers below, there are spoilers for things that many people really enjoy discovering as they read. If you haven't read at least the first two books but are considering it, I'd give this a pass for now.]

I have to admit I haven't given this question as much thought as I could, mostly because world building isn't something I pay a ton of attention to when I read. Not that it isn't interesting or important! But unless it hits one of my specific interests -- how does this economic system work? does their weather/climate make sense? how is race socially constructed in this society (and what does it mean if it isn't)? -- I don't notice a lot. That being said, I was mostly happy with the world-building in the Steerswoman books, and I'll talk a little bit more about why.

First off, the world that we are introduced to in the first book has some pretty cool features, namely the existence of the Steerswomen themselves, but also the general lack of sexism in the broader society. Women are warriors, soldiers, sailors, farmers, merchants, and even wizards. I feel like a lot of fiction, but this is probably more true of film and television than books, create societies that they claim are nonsexist, but utterly fail to actually show that. Having not just the two main characters be women, but also having many of the people from all walks of life that they encounter also be women was incredibly refreshing to read. As was the general respect given to Rowan and Bel by most characters. They didn't have to constantly prove themselves to people who didn't think women could be strong or smart.

(Sadly, the same cannot be said for representation of LGBTQIA characters or orientations, sadly.)

But when I think about the world-building in this series, I don't think so much about descriptions of the landscapes and social structures as I do the slowly unfolding discovery that the world is not what it seems, and in fact the book is not even the genre we thought it was. Of course this has huge ramifications for the landscapes and social structures and technology and everything else, but it plays out differently than in most books I've read because of the way that the reader is discovering things alongside the characters, as well as being given exposition about the world that the characters already know.

Speaking of exposition, the steerswoman, with her emphasis on seeking and sharing information and thinking things through carefully, is a nicely non-clumsy voice for explaining the world to readers. She's kind of like Giles that way. :)

Anyway, I liked how aspects of the world building that initially seemed incidental, such as the units for distance used by different peoples, turns out to be important clues. When Rowan uses miles and feet, I didn't really think anything of it, but later when Bel uses meters and kilometers, the world they are in suddenly seems connected to the world that we are in in a very different way than I originally imagined. The world at the start of the book seems like a less patriarchal version of the sort of mythic vaguely late feudalist or early capitalist Europe that is standard fare in many Western fantasy novels. By the end of The Outskirters Secret, it seems much more likely that their peoples are the cultural descendents of Europe and the people that Europe has colonized.

The reason I put it that way is because while the names of characters and towns suggests western European origin, the range of skin color and hair color and texture that various characters are described as having, along with a complete absence of discussion about race, hints to me that this is meant to be some sort of "post-racial because everybody is mixed race" (or, I suppose, "everybody is mixed race because we're post racial") world. Which is not something I'm super fond of, but I'm glad at least that many characters are described as dark-skinned. And perhaps I'm being ungenerous in my interpretation.

Also, I know this is not important to very many people, but I have to give Rosemary Kirstein a shout out for some very impressive dynamic meteorology in The Outskirters Secret. Her descriptions of what kind of weather would be caused by a very intense heating of a huge strip of land was pretty on point. I secretly wanted a short story where Rowan establishes the first steerswoman school of meteorology after those events! And actually speaking of weather and world building, it is a bit funny that the Steerswomen are documenting every change in every stream but don't seem to have any weather stations. I would think at the very least they could manage a mercury or alcohol thermometer and a wind vane in each town. And I do remember some generally confusing inconsistencies in what kind of knowledge and technologies Rowan's people had, although I can't think of any examples right now.

At any rate, there are still so many unanswered questions in that series, many of which revolve around the origins of Rowan and Bel's societies and how they came to not only lose a lot of technology but apparently forgot that they ever had it. (Along with, of course, what the hell Slado is up to, but that doesn't fall under world-building in my head.) I have to admit that I had hoped that after four books that I know more about the world and its back story then I do, but I also have faith that it will all be explained in due time. Assuming anyway that Kirstein finishes the series. In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying the discussion on James Nicholl's reviews. As well as being reminded that I should re-read these books because I've already forgotten a ton.

frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran on a beach reading excitedly (!reading)
Questions from [personal profile] chaila:

Favorite books you read this year?

Ha ha ha, is this a leading question? The answer is definitely The Steerswoman series, by Rosemary Kirstein. Though I read some others I liked, most notably Gullstruck Island by Francis Hardinge, The Steerswoman really won my heart. It was so full of love and sympathy for its characters. Like I was just swelling with indescribable love for so many of them! Bel, Steffie, Rowan, Zenna, so many Outskirters whose names I can't recall right now...<3 <3 <3

Its world was so refreshingly lacking in patriarchy. It had accurate meteorology! And the journey of discovering what the world was really about has been so great. I loved reading Rowan's thought process and working through the reasoning with her. I can't wait for more! Also I can't wait to re-read all the books; I have a feeling I'll be coming back to all of these. And maybe when I do I'll have more intelligent things to say, mostly I want to flail at them right now. And as I was writing this and thinking about tomorrow's post I started reading James Nicholl's review of The Outskirter's Secret and later (I never did read those reviews when reading the books) and now I *really* want to re-read. Speaking of ...

Are there any books that you always return and reread?

Not really, not since I was a kid. However, I tend to return to the same authors time and again. Almost all of my fiction reading from age 18 to about 24 was Ursula K Le Guin. I lived in a college town with a fantastic used bookstore that had almost everything she'd ever written on its shelves, and between that and the library I managed to get my hands on her entire oeuvre prior to 2004 or 2005 (when I stopped reading her new work). I discarded a few of her early novels -- I think I read Rocannon's World, her first novel, but neither of the two that came after despite having paid money for the trilogy. More shockingly, perhaps, I threw down The Left Hand of Darkness in disgust with her insistence on using male pronouns for characters who had no gender. I never got more than about 50 pages in, and never tried it again. Later I felt partially vindicated when I read an essay where she self-criticises that choice.

But I did reread most of my favorites: The Dispossessed, The Earthsea Cycle, The Telling, The Compass Rose, The Birthday of the World, and A Fisherman of the Inland Sea. The last three of these are short story collections; many of the stories are set in the Hainish universe, which I love and always longed for more of. And the last book contains what's likely my favorite short story ever: "Another Story". And The Birthday of the World contains a story set in the same world as The Left Hand of Darkness, but with a more thoughtful presentation of sex, gender, and pronouns, and it's a wonderful story.

As much as I loved Four Ways to Forgiveness, I was never able to reread it because it's so violent.

I got rid of almost all of my books, including all of my Le Guin, when I moved to Australia. Writing this is making me wish I had her stuff on hand, and it looks like a lot of it might not be available digitally. Oh well.

I've also reread the Harry Potter books and His Dark Materials, but again, only once. And Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are high on my reread list. I have a strong impulse to return to fiction I know I love and an equally strong feeling that I aught to be more open to trying new things; the result is a stalemate where I don't read as much fiction as I used to.

Though part of it is also that I enjoy non-fiction as well. But I'm even less inclined to re-read that. :)
frayadjacent: Buffy looking to the side in black and white (Default)
[personal profile] silverr posted "reverse December meme" questions, and I want to keep up the posting momentum after December, so I've decided to take a few of them on for January.

1. What do you think the five most important SFF/genre shows for television newbies trying to get into visual media are (bonus from [personal profile] renay!)
2. First book you can remember reading?
5. Favorite "comfort food"?
6. Favorite type of games?
8. What's been your best fandom experience to date? What made it great?
10. Do you read comic books? Why or why not?
14. Favorite science show/book?
16. If you could be a FTL, indestructible spaceship, where would you go?
18. Things that aggravate you the most?
20. Favorite food or type of cuisine?
21. What superpower/ability would you most like to have?
22. Favorite period of history? (Like, if you could go back and visit any place/era as a ghost, where & when would you go?)
24. Your favorite fictional world -- and would you want to live there if you could?
26. Favorite fictional critter?
frayadjacent: Xena standing with Argo in a field, petting her face (Xena: Xena&Argo <3)
ETA:  This is probably as many posts as I can handle in a month, but if you still want to leave a prompt, feel free and I'll get to it after the New Year!

Last year I did the December posting meme in January because I had out-of-continent visitors for much of the month, but this year I can do it at the same time as anyone else! So:

Pick a date below and give me a topic, and I'll ramble on. It can be fandom-related or not. Pretty much anything you've ever seen me post about unlocked, or comment on in other venues, is fair game. If a topic is uncomfortable for me (too personal or potentially identifying) or simply something I know very little about (unfamiliar canon, say), I may ask you to make a second choice. If you want to request more than one topic feel free, but in the unlikely event that I get more than 25 or so requests I may pick and choose between them.

(Wording snagged and adapted from various versions of the meme, but mainly [personal profile] renay's.)


ETA:  If you want a really specific date, keep in mind that I'll post on the day you request in my time zone -- nearly a full day ahead of North America and half a day ahead of Europe.

December 1: books ([personal profile] chaila)
December 2: worldbuilding in The Steerswoman books ([personal profile] frith_in_thorns)
December 3:
December 4: favourite ships ([personal profile] endeni)
December 5: if you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? ([personal profile] siria)
December 6: Top 5 Buffyverse women ([livejournal.com profile] kikimay)
December 7:
December 8: US/Aussie living ([personal profile] st_aurafina)
December 9: BUSY WEEK, NO MORE POSTS
December 10: Elementary: Joan, Marcus, fic ([personal profile] akamarykate)
December 11: Top 5 changes you'd make to Buffyverse canon ([livejournal.com profile] velvetwhip)
December 12: BUSY WEEK, NO MORE POSTS
December 13:
December 14:
December 15: Catherine Weaver, Savannah, James Ellison and John Henry: the OTHER family in The Sarah Connor Chronicles ([personal profile] selenak)
December 16: Indigo Girls ([personal profile] raven)
December 17:
December 18: dead vid bunnies ([livejournal.com profile] rbfvid)
December 19: vids that inspired me most ([livejournal.com profile] rbfvid)
December 20:
December 21: favourite weather ([personal profile] umadoshi)
December 22:
December 23:
December 24: Climate change ([personal profile] isis)
December 25:
December 26:
December 27: Xena fic ([personal profile] luzula)
December 28: Sarah and Mrs. S ([personal profile] goodbyebird)
December 29:
December 30: Offline
December 31: Offline

frayadjacent: The scoobies outside the school bus from "Chosen" (BtVS: Scooby Gang (Chosen))
[personal profile] luzula's prompt: what is the most important lesson you've learned about practical organizing during the years you've been active?

In a word (or, uh, two): replace yourself.

The fundamental idea behind this is that activism and political organizing is not about organizing events or campaigns, it's about organizing people.  It's about supporting people to develop the kind of skills and habits and motivation to organize themselves and each other.

And the big thing about this is that it takes more work, more time, and more effort to develop new members of a group than it does to just do stuff yourself. 

Let's say you're a part of a group that supports tenants who are organizing to fight for better conditions in their apartment building.  So you've knocked on doors, you've met a few people in the building who are pissed off about the mold and the deposit theft and want to fight the landlord.  One of the first things you all might want to know is information about the landlord.  Where are their other properties?  Do they have other business connections?  Where do they live? 

If you've done this type of organizing in the past, you might know exactly what websites and library resources and government offices you can use to get this information.  But the point isn't just to get the information, it's to support the new people you've met who want to develop their skills and be better organizers. 

So you work with them.  This might mean sitting with them in a coffee shop and looking up relevant information together.  It probably means inviting them -- and strongly encouraging them to come -- to future door-knocking.  It means role-playing with them so they can practice talking with their neighbors about issues affecting them. 

Even if they have previous organizing experience, most new people are not going to be as emotionally invested in a project as you are, just because they haven't been involved in it very long.  So it still means reaching out, calling them to ask what they think of the last rally or the latest decision the group made. 

If your group has open meetings, it means taking time to talk to new people who show up.  It also means reviewing how meetings work, how decisions are made, and so forth, at the beginning of meetings so that new people can follow what's happening and plug in.

This kind of work can build the overall capacity of an organization by focusing on developing *people*. 

I'm still taking prompts for future posts.
frayadjacent: Buffy snarling (BtVS: Badass Buffy)
[personal profile] chaila's prompt: three of your favorite vids by other people and why. :)

To make it easier to narrow it down to three, I'm going to interpret favorite as "vids I watched obsessively in 2013".

[personal profile] charmax's Devotion (Xena: Warrior Princess; Xena/Gabrielle)

MY FEELS ALL OVER THE SCREEN LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.  This is a beautifully made vid that has made it impossible to not think "Xena" when I hear Amy Ray sing, and "Gabrielle" when I hear Emily Sailers.  I probably watched this, teary-eyed and all, every day for like a month after finishing Xena.  Because basically I was like OMG OTP I FINALLY UNDERSTAND SHIPPING IS THIS HOW FANNISHNESS FEELS TO OTHER PEOPLE? 

Alas, this was the only Xena vid I could find that really resonated with my love of this pairing.  Which is part of why I had to make another one.  :D

[personal profile] chaila's Keep the Streets Empty For Me (Twilight; Bella/Vampirism)

I don't think I've ever seen a vid that so fundamentally changed the way I thought about a source before.  And I've never watched a vid on repeat that wasn't one of my main fandoms, except this one.  First off, I love the use of Bella's eyes and her gaze.  I love how often she's just LOOKING, WATCHING, so intently.  There are a few moments where she's looking at Edward and he's looking back and I expect her to look away and SHE DOESN'T.  I LOVE THAT.  The use of text, illustrations, and nature imagery in the vid is also fantastic.  It's a really effective way to convey the message without feeling even slightly anvilicious.  Plus the editing and musicality is super pretty and well-done, but what really excites me about this vid is that those qualities aren't just ends in themselves: they're used to make a super interesting point.  And it makes that point so well.

[personal profile] shati's Boulevard of (Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Slayer Ensemble)

My favorite Buffy vids are the ones that explore what it means to be a Slayer, and I love this one's emphasis on relationships between slayers.   I almost die of happiness at the second "my shadow's the only one that walks beside me", which completely reinterprets that line just like a spoilery thing that happened ).  (Also can be interpreted as a femslash vid, though I don't think of it that way.)

Lately I have become totally obsessed with the editing techniques shati uses, especially the intercutting and repeated returns to the same or similar clips throughout the vid.  It's super effective at drawing out themes that connect different characters, and showing how they change over the course of the series.  The really frequent intercutting between a few different scenes -- e.g., the Kendra section that intercuts between Kendra & Buffy NotHugging and a spoilery thing that happened ) -- are really powerful, and so different from my own vidding style.  I LOVE it, and I've been studying it a lot lately and trying to figure out exactly how it works so I can STEAL IT.

I still have plenty of days left if anyone wants to prompt me.

frayadjacent: Elementary: Joan smiling with a cup of tea (Elementary: Joan smiling with tea)
I was travelling too much in December, and will be again in February, but January is gloriously travel-free.  So I'm excited to do this meme!  I'm gonna try this posting every day thing again, so I'll probably do the TV meme on days that don't get picked.

Pick a date in January. Pick a topic. On the date you choose I will post something about that topic. It can be fandom-related or not. Pretty much anything you've ever seen me post about unlocked, or comment on in other venues, is fair game. If a topic is uncomfortable for me (too personal or potentially identifying) or simply something I know very little about (unfamiliar canon, say), I may ask you to make a second choice. If you want to request more than one topic, pick a different day for each.

Keep in mind: I'm in Australia, which is ~a day ahead of most of you.  So, unless you're near my time zone, assume I'll post a day before the day you pick, from your point of view.

Available dates )

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frayadjacent: Buffy looking to the side in black and white (Default)
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