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Send me a Trope and I’ll rate it!

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Meme provided by [community profile] journalmemes. Also [personal profile] isabellerecs.

Sick Days

Jan. 24th, 2019 12:15 am
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Hi all. I'm trying to remember where my last update had me in this ages-long month. I think the last time I remember being on was on like the 4th except for trying in vain to keep up with snowflake days. Anyway, I'll go over recent events. Forgive me if it is a rehash.

So back in December, I was finishing up an interim position for a lady who'd had a baby. I knew that it would be ending when winter break came around as the teacher planned to return to school when it resumed in January. I talked to the central office people to ask if they had anything else for me to do, full-time or interim. They informed me that they had a special ed position starting in January if I would be willing to do it; they couldn't find a full-time special ed teacher for it. I agreed and, on the last day of school in December, went to meet with the teacher I was slotted to take over for temporarily. She was having a surgery on a ligament or tendon or something in her leg, and they expected her to need to stay off of it for six to eight weeks.

When school started back on January 3rd, I was there. I did the work through the rest of that week, and as soon as I took a breath and thought that it would actually be kind of cool, I got a call from the office. They explained to me that because to teacher I was doing the interim term for had a surgery during which they were not able to do the full extent of repairs they had hoped to, even though they apparently were able to do some of it, that the healing process wasn't going to be as long either. Therefore, the doctor had given her permission to return to work that Monday. I worked for two days instead of six weeks.

The school system I have been working for is so much better than the one I worked for the previous year. However, they simply haven't had a full-time position for me. They said they would put me on the substitute lists for all of their schools, but this is a county system, and they haven't switched over to the phone and internet-based system for substitute teachers. This means that it is all manual, and it has a lot to do with teachers or school representatives setting up substitutes. In a way, it's mildly reassuring on a conceptual level, but it also means that I am having to slowly get my feet wet with people being willing to call me. It also means that I am very poor again, making about $35 a day when I get to work at all when I thought making $1k a month was pretty meager.

I think I've worked five or six days this month???

I spent a week barely leaving the parsonage. I finally started getting called late last week, at least. I worked Wednesday-Friday. Then, Sunday morning, I awakened with a telltale burn in the back of my throat. Subbing for elementary for the first time in a while will get your adult immune system EVERY time. I was also aware that due to some weather, they probably would be closed on Monday despite their efforts to take MLK Day back as a day off because of time missed last semester. One great (if frustrating) thing about this system - lots of winter weather delays and cancellations. They just don't have the infrastructure to deal with it up in the mountains. It's sometimes hilarious. "Snow Day - but where???"

I came home Sunday afternoon after church. Have been at my parents' house since. I'm getting well enough to feel mopey. I think I'm going to be able to work again on Friday, which is my birthday. No one has mentioned it at all except for me. I don't know if my parents plan to acknowledge it or just can't afford to or what. I know it probably shouldn't matter, and I don't have any local friends. I'll be 28.

Anyway, between literally being sick and the random time not working, I feel really upside down and confused in my perception of time. I also find myself being pointlessly envious of anything and everything. I feel like a potato-like blob, but I feel envious of people who... have their lives together, have predictable incomes, have significant others, have kids, get to go to anime cons, get to go to the movies, get to go anywhere at all with a peer... and the list I'm sure could go on. And yet, I don't really know where to start with any of it, and money may not buy happiness, but it sure does stave off a lot of things that cause paralysis and misery.
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Day 4 - Comment to someone you haven't ever interacted with before or introduce yourself to someone you've interacted with and friend/follow them.

Did this.

Promote three communities, challenges, blogs, pages, Twitters, Tumblrs or platforms and explain why you love them.

My friend [ profile] morethanprinceofcats is honestly the thing I miss most about being on tumblr regularly. She seems to have had neither cause nor motivation to move anywhere else, but her blog is honestly just so good. It is a combination of a peaceful flow of her beautiful aesthetic and a lot of really hard-hitting, good media criticism that she isn't trying to impress the Fandom Powers That Be with and I just love her a lot even if we don't talk much.

Reconnected with an internet person I really like overall through her running [ profile] incorrectfateqs instead of just on tumblr. I love these things, so much. Fate is such a heavy, dense mythology and story that the silliness for it, canon or fanon, is needed and great.

Can I cheat and just go with dreamwidth for my last recommendation? It's circular and not going to lead anywhere new, but I just really enjoy having this type of outlet again. It's so much less pressure than other blogging or microblogging platforms, and it is so "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in terms of its functionality. If you're willing to read the documentation you can do almost anything with it, and there isn't the pressure to have this pristine white page where you only ever talk in pt. 5 typeface.

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Day 3

In your own space, share a favorite piece of original canon (a TV episode, a song, a favorite interview, a book, a scene from a movie, etc) and explain why you love it so much.

"You Are My King" - Scene from Fate/Zero

Hmmm... there are a lot of things I could go with, and if I tried to be equitable and to share a bit of everything I loved, then I would never finish this post. However, since I have been trying to stop feeling like I have such a strangely traumatic relationship with Fate/Type Moon, and I've been reading a bit of the VN and watching Zero when I can lately, the first thing that came to mind was a scene from Fate/Zero. I can't actually find it on YouTube or anything in full, but I can share the legit CrunchyRoll link and give a timestamp:

About 14:50-through the end of the scene: (Sub) (Dub)

Iskandar: I just remembered. There was something I meant to ask you.

Waver: Huh?

Iskandar: Waver Velvet, would you serve as my retainer?

Waver: You... You are my king. I will serve you, swearing fealty to you. I want to follow where you go! I want to share your dream!

Iskandar: Very well. As king, it is my duty to inspire others to dream. And as a retainer, it is your duty to see my dream through, and to pass tales down to future generations. Live on, Waver. Watch to the end, and then tell the story. Tell them of your king, of Iskandar's charge!

Throughout the last several scenes Waver and Rider | Iskandar, share, it is so clear that Waver has reached a point of attachment to and admiration of Iskandar that he does not want to let him go. He has become swept up in the majesty and terror of what they have been going through together, and he has learned to see the world through Iskandar's eyes with something he had never known or allowed himself to see before. Then, just knowing that Waver is willing to do that, Iskandar finds a means and an end to save Waver's life and does not shame him for his tears, as he would have before, and my heart is so full and so broken.

This whole episode is just gut-wrench after gut-wrench, but it never ceases to amaze me how much more attached I get to Waver as time goes on. I'm super excited to watch Episode 0 of the Case Files anime that I can't believe is happening - and I've even heard it's good! Waver starts out as a character who is both sympathetic and cocky, and he is the character whom you just know will die. Every moment, every time he does something stupid or impulsive or proud, you're waiting for it. But he doesn't. He survives. And this touching moment with Iskandar and him realizing a higher ideal, just simply not being practical and also finding some kind of passion in this sympathetic exercise makes me tear up every time. I would have to write a full essay on why "You Are My King," makes me DIE INSIDE but also SOAR WITH JOY, but I just... am so proud of Waver for standing there and staying on his feet, watching and knowing that Iskandar's time has come. He doesn't want it, but he accepts it, and I think maybe that is the biggest part of his character development, and there is something just almost ineffable about their relationship. I don't ship it. Some people do, but I don't. It's one of those things that, personally, I think has more meaning if one doesn't see it that way. But either way, it's just beautiful.

And if you don't feel like looking up the video, you can just listen to the score and hear how beautifully evocative it is. It is some of my favorite music ever. I almost tear up right on cue with the scene with the music, not because I've got it fully memorized or anything, but because it is so perfect at conveying this sublime, terrible emotion that is woven throughout the scene itself. Maybe it is because the Ionian Hetairoi has vanished BEFORE that big soaring choir, but I just need to lie down afterward.

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Day 2

Rec at least three fanworks that you didn’t create.

Being totally honest, I have been guilty of not reading as much as I should in fandom circles for a long time. I have been a very vocal proponent for giving feedback to the fanfic one does read, but I haven't been as good to seek out fic as I used to be. I read "real books" even less. Some English teacher I am, though I have always admitted that maybe I was more of a grammar and linguistics fan when it came to academics than a literature buff like most English teachers seem to be. I'm really hopeful and encouraged that I've been reading more fic and even more canon material more often since I've started focusing on spaces like DreamWidth rather than the endless, fruitless, silent scrolling on tumblr.

I do have a few things I can rec, though! Without question. I just hope that I can consume more at a steady and reasonable rate so that this won't be so lopsided in the future.

There is one, singular, amazing fanfic that I revisit over an over even when it isn't my main fandom wheelhouse and that I look at again and again to the point that it distracts me from even seeking out new fanworks...

Blue Sky by waffles

Portal, Chell/Wheatley

Meteors, signals, apologies, and that tricky little thing called humanity- four years after the events of Portal II, Wheatley's been handed a second chance, but it's not going to be plain sailing…

Portal, as a fandom, was a strange experience for me. I played it during a summer when I was having a lot of emotional growing pains and was petty isolated no matter what I seemed to do, even moreso than usual. I was trying to be healthy and also really itching to get out of the house, so between playing Portal and moping around, I took music with me to a state park a lot and did a bunch of walking. While walking, I daydreamed about Portal and the negative space in the subtly told story, even before I got to Portal 2 which has a much more developed, centralized narrative. I posted about it on tumblr one day, and from the tag I met someone who did a very excellent roleplaying rendition of GLaDOS. From there, I became a pretty well-known (for a moment) Chell RPer on tumblr, and while that didn't last long, I still RP Chell on a website called Pandora. She always come back to me.

Early on in my experience with the fandom, I got asked a lot if this fic had inspired the way I wrote Chell. It hadn't. I had never heard of it, and I have never considered shipping Chell and Wheatley at all. I mean, he's a robot ball? And not even that kind of robot. But this fic had a reputation. Lots of people loved it, and a few people hated it. The main reason for that response, I think, on both sides was how much it humanized Wheatley, quite literally. I just love the way this story is written. It is way up there with the novels I have managed to read as an adult. I am consumed with love for it every time I think about it.

It is not even that I "agree" or espouse every headcanon-y thing in it. If I have one major issue to take with it, it is the way in which this narrative and the fandom that likes Wheatley at large conflates the character of Wheatley and the person of Stephen Merchant together a bit too closely. I appreciate that way in which the office (as in, the UK The Office, I think a lot of the time) dynamics are translated into the Aperture environment - I think it's done brilliantly and in a way that is in line with the background canon we are given. However, I do think that there is some internal contradiction with the background given to Chell with regard to how she got involved in the story, given the canon, to make that part of the story more tropey meet ugly/cute. But it's so well done that I can overlook my few hang-ups with it. It is one of the most tightly and beautifully written stories I've ever read in terms of the fact that no detail is wasted, but it doesn't feel rush. It is rich, alive, and lovely, and one of the best plot or ship fics I've ever read.

A lot of people seem to think of fanvidding as a dated art, from what I can tell, but I absolutely love it. I had just gotten a little bit of prowess during the era of .avis and some kind of weird extension thing on Windows Movie Maker when the technology marched on forever. It is one of my dearest wishes to make fanvids again someday. I recently got a new external harddrive, and it is one of the things I hope to do as a result. I love fanvid as this very stand-alone and yet very communicative, transformative commentary on a canon. Some people manage to use fanvids to create convincing AUs, but it is often more of a comment or perspective on what is already there, and I see it almost as a flipside of the coin to what I love most about fanfic. There is one pair of videos by [ profile] KatrinDepp that are my favorite that I can ever think of.

I don't really ship Clara and Twelve per se, but I adore their relationship for the complicated mess it is. One of my biggest cool down and walk way moments with a Doctor Who conversation I ever had was someone who hated S8 and considered it out of character, because S8 and S9 of Doctor Who are two of my favorite narrative arcs ever.

These videos go together, one after the other, and contain spoilers for S8/S9 of Doctor Who. The second one is the BEST, but it means so much more with the first.

It's hard to come up with a third specific instance, if only because of the abundant number of fics I have received through fic exchanges. I don't want to be nepotistic by choosing one by a close personal friend, though I could recommend anything by my best friend [ profile] sheeana. However, one fic and other creator whom I'd consider a friendly face in fandom but more distant is a user named [personal profile] megkips / [ profile] megkips that I met through Fate fandom very early on in being invested enough to write fic.

One fic of theirs that comes to mind is one that they wrote for me for GenEx one year in our same-fandom acquaintance ship:

Diaulodromia by megkips

Sakura and Shirou test the bounds of their friendship as Shirou slowly but surely becomes the Heroic Spirit he was always meant to be. Archer has a different perspective.

It comes to mind among all of them and even in this fandom (of which I've probably read the most, if only in betaing, over the past few years) because it doesn't deal with a ship. I've always been uncomfortable shipping Sakura with anyone on the terms that the canon seems to give us, and I am pretty firmly in the camp of shipping Shirou with Rin and/or Saber. However, I really hate the notion that just because a person isn't romantically involved with someone that they fade in all importance, which tends to take over in "romantic" fiction. This fic is so softly written and handles a sustaining friendship between Shirou and Sakura and looks at Arhcer's retrospective on it - the fact that he can still care all that time later, even if she isn't and never was his lover. I love it so much.
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I haven't seen any of the YuGiOh spin-offs but this is the sole thing I have ever seen that kind of makes me want to invest the time into it someday.

Other YuGiOh thoughts before I pass out:

It used to bother me so much that everyone in the YuGiOh universe takes this card game so seriously that they build technology and have law concerning it and all kinds of just bizarre stuff that doesn't happen about card games in our universe. I could live with it - suspension of disbelief - but it would always come back to haunt me. Then someone on the YuGiOh discord server I'm in helped me so much when they suggested that it was basically like Duel Monsters was the equivalent of American football in this universe but more internationally prevalent. It was like a great fog cleared, and it all made sense! How many tv shows and movies and political things do you know that have come about as a result of American football? The answer is a lot.

Still, though, I do find it weird how it seems like absolutely everything in YuGiOh seems to come back to this singular game and mythology. It makes me feel better, therefore, if I imagine that YuGiOh takes place in even a passive crossover with some of my other fandoms. I am working on this thing that I will make a post explaining before sharing, but it has to do with my talking about my daydreaming universes and how a huge part of one of those inner worlds was damaged by real life issues with a friend I shared it with. The long story short, however, is that I imagine that YuGiOh takes place in the same universe as several other (mostly anime) fandoms including, among others, Steins;Gate, which is what this video reminds me of and makes me really want to play with such themes in YuGiOh fic and stuff someday...
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Related to previous post about my ChocolateBox letter.

So, usually I go in looking for particular tags, but fic exchanges are sometimes an opportunity to request something weird that one had never considered as a real possibility before. One of the things I picked of this nature was Thief King Bakura/Atem.

I would never, ever have considered this in a million years as a thing I would organically Start Shipping and yet I'm interested. You can see my prompt on my letter for why, but the thing I wanted to just put SOMEWHERE for posterity is how it occurred to me that Atem and Thief King Bakura, shippy or not, could be a bit like a motive/moral-weight-reversed Rameses and Moses from The Prince of Egypt. Like, IMAGINE:

And now suddenly I'm way more invested in their pre-canon/Millennium Item entrapment potential interactions than I ever was before which is fun.

Also that's one of the best cartoon film songs ever. As a Christian, I absolutely adore The Prince of Egypt as a sort of... non-proselytizing adaptation? I feel like adaptations of Bible stories that are intended to have a particularly Religious intent are often... sanitized which makes no sense at all, but is extremely reflective of the weird relationship between American Civil Christianity and Conservatism and censorship and a bunch of other stuff that one could write a dissertation on. The Prince of Egypt takes faith and religion as series and very real within the narrative, but it isn't trying to pitch the religion to someone from a weird, meddling-PR standpoint which I would tend to think makes it more effective as a story and as an introduction-point to a faith with which one was previously not familiar or emotionally connected to incidentally. It has an organic relationship with its source material that is strangely absent from a lot of "Religious Film."

"Through Heaven's Eyes" is also a really great song that is genuinely devotional and inspirational, on that note, even though it isn't written with that explicit intent. I also like that this movie didn't shy away from the fact that Zipporah and the Midianites were black and that there were, in fact, monotheists and people who influenced and partook in the spiritual heritage of the Abrahamic faiths from within Africa itself, contrary to the colonizing narrative that later European cultural Christians would use to justify their invasions of African cultures. There's a bunch more I have to say about that, both informed and curious, but for now here's a song:

Now, back to YuGiOh (sublime to ridiculous).

On Bakura (both of them) and Mixed Identity

For ease, when I say "Bakura" I mean Yami or Thief King Bakura, as appropriate, and when I say Ryou I mean modern day teenager child host / "landlord". When I use the full name, Bakura Ryou, I mean both of them as appropriate.

I have known for years that Bakura was a name of Hebrew origin. I don't remember where I learned it. GeoCities? An issue of American Shounen Jump? Something. But it's a real thing and you can look it up. I never really considered it having a deeper meaning until this recent foray into being into YuGiOh.

Also, we know how Ryou really likes the Change of Heart card art and is trying to communicate meaningfully through telling his friends this.

Now I would like to talk about a couple of headcanons about both of them that I think play nicely back into this theme, even if I know for a fact I'm just wholesale making shit up that Takahashi likely never gave a second thought. I also want to disclaim that while there is certainly a light/dark, good/evil symbology behind the divided heart or theme of being part-one-thing-part-something-else that I am in absolutely no way giving that kind of value quality to being mixed-race, though I'm going to talk about that as part of this, too. There are some serious issues with how we equate "dark" with "bad" and how that relates to the perception of skin color and beauty standards and such and it isn't exclusive to western culture, and I feel like I shouldn't HAVE to disclaim that, but I'm gonna just in case. I know the can of worms exists, but we're not opening it here.

So, the American dub gave Ryou a British accent so as to impart the vibe of his very polite way of speaking in Japanese since we don't have honorifics and have different cultural baggage. Then, for consistency, they gave Bakura a British accent but instead gave it the character of a sort of dark, British mastermind with a much deeper tone. This was my first exposure to the character, so it certainly threw me for a loop when I started watching the sub and heard Ryou|Bakura's original voice and how little distinction there was between the two. However, as I have watched, it has grown on me and begun to make more sense. Now, I can understand how the original polite versus impolite thing is imparted in a different way though the language itself and the character of the voice and its tone has more of a creepy horror movie child vibe. But I can see the sense in both these characterizations. Localization of concept is not always a bad thing! Occasionally, 4Kids did... something... right!

(If anything, kid-friendly dubs of anime back then often had this quality of tried-too-hard to polish for perceived demographic. Sometimes it was terrible, but other times it was adorable.)

So even though I now know what Bakura Ryou "sounds like" in the original transmission, the whole Britishness thing is sort of indelibly tied to my perception of the character. However, I don't think that this is necessarily a problem. Rather, I think that it creates a pretty interesting pathway to fill in some of the gaps in Ryou's background. We don't know a whole lot about Ryou, but we do know some things.

1. He moved to Domino City's high school, and he had moved around a lot previously.

2. His father traveled to Egypt at some point where he obtained the Millennium Ring and gave it to Ryou as a gift.

3. His mother and younger sister died at the same time at some point prior to his receiving the Ring.

4. After receiving the Ring, he was not fully aware of Bakura's nature. He only ever refers to Bakura as a "Voice," if he refers to him at all, though there have been a few instances of Bakura manipulating Ryou into believing that he has the ability and intent to help him or his friends in a situation.

5. Ryou had trouble making friends after receiving the Ring, both due to moving around and the fact that when he invited friends over to play D&D-esque games they would end up passed out or in the hospital or something because Bakura doesn't play well with others.

So this leads me to this weird headcanon that I have had for some time that maybe Bakura is mixed race (Japanese and English / British of some extraction, specifically or primarily). I presume that his father may or may not be Japanese at all, given that his surname is "Bakura," which is - as I said - of Hebrew origin. Also the one time we see him he has this sort of white dude looking ponytail to me? However, Ryou has a Japanese given name which would indicate at least one Japanese parent, which make sense since he speaks Japanese and goes to school in Japan. However, we know that his dad has traveled a lot. Then you look at the interesting and very fetishy history of British archeology and Egyptomania and all of that jazz. The how's and why's could go all sorts of directions, but I imagine that given this headcanon Ryou's parents met through their professions which somehow involved the study of Ancient Egypt and that one of them was native to the UK. I suppose that Ryou grew up primarily in Japan, leading to his father remaining there with him or at least ensuring that he would be raise there, but it would seem that his father still travels for work even after his death. Not that it matters, but I also assume that his mother and sister died in a car accident, though I don't recall if it's ever stated, given that they died BEFORE the involvement of Ancient Egyptian Dark Magic (as far as we know).

Now, if we go so far as to suggest the Ryou is, at the very least, part-Japanese and part-British and that both his parents had some kind of connection to Ancient Egypt professionally, it might not be that far a leap to suggest that one of them had some kind of heritage-related interest in Ancient Egypt. This leads me to believe that whichever one of them was fully or partly European might have also been part of the Jewish diaspora.

Another disclaimer: Secular Biblical scholars will argue back and forth about the historicity of Egyptian enslavement of the Hebrew people because something or other about lack of sufficient records to indicate it on the Egyptian side of things and archeological things making them think the timeline is off. However, there are also a lot of pro arguments that one can watch documentaries about that don't seem too crackpot-y if you're interested. As someone who has studied the text both religiously and in a secular university setting, the most critical read I can give you is that I think that it smacks of something kind of weird and anti-Semitic to suggest that they made up an entire part of their cultural heritage for no reason whatsoever when we know that, like, the Babylonian captivity has some historicity. Whew. So my take is that something of this nature happened, even if the when / why / extent is not known or corroborated. But I shouldn't even have to say this, again, because from a fictional headcanon point of view I'm mostly looking at it from a broad-strokes, mythological point of view anyway.

So why does it matter if Ryou might have some aspect of Jewish cultural heritage? Well, it goes back to that surname and the fact that it is, apparently and improbably, an overlap with the only known name of the Thief King Bakura. Let's have some fun with weird and possibly-lazy writing!

A really early and uninformed read on YuGiOh canon suggested to younger-me that both Yugi and Ryou were, like, Japanese-reincarnations of... Ancient Egyptian people... never mind the kind of bizarre and problematic view of what the concept of reincarnation would even mean then. They are not and cannot be reincarnations by any reasonable stretch of the imagination, and resemblance can only go so far when these people are separated by thousands of years of genetics and race-typical features. I'm not denying that they resemble reach other in... some... vague... way, but it has to be read with a grain of salt to be taken seriously whatsoever.

Why are you taking YuGiOh seriously? You might ask. Because shut up.

Literally the only people it makes sense to read as actual reincarnations are people like Seto and Isis who had identities in the ancient past who died and lived again to end up in some rehash or continuation of events of their past lives. Yugi and Ryou aren't like that expressly because while Atem and Bakura died physical deaths, their souls have been trapped in the Ring and Puzzle for three thousand years. Yugi and Ryou were born before they were out of their Millennium Item prisons. They aren't reincarnations.

What they could be, though, is some kind of fate-driven, meant-to-be vessel for this unfinished destiny business. Then, Seto and Isis end up where they're supposed to be in relation to it because of some kind of metaphysical gravitational pull/orbit dynamic that is completely undiscussed but that we can accept because shut up.

So, like, Yugi and Atem are... soul...mates, I guess, whether you read it in a shippy way or not. They're similar, but they aren't really connected in any meaningful, corporeal way. In fact, the most satisfying answer that I have ever heard for why they (Atem | Yugi or Bakura | Ryou) look so much the same in the ancient past and in their Japanese teenager forms came from [personal profile] toxictsukino telling me about an explanation for it she read in a tendershipping fic. I have no idea what the fic was as that isn't a thing I really ship, but basically: Bakura explained to Ryou that the reason he perceived of himself, in flashbacks and such, as basically a brown version of Ryou is because Ryou's face was the only face he had ever seen as his own in a mirror or anything. That is somehow tantalizing as an explanation, even though I refuse to believe neither of them ever caught their reflection in the Nile or a blade or something even before the invention of true-clarity mirrors. It's at least a concept I can kind of get behind! So there.

Back on track, I think that the above why-the-hell-do-you-resemble-each-other-at-all-then applies more to Yugi and Atem than to Ryou and Bakura for the simple reason that I can maybe buy some narrative where Bakura is a thousands-of-years-back ancestor to Ryou if we go with him having a European Jewish Diaspora parent. Because...

Where did that name "Bakura" come from at all? Well, maybe it was because Thief King Bakura was Hebrew.

Based on the Biblical account/mythology: The Hebrew people came to live in the Land of Goshen in the Nile Delta as a result of the life and exploits of Joseph (of Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat fame). Joseph had some dreams that foretold him coming to power greater than that of all of his older by-another-mother half-siblings and his parents. He was also favored by their father as the son of the one of two sisters he actually wanted to marry in the first place. This made his older brothers not like him very much, so they conspired to kill him. One day, he went to them out in the field wearing his multicolored coat that was expensive and proof that he was the favorite kid, and they tossed him down into this pit thing from which he could not get out. He begged for them to help him and stop this nonsense while they conspired how to kill him, but then one of the brothers saw some traders coming by and decided that they didn't actually have to kill him, the could just sell him into slavery instead! So they pull him out of the pit only to sell him as a slave to these passing traders. They take his coat and drench it in animal blood to convince their father that Joseph was gored by some animal, and Joseph is exiled into Egypt.

Joseph has some pretty wild ups and downs until eventually he rises to power second only to Pharaoh because of some dream prophecies. Joseph is given the wisdom of how to prepare for a seven year famine, and Pharaoh gives him all the control he needs in order to make it happen. Then comes the famine, and Joseph's brothers come looking for food because they have exhausted their options where they were, but they have no idea that it is Joseph who is in charge as it has been at least fourteen years. Then some other things happen, and Joseph reconciles with his family, and they and their tribe come to settle in the land given to them by Pharaoh. (They didn't just assimilate mainly because, on the Egyptian side of things, the Hebrews were shepherds and the Egyptians didn't really do that so much, so they thought the sheep herds were stinky.)

So then comes a Pharaoh who has forgotten the relationship of friendship between the Egyptians and the Hebrews, he sees the Hebrews as Others and freeloaders, pulls some typical racist bullshit, and enslaves the Hebrews. So that's how you ended up with Hebrew slaves in Egypt, according to the Bible.

So I really don't know when one can best-date the fictional reign of Atem and his dad, but assuming the possibility that either Hebrew friendship or slavery might have existed during that time assuming that it was a thing that happened in some kind of reasonably mythologically parallel way, it is an interesting idea to me.

It became an interesting idea to me because of something a Troper on TVTropes pointed out:

Whole Costume Reference: Appropriately enough, given the setting and his backstory, the red robe kinda makes him look like a topless version of the classic depiction of Moses, as in The Ten Commandments.

So then we get back to both my laughing-but-not-really about the juxtaposition between Atem and Bakura in the ancient past and the possibility of them as a sort of played with and inverted narrative of Rameses and Moses per The Prince of Egypt. [To note: Rameses II being the Pharaoh in The Prince of Egypt and Moses having a fraternal relationship with him is pure artistic license on the film's part and not something that is textually given in the Bible.]

This would kind of work for a YuGiOh-verse interpretation of why the people of Kul Elna were so randomly expendable and how much Bakura perceived himself as an equal-opposite to Atem in his efforts to avenge his own loss. It wasn't just Atem's Evil Uncle Aknadin who did this; he had help, so why was he able to rally support to go murder 99 people in cold blood who didn't see it coming? Why did Bakura as an unknown survivor go on to be a sort of self-raised feral child for the rest of his growing up? Why did he become aligned with criminality and theft rather than finding someplace to find sympathy and be absorbed into someone's family life?

It is almost an inversion of the Moses myth itself. Moses was saved from the massacre of all of the Hebrew male children under the age of two because the Pharaoh at the time felt that the Hebrew people were becoming too numerous and may one day get free of their bondage. Moses's mother kept him hidden for as long as possible while crafting a waterproofed basket which she placed him in and let it free to allow it to float it up the Nile, giving him at least a chance of survival. Then he was found by the daughter of the Pharaoh, taken in as her child, and arose to the position from which he was eventually exiled. Later, he returned from exile with a mission to free his birth people from slavery on the part of his adopted people.

Bakura, on the other hand, is a survivor of a massacre but he is not a purposeful survivor. He was overlooked as a child. He grew up embittered, and he has no adoptive family, no salvific mission, and when he does come up with a plan for vengeance he is manipulated by the very architect of his people's massacre.

This all interests me because it gives yet another layer to the theme of Part against Part, Person against Person, and so on that runs so deep with the whole symbology surrounding Ryou as a character and how that connects him or makes him at all fit or destined to be involved with Bakura at all. While Yugi is destined through spirit, maybe Ryou is destined by blood.

Wow, this post went all kinds of places.
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So I haven't participated in a fic exchange since last year's ChocolateBox, but on a whim I looked at the open challenges on the Yuletide discord server and decided to do it. True to my word, I'm gonna keep using my original DW account as a home for the letters because it feels right, but here's a link to it in case any of you are interested.
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I go back to work on the 3rd and there isn't a day off scheduled for the school kids except, I think, April 22nd. This interim position sounded like it might only be six weeks. And honestly, I don't know why I'm nervous about it. I tend to do much better with structure, and it sounds like this won't have a ton of grading after hours even with what I'm doing. Change is just scary. I don't even emotionally handle being off that well because I've got no one but my parents in my life. Today I've been alone back over at the parsonage and veering back and forth between content and feeling introvert-refreshed to fighting tears for no reason. I blame Hormones, in part, but I just keep running around in circles about how I feel like I never accomplish real goals, creative, personal, professional, or any other kind I can imagine. I am just not a self-starting person

I think I've figured out that one thing is that maybe I need more stimulants in my life. I have cut back on soda and even tea a lot and perhaps to a point that my prescription medication is having so much of a relaxant/sedative effect that I am sleeping way more than a normal person should. I guess if I'm sad about anything over the break it's that I slept most of it away, but at this point I'm not even sure what difference break versus work makes. Even though I look forward to, if I ever have professional success at all, being able to travel a bit during some of my breaks, when it's just time off for time off's sake, after the first three days or so I get sad.
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I did a thread on twitter. Cross-posting them here. Just the images.

Back to You - Selena Gomez (Forgot/aesthetics?)

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I'm really glad it's over. I'm looking forward to seeing if anything improves with a Democratic majority House of Representatives, though I'm not holding my breath. I know that some people were much more directly impacted by how shitty this year was in terms of the real world and politics, but even from my position firmly hanging out on the periphery except for exercising my right and duty to vote, it has been exhausting.

I'm in the camp of feeling like this year was several epochs long. Black Panther came out this year? Dirty by Justin Timberlake? TSwift's obsession with her reputation??? No, that was the last century, surely.

For me some of that probably has to do with the fact that my "years" tend to be defined by school years due to working for schools. Still, though, I don't think I'm alone in it.

Certain things have improved for me a lot. My living situation has gone from soul-sucking to just kind of quiet and confusing. Since my last semester of undergrad, I've been one of the moved-back-home millennials. I really had nowhere to go, and the few times it looked like I might have income enough to move out, I didn't trust it nor see any reason to strike out on my own five miles away when it really didn't help me socially or financially. I honestly appreciate having my parents around and available... to a point.

I was probably wise in not trying to move out on my own, given how things have turned out. Anyway, even though I'm only making about $1,000 a month right now, if that, I am in a much better place than I was last school-year where I worked in one of the most inept administrations I've ever seen or heard of. I thought I just wasn't cut out for actually teaching, but nah. I think some of it was my inexperience, but a lot of it was that the school I worked for wanted all their teachers to be three people who practically lived at the school to have any support or respect whatsoever. The corruption and apathy and buck-passing went all the way down.

Working as an interim, I have slightly fewer responsibilities, full-time hours, but less... pay. It sucks in a way, but the county I'm working for is so, so much more responsible and caring and supportive and just nice. Add to that the fact that I'm getting to live in the church's parsonage rent-free because my dad finally has a pastorate and they're willing to support me trying to get a job over here without hemorrhaging money, and I really can't say how much worse things could be and better things have gotten.

I'm still... lonely, though. And I feel like that part is getting worse and doesn't have a lot of hope of getting better. I feel like certain things are shriveling away, and I worry about them. I worry about my future, or rather, the lack of ever having a "life of my own." I am living on a lot of people's good graces, and I hope that someday I actually have something to show for it and to give back. I don't want to be alone and lonely and isolated, in terms of peers or kids or any of that, forever.
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I opened a Dreamwidth tab a while ago with something in mind to write/vent/lament about, but then I went through my Reading Page for a while as a means of finding calm and not being super self-centered. In the time since I did so, I think my perspective on what I was going to talk about has shifted a bit, and I'm glad for it.

At first, I was going to try to explain one of my friendships and the way in which it has thinned over the past couple of years, quite painfully. However, in talking to [personal profile] toxictsukino about it and just thinking and then watching some [ profile] ContraPoints, I think I have settled on a different part of the problem that requires less deep context and less possible oversharing of someone else's business even where it relates to me.

The thing is, I feel like even if my friend that I miss and ache for in a lot of ways has dealt badly with certain relationship adjustments in the past, I don't think it is my friend's present or intent. If anything, I feel guilty because I feel like this friend has developed a higher standard of respecting other people's lives as their own business than I have. For me, everything must take place within a context, and in general (while secrets and certain personal disclosures and stuff are extremely important and notable exceptions), I tend to subscribe to an axiom of what happened to me belongs to me. If it involved another person, my perception and developed understanding of them and what they were doing at the time is a part of that narrative.

And that's the thing, if anything, I feel sort of bleedy about when it comes to this friend of mine. I feel like she has reached such a point of the sanctity of other people's business and lives that she cannot discuss the context of anything that is happening, anything that bothers her, or any of the reasons why she cannot really communicate with me in any deeper way. I understand that she is telling the truth. I understand that she is trying to do the right thing. But it is frightening. It feels like having the line to the buoy that holds up interpersonal communication cut.

I think about the terrible attitudes that seem so pervasive and even alluring to people: right-wing, entitled, callous fanaticism. And I don't think any of them have a leg to stand on as far as philosophy or morality or anything else, to be clear. However, one of the things that is often pointed out in think-pieces that try to help us understand people with violent or cruel ideologies that are developing contemporaneously to those people who are, like, not having those kinds of thoughts is that these people (usually boys) grew up with a narrative.

That narrative promised them a lot of things they haven't gotten and may not ever get.

The narrative promised them a loving female sexual partner for being a generally okay guy and doing the right thing, particularly when it felt difficult.

The narrative promised them a secure job if they went to college.

It promised them home ownership. It promised them community. It promised them financial success and neat consumer goods. It promised them a lot things...

And we can pick apart the specific promises and specific expectations all day long and how they're shitty things to believe. But not ALL of them are unreasonable desires mixed into the wicked brew that intoxicates these people. Some of them are very basic human needs that our society has made it harder and harder to meet. The Alt-Right Meme Boys have assigned the locus of their problems incorrectly and then developed perfect irony-armor in order to deflect any suggestion, critique, or analysis of the fact that some of what likely drew them into that place were very normal, human longings that a lot of us aren't getting. They want it to be too late to reach them, in a way. I like Kylo Ren | Ben Solo and tend to think the 1-to-1 comparison between him and these types of people is a lazy analysis of the story, but if there is anything that stands out like a sore thumb as a parallel, it might be that. They are ANGRY and HURT and do not WANT there to be a way back most of the time.

And all of that is just an analysis of our present sorry state of affairs. However, I bring it up with relation to how I feel sad about certain things in my own life: the loss or lessening or changing of certain relationships, the feeling that certain things that seemed very possible two or three years ago now seem like I am eternally too old or too late to reach them, and so on. That series of promises alluded to is comforting not only because the end prizes of those promises are nice things to have but because they provide a narrative or a context through which to live one's life.

We are the protagonist of our own story, and for a lot of us it feels like there was a plot but that someone or something took that plot away from us. And you know, I feel that, too. And in a way, I know that the whole hope or concept of a narrative guiding my life isn't coherent even in terms of any metaphysical or cosmological meaning one can give life. It doesn't work like that, even if there is such a thing as fate or destiny, on the ground level. You don't get to play a role where you already know the script. It just does not happen. And yet, looking at other people's lives, sometimes it seems like it does. We tell ourselves stories about other people's lives while we live our own. And it hurts and stings right now because I feel a lot like I have forever missed the next prompt where I get a new plot point, a new branch on the timeline or whatever. I feel stuck and like the context that I used to relate to the world for years has been destroyed, wasted on a foolish, empty series of small daydreams.
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This isn't a full review of the episode, mostly some thoughts about Grant Ward that are not entirely unfavorable, so if you don't like Ward or sympathy for him, this'll be a post you want to move past probably.

I have been watching Agents of SHIELD with a couple of different people at different points in the progression of it. One of my friends has been busy the past couple of months with her job, so while we blew through the first part of S1, it's been hard to get into the best part of it: the Captain America TWS tie-in arc that finished the season. I really can't imagine anyone thinking it wasn't well-done, regardless of whether or not they liked it.

I'm still at a point where I've only see most of S2 of AOS. The thing for me was that I binge-watched S1 of AOS and waited to watch S2 as it aired. However, the show took a much different turn than I had expected it to. I was in deep enough that I had certain very specific hopes and expectations (and no, not all of them were SkyeWard related, though some of them were) that were just repeatedly not met and stamped all over. I became frustrated with the show and the characters and with the fandom itself. It got to a point where it was an unpleasant experience to try to watch the episode each week (which I find to be a weirder demand on time than occasional binges) and then to get online on the tumblblur and see a bunch of really Know It All, dogmatic fans say this definitely was going to happen, wasn't going to happen, shouldn't happen, was a disservice if... No one liked anything that was going on, no matter where they stood on which character or which plot point, and at the winter break of the airing shows I was following at the time, I threw up my hands and quit and pretty much never followed a show week to week ever again.

I was tempted to watch S4 of AOS alone when I started seeing gifs on tumblr because I am weak to SkyeWard content, and I was surprised given how far they had gone with Ward character assassination and literal murder (which I had picked up through fandom osmosis after no longer following the series) that they had even bothered to include it. I was intrigued and curious but didn't act on it.

Then my best friend came along and, for some reason, wanted to watch it together. I don't even remember why at this point. I think maybe she was sick and decided to watch some she hadn't seen. Anyway, my best friend had a really interesting perspective on things about the Ward issue in particular. See, for me, it wasn't that deep, and for a time I went hard into the "Ward is a N/azi, Ward is an abuser," and yet there was a certain deep discomfort I had both with full Ward-absolution and with full Ward-condemnation. Neither felt right or as if they were looking at all we were given, even up to the point that I had seen. I felt like I was in denial just to avoid the judgmental gazes of people who were sick of the Hydra-is-so-sexy crowd refusing to acknowledge that anyone who had a critique of Hydra characters might have a point besides ~kink-shaming~.

I plan to write (someday) a complete meta post about Grant Ward, my feelings on the ins, outs, good, bad, and so on of his character itself, his character arc, and what the show chose to do with him narratively. Most of what I hear within the fandom seems pretty binary. There are those who believe that Ward is just bad and should be seen only as bad and that it is as simple as that. Then, there are those who believe that somehow the show completely assassinated his character to a point that it is somehow the show/writers' fault that he went from being a good thing to a bad thing that they no longer recognized as the character they liked.

I would tend to think that I fall somewhere in the middle. Also, I've got a long way to go before I have a completely full, directly-experienced perspective on it. But I know the basics even of what I haven't seen, so, I just want to say that I think my best friend may be right in an assessment she made of the Ward situation which, when I have mentioned in the past on tumblr, gets me accused of giving the writers too much credit. Regardless of whether or not that is true, I don't really care. I wobble on how much Death of the Author stuff I want to lean into, but I do tend to view things based on what I can reasonable infer and read into the material as it is passed to us, and then I sometimes even ignore certain parts of a canon that I feel are really bad and not coherent to whatever the overall thing seems to have been best going for. I'm here to have a good time with a narrative, even if it is making me feel sad tings, so that's where I am.

My best friend's commentary on the Ward situation which I think I've mostly adopted to is, succinctly, that Ward's narrative best makes sense if you give the story a little credit for knowing what it was doing with all the foreshadowing that led a bunch of us, back in the day, to believe that they were, inevitably, through however many twists and turns, going to redeem him. I know that I was in that camp for a very long time, and a part of me is still disappointed that it didn't happen. S1 is full of themes about forgiveness and about how you can save a person from themselves if you get to them in time. Then, you have an episode all about how Ward was abused, incarcerated, and then given very little information and choice when he was offered an out by a man who subsequently radicalized and abused him. It seems very much like all of that build up was, subtextually, about Ward. And yet, no matter how long Ward remained on the show (until S4 which isn't REAL Ward), and no matter how close it would seem he was getting, the Good Guys (TM) would turn on him and insistently prevent him from doing the right thing for them and to have that mean a damn thing.

And sure, they were angry. They had every right to be angry. And there's an argument to be made about forgiveness not being owed, especially when someone has done or been accessory to such terrible things as Ward had. However, it seems like it is an extremely specific blindspot in this universe. Case and point: Loki in Thor Ragnarok. And of course, I can't say this with certainty, but a part of me feels like if Loki had made it to Earth and met up with Phil in Infinity War continuity, he would've been willing to take him acting in good faith based on Thor's word. But Ward? Nah. None of the other original members of SHIELD Team Six ever really did that. Ever. No matter how cogent it would've been to give him a redemption arc.

And it is so... insistent and stuck in the mud and, at times, unflattering to the Good Guys (TM) that it feels like either the show is written by people who have no idea what a theme is OR that it is a very, very tough but very deliberate theme. Most days, I feel like it is... probably the latter given how good and long-game other elements of the show have been. Again, I'll try to write more about this again in the future, but I feel like it is ultimately a story about someone who could have been saved but... wasn't... because of the emotional ramifications and prejudices the people who could have "saved" him developed.


Anyway, back to the title of this post for a very short pay-off after all of that:

I have seen the last few episodes of AOS S1 over and over, but I actually had a new thought or few tonight about it.

The first one is about Garrett, who is relevant to Ward in that he is a huge part of what made him who we know as a character, and how he reacted to the SHIELD drones attacking him. For a long time, I believed that all of that was an act, and it always struck me as a tad strange that Garrett was... acting... even when there was NO ONE directly monitoring him about being attacked. It seemed like a repeat of his initial ploy to get on the Bus. However, in watching it tonight, I finally realized that this probably isn't the case.

I realized that, at that particular point, it seems as if Garrett was sort of off the beaten path, doing something or other, and had not yet received or seen the encoded transmission that told the Hydra operatives within SHIELD to come out of the darkness and into the light. He seems a bit surprised when Skye decodes the message, and while that surprise is a show for them, it occurred to me that it does make sense that this was probably his first time actually seeing the roll call to wake up the sleeper Hydra operatives.

The reason this is important is because it kind of informs how the Hydra operatives within SHIELD got their orders and activation notices. The events of Captain America TWS take place over the span of a few days, and there is some delay of communication before all the SHIELD agents who aren't Hydra even pick up on the fact that things have changed so drastically. It is a very from-the-top-down collapse. this means that ward only knew about the activation thing when Skye decoded the message for sure.

It means that when he killed Nash, he was a part of a manipulative bullshit plot, but that it wasn't really about Hydra; it was about Garrett. He knew that they were getting too close to Garrett, and yet he didn't have any idea that Hydra was going to to come "out of the shadows, into the light." Instead, he just knew about Garrett's aims with the Deathlok program and Centipede. Both of those operations were covers and fronts in order to help Garrett get the resources to prolong his own life. That was the whole reason Garrett was aligned with Hydra in the first place rather than any deeply-held beliefs. He tells Coulson that he wouldn't call himself a "true believer" when Coulson figures him out int his episode, and we later learn that this is why. SHIELD was willing to sacrifice him, to not send med-evac, to maintain the rest of an operation. They expected him to accept the possibility of being sacrificed for the greater good, and he was not okay with this, and someone from within Hydra came to him and fed him align about vicious survival and self-preservation within this apparatus. And he bought that, not the underlying fascist-y and doomsday-culty stuff, though the two go hand-in-hand no matter what Ward wants to tell himself.

Ward and Garrett have very similar interpersonal endgames in terms of what they are doing with Team Bus, though Ward's is very directed toward his feelings for Skye. They consider some members of Team Bus friends, people they care about. They have learned a kind of criminal compartmentalization that allows them to believe that it is even possible for them to care about people they are working against and hurting in such terrible ways. This is a thing real life serial killers and abusers do! So Garrett considers Coulson a friend, he likes Trip, he supports that Trip likes Jemma, he supports that Ward likes Skye. He doesn't see these this as mutually exclusive to their goals.

Ward is a little bit more deeply programmed. He resists caring about them, even though he does, but he has sort of, I think, made Skye the "key" to it. He can be their friend, play along, protect them, but the depth of it is linked to how Skye just absolutely refuses to have that kind of callous shield put up for herself.

When Coulson figures out that Garrett is the Clairvoyant and Garret gets the upper hand, he tells Coulson and May that he hadn't planned to kill them because he considers Coulson a friend but that he has no choice since Coulson has made his allegiances clear and that May would follow him to the ends of the Earth. He tells Fitz, however, that if he chooses to join up that he will have a very high-ranking position but that if he doesn't, he's still going to be kept alive, crippled, and in pain and work for them under the pain of torture as necessary. He sees Fitz as a unique asset that he isn't going to give up, regardless of how he has to go about it. Once it becomes clear that Ward has feelings for Skye, she kind of becomes this on two different levels.

Ward is very much Garrett's guard dog. While he does believe and acknowledge that he owes protection, loyalty, care, and friendship toward Coulson and his team to varying degrees, he believes that he owes Garrett everything and so must put that above any of that up to and including killing them. He tells Raina this a little later. However, I think that this episode - Turn, Turn, Turn - shows a little bit more ambivalence than I had ever really seen as existing before.

So, from the time Garrett showed up on the scene and realized how much Ward liked Skye, he sees how this is useful to him and important to Ward. He comments to Skye about how she taught him fighting for something, though he couches it in a thin veil of a discussion about the team overall. He tries to ingratiate himself with her like the worst future father-in-law in the world under a guise of some kind of eerie dad or uncle charm that just gets worse every time I watch it. (Worse as it creepier - it's very nuanced, creepy when you know what's going on and just cringy if you imagine not knowing.)

Skye is a very talented CS person. She is an asset. Garrett was willing to kill her because of how good she was as an unknown variable on the wrong side, asking the wrong questions. Ward, liking her, didn't like that. Garrett needs Ward until he reaches his endgame. However, he needs to maintain control of Ward. He has done this for years by both abusing and breaking Ward down and building him back up and providing for him. The way Ward acts toward Skye when Garrett is around or involved is creepier and more insistent because, I would argue, he kind of picks up on how the game is played with Garrett. He acts like a different person around Garrett, but it is not a fully free or comfortable person all the time.

He knows that Garrett is giving Skye to him even before this is explicitly conversed after the Hydra-reveal, and he has been in a position where he believes that Garrett giveth and Garrett taketh away. He really doesn't have a way to avoid cooperation if he doesn't want Skye to end up back in a situation where Garrett wants her dead, and he also has every reason and every conditioning factor to take Garrett up on being, essentially, provided for. It's gross, yeah, but I think it's a very obvious narrative.

When Ward kills Nash, he knows that he is doing it for the purposes of making the trail to Garrett run cold. However, it is funneled through an opportunity to protect who? Skye. And we know that somehow Garrett orchestrated the words on the screen that were supposedly the words of Nash. He knew he was killing a scapegoat, even if not a fully innocent one. However, he was doing it through this filter of irrationally intense protection of Skye, the object of his affection, and feeding those lines to her in an attempt to show her how devoted he is to her. He is trying to, under Garrett's even unspoken guidance, soften Skye for the inevitable time when Ward will go back under Garrett's wing. He wants Skye to go with him, and Garrett gets on-board with this idea because Skye does have her own talents and because killing her while Ward is infatuated with her would loosen his grip on Ward, at least for a time, while keeping her around and enthralling her too gives him a weak point to exploit Ward through. Recruiting Skye into Hydra explicitly may or may not have been the endgame at first, but by the time of this episode, they had already been working on trying to sort of theatrically embrace her for these reasons.

I don't think Ward ever fully anticipated being in a position where Hydra would come into the light. Even Garrett expresses his disappointment that it happened, even though he isn't about it back down, because to him the sole purpose of being part of it was self-promotion and preservation. It had nothing to do with any hope of what happened happening during his lifetime. Ward is a lower link down the chain, and so I am sure that it was even further from his mind, which is why he is genuinely confused that Skye directly associates him with being a Nazi, because to him it is indirect - whether that matters or not.

Finally, the main reason I thought of making this post in the first place has to do with Ward's decision to go with Victoria Hand to deliver Garrett to the Fridge. I'm not sure if this makes sense at all, however... just bare with me a little bit. When Ward reacted to the ~Reveal~ of Garrett being the Clairvoyant, he plays it as almost numb disbelief. However, we know that this is an act, while Trip's reaction is 100% real. He was following a cue, doing what he had to do to seem like the role he had been playing.

However, when he shows up to as Hand if he can accompany them to the Fridge, tonight was the first time I ever though I read ambivalence into the portrayal. Now, I don't want to get into arguments about authorial intent - again, I care about about what I see in-universe and, if anything on a meta level, what Dalton brought to his performance. However, I guess in the past I always saw this as an extremely hard and abrupt turn. However, Ward does not act like a person whose entire act and facade were easily thrown away or repugnant to him. He dislikes the Patriots and the baggage that goes with that, but apart from that, I would tend to think that there's less of a line between real Ward and fake Ward than Ward lets on around Garrett because Garrett is this exalted father figure of extremely demanding masculinity that really... doesn't matter that much to Ward later on or when he is acting on what he thinks he should do under Garrett's control but not physically present with Garrett at the time or pretending to be someone he isn't.

This time, when I watched him as for permission to go make sure he got to lock Garrett up himself, I felt like there was definitely some level on which he was going with them to make sure he protected Garrett and even got him out. However, it does not seem as if he was intent on blowing his cover or upon killing Hand and her men. He only makes a move to do that when Hand herself makes the proposition that perhaps Ward should kill Garrett instead that she has sealed her fate on that plane. I don't know what the real alternatives were, but the way the sound editing is done and the way Ward behaves during and after that moment really stood out to me in a new way this time around.

First of all, he looks at both of them and it becomes apparent that he is making a decision. Even when he gets up to stand before Garrett as if he is going to comply with Hand's suggestion, the look on Garrett's face is a knowing one. He has no doubt of Ward's loyalty and of what he is about to do. However, Ward looks very dead-eyed, and it is nothing like the quick, almost jovial compliance he manages once he has gotten into that zone when they arrive at the Fridge. He had a choice during that moment, and knowing that his back-story in S4 is that Hand recruited him to Hydra, this seems like it makes more sense in terms of a moment of juxtaposition and choice. While he may have been under Garrett's control, it was not until that moment that he had to do something to take away his own options about what that meant and how it played out. He had done nothing inexplicable, in spite of the cover story with regard to Nash having been found out. Therefore, for some reason, it kind of read to me that perhaps that scene and the little after-credits episode stinger are best-read as him having believe that up until that moment, he might have made a different choice.

I just feel like it's obvious, natural that people who believed in and felt betrayed by Ward would remember this face:

He is looking into the camera, cruel and cold and determined.

However, I had never really considered, in spite of my sympathies for the character, the look on his face that came before it. He was sitting there, staring into nothing, barely hearing the muffled sounds of Garrett telling one of his old war stories and laughing. He looks broken, afraid, and as if he has some regrets. Of course, the above picture shows his determination to get over them, to push through them, to "survive" them, but I guess it just really hit me that this even happened for the first time:

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Back in the days before people realized Cassandra Cla(i)re was a plagiarizing fraud and her Big Name Fan self-creation still held its pristine shape, I think everyone knew that she drew from certain well-known sources. I recall knowing that she would draw certain lines from popular media (BtVS is one I remember) and would assign new context to those lines, recycling them for use to further a plot about entirely different characters. To be honest, I don't think many people in fandom have a problem with that particular kind of intertextual borrowing at all. Of course, I think anyone who knows CC's story there might be a bit trigger-shy to straight lift dialogue anymore which is probably for the creative-best of everyone involved. Even still, how many times have you seen a particularly moving quote from a show plastered over gifs from a different show which then get copied and recycled again by someone who was completely unfamiliar with the original context? It's quite a lot. And I don't think it, in and of itself, is a bad thing in transformative fan media which is making comment on the present pop culture canon at large.

That said, I find that when I am in a mode where I am writing and creating a lot, I have something like Primary Source Fandoms and Reference Material Fandoms. There are those fandoms I write content for, and then there are things which I enjoy and think about a lot which seem less accessible in some way, less like there is a lot to say about them in traditional fannish ways.

The first four series of the UK version of Skins is an example of one of those latter types. I watched it when I was 18 or 19 for the first time. At the time, I was still teenager enough to relate to it on the level that I think it was intended to be taken in. Over time, the series has held up as a spectacle which contains varying degrees of horror as a teacher, as a grown up, and as a person who has been through more things than I had been at the start.

Skins is the repeated story of British college students during their last two years of education. It involves them doing a lot of terrible, ill-advised, illegal, shitty things over and over and over and picking up the pieces. It feels very real at times, but it feels exaggerated beyond what any reasonable person could ever survive without at the very least facing very long-lasting repercussions for it more than some of the characters do.

Sometimes I wonder what, exactly, the intent behind the series was. I completely lost interest at the conclusion of Effy's story because I wasn't invested in starting over again with a whole new cast after the emotional investment I had in the first two generations. Freddie's murder was stomach-turning and unfair enough to make me drop it. I did eventually watch Skins Fire, but I never got around to watching the last two concluding specials.

It feels, on the one hand, like another teenage soapy drama about people being terrible to each other for the cathartic intensity and release it gives the audience. However, there are times when it seems to reach and to speak beyond its own level, particularly in the characters of Effy and Tony. I feel like that in order to do this justice, I would have to make multiple posts, but I just felt impressed upon to take note of how strange and compelling I find them.

I would definitely not be the first person to point out the almost incestuous affection they seem to have for one another that is, in fact, textually acknowledged. However, I oten think that this is the outcome rather than the cause of how messed up they both are. One of the things that stands out to me with Effy, Tony, Cassie, and Michelle, off the top of my head, is a theme that has troubled me ever since I read the first Mists of Avalon book as a young teen and tried to begin reading the second one.

There is a certain critical commentary on the parents in Skins. It is not that they are false characters or idiots for the sake of being idiots as many parents are in teen-fiction. Rather, it seems like there is this pervasive theme of parents who are too wrapped up in their own lives, their own interests, their own sex and love lives, and so on, to even be fully aware of their children's problems.

Cassie's parents flaunt their sexual love for each other in front of their children in a way that is passively abusive in the name of their sort of free-love, artistic lifestyle. One can see their influence on Cassie's aesthetic and also their devastating obliviousness to her mental health. Michelle is probably the most well-adjusted of all the Skins characters in the end, and yet her mother has married a man who is only ten years older than she is who is devastatingly immature and her daughter is fully aware that there is a sexual motivation behind it. Then, Effy and Tony's parents carry on with a third degree of this which they try to hide from their children but not very effectively in the first generation before their eventual divorce int he second. It shows that all of these things impact kids, even when they're big Grown Up teenagers, and I find it haunting beyond words. Parents should still be able to be their own people, but while a person has dependent children there is a certain necessary dampening of one's own flame, least where one's children's best interests are concerned.

Effy and Tony are the strangest examples of this, and the way in which they are written feels like it wants to grasp out toward Shakespearean tragedy or mythological implications. They are both the product of a middle class, typical home, and yet their souls are too dark for containment. They only understand each other, and they belong together in a way that neither of them can say for their romantic interests. I don't even really know what to do with what the text of the show, any fandomy thoughts aside, was trying to DO with this.

It is haunting to see the way their relationship is presented. In a way, they are the healthiest when they are together, and yet their sacredness to each other is something they hardly learn to share at all. Even the slightest bit of it is a painful metamorphosis for them that terrifies and nearly kills them both.

I'm not even sure what the point of this post is except to put a pin in this topic that feels almost too heavy for casual words.
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My relationship with Fate and Type Moon in general has been an odd, strangely life-altering one. Long story short, I got into it in 2015 with no real idea that it would reshape the configuration of my personal relationships considerably through engagement with the fandom and, in particular, on the forum called Beast's Lair. Some of it has resulted in my having a number of people in my life that I really wouldn't want to do with out. On the other hand, I feel like it created a distance between myself and one of my closest friends that I'm not sure will ever entirely bridge itself. I think we've tried, but on the other hand, I don't really understand why it is that she seems to need and want me around so much less than I do in turn. That isn't to say that I don't still value and love her, but it's tough. That is more of a long, personal post in the making, though.

This post is about rewatching Fate/Zero. It has been long enough now that I feel the need to watch it again before engaging with it in order to try and write fic or anything like that. Back in the early days of being in the fandom, I started a fic called Empty Gold. It's strange, because I can still connect with the memory of what I was feeling when I began to write it, but I feel like that I have changed so much as a person in the three years since I started writing it down that I wonder if it ever could become what I had first envisioned. However, I'm still kind of attached to it, not least of all because it still gets a slow trickle of Kudos almost all the time and continues to gain subscriptions. I can't say how much that part is encouraging. Last week, one day I awakened to a new reader working their way through the fic and commenting on almost every chapter. I am not lying when I say that i'd been considering trying to wrangle myself back into working on that fic before, but that response has really lit a fire under that ambition.

More than anything, I've been working on a YuGiOh fic series that my friend (who just joined DW!) [personal profile] toxictsukino has been a lovely, wonderful, perfect cheerleader for. So I'm going to be into that for a while. However, I have started to watch Fate/Zero again so I might be able to work on Empty Gold, if nothing else, again in the future. It is Gilgamesh/Saber, which is definitely the less-healthy of the ships I have for her. (I also love Rin/Shirou/Saber, don't get me wrong.) But there's something so interesting and cathartic to me about ships that
involve a redemptive arc for one of the characters but which cannot accomplish said redemption in and of themselves. I don't like magic-peen or vag-made-me-good type stuff, but I love seeing characters who are foils or on opposite sides grow to better in spite of themselves.

I'm a few episodes into Fate/Zero, and my first reactions to the actual narrative itself are those I remember, so perhaps I haven't changed as much as I sometimes think. I still love how many relationships there are in this show. I love how it feels heavy and political. However, if it weren't for knowing that there was at least some universe in which there was a silver lining ten years later, I don't think I would be able to stomach it.

Kirei is so interesting because, on the one hand, he is the kind of villain whose later actions can make me unequivocally hate his guts. And yet here we can see how there are moments in a person's life that shape them, and it feels like that before some of those moments of Kirei, there were probably different "flags" that could have been activated in his life as well. It is an interesting philosophical quandary: was Kirei always going to be that way? Or was there hope somewhere he didn't get to go?

On the other hand, certainly the most abhorrent characters in Fate/Zero are Gilles, Ryounosuke, and Zouken. I hate each of them with my own special passion. However, Ryounosuke is the one who terrifies me the most. I remember making a joke one time that in spite of them both being evil, sadistic murderers in the end, that I would rather have a drink with Ryounosuke. Then, a moment later, it slapped me int he fact that this is exactly the way in which he gets to some of his victims whom he tortures and brutally murders. It still makes my stomach turn. If not for having a pretty interesting headcanon theory connected to Shirou about him, which I may explain later, I would almost as soon pretend he didn't exist. I have a genuine, visceral reaction of revulsion toward him.

And I would personally like to torture Zouken to death. If anyone would like to train me in magecraft to that end, let's go. Let Sakura baby go.

Iskandar is, on the other hand, an admirable character in this narrative in spite of the fact that his ideals are those of a conqueror, a violent colonizer. I appreciate how he has standards for battle, though. He almost seems to be a shipper-on-deck for Saber and Diarmuid. "The flowers of the battlefield must bloom," eh? Diarmuid is just trying so hard, and Kayneth won't let him. I'm watching the dub this time around. I really don't like the "main" Fate series dubs because I think that Rin is terribly miscast and Shirou is boringly miscast, but Fate/Zero is working okay for me in that regard. Gilgamesh is an asshole, but I love him. I really wish that we'd gotten to see non-Berserker Lancelot in the anime - I know he's probably in FGO, btu who is she?

I've read a lot of takes on the series that are very unfavorable toward Kariya, but I feel so bad for him. I probably would agree that his motives are selfish and even entitled, but I don't really know what one can expect if put in his shoes. Ugh.
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So when I listen to music, it's basically always looking for stuff to associate with a particular fandom/ship/fic, though I do just casually listen to the radio while driving a lot. Being from Tennessee, I get sort of upset when people write off country as a whole. However, I will admit that a lot of it is pandering, dumb, and regressive. However, I kind of fell in love with this stupid, saccharine song when I first heard it. I'm not sure if it was an accidental spotify find or if it was something I heard in a local business only to relocate later. I rarely discover country music intentionally, but sometimes it's good!

Anyway, listening to the song without the video, it has always occurred to me that while I like it just fine for M/F angst that it could be a fantastic WLW-cover song that deals with a whole new layer of complication. The fantasies of cultural and social conformity that one is brought up to have and may enjoy versus things that break with those traditions, the question of whether or not you can ever fully participate in those social constructs even when they are (reluctantly) handed over to you, and so on.

So basically I just wanted to mention that, but in looking up the video, I also find it charming. It isn't the image that I had in mind, and I really appreciate that the girl they chose is a beautiful mixed race young lady. In my head, it being a country music song, I was, you know, envisioning that the guy singing was talking about some little elfish white girl with blonde ringlets (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm really encouraged to see country music including even this much diversity in what seems to be something this mainstream. Also, as a teacher, I find the interaction between the teens in this video (whether they're actual teens or not) really authentically acted. It's better than I anticipated.

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Popping an acetaminophen before we begin.

I am suffering menstrually today - face hurts, back hurts, don't like it. I came home and took a long nap, took a shower, and have been antisocial about getting on Discord this evening. Not that I'm ever actually off Discord, but it's a matter of paying attention to it, isn't it?

I've been bopping around on the first few posts of [community profile] addme_fandom and finding that a lot of tumblr refugees who are new to this format of website don't know what the difference in subscribe and access are, so I wrote an explanation that I gave to a couple of people. I'm gonna copy-paste it here and probably over on the community I made for similar resources: [community profile] tumblrmigration. I don't know why, but I'm really enthusiastic about helping people get on-board with this type of fandom and internet participation as I can. Here is the blurb:

Dreamwidth lets you control what is on your "Reading Page" (which is the closest thing to a 'dash' you have here - it shows the most recent 1000 entries from the last 14 days, so it DOES eventually end) and who gets to read what you post with a few different settings you can learn to manage.

You can subscribe which means that you get to read all the public posts on that journal on your Reading Page.

You can grant access which means that you are giving that journal permission to read journal entries which you mark as Access List Only (I think, something like that) on the privacy setting down near the post button. This was an update of an old LJ thing where you could make stuff "Friends Only."

You can make even more strange access filters if you like over time. Like, I dunno, "only friends with an unhealthy obsession with cheese" or "friends who aren't afraid of spiders."

In the case of communities, like this one, tat have open membership, you can join without subscribing, which is what I did, so that my Reading Page won't be just posts from this community even though I want to be associated with it and easily access it.

You can see a bunch of helpful stuff on your own profile page that might help you understand this stuff further!

Now on to other things...

Yesterday, the school I'm working for was out for "snow" which was nowhere to be seen except in the mountains. I live in the American South, so this just happens sometimes, though apparently we are actually getting a winter storm that might impact more than a few hundred people this weekend. I'm good with that for a few days as long as the power stays on. While I was off for a random day, I drove over to try an Indian restaurant in another city over. I'd had Indian food in Toronto before and also from frozen dinner boxes, but I'd never eaten at the particular restaurant I went to. It was nice, but I found that I later had a headache and that my hair smelled of the spices so much that I had to shower for a second time in a day. It's not even that it was an unpleasant smell, but I get migraines, and I'm especially sensitive at this time of the month. I'm actually wondering if that's why I still have a headache.

Some things are tasty but disagree with me.

Today I meant to take it easy on food, but my dad convinced me to meet him for barbecue, oops.

I like food a little more than I would like to like food.

I finally put an icon to use as a default here. I picked Skye|Daisy because I love her very much, she is wonderful to look at, and I liked the color scheme and doodles the iconmaker chose. (It is credited on my icons page.) I like Agents of SHIELD, but I am only just now watching Season 2 without giving up on it. I watched the first season not long after it had aired, and I loved it. Then, when that fall season of TV shows came up, I tried to keep up week by week with those that were airing on channels I had access to. It drove me insane, though. I couldn't always get unfettered access to the television, living with my parents, and I found that the anticipation and schedule-holding and wrangling always made for disappointment. I can't quite explain it, but being on the clock for something like a tv show just made it... worse. My second-time attempting to watch Season 2, I understand more what they were going for, and when I watch I enjoy it a lot more. At the time, though, I didn't catch every moment or detail that I needed to, there was always some sense that I was watching a stupid show and hogging the television, tumblr was literally NEVER happy with the outcome, and I felt like a lot of the decisions that were being made either came out of left-field or denied foreshadowing just for the sake of being disappointing.

I was a SkyeWard shipper who was having my hopes of redemption and resolution dashed every single week. At first, the fans I followed were hopeful and insistent. Then, over time, thy became disillusioned. Some left the fandom. Some switched sides entirely and reacted by insisting the SkyeWard was abusive now and that they wanted no part of it, per the burgeoning tumblr-purity-culture requirements. For a while, I fell into the latter category to an extent, but I'm not even sure I ever fully believed it? There certainly is a complicated relationship I have with the SkyeWard type dynamic. There are complex reasons that things like it and Reylo appeal to me, and I grapple with the stuff that sort of bothers me about the very thing I love so much. But I don't see it as like a moral flaw? More than anything, I think that I was still swept up in the current of wanting to be a conscientious and critical viewer, and more and more tumblr was dictating what opinions one had to form as a result of doing that. It created a sense of anxiety and shame associated with still liking suddenly problematic thing, as if catharsis hasn't always been a part of things. (This is not to say that there aren't still things I distance myself from because of their being genuinely "problematic," but I think the tumblr purity culture bar is set too high and in the wrong places a lot of the time.)

I was embarrassed, and so I espoused what felt like the only way to really cope with how disappointed, let-down, upset, and whatever else I was.

Revisiting it, I honestly don't see what exactly I was reacting so negatively to, even though it certainly didn't go the way I had hoped (and still vainly hope at the screen). I became amenable to the idea of revisiting AOS at my best friend's suggestion almost entirely because of seeing gifs of Season 4 existing. I still greatly anticipate watching Framework!Skyeward even though it is going to break my heart.

Transitional non-sequitur: Did you know that teachers often use a program called Skyward (no e) to keep attendance and grades online? Well now you do. It results in many, many typos for me. I literally just did it again when trying to tell you about it.

Anyway, I don't really have room to talk about every one of my main fandom interests in this one post. As you can see, I'm not always the most concise person (though I do have a twitter! - here: [ profile] prixofheroes). My other big thing that I don't seem to be able to talk enough about to anyone who is remotely interested (or even tolerant) is YuGiOh. Specifically, the original anime/story/manga which has, in the wake of there being others, been titled YuGiOh Duel Monsters for clarity.

It's honestly a bit strange how I came back into it and what a blessing it's been in terms of its overall impact on my recent state of being. I was at the peak target demographic, turning 13 not too long after YuGiOh (the card game) hit its stride in my peer group. (I remember this because a friend invited me to come with him to a YuGiOh card tournament on my thirteenth birthday.) However, despite trying to learn the card game, I found that I wasn't able to devote all the time I needed to in order to "get it" without giving up something else that was important to me (writing, mostly, but also drama classes I took at a community center and stuff.) However, I was super into the anime and the manga (published in the American Shounen Jump) and the story. I got this illicit thrill by going to the card shop even when I didn't play to see the boys I was friends with and to call their "YuGiOh cards" "Duel Monsters" cards because it gave me this sort of lowkey LARPing vibe.

My childhood best friend (who is still a friend, though we've been more reconnecting lately over YuGiOh - one of those blessings - than consistently in contact and distinguishing her from best friend made as an adult) and I were mutual story-rather-than-card-liking oddballs, but during that part of our lives, she moved to California with her family. Life rolled on, and I got into other fandoms bit by bit. YuGiOh stuck around in the forefront for a while, but as my card-playing friends cared less and less about the anime, I had fewer and fewer ways to remain engaged. The investment began to just feel frustrating. Then some other shiny thing caught my eye, and it just sort of fell into dormancy in the back of my mind.

Then sometime when I was in high school, LittleKuriboh ([ profile] CardGamesFTW) came along with his YuGiOh: The Abridged Series. Now, I'm not exactly sure how I watched it or when I first watched it, because I had dial-up internet at home all the way through moving at 18. I think I did leech some neighbors' wifi on my first laptop, but it worked only intermittently and I had to be sitting in this VERY SPECIFIC SPOT on my bed and the weather had to be right for it to work. Sorry neighbor of the past, if it bothered you, but I was just trying to read message boards and watch early YouTube...

Anyway, YGOTAS was magical. It made me laugh and laugh and laugh. The thing is, it absolutely rips this little story apart, but it puts it back together again without taking away any of the love that LK obviously feels for it. It is merciless parody, but it has a genuine affection at its soul that positively impacted (I hope) my sense of humor forever at that very formative time in my life.

I also have struggled with depression since 13-14 in particular if not before. Again, I can sort of date it because I remember sort of hitting this wall with depression at one point in my early teens where I remember just lying in bed crying and crying and crying without knowing why. I think I'd been sick for a while with some normal cold or flu kind of deal, but the increased lethargy and silence and boredom all sort of ate through my tolerance of whatever building depression I had, and I just broke for a bit. I remember trying to console myself, trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and one of the ways that I tried to do this was by listening to music. I turned on the CD player by my bed, I filtered through radio stations. I had the "Music to Duel By" YuGiOh soundtrack thing, and in the jewel case there were these stickers that I refused to use but neatly kept inside. The largest one was a sticker of Yami Yugi, whom I had the biggest crush in the universe on, and I remember looking at this sticker and trying to get myself to lapse into comforting maladaptive fandom daydreaming (my habit of composing fic in my head I've had forever and ever). And there I was, staring at my emo hair anime husband as a teenager, and he did nothing for me! I put him away again and started bawling.

But YGOTAS took something that has that sort of catalyst moment for me and made it into something comforting, positive, and bright all over again. Of course, some of the jokes haven't aged well. (There are a couple of trans-related jokes that make me wince early on.) However, I think that it is obvious from his continued contributions to and presence inf andom and internet culture in general that LK is willing to learn and grow and has only helpful and kind intentions. I don't know him personally or anything. (He did like a tweet I made @ him the other day and it made my day, because I am a small peon who thrives on validation.) But I just... really admire him.

Anyway, I kept watching YGOTAS for a while, but sometime around the point when I had stopped watching the dubbed anime as a child, I also stopped watching the Abridged Series for some reason? I honestly don't know how or why that happened. Maybe I lost interest because I thought I would no longer have context. Maybe I was too busy/depressed/obsessed with something else. Whatever the case was, I recently picked it up about where I remembered leaving off. Then I was reminded at how much strange, earnest investment that LK manages to elicit from me about these parody-versions of these characters. I genuinely want to read and write about them! I want to think about how they're doing when they're not on screen. And they're JOKES. So bit by bit, I got sucked into trying to remember the actual lore, the actual story, and the actual characterizations that these simplified and sillier versions represent. So that's how I ended up back into YuGiOh. I'm currently working on a fic series that is based on a lot of things including my memory and growing understanding of the actual canon and upon things the Abridged Series has made me think and feel while also working through the subbed anime to see what exactly was lost in translation.

I really want to read the manga too if I can find an stomach it. (It's a lot more dark and even gory at times.)

Anyway, YuGiOh the Abridged Series is fantastic and joy-inducing, badly-aged jokes disclaimer withstanding. Whether you love YuGiOh already or have never seen it, you might enjoy giving it a chance. It'll make you laugh, probably, and if you like it but never watched YuGiOh, maybe you could check out the real thing!

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Hello and welcome to my new DW account. If you followed me here from tumblr, you like me better than I probably thought you did, so thanks. I have another DW at [personal profile] we_protect_each_other, but most of it is a repository for Dear Author letters, as is described on my profile page here. I decided that tumblr's recent suicidal policy change might be a good time to revamp my presence here. I really miss LJ-style fandom, and I distinctly remember being pretty disappointed that the migration away from LJ went mostly to tumblr instead of DW. To this day, the only thing I'm really sad about losing on tumblr is the photoset/gifset format, but I also think that some of the cultural attitudes surrounding that kind of fandom contribution have been ultimately pretty negative.

I suppose that is as good a thing as any to start a mostly-fandom journal with. It is a concern that has bothered me for a long time, even though in some circles on tumblr it was a very unpopular concern to have. I have been poking around in fandom since about 2002-2003, perhaps a little but even before, though I was a child back then. I became more actively involved about 2006-2007 as a teenager when LiveJournal was still the home of most fandom communities. I was overwhelmed, and I learned a lot of the good, bad, and ugly nature of communities, particularly those that formed around sharing a particular opinion of a character relationship rather than generally appreciating the media as a whole. Back then, though, I still had dial-up, and it wasn't unusual to know a lot of other fans who had the same issue. The internet was mostly-text, and the graphics that people made and cherished were largely 100x100. Header images were the biggest and best images most websites had to offer. Screencap galleries, I believe, were fairly new and were treasure troves for source material for static edits. Because of all of these issues, in order to participate in fandom, a person had to be willing to talk, to describe, and to (on some level) engage with other people.

Bit by bit, tumblr took that away. Later on, if I can find it, I might quote some of the text here or in another post for posterity, but within the past year or two I read an interesting post on tumblr talking about the rise and fall of one of its now most-infamous epochs: superwholock fandom. (A portmanteau mash-up of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock for anyone who is too young to remember or managed to avoid awareness at the time.) While I'm not entirely sure how I felt about it at the time, I do remember a lot of edits that were combining the shows around 2012. Some of them were absolutely masterful, regardless of your opinion on the disparate parts or the crossover. Some of them, on the other hand, had a tendency to make one want to cringe.

The reason I bring up #superwholock and its legacy, or strange, silent lack thereof is because I think the major change in the tone of fandom on tumblr might trace its routes to that falling out of fashion, in part because of some kind of strange linkage to the Dashcon fiasco that occurred in 2014. My personal experience of tumblr definitely degraded in quality after sometime in 2014, though in my own little world I sort of traced it to how well-received Captain America: The Winter Soldier was in the MCU fandom and in casual, multifandom circles as a whole and the subsequent disappointment with later hyped-up fandom releases and events in the MCU and other fandoms. Regardless of exactly why, the zeitgeist of tumblr took a definite turn for the cynical around that time, and I think that all of these various events may have snowballed together to create such an environment.

#Superwholock, though it is hard for me to speak about it with any authority given how I wasn't exactly an identifying "Superwholockian," was EVERYWHERE for a while between 2012-2014. It was an unapologetic aesthetic that seems to be referenced only in oblique, visual ways now. What I remember is a faint sepia-tone applied to gifs of all of them to make them match one another, crossover concepts and fics, and gifs everywhere. There also tended to be these very meme-y posts that would result in (or from) someone tacking a gif from one of those respective shows onto something unrelated or as a "reaction gif" to a simple statement. Then it would grow and grow and grow. One such example of this which was eventually regarded of the "cringiest" of all involved a lot of various fandoms "taking up arms" to somehow 'defend' themselves against a joking detractor with a bizarrely serious tone. Maybe you had to be there. In any case, I think that this era of fandom's silent erasure is one of the things that made a lot of the fandom populace of tumblr clam up lest they go back down the road of having anyone (including themselves) "cringe" later on.

It's sad, really. Because while I don't really have a ton of affection for two of the shows that make up the Superwholock 'universe,' I really admired a lot of the creativity and discussion that was filled with so much passion that came out of it. People were willing to tack onto other people's stuff, to discuss, to burst into spontaneous fic, and it had the spirit of nested commenting ev en though tumblr never had an effective, native commenting system. (I even installed Disqus in my first few months there, but no one ever used it. tumblrites just adapted to the terrible formatting for discussion, learned it, and used it as-is.)

When I joined in 2011, I do recall a certain learning curve about the etiquette of adding comments to "pretty" posts. Basically, when people posted large, decorated, or otherwise evocative fandom images, there was a sense that unless you were writing profound meta, you should probably keep your comments in your own tags. There were tumblr extensions that allowed people to read the tags on any post, later on at least, and you could see the tags of people you followed, but it was a matter of keeping the post "clean" because of the nature of content distribution on tumblr via "reblog." People wanted the proliferation of their hard work, but they didn't necessarily want silly, spurious, or short and simple comments making the post longer and longer. There is an extent to which I can sort of see the point, especially in the early days, because it didn't tend to be too harsh in terms of being something anyone complained about. Back then, people tended to be vocal and helpful, willing to send an ask and even to maintain conversations through asks in order to communicate effectively. People used tags to communicate even before @tagging was implemented at all. People figured out how to make this clunky website which was in no way set up for an effective interactive fandom experience work to do just that.

But bit by bit, the interaction trickled out. It reached a point where I saw, read, and even sometimes tired to adhere to guides written by bloggers, often quite a bit younger than me, who had figured out how to game the present culture of tumblr in order to gain followers. The point, of course, of gaining a lot of followers was to get enough people viewing content at any one time to have some percentage of them spread it and engage with it. For a time, it seemed that even blogs with relatively low (200 or less) follower counts could find people willing to interact with them. Several years in, however, I noticed that unless you had one or two friends who constantly tagged you back in "ask memes" or writing prompt posts, it was next to impossible to get anyone to stop long enough to bother sending you a prompt, even if they turned right around and reblogged the prompt list from you, hoping for that very same kind of interaction.

Any social contract that existed on tumblr broke down only to be replaced by something else. Something weird and esoteric that I'm still not entirely equipped to understand. If nothing else comes out of the apparent fall of tumblr, I hope that it might be an awakening of some of the dead-eyed, constant-scrolling types of fans who are lonely and want to engage about their fandoms but never, ever do any of the things that are required to have what they would like.

One of the metrics most-often used to talk about the trend I'm referring to is fic-comment frequency. It has dropped astronomically in recent years, and there are tons of theories as to why. I think it is a combination of factors:

1. The availability of the kudos button on AO3. There is nothing wrong with a kudos button, but I think it has enabled a lot of people who are perfectly capable of being social to be antisocial. Back in the or private archive days, there were plenty of readers who were too shy or too busy to comment on fics they read, but the ratio of readers who did leave at least a basic comment was MUCH higher. I don't think that's a coincidence. The Kudos or Like button gives an illusion of interaction that is very person-doing-the-kudos-ing-based. It is a very private, selfish form of engagement. That's not to say it's useless or shouldn't be used at all, but I think people should think about what they would do if the kudos button weren't available.

2. The conflation of social activism and fandom. I could write a whole other controversial post about this, but the aforementioned concept seems pretty self-explanatory. While it is wonderful that tumblr has had the overall impact of having been a hub for people to learn and understand issues about sexuality, politics, news reporting, social justice, and all sorts of topics that mainstream media and education do not expose teenagers and young adults to, I think that the fact that many of them were first-exposed through discussions of demographic representation in fiction and on the same platform where they were participating in fandom mostly had a very strange, rippling impact on the tone of fandom "discourse" today. In a way, it took away the innocence of engaging in fandom just to make oneself happy, and it made it fashionable to consider one's identity and the various facets of it while also creating a soup of ideas that made it very easy to absorb the "fandom" part of all that as part of one's core identity that reflected everything about oneself.

I absolutely will not deny that fandom has a huge importance in my life or that what I like reflects something about me as a person. However, I think that the intensity of the lens used in these cases is kind of backwards. It was as if, in order to be an adequately "critical" fan who was interested in seeing good change in the stories they were being sold, catharsis had to go out the window. The playground of ideas had to be governed with the exact same ethic as did one's public presentation of one's values, one's participation in civic life and fandom were the same. I think that some of this may have been a case of surrogacy. Teenagers and young adults who found themselves isolated or trapped for the very reasons social justice discussions were relevant to them found that they could find at least a sense of being involved in direct action if they directed that action toward... fandom, which is really not the source of the "problem" or the solution.

3. The self-consciousness spawned by the "bar" set for useful tumblr comments. A lot of people who have spent most of their fandom-lives on tumblr have this natural sense for what belongs "in the tags" on a post and what might be worthy of adding to the post itself. I think that another thing that might have caused such a downturn in commenting frequency is the fact that a lot of people have learned to keep their enthusiasm, their theorizing, the "squeeing" (wow that's an old word) "in the tags." Then, when they got to a fic archive, they do not think they can come up with "anything to say" in a comment, because the tumblr etiquette has kind of told them that whatever it is they want to say isn't worth putting "in the post" when that was exactly the lifeblood of the kind of commenting that most fic writers used to get. Essay-comments have always existed, but they were the exception, not the norm.

Communication is so important to life itself, and in particular to storytelling. And what is fandom if it isn't a community based on storytelling? Whether a person actively engages in writing fic, making gifs, or otherwise producing "content" for a fandom, a person who spends more time on a particular medium than simply consuming it is probably invested in that thing. They probably daydream about it and talk about it with friends who will listen. I'm not really sure what, exactly, has made silence so contagious on tumblr (even after the implementation of a terrible messaging system no less.) However, I really think that it is one of the most disheartening things I've seen in my half-a-lifetime in fandom, and I really hope that whatever is going to happen to fandom now will perhaps see a resurgence in nerds actually talking to each other.

Why don't you leave a comment and talk to me? There is no bar. Come on in, whatever you have to say is fine.

January 2019

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