Tag Archives: Randomity

Well, That Went Well

So, scratch the Nanowrimo (again) this year.  I lost my focus rather quickly.  Interesting enough idea, but…meh.  Re-reading Harry Potter seemed far more pressing.  And reading this fanfic gem community, which I share only because I love you.  Be warned, however, ’tis not for the faint of heart.  Or humor, for that matter.

Did begin training for the Georgia Marathon, and I am pleased with the progress in week one (read: off couch and onto the treadmill).  Normally, I eschew the treadmill thing–it feels dreadfully boring, but in light of my recent dog trauma, I’m not totally comfortable with running in the neighborhood at 5am right now.

I did do one neighborhood run this week.  And, was accosted by a dog.  Now, the Min Pin in question, spiked collar or no, offered little in the way of actual threat (unlike the Dog of the Month in October), but I was disheartened by how much it threw me to be approached and threatened (in all its Napoleon Complex bravado) by an unfamiliar dog.  The meeting didn’t last particularly long, and no skin was lost by canine or human, but two pieces of the incident really bugged the crap out of me: my reaction (fear) and the fact that the dog was loose to begin with.   Being loose–from either a fenced area or a leash– presents a danger to the dog, which drivers would have a hell of a time seeing (and we’ve a large number of folks who leave for work between 5 & 6 around here), and the hapless runners and walkers who have the temerity to pass by.

Speaking of which:  Would the dog owners who have their electric fence sans signage along the roadway please take a moment to consider that while Fluffy is a dear to you, the apparently unbound truck-sized tooth machine charging the runner is, well, not especially dear and/or friendly looking.  Try it sometime.

Anyhoo, to deal with the treadmill crazies, I put together a playlist of several of my current musical earworms.  I hit shuffle and let the boys and girls (L7 does make a notable appearance) distract me from my efforts.  Much more so than the omnipresent Faux News in the gym.

So, scorecard:  one failed novel, one re-read novel (yay!), and one week into the 20 weeks of training.

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Fan Fiction

Right, so, ignore the title for a spell.  We’ll get there.

Hi!

Couple of public confessions to dispense with (otherwise known as public self-flagellation, about which I know an immense amount–far more than is rational–due to ye olde dissertation and because I’ve a tendency to engage in it virtually myself):  First, I’m in a *bad* place right now–have been for a while (gee, ya think?) and I expect it will last a bit longer, but today’s a good* day.  The badness involves myriad pieces of unfortunate incidents and questionable choices on my part (partial read: decided to try the drinking experiment again.  Has gone better, well, until October’s attempt to avoid taking Oxycodone.  We’ll get to that bit of stupidity sometime I am sure).  Second, I owe myself a running update, so I’ll try to post that in the next couple of days, cause, damn, I ran the freaking miles, I should bother to brag about it (also, must show off new Vibrams.  Must.  Maybe I need to have a shoe blog.) Third, and finally,  the confession that titles this post.

I’ve been reading fan fiction.  A shit-ton of it, as a matter of fact.  And, yes, 90% of it really is that bad.  Indeed, I believe my time has made me a veritable connoisseur of the fantastically bizarre world of Internet Fan Fiction.  I can spot a quality piece in seconds (thank you 8 years of graduate education.  That Ph.D. is well-earned, thank you).  I am particularly good at sighting Remarkably Bad Fic–in large measure because that is what I have written myself over the years, when engaging in Fan Fiction (this would be one area of writing in which it is safe to assume that I’ve matured not one iota since my teen years.  Thankfully, I’ve sense enough not to publish any of my, er “work”).  Now, let us agree that Fan Fic can be very funny (especially the really angsty ones.  Good stuff right there).  I’m not here to belabor that particular nuance of fandom.

I’m…curious.  How–and more to the point–why do we move the fantasies of the mind onto the paper (virtual or otherwise) with the expectation that it will now be read?  I had a…let’s be generous here…torrid teenage fantasy life (oh, what the hell, still do).  I fall asleep to some misbegotten adventure story populated by whatever or whomever I happen to be obsessing over at the present moment practically every night (a habit I learned early to deal with the insomnia–might as well make a game of it, yes?).  So, on the one hand, I get it.  I even get the Mary Sueisms.  And dragons, though they’ve been rather absent of late.

Here’s the part that has been keeping me awake the last few nights**–at what point does canon slippage occur for a given author?  Canon slippage is my own term, I’m certain a term or phrase exists for the phenomenon I’m referring to–the moment at which the canon “reality” is subverted by the fan fic, but I don’t know the coinage.  Jossed is close, but not quite what I am referring to.  Let me try an example or two.  One of the most well-known examples of a fan canon being Jossed is the age-old “Ginny Potter’s full name is Virginia.”  This, for the uninitiated, is practically, er, canon, in Potter fan fic (Rowling, however, provides a different full name eventually–either in the series or on her site.  The series, I think).

This tendency to create fan canon where there is little or no information is particularly interesting in the notorious and dangerous (see how much I’ve been reading?) realm of Real Person Fiction, most of which I have encountered through various modes of Bandfic (that is, the main characters are loosely based on–use the names of–band members.  Def Leppard has a steady following of such, and, apparently, the Beatles did as well, though theirs started well before the advent of the internetz).  The basic idea is simple:  take the public persona of a figure (including name, and, usually–though not always–situation) of a band member (or other real person) and use that persona as the main character.

For instance, one could (Pete, please forgive me) take the public persona of one Pete Loran*** (no links.  If you know who I mean, lovely, if you don’t, it’s not especially important that you know who he is): teen vocalist, nice NJ guy, band is composed of bestest buds who grew up together, and so forth. But, given enough PR and/or fiction on the matter, a piece of Pete’s life (that may or may not be accurate) becomes canon.  Now, in his case, it was wholly deliberate–they shaved several years off his age, and he first gave himself away during an interview on…Headbanger’s Ball, I think, when he referenced being of age to go to war and to drink alcohol (according to the band lore, he was not yet 21).  THAT is piddly example of being Jossed, incidentally.  I recall sitting with friends for more hours than I care to admit to trying to figure out if he was a bit daft or if we were that bad at arithmetic.  I’ve never thanked you for that time spent, have I?  Yeah, thanks so much, Pete.

What can you do with this handsome type?  Well, any damn thing you wish, once he’s your character.  Perhaps nice Pete becomes EvilVampire!Pete–who terrorizes Hoboken and, I don’t know, kicks puppies.  It is unlikely that this factoid will appear time and again (what with the whole vampire thing), but  canon slippage (or whatever we wish to call it) occurs when some factoid from rumor and/or fiction is taken as fact and comes to replace reality–the factoid is seldom anything of consequence (several of these exist, BTW, about our hero Duff).   For instance, let’s assume that a story is published about Pete that includes him (I suck at this, sorry, and I’m trying not to come up with anything that will haunt me in my sleep) owning a pet sheep named Dexter.  Now, Pete doesn’t own a sheep–nevermind one named Dexter–but, one story makes reference to it and it’s taken as cute or funny (ah, I think I answered my own question) and appears in another and another…and so forth.  And the next thing Pete knows, someone is asking him about Dexter (or not–I shudder what people would ask based on some of the stories).

And fanfics develop their own canons–the pairings (esp. in slash–the fiction–not the guitarist), the crossovers, the AUs (Alternate Universes), the character qualities.  I hereby giveaway my current reading marathon: Zacky is cute!  Always.  And has an odd predilection for babytalk.  *shudder*  Johnny is a prick.  And so forth.  Draco, by the way, was nearly always either an inveterate wimp or the “real” hero-dark and suave. (Stop laughing–that’s rude) Anyone who shies away from or subverts the accepted character qualities is expected to explain why.  Which is itself rather odd, really.

So, I wonder if it is that simple.  The story or image is so appealing that it takes on a life of its own.  Fantasy becomes more important than reality.  Come to think of it…music videos were (are?) one controlling mechanism for this, aren’t they?  We take the video characters as elements of the “real person” and operate accordingly (hence the inclusion of significant others in some videos??). Songs, too, naturally–especially those in the first person.  I guess it isn’t that distant from rumors that become more real than non-fiction–but why?  Is it a control mechanism?  Ownership?

Okay, somewhere I got off the track.  There was a point to all of this, but it seems to have wandered off to read more fanfic.  Perhaps I can persuade it to return later. I guess that means I have to go read more….****

<hr>

*Qualified.  But, I’ll take what I can get.

**Unqualified and utterly, hopelessly true.

***I use him because as far as I know there are no published fanfics about him.  Also, because the band had a fairly well-constructed persona for each member.  Nevertheless, I’m sure such stories exist somewhere.

****Final Confession:  for reasons at present unbeknownst to me (perhaps a desire to avoid buying yet more books), I really do enjoy the sport of fanfic hunting.

Mohawks, Irony, and Youth Culture

TG’s first weekday wrestling match was last night, and Boyo won one of his two matches.  He was pleased with the win, critical of his overall performance, and, generally, a Tough Guy.

This morning, he’s a tough guy with a backache.   Poor boyo.

High School Wrestling is a strange enterprise.  For myriad reasons, but I’d like to address the reason most closely associated with this blog’s enterprise.  Oh, wait.  Okay, the second most closely…

First would be the potential addictions, of course.  Steroids are of major concern, but after seeing them twist the bejesus out of each other last night, I’d say that those mats are likely the beginnings of more than a few painkiller addictions.  Hell, I wanted painkillers, and I was only watching them.

But, I want to address something close to my heart: punk–this time, via the mohawk.  Now, those of you who aren’t hanging around high schools or watching Glee (or UFC, according to my High School fashion correspondent) might be a tad baffled as to why I am discussing a trend to indelibly linked to my own teen years.

My tweet-o’horror last night:

I’m disappointed in the quality of the mohawks here today. Kids these days. Sheesh.

Well, perhaps not horror exactly.

I’m fond of the mohawk*.  In the years I’ve been teaching, I’ve had a few students who sported them, even one fellow who wore some truly impressive Liberty Spikes (I admit it…I covet the style.  I’m not sure I have the patience for the maintenance, however.).  Some were of high quality and talent and others were of middling effort, but acceptable, for the most part.  Granted, in the last year or three, I’ve had several students sporting  faux hawks, which disappoint me tremendously, but I’ve not encountered the likes of the ones I saw last night outside of television.  Say, on Glee’s Puck, for instance:

I should have known…there’s Glee fanfic.   OMG.  Sorry.  Oh, and PUCKLEBERRY????  WTF?  *headdesk*

Now, Puck’s hairstyle is clearly intended to be all about intimidation.  He’s the jock with an attitude, given to lying and threatening as needed, tossing the occasional slushie, and to singing “Sweet Caroline,” should it help to get in Rachel’s pants (or Quinn’s, or whomever he was actually hitting on in that episode).

*headdesk*

According to TG, UFC fighter Chad Lidell is responsible for the appearance of mohawks on the mats.  Now, I’m not sure I agree completely with his assessment, but this picture amuses me sufficiently to include it here.  Lidell’s mohawk is not of my favorite style,admittedly, as I am rather fond of the more flashy, work- intensive mohawks.  The photo is apparently from Lidell’s** stint on Dancing With the Stars.  But it is serviceable, and, I suppose, it does fulfill the intent of being “intimidating” (I guess.  Not for me, but, hey, maybe it works in the ring).   Football players have used a similar mowhawk-style over the years, with a varying degree of success with regard to intimidation, but certainly they do tend to stand out (Chad Johnson’s blonde mohawk–there is a pic on the mohawk link above).  I’m not a huge fan of the wide mohawk look in any event, so I’m probably a bit biased on the matter.

Thing is, the kids last night had either poorly maintained mohawks (sides growing out really, noticeably–perhaps working on getting rid of the ‘do??) that might have worked or were, well…it looked for all the world as if we took a standard, every day male haircut and then removed the sides.  Pitiful excuses for mohawks.  What is this world coming to?

There was a point here…

Ah, yes, I recall.  I had been pondering punk and youth cultures in general of late, and wondering how applicable the theories (link points to previous brain droppings on the matter) might be to current American, and, particularly, Southern, white Millennials–and, more to the point–if they could be applied at all.   I keep reading incredible rage in papers from this group–especially the males, and I haven’t pinned down where the rage is coming from, largely because it is so diffuse. They rage against everything…

And, yet, much of it seems to be a tempest/teapot thing.  Indeed, on more than one occasion, it has occurred to me that I am seeing reflected rage–“I’m supposed to be angry” so I am, but there is no identifiable trigger.  Some will cite the economy and current economic practices, but these are also upper middle-class students, many of whom do not pay their own tuition, who live away from their parents, but are largely subsidized by the parents, and often approach college with radical learned helplessness.

And yet, rage.

What are the points of resistance?  What are the specific spaces of frustration, change, etc.?  How is it (and is it) reflected in the codes of their behavior and dress? Most of this was idle thought, but looking over the mohawk-travesty got me wondering about it again.

Much of punk style was initially ironic co-opting (one could argue as much about the mohawk, certainly).  Sarcasm and sardonic humor are a mainstay of the punk music genre (thank goodness).  But, as my colleagues often point out (following just about every 20th century European literary theorist), our American students have almost no sense of the ironic.  Many of them simply cannot recognize it, even when it is pointed out to them.

And I caught myself wondering if these half-hearted ‘hawks were significant in that fashion (a mohawky death of irony).  The styles  come to the students via media images from sports, which co-opted the “fierce” associations with the mohawk and reflect a period these kids don’t recall, but have likely been exposed to via the Quincy-punk media image (again, fierce, violent, but also often ridiculous), which does still pop up every once and again.  But, students do seem to be aware on some level that punk was associated with rage and rebellion (at least, those who have any concept of punk do)…so are they co-opting it without irony?

*sigh*

Yeah, kids these days.



*Okay, I have to admit something here. I have Darby Crash’s voice in my head right now bitching about the use of the term mohawk. Mohican, it keeps saying, Mohican. Gimme a beee-ah. Mohican…. Oi.

**Every time I type his name, I find myself wanting to go read Borges’ “Garden of Forking Paths,” which faux-references (sort of) Liddell Hart.

Facebook Quizzes

Facebook quizzes are good for something other than wasting time, laughing at poor spelling, and poking fun at the friends who are consistently predictable. They are excellent for nostalgia.

Ah, Vyvyan.

If I put too much stock in these little quizzes, I might be in trouble, because I keep pulling the various psychotics and sociopaths listed: House, Courtney Love, and, the result of today’s gem, which asked “Which of The Young Ones are you, prick?”

Apparently, my answers suggest a certain set of common features with Vyvyan, the psychotic punk of the show, for whom boredom was A. Very. Bad (albeit funny). Thing. At least for anyone else around.

Yeah, I can identify with that.

Update: 5/21

Facebook Psycho of the day: Alex DeLarge, from A Clockwork Orange.

Sheesh. Could make a girl a tad paranoid.

Unsolicited Advice for Bitter Parents

I want to share with you what a friend of mine is struggling with in her steplife. Her story is here; court is today–I can’t even begin to guess what will happen, now that she and her husband have surrendered any hope of restoring a normal relationship with her stepkids. My heart breaks for this whole family and the years of pain that is yet to come for them, no matter the outcome today.

I am fortunate that my life has been lived in step on and off since I was about 11 years old. Now, I didn’t have a great relationship with my father and stepmother, to put it mildly. And, it does bother me tremendously, even now–and I suspect it will for the rest of my life–that I allowed myself to be so separated from my father. Whatever choices he and my mother made, and, trust me, I have some excellent stories on the matter of how not to interact with your ex (most of them do strike me funny now, if they didn’t at the time), I too much allowed those choices, arguments, and power plays to influence how I conducted myself with my father. And since he is long-since buried at sea, there is nothing to be done–the separation is now permanent. I fear this will be true for kitten’s stepkids.

I am also a stepmother, and while I don’t always know what to do with my stepsons (Turtle and Monkey–TG is my bioson), I do love them. And though they don’t usually see it, I defend their rights to appreciate both parents equally and without fear of retribution Every. Single. Day. I have held them as they cried after their mother screamed terrible things about their father; I have reminded them to call her to let her know about activities. I have pulled their father aside or talked him through how to approach an issue without turning it into “dad versus mom,” which is too easy to do if the adults can’t see past the divorce. I have encouraged him to talk to their mother, even when he tries to avoid it. I don’t do this because I’m somehow heroic or better or whatever, I do it because of the three adults in the life of these two kids, I’m the only one who is/was/whatever a stepchild, so my perspective is a bit different.

Do I always handle situations well in step? Hell no. I’ve provided each of the three kids with plenty of stories to share with their therapists when they are grown (that is the function of the parent, right?). For one, I seldom interact with their mother out of a sense of self-preservation–she is far too much like my own mother for my comfort, and I know my avoidance of her bothers all three kids. I am, hmmm…how do I put this…critical and loud (TG and I are screamers, the rest of the clan is not. Even after 6 years we are still trying to mediate this). I yell and I tell things as I see them, occasionally with a heavy dose of sarcasm. And, of course, there is that addiction piece, which has adversely affected them all, undoubtedly.

I am also the biomom, and I screw up plenty there too. I forget to call and send things to TG’s father; I am so very grateful that the schools have since started sending stuff to both addresses, so that my forgetfulness is no longer a problem there. I find myself frustrated at the ways in which TG’s father and I differ in our disciplinary tactics and approaches to parenting TG, but when the chips are down, I know damn well I can count on his father to have my back and to support TG. Why? We agreed a looong time ago, that we would work to parent the boy together, even though disagreement. Even across 500 miles. And, yeah, there’s the big one for TG’s therapist. 11 years ago, I chose to move TG 538 miles away from his father, in order to start graduate school (no, there was no local program for my coursework). That they have the kind of relationship is testament to something–tenacity, perhaps?

As frustrated as I have gotten with TG’s father, with Monkey and Turtle’s mother, with G and with myself, I can’t begin to imagine a moment where I would encourage a child to despise his or her other parents ( bio, step, foster, first, forever or otherwise). To do so is an act of cruelty that I can’t even begin to articulate. There are plenty of parents who do things that will result in such hatred from the child–those who abuse, those who abandon, the mentally unstable, and scores of others may earn the contempt of their children (rightly or wrongly) without interference from a third party. Most parents, though, are guilty only of being human and having the audacity to possess human foibles.

So, here’s a few pieces of advice:

One, avoid labeling the other parents (step or otherwise) as slut, trollop, asshole, bitch, whatever, in front of the kids. Yes, you might really believe in your heart that he is a no-account-bastard-who-hates-his-children or that she is a psycho-hose-beast-from-hell, but, please do keep that kind of opinion to yourself when around the kids. Share it with your friends if you need to get it off your chest.

Two, don’t convince your child that the other parent has hired someone to spy on you and follow you around, unless that is accurate. As a joke it rather sucks. If accurate, that’s a whole separate problem.

Three, raising the kids is not about your divorce, split up, or separation. Deal with it. It’s not even about you. The affair?–not really their concern. The abuse–yeah, it may be a concern. Very much. Ask for help in talking to the kids about it. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

Four, waxing nostalgic about the past to the kids is seldom helpful. If your marriage or relationship was such a paradise, chances are you wouldn’t have split up. See #3–this is not about you.

Five, wanton destruction of artifacts of your relationship might feel damn good, but do try to keep such activities out of the line of sight of the kids. Again, not really helpful.

Six, if you should happen to blow it on one of the above or something like them, apologize to the kids. If you called the other parent names or lied or shared stories you shouldn’t have, you may even need to apologize to the other parent. Yes, I am serious. Humans sometimes do really dumb things; own up and don’t repeat.

Most of all, be willing to forgive your screw-ups, those of the other parents, and the kids, when those screw-ups really aren’t harmful. Don’t assume that someone else is a negative influence just because you *shudder* disagree about something, and for the love of Pete, don’t convince the kids that another parent is harmful or negative, just because you disagree. Deal with the disagreement between adults and grow up a tad… an ounce of grace and a pinch of calm will make all of our interactions better.

Snowblogging!

Greetings from the frozen South. Snow being a novel concept ‘round these parts, I thought I would share our fortune. (As you can see from the note at the bottom, this turned into a multi-day blogging effort.) Northerners, don’t laugh, this is a hell of a lot of snow down here. We are both excited and nervous. We are expecting between 2 & 4 inches by midnight and…honestly…I think we’ve already got that. And it’s only 5 pm. G. contends that we’ve gotten at least 1.5 inches in the last hour or so.


<–That was a Rosemary bush. Once upon a yesterday. Behind it are gardenias that were once 6 feet tall and remain about as high as the poor Rosemary bush in this picture. Plants are not happy right now. In all honesty, our adventure begins with TG, who has fashioned a snowboard from an ancient skateboard and built his own snow ramp. He is having a blast in the muck and is thoroughly convinced he will have a day off tomorrow (he was correct–will also have Tuesday off). Note that in this particular picture, the “snowboard” has gotten away from our intrepid teenboy, who was forced to repeatedly chase after it on foot. He commenced with the same this morning (Monday) and even built a ramp of sorts out of snow. Also skiied off over the retaining wall. Must have a word with TG, preferably prior to him breaking one of his limbs.

The adventure continued with yours truly, who had wisely decided that after running 6 miles in the rain Saturday and knowing Sunday was to be cold, to give myself a break by hitting the Y and the treadmill to continue training today, But, being in the South and being, in consequence, adversely affected in the areas of intellect when it comes to the wet white precipitation, I was overwhelmed (and also convinced the Y would be closed due to weather) and ran 2.5 miles in the 2.5 inches of accumulated road slush. Check out the hat afterward:

Yes, it is a Ravenclaw hat. Shut up.

Remember, I was RUNNING and this was the accumulation. Oddly, though it felt like my legs were moving through ice flows (which, in fact, they were—or at least my feet were), my time was not adversely affected which suggests that either the trudging wasn’t as difficult as I felt that it was or that I am so slow anyway that even slush can’t really slow me down further. I do believe I’ll go with the first of those. The power is intermittent*, so I’ll leave this post. More soon.

Peace,
Kitsch


*shortly after I typed that fateful sentence, the power went out and remained out for 26 hours. Oi. So, the posting of this is a tad late…We ended up with almost 7 inches of snow. Wet snow + pine trees=bad news for power lines.