May update; June goals

Days written: 18/31
Words written: 4,880
Words of fic written: 4,345
Stories worked on: Four
Stories posted: Two (one flashfic)

I suppose I have to post it.Collapse )

I always knew May was going to be busy, but I didn't think it would eat my time and attention quite this badly.

Specific goals:

1. Write at least five days a week, including while traveling. Not close, really.

2. Finish and post DABB story. Now this I managed, and it came out better than I expected. And I started thinking about possibilities for a sequel.

3. Make healthy progress on MCU story and check in on Bradford Challenge. Ish, and no.

4. Write and post at least one Genprompt Bingo story. Didn't even look at it. But I did play around with the second part of Wardens of Ivalice! Once I've finished the wipbigbang story, I might even prioritize it.

So, now it's June. I have two projects due before the end of the month -- my WIP Big Bang draft and Remix story (did I mention that I signed up for Remix again? No, I never overcommit to anything, what are you talking about) and will be effectively offline from June 20th through July 1st. So... that should be interesting. Let's plan accordingly.

1. Write every day that I'm not traveling.

2. Finish draft of MCU story.

3. Write story for Remix.

I think that ought to be enough for three weeks.

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Back from Bryn Mawr

Had a fantastic weekend at the mothership, reconnecting with old dear friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in a very long time, as well as with people who I didn't know that well in school. One of the things about being a Mawrter, for me, is that we share a bond that goes beyond who we hung out with for the four (or however many years) we spent there. A kinship with the place, and each other, that affects us all and brings us close together. At every reunion, I spend hours chatting with at least one person I barely knew before, and come out of the experience with a new old friend. And even if we only friend each other on Facebook and see each other every five years, the connection is there, and it's important. There's a reason I make a point of going back every time.

Somehow I ended up agreeing to be class co-president for the next five years. I've been thinking about getting back into volunteering, might as well jump back into the pool with both feet. Right? Also yikes.

Now, to work on catching up with my life and taking a few weeks to breathe before the whirlwind begins again...

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I've made no secret of the fact that I think Agents of SHIELD got much better as it dealt with the fallout from Winter Soldier. As I mentioned in my post on the first part of the season, the pacing of the earlier episodes feels better in retrospect than it did at the time, but it still suffered from having to draw out too little story over too many episodes. When HYDRA comes out of the shadows in "Turn Turn Turn", the plot picks up steam, and (with the exception of the mostly terrible episode about the cellist -- although the Skye vs. Ward plotline almost saves it) barrels ahead to a satisfying ending.

Thoughts, feelings, and errata.Collapse )

Overall I liked the whole season better the second time around, although this latter chunk didn't have as far to improve. Now that I'm not longer under time pressure, Guardians of the Galaxy is up next, and I'm curious to see what new connections, if any, I can make to the rest of canon.

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Things that have happened

1. My trip to Nashville concluded with relative success. Various potential family dramas were sidestepped thanks to everyone being on good behavior (if not always their best), and I got to spend time with my brother and my nephew, neither of whom I see nearly often enough. I may be seeing much more of my brother soon, which is good news although not under good circumstances.

2. I was on a podcast! [personal profile] renay invited me to come share my thoughts and feelings about Avengers: Age of Ultron on [ profile] fangirlhappyhour. It came out today and can be found here, or on the podcast provider of your choice. I recommend you check it out not just today, but in general, for [personal profile] renay and [ profile] booksmugglers's biweekly conversations on all things fannish, which are always a great time.

3. More travel coming down the pike! My 20 year college reunion is only two weeks away, and I'm getting excited about that. Then, in June, a friend is having a bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas, which was supposed to be a long weekend but then I found out that T was being awarded a Mediterranean cruise by his employer. Okay, that's not a thing that happens in real life, is it? Except apparently, it does. So I'll come home on Sunday instead, and then on Monday we fly to Nice. I have to admit that I have a hard time believing that this is something that's actually going to take place. I might not fully accept it until I get off a plane in France. More about all this later, I am sure.

4. I'm still trying to decide whether to go to Baycon next weekend. I've never been, and I actually can go this weekend (often I'm out of town or have other conflicts), and Seanan McGuire is Guest of Honor, and there are many interesting things on the schedule, so that's all really exciting. On the other hand, I have something happening literally every weekend this month, and June is shaping up to be super busy as well, so it might be nice to have a few days off. Still contemplating.

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DABB: Face the Music

Title: Face the Music
Fandom: Dragon Age
Rating: M-ish
Wordcount: 12,051
Characters: Alistair, Fiona, Teagan, Bianca. Gen, with passing references to past Alistair/f!Cousland and Fiona/Maric
Spoilers: For the mage and Grey Warden questlines in DA:I
Notes: Written for the 2015 round of [ profile] dragonagebb. My attempt to answer the question of what a exiled Alistair might have gotten up to during the events of Inquisition. Featuring wonderful accompanying artwork by [ profile] stupidlullabies. Thanks to [personal profile] phdfan for a lifesaving beta read.

Summary: Over a decade after he walked out of the Landsmeet, Alistair never expected he'd end up back in Redcliffe as Arl Teagan's master-at-arms, training knights and guards, avoiding his memories -- and fighting the effects of the Calling, which came on more suddenly than he'd expected. As he begins to consider whether he needs to leave, a new responsibility falls on his shoulders: the security of Grand Enchanter Fiona and the other mages taking shelter in town.

On AO3

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Quick travel note

In Nashville for my brother's college graduation. It's sort of a weird time because he's also (very) recently (and somewhat suddenly, from my perspective) divorced, and also lost his job not too long ago, so lots of personal changes all at once. My parents are also here, and his relationship with them is a little bit strained, so I anticipate a weekend of much family wrangling and negotiating.

Still, I am very proud of him for finishing his college degree, especially in the midst of so much personal upheaval. I hope he's proud, too.

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Age of Ultron

I don't want to write a long post getting out all my various feelings about the new Avengers movie at this juncture, because I'm going on [ profile] fangirlhappyhour to chat about it, and I want my thoughts to stay fresh, not get hashed out in advance. (For the same reason, I'm not going to seek out a lot of other people's reviews and meta yet, although I am eager to read all the crit and squee and so forth once the time comes.)

So I'll leave you with the short version, which is that I enjoyed it quite a bit. There are things I loved and things that bugged me; I do think the first one was notably better, and I can understand what people disliked about it. But overall, in terms of the story and most of the characterization and the experience of watching it, I come down in the positive column. Certainly I'm interested in seeing it again.

More to come.

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April update; May goals

Days written: 21/30
Words written: 14,070
Words of fic written: 1,556 (not a typo)
Stories worked on: Two
Stories posted: None

Chart rewatchCollapse )

So, yeah. Only about ten percent of my words this month were on fic, thanks to the MCU Rewatch project. (On the flip side, I don't remember the last time I wrote more than 10k words worth of journal entries, and it was nice to have a project that brought me back to that.) I'd cite a combination of factors: time spent watching TV and movies is time not writing, I started my new part-time job which cut drastically back on leisure hours, and my highest priority project of the month was editing a mostly-written draft, which is not conducive to producing lots of new words.

Okay, wordcount stuff out of the way, specific goals progress:

1. Write at least five days per week. Not quite.

2. Complete DABB story. No, but I sent it to beta.

3. Finish and post one of two major WIPs -- the MCU story or the prize fic. I didn't even touch the latter. I got a little work in on the former, and I actually signed up for wipbigbang as an incentive to expand and finish.

4. Write an update post and at least two book reviews relating to the Bradford Challenge. The truth is, I totally forgot about this in my excitement over the MCU Rewatch project. I have been reading, and some good books too, but I haven't been talking about them or tracking as closely as I wanted.

Well, not so good on the goals there. And May is going to be hella busy -- I have something planned literally every weekend this month, including two out-of-town trips and a concert weekend, not to mention the DABB deadline, so keeping all that in mind:

1. Write at least five days a week, including while traveling.

2. Finish and post DABB story.

3. Make healthy progress on MCU story and check in on Bradford Challenge.

4. Write and post at least one Genprompt Bingo story.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: The Winter Soldier

I love this movie, okay? Just pure fangirl squeeish love. Marvel might have been able to make a more perfect follow up to Cap 1 and The Avengers in terms of what I wanted as a Steve Rogers fangirl, but I have a hard time imagining what it might have been. So I have a hard time being objective. Also, I've written about this film before, both right after I first saw it and on my second viewing, in the context of a smaller rewatch (TFA, Avengers, and the first two post-TWS episodes).

I took exactly two notes as I was watching, one about how seamlessly Steve and Natasha work together, despite their contrasts in personality and style, and one about Jasper Sitwell. A few thoughts on Sitwell.Collapse )

As for the rest, well, what can I say? The character development of Steve, Natasha, and Nick Fury follow just right from the rest of the series. Pierce and HYDRA make for the best MCU antagonists so far (except for Loki, of course). Sam is exactly the right new character at the right time -- someone outside all the power structures we already know, able to bring a fresh new perspective and be a friend to Steve. The business with Bucky carries the perfect amount of emotional punch. Cut for future movie speculation.Collapse )

And so this project takes a pause in the same place it began, with fangirling over a Captain America movie. Appropriate, I think. :) There's more to rewatch, and I think I probably will continue, but for now I have tickets to Age of Ultron tomorrow at 10pm. See you on the other side.

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Strictly speaking, I should have watched and posted about the first seven episodes before The Dark World, but at the time I didn't think I was going to have time to watch all of the show before May 1st. I still might not, but I found myself with some time on my hands over the past few days (thanks, cold that knocked me on the ass for awhile). So I started rewatching from the beginning.

I generally enjoy Agents of SHIELD -- it doesn't do everything right and I have my issues with it, but I've never seriously considered quitting it, like I know other people have. Because it rewrites the rules of its own universe a couple of times a season, I've long been curious about how it would stand up to a rewatch, and the answer is: surprisingly well.

More thoughts, spoils everything through the end of Season One, including Winter Soldier.Collapse )

There are other things I could talk about -- the other characters, the race issue (which is absolutely an issue, at least in terms of African American males, but that would rate its own post, and I want to see how Ultron and the rest of Season 2 play out before I make any overarching statements anyway), the ethics of bringing people back from the dead, the Guardians of the Galaxy connections -- but this post is already long and I'm ready for some Steve time. So that's all for now.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: The Dark World

The first and only other time that I'd seen this movie was in the theater, and I never got around to buying it on disc. (I do own Iron Man 3, but mostly for the Agent Carter short, which I didn't look at for the rewatch mostly because we don't yet know where it fits in the overall timeline.) Not because I don't like it -- I do, and like the first Thor movie I think it's somewhat underrated. But I don't feel the need to watch it again and again like I do some of the other films.

That said, I enjoyed revisiting it, even though I didn't really notice much in the way of interesting new connections. Pretty much everything I said in my initial reaction shot holds. On reflection, I wish they had given Darcy and especially Sif more to do, and not shoehorned Jane into the damsel role for so much of the film, and though I'm always complaining about comic book movies and how they never kill off characters for real (I'm especially looking at you, Phil Coulson) cutting for a spoilerCollapse ). The other thing I neglected to mention in my initial post is how flat the villains were. Any Thor villain is going to suffer in comparison to Loki, but we get so little of a window into Malekith, his character or his motivations (beyond your standard "revenge" and "let's destroy the world because we can", which are so generic that I don't think they really count) that it was impossible to care about him. Such a waste of Christopher Eccleston.

I've actually watched a good chunk of Agents of SHIELD Season One in the last few days, so look for a post on that soon. And then: Winter Soldier, yay!

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So I got busy with other things and missed the exact date, but as of last Sunday, April 19th, I've been in fandom for 10 years.

I'd done other things one might describe as fannish before, and of course I've been a fan of things for much longer than that -- my whole life, really. But I date my active participation in fandom to the posting of my first fanfic, which went up on on April 19th, 2005. I'd been working on it for months, along with the second story I ever posted (the first chapter of that went up a week or so later), and I hemmed and hawed about posting it at all, but I decided it was worth throwing it up there to see what happened. And fandom happened. It took a couple of months, but by the summer I had a few regular readers, and then I met kunstarniki and the rest is history.

When I posted about this anniversary on Tumblr a bit ago, when it was still upcoming, I noted that ten years isn't that long to be in fandom, really -- I know many people who've been involved much longer, and people who came to it far younger. But it's still a good chunk of time, and it's changed my life so much. It wouldn't be entirely wrong to divide my life up into "before fandom" and "after fandom". And although fandom comes with its ups and downs, I can't imagine giving it up. It's brought me the creative outlet I always needed, and I've met so many fantastic people -- including some of the best friends I've ever had.

I thought about doing something grand for the anniversary, but I ran out of both time and ideas, so this brief meander was the best I could do. Thank you, all of you, for being a part of this grand experience. Here's to ten years and ten more, and another ten after that.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: Iron Man 3

My approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed drastically once I got into the fandom. Before Avengers, I enjoyed the movies and always made a point of seeing them in the theater, and to a certain extent I considered them a single canon and watched them with an eye to what had come before, and what might come next. But getting fannish about them, reading tons of meta on Tumblr and elsewhere, chatting about them non-stop with friends, brought me to a very different level. Suddenly, whenever I watch an MCU film, it's not just about that film, but all the others as well (and the TV series, once Agents of SHIELD came around). It's no longer just a series to me now; it really is a universe.

And so, as with the Avengers, I feel like I've already seen everything there is to say about this film, a film I enjoyed a lot but with some very conflicting feelings. Very little has changed, really, from the initial reaction shot I wrote within a day or so of watching it -- I love Rhodey in this film, I'm happy that the Battle of New York had real consequences for Tony that can't be brushed off, even months later; I'm excited by the choices they made with the Mandarin. My mixed emotions mainly center on the treatment of Pepper. More.Collapse )

At this point I don't think I'm going to be able to watch much, if any, Agents of SHIELD, but we'll see how it shakes out. Either way, I think Thor 2 is next. I haven't watched that since I first saw it in theaters, so it should be fun.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: The Avengers

And now we get to the entire reason I'm even here. Iron Man might have been the instigator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I'd been watching from pretty much the beginning, but my first viewing of The Avengers was the event that took me from "person who enjoys a series of movies" to full-blown fangirl. Not until The Avengers did I start writing fic, poring through reams of meta and writing my own, squeeing non-stop over gifsets on Tumblr. A combination, I think, of a few things: a fun and appealing team dynamic, the characterization of Steve Rogers hitting just the right notes in my fic writing brain, an exciting new pairing in Clint/Natasha, and having a whole bunch of people on Tumblr to fangirl with. Fandom is at its best as a community experience, and it's not often that I've been catapulted into the rush of a new fandom with so many other people at once. (The closest I can think of is Cinders, and that was on a much smaller scale.)

Because I am so fannish about this movie, and I feel like I've spilled quite a lot of virtual ink on it already (though mostly on Tumblr, therefore making it somewhat difficult to find), I'm not sure how much I have to say about this rewatch, but a few thoughts.

Is there anyone who hasn"t seen this movie and would care about spoilers? Well, I"ll cut it just in case.Collapse )

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: Thor

I don't understand why people don't like this movie. It's one of my favorites in the series: fun story, good balance between funny and tragic, several excellent female characters are front and center, and Darcy Lewis is possibly the most entertaining character of all time. I think the acting is top-notch, the writing is pretty good, and the balance between Asgard and Earth is well-struck. Basically, this movie is possibly the most underrated of the MCU films, and I will defend it to my dying breath.

Have my feelings on Loki, among other things.Collapse )

I feel like I ought to have more to say, but I forgot to take any notes, and it's Avengers time! I'm sure later movies will trigger other thoughts.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: Iron Man 2

I watched Iron Man 2 on Thursday, shortly after writing up my Incredible Hulk post, and found that I took almost no notes while watching it. I probably should have waited longer to watch it after the first Iron Man, since I sort of expanded my thoughts on that movie into things that happened in this one, so going too deeply into all that feels repetitive. But, a few things:

Cut for spoilers, length, etc.Collapse )

That's about it, really. On to Thor, probably sometime next week.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk is the MCU film I'm the least familiar with, by far. I've only seen it once before, it's the only one I didn't see in the theater, and it's the only Phase One movie I don't own. Also, I first watched it after seeing The Avengers, so I didn't already have it in mind as backstory.

My impression remains that, although the film is officially part of MCU canon, it stands a bit apart from the rest. The recasting of Bruce Banner contributes to that, of course, as does Banner's lack of involvement in most of the other movies. But I also suspect that it wasn't really written with the rest of the series in mind -- it came out just over a month after Iron Man, and the MCU wasn't really a thing at that point, so I suspect those two movies were developed independently. And the later films don't treat TIH as a bedrock of MCU canon in the same way they do Iron Man. Consider The Avengers, and how it brings together elements from so many of the other films. The primary antagonist comes from the Thor mythos, and the MacGuffin is out of Cap's canon. Iron Man 2 introduces Black Widow, provides our first real interaction with Nick Fury, and gives us a glimpse of the inner workings of SHIELD. From TIH, we get the Hulk himself, but none of his context: no friends, no enemies, only the briefest glimpses of what happened to him in that space of time, and the ending seems to be wiped almost clean away.

For length, mostly, though there are some spoilers too.Collapse )

I do wonder if anything from Bruce's backstory as it's told here will ever find its way back into the MCU. General Ross, Betty, Blonsky/the Abomination, and Stearns are all characters who could return and add to both the canon and Bruce's place within it. I'm okay with Bruce having a story that's only told within the big team pieces, but it would be interesting to see the people connected with him being a part of the larger scheme of things, too.

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Mega Marvel Rewatch: Iron Man

If it seems like I'm moving through these quickly, it's because I might be starting a short-term job sometime soon, and I don't know how much free time I'll have after this week. And when I get my teeth into a project, I like to keep moving on it. Pacing myself has never been one of my great skills. ;) If I get way ahead of schedule, maybe I'll watch more episodes of Agents of SHIELD.

So, Iron Man! Where it all started. It's easy to forget, so many years and films later, that without the commercial and critical success of this movie, we wouldn't even have a Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think I've probably seen this more times than any other MCU film (except maybe The Avengers), in part because it's the oldest, in part because it's on TV a lot, and in part because it's T's favorite film in the series, so it's the one he's most likely to watch. I might also argue that it's the best film of the lot, in terms of a piece of filmmaking, except for CA: TWS -- it's certainly one of the more tightly written, the pacing is excellent, and it has one of the better villains in Stane. Even now, after TWS, this is my benchmark superhero film, the one against which all others are judged.

And yet, much as I like it, Iron Man isn't a movie I was fannish about when I first watched it, or for some time after. I paged a bit through my archives to see if I'd ever done a full write-up of Iron Man, and as far as I can tell I didn't even mention the Marvel Cinematic Universe on LJ/DW until I watched The First Avenger, and even that was a throwaway -- I didn't get truly sucked into the series until The Avengers. (Perhaps not surprisingly, my first Tumblr reblog tagged "iron man" is a character study of Tony based on that movie.) But of course it is a part of my fandom now, both individually and as part of the greater whole. I might be a Steve girl, but that doesn't mean that I don't see Tony's charms, especially as played by Robert Downey, Jr. (who might as well have been born to play Tony Stark), or love Rhodey to bits, or ship Tony/Pepper and Tony/Rhodey (and all three of them together) like it's going out of style.

So that's the background; now some thoughts about the actual movie, and its relationship to the rest of the series.

Spoilers for, like, everything.Collapse )

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I re-watched the last three episodes of Agent Carter on Saturday (partially as a palate cleanser for Interstellar, which wasn't bad, but it was about a million years too long and aspects of the science are beyond mockable. Gorgeous, though; we probably should have seen it in the theater, the spectacle might have helped made the tedious parts more bearable). A scattering of further thoughts:

Cut for spoilers.Collapse )

As of this writing, we still don't know whether Agent Carter is coming back for a second season, and I don't expect to hear until May or so. Word is that renewal is on the bubble, so fingers crossed! I do of course, have a wish list for future seasons: Peggy in a position of power -- I'd really like to see the early days of the SSR becoming what we now know as SHIELD. More women. More characters of color. Waaaaaay more female characters of color. More Angie! An excuse for Jarvis to come back. Peggy and Daniel, Peggy and Angie, and a handling of both relationships with respect. More Dottie. More Howling Commandos (and maybe we could arrange to get more of the film cast back this time?). A cameo from Colonel Phillips (please, please). But above all, what I want is more. More Agent Carter, more of this awesome show that I love. Okay, Marvel? Let's do it.

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On the occasion of the Sad/Rabid Puppy near-sweep of the 2015 Hugo Nominations (for anyone not familiar, here's an excellent overview):

Word on the street is that you're pretty pissed that a group of folks were able to game the award nominations this way. Good. You should be. The rules for how the Hugo Awards work have long been in need of an overhaul to reflect how fandom has changed in the 21st century. Maybe their success will finally provide the impetus to make these changes. But I have two fairly simple suggestions that I think would go a long way to help keep something like this from happening again.

1. Make it easier to vote. This might seem counter-intuitive. I'm sure that it's tempting to blame the ease of buying a supporting Worldcon membership, and that it might seem like a simple fix to return to the days where you had to buy a full attending membership in order to nominate and vote. Please, don't do that. The Sad Puppy campaign started in the first place because a handful of people were unhappy about the greater diversity of voices getting onto the Hugo ballot (younger people, women, people of color...). And this diversity was born from more people having an opportunity to vote. Their voting bloc is a backlash to positive change, and these positive trends need to continue if the Hugo Awards are to retain any hope of staying relevant to the culture as a whole. Opening up the process by lowering the price of a supporting membership to $25, $15, even $10, would give you a much larger voting pool, therefore making it much harder for a voting bloc to take the ballot over.

Also to this end, consider completely rethinking the categories. The current categories are complex, confusing, and in some cases not very relevant to modern fandom. There are a number of different directions such a change could go; although I don't agree with all his suggestions, I think The G's Moderately Expanded Slate (scroll down to the bottom of the post) is an excellent place to start.

2. Put more nominees on the final ballot. One reason the SP organizers got so many works nominated this year was their decision to list five nominations for each category. If the nominating ballot has fewer slots than the final ballot, it becomes much harder for any block to sweep. And it also allows you to recognize more of the many, many great scifi and fantasy works being published right now.

Whatever you decide to do, as you begin to take action, I hope that you work to hear more voices, not fewer; to offer more inclusion, not less. The awards is at a crossroads here; some level of change is inevitable. We should take this wake-up call as an opportunity to make the award even better than it was before. The only way to fix this mess is by moving forward, not by stepping back.

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