We had a thunderstorm the other evening that cleared in time to be lit up by the sunset:
Meanwhile, in Florida. Hmmm, can you spot the rainstorm?
How about the rainbow that followed?
Bonus shot of the NYC skyline from my favorite highway in Brooklyn:
* * *
Okay, so! con_txt. A really well-run con with great people, slash-oriented but omni-friendly (though there wasn't much kink talk, unless I was hanging out in all the wrong places). And you, by which I mean me, can't beat the location.
synn arrived Thursday evening and we chilled in general exhaustion at my apartment. We watched the True Blood season premiere only to realize, too late, that nothing actually happened in it, except for that one scene people have been talking about. Oh well.
Friday, the con began with volunteer security duty and an icebreaker bingo game where you had to find con-goers who filled squares like "first fandom was Trek" and "prefers OT3 to OTP" (also "has written tentacle porn"—surprisingly not hard). Cons make me eerily, happily social, so within a couple of hours I had a blackout—if only kink_bingo were that easy—and earned some raffle tickets for it. The raffle table included a John/Rodney manip poster and a signed photo of Joe Flanigan; I put one ticket in the poster cup and the rest of my bingo tickets and the $5 more I bought and the $5 synn bought for me into the autograph cup. love_keller won that, the lucky duck, but I did get the poster. Which, heh, ended up being uncontested.
Then synn broke the raffle by putting one ticket each into a bunch of cups and having her name drawn like five times until the con comm said she couldn't have any more gay erotica or duck memorabilia.
Also, there were panels!
Love the characters, hate the show, modded by zvi_likes_tv, discussed what people do when this happens, the social bonding you can have when other fans feel the same way, the old argument that fandom prefers mediocre shows with unfulfilled potential—synecdochic offered the especially convincing case that she would never have written "Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose" if SGA hadn't driven her to write angry fix-it fic—whether terrible and/or messy canons make for good fannish analysis, and the phenomenon of serial haters (fans who love hating their chosen shows).
Distinctions were made between shows that are bad and the producers know it, shows that are bad but the producers think they're creating awesome material, shows you don't like, and shows whose specific badness doesn't bother you. Also shows you watch past any point of enjoyment to keep up, either so you can write fic that's current or because you want to know what your friends are talking about.
We decided that good characters/bad canon can happen when actors make more of the material than they're given. It helps to have a closed canon, coping mechanisms, and ways to find fans like you who don't believe the show is fantastic like everyone else seems to (incl. reading comments on people's squeeful reviews to see who disagrees, and checking out episode reviews linked in newsletters). The question was raised as to whether it matters how popular the show is—are we more forgiving of smaller-audience genre shows than mainstream stuff like Glee?
Then we skipped Femslash meta because I ran into rhaegal, a Harry Potter friend from across the pond I hadn't seen in years and didn't know was coming. We had a great chat, even if it was about some of the horrible things that have happened to her in the meantime.
Taking over the asylum with ellen_fremedon and sanj talked about what happens when shows are produced by people who are fans of the canon. Despite hearing ellen and neotoma wax poetic about Dr. Who for months, I had not known that nearly everyone now involved in producing the show came out of having put together its extensive paracanon audio plays involving the actual actors. Apparently Star Trek: Reboot was/is powered by con-going Kirk-Spock fanboys, and everyone making comics does so because they grew up loving them. I learned that a Trek paperback I read when I was a kid, Ishmael, has a whole set of covert references to characters from other canons.
Also discussed: What effect does showrunners' approach to their fans have on the show and the fandom, and when they make authorial statements about it in or out of canon; band members as showrunners of their lives who read and sometimes comment on people's fic; creators who are die-hard fans of the filmmaking medium more than of a particular canon (Lucas, Spielberg, Tarantino); today's kids seeing through their parents that they can make their own stories; creative writing students who plagiarize fic for class assignments; and the future of media evolution when fans won't just be writing fic but producing their own TV shows and films with Sims and Avatar-like technology. Some HP fans are already making episodes using Sims plug-ins. Neat!
The panel on AUs, crackfic and crossovers was similar to the one at Muskrat Jamboree last year, but still a fun hour that switched between attempts at defining crack, distinguishing crossovers from fusions and AUs from ARs, and sharing recs. Someone commented that crack and AUs can be a welcome respite from a fandom's common tropes and may make it easier to write RPS. It was decided that popslash started the crack and SGA disseminated it to all corners, and that there's a kind of fannish evolution happening where people who migrate to new fandoms notice that there hasn't been any puppy/penguin/furniture/tentacle/etc. fic and rectify that—or raise the wacky ante. Along the lines of 'We did this story in the last fandom; give me something I haven't seen these characters (or any characters) do before.'
Then I read the schedule wrong and missed the kink panel, OMG. But there followed tasty dinner and a disco, so not all joy was gone.
I had spicy Thai with a much-missed ignazwisdom, her roommate hurry_sundown, a just-met cjandre, deelaundry, hannahrorlove and of course synn.
Then came the con party, complete with glow sticks and fondue, wherein cinco and alpheratz were totally adorable and the non-dancers at our table played a slash game with the characters/actors who appeared on the two slide show screens over the dance floor. Wish I'd written some of them down.
Next day, Slash and the dream of actually gay characters began with a set of charts for brainstorming out celebrities, out characters, queer-themed TV shows, and "glass closet" celebs/characters who are as good as out but can't state it explicitly (e.g. Garak)—"If a gay tree falls in the forest…"
Among the questions raised were: We alter the stories of the characters we write all the time; should we treat coming out any differently? Is it neutering to only have one gay character on a show? How can you tell when slash goggles aren't slash goggles (e.g. Willow and Tara)? Is House coming closer than other shows in turning a friendship into a romantic friendship or relationship? Are fans more likely to write fic for shows that have gay actors, or slashy subtext? When and how does subtext and/or slash jokes detract from instead of support canon gay relationships? Are we seeing a slooooow evolution of pop culture where we have one gay character today, heavier m/m and f/f subtext tomorrow, and in 20-50 years those planted seeds will finally mean we can see on screen the stories we're writing now?
Discussion of double standards, and the occasional flipping of the stereotype, like a kid on Ugly Betty who was flaming but straight (until a couple of seasons later when he wasn't straight anymore). Some gay actors have had a hard time giving subtext to their straight characters without facing criticism for being unable to "play straight." People would love it if Joe Flanigan were to say one day he was playing the first asexual character on television.
Personally, I don't agree with common fannish sentiment that showrunners will fuck up whatever pairing they put on screen so it's better to keep it all as subtext for fans to explore because the fans will do it 'right.' So I liked the point someone made that even when a show consummates a pairing, it doesn't necessarily take away fans' space to explore; they said that in Torchwood, there is no canon for Jack and Ianto's first time.
Best quote of the panel: "Villains can do more evil stuff, like be gay."
There was a panel on Fanlore led by a bevy of OTW staff that was pretty informative. Among the tips I picked up were that wiki articles don't need to be—in fact, shouldn't be—dispassionate; that the purpose is to record events from multiple POVs; and that there are code wranglers who will take whatever you input and make sure it's properly formatted. Other people seemed interested in hearing that they can search Fanlore for topics they like and see if they have something to add; there are lots of pages with a shocking lack of content. Was fantastic to hear that the team might list 101 resources for recurring conversations whose indices get lost on blogs and metafandom.
SGA: DNR?, or, as mods wolfshark and mrshamill re-dubbed it, Why we love SGA. Actually I didn't write much down—it was just a fabulous circle of people who love(d) the show and wanted to talk about favorite episodes, eps we love to hate, best eps for Teyla and Ronon, stupid crap the showrunners did/said while thinking they were hot stuff, fics that make for better canon than the show, and starting an SGA kink meme (since accomplished).
I didn't write much down about Those daring Victorians either, mostly because I don't know many Victorian sources, but interesting comments were made about how in some ways we're more prudish in America today than the Victorians were, when two men could walk down the street arm in arm and no one would think anything of it, perhaps because the Victorian age was pre-Freudian; that back in the day, homosocial relationships were the rule; that there was a ton of pulp RPF involving people like Grover Cleveland and Jesse James; and that costumes.org is an excellent resource for getting the clothes right any time period.
Rumor had it that Fandom loves the ladies!, so I ventured over to agree. Some fine points made by mods qurinas and jasper and attendees: How it seems like fandom is relaxing about the diversity of erotic tastes and people are less defensive that one pairing or category erases another, less likely to need to be "right" about their pairing(s). That het fic is enjoying greater range and higher quality, and people are becoming more comfortable writing het fic even if they belong to slash communities. That there's more fannish drift these days and therefore more multifannishness and less attachment to a single OTP. That crossovers are great for femslash when you have only one cool woman per canon. Why do mothers (and wives and daughters) have to die to spur on the main (male) character?
Last day. I arrived late to Trek: boldly slashing where everyone has slashed before and left early, and as you may have gathered I am generally traumatized by adult fic in TOS and am not a huge fan of Reboot, so this wasn't the ideal panel for me. Nevertheless, it was fun to see everyone having fun talking about Trek slash and the is-it-actually-fraught-or-did-we-just-ex
Rare pairs with gblvr and casspeach, on the other hand, was one of my favorites. A celebration of pairings that for whatever reason are not fandom's favorites! Right up my alley. Again, not many notes, but we talked about how it can be fun and in some ways easier to write rare pairs—either unpopular pairs in big fandoms or any pairs in small fandoms, whether you just love them or tinhat them or wonder how that wacky pair might come about—in that you want to know how to make it work, you're freer from fanon, and you can play with all sorts of tropes that haven't been done in your pairing yet. Questions: Is there as much OTPing in rare pairs? Do you write rare pairs as a "fuck you" to the establishment or to fandom at large, or to be thinky, or because you're curious how it could work?
Resources/venues: small fandom fest, lgbt_fest, kink memes, Kink Bingo, Yuletide, Porn Battle. I commended non_mcsmooch for offering an alternative to mcsmooch—and then learned that gblvr actually runs it, heh. She lamented that despite being open to all eleventy million possibilities on SGA other than John/Rodney, it only gets a few entries per round.
Tactics for getting readers: adding more tags on the Archive of Our Own for people to happen upon your story (character of color, etc.), prompting. Crossovers, which have the benefit of sort of a built-in plot as you figure out the logistics. Trusting that people will try a rare pair you write if they like you as an author. Excited brainstorming about finally following through on a "Take your fandom to work day" fest and—hope it's okay if I mention this—creating an Amazing Race crossover rarepair challenge.
Also, things I have to go find now: Gil Grissom/Alfred from Batman, Spike/Mal, the one where the SGA characters are Ikea furniture, a mistletoe fic where John kisses everyone, and, if I heard this right, a story whose title somehow involves "plain and simple," about Garak running a café?
Funny anecdote: one woman's hometown newspapers are called The Sentinel and The Guide.
Penultimate panel was Building an active community with synecdochic, which naturally detoured into Reasons Dreamwidth Is Awesome! but got steered back to the topic at hand when needed. Some tips for establishing a community around a pairing you're interested in: setting up scheduled events like "Three-recs Thursday," having themes, making sure people are posting regularly, leaving feedback on everything in your comm even if it sucks, offering to audience/cheerlead stories, leaving feedback on old stories and/or in "dead" fandoms in case they aren't really dead, making the source available to others, gently recruiting people who've written that pairing before (without sounding entitled), winning over BNFs who will recruit more for you, including links back to your comm when you cross-post stories, searching people's interest lists, proposing panels at cons or at least mentioning your pairing at every possible opportunity, leaving prompts, remembering that there are more ways to contribute than writing stories, and looking like you're having fun so others will want to join you (case study: the Mythbusters crew).
And last, appropriately, came the Procrastinators' Party with deelaundry and melannen. Group bonding over writer's block, discussion of how we try to overcome it, and sharing of our stories perhaps-in-progress. ignazwisdom and I tied for having the longest-running WsIP, at 1998 and 1997, respectively. Go us?
…Why do these things always end up being thousands of words long?
Anyway, last but not least is Saturday night's vid show: two hours of fun (with intermission). We sat in the quiet room so we could actually hear the songs, which turned out to have been a good idea, as afterwards we learned that the other room had done singalongs and whatnot. On the downside, people were afraid to clap after each vid ended.
- Absolute Destiny's Too Much Light in This Bar (Life on Mars) blew me away.
- I thought Hurricane by laurashapiro did a great job of mixing Battlestar Galactica and Farscape to produce Starbuck/Aeryn Sun, and wyomingnot's The Way We Get By (Leverage) made a convincing argument for a canon threesome.
- Dierdre C.'s Supernatural (In My Pants) cracked up the room, as did talitha78's Money Maker (Psych).
- You can't go wrong with thingswithwings' hilarious Mythbusters vid James Bondage, and her The Glass just gets better with repeat viewings (Ian McKellen breaking free to be himself, Archangel spreading his wings...!).
- And then there was jescaflowne's Forever Fuzz (Hot Fuzz), which was just hopelessly adorable and funny. A fabulous conclusion to the show.
And then the con was over and synn and I ran out of time to do stuff and people had to fly home and I had to go back to work. Alas!