Velvet Goldmine - Smoke

Index & Intro Post

Hello and welcome to my previously defunct and now resurrected LJ. My new fics (2014 - 2016) are available on my AO3, with links under the cut. Otherwise, this LJ is now friends-only and updated on a strict schedule of "every now and then".

And only if you can tolerate my inside jokes.

The public portion of this LJ consists mostly of fic with the occasional meta/general post thrown in. Feel free to browse the index below if you find yourself interested in something I've written! The list is maintained in time with new stories. (Last updated on October 8, 2016.)

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Current layout by fruitstyle.

Cao Cao - atop a hill

"To write more you need to read more," but what do I read?

Or rather, a better question is what do I want to read.

My relationship with mainstream publishing is strained, to say the least. I have about a million problems with the line people want to forcibly draw between "fan" and "original" fiction on the basis of little more than copyright law, and purchasing traditionally published books always feels subtly like buying into it. Also, there is a certain style in a lot of these published works that comes across as a little...pretentious? Uniform? Now, I'm not summarily calling a diverse bunch of writers bad. I'm saying that there's a certain style and a certain topic range that has a higher chance of being traditionally published, and most of the time that doesn't do it for me (anymore). I'm looking to be proven wrong.

Now in fandom, reading has always felt more genuine. I don't think I need to justify in an LJ post of all places why I think the traditional(ist) view of fandom sells it short, so I'll just focus on what the issues are, right now, for me. You see it used to be much easier to find things I at least moderately enjoyed, and on occasion enjoyed a whole lot, in fandom. It's gotten much harder recently. And again, I'm not making a statement to the effect that there's suddenly a lot of bad writers - there's not. In fact, the reason is me.

Ever since I had the amazing epiphany that in most canons, the characters didn't have to be cis any more than they had to be straight, I've changed how I approach reading and interacting with fandom media. (I also think everyone should have this epiphany to question their own assumption of cis being the default, but I digress.) There's some small acknowledgment of trans (I include nonbinary under that label) interpretation in fandom now, but it's all wrapped in condescending, double-standard rhetoric - particularly the term "headcanon", as if a legitimate reading of a character as trans or any other marginalized group were somehow more "in your head" than the mindless assumption that they all have to be cis, all the time. So that's already something that alienates me, because even when I do find an author or artist who portrays character XYZ as trans, 99% of the time they will preface it with something to the effect of "behold my headcanon. Sorry not sorry."

Maybe you should be sorry for treating trans readings as lesser or somehow intrinsically outlandish. But people prefer to apologize for doing it at all.

That's not even getting into the second, more obvious problem: trans fanworks are rare. Shockingly, disturbingly rare, and the few we get tend to come wrapped in a thick sheet of self-deprecation (often) and deprecation from the outside (almost always).

So nowadays, if I even want to go out looking for fics of my favourite characters, I have to resign myself to the fact that most of them will fail to align with my interpretation of them at the first hurdle. And sure, you "shouldn't" care so much about whether someone is trans or cis. And indeed if the numbers were even, I wouldn't. I'd just read anything indiscriminately, the way I used to back in the old ignorant days of not even realizing existing characters could be trans. But as it stands, with the numbers so overwhelmingly in favour of cis readings - so much that they're not even considered readings, they're considered fact - I can't.

But I'd like to read indiscriminately. I'd love to have that epistemic privilege.

In my primary fandom, if I find any trans fics, they're written by me, my lovely partner, and/or a few mutual friends of ours (as in, think single digits). For art, the number is even lower because unlike the rest of the aforementioned people, I can't draw. But even if I could, the point is that you shouldn't necessarily have to make it to have it. The thing should just be available.

Like most everyone, I get attached to my preferred readings. And when people just sweep through that first layer of interpretation, when they get to that "of course" moment when their interpretation of a character as invariably cis becomes the material of their fic or pic, after a while that kind of hurts. Stupidly, because it's not like they owe me anything. Or even produce their fanworks with a specific intent of distressing someone out there they don't even know. Obviously. Sadly that doesn't change my reading experience.

If I knew someone thought trans interpretation of a character was valid and just chose to write that character as cis on that particular occasion, that would be different. With strangers, though, it's much more realistic to assume that they've either never even considered it or would outright reject it. ("Assume" is probably the wrong word. We've been in enough fights to know people do reject it.)

There's also the fact that you won't have much of an audience if you go against the grain in this regard. I wrote my share of cis-assumed fics. In my main fandom, I eventually left a note at the end of those saying thanks for reading, I'm still happy with the characterization but could you check out my newer work with my current take on their genders? Can you guess which fics are still getting kudos after years and which sit there with a count that doesn't seem to budge?

And yet, and yet. It's not about the numbers or popularity. I don't think it's even particularly about me, in the wider context anyway. But it has resulted in this bizarre practice where I'm actually more likely to read fic for characters I don't care as much about as my primary faves, simply because it won't bother me as much when people immediately jump to the cis assumptions with them. Or I read in fandoms where I wasn't expecting it anyway, or was happier with the cis assumptions there (I generally have no problem reading about cis women because there's already so little representation for them as well, especially in fandom. Although that doesn't mean trans women shouldn't be represented). A nice way to broaden one's horizons perhaps, but no one should feel that alienated from their main fandom interests. No one should feel the need to actively avoid them outside of a specific circle of trustworthy people. And yet, here we are.

The final problem is one of content, and I freely admit I used to be like this myself. Too many trans fics are "about" being trans. Of course that gets boring fast. That's the same format over and over, and usually padded with the worst stereotypes too (alongside a heaping dose of misery). Of course many people wouldn't be interested in writing that. The thing is, neither am I - I want characters who are casually trans. Who do all the same things we've seen them do, only without the assumption that a cis person, usually a cis dude, did it. Who are known to be trans and aren't questioned. Who take a positive stance on it. Oh, and I want porn. I want the full range of moods and genres and plots and situations that have always been available to cis characters.

That's what I'd like to write (more of), and that's what I'd like more people to write. While it's infinitely more valuable to have such a fic written by someone as a labour of love, it would also be nice to live in a world where trans stories can come completely out of left field. And I just don't see the latter happening.

I want to write more. What do I read?

An updated summary of where I'm currently active

So, that fic masterlist up top is extremely outdated. I've written quite a lot in new fandoms that's not been posted here, so let's just go and make a new reference!

My fics on AO3
My Tumblr (less active than it used to be but I still go there occasionally)
Aaand ask me for my gmail/hangouts and skype details if you want. I shared my old AIM with some people here, but haven't used that in over a year because it got hacked (through no fault of my own; in fact I'd changed the password on it like the week before because of the heartbleed bug, but oh well).

Any other sites I should give a go? Where have y'all been?
Big Boss - horizon


Yeah, what is this? A new post! Here! What the heck?!

Well, hi and hi. Yes, I'm using LJ again, as part of a conscious move away from Tumblr with a few others who also feel it's a crappy and stressful platform without essential features that would make using it enjoyable. I know I've made some posts in the past that I was coming back and then didn't, but well, I have been busy and somehow Tumblr always prevailed despite the ridiculous issues. But now I'm about ready to go back to this maybe unpopular, but at least usable platform and my 200+ icons I bought way back when.

So anyway! If you're reading this and still using this site, please do say hi and let's catch up! I have no idea who's still here or not right now, sorry. Remember back in the day when I made a sticky post and dated it forward, thinking it was so far in the future it couldn't possibly be a concern? Well, that date was 3rd December 2015. Joke's on me, but at least now we apparently have a sticky feature. Nice.

Another reason I procrastinated returning here is the fact that there's a lot of old bullshit from the 00s that doesn't sit right with me anymore, but I suppose we can leave that behind and turn over a new leaf. Reassuringly, what I found out in the past several years are pretty nice things. For one, it is possible to move countries. It is possible to find new relationships that completely redefine what seemed good in 2009. It is possible to be trans without either dysphoria or any surgery. These are pretty general statements so who cares if they're public - basically, ignore every terrible emo statement I inflicted on my poor audience here in the past. There's more to life than that and sometimes it helps to get a little "old" and see it.

That said, I do feel old typing this post, like what does this website even look like. But oh well!

Most posts will be friendslocked in the future, with the exception of fics/meta/general public interest stuff. I'm happy to keep existing people and add new if asked. I'm also on hangouts pretty much all the time, so let me know if you want in on that.
Landscape - mirrored

A short fic for a fandom I picked up during my LJ hiatus

It's been on AO3 for a while, but I figured I might as well add it to my personal archive here too. On the off-chance anyone happens to be in this fandom, feel free to point me towards comms if any exist. XD (You should be in this fandom. It's epic. I have two other WIPs for it but I guess they're temporarily on hold now that my feels have been hit by Metal Gear to the extreme again. Anyway, here goes.)

Title: Killing Indecision

Fandom: Hawaii Five-0 (2010)

Characters: Kono Kalakaua/Adam Noshimuri

Rating: SFW, no warnings

Summary: A cramped hospital room is no place to make big revelations.

Notes: Set right after Kono’s last conversation with Adam in 3x23. It was a little speculation fic while waiting for the season finale, and I'm pleased the finale didn't throw it straight into "that makes no sense now" territory. (Granted, I copped out of that risk mostly by not giving it a definite ending one way or the other, BUT OH WELL.)

Disclaimer: I’m selling nothing; no copyright infringement intended.

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Wallace - zoom

aaah I feel like the flakiest flake to ever have flaked

People. PEOPLE. I've become so bad at this LJ thing that at this point all I expect is for you to kick me, but in case anyone still wants to have anything to do with my sorry ass, please do not hesitate to check here! (And if you follow, let me know who's you unless you have the same username.)

Now. I had a bad case of guilt trip about LJ these past months, irrational as that sounds. former method of LJing no longer feels productive to me, blogging the way I used to. I used to mainly need textual introspection (and, accordingly, this blog became more and more private) - but I got progressively more busy with my current uni and freelancing and activism and whatnot, and writing about all those things in that much detail after dealing with them from day to day just started to feel like a chore. So I went over to Tumblr, which operates more along the lines of "post whatever comes to your goddamn mind, silly or deep, short of long, add your commentary or don't, create the post from scratch or add onto something else, no specific format required." This has felt massively beneficial to my random schedule, but also my current state of mind. I still do introspection, but I seldom feel the need to write it coherently out like I usually did here. To be honest, I'm kinda done introspecting about things I could as well say in public and make a difference by saying them outside of a private circle. Tumblr lets you do that, if that's your goal. Tags are easy to track.

The thing is, LJ has been part of my life for a long time, and I started feeling guilty about not posting here. Which, of course, I resolved by avoiding this place, because that's what you do when you have anxiety related to your own blog/writing. And this is where the unintentional asshole part comes in, because even if my writing habits have changed, I've been basically ignoring everyone who hasn't moved to Tumblr. Not to mention every comm here, if they're still even active.

So, if there are still people watching this space, I'm really sorry about disappearing and I still care if you're here. I also seem to have worked out the underlying issue I've had with LJ in the past couple...months, so chances are that I'll start BEING HERE again, even if mostly to comment and sometimes cross-archive things. Definitely not deleting.

yes tl;dr HI FOR REAL?

Nemesis mine~

Yet again, I've been running between school and queer workshops/events/lectures to the point that I've only been home to sleep most days. The tiredness and constant lack of time no thanks to the added transportation conditions are beginning to get most annoying, but I've been enjoying it all a lot otherwise. Not going to get into more detail in a public post, but it's good!

Also, spending so much time watching powerful films is reawakening my creativity in that lovely for-its-own-sake way. So here's something I started ages ago, then procrastinated on, then reread and procrastinated again, and finally felt capable of pulling off now. Enjoy!

Title: Flow Unbroken
Theme Set: Epsilon at 1sentence
Characters: Takeda Shingen/Uesugi Kenshin; mentions of Naoe Kanetsugu
Summary: Being but fifty passing moments of one rivalry without hostility.
Rating: Slightly NSFW for amazingly vague references to war, drinking, and sexual-ish subtext?
Notes: Shingen and Kenshin, the best historical alliance that never was. I'm drawing upon an alternate-history take on the two of them as told in their respective stories in Samurai Warriors 2, where they eventually join forces. ("Nemesis" is Kenshin's customary address for Shingen in the English release of the game.) The sentences themselves are all loosely connected but not arranged in any set chronological order. Any feedback is loved and put on a pedestal.
Thanks to cherrytruck and shinigami_yumi for testing out whether this whole thing even worked outside my own head.
Disclaimer: Samurai Warriors belongs to Koei.

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Ocelot - Winky Heart



Honestly, I'm not saying Obama's perfect in every way ever, but he is immeasurably better than everything and anything R-money represented. So relieved this turned out well. So gleeful all the butthurt bigot rallying we've seen in the past months meant shit-nothing to the actual outcome of this election after all.

Also, more US states legalizing marriage equality! Spain reaffirming it! Weed being legal in more US states now too! I would look for news sources to link here but unfortunately I have assignments to do! You can party it up on ontd_political if you want, though. JUST A GOOD DAY ALL AROUND.

Now excuse me, watching that glorious trollface some more. XD

ETA: OKAY ALSO ALSO you need to all watch this. And rejoice that a brilliant parody is where it ends!

...ETA II: And this. adfghjkl; HAHAHA
Ishida Mitsunari (SW) - biggest fan

You won't believe it's not more procrastination!!

For cherrytruck, LORD OF THE BIRDS. /bricked

I'm sorry, my dear, that this was supposed to be done by your birthday and now it's kind of nearer the actual Sekigahara anniversary. Well, sometimes DAHT'S LIEF, HAAAUGH? I hope it's worth the wait I put you through.

Originally, I thought I'd write something about Mitsuhide and Nobunaga for this occasion, but 1) the idea I had with them was depressing and somewhat creepy so not the best birthday gift (but I'll still write it another time), and 2) Che then joined me on the Mitsunari/Sakon bandwagon, so that's what this fic is. And it's going to be ridiculously upbeat, because what's the point of creating historical time paradoxes when you can't even give your favourites a happy ending? :P

Title: Beyond the Fog
Characters: Ishida Mitsunari/Shima Sakon; other cameos
Rating: Slightly NSFW, no specific warnings
Word Count: ~2,600
Summary: Mitsunari and Sakon make themselves at home in Ieyasu's fallen stronghold.
Context Notes: Based almost exclusively on SW2 canon, which, as anyone who has played the game as Mitsunari or Sakon can attest, means alternate history. The change: Mitsunari's Western Army wins the battle of Sekigahara, then proceeds to run the Tokugawa out of Edo castle (which is where this fic is set when it's all over). Also, Sakon's gun injury is treated, so they both survive. I have nothing against poor Ieyasu but I just like Mitsunari and his unbelievable horde of ~romantic friendships~ despite his apparent unpopularity among most others better. And I just feel so bad that the main reason he lost was because half his allies in that battle were either flakes or holding grudges. My favourite part of SW2 is messing with that part of history and making these guys win instead. XD
Stages serving as the background to this fic: Yukimura's Dream (because it includes both the victory at Sekigahara and Sakon's gun accident), Mitsunari's Dream (contains the siege of Edo and his unique fan). Well, I had to add Sakon to the latter level here. I never let him die at Sekigahara in the game (once it happened and I got so furious I replayed the level immediately TO MAKE IT GO RIGHT), and I assume he survives in such a case and Koei was just being careful about putting him in a later level in case the player doesn't salvage him. The environment and weather conditions in the fic are lifted from SW2 as well.
Other Notes: My first completed fic after months mostly taken up by academic writing. If it shows, blame that blasted degree I had to prevail over.
Disclaimer: The Samurai Warriors series belongs to Koei.

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Volgin - X-mas come early!

The return of horribly TL;DR reviews

Well, I've been obsessed with the Sengoku/Warring States era lately. My obsessions usually involve consuming and comparing lots of media. I'd like to review my favourites properly sometime because I usually don't bother enumerating why I like something if I like it, but first, I think I'll launch into some criticism. There's this popular game/anime series, Sengoku Basara. I wanted to find out what exactly makes it so popular, so I plunged right in some time ago.

Basara is...oh dear. I went into it fully prepared to accept an alternate interpretation, but nothing could have prepared me for what it actually was like. It may seem weird it's me saying that, when I'm usually the person who is all about reinterpretation (it'd be hypocritical to pretend my favourite series of the moment, Samurai Warriors, doesn't involve reinterpretation on some pretty major levels). Why the problem with Basara?

Because they've reinterpreted everything so much there's nothing left. And it is not done in the kind of brilliant way that would make that sort of thing not only workable, but awesome. I was going to write a huge paragraph of examples, but actually...let me just elaborate on the biggest ones and then assure you that there's a lot more where these came from. This is all from the first season of the anime. I'll rephrase that: this is all from twelve episodes, which is probably how I managed to plough through them all. Well, me and the unwitting victim of my suggestion to watch this, Che. I would like to publicly apologize for making her go through all this with me and for being such an annoying bastard about it. (I'd also like to direct you to her own totally awesome review.)

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I could've dealt with some of these drawbacks if the story had been genuinely compelling. But as things went, I was just sitting there going "it has to get good" and it never did. There are a few bright moments, but that's it. I've even checked out some footage of the game, in case the anime was seriously misinterpreting it and I was looking in the wrong place, but then I saw Mitsunari also yelling and being a murder machine and...yeah. I should stop expecting so much.   

So, I watched Basara to find out why it seems to be more popular than SW. The result of this experiment is...I still don't understand. Most of the characters are more on the side of caricature, but they're too similar to one another for it to be much fun. There are a few moments that stand out to me, e.g. I LOL'd endlessly at that scene where Mitsuhide gets sake poured over his head from a skull. He licks it up gladly; they didn't even play up his abstaining habits. Because that would be characterization. (SW devotes several separate convos to him being a teetotaler and how it makes him interact with characters who drink/ask him to drink, but such petty details are beneath Basara.) I'm sort of glad I watched it for the trainwreck and the lulz, but I don't think I'm even going to follow the second season unless I'm feeling super masochistic. Even then, though, I might as well cover myself in bees if I want to feel pain that bad.

I wanted to include more Sengoku-related reviews here, some of them being of things I actually like, but Che bullied me into posting this one separately, so enjoy this giant grudgepost. On the other hand, we saw this in June or something, so it may be for the best I finally wrote it down. M'BAD. I'll still do the others as well; it might just take some time. [For the curious with preliminary ratings]They're Samurai Warriors 2 (A+), Mirage of Blaze (5/10), Musashi manga (6/10), Sekigahara documentary (7/10), Fuurin Kazan series with GACKT AS KENSHIN (8/10), Shogun: Warlord Edition if I manage to play it without losing all the time, and Tenchijin if I manage to watch more than two episodes soon enough. THEY WON'T ALL BE AS LONG AS THIS POST, I promise.

...I might have forgotten something.