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#I am eternally sad that a lot of my favorite characters would never ever in a million years be friends if they met

#like: Loki will never be friends with anybody

#Vimes will never be friends with kings

#Marcone will not be friends with anybody not loyal to either him or Chicago

#(or willing to help him help realize his plans for Chicago)

#(with a very clear well-laid-out bargain of exactly what they will want in return)

#(and that being something he is willing to pay)

#Thorin will not be friends with anyone not a dwarf of Erebor

#unless they prove beyond doubt that they have decided to throw in their lot with the dwarves of Erebor and share their danger

#and also not go against his decisions when he decides things in his capacity as King

#Temeraire might be friends with a great many people but Lawrence won't if they're against England in the war

#and Temeraire won't for Lawrence's sake

#Roy Mustang is perfectly willing to be friendly but he is also very done with fighting for someone else's goals

#and a lot of the others won't be friends with him if he won't fight for their goals

#Scar will not be friends with anyone but other Ishbalans and May Chang

#because he fights for his people

#and if you're not fighting for his people you may occasionally work together to achieve a mutual goal but that's it

#(May Chang wasn't on purpose but oh well they're friends now)

#Zuko is bad at people

#but he'd be willing to be friends!

#unless he's working on achieving a goal

#then sorry but hunting the avatar takes priority

#King Henry had friends once

#I think we all know what happened there

#Rumplestiltskin don't make me laugh

#Pellaeon is too busy running an Empire to have friends who aren't ~trusted subordinates~ first and foremost

#yeah Boromir is not going to be your friend if you're not actively helping Gondor

#(unless you are a hobbit and therefore fall into the category of 'noncombatant; to be protected')

#Javert has no friends Javert is the Law

#The Law doesn't have friends

#Garak will be your friend on his own terms

#they are not very reasonable terms though and if Julian is willing to meet them that's nice but no one else here is going to because gosh look at this enormous list of people with massive trust issues oh dear

#let's not even get into people like Edmund and Richard III and the Macbeths and Aaron and Tybalt and Claudius


#*everyone else on this list takes ten steps backwards and turns very pale*
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Today I drew butterflies on my apron with sparkly puffy paint, and then I bought an x-acto knife and, after several experiments with coffee and fire that did not work, burned the word "embers" into a sheet of watercolor paper.


I am considering buying another pumpkin later and going to town.

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own language.

Anyway, what I actually wanted to write about was my SPICE RACK.



In other news, "Urban Spice Rack" would be, um, only a semi-terrible name for a band maybe?

To celebrate, I have been putting cayenne pepper in everything and pretending in my head that I am from the Fire Nation. Because, you know, I totally don't do that often enough already.

I have already gotten cayenne pepper in my eyes and nose. Also in my mouth, of course, but that is more easily remedied.

So many spices! Spices and herbs! They have jars and labels! Also I made a new dish with cornstarch-encrusted tofu, and water chestnuts and sugar snap peas on a bed of jasmine rice. Guys, I actually changed things in this recipe to suit my tastes! Like, more elaborately than just leaving frozen peas out of any recipe that calls for frozen peas; there were substitutions.

...Okay so it was only sugar snap peas for snow peas, but STILL. I screwed up my courage and I disobeyed the recipe and it did not end in disaster. It ended in delicious! Delicious and really ******' spicy!

...stupid sweary helicopter.

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So, bear in mind that I did not realize any of this at the time.

I wrote the plot of an opera that the Fire Nation might have had. It is long and convoluted and full of really unrealistic plot contrivances, and is, in other words, entirely operatic. I'm a little in love with it. The initial inspiration was from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, but from there it just took influences from every opera I have ever seen or played or heard of. People dress in someone else's clothes and are not recognized! Strange love dodecahedrons happen that would be entirely sorted if anyone ever communicated effectively! Families conspire to arrange matches the way they want them! People are dramatic! And I had fun.

So then when I was in the shower I came up with a short fic, and when I got out of the shower I went to write it down. In which a troupe of players that Zuko had seen when he still lived in the capital came to the palace, and he asked them to put on a performance for him and the Fire Lady and the court. (Mai, by the way, considers said opera to be entirely cheesy and will only sit through it because she likes indulging Zuko once in a while.) And there is a scene in which they talk about theater, because Zuko having been a theater critic ever since he was tiny is a.) a piece of fanon I can get behind and b.) THE CUTEST THING EVER AMIRITE. (You guys, tiny!Zuko tried to get his father to write a royal decree preventing the Ember Island Players from ever putting on Love Amongst the Dragons again. This is my headcanon and I will not be shaken from it.)

So, in this scene in which Zuko talks to the tragedians of the city players that have come to the palace, they briefly mention another play, from which the grandfather/senior patriarch of the players offers to demonstrate a speech. The play is called Zulin Triumphant (or Zulin Victorious, I hadn't decided yet) and, because I hadn't come up with a plot, I just borrowed something from another fic I'd written, when I was on Vyvanse and NEEDED TO EXPLAIN THINGS A LOT. It is not a fic with any sort of point and, indeed, I have no idea where it was going. So I had them quote a few lines paraphrasing one of the characters, because Zulin- the Fire Lord about whom Zulin Triumphant was written- is female, and I needed a young male for the Player to have played in his youth, so I stole some of what would have been Prince Shula's inner monologue (and I swear, I wasn't trying for iambic pentameter, but I was already envisioning Zulin Triumphant as a Shakespeare-esque play rather than an opera, and lo, the lines came out in blank verse). And then I realized that Prince Shula's character is a young prince who is told by the ghost of his ancestor that a female ancestor of his had an affair. Neither the ghost nor the adulterous ancestress is his immediate parent, but-

Well, um. You see where that one is apparently going.


Then I realized I should perhaps think these things through more thoroughly.

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...I am not sure whether or not to be proud of the fact that my subconscious will write in flawless iambic pentameter when I'm not paying attention.



Jan. 21st, 2011 07:13 am
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I have an idea for an art project!

Leora's Better Judgement: Wow, that looks... really involved. 

Leora: But cool!

Leora's Better Judgement:
Well sure, I guess it could be, it's just that... well...

Leora: Oh, spit it out.

Leora's Better Judgement: Um. How do I say this...?  You're not an artist.

Leora: I could totally be an artist.

Leora's Better Judgement: No. No you can't. It takes years and years of hard work and dedication. You have this demented notion that skills are like scabs, in that you should leave them alone and they'll get better when you're not looking. You know what's true? The opposite of that.

Leora: Come on, take a look at this drawing. It's awesome!

Leora's Better Judgement: Wow, a reasonably accurate sketch of a picture you had in front of you, minus, you know, those little things like details and backgrounds and proportions.

Leora: Now you're just being mean.

Leora's Better Judgement: I'm just saying, this project you've got in mind would require a lot of... well, everything you're not good at, art-wise. And writing-wise. And attention-span-wise. I really don't think it's a good idea.

Leora: See, this is why I usually just don't ask you. All you ever do is say no!

Leora's Better Judgement: ...oh my god there is so much wrong with you.

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It's an Avatar: The Last Airbender fic. I recently marathoned the entire series again, and wow, that show is very good. Not FMA:B good, but if I go around holding my fiction to FMA standards... well, my life would be sad and empty and bereft of positive, realistic portrayals of women.

But! A:TLA is very good, in very many ways, and I love it!

And if you have ever met me, hello, then you know to whom my heart belongs. Oh, I adore Iroh beyond measure, because the person who does not adore Iroh beyond all reason is not a true person, say I. And Toph stomped into my heart and set up camp- ah, Toph, I love her and her many flaws and her greater awesome. But that is the best part! Everyone has flaws. Everyone has their limits, and their blind spots, and their sore spots, and the times when they're just plain stupid. The times when they're just kids, or when they're too old to think innovatively, or when they have things seriously shaken loose in the brainpan. They regret, they learn, they backslide, they grow. They make bad decisions and good ones and lucky ones and ones that should have worked. OMG, show, I do love you.

And Sokka! Did not expect to adore Sokka like I do. But oh, I do. Sokka! So brilliant and funny and levelheaded and loves shopping. And yes, I do love Aang, and I do love Katara, and Appa and Momo managed to be fully realized characters where on any other show they would not be. Azula is fascinating to watch, and Mai, and Ty Lee, and Haru and his ADORKABLE MUSTACHE OF ADORKABLENESS AND ADORKABILITY, Smellerbee, and Longshot, and I really wish we'd gotten more than we did of Teo, and Master Piandao, and Lt. Jee, and the Fire Nation in general, and the Soongi horn.

But now we come to the heart of the matter.


OMG Zuko Zuko Zuko Zuko. I just- Zuko. *flail* Zuko. Zuko. omg omg ZUKO.

Look, the creators did it absolutely on purpose, and oh, they did it so. Very. Well. I cringed, watching the first couple of episodes, on his behalf, because of the way the show treated him. And I'm kind of really suspicious that they did it on purpose. Because in his introductory, character-establishing scenes, the writers humiliate him. Treat him as someone we should laugh vindictively to see knocked on his ass. And this is immediately after they have already started laying the barest hints of groundwork that Zuko is not a Card-Carrying Villian, Zuko may not yet be a sympathetic character, but even at that point he is at least a human. They never do it again. After the first few episodes, Zuko is often the butt of the show's jokes, yes, and they're *hilarious,* but they never again deal him the sort of crushing humiliation they did at first. And- if they did it on purpose, and I kind of suspect they did, then that was done masterly. Because those first few episodes? When a determined, proud, flawed, brave young man had his dignity stripped away in front of his enemies and his subordinates? Oooooooo, my protective instincts went glomp. After that, I was ready to love Zuko wholly, unconditionally, if only they'd give me a hint of his having inner depth to work with.

And then they did. Oh, Eru Illuvatar above, did they effing ever. Ha! Then they started encouraging me to love this torn confused angry scarred scared loving loyal desperate leader abandoned lonely stupid strong brave compassionate courageous dutiful clever unhappy smug proud smirky genuine sincere heir outcast teenage prince, and oh, it was awesome, because they loved him too. And they put him through the wringer, but hey, who doesn't love a woobie?

Hint, not me. I love Zuko like I would love pie if I loved pie a whole lot. I am not actually all that fond of pie, but I am very very fond of Zuko.

So then there was this fic.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa this fic. This fic is everything I have ever wanted from a fic ever ever ever.

First of all, it's largely what I think of as vindication!fic. I don't know if others sort it that way, but I tend to think of it as a very specific branch of h/c. It goes like this: Character A (whom I will refer to as male) is not liked by Characters B, C, and D. It doesn't have to be dislike on their side. Maybe they don't even dislike Character A; maybe they're perfectly willing to be friends with him. The key is that they don't know him, or, if they do, they don't know what goes on in his head. And the story is about them finding out about Character A, bit by bit, and evaluating and re-evaluating their impressions and opinions of him. It's about how they see him, and about how he reveals himself to them in fragments and pieces and little things he lets slip. The fic revolves around Character A: Characters B, C, and D will interact with A, think about A, continue to think about A when he is not present, discuss A with each other, draw conclusions, test their conclusions, and see them proven or broken.

Now, I really have a thing for vindication!fic. Third-person perspectives are kind of my favorite things ever, and while this isn't the only variety of those that I love, it's definitely one. It's a very sort of self-indulgent thing- most of us don't really spend large swatches of time thinking about other people's feelings, or problems, or even about other people- we've got ourselves, and our own problems and feelings to think about. On some level, we believe (or would think it nice, anyway) that everything revolves around us. And why not? For us, it does. Vindication!fic is exactly that. Someone else looking at Character A, really looking, and thinking about them, trying to understand them, devoting time to it; it's very flattering for Character A.

Because I like to read shameless self-indulgent fics, I will get specific: I like it best when Character A doesn't know he's being studied. And is kind of messed up. And doesn't think himself abnormal. And when Characters B, C, and D are wrong about him, to start out, when they slowly come to the realizations that his decisions have been based on sound reasonings given the information he had available, and that his pain is legitimate, and that he's a good person, and that he doesn't know that his situation is not as it should be. And are outraged on his behalf.

(We've all got our kinks, don't judge.)

When it's not done well, it's really annoying. These tend to skate the line of Mary-Sues very very closely. If you can't love the character they give you, if you don't give them enough flaws, then they end up Sues. Honor Harrington gets boring with it after a while. Tiffany Aching, even. (Pterry, I'm sorry, them's the breaks. You did it perfectly, beautifully well with Vimes, or with Vetinari, but Tiffany... no.) HH has got her good points- it's fun to see *how* she'll defeat the enemy, that got me through a few books- but it had lost the tension that she might lose. Perhaps I didn't read far enough- she is, after all, supposed to mirror Nelson's injuries somehow- but I kind of got sick of seeing everyone stand around admiring her all the time. When it's not done well- and it's so hard to do well- it can backfire really really badly.

When it is done well, it's one of my favorite things ever.

See, this fic does it hella well. It gives me all of the traits of this that I love best, in spades, for a character that I love (and I wish we'd gotten to see more of that re-evaluation stage in the actual show)...

...on top of some seriously Inda-level worldbuilding.

Because the other thing I love like pie? Is different cultures being different and having misunderstandings and differences and learning about each other and trying to find a balance between respect for foreign customs and the morality they were raised to believe in. I want to see more Fire Nation dances, dammit, and Water Tribe canoes, and Earth Kingdom knives that say never give up without a fight and the sorts of games the Airbender youngsters got up to. I want to see the four peoples trying to understand one another, and failing, and trying a different approach. I want to see people out of their elements and keeping their pride while being humbled.

Oh, and if you want to give me an epic and gripping adventure story, full of OCs who capture my heart as surely as any character in professional fiction ever did and possibly more, with well-thought out character psychology and the history of countries and consistent magic...

Well, heck. Sure. Come on in.

Read Theft Absolute, by Vathara. It's okay. It's not amazing, and it fixes what she saw as an injustice in the canon that I didn't have a particularly big problem with. But you ought to read it first.

Because then it spawned Embers, a 462,977 word monstrosity of a WIP that is everything I have ever wanted in a fic, ever, in my entire life.

(which is maybe more than I wanted you to know about me, but hey, I OVERSHARE.)

I may very well print this one out and paint it a cover, that is how much I want to be able to clasp this story to my bosom. Not like that, okay, this story is just... I love it! I love it so much! I would be reading the most innocuous passages and I'd stop and flail and make choking noises and go HOLY COW I LOVE THIS FIC, I LOVE THIS FIC LIKE I AM NOT SURE I LOVE ANY FIC EVER, and that is just wrong, people, because I have read some really good fic in my time.

It's not just that it's good, though fuck is it ever. It's also everything I want. Plain and simple.

With the glaring omission of the fact that there is not yet more.

Which is okay for now. I'd be really sad if it were over so soon.



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