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Welcome to my fandom musings on Avatar: The Last Airbender and more. Here are some of my main posts (including outside links) grouped by category.

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Letter for history exchange

Dear History Exchange writer,

Thank you for agreeing to write for me. Prompts for specific characters can be found in the description of my request. Here I wanted to put together requests and likes/dislikes that apply regardless of character or time period.

I am fine with just about any sexuality or pairing as long as it's consensual and not incestuous. I request that the story not feature in a positive way relationships with a heavy power imbalance between the parties (including age and family dynamics) to the point of coercion. I have no problem with tender moments arising in the context of an abusive relationship, but I'd be very uncomfortable if the story ultimately portrays such a relationship as healthy.

That said, I'm fine with large age gaps as long as it's clear that both parties have full agency. I also adore genfic, so if you don't feel the need for a pairing in your story there's no need to try and add any.

I'm no stickler for historical accuracy (and don't have the expertise to judge anyway), but would greatly appreciate it if there were at least a couple of evocative details that gave a sense of the period and setting.

Seeing how these are real people, though long dead, I would like to request a level of respect for their cultures and legacies. That means, for instance, no easy stereotypes like an Indian character being reduced to funny accents. Humor is great, obviously, including those that arise due to differences between language and cultures, but I'd like all characters to be human first.

I have a preference for stories with a clear arc, as in something changes at the end of a story in comparison to the beginning. It doesn't have to be a flashy "action" story--though I love those, too!--but I would like some character development no matter how introspective or action-packed the story. If that's not something that comes to you, though, there's no need to force it.

Thank you again for your participation, and I hope the process of creation is an enjoyable one for you!

Explanations and rules for History Exchange
Signup for History Exchange open!
Current prompts for History Exchange
List of nominated historical figures

Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/70697.html
(picture and text via Kukmin Ilbo, reposted from my Tumblr)
(English portion of banner held up by protestors: Why OBAMA incide Homosex in KOREA? / Stop interfering! Go out!
Korean portion of banner: Obama and Ambassador Lippert of the U.S. spread homosexuality and AIDS / Stop interfering in internal affairs and leave!)

On May 10, three evangelical Christian groups--Only Jesus Love, G&F Ministry, and VOCD International--protested the U.S. Embassy in Korea for being one of the sponsors of a forum for parents of LGBT people. They claimed the U.S. was interfering in Korea’s internal affairs and morality. They also argued that homosexuality is contributing to an epidemic of HIV in Korea and the U.S. should not be promoting the practice in South Korea.

Here is a letter OJL sent to U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark William Lippert. I have reproduced the English version as is, with my fact checks and responses in bold.

Rampant homophobia below the cutCollapse )
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/70472.html

Normal families are WEIRD

My husband's family feels so weird to me sometimes. Yesterday we had dinner with Mark's parents and then his dad suggested we drive to Ganghwa Island, about an hour away (it's also where one of my ancestors is buried), to see the sunset. He drove us, we chatted about stuff, we saw the sunset and Mark and I took pictures. We drove back in the dark, talking or just keeping companiable silence, came home, ate mangoes and bananas Mark's dad had bought for us, and Mark's parents watched television before they turned in while us kids did our own stuff.

Did you see that? The total lack of blowups, old grievances, strained silences, drama, or games? Just four people enjoying each others' company? Did I mention that Mark's parents are divorced and were perfectly comfortable having dinner and spending two hours in a car together just being good friends and their son's parents?

It still blows my mind sometimes that a family can just... enjoy each others' company without underlying unease or some hidden agenda, without navigating the minefield of old resentments and perceived slights, without inevitable fights and long Why You Suck speeches spoken into seething, miserable silence. It's even more foreign to my experience that Mark's divorced parents have a better relationship with each other than many married couples, including my own parents when Mom was alive.

I know intellectually that this is how emotionally mature and stable people behave, and that you get these lovely and peaceful times with family when the family members have no psychological trapdoors ready to be tripped by anything and everything, when they genuinely love and care for each other and can control themselves. I know all this, but experiencing it for real is still so weird sometimes. I also suspect Mark's parents are more stable and adjusted than most people, given how rare amicable divorces can be.

And the fact that I fit so neatly into these dynamics, that I'm not causing any cracks in these family times or dragging anyone down, helps me see that, hey, I'm actually pretty normal, too. That helps me get away, little by little, from the sense of wrongness and brokenness that was instilled in me from childhood on. My dad always said I, or my brother, or our mom, was the problem and he was fine. Well Dad, guess who fits right into a perfectly normal family evening? This bitch!

My father, of course, in his self-serving gaslit reality thinks Mark's family is somehow dysfunctional and oppressive. Yeah, if being at peace, surrounded by caring and stable people, constitutes oppression, then I'll take it. Maybe my senses are all out of whack or I'm lying as my dad constantly accuses me of doing, but I like this a whole lot better than what I had with my birth family.

Being part of a stable, caring family is actually a thing. I'm not messing up anything by being here, I get along with everyone and I'm a good, stable person myself. I'm really okay, despite a lifetime of being told I am a fundamentally flawed person who makes others unhappy. I'm going to bring my own child up in a happy and functional family, and my kid will have a super-loving and gentle dad who will model the supportive, secure family life that still seems so strange to me.

All this is overwhelming at times, even after three and a half years of a blissfully happy marriage. I could get used to this. Just give me time.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/70165.html


More proof that jingoism sucks for history

Jingoistic nationalists distorting history for their own agenda doesn't just happen in Korea, of course. I was disheartened to learn that the new conservative government in Poland plans to effectively co-opt a World War II museum in the works because the government wanted the museum to focus less on the suffering on all sides and more on the Polish "point of view."

And look, it's perfectly valid to want to have a museum in Poland that records and commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during WWII, which was indeed considerable with an estimated 5.7 million citizens perishing in the German occupation and 150,000 in the Soviet Occupation, including 90% of Poland's Jewish citizens. Nobody is saying the Polish people and government should not have a place for the atrocities they suffered.

That said, it is entirely unnecessary for the government to scrap the plans for a museum that tells the story of the war as one of human suffering across borders. That's not a case of "I want my story told," it's "I don't want your story told and I will use my governmental powers to stop it from being told."

This is what happens when people who don't give a damn about our common humanity gain control of historical records and institutions. These are the people who see history as nothing but a tool of propaganda for their own power and self-aggrandizement. I'm not surprised that this sort of thing happens elsewhere (and just in case Yanks want to get all smug, your history textbooks and curricula are a mess, too), I'm just disappointed that our bad habits are so reliably universal.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/69859.html


I've mentioned my love of Steven Universe briefly before. I'll be here forever if I start talking about everything I love about it, and others have written excellent reviews that you can check out if you're curious.

One of the things I love about the show is the music, and there are a lot of great ones. Lately I find myself bursting into song with the number from the episode "Sadie's Song." It's short, as Steven Universe songs tend to be, but it's current and catchy; it wouldn't feel out of place spilling out of a storefront. The above is the original version, and you can see variations from the show here (spoilers for the episode "Sadie's Song").

Along with the bouncy tune, I love the lyrics' unabashed revelling in fame and fortune, the validation and vindication of success. It reminds me of the What Do I Want? soliloquy from the graphic novel Artesia in its celebration of a woman's worldly ambitions. It's such a comfort at a time when I'm going through the grind myself in hopes of uncertain rewards.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/69551.html
If you're looking for a place to talk shop with other writers you might want to consider [community profile] go_write , a private comm for writers where I am a moderator. We check up on each others' progress and give encouragement, share discussions and tips on writing and so on. Most of us work on original fiction but we're very friendly and encouraging with fanfic efforts as well--I think at least half the active members are writing or have written fanfic.

The main body of the community is private so members can comfortably discuss projects in progress, but there are regular public posts where prospective members can comment. After a month of commenting on the public posts you can message me to apply for membership, and if accepted by the current membership (which will be the usual outcome if you were fairly regular about commenting and interacted politely with the existing members) you become a full member and gain access to the main community. You can read the membership policy here and start commenting on any of the available public posts at the community at large.

Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/69339.html


I learned yesterday that evidently a bunch of jingoistic pseudo-historians (let's call them JiPHs for short) who claim to be "patriots" helped put a halt to the Early Korea Project, a joint publication project by Harvard University and (actual) historians of ancient Korea. The JiPHs' complaint? That the project put the site of one of the major Chinese colonies, Nakrang, in the Korean peninsula, as opposed to the Chinese continent where the JiPHs insist Nakrang was located.

Theories on the location of Nakrang
Different theories on the location of Nakrang: Most South Korean scholars (green), North Korean scholars (blue), so-called "irregular" scholars, i.e. JiPHs (red)

The JiPHs' argument, as always, is total baloney. The historical and most crucially the archeological evidence points to Nakrang being on the peninsula, around what is now Pyeongyang, North Korea. (Green area of map above) The JiPHs, however, insist that Nakrang was in modern China to the west of the Liao River (Red area of map) because Reasons because Korea wasn't centered on the Korean peninsula we were a continental power dammit and the Chinese could never have had a presence on the Korean peninsula and it's colonialist to say otherwise and wahhhhh why are their dicks so small.

That's their entire thing, that ancient Korea has to have been a continental power, no, a continent-spanning empire in order for our history to have any worth, the evidence must only be interpreted to support this conclusion, and any scholarship that says otherwise is imperialist treason to the Korean people and ughhhh I feel slimy just typing this wanky nonsense.

Like mainstream historical scholars tend to, I've regarded the JiPHs with amused tolerance because I assumed they were harmless though annoying cranks. But now, realizing they can get valuable, serious research shut down with their pseudoacademic crap and get members of the national legislature on their side, I realize they are a serious threat and need a stompdown.

This gives me more incentive than ever to finish and publish my novel which places Nakrang, obviously, squarely in the Korean peninsula where it belongs. I want with all my heart for this novel to gain enough influence that the idea of Nakrang in Pyeongyang becomes popularized and the JiPHs can only scream and cry while their "theory" goes down the toilet where it belongs. That's not the only JiPH sacred cow I'm slaughtering, so may their cryfest be bitter and long.

And sure, if that happens they'll start their usual campaigns of smears and harassment, tactics that people with actual proof and logic on their side don't have to resort to. And you know what? Bring it. I am so ready for these liars and cowards. They have gone too far and this means war.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/68926.html
Some posts, evidently, are forever. My Zutara post is going on five years old and I still get comments on it from time to time, not that that's a bad thing. Most comments are respectful and I reply with like respect. It's the others that flail at me about disrespecting their OTP that truly entertain me, though. It's a guilty pleasure.

A recent set of comments made some particularly irrational pro-Zutara claims that I had great fun kicking apart. Here are some of the lowlights:

5. Zutara is more popular!

"Yes, Zutara is popular. In fact, a recent buzzfeed poll concluded that Zutara is more popular than Kataang by 53% to 47%."

Um, why are you making the very argument that I started my original post with? I'm not sure why the anon thought this factoid would somehow be a revelation to me when I explicitly started my post by referencing the popularity of Zutara and set out to try to explain it.

4. The voice actors and my brother like Zutara

"Oh, and in case you didn't know, BOTH of the voice actors for Zuko and Katara, Dante Basco and Mae Whitman, ship Zutara."

"Pfft, my ten year old brother assumed that Zuko and Katara were lovers."

And the creators of a show called Avatar: The Last Airbender ship Kataang? And also that's the actual canon? The above seems to be some kind of misguided attempt at arguing from authority, but "other people like my ship" isn't a particularly compelling argument for why I should like it and I don't care whether these other people are the creators, actors, or some random fan. Here's a radical idea: How about we each ship what we like without trying to use "Well these other people like this pair!" as an argument for or against.

3. Zuko and Katara are like each others' parents, yay Zutara! But Katara and Aang are like siblings, boo Kataang.

"I definitely see Katara as the type to nurture [Zuko] the way his own mother once had. . . . I don't mean this to be weird, either. Logically speaking, we prefer to find mates with similar qualities our own parents carried. He'd see the warmth she has, and Katara sees the determination in his eyes her own father bears."

This might not be so bad in itself, though it is vaguely creepy, except the anon also said this in their prior post:

"[The anon's ten-year-old brother] thought Aang was [Katara's] brother."

So let me get this straight. Someone reminding you of your mom or dad means sexytimes forevar, but being mistaken for siblings is a death knell to romantic chemistry? Can the anon actually, I don't know, read their own words?

I also take this comment a little bit personally, seeing how my husband and I have been mistaken for siblings. (I'm also older and taller than my husband, so yes I may have a horse in this racemumblemumble) We dated for four years and have been married for three, and that's not even counting the years we were friends before we became an item. Sometimes people who are totally comfortable in each other's company, whether romantically involved or not, can seem so natural that they look like they grew up together. I'm opposed to the idea that this kind of comfort excludes the possibility of romance or means the spark is no longer there or whatever. In fact I think it's genuinely harmful to believe that romance must be perpetually performative and exciting, something I actually discussed in the Zutara posts.

2. Bryke are secret pedophiles who want fourteen-year-old Katara

"you have to realize that the creators aren't really seeing them in terms of compatibility itself, rather what they find to be the most fitting to their own creativity. They see Aang as themselves, and how could they not? It's their right. It Is their show, therefore their vision. It's brilliant, really."

How I have not missed you, old Zutara canard. *barfs forever*

1. My ship is based on events that never happened

"When I'd know [sic] Zuko had returned Katara's necklace to Sokka in order for him to give to her in the episode 'The Waterbending Scroll,' I sensed an instant spark of chemistry right then and there. It sounds absurd, but frankly it was rather sweet to know that he knew how much it meant to her. She was happy about it herself, and throughout the series their interactions continue to hint at something of a deep connection, if you will."

That would be sort of sweet, yes, if it had actually happened. As those who watched and remember the real Avatar: The Last Airbender will recall, however, in truth Zuko never returned Katara's necklace in "The Waterbending Scroll." In fact he used it once again in "Bato of the Water Tribe" to stalk and kidnap Katara and Sokka, and Aang took it from him while kicking Zuko's ass. It was Aang who returned the necklace to Katara, not Zuko. The anon's assertion seems to be part of a tendency of Zutarans to sanitize pre-"Day of Black Sun" Zuko, but it's unusual in that it's a baldly inaccurate factual claim.

I'm also not sure what the anon is going on about when they say "Zuko gave [Katara] nerve and bravery" or that "she just grabbed ahold of it and returned to him what was brought: instincts to follow, light." I'm pretty sure Katara didn't need Zuko to make her brave and that she wasn't a significant factor in his decision to turn away from his father's ways. Not in the canon show, anyway. It's a workable premise for a fanfic, but again it's not what was portrayed as happening in the actual show. I support the anon's right to ship whomever they like for whatever reason. The reasons for that ship become baffling, though, when they seem to be based on misremembered canon and/or fanfic.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/68638.html
I'm not a fan of Sherlock. The show has clever references and is visually well-crafted, but Watson's Throwing Off the Disability in the first episode turned me off big time and I have seen little from subsequent, passing views that there is anything there to interest me.

Nevertheless, when my visiting mother-in-law wanted us to watch The Abominable Bride special I went along with it. Well actually I was like, "Wait, how about Suffragette?" at the last minute but my husband had paid the VOD system by then, so The Abominable Bride it was. Besides, it turned out that our subscription doesn't carry Sufragette anyway.

Spoilers for The Abominable BrideCollapse )

The Abominable Bride left me fairly confirmed in my opinions. (Which is what experience usually does to opinions anyway.) Sherlock is a slick, smart show that draws a lot of drama from the relationships between its well-defined principal characters. It doesn't go much deeper than that, though. This holiday special, like the show itself, doesn't have much in the way of self-awareness or moral authority, and that in a nutshell is why Sherlock doesn't interest me.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/68394.html


LJ Lee

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