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[sticky post] Welcome to Geekery

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.

Fan fictionCollapse )

ReviewsCollapse )

Avatar: The Last Airbender EssaysCollapse )

Fanfic recs and notesCollapse )


I went and saw the last Hobbit movie, Battle of the Five Armies, over Christmas. As Christopher Orr of The Atlantic said: At least it's over now. That's literally the title of his review, and I cannot think of higher praise for this incoherent, boring, and just plain insulting series.

If you haven't figured it out yet there are going to be spoilers here, all right? The book has been out for the better part of a century and all. You have been warned.

On Dwarves and DwarvishCollapse )

The story, Dealing with Dwarves, is available on Fanfiction.Net.
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A beta answers

My friend [personal profile] chordatesrock put up a poem singing the praises of beta-readers, including yours truly, so it occurred to me to write an answering poem. It's not in trochaic octowhatchamacallit as I have no idea what that even is and am too lazy to use it, but it's still in some form of verse so it must count, right? Happy holidays, everyone!

The Beta-ReaderCollapse )
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Most brilliant Les Miserables parody ever

I've posted a Les Miserables parody before, but here's another delightful one from the brilliant Key & Peele:

I love me some Les Mis, but it's hilarious to see its musical tropes pilloried. As many commentators have said, it's got some mad production values, too.

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Trying not to find this creepy, failing

I read a Guernica article called La Milonguera which was about the author's experience living in Buenos Aires and rooming with a milonguera, female tango danger whom the author gave the pseudonym Romina.

I found the piece itself sort of boring and pointless, to be honest. At places it captured the atmosphere of the city's tango scene in interesting ways, and the way Romina lost her tango career to an accident was genuinely sad. From there, though, it was just one thing after another without any clear point or context and lost steam toward the end.

DO NOT WANTCollapse )

So try as I might to view Christopher's comment in the best light, I still find his white-knight complex about Romina disturbing. This probably has roots in my own background: My father's sincere and overwhelming desire to protect me from all harm, well into adolescence and now adulthood, all too often led to verbal and emotional abuse when I wouldn't comply with his demands and, in his eyes, endangered myself. The need to protect someone who isn't in need of it, the urge to see someone who is fully capable as being helpless--those are all too often code for a need to control the person, and I know not to trust the offer of such "protection." Dreamwidth entry URL:

Ancient Turkic funerals were so METAL, guys

In the course of researching the nexus between marriage and funeral rites, I also found out that courtship was frequently a part of the funerals of ancient Turkic tribes in Central Asia. Weird as that might seem, it turns out that young men and women making googly eyes at each other was the tamest part of a Turkic funeral by far. Here's a description from the Zhoushu (周書), a Tang Chinese historical compilation completed in the year 636:

The historical account... but was it REAL? (Dun dun!)Collapse )
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Funeral trappings for my heroine's wedding

I'm reading a book called Ancient Korean Conceptions of Life and Death (고대 한국인의 생사관), which turns out to be a little bit of a misleading title--in fact the author Na Huira frankly admits that we can't know for sure how ancient Koreans viewed life and death. We have a better idea once they took on more cosmopolitan (and better-documented) beliefs, most prominently Buddhism. This doesn't help me a whole lot, though, since my story takes place centuries before Koreans became Buddhists. Besides, culture probably played a role even after the changes in religious faith, differentiating a Korean Buddhist's beliefs from, say, those of her Vietnamese co-religionist.

One wedding and one funeral, except not really?Collapse )

So this book, while slender and speculative out of necessity, is providing me with some good material. More than the information, though, I like the feel for the ancient Koreans I get from reading. The discussions give me the means to knit together information I already know, like with the Bear Woman myth and marriage as death-rebirth. For some reason I never thought of the myth in terms of a wedding ritual before, though the connection is obvious once I think about it. I look forward to what more I can learn.

Also I dug up a whole bunch of books on the details of Goguryeoh life, and I'm hitting the library so hard once I get a free day. Snoopy dance!

Yay!Collapse ) Dreamwidth entry URL:

Reading up and outlining

Friday and the weekend was taken up with a series of work and social engagements (and sleep, sweet sleep) but I did read several articles about ancient Goguryeoh and Baekje and write out some of my ideas about Book 1. The most interesting article was about the strategic use of traffic routes by the ancient Chinese to cut the ancient Korean groups from each other and to contain them. It was like watching a chess or Go game in real geographical space, the way these kingdoms used key bases to contain and counter-contain each other.

Portraying an epic Chinese-Korean chess match doesn't have to be racistCollapse )

My continuing attempts to outline the second half of Book 1 reminds me again how complicated this dynamic can be, with three kingdoms in a delicate maneuver of cross and double-cross. Sometimes I'm convinced I'll never get it right and the book will never get written, but that's a trick of time perception where it feels like the present is forever. I'll get past this eventually. I already had a couple of mini-breakthroughs today and I think I'm close to a workable story. Come on, self, hang in there!

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I keep blowing my self-imposed deadlines on the novel, so I've decided to work on it a little every day--specifically at least one hour a day. I'll be blogging about that work, both as a way to leave notes to myself and to show that hey, it's alive!

She didn't eat rice, at least not a lot of it.Collapse )

I ended up checking out one book I hadn't seen before but had marked in my research notes, Traffic Routes and Footholds in Ancient China-Korea Relations. I need to get serious about spatial relations and trade/military routes and bases. I've placed most of the major locations in the story, but haven't figured out a pivotal one--the seat of the heroine's first husband. I do have a site I like very much, but I'll need to check and see if it's feasible.

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I'm reading this long piece on the Second World War. Somewhere around where the author lovingly describes the portrayal of the weather in the 1943 production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Wagner's non-Viking opera, I started to suspect the essay has ranged far beyond the Longform tagline that sold me ("An essay . . . on how and why we forget war"). Still, these war minutiae are so entertaining I don't really care where it's going.

It's certainly a piece that rewards patience. At one point author Lee Sandlin discusses Wagner's artistic intent for Der Ring des Nibelungen and then goes on for 10,059 words about the Battle of Midway, military bureaucracy, Bob Dole, an allied campaign in Tuscany, the conditions of U.S. marines in Okinawa, and Hitler's love of architecture before swinging back to Wagner and contrasting his understanding of Der Ring with Hitler's.

And when it came to Hitler's understanding of his favorite opera, especially in contrast to its creator's, I was struck by a most creepily unwelcome feeling: Familiarity. I think his line of thinking would be familiar to anyone who's run around geek and fandom circles--you know the type, the person who disregards what a work is about to talk about its external trappings as though those are the point--and, far more troublingly, map those points to the real world.

In which I discuss Hitler and other racists, in case the title didn't clue you inCollapse )

The settings and cool powers of genre fiction are fascinating and seductive, I know. I've spent many an hour lost in the world of Middle-Earth and later Harry Potter. In the end, though, the true power of these fantastical elements comes not from being cool and sparkly but from the resilience and morality of the stories they tell. Take away the struggles with power and loss from LotR and you're left with a silly elves-and-goblins story, one with unfortunate racial implications at that. (Arguably Professor Tolkien brought the BNP's accolades on himself, at least in part.) Take out the struggle between good and evil from Harry Potter and you have a bunch of kids waving wooden sticks around. The real magic in these stories is in the humanity of the tales told, not in the supernatural feats performed in the pages. Forget that and--well, it won't make you Hitler, at least in of itself. But you could be missing the depths of your favorite stories, and if there's one thing a dedicated fan can't stand it's missing out.

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LJ Lee

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