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My wishlist

My wishlist - well, it's my happy place, shallow wishlist I'm putting here. Not the other one - you know, where I wish that all Tea Party Republicans were sucked back through the space and time vortex to their alternate reality where the words coming out of their mouths made sense. Or where I wish that Tony Abbott, Cardinal Pell and Julie Bishop might be caught in flagrante delicto and forced to resign, leaving Father Bob Maguire to run the Catholic Church in Oz by popular acclaim and Malcolm Turnbull to perhaps wrench the Liberal Party back towards moderate, compassionate conservatism. Or where Ass(he)ad realises he's unfit to lead a lamington drive and leaves Syria forever, as moderates from both sides rush to fill the leadership vacuum and peace breaks out all over. Yeah, we'll take those ones as read.

No, this is my wishlist for Season 9 of Supernatural and Season 5 of Justified.
Tim for the Win!Collapse )

Heroes (not the TV show...)

Who is your hero? A student of mine brought the topic up the other day. It's really not something I actually think about too often; it may be that it's not culturally too closely aligned with Aussie culture, in the same way that we just don't talk about 'our dreams' as perhaps Americans do. Our British colonial heritage keeps that sort of revelation tight to our chests, thank you very much.

But I started thinking about this the other day when challenged. And I thought of three people immediately. I think that's the true test of who is a hero; you can name whoever you want, for whatever PC reasons you might have... But who honestly is capable of actually changing your own behaviour, in a What Would Dexter Do? Kind of way.

For me, and first, it's Nancy Wake. An Aussie living in Paris at the start of the Second World War, who involved herself in resistance activities until it became too hot for her, then fled to the Uk where she trained with the SOE to be parachuted back in as an agent. She ended up fighting with a group of partisans, insisting on wine and make-up even as they camped on the Massif Central. She had extraordinary élan, and the story that always, always comes back to me was when she rode a bike across the mountains to warn off an attack that would have been catastrophic. Her thighs were rubbed raw, and she didn't get off the bike for at many, many hours because she knew if she did she'd never get back on. Every time I am doing something that challenges me physically, I tell myself, 'Nancy rode across the bloody mountains with cheese grate red thighs, FCOL. Get a grip!' That three day ride remains a constant heroic reminder to me of true courage, and I have used it when I needed it.

Raoul Wallenberg, the righteous gentile from Sweden. Look him up if you don't know his story. Every time I need moral courage, I think of him and remind myself that to compromise in the face of bullying-which is to say, the face of evil- is worse than the evil you are facing. If you don't know better - if you truly think you are doing the right thing even as you intimidate and control others to their detriment, you are still less morally accountable than the person who understands the morality, who sees the compassionate, decent path, and chooses not to take it. I think of him, and have done so since my mid twenties, every time I am afraid to stand up to the powerful people who are making unkind, unjust, immoral choices. I have never dealt with the kind of stakes he did - saving hundreds of Hungarian Jews by rubber stamping them into Swedish citizens, in the face of Nazi oppression, and ultimately at the cost of his own life - and I sincerely, deeply, hope I never will. But I tend to think moral courage is a muscle like any other; exercise it regularly, and it grows in strength, so that should a crisis occur, it's there for you when you need it.

And Australia's Geoffrey Robertson, a man who has taken on churches and governments in the pursuit of justice. I think of him when I grow weary of seeing arseholes doing what they like, where and when they like, without compunction, simply because they are adhering to that time- dishonoured dictum that might is right. Geoffrey, and others like him, work incredibly hard in The Hague to bring such people to account. I think of him when I need encouragement, when the fight wearied me and I think the arseholes have won. His lesson is perceptiveness and persistence. Be aware of what's happening, be ready to raise your voice, keep your sense of humour because that's something that the small-minded ( and ironically, it's the pettiness of tyrants that strikes me most) struggle to curtail or contend with.

So these are my heroes; people I conjure up in my head to hold me to account. I guess that's not necessarily what people always think of when they market 'superheroes' - they're looking for someone to rescue us from external threat. I guess I'm looking inward for someone to rescue me from my worst failings; my cowardice, my selfishness, my fear and anger and bigotry.

I'd love to know who inspires you. Do you have someone(s) who challenge you to be better?
I've had an interesting fortnight as a parent. I've come to realise I'm as hardcore and take-no-prisoners in my approach as the most zealous fundamental Christan; only for my child it's a lefty social justice dogma. My daughter is being socially engineered full of attitudes towards LGBTQ folk, racial difference, refugees, the poor, differently abled, and so on. There is never an opportunity missed that I don't ram home the lessons, and when I reflect on that, it's no different, in its style, to a god-botherer in full flight claiming Jesus and God in everything that happens. I can only hope she doesn't react completely against me as a teen and go full-on neocon.

Small and I sit and watch the news together. She's ten. I don't know if this is good parenting or not. I just know that parents kind of /sort of reproduce themselves, but in the updated, better model; 'me but better' is what's going on. And the news matters to me; it's not so much that I can do anything about death in Iraq from car bombs, but at the least, at the very and insignificant least, I can acknowledge the passing of 48 people in another car bomb attack. Does this matter? I don't know. But I comment: I tell her, how sad. That's awful. If it happend in Australia, we'd do nothing but talk about it for a week. How come we only have it down the news, and we won't really care? That's what she's hearing.

What will shape another human being? I think parents can only do so much. I do believe there's a genetic component; creditable research tells us that left wing people use more of their brain than right, so maybe we can look at them as disabled? Not quite as evolved? I think, already, that Small is there: she makes comments that are beyond what I drum into her, that tell me she's thinking about multiple causes, multiple needs.

And something else is helping: she'd wildly into Dr Who. The Sarah Jane Chronicles. Star Wars the Clone Wars. Lord of the Rings. And as we hear and watch these stories, I'm talking afterward; how hard it was for the Doctor to make that decision. Did you think Donna made the right choice? What would you do? Was Ahsoka right? Do you agree with that stuff at the start of Clone Wars?

Now, here's an interesting proof of the pudding: Small has seen, and we've discussed, the situation in Syria. Is this good parenting? *I don't know!!* It just seems right to me. So as we were watching Dr Who, Chris Eccleston, Ep 1 tonight, she turned to me and said, "It's really important, Mum, that they give Syria a choice. You shouldn't attack someone without giving them a chance to make a good choice."

Wow. I will argue, vehemently and to my dying day, that nothing in the Christian Bible is so clearcut as the Doctor saying that to Donna and Martha when he beams back up to the Sontaran ship. I have to give them a choice. And Small extrapolated that to Syria, and how bloody right she was.

When we watch scifi/fantasy together we can talk about courage, and sacrifice, and morality. What did it cost Frodo to undertake that mission, gradually realising that he wouldn't come back? What does that mean to us as human beings; what causes do we take up unto death, what do we consider worth dying for? When do you give up? When do you insist on the courage, even when everything is aligned against you? Rose agaionst the Sycorax, stepping forward. It's brilliant. It's breathtaking. It's more real than anything the Bible has to offer, because it's not about pleasing a spaghetti monster in the sky. It's about deciding for yourself what constitutes a good life, and a good death, and deciding that in the service of others, you've found that goal.

Sigh. I suspect that many would disagree with my parenting choices. But finding a moral guide in fables worth exploring - yeah, I reckon that's good education, at least.
I need something to distract me this morning, so I got thinking about the five fictional scenes on TV that really knocked my socks off. Well, why not? There are plenty of sporting moments, because I do like watching a lot of sport - Steve Waugh's 100 at the SCG, Sally Pearson winning gold at the Olympics, Makybe Diba's third Melbourne Cup, Sydney Swans winning the AFL premiership in 2005 after a 70-plus year drought, winning the America's Cup in 82. 83? Back then, anyway.

There are also plenty of RL moments on the news. The attacks of 9/11. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The Chilean miners being rescued. The Beaconsfield miners being rescued. Stuart Diver being rescued.

But I was thinking of the moments when writers, directors and actors came together to create out of a fictional world something that genuinely emotionally affected me. The resultant emotion, birthed as it was in a fictional construct, lasted with me for days after the first viewing, and now, as I set myself the challenge, they come straight to me without any kind of digging. These are occasions when I *hurt* for the imaginary characters who suffered onscreen.

1. The death of Dean Winchester: Yeah, which one, I hear you sigh. Well, the end of Season 3, of course. The entire season had been a slow, torturous build towards a dramatic climax. I remember my heart was beating quite strongly as I sat down to watch it, how invested I was in the fate of this fictional hero. As the episode went on, with moments of excruciating poignancy and fear throughout, my mind was racing ahead to foresee the deus ex machina that would get him out. Emotional farewells, last minute switches, Bobby will come through, won't he? And it will probably be lame, because how can they suddenly pluck the answer? But I don't care, just do it, now! And then it happened, as they'd promised all along it would - Dean was ripped to death by hellhounds in front of his screaming brother, and it was devastating. A reel away from the screen whiskey rating of 5 big ones. Stat.

2. Benton Fraser, Due South, Victoria's Secret part 2: At the end of the first season, the evil genius (and weird Scientology follower) Paul Haggis used the penultimate double-parter to deconstruct the character we had come to know and love. Ben Fraser, the conscientious, kind, thoroughly courageous and decent man became trapped in an obsessive love affair that allowed him to indulge in self-absorbed myopia for just a few days before it turned around and destroyed him. It was shocking, and it hurt, and it took his partner shooting him in the back and, for all I knew, killing him to save him. Freudians would have a field day (his partner penetrated him from behind, after all, and suffice to say this was the time I discovered the joys of m/m slash), but that scene on the station, with snow falling, his father's ghost bending over his dying body, and the words of Gerard Manly Hopkins whispering over all remains one of the most powerful things I've ever seen. A reel away from the screen whiskey rating of five.

3. Alexander Siddig, The Big Battalions: This is less familiar, I suspect, but this was the first time I think I genuinely mourned the death of a screen character. Alexander played a sweet, naive young British man searching for spiritual answers who decided to embrace his Islamic background and so travelled over to the Middle East. There, in the last episode, almost at the end, he is an innocent caught up in militant action and uselessly, wastefully, shot dead. This one stayed with me for weeks. A reel away from the screen whiskey rating of five.

4. Warriors: Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew MacFadyen: Warriors is a heart-wrenching two part story of UN soldiers in Bosnia. This was probably the first time I noticed Matty Mac, though he’s become a real favourite (if not a butter my muffin boy). The awful horrors of that war and the added horror of being a helpless witness to it does incredible damage to two decent human beings. It was not unexpected to watch Alan struggle in civilian life, yelling at a spoiled child in a supermarket, but it hurt nonetheless; but the emotionally wrenching part was seeing the decent, sane, intelligent John, played by Ioan, the man who did everything eh could to keep his unit safe and together, calmly checkout a gun right at the end of the story and return to his room in order to commit suicide. I remember watching this and actually saying out loud, “Oh, no,” with a hand at my mouth like some Victorian maiden. As it happened, they realized in time and got to him to stop him, but it was agonizing for a few minutes. When thinking of this topic, those final scenes – Alan in the supermarket, John in his room – came to me immediately. A reel away from the screen whiskey rating of four.

5. Supernatural, Dean Winchester, What is and What Should Never Be: the grave scene. I cried the first time I saw it, I have cried ever since. Beautifully, beautifully played, written, shot. But somehow transcendent, too, in the fact that his sorrow is not greater than his courage. A reel away from the screen whiskey rating of three.

After I compiled this list I realized that all my big TV moments are to do with death or despair. However, had I compiled a list of movie moments, they would all be triumphal – Robert Redford running in slow motion around the bases, Colin Firth proposing in appalling Portuguese to the beautiful Orelia, Red joining Andy on the beach, Robert Redford and Paul Newman getting up off the floor, Dith Pran staring down at the Red Cross tent. I suspect that the difference lies in the media – movies hold the possibility of a sad ending in a way that TV never used to, so when they end on a feel-good moment, it still rates as a win. I grew up watching TV in the sixties, seventies, eighties, when triumph was the mainstay of weekly shows. The Good Guys won. It was a given. It’s really only been in the last fifteen years or so that TV shows have bucked that inbuilt expectation and offed people with gleeful abandon. I think it’s been hardwired into my psyche, though, so when favourites did die (or seemed to) I was genuinely shocked.

I wanted to include the Band of Brothers finale, Richard Winters’ comments at the end, through barely suppressed tears, that he wasn’t a hero – but he fought with heroes. I have never yet managed to watch that without howling to the moon. But even though BoB is a fictionalistaion of a true story, it’s the real bloke who slays me, so I can’t really declare that a fictional character. (But then, BoB is a quagmire of real/not real, fiction/non-fiction that stops me from ever trying to write BoB (or The Pacific either, dammit, though I’d love to have at Hoosier and Leckie) for fear of doing a disservice to real, courageous people).

I also almost included the infamous Red Wedding from Game of Thrones. But although it shocked the hell out of me, it didn't stay with me; principally, I think, because I wasn't deeply invested in the characters involved, much as I liked them.

I mentioned at the start that I need a distraction. Well, my country has just elected an utter arsehole to run the place. For those of you who are American – imagine how you would have felt if Mitt Romney had won. It is a disaster for women, children, the poor, migrants, refugees, GLBTQ people, the education sector, foreign aid, the environment, the climate change catastrophe.
I’m devastated, disappointed, depressed and disgusted, and desperately reminding myself that there are people in genuinely awful situations, good people in Syria for example, for whom I should save my sympathy. I’m trying for perspective. Give me a day of mourning, then I’ll think about what I can do to earn a living if my job goes due to the way the Mad Monk is going to attack universities.

The subjecvt title comes from what my child said after bursting into tears watching the sad part of 'Cars': "It's too big for my heart." Indeed.

So, what are your moments of small screen shattering emotion? I'd love to hear what slayed you, and if you agree with my thoughts re any of the above (not that there's a right or wrong here, just whether your Big Moments are triumphal/happy ones compared to my bloody angst blowouts).

The Tin Ear

I don't pretend to be immune. Good lord, no. But in the spirit of the fact that consumers, observers, critics and enjoyers do not necessarily have to have the skills they appraise, may I offer a few thoughts on that great disabler of good dialogue writing, The Tin Ear.

Experienced script writers can have it, and experienced actors save them from it. Whenever an actor says, "No, you could never *say* this", it saves any number of script writers from ridicule. I know Jensen and Jared have done so, many times. Something that reads heroically on the page sounds just shit-awful when uttered. The very good writers already hear that beforehand, of course: but I don't count Dabb and Lofflin in my pantheon of 'good' writers.

I downloaded two series recently. One was Copper, set in New York in the late 1800s; one was Ripper Street, ditto. I can't speak to the quality of the stories in comparison; I lasted twenty minutes with Copper. It looked a million dollars - they spent twenty minutes and five bucks on the script.

Here's where I lost it: a female character says to a male, "Promise me you'll be safe." It reeked of every soap I've seen in the last twenty years. "Give me your promise that you will keep safe", or something like it; *yes*, then, I am transported back a hundred and fifty years, then it all makes sense. But I don't care how beautiful the sets and costumes, if characters are speaking like they wandered off the set of the Bald and the Buggered, then it's just not going to work for me as an historical series. That example was simply the last of a series of increasingly tin-eared efforts in the show. There was no sense of era, no sense of language, which is always, more than wallpaper or fashion, *the* indicator of time. People are still sitting in Regency design drawing rooms today, but they're not talking like Regency people, and it's *language* that differentiates them one from another.

Ripper Street, on the other hand, benefits from writers immersed in late nineteenth century primary sources. The language is flowery, on occasion, but also formal and circuitous and laden with Latin derived nouns and adjectives. I don't know how absolutely accurate it is, but I'd bet an effort has been made, and whether right or not it doesn't insult the viewer with 21st century banalities. Even if it's ersatz, it *sounds* right. And, you know: Matty MacFadyen rocks.

Of all the thousands of fanfics I've read, I reckon I've come across a handful of decently written historical fic. But, to be fair, that's comparable with the amount of decently written historical fic that I've read in formally published stories. I liked early Winston Graham; his Poldark stories managed to avoid sentimentality and convey a sense of the time. He was also brilliant at evoking dialect and accent without writing pages of tortured English: I remember him writing a character saying, "Tedn't right. Tedn't proper" and immediately getting a sense of the Cornish accent, without reams of other examples to capture it. (Then he got all weird and sexually frustrated in the later series).

Just try it, if you're writing: try saying the words you've put into your characters' mouths out loud. If it's embarrassing to say, if it shrieks of bullshit, it's probably not what people say in real life. Often we say the most banal things in the times of the most extreme torment. But those banalities are not going to be screen banalities: I don't think people ever say, "Let's get out of here", despite it being the most common line in modern film (or so I've heard). In Pompeii at the time of the Vesuvian eruption, they weren't saying that, or "Thus ends a great city." They were saying, "I've left my bag": "Where's the flagon?"; "Do we - should we do something?"; "I haven't got my shoe". They were saying something utterly commonplace and irreversibly *human*, and when we read that or see that in movies or literature, we recognise it and go, "Yes."

So: Ripper Street good, Copper bloody awful. And Elizabeth Kostova, Queen of the Tin Ear, forever consigned to the flames of hell.
I've been ridiculously sick, then ridiculously snowed under with all the work I had to catch up on (because damn you, Sick Leave Fairy - you did not pick up my slack!)

The catching up on work part meant working all weekend, two weeks in a row, but before that I actually had three weeks' sick leave, something I've never had before in my working life. It meant I got to see a lot of tv on DVD, and I am very grateful to dugindeep for insisting that I watch Deadwood, because I thought it was marvellous. But I also realised again something that I always knew; I am a sucker for cuglies.

What are cuglies, you ask? Cute/uglies. Sidekicks. Co-stars. People of so little imediately obvious appeal that when you tell others you're rather hot and sweaty for that particular character, they go, "Him?" In that politely disbelieving, confused way of Arrested Development's, 'Her?'

Which is why Jensen Ackles is all wrong and I have no business being remotely interested in him.
Just who are these cuglies of whom you speak so winningly?Collapse )

Why I love cricket

I have threatened to post a 'why cricket is the best game on the planet' before, but this morning I'll spare anyone that one. I just don't have the time. But I can just post that one of the wonderful elements of cricket is the thing most often mocked by those who are ignorant about the game - it takes time. Which means that it has twists and turns brought on by changing conditions and the character of those involved.

A nineteen year old kid went out yesterday at number eleven (last man in) and scored the highest number of runs ever for that number bat in Test history, in his first innings. I think Australia will still lose this test, and the series - England is a settled, experienced side, and we are re-building - but for a moment we could all glory in the sheer unpredictability of the game. We were looking at an eighty run deficit, ended up in front.

Ashton Agar, you little beauty.

Effluvia 3

Trawling through the dark and desultory waters of my questionable mind, here are some of the things brought to the surface in the last few days, for no good purpose other than to show them some air.

1. I just watched 'The Impossible'. There were some questions raised about it when released - why was a real life Spanish family now a British one, why not look at the Thai peoples' experiences - that were valid then and now, but taking the movie as is, it thoroughly sucked me in. And I think that Tom Holland, as the eldest son Lucas, is simply extraordinary. This kid shreds my heart. See it for his performance alone. Just beautiful.

2. The three finger sex scene thing. Righto, so maybe my gentlemen callers have all been under-served by nature in the penile department. I dunno. But when I put my three fingers together, a la stretching prior to insertion, I get a circumference of about 14 centimetres. I have quite small fingers. Three large, bloke sized fingers, together at the base, would be at least double that. That's a pretty hefty old feller, right there. And then so often I see, post-three finger stretch, "He knew his cock would be so much bigger..." Really? Honestly, women and men of LJ, tell me the truth - have I been woefully dudded all my life, or is a circumference of 25 centimtres or so actually bloody big enough to be going on with, thanks? The bloke would have one like a baby's arm holding an apple at that rate.

3. Game of Thrones. Absolutely devastated after the last episode. I did not expect any of that, at all. And here's why I love not being spoiled - *I did not expect any of that, at all*. So for me it was as huge a shock as old George no doubt intended it to be. I guess this harks back to my weary resistance (but compliance, because I have no wish to be virtually lynched) to warnings on fic. Have we all become so precious that everything, every story, every experience, needs to be thoroughly vetted before we expose ourselves to it? I would like to see optional warnings, under a cut, so that those who like to engage with stories as the author carefully plots them to be can do so without having every aspect of it signposted beforehand. I like to be surprised and shocked and sometimes, even, distraught. It is an act of submission to the work, and a willingness to sacrifice comfort for the sake of catharsis.

4. Justifed and Supernatural. Here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-en-st-justified-20130530,0,1698246.story
The bit that stands out for me? Information/exposition comes fifth on the list of things a scene should accomplish, according to those making Justified. I don't know what's coming in S9 of Supe, but if they could kick the exposition habit and trust their audience a bit more, look for different aspects of their story as they're unfolding a scene, I would be very happy. As I am when I watch Jacob Pitts. Yeah, I have no idea as to why, but there it is.

5. I have discovered Seixas and Peter Lee in history writing, and they also make me very happy.

6. Is anyone else thinking that this year is zooming past so bloody fast I can barely breathe? It's almost mid-winter, FCOL. Christmas was a couple of weeks ago, wasn't it?

7. I loathe Superman and all who sail in his tight little red budgie smugglers. Must we have another version?? I see so much that is creative and amazing in books and online - surely we can do better, as a culture, than re-visit a hashed over male fantasy-figure for the umpteenth time?

Okay then. Time to put the dredge net away for another week. Be as happy and as well as you can.

Change More Fierce Masterpost

Art Title: Everything Changes
Artist: kvsvala
Rating/Warnings: M, violence

Fic Title: Change more fierce
Author: Corbyinoz
Parings/Characters: Alec, Ramon Clemente
Rating/Warnings: Violence, language
Word Count:7987
Summary: Ramon Clemente receives an unexpected visitor days after the events of 'Freak Nation'. His encounter with Alec will change everything he knew about his family life, his security and the nature of the 'reaks' he chased into Terminal City; but can he save Alec, as Alec saved him?

Very sincere thanks to the wonderful mods, who were so patient and understanding with me. I'm so glad I could repay your trust by posting this! And sincere thanks to kjsvala, whose thrilling art prompted it all.
Fic begins in the next entry...
ETA link to art:http://over-thehills.livejournal.com/72678.html



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