For the 11th January (LJ | DW) sdelmonte asked for one thing I miss about NYC and one thing I don’t. And because MY FRIIIIIENDS would be obvious, I’m going to make it specifically about the city itself.
A Thing I Miss: TWENTY-FOUR HOUR SUBWAYS
The thing about living in London was that every late night at work, every social event, every night out, had to be planned and structured around The Last Tube, and the alternative Night Bus route and the difference in timings and does this pub close before or after Last Tube. When I worked at the Poorly Managed Sexy Coffee Shop, the time I finished cleaning up could make the difference between a 45 minute journey home and a two-hour journey home. Evenings out in Manhattan? You just allow half an hour more, maybe, because of infrequent trains. But you know you will get a train, and despite what popular culture would have us believe, I never felt unsafe on the late night subways…
(Well, except that one time I witnessed a domestic violence incident and then had to suffer a homophobic tirade from the man sitting next to me)
…but definitely not to the extent that waiting for a Night Bus – or even travelling on a Night Bus – would. No matter, the knowledge that no matter what the hour, I could get my usual subway home, made my life a lot easier.
A Thing I Do Not Miss: TIMES SQUARE
Ugh, what is the point of Times Square? It’s like the location equivalent of those celebrities that never seem to do anything – maybe they were on a reality TV show or perhaps their parent is a thing – but are just famous for being famous. Times Square is… some steps. And a bunch of shops that are there to cash in on the tourists who come to see… the shops. And the TKTS booth, I guess. It’s a hotmess of the things I hate most in the world – crowds and people dressed as muppets. SO MANY CREEPY ELMOS.
I said this to someone once, and they said “what? Doesn’t London have Piccadilly Circus?” and my response was “I know! I don’t get that, either!” Sadly, Times Square is close to places I actually did want to be (comic store, dance class, the garment district, the theatres) that I had to go there a lot. But I did so reluctantly and not without grousing every step of the way.
Ugh, Times Square.
It’s my bedtime when I’m starting this, so I’m sorry it won’t be long, but for the 10th January (LJ | DW) shoroko asked for my thoughts on Avatar: The Last Airbender / the Legend of Korra, which I really don’t know if I can do justice this late, but I will, because I was asked to!
Although I will say, it is hard at the best of times for me to give thoughts on Avatar that don’t amount to incoherent hand flaps and I love this franchise so muuuuuuch, because that’s not fair. Neither cartoon is perfect. They both have flaws. And the one I am most personally attached to is possibly the more flawed, and sometimes I want to hit them, if it were possible to hit cartoons. But then I realize how much I love them and I hide from the internet’s right and just criticism of them both,
But I love Avatar, a lot. A lot.
I love Aang, because he is excitable and distractable and incurably optimistic. I love Korra because she is self confident and headstrong and rushes straight in without think. I love that both Avatar shows are about children with great power and even greater responsibilities, who have to live up to the image the world holds up to them. Aang evades and Korra barges in, and both are scared and pushed around, and both turn around to the world and decide that no, actually I’m going to do things my way.
Aang has a counterpoint in his one time enemy turned friend Zuko, who also has to deal with the world’s expectations, and struggles to find his own path and make his own decisions when faced with the burden of a family’s expectations. Korra has… a boyfriend who is a jerk and who gets a weird plot that should be about a girl who has to live up to the expectations given to her by her social status, her financial power and her political leanings, but instead is all about… well, Some Guy. This is less interesting. But hey, can’t have ladies hogging the storylines, right? Everyone knows men can’t pay attention to women.
I love the world building – I love the idea of a world built around four elements, I love that the powers are tied into actual real martial arts and there’s a constant spirituality and it all looks and feels so constant, even when the two shows are separated by 70 years.
I love the supporting characters – even though I think the last season focused a little too much on the wrong characters. I love the way it manages to be a show centred on young people in a world run by adults, without making the young people any less important.
I really like the themes of growing into power in a world that’s real, complicated, and changing. Of changing the world and being changed by it. Of facing the world’s expectations and redefining those expectations to suit your path. And the fact that it’s consistently funny, and always pretty to look at – well, that’s a bonus.
Aaaaand now it’s even later and I want to write MORE. But it’s been a long day at the museum and… bedtime.
(I love Avataaaaaaaaaaaar.)
For the 9th January (LJ | DW) bjornwilde asked what global or cosmic hero/es I like, based on the correct assumption that I tend to prefer street level superheroes (The Question, Black Canary, Daredevil)
So here’s three powerhouses, from three different publishers.
I’d been dabbling a toe into the Super books since Kelly-Sue DeConnick’s run in Supergirl, which for a while was the only Super book I read. I really really did not like Man of Steel in a way that was eye opening about what I thought was important about Superman (no doubt acquired through osmosis by spending my weekends watching Justice League with a man who did his dissertation on Superbooks). So it turned out I had Opinions! And I started reading more superbooks. And then I fell into a hole of Power Girl, because 1) Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner and 2) if the Super family is a family of people who are displaced from their home and trying to find their place, then Power Girl is the losted and most displaced of them all. And of course, in the Ame-Comi universe she’s essentially a genderswapped Superman, and we all know how much I like genderswaps.
Anyway, I like Karen cause she’s flexible in her changing situations. She’s smart and tech savvy, and uses her secret identity to help people with Starrware rather than building up a personal arsenal, like SOME smart super rich ‘hero’ types I can mention. And she takes absolutely zero crap, from anyone. She’s brave, compassionate, and just trying to find her place in a planet – no, a universe, that isn’t her own.
Any claims that I like Carol Danvers for exactly the same reasons that I like Karen Starr will be met with a shifty look and an awkward subject change.
I jumped on the Captain Marvel bandwagon at the same time everyone else did – when Kelly-Sue started writing her solo book. (A pattern? To heck you say!) And I’ve been meaning to go back and read the rest of Princess Sparklefists, but there’s no hurry, right? As it is, Captain Marvel is one of the very few books I judge good enough to be on my small pull list. Carol, like Karen, is take-no-prisoners lets-punch-things. She has global powers and responsibilities (co-leader of the Avengers), but very real fears and worries (and a case of imposter syndrome, which is a very female concern.)
Otherwise known as Invincible’s super girlfriend, Samantha Wilkins has her own life, and her own problems (which don’t get focused on nearly enough) including her own archnemesis. Dealing with Mark Grayson’s melodrama should be enough to get her a medal on its own, but she never ever lets it stop her. She’s pretty much the most powerful person in the world, including Invincible himself, even though she makes the tough decision to not use her powers when she gets pregnant.
Yeah, there are problems in Atom Eve’s story, but she’s an awesome character and a great superhero.
I make fanmixes when I’m writing. DON’T JUDGE ME. Just listen.
I don’t have anything scheduled on the blogging on demand meme (LJ | DW) for tomorrow, so if you want me to ramble about something, you’d better get to it. Anyway, the 6th January, herdivineshadow asked for my favourite 5 things about the Natural History Museum.
Archie the Giant Squid
Giant Squid, Architeuthis dux , were until relatively recently a bit of a mystery to scientists, with everything we knew having come from the study of incomplete specimens washed up on beached, or found in the stomachs of sperm whales. If you’ve visited the AMNH in New York you might have seen the diorama of a squid vs whale fight constructed from speculation. In 2004, however, a trawler near the Falkland Islands caught a full specimen, which was donated to the Natural History Museum on the provision it be put on display. That posed a problem, however: the public galleries of the museum are nearly all within the iconic Waterhouse Building, which is a) not structurally sound enough to carry the weight of Archie’s giant fluid tank and b) a Grade One Listed Building, so not something you can just reinforce. Archie IS on pubic display, but to view her, you need to book a free public tour of the Darwin Centre Spirit Collection (ages 8 and up). This is well worth it.
The Aurora Pyramid of Hope
This collection of 296 naturally coloured diamonds exhibits a variety of fluorescent colours – and pretty tricks with light is of course one of my favourite things. On display in the Vault, next to a meteorite from Mars, the gems are displayed under alternating white and ultraviolet light, showing their incredible beauty to the maximum.
The Treasures Gallery
I still hold this was my idea – when we visited what was once the Tree Gallery (there is a cross section of a tree on the ceiling) and I said “they should turn this into a showcase gallery for their most iconic specimens. And the next thing I knew: BAM! TREASURES. This is the gallery where you can see a dodo skeleton, a first edition of On the Origin of Species, the only piece of Apollo moon rock owned by the UK, and of course, the fossil and counterslab of the London Archaeopteryx.
This piece of malachite
The Live Ants
I know, I know. Live leafcutter ants are so cliche for museums and zoos, but I don’t even care. Next to handleable objects, I think live and ‘real’ specimens are one of the most important things museums can provide their visitors. It makes a memorable, significant experience and captures people’s attention much more than models and labels ever can.
For the 5th January (LJ | DW) swankyfunk asked about my favourite dinosaur. Everyone, of course, has a favourite dinosaur, I think it’s compulsory for being a human being. As a child, my favourite dinosaur was Protoceratops, but now I always answer with the same answer: Animantarx.
Animantarx is a nodosaur, one of the armoured dinosaurs related to Stegosaurus. I always feel nodosaurs and ankylosaurs get short shrift in the popular depiction of dinosaurs: they don’t appear in Jurassic Park (Well, they appear briefly in the third movie), the Ankylosaurus in Fantasia is asleep, and Spike in Land Before Time is a non speaking role. This is frankly a ridiculous move on behalf of the dinosaur publicity people, because ankylosaurs rock. They were huge animals covered in armor and spikes, and ankylosaurs (not nodosaurs, and sadly not Animantarx) had a whopping club on the end of their tails. They make stegosaurs look like lightweights.
Paleontologist R.S. Lull once said of ankylosaurs that they must have been an ‘animated citadel,’ and it is this phrase from which the name Animantarx derives – animus, living, tarx, fortress.
Animantarx was about 4.5 m long, and comes from the Cedar Mountain Formation in Utah, at a horizon where the fossils are somewhat radioactive. It was discovered by a retired radiology technician called Ramal Jones, using a radioactivity-detecting scintillation counter that makes it the first dinosaur to have been discovered remotely – with no surface exposure before excavation.
So there you have it – my favourite dinosaur is a radioactive, spike-covered ornithischian with a fantastic name.
Bit of background: I failed my test three times when I was eighteen. Considering I had unresolved attention and anxiety issues, this should surprise absolutely no one. Then I lived in London for ten years, and New York for three years, and not only did I not really have much use for driving, I also didn’t really want to learn to drive or keep a car while I was there. Also, other priorities. But ALSO, driving is sort of scary.
But my parents don’t live in a big city with excellent public transport. And I don’t currently live in a big city with excellent public transport. And occasionally jobs will come up in museum education that requires the ability to drive between sites, or to transport objects to learners, or to take learners to objects. So it’s nice to be able to tick that box on my job applications.
When I couldn’t drive, I was pretty much completely dependent on the kindness of others: I was only able to attend derby practice twelve miles away because an (at the time) total stranger offered to give me a lift twice a week. I was only able to see my best friend because she drove down to see me. Every single social occasion I wanted to attend had to involve friends picking me up at pre arranged times or me organising public transport. And the thing here is: I am terrible at asking people for things, because it scares me to the point of aversion, and I am also pretty bad at organizing things in advance. So the fact that I could go to Chrissy’s Christmas party in Reading by just jumping in my car and riving to Reading, the fact that I can go to a party tonight by just jumping in my car and riving to Wycombe, that I can leave when I like, that I am not obliged nor placing an obligation on ANYONE…
…that’s bloody amazing.
(This is actually a big leap for me, and for many comics fans, who sometimes find ourselves accidentally hating half our pull lists)
My ‘reading at the moment’ list goes like this: Hawkeye, Daredevil, Captain Marvel, Lazarus, Chew, Invincible, Red Sonja, Locke and Key (which has now finished but I haven’t caught up on quite yet) and the old Palmiotti/ Conner run on Power Girl. And I like them all.
But my least favourite? Right now it’s probably between Chew (which annoyed me last year by killing off my favourite character) and Hawkeye, which miiiight be getting a bit old now. It started great, but seems to be falling into a bit of a rut now? And I’m not sure how much I like Fraction’s Kate Bishop. But it’s still a great book!
(For my thoughts on Deep Space Nine itself, you’ll have to hang on for a couple of weeks)
Terok Nor Roller Derby is a co-ed league (in a world where co-ed leagues are the norm) which recently went through a major upheaval: the previous trustees were kicked out following a league-wide vote of no confidence, which left the League with very few experienced skaters. Appealing to friends and local leagues, a number of transfers from the Paris Fleet Foots came in, in order to prevent TNRD from having to disband completely. The current line up is a but of a mix of abilities and backgrounds, and they haven’t quite ironed out their infighting yet.
I wrote three stories this Yuletide. Not too bad, considering that my computer was dead for about a month in the middle there.
The theme this year was “People called Barbara,” and also “people called Dick,” genderswapping characters, banter, and Bruce Wayne not appearing.
I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down. (7048 words) by innerbrat
Fandom: Batgirl: Year One (Comic), DCU (Comics), Batman (Comics)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon
Additional Tags: Case Fic, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Dick/Babs if you squint, Mind Control
Summary: Batman is on a mission out of Gotham, leaving Batgirl and Robin as the city’s protectors.
I actually matched with this recipient for three fandoms, but I could not resist the urge to write Babs and Dick being Babs and Dick. It turns out writing actual plots for detectives to solve and be detectives about is hard, and now I understand why plot holes happen. BECAUSE THEY JUST DO, okay?
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (2843 words) by innerbrat
Fandom: The Sherwood Ring – Elizabeth Marie Pope
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Barbara Grahame/Peaceable Drummond Sherwood
Characters: Peaceable Drummond Sherwood, Barbara Grahame, Richard Grahame, Uncle Anthony
Additional Tags: Genderswap, Alternate Universe – Gender Changes, Crossdressing
Summary: It was all Anthony’s doing from the beginning.
So Becca sent me an email informing me that someone had requested genderswapped Peaceable Sherwood, and given that I like genderswapping protagonists for historical romance novels, wouldn’t I like to do this?
No, I said.
Three days later I sent her this to beta.
The Women of Tomorrow (5921 words) by innerbrat
Fandom: Ame-Comi Girls, DC Elseworlds, DCU (Comics)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Kara Jor-El, Jonathan Kent, Martha Kent, Natasha Irons, Barbara Gordon, Carrie Kelly, Helena Bertinelli, Lois Lane, Kara Zor-El
Additional Tags: Hints of Power Girl/Batgirl, Backstory, Alternate Universe – Canon, Hints of Power Girl/Lois Lane,
Summary: A tale of the Woman of Steel, and the effect she has on the people around her.
Ame-Comi’s Power Girl has Clark Kent’s backstory. So this was basically like writing a gender-swapped Superman but actually canon. I had a bunch of fun with this, including the discovery that I’m interested in Steel and would like to know more. No canon knowledge of Ame-comi OR the mainstream DCU is needed for this.