edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
Augh. I think the 7/28 Homestuck update broke me.

*sobs helplessly over stupid alien teenagers*

more serious thoughts -- beware of spoilers! )


I'm going to read Terezi's monologue and watch the flash and cry again now. *grabs box of tissues in preparation*
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I don't remember exactly when I encountered comic books as a concept. I know it must have been via my friend Cat, because she was the one who introduced me to... oh, pretty much any form of pop culture up until I was maybe twelve years old, at which point Vicky began to explore her own tastes and I started borrowing her books and sort of idly watching her shows. The part I remember most dramatically is when Cat talked me into watching the old X-Men cartoon on Fox, back around 1992. That was, quite literally, the first television I watched that wasn't either PBS or the evening news. (No, wait, I lie; I also watched the occasional football game with Dad.) Basically Cat wanted somebody to squee with and I guess she figured I was her best target in our mutual friend group.

She was right.

I assume she introduced me to comics around the same time, mostly in the form of various interrelated X-Men titles with a side order of Spider-Man. She was a Marvel girl through and through and I had no frame of reference for this strange new world, so I just read everything she owned. Then we squeed. And you know, in retrospect there was not a lot of great literary merit in, for example, the X-cutioner's Song crossover arc, but hey. It was a HELL of a lot of fun, and even more fun when shared. :D

But the thing is, comics were a secondhand obsession on my part... )

Also, recommend me some good power fantasies that feature non-sexually-objectified women, please, so I can maybe put hold requests on them too? (I can't buy anything, I'm broke, but at least these days there's a chance some library in the system might have copies of obscure things.) [ETA: I already know about Girl Genius, and yes, I am familiar with Elfquest; that was one of Cat's big things for a while, sometime after her Dragonlance obsession.]
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I saw Mad Max: Fury Road yesterday, and intend to go see it again on Thursday or Friday.

It's not objectively the greatest movie, I think? I mean, it's a damn good action movie! It's basically a two-hour car chase scene with occasional pauses for breath, punctuated by intense fights and explosions; the characterization and world-building is done mostly through background visuals, body language, and implication. But you know, it's not aiming to be anything other than a damn good action movie. Which is cool. The world can always use more damn good action movies if you ask me. :-)

As for why people are saying it's great and deep and important...

Um. How to phrase this?

Okay. The thing is, I love action movies. I love action movies A LOT. I am so there for chases and fights and guns and knives and explosions and the rules of physics and biology being overwritten in the service of "Dude, wouldn't it be cool if?" propositions.

But with almost every action movie in the world, there's a little niggling sense of, "Yes, but..." in the back of my mind.

"Yes, but where are the women?"

Where are the women among the heroes? Where are the women with speaking roles? Where are the women in crowd scenes? Where are the women in the backgrounds of organizations? Where are the women just getting on with their lives? Where are the women who have any contact with other women?

With Fury Road, I didn't have to ask that question, because THE WOMEN WERE RIGHT THERE ON-SCREEN. I'd say about a dozen with speaking roles, and they had their own arcs and their own goals and they talked to each other, and they didn't exist to glorify the male characters or to serve as sexy inspiration (whether living or dead). Some of them were traditionally action-movie badass (with guns and fists and cars and whatever), and some were not, and that's okay because there were enough women on-screen that no single character had to bear the burden of representing ALL women. They could just be themselves, who they would logically be in their positions. Some were young and gorgeous, some were middle-aged, some were old, and they were all treated LIKE PEOPLE, not sexy lamps or dumb jokes or burdens -- just like men always get to be treated.

So it's not that Fury Road is a great movie with a deep message. It's just that for once, it's a movie in a genre I love that doesn't punch me in the face with one hand even as it clasps the other and takes my money. Instead, this movie pulls me in for a hug and says, "Welcome home."

I love it so much for that.

(And I think I am retroactively even more annoyed about all those past face-punches than I was at the time. Dammit, people, PUT WOMEN IN YOUR MOVIES. Do you see how easy it is to do? Do you see how it doesn't spoil the adrenaline rush at all?? Do you see how you don't have to invent contrived romantic subplots to "justify" putting in a single woman as a narratively useless love interest??? Do you see how much money I am willing to give you in return???? ARGH!)
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Generally speaking, I think movies made from books are never as good as the original material. The Silence of the Lambs has not joined my short list of exceptions.

This is not to say that it's a bad movie! No, it's a very good movie. It deserved that Oscar. But the book is better.

Obviously the case had to be streamlined, which was by and large done sensibly... )

But really, Clarice Starling is the heart of the story; it lives and dies with her characterization. I miss seeing her do technical forensic work, and I miss seeing her consciously decide that she's willing to flunk out of Quantico rather than abandon Catherine Martin and the case, but aside from the sexist warping of the basement scene at the end, she makes it largely intact from book to screenplay and Jodie Foster brings her convincingly to life.

So yeah. A good movie. Still not as good as the book, but a very good movie. I'm glad I watched it. :D


(For the record, the two movies that I think are better than their source books are The Princess Bride and Mysterious Skin. There are probably also some movies that are better than their source short stories, but while those face the problem of translating from one medium to another, they don't have the problem of how to tell the same story while chopping at least half of it out.)
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(This post has been slightly edited for clarity of phrasing, and to add a couple additional qualifiers in the end notes. I want to be precise about what arguments I am and am not making.)

I don't want to harsh on people's squee, which is why I am writing my own post here on my journal instead of appending these thoughts to anything on Tumblr. But. Because Tumblr is aware that I am into Narnia and related stuff, and also into awesome women (and also because sometimes people I follow reblog things), I see a lot of movie-centric "Susan Pevensie fuck yeah!!!" style posts. Mostly I just shrug and pass them by, because the Narnia films are not my canon, and also not really my thing in general for various and sundry reasons, and people like what they like and that's cool. But tonight I saw a post that contrasted book!Susan to movie!Susan and implicitly declared the former a terrible character in comparison.

And I just.


cut for angry meta )


Okay, I feel better now. I still want to write about a hundred book!Susan fics showcasing her differences from movie!Susan and why those differences make her AMAZING, but it's late and I'm tired, so that will have to wait for tomorrow.


Four additional things:

1) I would like to clarify that I have nothing against movie!Susan in and of herself. I just cannot stand people holding her up as a reason to tear book!Susan down.

2) I do think the changes in her character from one medium to another are a symptom of a large-scale failure of vision on the part of the filmmakers, but I can and do say the same for the changes in Peter, the Beavers, Reepicheep, Caspian, and even Aslan himself, not to mention all the plot alterations, so it's not as if I am holding her up as an isolated example.

3) Yeah, the ending of TLB sucks, but it sucks for everyone, not just Susan. Everyone else dies! Heavenly reward or no heavenly reward, that is not any kind of happy ending I recognize.

4) I am not saying Lewis is a flawless writer. Far from it! I mean, his fuckups on physical world-building alone... *headdesk* But the filmmakers are nowhere near flawless either, and I personally find their flaws more irritating than Lewis's flaws. Other people's mileage may, obvious, vary -- which is as it should be! -- but choosing to accept the flaws in a work or creator doesn't mean you get to pretend they aren't there.
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
Since I was a very small child, I have had a habit of making up... not quite stories, but sort of story scenarios -- a bunch of character sketches, some world-building, some basic plot overview, a few semi-detailed episodes -- and telling them to myself as I fall asleep, or walk to work, or take a shower, or any other time I have twenty minutes to kill and nothing at hand to read and no proper story I am driven to write. They are always deeply, deeply self-indulgent and generally the sort of thing that's not readily workable as a proper story since they're extremely diffuse and often self-contradictory, because what they are designed to do is hit as many of my kinks (narrative, character, world-building, and sexual) at once as possible, and to hell with coherence if it gets in the way of a particular juicy button.

When I was six, I had a running fantasy about kid superheroes with origin stories ranging from "just born that way" to "it's magic" to "the magic character gave him powers via mosquito bites." (Yes, mosquito bites. No, I don't know what I was thinking either.) From about eight to eleven, it was a thing about an enchantress in a tiny fairy-tale kingdom, which leaned heavily toward elaborate imaginary cartography and genealogy rather than any actual narrative. Around twelve or thirteen, my fantasies took a dramatic turn for the sexual and also started incorporating a bunch of elements cribbed from X-Men comics and Andre Norton. I didn't keep up the habit extensively in high school for whatever reason, but in college I had a few that were probably best understood as expressions of my slow-motion spiritual crisis, because they all had heavy religious elements and a distinct undertone of "but what does it all mean???" -- filtered through elaborate no-water or all-water secondary world fantasy settings, reincarnation, linguistics, and sword fights, of course, because I love a good sword fight. :-)

I still create that type of fantasy and invest a lot of time and mental/emotional energy into them, which is perhaps one contributing factor to my periodic bouts of not-writing -- my imagination is tied up elsewhere for a while and all the metaphorical phone lines are busy.

I sometimes wonder if I should try to shake those fantasies into writable form, because there are some really interesting ideas tied up in them... and then I get the screaming heebie-jeebies, because they are basically a window into my rawest id and while it may look like I am willing to spill my guts all over the internet, there are actually quite a lot of things I would prefer not to be showing the entire world. Or at least not without a fair bit more clothing and some pretense at structure and theme. Then again, id writing hits a hell of an emotional live wire when you get it right, and it's not like I haven't written some other stories that are basically raw id all over the wall ("Knives" is probably the best example), so...

Eh. I dunno. But I have been way heavy into a particular fantasy lately that started as a sci-fi Homestuck AU and has been gradually accreting more and more kinks and id fragments as I play with it (and has shed a couple others, because I do occasionally pretend at coherent world-building), and sometimes the best way to get an obsession out of my head and free up my brain for other tasks is to share it.

Maybe I will try writing it up this week. :-)
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I have two fannish names: Elizabeth Culmer and edenfalling.

Elizabeth Culmer is actually part of my legal name -- my two middle names -- and was what I automatically reached for as a pseudonym when I started writing fanfiction on FictionAlley in April 2002, since I'd been using it as a pen name for original fiction as far back as... I guess eleven or twelve years old? Anyway, when I was a kid I decided that I needed to become a famous writer in order to continue the Culmer family name and have children in order to continue the [redacted] family name, since Vicky and I were the last of two family lines at that point. (We have since acquired a Culmer cousin, so I figure that name is now his responsibility. I have also realized that I am asexual, so I figure the [redacted] family name is on Vicky's shoulders, not mine... unless I do become a famous writer under my first and last legal names, not my middle names. *grin*)

Edenfalling is something I grabbed more or less at random when I got a livejournal in November 2003. It is taken from Eden, a short, pretentious Harry Potter 15-minute fic I wrote and posted anonymously on a prompt journal, which was lucky enough to snag [livejournal.com profile] isiscolo's attention as part of her project to hand out invitation codes to members of fandom. (This was back when LJ still required invite codes.) It has nothing to do with any statement of religious affiliation -- if anything, it was a statement of my own depression at the time I created my journal -- though I realize in retrospect it can easily come off that way. :-/

So if you ask my name, I am much more likely to tell you Elizabeth Culmer than to tell you edenfalling, because the former is my name, whereas the latter is just a journal name. Except! People tend to get identified by their journal names online, so over the years edenfalling has effectively become a second name, and I have gradually become acclimated to that shift in identification. I even finally merged the two on AO3, where my user name is edenfalling but the only pseudonym I ever use is Elizabeth Culmer, so I always appear as "Elizabeth Culmer (edenfalling)". (That was not by choice, incidentally -- it was a side effect of AO3 not allowing spaces in user names -- but these days I like the way it officially links my two fannish names.)

The thing is, because I started out thinking of myself as Elizabeth Culmer and not as edenfalling, the nickname I use online is Liz. Not Eden. It's not technically wrong to think that Eden might be a reasonable nickname, and I can certainly understand that people using that nickname are talking to me, but it's not a name I have ever voluntarily used. And it does annoy me (to a greater or lesser degree depending on the person and the context) when other people call me Eden -- you see, it projects a casual familiarity rather than the moderate formality of Elizabeth Culmer and edenfalling, while simultaneously demonstrating that the person using that nickname is not actually familiar with me at all, because if they were they'd call me Liz.


In summary, names are weird. Then again, they are one of the signifiers most closely bound up with who we are, so it's not surprising that people can get touchy about nuances in how they are addressed.
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NFE fic number two is successfully beta'ed and sent back. I am slow but I get there!


Tangentially, I'm going to talk about myself as an editor, mostly so I have a post I can point people at in the future.

First, I will always correct any spelling and grammar errors I notice. I can't help it; they are like nails on the chalkboard of my soul, and if I get a chance to fix them I have to take it. (Yes, I do go back and edit one-character typos out of my old journal posts when I catch them. No, I am not in fact obsessive-compulsive. I just come off that way a lot. *sigh*) I will also point out canon errors, assuming I know the canon in question well enough to do so.

But other corrections are... more optional, shall we say. Things like awkward phrasing, paragraph length, epithet and pronoun use, all that jazz. It's always a fine line knowing what to change and what to leave alone as a person's deliberate stylistic choices. What I have found over the years is that I tend to compress long, wibbly-wobbly phrases into something pithier, to join ultra-short paragraphs (say, a sentence of dialogue and a sentence of action, both performed by the same character), and to replace pronouns with proper names to help clarify who is doing what to whom. But I leave commas the hell alone, even though my gut reaction is to root out as many as possible without destroying the rhythm of a sentence. Commas are a very personal thing and while I find them maddening in my own writing (to the point where I have been known to edit them out of stories as much as three years after posting, because they burn, precious, they burn), other people clearly have different attitudes. And that is just fine!

Character interpretations, story flow and plot holes, and other higher-level issues get discussed in actual paragraphs of commentary, because they're too complicated to just offer a fix and move on. Those are the things where I like to point out that there may be an issue on Point X, here is why I think there's an issue, and here are a handful of suggestions for dealing with the issue. I don't like to be too prescriptive, because after all I am not the person writing the story, and everybody has a slightly different interpretation of canon, not to mention a slightly different idea of what can be assumed and what must be explained in order to connect Point A to Point B, whatever those plot beats are.

My current system is to mark all necessary changes in //red//, mark all "I think it works better this way, but it's up to you!" changes in \\blue\\, and mark my occasional interjected commentary and explanations in [[green]]. Also I write a letter explaining the markup, giving my general reaction to the piece, and discussing higher-level issues. The better I know the person, the more comfortable I am at including blue and green stuff and going into detail in the letter -- partly because I am less worried they will flip out if I correct more than the bare essentials, and partly because if I've read their previous work, I have a better feel for their style and interpretation of canon.

I don't beta-read often, because it's a lot of work to read a story in critical mode without being allowed to just jump in, tear it up, and put it back together the way I hack at my own stuff. (You should see some of my rough drafts after I go at them with the Editing Pen of Death. Red everywhere.) Also, when I'm editing someone else, I have to explain myself, which is obviously unnecessary when I'm dissecting my own story. Explaining my suggested changes can take a long time, depending on the depth of the problems. For example, in high school I once edited an essay my friend Ryan wrote for AP English. His paper was three pages long. My edits ran six pages. He gave me shit about that for months. (To be fair, I gave him equal amounts of shit for writing an essay so disorganized that I needed to write six pages of corrections and suggested changes.)


In summary, editing is complicated, yo. And now I should get back to writing my own story.
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I finished coding Alonde's chatlog text last night and was going to try posting ch. 2 of "Trollstuck" on AO3 tonight, but I took an overly-long nap when I got home from work, and there were thunderstorms, and the low pressure and humidity are so enervating that I didn't have the spoons to face drawing the necessary cruddy pictures.

Maybe tomorrow.


It's funny how emotional/mental energy works. Different activities have different costs, even if those relative costs don't always make a lot of sense outside my head. Like, drawing costs more than writing, which is obvious because it's not something I'm used to or particularly skilled at and it therefore takes more preparation and exposes my not-so-photogenic side, as it were. But answering reviews also costs more than writing, which is not obvious. I think maybe it's the "interacting with other humans" aspect that drains me?

I mean, one thing I did tonight was answer some ff.net reviews that have been sitting in my inbox for up to three weeks. I can and generally do answer the short and/or inane ones fairly promptly, but the ones that are longer and more thoughtful (and also the ones from people I know) make me want to give good responses. I don't always have the spoons for that, so I tend to sit on them and respond in batches later on. And even those reviews demand different levels of investment. I mean, I can witter on about the technical details of writing and world-building and such at the drop of a hat, but talking about themes and moral/philosophical issues is harder. (Which is why I didn't get to all the languishing comments tonight, alas. *sadface*)

I could probably avoid a lot of that stress if I didn't make a point of answering every review I receive, but I like acknowledging people who acknowledge me, just as I like having a job that forces me into constant human interaction. I find social contact worth the cost, on average. Just... sometimes it takes me a while. And then I need to go off and be a hermit for a bit to recharge. *sigh*


Back to prodding at Aradia and the next section of "Trollstuck." :-)
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I have ambivalent feelings about genre romance. On the one hand, a lot of it is... um... gender essentialist, sexist to various degrees, and frankly badly written. On the other hand, it gives me guaranteed happy endings, reasonably written porn, and an automatic focus on female protagonists. Of course the female protagonists are usually focusing on men, but I try to stick to books where there's another plot running alongside the romance, so both the heroine and the hero have something else to think about besides having (or not having) sex with each other.

Which is by way of leading to up to talking about Nalini Singh. Whose Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series (psychics and were-creatures in the same world, because why settle for just one when you can have both!) is one of my guilty pleasures.

I am pretty sure if I'd started reading with book one (Slave to Sensation) or book two (Visions of Heat), I would have finished the volume in question and not bothered with the rest. But my introduction was book three (Caressed by Ice), and I have to admit, I have a Thing for Judd Lauren, the hero of that book. I also really like Brenna Kincaid, the heroine -- I mean, she's working on inventing a technology to duplicate and improve on Psy teleportation! She has a degree in advanced computer programming! She can build remote-controlled bombs! Brenna's awesome. :-)

So after reading book three, I went back and read books one and two and inadvertently got hooked on Singh's overarching series plot threads. I need to know how the whole mess with Silence, the Psy-Net, the Council, and the shifting balance of power between the Psy, the changelings, and the humans is going to play out. To that end, I read each new book as it's published, whether I give a damn about the personal problems of the new heroine and hero or not. (Usually Singh is good enough that I care for the duration of the book, whether I remember much about the protagonists afterwards or not.)

Which is by way of leading up to saying the latest book (Kiss of Snow) arrived in the smoke shop this week, and I have a copy and am in the middle of reading it.

Sometimes I just want brain candy, deeper analysis be damned. *wry*


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Elizabeth Culmer

September 2017

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