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[personal profile] allekha
It's been a while since I wrote anything here. I kept wanting to get back into the habit, but... it didn't feel right to do so without mentioning Starlight, and I didn't want to.

Starlight was my childhood cat. I can still remember the day we brought her home from the shelter, such a small kitten who grew large and pudgy. She liked being held but only occasionally being in a lap, and she liked strangers, and even if she was lazy, she was better at mousing than Aki has been.

A few months ago, my parents had to put her down. She was kind of sick for a while. She was nearly fourteen. But it was still unexpected for me to get a call when I was at a friend's place and hear that she was gone. I didn't want to ruin the fun for everyone else, so I didn't say anything and waited until I got back to my apartment to be upset.

It hit me harder when I got home, because she wasn't around to pick up and cuddle. There's just flowers from the vet sitting in a favorite sunroom sleeping spot. And Aki is terrified of strangers, and even when I've been here for a few days she won't let me get very close. It's strange to be here and not have a cat I can pet and who will let me pick her up and who will come beg me for food. And who is a little grumpy and arthritic and lazy but will play if you give her a catnip mouse.

...anyway, I went to Con.txt last weekend (hi, new people!) and wrote a con log up, so I felt like I finally had to post something.


Thursday:
I'd only just gotten back home, but S and I took a Megabus and headed out for DC. I'd thought I might do some writing on the way, but for various bus-annoyance related reasons, didn't get to it. Things did go relatively smoothly, at least, and we were able to get lunch and head into the hotel without any real trouble. Goodness, though, it was hooot. (I was wearing long sleeves and velvet shorts and a hat, which looked very dashing in an ouji way if I may say so, but was not made for DC summer weather. Oh, well.)

We checked in, and then S and I lazed around playing a game on her phone until our roommate arrived. We eventually watched the first episode of the new Boueibu season and the first two of Jane the Virgin with her despite internet difficulties, and instead of stepping outside, got Indian delivered.

The Thursday night meet and greet was more fun for me than last time. There were more tables, more people moving around, and emoji stickers (S put a bunch on my badge holder), and I even talked to some people! So that went well. Eventually headed up to get some early rest.

Friday:
Today's dress up theme was ouji with a touch of steampunk. Brown from my beret to my vest to my boots. The three of us went down for breakfast and crowded a teeny table before heading over for the first event of the con, the welcoming panel.

We waited for the first panels to start, poking around the swap table a bit and mostly lurking at the end of the hall.

OT3s and Polyfic: Moving Beyond the Closed Triad:
I learned a new word: polycule. I'm kind of curious about the etymology behind it.

First, we talked about what fandoms people find a lot of poly fic in, and what types of fandoms. Some that came up were White Collar, along with bandom and hockey teams, and in general stories that have teams or groups of people with an 'us against the world' feel.

In terms of fandom, we talked about different types of poly, open versus closed, and how the main thing you see is a closed OT3 triad, before mixing in some recs. Someone wanted stories where they aren't doing this for the first time, but have been in poly relationships before. I asked if anyone had braid marriage recs and got blank looks (though I did get to explain it to people, and there's a panel that is about more of these scifi different marriage types).

The last thing we talked about was tropes that can combine well with poly. Someone rec'd a poly marriage of convenience, someone else a poly accidental marriage, and someone talked about 'triad AUs', where the norm is to be in a triad relationship, and talked about neat worldbuilding bits like cars that have three seats in the front instead of just two.

Kink in Fandom: Keeping it Real
This was a pretty 'meh' panel for me for two main reasons, one of which has nothing to do with panel itself – I had to take a call from the blood bank in the middle of the panel (they wanted to change my donation date because they needed my blood type for a kid who's having surgery). The other thing was a lot of focus on BDSM-type stuff in particular, which is something that I usually have no interest in. Also, a lot of the stuff in the panel is the same kind of complaint as you hear on FFA: people complaining about over-tagging, wondering how to use tags versus how to use notes, annoyance at people writing 'anachronistic safety' or safe/unsafe kink when a character is a risk-taker/would do the research. That's not bad in and of itself, but it's not new.

Someone suggested a neat idea of 'Watsonian versus Doyleist' tagging – the specific example was humiliation, where sometimes the character isn't getting off on the humiliation but the author/reader is supposed to, versus where someone is getting off on it. There was also some mention of hesitation to critique (in particular rare) kinks done wrong. People also wanted to see more things going awry – the characters do unsafe bondage and hurt themselves, or throw up emotional barriers in their relationship somehow.


At this point I stopped to get lunch – some yogurt in my room, and some peace and quiet. Then I went back down to hang out in the downsuite for a bit and made a tiny paper crane from this thick paper.


DIY Video Game Fandoms
This was a fun mix of topics with a small group. We talked about what we like in different games and genres, what we've been playing recently, recs we have, things we like and don't like in games (better armor and body shapes for female characters, please), and how much we like extra-canon material like tie-in novels. I had a good time and got to plug Betrayal in Antara a little.

DIY Takarazuka
...this ended up consisting of three people including me and the mod. Oh, well! We had fun anyway, or at least I did. The mod showed clips of various Takarazuka dances and we all talked about how Obviously Straight and Not At All Gay they were, and then we talked in general about Takarazuka and their productions, its fanbase both within and without Japan, how we got into it, a little bit about the recent Chicago production, etc. The mod even gave me a DVD with one of their musicals on it (thanks!). It has something to do with vampires? It sounds wonderfully cracktastic, anyway.


I had another break in the schedule here, so I checked out the upsuite and hung out with people there for a bit, eating snacks and talking about this and that. Back down at the con itself, I bought a zine and dropped some money in the Swap Table donation bin in exchange for a couple of pretty posters. S at this point was coloring a Hermione coloring page, but had to duck out to call IKEA customer service, so I helped her out (as she asked me to) by coloring in the potions on the page. She only got off the phone by the end of the next panel!


Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
This was also a bit of a disappointment for me; I think I expected more from the panel description, and it didn't feel much like much new was said or explored.

After joking about death panels, there was a bit of discussion about why people are interested in death and death fic (sadness, closure, the ability to explore the consequences, etc), and how bad deaths kill a fan's faith in producers. (Apparently the thing with The 100 wasn't just 'they killed another lesbian' but 'they lied about how they weren't going to kill her many times and then offed her anyway'?) One example of this was Wrath of Khan vs Into Darkness – even if you know Spock is coming back, the characters don't and they act like it, while the emotional punch was missing from other characters in Into Darkness.

There was also some discussion of distant vs personal deaths in Hannibal and Buffy, and death as a motivator in various canons (SPN, Hercules, Attack on Titan), and a mention of the escalation problem (what do you do when characters can shrug off death? Or when canon will always bring them back) but my notes don't mention anything beyond that, which is where part of my disappointment comes from. I have OCs that can't die, and in several fandoms with characters like that (Hetalia), and there are a lot of other things you can threaten beyond their life (their friends, yes, but also their sanity, things they take as stable, their country's economies....). I would have liked to have heard more about how various canons deal with this problem.

Celebrating Femslash: The Continuing Saga
The first part was just people listing fandoms that have a lot of femslash, with an asterisk for those in which the canon bi women/lesbians actual survive. I… was not aware of quite how many shows don't even clear this very low mark. That's what I get for not watching tv, I guess. (My main femslash fandom at the moment is Steven Universe, and I dabbled a bit in Utena when I watched it and occasionally check in on Sailor Moon, so I have a skewed perspective.) I also found out that the Shoujo Ai archive is down when I tried to rec it, but someone has uploaded an archive of the fic posted there.

In the second half, people talked about their favorite ships and why they ship them. There were some common themes: enemies and frenemies, and opposites attract. Everyone wanted more conflict, which always seems to come up when talking about femslash. Someone pointed out that a lot of the ships that are popular are friends-to-lovers, which has less obvious conflict potential than something like Azula/Katara.

People wanted friction, enemies forced to work together, forced trust, and class differences. Suggested ways to get characters together included AU, missing scenes (Star Trek was brought up as an example of a canon where this would work well - we know Uhura and Chapel are friends, for example, and while we don't see that much of them being friends, there's potential for offscreen happenings.) Also, stories where the characters are forced to go to each other or rely on each other for help. And people suggested the tropes of f-preg and D/s (verse or otherwise). People wanted less pair-the-spares and stories where everything is sweet and gentle and perfect.

I personally found this an inspiring panel, both for origfic and fanfic purposes. My current origfic project is f/f historical fantasy with class and ideology differences, I really need to finish it….


After dinner (leftover Indian, nom) and relaxing, it was time for the thing I had been looking forward to all day: the vid show! Not just because I like watching vids, but also because this year I had submitted something. I was very nervous, but it was the second one on the list, so at least I didn't have to wait long for it to be over, haha.

I thought most of the vids this year were excellent, and the rest were all quite good. I was also glad to see more diversity this year, especially in having several vids/amvs with animated sources, both Western and Japanese. My especial favorites from the show were:
We Didn't Start the Fire (multifandom)
Parachute (Leverage)
Blank Space (Doctor Who)
Wait For It (Star Trek TOS/AOS)
Touch the Sky (multifandom)
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Guardians of the Galaxy)

During the intermission I chatted with the person next to me (auroradream) and my roommate about Aquarion (yes, Touma both has wings on his head and on his helmet. The ones on the helmet are his dead fiance's. It's that kind of ship) and then a few other things, and it turned out that auroradream was interested in helping out with a Hannibal DIY panel. Good thing, too, since she actually knows about the books and other adaptations.

Then it was off to bed for the night, after a quick chat with some people interested in a Hannibal DIY panel. Except that I wanted to stay up a bit to upload my amv to YouTube and throw a post up, but then to bed.

Saturday
Today's dress-up theme was… well, S put it as 'french sky pirate'. Frilly sailor shirt that wrinkles more easily than linen + poofy, poofy shorts with big pockets. I got to the con area a bit early so I could hover by the DIY panel slots with everyone else before they opened. I scored one of the slots I wanted, but they all filled up immediately.

Packing Up and Moving House: Learning to Do Your New Fandom
The first part of the panel was mostly talking about people's fandom histories, from mailing lists to ff.net to lj to tumblr. It was interesting just to listen to - I like fannish history. Someone mentioned the experience of disparities in what counts as a 'big' or 'small' fandom when a friend complained that Merlin was such a small fandom! Other people compared the experience of getting smacked down by a BNF bersus being shown the ropes of how the fandom space operates, and how fandom is easier to get into these days.

When discussing current and future trends, people both liked and disliked tumblr. It moves fast - which can be good if you want to squee about something as it's happening - but I think we all know about how some fandoms can be very shouty and fauxgressive, especially when they are full of very young people. Though in many ways it's not actually that different from ship wars in the old days, but the language has changed. Interestingly, several people said that they had gone back to mailing lists, which they said made it easier to connect with people and are great for discussion.


I believe it was at the end of this panel that someone gave me a note with info on who to contact to get into a Steven Universe forum apparently full of people discussing the show. I'm afraid I don't remember who it was, but thank you!

At this point I had nothing to do, so I ended up using one of the coloring books in the downsuite. It's been a long time since I've colored anything by hand - I like to use my tablet to color things in - and it was a nice experience breaking out the sharpies and trying to work with the limited number of colors.

Fandom's Kitchen: Food and Fanworks
The first thing that came up here was: can Star Trek replicators make fermented foods? They apparently can't make living things, after all, so is there a vat in some closet with yogurt, miso, etc? Also, people were excited at the idea of replicating leftover breakfast pizza.

A lot of the panel was talking about the different things food can signify in a work: abundance, especially in contrast to deprivation; temptation (don't eat the fairy food!); humanity, in works like The Golem and the Jinni, Steven Universe, and Discworld; bland food as a dystopian point or as a source of punishment; a source of mental health in Sword Art Online; and in the Martian, science, fuel, and deprivation all at once.

We also talked about fan and official cookbooks and the whole genre of cooking manga, as well as different food-based AUs (Bake-Off fusions, bakery and coffeeshop AUs, etc). Another thing that came up was food restrictions in fiction - the ones cited were Jewish ones and Aang's vegetarianism in AtLA. I asked about other fictional vegetarians who aren't a stupid joke, but there isn't anything in my notes, just 'lack of vegetarians :('. (Seriously, though, if you have a rec, please let me know.) Also, apparently The Toast had a series of articles written by a meat packing safety inspector (?) who critiqued shows with cannibalism from a food safety point of view.

DIY Hannibal Panebal
The very next panel, in the very same room, lol. Auroradream ended up doing more talking than me, which was great! She and the other people who had read the original books and seen other versions of the story had some interesting things to say. We also talked about Beverly and the way her death was written, and various types of symbolism (someone brought up all the 'integration of nature and humanity' symbolism in the show, which I hadn't thought of before). We managed to hold off on the Hannigram discussion until the end of the panel :p It was a lot of fun to just talk with people about the show!


Then it was time to poke around the fan fair. I liked seeing the 3D printer, and I was glad to see the Bad Influence Press people there (even if I didn't need another copy of RAW), but what I ended up getting was a handmade mug that says "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot", except that instead of quote marks it has stars. It's a nice big mug, too.

Afterward, I grabbed some lunch from the room and hung out with S for a bit before picking up the bag of tea I had brought and heading down to the tea panel.


Almost, But Not Quite, Entirely Unlike a Tea Party
This panel was, in fact, a tea party with a few tea resources written on the paper. I got to rec RateTea \o/ and I was the only one who remembered to bring leaves to swap, but the mods took them anyway and I picked up a spicy yerba mate blend. (It's quite spicy indeed, and the first time I tried steeping it, it was almost too spicy to drink.) Instead I mostly ended up talking with ambyr, who was sitting next to me, about Avatar and its lovely side characters.

Multi-person Sex Scenes
I thought this was a great and useful how-to panel. The mod emphasized knowing for each character: who (they are and what they bring to the scene), why (are they in this multi-person scene?), and what (they want to get out of it). There can be a huge variety of motivations: kink, appreciation, fuck or die, figuring out personal stuff, conduit sex, voyeurism, D/s devotion things ("X loves me so much they would even do this"), collapsing the love triangle, ace inclusion, not my kink situations, sex pollen, too much stamina for one person, alternate universes (either literally in terms of meeting other selves, or things like triad verses, etc), couple plus one, etc.

In terms of actually writing it, the mod said that the writer really has to know what each character is doing at each point, and that blocking out positions (with dolls, stick figures, or physically by yourself) was important - though actually describing each little movement isn't usually necessary, especially if writing a tight pov. For inspiration, besides porn there are wiki illustrations and various books with pictures, though it sounded like these were mostly for three people. If the story is longer, one can also switch up pairs of people and switch up the emotions at play.


Ambyr had invited me out to dinner with some other people, so after wandering off for a bit, I met up with them and we went to Lebanese Taverna. It's been a while since I had even decent Middle Eastern food, and even if we got rained on during the walk back, I had a good time.

This time during Disco Duck and Game Room, I managed to get in early and finally was able to see what playing Slash is like. It's fun, though I'd really like to play the variant where you have to tell the story of how the pair met or whatever. After a long while, I quit and crossed the hall to dance for a bit. I'm terrible at dancing, but I have lost my ability to care much about looking bad, so it was fun for a bit. The music playing mostly wasn't to my taste, but I was only there for about four or five songs.

Around ten, I ducked back into the room long enough to grab the bag of mochi I'd brought (mochi plus these Korean purple yam cookies? They were okay) and went to the Takarazuka room party. Some of the clips were the same ones we saw in the DIY panel, but I certainly enjoyed seeing them again, and I even found out about an American comic (The Wicked + The Divine) that I want to read more of - it's been forever since I actually read a graphic novel from this country. I was a bit worried about the tea keeping me up, but when I did finally get back to my room, I had no trouble falling asleep.

Sunday
We packed up early so there wouldn't be a problem with checking out. Breakfast was super busy; S and I had to sit by the coffee table instead of at one of the proper tables. By this point I had given up on both the scrambled eggs (too wet) and the boiled eggs (boiled waaay too long), but at least the yogurt was okay.

Sufficiently Advanced Pornography (Is Indistinguishable From Magic)
This panel started with tropes people liked, which the mod tried to turn towards categorizing those tropes, but everyone was so enthusiastic that it didn't quite work out. Augments, changing the rules and boundaries of contact, species and cultural differences, sapient technology, pon farr/heat scenarios, different genital configurations, magical healing (leading to unsafe BDSM, etc), etc etc etc. There were a few recs thrown in, too.

1001 Ways to Jump the Broom
Have a link to the papers for this one
This panel started with talking about several different ways to do marriage. Once again, there were no braid marriage recs :( but there was discussion of the different meanings and purposes of marriage - primarily, how to deal with property or wealth. Lots of discussion of different fictional and real ways to do marriage, from polygyny to polyandry to serial monogamy (walking marriages) to sedoretu to line marriages.

The second part basically became people reccing different series (it sounded like mostly books?) and a few fics dealing with different kinds of marriage. While I'm on the subject, does anyone have a rec for multiple but non-transitive marriages? Where A can marry B and C and D but where B, C, and D may or may not be married to each other (and where they might be married to other people who may not be married to A), for example. I'm not sure how it would work in legal terms but it strikes me as potentially interesting.

All I Wanna Be Is Someone Who Gets to See a Giant Woman
This was another fun panel full of talking about a lovely show with other fans. We talked about different theories and how we got into the show in the first place and so on. Not much to write about, but I loved talking SU with people, so this was one of my favorite panels of the con :)

Book Fandoms
This panel covered quite a few topics. How does one grow a book fandom? ...in many ways, the same way as you'd try to grow any small fandom. Promote it at Yuletide. Make a wiki. Write fic or draw art yourself. Request it for charity auctions. Be excited about the thing and talk about it. Elevator pitch it. Make some crossovers. Book-specific advice was: pick a YA (these tend to be more popular than other types of books), pick a book where tone-matching is easier for fic, and you can always physically give books away to people.

Vids for books are a thing! As are book trailers. I can't remember any good examples, but I know I've seen at least one. Also, there used to be old 'authorized' zines of fic and art in the old days, including some that centered on the works of authors who no longer approve of fanworks, and you might find them on eBay or zine-selling sites, or through the University of Iowa's zine collection. (It was not clear if you can request these through ILL.)

To find book-only fanworks, there's always crossover savior (thanks to the despairing His Dark Materials fan who first mentioned it). Or, look for book-only characters… which only works if you want to read about those characters or ensemble fic, and if nobody is fusing multiple versions of canon together.

When trying to get movie fans to read the books, don't be elitist about it, but do mention parts that were cut, the fact that they can have more of the thing they like, or that they might be able to find out what happens next if it's split into multiple parts. Audiobooks might work better for some people.

To close the panel, we found out that [community profile] mm_library is a thing that exists, and people listed book fandoms they would like to see more of.

Pick a Trope
This panel consisted of two parts: first, listing favorite fanfic tropes (it turns out there's even more than I thought there were), and then letting everyone go ahead and rec their hearts out. I think this won as panel with most pieces of paper used.


...and that was the con! I had a great time; even better than 2014, I think, though it's hard to compare feelings across a gap of two years. If I can go next time, I probably will, and I think I'll try to put together another AMV for the vid show if I can :)

The good:
Everyone was so nice and interesting!
I found more people into anime and games fandoms this time than I did last time.
I always felt like I had something to do because there were so many panels, and even when I had a break, there were crafts or the upsuite or time for the occasional proper meal.
How many things do I want to write now? Too many.
The Fan Fair was a great idea. There was a good variety and no feeling sorry for people sitting around at their tables all day.
This happened last time, too, but it was cool to wander around a smaller con where you could recognize people and most people used their screen names. I always write mine on my Otakon badge, but people rarely have occasion to use it then.
I don't know who it was, but there was someone who was spinning during the con, and I kept staring (sorry!) because it was just very soothing to look at and watch.

The bad:
The hotel got cold sometimes.
Conversely, it was too hot outside, except when it was dark. At least the heat wave wasn't as bad as first predicted.
Occasionally, someone would bring a fandom or something up at a panel to talk about something in it that needed context, and it sure seemed like everyone else knew what they were talking about, but I felt too awkward to ask.
...seriously, tv fandoms have that much of a problem with their lesbian/bi women getting killed off? Geez, no wonder everyone got so pissed at The 100.
I am refusing to put anything more on my to-read list until I check a few things off. Which will probably be research-related ones, not sci-fi with fun marriage arrangements.

Hope to see you all in 2018!

Date: 2016-08-04 02:15 pm (UTC)
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)
From: [personal profile] ambyr
I first heard "polycule" used around . . . 2009, maybe? Etymology being of course polyamory + molecule, with the idea being that a polyamorous network could be pictured as a sort of molecule whose atoms were different shapes and sizes and not necessarily all bound to every other atom, but still a component whole. Basically an attempt to push back against "you're not REALLY a family if you're not ALL sleeping with each other."

I only know one or two people who use it non-ironically to describe their own relationships, though. It's a little cutesy for a lot of people, I think.

As far as vegetarians in fiction, two off the top of my head:

Carnival, by Elizabeth Bear, in which two ambassadors for an intensely environmentally conscious (and powerful) future Earth visit a more primitive planet and then have to deal with the fact that the primitive humans keep trying to feed them meat, which they consider morally reprehensible, or extremely boring lentil mush.

The Limbreth Gate, book three in the Ki and Vandien Quartet by Megan Lindholm, in which one of the protagonists is brainwashed into quite a lot of things including vegetarianism--but she decides to keep up the vegetarianism for her own reasons after she's rescued, and maintains it through the fourth book to the bafflement of her partner.

If I think of any other books where it's a significant plot point, I'll let you know.

[ETA, and probably this should have come first, I am really sorry to hear about your cat :-(]
Edited Date: 2016-08-04 02:37 pm (UTC)

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