fictional: (Facilis Descensus Averno)
It's been a long, epic road, and on the whole I've had a brilliant time.
Ultimately though, these books have made me feel, intensely and passionately - true, sometimes with rage, but sometimes with all the awesome ever. I am grateful, in the end, for all of it. Thanks to those of you who've come along this ride with me. It has been a fascinating collaboration. See you all on the flipside, and on the next Great Adventure.
fictional: (child bride)


So, reading Harry Potter has always been an oddly collaborative experience for me. I read the first book way back in 1998 in a Barnes and Noble on 86th and 3rd ave, snuggled in one of their comfy chairs with Eve, leafing over a single, paperback copy squashed between us.

I didn't like it, though I can't now remember why. I vaguely think I might not have found it gripping, or perhaps I didn't like the twinkly, tongue-in-cheekness of the writing style. I honestly don't remember. I didn't think of them again until one night in late December of 1999, when something terrible happened in my family, and I was all set to leave and never come back. This didn't happen of course, but on that night, my mother gave me her Christmas present early, and it was a boxed set of the first three books in hard-cover, and I stayed up all night, tears drying on my face and read them all in one go. For some reason, they suddenly spoke to me; they were comforting, british boarding school novels, they were magic, they were Harry, whom I loved.

I bought Book 4 from a little independent book store in Cape May, NJ, at 9am, when the store opened - I think I was the first person in South Jersey to read it

Somewhere in there, I discovered fanfiction, in a vaguely round-about way. [personal profile] magnetgirl
told me about Buffy fic.  [profile] sykii told me about a friend of hers who was writing the stuff in HP, and I went and checked it out. (This of course turned out to be [personal profile] rm which is kind of funny in an All Worlds Cross and Combine sort of way.) In any event, I was hooked. I thought it was awesome, and eventually, in both cases, there sort of got to be fanfiction that I respected more than I respected The Canon.

After the immense wait between books, I bought Book 5 from the Bookery in Ithaca, NY and I read it through in one night, and then gave it to [profile] hofnarr
 since we thought two books would have been an extravagance. He had just moved to Ithaca, and I had given him the first four as a welcome present. We fought a lot over the books - I was into Slytherin, and Snape - he thought that Snape was the embodiment of all the teachers he had ever hated, and loathed him, until Umbridge came along and surpassed him.

I didn't like the canon pairings in HP either - I loved Hermione, but was wholly unimpressed by Ron. I loved Harry, but didn't really care a bit for Ginny one way or another. I loved Draco Malfoy, who I thought got a raw deal from the author; I loved Snape; I liked Lily Potter. I liked the Weasley twins, even if they were bullying gits as much as the Slytherins; I liked Remus and Sirius. I loved Dumbledore, even when I thought he was being unfair (which I thought A Lot.) And because they were the ones I loved, I thought they deserved to be together, although only in certain permutations. Harry/Draco, Draco/Hermione, Hermione/Snape, Harry/Hermione, Remus/Sirius.

Book Six came out, and I loved it again. It gave rise to [personal profile] rm
 's and my shared universe - you can see its genesis in the moments between Snape and Narcissa and Bellatrix at the very beginning, from where [profile] descensus_hp sprang, nearly fully formed. We waited on the madness that was the line outside Books of Wonder and got it at midnight. I finished it that night, and it was satisfying. And writing Descensus has been one of the most important, exciting, wonderful, earth-shattering things that has ever, ever happened to me, and without Harry Potter and his world, it never would have happened.

And last night, we came to the end.

At least we had nice weather for it.

Seriously though, there were moments of shattering loveliness throughout the night. Books of Wonder did us proud, with live owls, jugglers, face-painting, stiltwalkers and a cast of Potter-verse characters. The children on line were amazing! Little Harry with his Hedwig in a stroller behind us; the Littlest Lucius with a snakestick fully a foot taller than himself whom I adored, but whose parents I pity from the bottom of my heart; miniature Harry and Draco in their quidditch regalia.

And we got our books very quickly. There was a path down the center aisle for us to exit once we had our books, and I think I may have been one of the first people down it - my number was 3, which was amazing. As I walked through the store, people kept trying to touch the book in my hands as if it were some sort of holy relic, which I really thought might be taking it just a tad too far.

And we were home, and reading by 1:30am. I read as slowly as I could, but was done by 5:30am or so.

Not only would it not have been the same without you, it might not have been at all. Thank you.


fictional: (friday night lights)
So this new invention? I think they call it...television? Who knew it was so cool???

Oh, you'd heard about it already? Whatever will they come up with next? Next thing you know, they'll be inventing peanut butter and jelly already SWIRLED in the bottle.

Where was I? Right, tv. You might say I came a little late to the party on this one. But, as you may or may not know, The Tube was not a huge part of my life growing up. Oh, sure, as a little kid, I watched the usual complement of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Square 1 (remember Mathnet? Good times!) and 3-2-1 Contact. And sometimes, as a special treat, Star Trek: The Original Series with my dad. But I gave up tv completely after a Freak Cartoon Incident that had me traumatized for years. (All I'm saying is that turning on the tv and getting Silverhawks when it's always been She-Ra before is pretty fucking hard to take, and I've got the nightmare scars to prove it.)

And when the guy who went door to door trying to sell cable, came around about dinner time and did the usual: "But we have All These Educational Programs," after noticing a child in the house - he was greeted by a "Sorry, Mister, our kid reads."

The message was clear. TV = trash, and I was already on thin ice anyway, with all the trashy novels I liked to read; all that fiction, the fantasy and romance and pulp sci-fi and children's books couldn't be healthy. (That actually turned out to be true, since they were directly responsible for my life as an English Lit. Ph.D. student, which I think we can all agree is Not Healthy At All, especially for the wallet.)

In high school, I watched a little more - there was My So Called Life, of which I watched a few episodes, courtesy of [ profile] magnetgirl and the tv in her room, there was that Dawson's Creek thing (look, that first season was pretty revolutionary!), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I adored (and continue to adore) and I snuck around and watched some 90210 when I could get away with it. My dad and I got obsessed with the BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice and we watched it every day for about three months. (Not the whole thing every time of course, but we'd just naturally turn it on around dinner time, and watch a chunk. I can still quote almost the entire thing by heart.)

Same thing in college - I mean, I wasn't going to class, so I had a lot of time on my hands, and you can't hide in your room and subsist only on candy bars and diet coke all the time. But besides discovering that Law & Order really is on somewhere whenever you turn the tv on, and that Buffy was still just as phenomenal as I'd thought, and that ivy league college students don't always respond as you might wish to the gay - it didn't change my life. Not really.

I'd never have watched a tv show instead of reading a book, for instance.

But slowly, slowly, something was starting to happen. On a trip to San Diego, [ profile] hofnarr introduced me to the first season of Queer as Folk.

And I began to realize something. Books were short. They went by really fast. And sure, you could re-read them, but the story - however epic - couldn't ever really take me longer than a week, at most, and that too only if it were a several book series.

But these television stories - they went on for hours! One season = 22 hours of narrative. And if they were good stories, if they made you laugh, and cry, and think, then well, it was just cost-benefit effective.

I also discovered fanfiction at right about the same time, and the exact same thing applied. This way, stories could go on forever!!! You could find out what happened after they got married, or before they went to school, or what would happen if the two Mortal Enemies had hooked up (but still been mortal enemies). And as much as we joke about coming to the end of the internet - it was a practically inexhaustible resource. This was it. I'd found it - what I'd always been looking for.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands.

"But I guess it's okay if you like junk!"
"But it's dumb!"
"But it's low brow!"
"But it's trashy!"
"But it's on the CW/WB/UPN!"
"But it's about teenagers, who cares?"
"But everyone's too pretty!"
"But it's so mainstream!"
"But don't you have any standards?"
"But it's a waste of time!"
"But it's cheezefood!"

To which, I say, with all the hauteur I can muster, (and I can muster quite a bit), "You just don't get it."

I won't talk here about Heroes, which as far as I can tell, everyone is watching; I also won't talk about Veronica Mars which was my passion for a while, but has seriously disappointed me this season.

I'm just going to talk about (only 15 paragraphs in, and just now getting to the thesis - how embarrassing!) two shows that I love with a blinding, all-consuming and unholy love.

Yeah, one's a show about football. And Christians. And Texas. And I love it. Seriously, Friday Night Lights is one of the best things I have ever seen. I know that most of you don't understand my predilection for sports movies. Of all the people who would be into such things, I probably seem like the last. I don't play sports. I don't even watch sports on tv. But put a story into it, no matter how dreadful, and I am there. There is something about the mimicry of war, the intense training required, the acquisition of physical skill, the passions constrained by the rules of the game, the strange etiquette that must be learned, the pain - I adore it, no matter how melodramatic. Especially when it's melodramatic. It's like a war movie, without the troublesome ethical dilemma about contemporary warfare.

I realize that telling you this isn't sounding like a good recommendation for this show, but trust me when I tell you, this narrative really isn't dreadful. I think it was the Wall Street Journal or maybe the New York Times that said that each episode is like a lyric poem. Before I watched it, I really couldn't figure out how that could be - sounded like overblown hyperbole. But it's not. Every frame is so beautifully executed, it sends chills up and down my spine. It doesn't soft-soap anything - disability, mental illness, race issues, small towns - but shows it all in excruciatingly exquisite detail that never hits you over the head. And the town, where there's a Jesus billboard on every corner, and everyone prays, there's a black church and a white church - but so many little pagan rituals of faith woven into the fabric of life. It doesn't seem to ever shoot in a set - but looks like real middle class homes, with plastic window frames that don't quite fit, and ugly, depressing dinners at Applebees. You know how no one ever goes to the bathroom on television? Not true here. Toilets flush. There's a scene (one of the most heart-breaking it's ever been my pleasure to witness) where one of the characters, who's been paralysed, is being caressed by his girlfriend - he can't feel anything. And suddenly she's jerking away and calling for the nurse, and he's like, "What is it? What's wrong?" and the nurse comes in, and his catheter's come out and the look on his face as it crumples is like...nothing on earth. Or rather, it's like everything on earth. It's like a Velasquez painting. And for a wonder, the whole show is like that. I love every single character - adults, children, all of them. There's nothing like watching a show, where no one ever wants to make you fast-forward.

Of course it's not totally realistic. The people are too pretty for real life. And their soundtrack is correct by genre, but is far too good (and a little too old) to be what they actually listen too. But that just makes it better - it, like faith, is like the lubrication we need to experience life as fiction. Everything goes down better wet. And while I'd like to say that I love these people cerebrally (and I do!), it doesn't hurt that they are SMOKING HOT. (Esp. one fullback by the name of Tim Riggins.)

Speaking of pretty people, let's talk Supernatural. Now, FNL has at least been getting excellent reviews from critics and the five or so people who've actually watched it. But Supernatural has even less credo, if possible. I suppose I can see why - I didn't want to watch it either. The ads I saw last year looked terrible, and I just really didn't get it at all. Till I noticed that a good many people who I respect were writing fic in the SPN-verse, and I thought that now - having reached the end of the Internets, which I had thought couldn't be done - I really needed something new to read. I thought before I dived into the fic-verse, I should at least see the source material.

I got Season 1 for xmas from my mom. And popped it in, not expecting much. D. happened to be home, and said he'd keep me company.

We never looked back. It's a cast of two guys who have some of the best chemistry I've ever seen, and a beautiful '67 impala. And it's a road-trip in and out of the mythology of America - urban legends, gods, ghosts, demons, heaven, hell, faith - the works. It's also funny and well-written; it hangs together beautifully and gets deeper with every episode. It can be downright creepy at times, and they really have continued to learn how to make authentic, understated effects really work. The creator's a Neil Gaiman fan, and really *understands* what being a fan is like - and makes the show that he (and we) would want to see. It's got a killer classic rock soundtrack, that is painfully perfect, and it reads minds. Seriously. As D. & I were watching it, we'd be like, "Wouldn't it be cool if ______?" and then next episode - there it'd be. Or we'd say, "You know it's been fine so far, but if they do another episode like this, they'll be in trouble!" and the next episode, they'd immediately fix it.

And the brothers! I've never had a sibling, but I've always been fascinated by the idea, and this relationship is so evocative and charming and intense, it just makes me want to roll around in it. You know that feeling you get when you watch, say, the Sting and watch Redford and Newmann rock it? Or any other of the Great Buddy Movies? Well, remember what I said about length eons ago at the top of this post? This is like that, only there's hours and hours and hours of it. 37 so far, to be precise.

Which brings me to the great tragedy. I've told you about my tv naivete, so you'll understand when I tell you that I didn't always know tv shows could get cancelled. I mean, by the time they started showing you something on tv, I figured, they surely must plan to keep it going, right? It had made it, right? Crossed the hurdle? It sounds ridiculous now, but that's really what I thought. And honestly, I'm writing this down, and trying to figure out a way to phrase it that doesn't make me sound dumb(er), but seriously, even now, it STILL JUST SEEMS WRONG. How can they only give you part of a story??? Just a section of it, and then take it away without telling you the end????? It seems like it should be a prosecutable crime.

But these shows - these shows! On the cusp of cancellation, and I almost can't bear it. I can't bear it.

So you can laugh at me if you want; you can sneer politely; you can snark affectionately; you can say you don't understand, but it's fine since it's "my thing."

And that's okay.

All I really wanted to let you know, was that this story, this one about television and me, it's a love story, plain and simple.

But then again, aren't all stories?


fictional: (Default)

August 2009

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