i made you a mix tape

I just got a dinky little mp3 player, generic RCA brand, scant 8 gig, mostly for podfic (audio recordings of fanfic, most housed at Jinjurly’s archive) to accompany me on longish dog walks and even longer car rides. And I’ve been walking around listening to a whole host of BBC radio plays too, and all in all getting down with my aural self.

But I also downloaded a handful of albums, mostly stuff that’s been on my mind lately, artists that are new to me over the last decade and stuff that I’ve been craving this year. And so, I made you guys a mix tape! Download, enjoy. There are only about five or six artists represented, most twice or even three times, because my music tastes of late have been fairly insular, and, really who wants to listen to anything but Kate Nash and The Hold Steady anyway? You’ll love them. You will. Here’s the liner notes.

  • “Stuck Between Stations” – The Hold Steady. She said you’re pretty good with words but words won’t save your life and they didn’t so he died.
  • “Reconstruction Site” – The Weakerthans. Off the album of the same name, yours at a discount to convert you to Canadiana love like the rest of us.
  • “Birds” – Kate Nash. He said go, you don’t know how much I missed you but we’d better run because I haven’t got the funds to pay this fine.
  • “Plea From a Cat Named Virtute” – The Weakerthans. A cautionary tale. All you ever want to do is drink and watch TV; frankly that thing doesn’t really interest me.
  • “First Night” – The Hold Steady. An introduction to THS’s recurring cast of characters, showing up across five albums and more than a dozen songs. Meet the crew on their first night.
  • “Certain Songs” – The Hold Steady. Certain songs, they get so scratched into our souls.
  • “Prophet” – Jude. Pretty good show, she said, I kinda like your style. Maybe we should go to bed and I can help you run the three minute mile.
  • “That Time” – Regina Spektor. Hey remember that time when I found a human tooth down on Delancey?
  • “Navy Taxi” – Kate Nash. Last night, when I was drunk and wanted to get more drunk.
  • “Surrendering” – Alanis Morissette. An Alanis b-side, the inspiration for my Crichton/Scorpius fanfic, and a thoroughly awesome song.
  • “Constructive Summer” – The Hold Steady. Off Stay Positive, an anthem. We’re gonna build something this summer.
  • “No Pressure Over Cappucino” – Alanis Morissette. Unreleased track, live, subtle and lovely. They’ll throw opinions like rocks in riots, and they’ll stumble around like hypocrites, is it just me or is it dark in here?
  • “The Chain” – Ingrid Michaelson. Live at Webster Hall. So glide away on soapy heels…
  • “How a Resurrection Really Feels” – The Hold Steady. Holly, who you met in First Night, bites back.
  • “Fluorescent Adolescent” – Kate Nash. Another B-side, covered by some other bands, but this is my favorite version.

Download the mix, Music for Dogwalking, in a .rar file. 

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the x-files is a show/with music by mark snow

So I’ve been doing an X-Files rewatch, trying to be more charitable to that Public Enemy Number One, Chris Carter. The torture he put us through, the hamhanded way he mangled Mulder and Scully’s relationship in the later seasons, the terrible tale of Scully’s baby, all of it a series of windmilled slaps in the face to the legions of devoted fans who gave seven years to that relationship and expected just the tiniest bit of payoff. (And the less said about I Want To Believe, the better.)

While I was being charitable, though, I watched season 7 as if I weren’t a shipper, as if the only details about Mulder and Scully’s relationships I got were the ones actually telegraphed in text, not off-camera. And I tell you what — before it’s all unspooled in season 8 — the romance is there, it’s real, it’s text.

Say what you will about their relationship in the previous season; the shippers will believe there’s romance there and the noromos never will, but the truth, that Truth with a capital T, is in there in season 7 and can’t be denied.

Mulder and Scully kiss at the end of “Millennium.” It’s right there. “The world didn’t end,” says Mulder. “No, it didn’t,” says Scully. And they leave arm in arm.

They sleep together in “all things.” Scully wakes up, gets dressed, and the camera pans to take in Mulder’s sleeping form, sprawled out across her bed. And if that weren’t enough, when Scully goes to talk to her old lover Daniel, and he tells her he moved to DC for her, she confesses, “you’ve come at such a strange time.” And when he suggests she has a life, she sighs, “I don’t know what I have.” There’s almost no way to read that — unless you really do some mental gymnastics — that doesn’t suggest that Mulder and Scully have moved their relationship into new territory, and I want to believe that they kept up this sexual relationship throughout season 7. The text would seem to support it, too.

Later, somewhere in fucking season 9, or something, a mysterious figure who’s been stalking Scully says something to the tune of, “one lonely night, you invited Mulder into your bed.” Which does seem to suggest that they only had sex that one time, but the timing of the birth is all wrong if we’re really to believe that baby came from sex, so I defend my previous allegation that they sleep together for the balance of the second half of season 7. Also, everything that happens in season 9 is stupid and not worth considering.

In my early X-Files days, I was so obsessed with Scully that I assumed Mulder was the one in love with her, and that she was the one who was cool, aloof, too good for him. In this rewatch it really seems to be the other way around; Scully is unquestionably in love with that man, and Mulder’s just too set in his ways to even be open to a relationship.

With that in mind, I wrote some fanfic. Punk helped, held my hand through the hard parts and reminded me why I got into this business in the first place. And I wrote something new, for me, something tender and shippy and not at all callous (which has been my go-to for XF fic in the past).

I flipped randomly through books for the title: it ended up being called As Real As Soap. And strangely, though it builds to the sex, there’s no sex in the story, which you might think is a cop out on my part and I would totally agree. I said to Punk, “I just don’t think I can write sex that’s as good as the sex Mulder and Scully would have.” So I cheated. Sue me.

Now that I’m off Livejournal I’m out of the social circle that promises me lots of feedback, so if you do get around to reading this, leave me a comment, eh? It’s been a long time since I’ve been on this particular horse, and I’d love to know if I made the jump or fell off somewhere in the ravine.

Go on, now: As Real As Soap, Mulder/Scully, rated T for Teen, 2309 words.

a room of our own

Happy birthday, OTW!

Today, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) is celebrating it’s 5th birthday; that’s five years of protecting, supporting, and hosting works from and for fans, including fic, vids, podfics, remixes and multimedia projects.

Back in the dark days, before OTW/AO3, the home for fanfiction online was fanfiction.net, which quickly gained a reputation for hosting terrible crap, the kind of fic your nine year old sister would write. What’s more, participatory fans who wanted to interact with, and manipulate, TV and other texts, always ran the risk of being prosecuted and TOS-ed for copyright violations.

In this age of person-powered media, the guidelines for what counts as transformative works have expanded and deepened as more and more fans are starting to vid, write, remix and interact with published texts. So five years ago the non-profit Organization for Transformative Works started up, headed by lawyers and social media mavens, to protect fanworks and help define the laws that will allow fans to manipulate and do work based on produced and published media.

One of the OTW’s major projects has been the Archive of our Own (AO3), fanfiction and fanworks’ new home in cyberspace. Taking advantage of the large and participatory fan culture on Livejournal and elsewhere, AO3 fast became the nexus for quality fanworks across the internet. Now, there are literally hundreds of thousands of works archived on AO3, where they will never be TOS-ed, never be prosecuted, always be protected, and always be available for any and all to enjoy, anonymously and for free.

So happy birthday, OTW! Thank you for all you’ve given fandom, for your tireless crusade in favor of the fan, the writer, the remixer and vidder and podficcer. In a litigious and hostile arena, you are a bastion of hope, and a treasure.

the man, the myth, the monotone

Back in ’99 (which, for those playing the home game, was THIRTEEN YEARS AGO), an X-Files fan named Bree Sharp sent her song, “Why Won’t You Love Me, David Duchovny?” to the X-Files production office in LA, where it was found by a couple of office assistants. These assistants, Will and Chuck, promptly appreciated the unabashed fangirliness of the song, and knew that their buddy, David Duchovny, would get a kick out of it. So, for the next several months, in secret, they prowled the Fox lot and made this video.

It’s what’s probably known today as a “lip dub,” and it features a wild and astonishing cast of celebrities singing along, from Brad Pitt to Janeane Garofalo, from Sarah Michelle Gellar to George Clooney. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-watch, and if the last time you saw it was thirteen years ago on a grainy VHS, it’s a must-watch-again. The guys in drag are Will and Chuck. What a gift they gave fandom, huh?

and it’s contagious / and it’s contagious

So Linda came through like a trooper, cats, and now we can all enjoy The Last Ba’al, where SG-1 meets sex pollen, Rodney has cupcakes, and Teal’c, as usual, thinks the humans are all crackers. Read! Comment! Encourage Linda to pursue fanfiction as a career!

And with that, the next warm body tossed into the grinder’s Linda’s own husband Matt, who blogs over at Big Hot Future! and will write off the following prompt: Londo Mollari, ghosts, a crawlspace, and opera. 

Toss it up in the comments when you’re done, Matt, so the world can roll around in your genius!

Me, I’m writing some X-Files fanfiction today, provided Punk helps.

cutting my teeth on the gristly parts of TV

Linda, who blogs over at Wires for Veins, has been making noises about wanting to write some fanfiction. I am all for this. Participatory fandom is my favorite thing, and, plus, free porn! No downside. 

And I’ve never been cagey or shy about my career as a fanfic writer and TV nerd, but for posterity and the nice people who visit this blog, I’ll slap up my fannish CV. It’s been a long, strange trip, cats and kittens, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

It’s a bit like going to school, to college, to camp; you immerse yourself in a fandom, meet people, make friends, and then slide off to the next fandom hoping your buddies will stay in touch. I spent about eight years on Livejournal (the de facto fannish melting pot — or at least it was in its heyday), amid thousands of fans who read and supported one another and exchanged gift fics and prompts and encouraged one another to write more, write better, write absolutely anything.

I think of it like this. Like I went to high school in Star Trek, my first fandom. And like high school, I was dumb enough to think I was brilliant, I wrote bad poetry, and everything I worked on was draped with melodrama. I wrote some TNG, but mostly DS9 (my pairing of choice was Kira/Dukat; I love the genre that’s been dubbed “nemesis fic”), and I made some good friends, but, like high school, I’m not really in touch with most of them anymore. I was in Star Trek in the mid-90s, before Livejournal, before the web in earnest, and I posted my fic on newsgroups and BBSs. I was lousy, man, but I had a marvelous time. Before I stumbled upon Star Trek fanfiction I had no idea that other people were riffing off of what they’d seen on TV; I thought I’d invented the medium. The fact that there was an enormous world already in place to embrace me was the biggest gift the internet’s given, before or since. If you must, read Dislocation, Condemnation, Revelation, In Temptation (Kira/Dukat, 2760 words, rated T for Teen).

And then I graduated. Moved on with my class, out of the kindergarten madness of Star Trek and into my next fannish obsession, The X-Files. Like college, I spent about four years there, and like college, I made some of the best friends of my life. Meet Punk Maneuverability, who blogs at see punk run. We met in X-Files, clung to one another, and started co-writing fanfiction, a process that taught me more about writing and more about collaboration than any professional endeavor I’ve embarked on. We published a handful of fic under the name V. Salmone (read, if you’ve got it in you, How to Fake an Orgasm, Mulder/Scully, 23,000 words) and began a friendship that would last long after the X-Files was an embarrassing memory of fist-shaking at Chris Carter. Punk’s still my bff, and still the best writer I know. 

And then I graduated, and discovered slash. In, let’s call it, graduate school, the time in a young academic’s life when she sort of learns what it is she’s been trying to say all these years, finally learns how to put together a sentence and a paragraph without pretension (one hopes) and with some semblance of trained craft. Slash, for the weekend warrior, is the term for fanfiction that queers the characters; in other words, when you write a gay pairing for characters who are canonically straight, you are slashing the characters. Slash has a bit of a reputation in fandom for being the purview of the edgy, and in my graduate school era, it was just what I wanted. Punk and I dove guns blazing into Sorkin fic, the umbrella term for fic based on the shows of Aaron Sorkin, namely Sports Night and The West Wing. Because Dan and Casey were a great, epic love story, and so were Josh and Sam. And Punk and I were getting good at this writing thing, and we felt ready to tackle bigger issues, Sorkin-y issues of politics and linguistics and wild, rapidfire banter. I tried some experimental stuff (like April in Paris, West Wing, Natalie/Jeremy, 2543 words, which I wrote in the style of Hemingway), and I tried some broad lefty political stuff, and I tried the epic slashy love affair between writers in what would prove to be one of the most renowned, widely shared, critically acclaimed (!!) stories I’ve written in my fanfic career, the Sports Night story Where Have You Gone, Tom Glavine?, Dan/Casey, 15,000 words. 

And then I graduated from Sorkin fic, and there was nothing left to do but go out into the great wide world and try to seek my fortune. At this point in our careers, Punk and I were becoming more multifannish — where historically we’d done most of our writing in a single fandom (monogamy), we were broadening our horizons and learning to write in multiple fandoms at once (polyamory). I loved that freedom, I was all over the map. Some choice pieces from my multifannish, livejournal era include the Stargate Atlantis story The Pegasus Society (John/Rodney, rated NC-17, 5853 words), and the Firefly story Time Flies You Can’t (River/Mal, 6200 words). As I watched more shows my world kept expanding, from Slings & Arrows (I played with The Taming of the Shrew for my Geoffrey/Darren story And So Are You) to Doctor Who (I tackled the missing year in my experimental Doctor/Master story Give Up The Ghost, 4222 words); from M*A*S*H (and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hawkeye/BJ story The ACME Judgment Company) to one of my other critically-acclaimed hits in Scrubs, My Big Breakup, which has the dubious distinction of being one of the first JD/Cox stories on the internet.

Along with multifannish polyamory came the desire to write in more rare or obscure fandoms, as played out each year in the Yuletide fic exchange, and it nudged me toward things like the graphic novels Love & Rockets (Cross Country, tacit Maggie/Hopey, 1062 words) or the musical Into the Woods (To Get The Thing That Makes It Worth The Journeying, Baker’s Wife/Cinderella, 2888 words); from House (HUGE EGO SORRY, House/Wilson, 3000 words), to Band of Brothers (General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle, Winters/Nixon, 2822 words). 

I haven’t written fic in a while, not since the Remix holiday a year and a half ago, and it’d been a year before that the last time I’d written. It’s not a decision I made, I’m not retired, or GAFIATEing, or dismissing my fannish history: I’m working on a novel. It’s a big project, and it’s been taking up my writer brain, but nostalgia’s starting to tug at my heels and my heartstrings. 

Under the right circumstance, I’d write more fic. I will probably do Yuletide this year, and maybe Remix too, if the mood strikes me. I miss my fanfic friends, my college and grad school friends still kicking around on Livejournal while I strike out in solitary here on wordpress. I’m doing an X-Files rewatch, and it’s like going to a college reunion. I may have to write some good old-fashioned Mulder and Scully, but this time it’ll be with the charity and reverence that can only come with distance, with retrospect. Scully in her weird 90s pantsuits and Mulder with his floppy hair: the scent of memory and strawberry shampoo. 

So, Linda. If you’ve read this far, welcome to the world of fanfic! Here’s a prompt:

Daniel Jackson, sex pollen, and the words “scarab,” “angular,” and “cockblock.” 500 words. Post your story in the comments here. GO.