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([personal profile] rattfan Apr. 30th, 2017 05:44 pm)
Today there were no trains, only Rail Replacement Buses between home and the city.  I reminded myself today that they really are a lot more chaotic than the trains they replace!  I accidentally got on the wrong one, since both leave from the same area, same side of the train station.  Then one sailed past me while I was desperately trying to get across the road to head back the other way, without being flattened.   I made gestures at it, but to no avail.

After I finally caught a bus, I heard the driver ask what station we were next to at one point and then, the bus stopped very neatly so that its back door was exactly opposite two large red bins.  Old bloke trying to get off complained loudly - but squeezed himself between the bins before the driver could move the bus.  Then on the way home, the driver wouldn't let a couple with a pram get on because they already had two prams aboard.

Yeah, I know.  If I'd been paying attention, I would have remembered the trains from Midland weren't running today.  And a person with brains would probably have given up and gone home, but I'd said I'd go to the Trans support group today, so figured I had to.  Was a bit tired but had slept ok, so no excuse there.  I like to show up now and then as a visible reminder that not everyone in the group is around 20 years old, which tends to bug me now and then.  There was one other person my age and three of the 20 somethings in attendance.  One of the latter was moderating the group.

I don't really know what I can do about the focus on youth.  It's not just this group, it's everything in the media.  I don't want to bring in more divisions, we have enough of those, but the focus needs to widen.   And then when I was talking about the problems my mother's generation has in accepting the idea of transgender people, and I placed her in time by saying she had been a child during the Blitz, I realised that one of the 20 somethings had no idea what I meant by "the Blitz."   "Bombing of London?  World War 11?"  They did at least flicker at the name World War II, which was something, but geez.  What do they teach them in these schools?  It would have been an American school, but they teach this generation about that, don't they?












Friday I decided to go into the city to see the High Line at night, when it's lit up. It closes at 10 pm. But it was super hot and I wanted to be outside for a while so I left hours earlier so I could stroll Fifth Avenue for photo opportunities and I took my music off my iPhone to have room, since the memory issue's gotten that bad. I rolled my left ankle a bit on my walk to the subway but refused to turn back.

I remembered that there was an Apple Store on Fifth Avenue when it had the light-up glass box that sometimes showed up in the reflections on my Bergdorf window pics, but didn't know what happened when that box came down. Turned out Apple moved several feet away to the former F.A.O. Schwartz store space. (RIP, F.A.O., I miss you.) So I brought my iPhone there for help. One of the service people did a factory reset of my phone and we loaded the backup I uploaded to my iCloud at the store. (Btw, if you're wandering Manhattan and need a place to rest, you can sit at the Apple Store and use their wifi and air conditioning.) It took two hours, but I had a seat, their wifi, a charger, their AC, and knowledgeable people nearby. The person told me that since my phone's iOS was current and worked fine with my older iTunes, so I could sync all rigtht, but warned me that I might still have a problem if there are corrupted files in my backup.

Guess. Just guess.

(How do files on a phone get corrupted? Why are Apple phones so buggy anyway? Though at least they don't spontaneously combust.)

But it seemed good at the time so I went out and took some photos at Bergdorf, though I was distracted for a while by the unexpected-for-even-NYC turkey wandering the small park in front of the Plaza Hotel. My time of bad luck continues, High Line hijinks, and nevertheless my iPhone problems persisted )

I have some thinking to do. I seriously wish I could leave Malfunction Junction already.
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
([personal profile] selenak Apr. 30th, 2017 09:08 am)
Last conference day; thus, a brief review of a delightful episode.

Read more... )
This concert was a complete surprise, announced while I was already in London for the month. Shoreditch was the neighborhood next to mine, so even though it cut into the weekend that we ended up traveling to York, I went to this concert, one of a handful Lea has had thus far to promote her new album, Places.

The line to get inside extended around the corner of a large city block, and there was some palpable excitement.

I had a balcony seat, and a decent view. The music being played overhead prior to Lea was all Bon Iver [I think]. I lost my shit a little bit when I recognized The Wolves, which is a song that's on my [Glee] fic playlist, although I had previously only been familiar with the Ellie Goulding cover and didn't even know it was a Bon Iver song, lol. BUT. SO MANY FIC FEELINGS UGGGHHHH.

When the lights dimmed imperceptibly, everyone screamed. We cheered and clapped for a long time, and eventually Lea kept trying to talk but couldn't because the clapping persisted. She was clearly overcome, thanked everyone sincerely for having come. Someone in the front yelled, "You deserve this!"

The band joining Lea on stage included a drummer, a cellist, a pianist, and some string instrument(s) I couldn't see, probably including a violin. This led to some different intros and interpretations, just because some of the orchestral/electronic effects couldn't be recreated on a live tour. For example, I remember really liking the percussive intro to Cannonball, the first song.

"Love Is Alive" was the first song to give me goosebumps. Like, her voice is just phenomenal, but there was a point of realizing, I AM IN THE SAME ROOM AS LEA. SHIT.
Her story introducing how she got this song [from a writer] was pretty hilarious, but I think completely loses its effect if not told verbally.

I eyerolled when she said she wished Darren [Criss] was there just before beginning Battlefield - he sang the duet with her on the album. Everyone else cheered, though, so I struggled to keep my reaction non-verbal so as not to ruin the moment for the people sitting to either side of me LOL.

Often on the slower songs, Lea would give a manual cue to the pianist/orchestra members to speed things up, making a "go" motion circling her index finger, which cheered me because slow songs tend to bore me live too, :D

When introducing "Sentimental Memories," she said something like, "One of the great things about being a singer is that you get to express these feelings...AND TALK SHIT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO FUCKED YOU OVER." lmao.

"Heavy Love" gave me some 'these strange steps' feelings, mostly due to the Dear lover / put another pill upon my tongue lyric.

Full setlist )

A tweet from Lea's twitter feed, showing her on the stage.

Since the concert, the whole Places album has been released. I'd like to listen to it more, and spend time comparing it to Louder, but I feel like her voice sounds healthier here, like you can tell she's had a lot of rest. I think her voice is still damaged from Glee, but it makes me happy how nice it sounded.
I want to punch the reporter who asked her whether "Hey You" was about Cory. The direct references in the lyrics make it completely obvious that IT IS, why ask her?

"Anything's Possible" gives me a lot of fic feelings. I'm adding it to my fic-writing inspiration playlist.
starlady: Mako's face in the jaeger, in profile (mako mori is awesome)
([personal profile] starlady Apr. 29th, 2017 08:19 pm)
As you can now see from the Equinox collection on AO3, I made the Star Trek Beyond vid We Are Who We Are for [personal profile] shinyjenni.

My vidders, both for Deep Space Nine, were [personal profile] kuwdora, with Pundits and Poets, and [personal profile] such_heights, with I Lived. ♥

On a personal note, I am at 2/3 for guesses, and I feel vindicated.

The Rangers once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and everything is terrible. Sigh.

Have a poem:
They Lied

They lied, my friend. They injected
their despair beneath your skin
like a parasitic insect laying eggs
in the body of another species.

Nothing they said is true,
everything about you is honorable. Every pore
that opens and closes—a multitude
along the expanse of your body, the
follicles from which hair sprouts
emerging again and again like spiders' floss
spun from a limitless source.

Your feet with thickened nails. Your anger
like the wisdom of elephants. Your
omnipresent fear, like mist off the sea.
Your neglected breasts and the sober practicality
of your anus. Your elegant neck and
quick smile. Your small hungers,
each a song.

You wait, huddled. Or carry yourself from
place to place like a burden. As if
you would stash yourself, if you could,
in a bus station locker, or somewhere smaller.
You don't really hope, but
you can't give it up completely.

Some stubborn nugget
is lodged like a bullet in bone.
Though each breath stings with the cold
suck of it, you can know the truth.
Every cell of your body vibrates with its own intelligence.
Every atom is pure.

~Ellen Bass

***
yhlee: Jedao's motto: I'm your gun (hxx I'm your gun)
([personal profile] yhlee Apr. 29th, 2017 05:39 pm)
Chocolate Ammo

(I wonder if Jedao would eat chocolate ammo?!)

The satisfied customer endorsement really worries me:
The chocolate is surprisingly delicious and I now use the tin to store my real ammo. Great idea!--Damien Drake, Washington, USA

That either sounds like a trip to the ER or a firearms safety accident waiting to happen...O.o
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schneefink: (Kaylee with umbrella shiny)
([personal profile] schneefink Apr. 30th, 2017 12:12 am)
Today I went to a new restaurant with friends I hadn't seen in weeks (Vietnamese all-you-can-eat buffet, yum), then we went to watch "Guardians of the Galaxy 2", and then we went to the gym, so I feel accomplished even though I did almost nothing else. (Tomorrow is cleaning day, ugh.)

I enjoyed GotG 2. It was fun, it was colorful, it wasn't so stupid that it distracted from the movie, and it had several scenes that made me laugh out loud. It was also very pretty at times: that one planet kind of reminded me of "Jupiter Ascending" in its opulency.

Details & spoilers )
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naye: a blooming cherry tree and a blue sky with the words "feel it turn" (feel it turn)
([personal profile] naye Apr. 29th, 2017 10:35 pm)
It's no secret that I miss Japan a lot. It's been eleven years since I found out I'd been approved for the exchange programme between my Swedish university and Kyoto University, and the year I spent there changed my life immeasurably. I'm not just saying that - if not for the exchange year, I wouldn't be here in the UK today, married to the love of my life. So I have all of these bittersweet feelings of amazing memories and warm nostalgia and the constant sadness that I had to leave before I really wanted to. (It was for Adulting Reasons, and the right choice to make. It still hurt.)

What set off the latest wave of nostalgia was that I found out that train nerds in Japan will sit behind the driver's cabin or a window and film entire routes and upload them on YouTube. So you can step inside and ride along and it's weird to see all those familiar places - my home stations! - through the eyes of a stranger's camera. But also oddly compelling, to hear the thumping of wheels and rattling of carriage and soft conversations, with the speakers announcing station names and warning you not to leave anything behind when stepping off the train...

Here's the Keihan, Demachiyanagi to Yodoyabashi - also known as how I'd get down to Osaka from my dorm. And here's the Hankyuu, Kawaramachi to Umeda - the station where I first met [personal profile] doctorskuld in person. ♥ And this was my home station 2009-2010 - all the way up in northern Kyoto prefecture, in this little town.

STA_8493

So many rice paddies and bamboo-groves and wild hillsides on that ride.

And of course there's plenty of footage from the Tokyo Yamanote line's 1-hour loop. Why not get on at Ikebukuro and ride around the city?

Orcs have become a complex subject in the dialogue about fantasy, both critical and fictional. There are numerous authors who have put together stories sparked by the notion that the orcs are the underdog heroes, despised as they are by the hypocritical elves, dwarves, and men. Within an outlook that “good” is meaningless and “evil” is mere propaganda for the other side, the orcs can become protagonists in a crapsack world chockfull of postmodern relativism, ugliness everywhere, and plenty of blood and guts.

Then there are those who consider the orcs, etc, as evidence of Tolkien’s racism. I’ll get to that. Finally, there are those, like me, who think the orcs pretty much act like human beings in their pettiness, enjoyment of cruelty, othering (they do it, too), and relish for violence, but that doesn’t make them heroes. It does, however, make me wonder about their lives away from war.

So all this stuff was in mind as I read this pair of chapters. I thought I’d look for, oh, let’s call them cultural details.

In chapter two we first encounter orcs and goblins up close, initially through a flashback in Pippin's point of view. The first orcs we are introduced to aren’t particularly battle-minded—until Boromir forces them to it.

Thinking back, Pippin reflects on how he and Merry:

. . . had run a long way shouting — he could not remember how far or how long; and then suddenly they had crashed right into a group of orcs: they were standing listening, and they did not appear to see Merry and Pippin until they were almost in their arms. Then they yelled and dozens of other goblins had sprung out of the trees. Merry and he had drawn their swords, but the orcs did not wish to fight, and they had tried only to lay hold of them, even when Merry had cut off several of their arms and hands. Good old Merry!

Then Boromir had come leaping through the trees. He had made them fight. He slew many of them and the rest fled . . .


The second speech we hear is one of them threatening Pippin, offering to ‘tickle’ him with a knife blade. This is an angry and threatening enemy who seems to relish the idea of torture, which he calls “play,” but still I wonder when he learned the concept of tickling as well as play.

We then get an argument, in which it becomes clear that there are two parties loyal to their respective masters, each of whom have orders that they intend to obey.

Then a third speaks up, saying, “Not our orders! We have come all the way from the Mines to kill, and [italics mine]avenge our folk. I wish to kill, and then go back up North.”

Following comes another interesting bit of dialogue: “Maybe, maybe! Then you’ll fly off with our prisoners, and get all the pay and praise in Lugburz, and leave us to foot it as best we can through the Horse-country. No, we must stick together. These lands are dangerous: full of foul rebels and brigands.”

Ugluk says that they have to stick together, then he brags that they are the fighting Uruk-Hai. He is concerned about “his lads” getting worn out—and Grishnakh returns because “There are some stout fellows that are too good to lose.” And finally, they carry at least one first-aid kit, judging by Ugluk’s tending Merry.

So underneath the threat and the ugliness, the dirty bandages, and so forth, we can see evidence of unit cohesion, obedience to orders, a wish to avenge their people, and at some point in their lives, a sense of play.

I remember a long talk on a panel during which an author, in slamming LOTR, pointed out that Aragorn, our noble hero, Legolas, the beauty-loving elf, and the honorable Gimli don’t seem to have any problem with abandoning the enemy dead.

Another person on that panel (which had been put together for the purpose of talking about why LOTR is bad) did not actually rant, but said more mildly, “Look, I totally respect your loving that book, and I know it’s got a lot of great qualities, but it also others people like me—persons of color—and I can’t get past that, even in a fantasy full of magic and dragons and elves.”

"Yes!" proclaimed the first panelist. "One of the many signs of othering is disrespecting the enemy dead." And pointed out later in the last volume an orc claims that ‘the big warrior’ (Sam)’s leaving the apparently dead Frodo lying in Shelob’s lair is a “typical elvish trick.”

Nobody countered it, but I remember wondering as I walked out of the panel if what the orc probably meant that the elves disdained a perfectly good meal, as I could not remember an instance in LOTR in which orcs and their allies respectfully buried anybody, ally or enemy. But there were plenty of references to relishing man-meat.

Anyway, it does appear that the orcs have some social and cultural rules. They are also thinking beings, choosing to follow orders to kill, avenge, and invade.

The other question is a tougher one, the language that equates dark with bad (“swarthy,” “swart,” “black,” “dark”) as opposed to those elves having as one of their beauteous qualities their pale, pale skin and hair.

It’s been pointed out that not all white characters are good: Saruman isn’t (“dark eyes!” someone on the panel noted), Gollum is sometimes described as dark and other times pale, and then there are the Nazgul, who under their black cloaks are “pale kings.” Whereas Aragorn when he first appears is dark of hair and clothes.

In my reading so far, what I think is going on is a light and darkness comparison rather than racial—though the Haradrim and their dark skin are difficult to explain away, as are the sallow and slant-eyed goblins. But to Tolkien light was so very important, going back to the light of the Two Trees, and one expression of evil is reviling that light, or wanting to possess or distort it.

Sauron certainly relishes darkness, what with only trying to buy (and steal) black horses, outfitting his minions in black (which takes a ton of dye work), and of course being a part of the breeding project to raise warriors who prefer to move in darkness, and who developed thick hides rather like armor, that seem by description to resemble elephant hides.

Anyway, my completely boring and wussy conclusion is that Tolkien was a product of his time, betraying certain unexamined assumptions, but what I do not believe is that he set out to write an allegory “proving” that all dark-skinned people are evil.

When I finished the chapter, I went hunting through the letters, and I found a passage when JRRT was writing to Christopher Tolkien during the last year of WW II, who apparently had been undergoing some problems with his military peers, JRRT writes: Urukhai is only a figure of speech. There are no genuine Uruks, that is folk made bad by the intention of their maker; and not many who are so corrupted as to be irredeemable (though I fear it must be admitted that there are human creatures that seem irredeemable short of a special miracle) and that there are probably abnormally many of such creatures in Deutschland and Nippon — but certainly these unhappy countries have no monopoly: I have met them, or thought so, in England's green and pleasant land).

Anyhow, I wondered what orc culture was like when they weren’t on the march to war. Did they marry? Were their children like any other kids until beaten into angry warriors? They definitely have a sense of humor, warped as it is, as is evident in this passage:

"Hullo, Pippin! Merry said. “So you've come on this little expedition, too? Where do we get bed-and-breakfast?"

"Now then!" said Ugluk. "None of that! Hold your tongues. No talk to one another. Any trouble will be reported at the other end, and He’ll know how to pay you. You will get bed and breakfast all right: more than you can stomach."


Did orc mothers wait anxiously for their boys to come home from the war?

Then, how much of their wills have been distorted by the magical influence of their supreme commanders, Saruman and Sauron? We’re going to see evidence of some kind of mass effect in book three.

Onward. We also have have in this chapter Pippin planning ahead, and watching for a chance to leave evidence. When he can, he cuts his bonds, then quickly loops the ropes so that they look convincing. This is not evidence of a stupid hobbit. After the Rohirrim attack, when Grishnakh turns up threatening them, it’s Pippin who does his best to deflect him.

And when Grishnakh is dead, it’s Pippin who was ready with his fake ropes, and after making sure they eat a bit of lembas: “Pippin was the first to come back to the present.” It’s he who cuts their bonds and takes the lead into Fangorn.

Oh yeah. At the end of the chapter, Eomer and his riders make a mound of their fallen, and they do burn the orc dead.

The next chapter is another of Tolkien’s wonderful mood and mode changes: we go from sweat, blood, fire, and sword into the beauty and mystery of Fangorn.

We meet the Ents. For me as a reader, it is somehow more wonderful that it is hobbits, and not men (or even elves) through whose eyes we first meet Treebeard and Quickbeam. I love the humor-veined awe that the Ents inspire in Pippin and Merry. We also encounter Entish magic, which—like the elven magic we have encountered so far—seems to be a natural part of their being.

Ho, hum, hoom, the Ents are on the march, after pages of wonderful, evocative description. Tension rises, after the Entish look at history and the world around them. As the next chapter returns to Gimli and company, that should do it for this round.
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ladyofleithian: (Default)
([personal profile] ladyofleithian Apr. 29th, 2017 01:42 pm)
Title: From the Blog of Katrina "Kit" Anderson

Summary: In which the "Project Daughter", Katrina, reports on her life in 2041. 

Prompt: Documentation

Story under cut.  )
[community profile] smutswap stories are revealed, so here's mine, written for SilverShepard! Many thanks to Frostfire, Ylixia, and Feanorinleatherpants for their help and encouragement. :D

Come on and Get Your Kicks (8121 words) by Dira Sudis
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Steve Rogers/Tony Stark
Characters: Tony Stark, Steve Rogers
Additional Tags: Feminization, Crossdressing, Dirty Talk, Shame in Sexual Desires, The Manifest Difficulty of Staying Ashamed of Anything When Tony Is This Excited About It, Fluff and Smut
Summary:

"At the end of the day, you just want to be my pretty little girl, is that it?"

Steve surged up to wrap his arms around Tony, kissing him with the kind of filthy fervor that Steve usually reserved for you could have died or I haven't had an orgasm in 36 hours.

So, all right then. Hypothesis confirmed.

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
([personal profile] rmc28 Apr. 29th, 2017 06:49 pm)
I got the email that my ballot was open a few days ago, and I have just entered my votes-so-far into it, based on what I've already managed to read / watch / otherwise consume.  Ballots can be edited right up until the deadline, but this seems like a good way to make sure even the limited preferences I have right now get recorded.

My intention is to make brief posts about how I'm voting and what I think of the finalists, as I complete each category.  As a general rule, I pay no attention[1] to stuff by Vox Day or his publishing company Castalia House.  For this Hugos, I intend to pay no attention to Puppy nominations unless I also see buzz about them from elsewhere​, so some of my Hugo posts will list five finalists, and some six, and that is why.

[1] wording deliberate: attention is probably my most limited resource and I've a lot of other things I'd rather spend it on

So far, I have managed to read all the non-Puppy finalists for Short Story and for Novelette, and while in each category I have a clear favourite, ranking the remainder is proving something of a challenge, but in a good way.

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umadoshi: (kittens - sleeping)
([personal profile] umadoshi Apr. 29th, 2017 02:42 pm)
Lilac approval: obtained!!! I've tweeted at Halifax Seed to ask what varieties they'll be selling this year/when it'd be best to put one in. If they have Bloomerangs, we might as well get ours there instead of ordering one.

Despite what I said last night, there are other things I'm hoping to get done this weekend besides work.

I'm so close to the end of The Obelisk Gate that it'll just be embarrassing if I don't get it finished, on top of annoying, as I'm enjoying it. I would've finished last night if I hadn't been tired enough that I fell asleep something like 50 pages from the end. >.<

The other thing is that I need to reupload my website. I got a note from Merrow (kinda)recently saying that the domain host had found a script and isolated the whole domain. We've both been busy, so it took a while before I got my temp login info, and now it's been another while and I haven't actually made this happen. I haven't touched FTP since whenever I last updated the site (2009? 2010?), so it feels intimidating even though I expect it'll be easy and [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose is around to help as needed.

This happened right around when LJ was imploding, too, and right around when I was seeing a couple of people mentioning that AO3 just isn't as robust as we'd like. What a combination. o_o

In an ideal world, I'd take this opportunity to finally upload the last couple of Fruits Basket fics that never quite made it to the site and have only ever been posted here and to LJ, but that is so not happening this weekend.

(For those of you who're like "...you have a website???", my personal site has the dual purpose of hosting both my manga/anime-based fic [see also: life before Newsflesh] and my info/analysis pages for Rin and Haru from Fruits Basket; I started the latter early on in my time in the fandom when I hit my breaking point for People Being WRONG on the Internet about Rin. [So many people. So horribly wrong. >.<])

And a week or so ago someone messaged me on Tumblr to ask about my site and if it was down for maintenance (and/or did I know it was down), because they still go to it regularly to reread fic after all this time. So that made my day. ^_^

But right now, I really need to get to work.
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([personal profile] nestra Apr. 29th, 2017 10:46 am)
The Sound of a Train
by Faith Shearin

Even now, I hear one and I long to leave
without a suitcase or a plan; I want to step
onto the platform and reach for
the porter’s hand and buy a ticket
to some other life; I want to sit
in the big seats and watch fields
turn into rivers or cities. I want to eat
cake on the dining car’s
unsteady tablecloths, to sleep
while whole seasons
slip by. I want to be a passenger
again: a person who hears the name
of a place and stands up, a person
who steps into the steam of arrival.


"The Sound of a Train" by Faith Shearin from Telling the Bees. © Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2015.
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oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
([personal profile] oursin Apr. 29th, 2017 04:02 pm)

It's just over two years since I wrote these three sentences, intended to be an entire one-off, for 3 weeks for Dreamwidth; and that turned into a world and nearly a million words, still going.

***

And in other business:

As someone who is not a grandparent, but is a retiree, I somewhat resent this suggestion that we are a 'reserve army' that can be despatched about the matter of revivifying villages and rural communities:

He would mobilise the “reserve army of grandads and grannies and retirees” and put them to work on “the cutting of grass, the repair of roads, the feeding of elderly residents, the maintenance of schools, the lopping of branches off dangerous trees”.

One of the by-products of having a fair number of years under one's belt is a tendency to sigh 'what, not another one?', when a book inspired by some famous case or person comes along: I had this sensation myself re a new novel about Lizzie Borden, and Kathryn Hughes rather wearily makes a similar point about latest work on the Victorian mesmerist Elliotson.

I think there is some middle ground between that feeling I sometimes have that 'surely everybody knows that already' about some subject with which I am overfamiliar but which is less well-known to the generality, and that thing I have whinged about before in which 'forgotten' actually means 'I hadn't heard of this/them before'.

glinda: just trying to read (books/reading)
([personal profile] glinda Apr. 29th, 2017 12:16 pm)
( You're about to view content that the journal owner has advised should be viewed with discretion. )
Coming back from an extended beer run to Marin County (you know where to look at evidence) I'm popping in just to note that the Supergirl showrunners totally read my fanfiction:

The scene, incidentally spoilery for the beginning of 2x18 ''Ace Reporter'' )

Sure, I'm the only person to notice...but still filled with the warm glow of knowing that my Karacterization was on point there.
.

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