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Working on the theory that if I start early I might get everything done on time this year -- if anyone would like a card from me this Christmas, simply let me know where to send it with a comment to this post! Also, please mention if you have any strong preferences pro or con regarding subject matter (I'll avoid the cons, and try to do the pros if possible). Comments are screened.
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I'll just say what I like best and then mention a few things for the specific fandoms, I guess -- hope this isn't too picky! Basically, what follows is my general take on things, but write something you feel comfortable with.

By fandom )
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When looking at the Amazon (UK) site, I happened to notice the following in the blurb for The Sarah Jane Adventures: Series 1-5 Box Set:

The Fifth Series:

The bubbly Sky – the Starchild placed in Sarah Jane’s care by The Doctor – settles into Bannerman Road and discovers she has telekinetic powers.

I presume this blurb comes from Amazon or some clueless BBC marketroid rather than being something official, but I must admit, I always did rather like the idea that the "Shopkeeper" in Lost in Time and Sky was actually a future incarnation of the Doctor. (Although I'm not sure where Captain the parrot comes in -- I'd be inclined to say it was to make you think of Jack and then the Time Agency.) It would be awesome if the next Doctor had in fact first turned up in the spin-off, though.
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The Yuletide fandom nominations are open -- that's the stage where you specify fandoms and characters you'd like for the mods to check that they qualify -- or more often things you'd like to see written about that never are outside of Yuletide, of course. (Fandoms and characters that have already been accepted show up with ticks when you enter them so that you can avoid duplication, I believe.)

My three nominations were Mordant's Need by Stephen Donaldson, The Mote in God's Eye/The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (which I re-read recently, wondered if there was any fic out there and couldn't find any, except for the authorised one Pournelle's daughter wrote), and The New Avengers TV series. So if anyone would like to offer any of those when it comes the time, please do. :)
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At least, to judge from the helmet he was wearing at today's Grand Prix at Monza, which clearly marks him out as a member of the Silence Task Force:


Oh, of course they had a cover story, but who's gonna believe that, eh?
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At least in regard to style and plot sleight-of-hand -- keeping the rabbits he's about to pull out of the hat not so much up his sleeve, as out on the table munching lettuce in full view, so you don't think they're important?

John Sullivan. :)

Thoughts anyone?
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This one from all over the place, but c&p'd from [ profile] melusinahp:

Pick a number and I'll answer the question.

1 - Your current OTP
2 - A pairing you initially didn’t consider but someone changed your mind
3 - A pairing you have never liked and probably never will
4 - A pairing you wish you liked but just can’t
5 - Have you added anything stupid/cracky/hilarious to your fandom, if so, what
6 - What’s the longest you’ve ever been in a fandom
7 - Do you remember your first OTP, if so who was in it
8 - Do you prefer characters from real action series or anime series
9 - Has the internet caused you to stop liking any fandoms, if so, which and why
10 - Name a fandom you didn’t care/think about until you saw it all over tumblr [let's substitute LJ here for a more meaningful question in my case]
11 - How do you feel about the other people in your current fandom
12 - Your favorite fanartist/author gives you one request, what do you ask for
13 - Your favorite fanart or fanartist
14 - Your favorite fanfiction or fanauthor
15 - Choose a song at random, which OTP does it remind you of
16 - Invent a random AU for any fandom (we always need more ideas)
17 - A ship you’ve abandoned and why
18 - A pairing you ship that you don’t think anyone else ships
19 - Show us an example of your personal headcanon
20 - Do you remember what your first fanwork was?
21 - Self-rec: What's your favorite fanwork you've created?
22 - Are you one of those fans who can’t watch anything without shipping
23 - 5 favorite characters from 5 different fandoms
24 - 3 OTPs from 3 different fandoms
25 - A fandom you’re in but have no ships from
26 - Just ramble about something fan-related, go go go

I must be nostalgic for fandom things, obviously!
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Oddly, it's actually more frustrating to watch events on TV when all sorts of things are going on very close at hand and in principle it would have been possible to attend, rather than when they're half a world away and it wouldn't have been possible anyway. Doubtless that will wear off over the next few days.

Mind you, the ticketing thing is pretty annoying too -- I'm just watching Wickmayer v Wozniacki, on live feed from the bloody Centre Court at Wimbledon (as I type, in a final set game that's gone to a dozen or more deuces), and the place has the kind of pathetically sparse crowd normally associated with modern County Championship cricket. Did everybody who had tickets bugger off after watching Roger Federer?

OK, not everyone turned up for the first half of the double header at Wembley last night to see Senegal v Uruguay, but they missed a good match -- Senegal looked very impressive, and won 2-0 even after having a player sent off for scything down Luis Suarez in a manner that would have had the (thoroughly misnamed) Claudio Gentile nodding in approval. Mind you, it was Suarez, who was booed all night, so the player who clattered him got a round of applause as he walked off. :)

The GB v UAE match was also worth seeing -- the scratch GB team are playing together better now, with Craig Bellamy in particular clearly enjoying himself immensely marauding down the flanks. Still, we missed a lot of chances and for about ten minutes it looked as if it was about to go horribly wrong -- the roar when Sturridge got the third was as much relief as anything.

The men's team gymnastics was amazing -- China never looked like getting anything but gold, but GB ended up with THE BRONZE MEDAL, DAMMIT (but for a successful appeal by Japan it could have been silver). I can remember the days when British gymnastics was basically crap -- muscular Russians were doing one-finger pull-ups on the high bar, fourteen year old Romanian waifs were doing triple back somersaults on the beam while singing the national anthem, and our lot could barely manage a handstand. (OK, I exaggerate slightly.) We've had individual apparatus wins in recent times, but getting a team medal represents massive progress. Well done lads.
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I have to admit, that opening ceremony was actually quite fun and not the cringefest I was expecting. Then again, it was very, very British -- whether it made any sense at all to anyone else is another matter. :) But there was no point in trying to out-spectacle Beijing, so why not go for eccentricity rather than high seriousness? Maybe Rio can also play to their own country's stereotypes now and just go "2016? GIGANTIC BEACH PARTY".

Also, you have to love an opening that sticks two fingers up to David Cameron's NHS policies and features the Jam, the Pistols, and Born Slippy. Heavy use of Britmusic throughout in fact -- which seemed like a pretty good idea, as that was playing to a recognised strength. So take a well-deserved bow Mr Boyle.

The actual Team GB haven't done anything so far -- I had an uncomfortable feeling that the cycling road race was going to go wrong, and so it proved. It didn't help that the Murrays got knocked out of the doubles either, although the women's football team are looking like they could finally challenge for a medal, at least. Hoping for better luck tomorrow!

The REALLY good thing about the BBC coverage is the live video feed that lets you view anything going on ad lib regardless of what's on the TV highlights. Great for me as my Freeview box is on the blink anyway and I haven't got a replacement TV yet. It isn't available outside the UK though (unless using technical tricks) -- are other broadcasters doing the same thing?

I'm aiming to watch at least a bit of all 26 sports over the course of the Olympics, and by feed-hopping I've already seen about a dozen(!), including things I wouldn't normally have seen -- the first gold of the Games awarded in shooting, a tense women's foil final settled on a tie-breaker, the key semi-final in the men's team archery, a couple of judo finals -- along with odds and ends of preliminary round team sports and the swimming finals.

Off to Wembley tomorrow for the football ...
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Finally taking some extended time off work -- a couple of weeks, starting now.

So, is there going to be anything good on the telly? :)

Oh, as for the flame-lighting thing -- obviously the meta answer would be to have the torch brought into the stadium by David Tennant, kitted out in the old overcoat and trainers. :D
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The Olympic Torch passed by West Kensington Tube station this afternoon, which is only a short walk from where I live, so I went over to watch (along with quite a number of other people who had the same idea, of course). I haven't been following it on TV, so I hadn't realised it would actually be a small procession with floats from the sponsors and so on, the Flame itself was blink-and-you-miss-it! Anyway, here's the picspam traditional on these occasions:

A dozen photos )
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RL post: Sunday was mostly spent on Hackney Marshes at the BBC's Hackney Weekend event -- lots and lots of artists on half a dozen different stages.

Arrived a bit late, but for a lot of the time I was wandering between the different stages taking in a few songs from a variety of acts -- as I recall Ben Howard, Sub Focus, Maverick Sabre, Jessie J, Enter Shikari, Tinie Tempah, B.o.B and Chase & Status. On the main stage the "Special Guest" turned out to be Dizzee Rascal (who I'd pretty much fingered as the likely candidate), although it ended up that the only two sets I stayed for throughout were Florence + the Machine and of course Rihanna's closer (with the expected guest spot from Jay-Z) -- both excellent.

And since it's traditional to plug someone in this sort of post, I can but mention one of the acts I randomly stumbled across on the "BBC Introducing" stage -- Arthur Beatrice, which is a band not a soloist! They're an indie-pop outfit and have both a female and a male lead singer, the former especially good with one of those clear high haunting voices. Here's their set.
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Oddly soothing as background, and guaranteed 100% dry. :)
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A very nice Yuletide New Year's Resolution story in the Mordant's Need fandom, gifted to me out of the blue:

A Sound of Distant Horns (1772 words)
by mithen
Fandom: Mordant's Need - Stephen R. Donaldson
Summary: Three years after the events of Mordant's Need, Myste travels with Terisa and Geraden to visit her sister in distant Carmag.

Nicely done -- gets the feel and characters well and much appreciated. Mordant, dammit! I'd more or less given up hope of anyone writing that. :)


May. 26th, 2012 07:51 pm
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Can anyone think of any occasions when people normally use first person simple present tense in ordinary conversation? This sort of thing:
I swing my legs off the bed and slide into my hunting boots ... I pull on trousers, a shirt, tuck my long dark braid up into a cap, and grab my forage bag ... I put the cheese carefully into my pocket as I slip outside ... I can feel the muscles in my face relaxing, my pace quickening as I climb the hills to our place ... The sight of him waiting there brings on a smile.
Why yes, this post is indeed prompted by reading The Hunger Games (but not yet Catching Fire or Mockingjay, so no spoilers plz).

This use of present tense seems ubiquitous in fanfic, but unusual elsewhere. I'm not sure even Mike Doonesbury narrates his life in present tense! The reason I ask is that I found it rather distracting, and thinking about that, I wonder if that's because in any normal situation, you'd just use simple past tense to describe what happened? I gather it may be a common usage in other languages, but that doesn't necessarily mean it works in English.

The only uses that spring to mind other than literary ones are "Footballer's Tense" while watching a replay -- e.g. "I take the ball up the left wing and cross it and he heads it in" (although more usually "I've taken the ball up the left wing and crossed it and he's headed it in" -- present perfect?) -- and "RPGer's Tense" while describing something their character is doing -- e.g. "I climb up the rope and take the jewel from the plinth". Other than that, I got nothing.

Possibly because of such uses, for me it creates a sense more of abstraction or distance or (when written) of affectation rather than one of immediacy. Does anyone else have this reaction?
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Is anyone on my flist in possession of (a) the current location of the Ticketmaster interaction designers and (b) the control codes for a cruise missile?

Just a small one would do?



This post brought to you by total failure to get any response other than "Sorry, no exact matches were found" from the Olympic ticketing site. Would it have been too hard to stagger the release of the sessions by expected desirability? Or simply queue applications? Or at least manage to keep the front end and back end of the system matched up so as not to advertise unavailable tickets?

Apparently so. I refer you to my previous post on a similar fiasco and in particular to the comment about thirty seconds and the back of an envelope.
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From [ profile] plaid_slytherin, out of interest:

Not Going There meme: Everyone has things they write about. Everyone has things they don't write about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't write about, but you'd like to read.

And yes, there are some obvious general ones here, so specifics are good. Given my Things To Do backlog it's very likely I won't end up actually writing it, but you never know. :)
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I finally managed to make it through the signup process and get a ticket for the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012 on the Sunday!

(OK, I'd have slightly preferred the Saturday, but by the time I got in they'd all gone. Still, for a lineup headlined by Rihanna and featuring a stack of other big names, that'll do fine, especially as it was essentially free.)

That actually made it worth the signup process, which resembled repeatedly slamming your head against a brick wall, except for being slightly less fun. It was a classic shambles out of the Olympic Tickets Reallocation stable -- well, different company, same basic failure to have enough server capacity to cope. Really, guys, what are people paying you for? Surely you must be expecting a mad scramble for popular tickets now? I mean, due to the fact it happens every single time?

At least today they'd apparently managed to tweak the system to serve up an actual holding page with auto-resubmission rather than yesterday's broken effort that usually came up with a cryptic back-end error message saying "your IP is not allowed access", but it still took well over an hour. I just left a browser window open to the page on one screen while working on the other.

And this sort of thing is, of course, completely unnecessary. Get people to pre-register with all necessary details and then allocate the tickets by some random process, and you wouldn't need a big server farm capable of handling a massive peak load; you could run the whole thing from a bog standard webserver. In fact, you could probably do the actual allocation from an iPhone, just to be flash. No need to put a premium on being a fast typist, or on being able to get to a computer at the key time, and no worries about automated signup hacks. I mean, if someone can come up with a more workable idea in thirty seconds on the back of an envelope ... you suck.

Oh well, (semi-)professional rant over. :) So, is anyone else going to this?

Recent fics

Jan. 3rd, 2012 11:48 pm
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A couple of fics for recent fests which the reveal has now been done:

Title: For The Greater Good
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 8,600
Characters: Elphias Doge, Albus Dumbledore, a few OCs
Summary: "Don't believe a word of it! Not a word, Harry! Let nothing tarnish your memories of Albus Dumbledore!" Our own weaknesses are always those we criticise most harshly in others.
Notes: For [ profile] hp_holidaygen

Title: Need To Know
Fandom: James Bond (Movies)
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 5,500
Characters: Bond, Moneypenny, M's, a few more OCs
Summary: Even a 00 agent isn't told all the things MI5 has up its sleeve. Of course, things can get interesting when they find out anyway.
Notes: For Yuletide. Setting for the record: post-Cold War, say early/mid 1990s. Somewhat crack-AU as requested, although given the generally crackish nature of Bond films and how often they're reboots or retcons in effect anyway, I'm not sure that matters. :)


Dec. 23rd, 2011 12:47 am
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Amazingly, I have actually finished and posted a decent length Yuletide story with a whole half an hour to spare, despite scrambling to get it written in the few days since scrambling to get my hp_holidaygen story written. It's not exactly polished, admittedly, but at least it's got most of the characters the giftee requested and stuff happens in something closely resembling a plot.

Remind me not to do this again next year ...!
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