Jan. 18th, 2017

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Well, not being sick is pretty choice, gotta say. Routinely getting to sleep before 4:00 AM. Having a good reason to regularly leave the freaking house every day, and interact with people I respect. All of these are wonderful, I'm almost certain, but it feels like I haven't done them in years and years--more like fourteen days, my Mom recently pointed out to me. I am sick and fucking tired of being fucking sick and tired.

Anyhow. As you (probably) know, Bob, part of what I've been doing recently is transferring my old fanfiction to the Archive of Our Own, and thus being amused by/revelling in the things which apparently inspire me towards creativity, even if it's only of the interstitial sort. I'm finally on the Oz portion of the project, which is hilarious and horrifying in equal measure: we're talking about Tom Fontana's Oz rather than The Wizard of, obviously, that demented HBO soap opera about hard times while doin' hard time, with its endless roundelay of naked guys, sexual violence, canon-typical racism, manipulation (lit and fig), surreal social commentary, reflexive anti-authoritarianism and instiTUtionaliZAtion (say it with me now, kids). Oz was where I plunged into the deep end first, writing a 100,000-word plus novel straight out of the gate--"My Wife and My Dead Wife," which posits the potential events of Oz season three, put together at high speed over the post-season two hiatus. I haven't cracked it as yet, but I will, and given the way I've been reformatting the stuff I've transferred thus far, I'm sort of dreading it. It does hold up okay as a basic read, though.;)

One way or the other, going through my AO3 dashboard these days definitely reminds me of what seems to turn my crank--things which absolutely do not turn many other peoples', in the main. I like:

A) Terrible people doing terrible things.
B) Lying liars.
C) Violence.
D) Unreliable internal narration.
E) Arcane language.
F) Historicity.
G) Insults.
H) Consent issues. SEVERE consent issues. Holy shit, check out the consent issues, those consent issues are whack.
I) The people other people think are too ugly to fantasize about. Pretty fucking consistently.
J) Doing the same things over and over, expecting a different result.
K) Canonical deviation AUs, not straight-up AUs.
L) Mainly slash, some het, some OT3, but the default setting is situational bisexuality.
M) Redemption, little as that ever seems to happen in the stuff I consume or the stuff I write.

So: spent a lot of the last little while bingeing on Crave TV, because I can and I don't have the brainishness to do much else, which is how I was able to blaze my way through the first season of Outsiders, a truly odd Appalachian crime thriller show developed for WGN America that (at first glance) runs Justified through a Silver John filter. Magic realism abounds, but there's also a nasty sense of inevitability and down-the-holler bad teeth fatalism to it I find particularly compelling. Our scene is set in coal country, ie the town of Blackburg, Kentucky, at the foot of Shay Mountain; the Mountain is home to three extremely exclusive clans of freeholders, the Shays, Farrells and McClintocks, who live 5,000 miles up and rarely come down except to raid local supermarkets for shine-brewing yeast and power tools. They don't use money, can't read and speak a dialect that's influenced by Elizabethan English, though they also talk about "signs done in the Ruthark," and a lot of their ceremonial language sounded Welsh to me. ("Ged-Gedyah, cousin!" is the normal greeting.)

So...sort of like Vikings, sort of like hillbillies. Local people also think the Farrells can control the weather and curse people, two things which explain why Blackburg's own Sheriff Houghton goes so far out of his way to never go up the mountain if he can at all help it--his father was a mining company negotiator who tried to cut a deal with the Farrells during which two Farrells were killed, only to later be struck by lighting on his way home from work. People from "below" think of the Farrells and their subsidiary clans as freaks who barely live in the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first, while the Farrells think "them below" are demons who deserve whatever they get. Strangely enough, this doesn't lead anywhere good, especially when another coal company comes to town offering free jobs to anybody who'll help them kick the Farrells off their mineral-rich home.

Our main character is Asa Farrell (British actor Joe Anderson, all shaggy hair, squint and bad teeth glower), who spent ten years out in the "real' world and now knows just enough about computers, the legal system and technology to psychologically manipulate the norms. He returned to the Mountain six months ago, only to find himself doubly an outcast, branded a cultural traitor by the people he still considers his only kin. Released from imprisonment just before the current Brenn'in (leader) Lady Ray Farrell is due to turn her staff over to her eldest son, "Big" Foster Farrell (David Morse), Asa finds himself caught up in the struggle between Big Foster's upstarts and the Mountain's council of elders; he also falls back into a weird, antagonistic three-way with G'Winn (Gillian Alexy), his former lover, and Big Foster's own son Li'l Foster (Ryan Hurst), once Asa's best friend, who were left behind to console each other when Asa took off for "the distractions of civilization."

Big Foster hates his mother but hates Asa even more, so most of Asa's plot has him trying to find ways to rationalize being allowed to stay, usually by finding ways to help Big Foster fight of the latest mining company incursions, but hopefully without things going where Big Foster always wants them to--towards guns, violence and blood.

One way or the other, you'll probably never find another show out there on which people swap moonshine for drone reprogramming and automatic weapons, whose characters' internal addictions range from Oxycodone to witch-cap, or one which shows a penniless guy courting a girl by offering her a wood-carving of a bear he made because "bears are big an' fierce, just like my love for you."

(This last relationship is really cute--Asa's relative of some sort Hasil Farrell (Kyle Gallner), a heavily tattooed young man in a kilt with Cavalier curls and a musketeer moustache, goes mooney-eyed over the girl working the cash register when he and his "cousins" come to town, a sweet lady named Sally-Anne (Christina Jackson) who comes from one of the only African-American families in town; it's a distinction he genuinely doesn't really understand, any more than he understands what TV is, where marshmallows come from, and whether or not the drug dealer he briefly befriends' significant other is a girl or a boy. [She seems trans to me, but Hasil eventually decides it doesn't matter.])

Fandom-wise, "Sasil" is the big ship, though I (of course) am interested primarily in either the OT3 vibes between Asa, G'Winn and Li'l Foster, the foe-yay between Asa and Big Foster, or G'Winn's internal wrangling over how best to serve the Mountain, her community and her own heart, divided as it is between three equally difficult men. She's a fun chick overall, especially in terms of being perfectly willing to marry Li'l Foster's father in order to take the clans' reins, then immediately start low-grade poisoning him to boil off his inherent shit-stirring instincts. But then again, even the comparatively "nicest" Farrells are apt to pull a knife on you if you keep poking them--these people shit in the woods, give birth in ditches and walk five miles before breakfast almost every day. As Houghton warns the coal company's main smiling shark, "community liaison" Haylie Grimes (Francie Swift), "if y'all really knew what you was dealin' with, y'all'd be runnin'."

Otherwise, I cut a deal yesterday to reprint "A Single Shadow Make" in an anthology called Daughters of Mary Shelley, which is cool, and I'm trying to bull my way into at least one of my outstanding pro pieces. I'm also almost done reposting "Samaritan," which turns out to be some truly insane amount of words long. I know I wanted to write an epilogue to it and only finished the first part; maybe I'll do the rest of it, if I can remember what the hell I was trying to say, by the end.

Okay, back to it.


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