vr_trakowski: (Default)

I’ve seen a post going around about how bland British food is.  And having spent eight months there long ago, and never finding a burger that wasn’t cooked halfway to crisp but in the American restaurant, I can agree on some things (granted, this was the height of the mad cow scare).  You think pineapple on a pizza is weird?  Try canned corn.  

But every time someone claims British food is bland, I remember stepping into a bakery in Bath and buying an eclair made that morning, a crisp shell filled with fresh whipped cream (none of that yellow pastry-cream goo, feh) and glazed with a sweet dark layer of rich chocolate.  

I could get piping hot pasties stuffed with fluffy potato and just enough sharp cheese to be a delicious meal in itself; the pastry would crumble into thin buttery flakes.  Or sausage rolls with sausage that was sausage, all the way through, and not laden with old pepper the way the American stuff is.  In fact, the sausages by themselves were mellow, subtly flavored links that were just greasy enough and not too greasy.  

I could sit down in a teashop and get raisin teacakes slathered in melted butter, sweet and salty and oh so good.  Or a plate of scones; delicate, dense rounds just barely sweet, to be split and spread with the heavy richness of clotted cream and topped with the garnet sharp-sweetness of strawberry jam.  Nothing will ever match scones and cream; I dream about it.  

More varieties of cheese than I knew existed, and all locally made.  Good chocolate, not some poor excuse that has only enough cacao to meet the legal minimum--chocolate that came in textures.  Golden, crunchy filled cookies that bore as much resemblance to an Oreo as fresh-made mousse does to canned pudding.  Candy bars with layers of chocolate, caramel, and delicate wafers that had actual flavor, not just a blast of sweetness.  The indescribable weirdness of the Crunchie bar.  

If you think British food is bland, you just haven’t tried the right thing yet.  

vr_trakowski: (metaphor)
My fanfic Website, such as it is, may be shutting down soon, and in any case it’s showing its age. I’m experimenting with a Weebly site to host the stuff. If you’re interested and feeling kind, would you please visit it and tell me if it’s working? There’s very little there just yet, but I’ve got a basic framework roughed out.

Thank you!

vr_trakowski: (metaphor)
I dream more vividly and clearly if I leave off my CPAP machine. Which I try not to do, even though I usually enjoy the dreams, but this past weekend I kept drifting off without it.

The landscape set in trees, with ancient buildings half built into the ground, was stunning enough, but the colors--the sky was so deep a blue as to be almost upper-atmosphere, and the air was so clear.  And the light was brilliant.  There was a mud-edged road running past, that had a trick of looking like a tall cliff when one peered over the edge.  My mother had a guidebook about the place and we laughed at the illusion of the road.  

And then it deteriorated into something that wanted to be horror but didn't quite make it, invoking Labyrinth and The Princess Bride and voluntary sacrifice.  Which just shows my age, really.  

But the colors.  


Aug. 12th, 2017 09:49 am
vr_trakowski: (motivations)

I just got word that my fanfiction site is being moved to a different parent domain next month.  Now, I haven't updated that poor thing in probably two years, due mainly to moving to a laptop and away from my nice WYSIWYG site-building software.  But I'm still writing fic (really.  I am).

I have no idea if this move will break all the links on my pages.  If so, fixing them all is cause to shudder; HttM alone has forty chapter pages, with about forty-five links per page (so my HTML skills are minimal.  Bite me).

The site does get a few readers every month.  I'm sure lots of people have old links and bookmarks from the CSI/GSR heyday.

As it is, I'm gradually copying fic over from FF.net to AO3, partly because it's an easier site to use, partly because it offers the downloading option, which is very handy; partly because FF.net is just kind of annoying.  But I haven't been copying everything.  Some of it doesn't seem worth the effort, due to age or quality or length or context.*

Up until I stopped updating my site, it was the complete public collection, minus a few bits that were only posted on LJ.  There's something to be said for having everything in one place, yet not cluttering up public feeds.^

I considered, briefly, renting server space somewhere and designing my own site.  But that's outside my budget and considerably outside my coding skills, not to mention my visual imagination.  [personal profile] cincoflex has very generously offered to host my stuff on her site, but I'm not sure that's the answer either.

Are individual fic sites still a thing?  Is it possible to post stories on, say, WordPress, and still make it easy to search and access?  I kind of want something that's under my control, but I don't think I have the ability to make it happen.

I suppose I'll have to redesign the whole thing, and I am very bad at visual design.  *grumble*  And it's a project that'll take months, no matter how I go about it.

Y'know, if I'd been just a year or two younger, I might have gotten into computer programming.  But when I was in high school that sort of thing was for the magnet students, not us regular plebes, and I don't think my college offered courses like that.†  I suppose I could take a course on site building now, but see above statement about $.


*It's a sliding scale anyway.  Most of these fandoms are pretty dead.  They get a few hits on AO3, but it may just be curiosity.

^I assume that someone rummaging around on my site is interested at least marginally in my writing.  Nobody wants to have to pick through little irrelevant bits while searching for a particular topic.

†This was still the early days of the personal computer.  I think HS had Apple IIs or some such, and college was very proud to own some of the first NeXTs.  My own PC was pre-Windows. 
vr_trakowski: (Default)
Thursday morning, I put off work to go purchase the new Lego Saturn V rocket, since the employee I talked to thought it might sell out before the end of the day. It’s a meter high when assembled, with just under 2000 pieces and an instruction book that has almost 200 pages. The interior is a Lego equivalent of what was actually inside the rocket.

Today, I gave it to my godson as a birthday present.

Six hours later:

Godson and Saturn V

He had to get technical help once, and physical help a few times (his fingers weren’t strong enough). Aside from that, he put it together by himself, steady and busy and often standing on one leg like a stork.

He’s nine.

It’s almost as tall as he is. It’s a set designed for adults, that took two grown men four hours to put together in tandem.

His fingers will hurt tomorrow. My brain hurts now.

His verdict? “The best Lego set ever.”
vr_trakowski: (artichoke)
Once upon a time, about twenty-five years ago…

Let’s call it autumn of 1991; that was always my compromise, because it had to be sophomore year. Nice mild night, and the stars were magnificent. I was outside the dorm, don’t remember why, and was watching them, and he came by.

We started talking that night, beginning with the stars--we both had an interest in astronomy, though he knew far more than I. We talked for at least an hour, standing at the gate in darkness and looking up, and we had so much to say.

Then one of us went inside, and we didn’t speak to each other again for about a year. Not until the dorm won the campus Olympics and had a pool party. He had a nifty--and chilling--trick of exhaling until he could sink to the bottom of the pool.

He was reclusive, and had a rep for being difficult, but I thought he was interesting. So a day or two later I went down to his room and knocked and asked him up for tea. And he came.

Thus began a friendship.

We’ve been friends through a lot, starting with growing up, even if we were almost legal adults when we met. We helped each other with depression, and he helped me pass Pre-Calc; I watched my mother take him in, and wept when he discovered he was gay, because I knew it would be so very hard for him.

He always said our friendship was unequal, but he could see through me like no one else, and he helped me through some dark times just by being there. Maybe I was the more stable one, but no two people are exactly the same, are they?

Our relationship ebbed and grew, as time and life and other relationships came and went. Sometimes things weren’t easy, but few things are easy all the time.

And now, it’s over.

He doesn’t want to be friends any longer. And he has the absolute right to end things.

Nothing lasts forever, even friendships. That’s a lesson it took me a long time to learn. So I’m prying my fingers loose. Gonna be a grownup this time.

It’s not the end of the world, but I’ll be sad for a while. There will be reminders--images of palm trees and hot blue seas, a particular strain of music, and always the stars.

My life is richer because of him. It always will be.

I’ll keep looking up.
vr_trakowski: (metaphor)

This is very interesting!  http://unuttered-questions.tumblr.com/post/155605282181/gingersnapwolves-transcthulhu-dabe-strudel

As a (white, straight) writer, I’ve found myself becoming more aware of my characters and how I create them over the years--due in no small part to Tumblr and its like (never let it be said that online activism doesn’t have an effect).  And I’ve found it goes both ways for me.

For instance, I’ve got a original/non-fanfic story going where I started out with two white main characters.  And when it finally dawned on me that there was no reason they had to be white, I took another look at them both.

My heroine, the focus of my story--she was easy to change.  Her characterization was very fixed in my head, but I could alter her race without issue (helped along, certainly, by the fact that it’s a fantasy world and she doesn’t have to be a minority as such).

My hero--not so much.  For whatever reason, my brain simply would not let me alter him.  He was short, white, and blond, and the moment I tried to change that, it killed the story dead.

I have no idea why.

So I changed the heroine and her city and her culture, and probably improved the story thereby.

The same thing happened a few years ago during NaNoWriMo; I changed one character's appearance--not even his race, just his height and hair--and the story was dead in the water.  It's weird. My brain is a mysterious place.


May. 18th, 2016 11:00 pm
vr_trakowski: (artichoke)
Okay, to follow up yesterday's post...Prey used to be available unofficially on YouTube, but I can't find it any longer.  It was never, as far as I know, released in any commercial form.

The idea was that the next step in human evolution had taken place, and that the new version was operating on the principle that no two species can occupy the same ecological niche.  It starred Debra Messing, Adam Storke, Vincent Ventresca, and other people you'd probably recognize.  And it's one reason I can't watch Will and Grace--too painful after seeing Ms. Messing portray a brilliant scientist.

The science was interesting; some of it was accurate, some of it wasn't, and some of it has since been disproved.  As often happens with sci-fi, too, something that was done on the show later became reality--excavating graves from the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic to obtain the virus.

The writing was a little choppy, and many questions remained unanswered, but the acting was superior and the concepts were intriguing.  If you want to watch it, you can find it here.  I think that'll work; let me know if it doesn't.

Be warned--as I said, the show ended on the second-worst cliffhanger I've ever seen.  Hence, fic.

*raises glass to Larry Drake*
vr_trakowski: (write)
Sixteen years ago, give or take a day or so, I posted my first fanfic.

Fandom’s really always been a part of the Internet, but in 2000 it wasn’t as organized online as it is now.  Fanfiction.net existed, but it wasn’t yet the go-to source for fic; stories were mainly hosted on individual fan-run sites, and bulletin boards were the order of the day.

I’d been a fan long before I knew what fandom was, but my venture into Prey was only my second attempt at online fandom as a social thing.  I’d read stories for Space: Above and Beyond and sought out factoids about the show, but I didn’t participate in the community, as such.  In the Prey fandom I found a small but welcoming community willing to speculate endlessly about the universe of the show and how the plotline might be resolved (second-worst cliffhanger ending ever, I swear).

And there were writers.  Not many, because even in its heyday Prey never had a huge following, but there was fic.

I’d been writing fanfic for years for my own pleasure, but for the first time I really wrote a story, or the beginning of one, rather than isolated scenes.  And I took my heart in my hands, and gave it over to be posted (thank you, Joxer!).

I don’t remember, any more, exactly what I expected.  I don’t think I hoped for anything more than a lukewarm response–it was my first attempt in the fandom, after all.

Sixteen years ago exactly, I got my first review.  And then another, and another.  And I was stunned.

They loved it.

It was alchemy.  It was magic.  It quite literally changed my life.

Because of the Prey fandom, I had the courage to write for U.C. Undercover, and then Firefly and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  And then I hit CSI and GSR, and never looked back.

The Prey fandom presence online faded away, as so many do, and the message board has gone the way of most such outmoded sites.  But I remember.  J.K., I have no idea where you are now, but yours was the first e-mail I got, and I have it still.  Every so often I re-read it, to remember the thrill and the joy of knowing I got it right.

In honor of this, and to remember, I’m reposting that story.  It was online for a while, but then I took it down when it was turned into a hard-copy ‘zine.  Apparently the press that published is no longer active (the site’s still up, but nobody’s home?) so I doubt anyone will object. Skein is now up at AO3 and will be posted at FF.net as soon as I can get the latter to behave is finally up at FF.net argh.

If you choose to read it, and I don’t suggest you do so unless you saw the show, please be kind.  I do like to think my writing’s improved over the years, and I had to seriously resist the impulse to spruce it up in places.

Thank you, Prey fandom.  You showed me that my work had value; more, you proved to me that I did actually have a gift.  1.5 million words later, I am a writer.

(Also, I have a thing for emotionally damaged half-aliens and the women who save them, but we knew that already.)
vr_trakowski: (artichoke)
Carnivals are liminal places.

I was going to say, except for the people who work there, but perhaps not, given their transitory nature--moving from place to place, expanding and collapsing like a night-blooming flower.

And nights are the best time for them, oh yes, when all the lights are lit and moving.  They’re larger, then, the boundaries are harder to find in the shadows behind the colors.

There’s a carnival across the street right now.  I can’t look at it and not feel the resonance of a thousand stories, the weight of nostalgia and breath of magic that haunts them even when they are utterly prosaic.

I’m not going to visit it.  I’m the sort where the mystery is better if I just watch from a distance.  And besides, it’s loud.

But I can look out my window at midnight, and see the colors wheeling against the sky, vivid and bold and beckoning and strange, and for just a little while there’s an extra fold in existence.   
vr_trakowski: (artichoke)
Anyone in the DC metro area in need of a fine young marmalade tomcat?  He's gone from a few weeks of shrub-lurking to deciding he wants to be domestic, if it involves scritches.  He'd need neutering/shots/checkup etc., as well as time to adjust, but if someone wants to come and meet him I'll catch him for you.

No photos available at this time, but he's a dark orange with white bits, and is probably not quite two years old.  Loud voice when he chooses to use it, seems to like other cats fine, and is very skinny but seems otherwise healthy (I suspect he's got the usual tomcat attitude of GURLZ-before-food).

Come to that, there's a female marmalade coming up on two years herself, and a marmalade ex-kitten whose gender is not yet determined, also relatively friendly.  The female is very much I'm-in-charge-here and uses her paws enough that she probably shouldn't be around small kids.

[Disclaimer: I'd take 'em all in if I could, but I have two already and NO MORE ROOM, and no car to get to the cheap spay/neuter.]  


Feb. 18th, 2016 10:54 pm
vr_trakowski: (metaphor)
I’m thinking of porting more of my stories from FF.net to AO3--not removing them from FF.net by any means, but AO3 is more user-friendly and I’ve had people ask in the past for a way to get multi-chapter stories all at once. 54 on AO3 versus 208 (good grief!) on FF.net--I’m not counting that last Advent trainwreck because I didn’t put those on FF.net. But I don’t know as I’d move all of ‘em; some never got read as far as I know, and there’s a few I’d prefer to ignore (the first effort in any fandom can be embarrassing).

The trouble is what to choose--and how to do it. AO3 has an import feature but FF.net won’t work for it, which means I’d have to do all 40 chapters of HttM, for instance, one at a time. Now, it is a good opportunity to fix the little errors that do creep in, but it’s going to take time and fiddling, and I’m six months behind on my Website, and trying to write, and, and.

Maybe I can just do them very slowly. It’ll confuse anyone following me on AO3, though. And is it even worth it to do all that CSI stuff? As far as I know, GSR was pretty much fading by the time AO3 really got off the ground. I don’t think there’s much of a presence there.
vr_trakowski: (inspiration)
I missed it.  :P  Blame a sleep hangover; three-day weekends always verstrudle* my sleep schedule.  But I'm putting up a few recs anyway.

the instinct to your charm by Sorrel--Jupiter Ascending, Jupiter/Caine.  A look at the movie through Caine's eyes.  Not quite the usual characterization for him, and all the more delightful for it.  My favorite JA fic by far, and I wish she would write the sequel she was considering, though I think she's moved on from the fandom (alas).

The Roger and Hyacinth series by Cincoflex--Harry Potter with OCs.  Two new students at Hogwarts post-Harry who become friends.  The HP world is so rich, and so open to in-depth exploration; it's a pity this hasn't got the attention it deserves.

The Original Naked Quidditch Match by Anya (Evilgoddss on FF.net)--Harry Potter again.  This thing is legendary, and hilarious; be warned, it was written before the series was completed, and is not what I'd call safe for work or small children.

Chicago Winter by Celli--UC: Undercover, and aren't we hearking back with this!  Talk about small fandoms.  This is a quick, charming little piece that I think Donovan himself would have approved of.

Cardinality by Mossley--CSI: Las Vegas, GSR.  Mossley is a legend among GSR fans; she seems to have withdrawn from the grid, which is too bad, but her fic lives on.  Her casefiles were unmatched, and this is one of her best and still a favorite of mine.  Trigger warning for lots and lots of blood, though.  Heh, this story is how I knew what the docs were talking about when they put me on warfarin...

*This is probably spelled wrong, but my dad (from whom I got it) hasn't given me a spelling I can find online.
vr_trakowski: (artichoke)

So I started watching Turn.  Caution: mild spoilers.

This has not been wonderful for my concentration on other tasks, but it's such a marvelous mess that I can't look away, even though history is not at all my thing.  Granted, I've only watched the first season and three eps of the second so far.  But given the acting and the fic potential, I'm disappointed at how little fandom I've managed to find to date.

(Disclaimer: I'm considering these characters mostly fictional; from what I can tell the personal storylines are veering far from the people's actual lives, so it's not quite as creepy as it sounds.  I've started to consider it an AU version of U.S. history.)

I'm not sure why I get such a kick out of it, because most of the characters are either oblivious, batshit, or both.  I'd love to line up the elder Woodhull, Anna Strong, Hewlett, and Ben, and smack them all upside the head, and to lock Simcoe and Rogers in a cage and let them cannibalize each other.  Abe's got more directions than a weathervane and Mary needs to get a grip; about the only person with common sense is Caleb, and part of me wants to smack him just on general principles anyway.  Abigail, and possible Akinbode, are the only other ones who really deserve to survive; even poor Baker was too honorable for his own good.

But oh, it's fun.  It's fascinating to watch and occasionally very satisfying, even if I'm mentally throwing popcorn at the screen (I would have smothered Richard Woodhull years ago if he were my father).  And the costume porn is terrific.  There's a certain dry pleasure in watching Andre's and Arnold's doom coming for them, and in wondering if Hewlett's wig is ever gonna slip.  And if anyone will ever save themselves a lot of trouble and slit Simcoe's throat.

I admit that Anna tends to drive me up a wall.  She's incredibly self-centered in a very dangerous way, too quick-tempered and impulse-driven to be working as a spy.  I keep thinking that her habit of changing her mind every time she wants something new is going to get them into deep trouble soon.

Simcoe makes my skin crawl, but then he's supposed to, so that's a success.  It's interesting to compare him to Mr. Roukin, who out of character appears to be a perfectly nice and sweet person; apparently he's very, very good at what he does.

One wonders how Hewlett made it as far as Major; that guy is dim.  And I can't help feeling sorry for King George, poor sod.

Do the digital comics still exist anywhere?

vr_trakowski: (evil genius)
Got the stamp of approval for my angst!fic, so I started posting.  This one's mostly done so I may be able to stick to an update schedule.

Honor Bright is Jupiter Ascending, Jupiter/Caine, rated T at the moment, and of course it has a happy ending, when do I ever do anything else?  Sheesh.
Production notes )
vr_trakowski: (metaphor)
Wow, I'm way behind.  And I will apologize now for the post-spam that's coming.  If anybody's still reading this thing, I hope you like Jupiter Ascending. Rise is (now) R and is Jupiter/Caine.

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Production notes )
vr_trakowski: (write)
Now posted.  I really have to start finishing my chapters earlier.  This time I got bit by the smut fairy, and that always takes forever.

[livejournal.com profile] cincoflex did the banner.  Is it not gorgeous?  :D

Production notes )
vr_trakowski: (sleep depraved)
Now posted.  Yes, it's to AO3 instead of my site, but I'm also posting at my site.

BTW, apparently streaming will be available on Amazon next week, on the 21st.  Or so the site says.
Production notes )

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