argurotoxos: a woman with a skeleton face holds another woman (Sylvia Ji - sleep)
I uploaded selected photos from the family reunion to my Ocean (Portland, Maine) scrapbook a while ago, but never included them in a post. The first page has all of the 2015 photos.

In other news, I got a job with the county, over three years after I took the civil service exam. My start date is October 5th. I'm working Sundays only at my current job until November 1st, which is my final day.

Shakti! (our American Tribal Style belly dance troupe) has been performing about twice a month. Our first paid gig is near the end of October for a breast cancer fundraiser. Tribal fusion class has moved back to Tuesday, so I'm currently taking American Tribal Style (ATS) on Wednesday and beginner flamenco on Thursday. Lately, I've been staying for the intermediate flamenco class after ATS Wednesdays as well. I'm so glad I got into belly dance; I've met great people, had some wonderful experiences, get to wear costumes and perform, and have learned so much, plus improved my fitness.

Fandom is mostly Dragon Age 2 (Fenris/Male Hawke).
argurotoxos: Midnighter with a hand threaded through Apollo's hair (Midnighter/Apollo - hair)
I've kept a rough list of every pairing I've ever shipped (which I've defined as read at least one fanfic for), but don't think I've ever posted it. The list is chronological, starting from junior high, which is when I was first exposed to fanfiction. Pairings marked with asterisks are ones that have had the most lasting impact, and often ones I read for a long period of time (at least 2 years). Pairings marked '[sort of]' I can read either as friendship or romance, and often prefer friendship.

A lot of the fandoms on this list I have little interest in anymore, but it's still curious to me. This is in many ways also an archive of my fandoms as, except for computer games (such as Thief or Deus Ex), I rarely get involved in a fandom without a pairing appeal. I suppose someone could create a psychological profile based on my pairing preferences; I've tried to look for what draws me to specific pairings. In general, I prefer close friendships that lead into romance and don't go in for many rival/competitive pairings. A lot of the pairings I've shipped are also introvert/extrovert, and the vast majority are male/male. Beyond that, I haven't done much meta.

If I had to pick out the fandoms I'm most fond of (but not necessarily active in) today, it would probably be (following the chronology below): Mary Renault, Yami no Matsuei, Star Trek (especially The Original Series and Deep Space Nine), Maurice, A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia, Stormwatch/The Authority, and Dragon Age 2. But these things vary, some fandoms more than others; I might give you a different answer in a few months.


Pairings list. )
argurotoxos: a scene from System Shock 2 with a ghost crewmember (System Shock 2 | by plant_boy)


I haven't even played the game and I've read most of the fanfic from the first 12 pages of AO3 that are under 8k words, sorted by kudos count. So this is the rush when you find a new pairing. Loki/Thor has spoiled me for great art and lengthy relationship-focused world-building fic, but then again, I realize that if you only read certain Loki/Thor fic (especially Jotun Loki AUs, which are my favourite), you will be disoriented, and possibly disappointed, by the actual canon.

Also, I know I haven't played many modern games, but the facial expressions are fantastic. The eyes! The mouths! Characters that actually move their lips when they speak! (Okay, that last one is probably only noteworthy if you play Thief.) I can ignore imperfect collision and hands sometimes going through legs.

(For more Fenris/Hawke without, you know, playing the game, there's a nearly hour-long video of a male mage Hawke and Fenris in a friendship romance here. I imagine writing Hawke is a bit like writing JC Denton for Deus Ex -- everyone's Hawke or JC is different because of how they chose to play him.)

Even though I like the characters and the relationship, I'm not sure if I'll actually play Dragon Age 2. My experience with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has taught me that even if a game has a lot of things that are important to me and I enjoy (exploration, atmosphere, a sense of isolation, dark ambient music), if the gameplay doesn't suit me, it's hard to retain any interest.

On a sidenote, Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption is probably the closest game I have to Dragon Age; I recently reinstalled it and have played about two hours. The only fan patch I added was upgraded textures for Prague. The third person POV threw me off badly at first, but I was surprised both how much I remembered and that the game seems to hold up to my first playthrough. That said, Redemption gameplay is definitely not the type of gameplay I usually go for . . . but somehow I enjoyed it anyway. Is it just because of its connection to Vampire: The Masquerade? The best comparison I have is to the Dynasty Warriors games, which I have fond memories of because I played them with my best friend.
argurotoxos: (Emilie - Opheliac)
One of my local belly dance teachers just returned from a one-week intensive with Rachel Brice. Rachel is very methodical and also uses a lot of yoga in her practise; I always think of serpentine torso figure 8s, long undulating arms, and her famous and incredible backbends. I was looking for videos of her on YouTube and discovered she's done a duet with my first ever belly dancer, Illan! You can watch the video here. Rachel and Illan's styles compliment well, though Illan tends to do more turns, use a wider stance, and incorporate more sharp pop/lock moves. It was amazing to see my two favourite belly dancers dancing together!

I've been working off and on on dance ideas for a possible family reunion talent show. Probably something from 3-5 minutes in length with broad appeal from 6 months to 80 years old and a good introduction to tribal belly dance since I don't think most of my relatives have ever seen belly dance. I'd prefer not to use any props, except perhaps zills if I decide to do an American tribal style solo or there's no easy access to a music player. One of my favourite songs to work with lately has been Diary of Dream's "Malum", but I think that's probably too dark and heavy. (By the way, if anyone knows where the animation used in this video comes from, that would be great to know.) I have a few Loreena McKennitt songs, but they don't inspire me as much. Vas's "Remembrance" is currently my top pick.

In the realm of fandom, there hasn't been much new Loki/Thor fic to catch my interest and I've been getting a bit restless even though my backlog of fic will last a few months. Some of the tumblrs I occasionally check (pretty much all people in the Thor fandom) have posted about Dragon Age lately and I remembered that, way back when, I watched some of Dragon Age II's relationship scenes. I haven't played any of the Dragon Age games (or Elder Scrolls or Gothic) and the only game I have that seems similar is Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption. Nevertheless, I've read a few Fenris/Male Hawke fics. I've also bookmarked a few Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek, and even Yami no Matsuei and Loveless, stories. The last time I was in this phase - I think I was getting out of Batman/DC comics for oversaturation/lack of interest and The Authority for lack of any new material - I had no idea where my next fandom was going to come from and it took half a year to suddenly discover the Thor fandom. I watched a few episode of the original Hunter x Hunter anime a week ago, but don't think I'll get further than that, so I'm doubtful I'll find my new fandom home in older fandoms. Who knows; maybe the next Marvel movie will give fandom new ideas?

(That said, I was more active in the Hunter x Hunter fandom, as far as posting, interacting, writing fanfic, and cosplay, than I have been in any other. These days, I'm pretty much passive, just reading fanfic, occasionally searching for fanart or music videos, and following a couple blogs. I even deleted my cosplay list; there's not anyone I have a burning desire to dress up as and my spending money is going elsewhere.)


Edit: Near as I can tell, I got into the Thor fandom around March of 2011; four years is a pretty good run, and probably a bit over my typical fandom investment. (Most of my fandoms last 2-4 years. It tends to be shorter if: (1) the fandom is small [Earthian, Alexander], (2) my investment is half-hearted or peaks and drops suddenly [Sherlock, the Aubrey/Maturin series], (3) the type of fic I'm interested in isn't much written [Farscape, Merlin], or (4) there's limited source material [Maurice, Brimstone], but there are exceptions [Stormwatch/The Authority]. I suppose a (5) would be I stop liking the source material, either through time or new developments.)
argurotoxos: Emilie Autumn sitting on the floor (Emilie - floor | by betterthanlegos)
Podcasts are something that have become surprisingly routine for me. On an average day, I probably listen to about an hour of podcasts, but it could be as little as 15 minutes or as much as three hours. I mostly listen while getting ready for work or bed, doing chores around the house, or before falling asleep.

Podcasts I listen to regularly (i.e., almost every episode):

-Infants on Thrones. An irreverent, engaging, wide-ranging, and sometimes hilarious Mormon-themed podcast. Most of the regulars got their start on Mormon Expression and they aren't afraid of controversial topics or arguing with each other. Updates fairly often with episodes usually running about an hour and a half. (The name of the show comes from Joseph Smith's King Follett discourse.)

-My Book of Mormon. A never-Mormon reads The Book of Mormon with commentary. Updates once a week with hour-long episodes. The newest of all my podcasts.

-Bellydance for the Everyday Woman. One woman's experience with bellydance. I find her episodes inspiring. No set update schedule; episodes about half an hour.

-The Edge of Forever. Two men review Star Trek: The Original Series (and perhaps all of Trekdom?) two episodes at a time. Great camaraderie and discussion. Updates twice a month (in theory, at least); episode about an hour and a half long.


Podcasts I listen to occasionally:

-Mormon Stories. If you love in-depth personal interviews, this is the podcast for you. Some interviews are over four hours long, usually broken down into hour-long segments. Stories of believing Mormons, questioning Mormons, and former Mormons are all featured. This is the most believing Mormon-friendly of all the Mormon podcasts listed. Usually updates at least once a month.

-Mormon Expositor. Another wide-ranging Mormon-themed podcast that splintered off of Mormon Expression. I have some mixed feelings on Mormon Expositor, and a few of their episodes provoked strong negative emotions, but I started listening again a couple months ago and they've had some good episodes lately, though I only listen to about half of what they put out. Like Infants on Thrones and early Mormon Expression, episodes range from panel discussions on various topics to personal interviews. Updates infrequently; episodes about an hour and a half.

-Mormon Expression. Mormon Expression was hugely influential for me and the first Mormon-themed podcast I listened to. There are many amazing episodes in the archives; I especially enjoyed the dummies series and learned much more about church history. Recent Mormon Expression has changed quite a bit, with smaller and more homogenous panels, live recording, and now a new host. Even though I downloaded every episode with the original host, I missed the original energetic panel discussion format with multiple points of view. I've only listened to one episode with the new host, and it wasn't my cup of tea, so now this is a 'download if I'm really interested in the topic and no one else has done it' podcast. Mormon Expression's sister podcast, Mormon Expression Voices, features individual stories, and I still listen to just about every episode of that. (Think Mormon Stories, but with a focus on former/ex/post-Mormons and much shorter.) Mormon Expression updates once a week with hour-long episodes; Mormon Expression Voices updates infrequently with hour and a half episodes.

-Earth 2.net: The Show. This is the main podcast on the site that hosts The Edge of Forever. Covers geek culture in many forms, mostly comics or film-related. I download an episode once in a while if it looks interesting.

-Feminist Mormon Housewives Podcast. Feminist Mormon Housewives Podcast had a fantastic series on women in early Christianity and Mormonism near when the podcast first launched. Unfortunately, since then I haven't enjoyed most of the episodes I've listened to and sometimes I question why I still have it bookmarked.


Defunct or completed podcasts:

-World's Finest Podcast. Two men review the entirety of the DC Animated Universe, from Batman: The Animated Series all the way through Justice League Unlimited. Hundreds of hours of episode review fun, and an impressive achievement.

-Daughters of Mormonism. A Mormon-themed podcast by and for women. Sadly released the last episode over two years ago.

-Looking Glass Studios Interview Series. Interviews with various Looking Glass team members, the game studio that produced Thief, System Shock, and Ultima Underworld, among others. The interviews are wonderful to any Thief or System Shock fan; the most recent episode was posted over two years ago.


I've tried one herpetoculture/herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) podcast, but the lack of video or images was actually a detriment for me. I also still have a large collection of podcasts designed to help you learn various foreign languages, but I find my mind isn't focused on that kind of learning or memorization when I do a lot of my podcast listening. There are a couple of other podcasts I've tried, such as Mormon Matters (a panel discussion on various topics, but I felt they were never able to have as in-depth discussion as Mormon Expression or Infants on Thrones) or Quarter to Three (a gaming and other geek culture podcast; I've listened to their Thief and System Shock episodes, but the rest didn't catch my attention). I've also listened to a few podcasts on medieval Germany and Buddhist meditation.

If anyone has any podcast recommendations, I'd like to hear them. I could use more geeky podcasts, but feel like my interests are fairly limited at the moment (Star Trek, Looking Glass games, and Thor are the big ones right now). Some historical podcasts might be interesting, especially about ancient Greece or medieval Europe. I like learning about world cultures and nature, but the audio-only nature of podcasts sometimes lets me down in this area. Then again, I'll try any podcast once.

As an ending comment, I've never really cared for audiobooks, so enjoying podcasts came as a bit of a surprise. I'm especially fond of pair or group/panel podcasts where the conversation takes natural twists and turns and you really get a feeling for the chemistry and personalities among the podcasters. Even when podcasters are well-read and well-prepared, there's still spontaneity in the outcome, and it's great when the group can disagree with each other but still have friendship and respect.
argurotoxos: a scene from System Shock 2 with a ghost crewmember (System Shock 2 | by plant_boy)
My mom's side of the family is planning a reunion the last week of July to celebrate my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. Normally we stay at my grandparents' house, but with so many people coming (my mom has six siblings, most of them have at least three kids, some of them have kids . . .) we rented a cottage that's just a road over. I haven't seen most of these relatives for 10 years; I hope to make up for last reunion where I was at a much different, and less mature, place in my life.

I've felt off the past week; I came down with a cold Friday, but have felt restless on top of that. It put a halt in my plans, especially when I'm so close to finishing the cleaning.

I just finished watching the developer playthrough of System Shock (which was never finished?). One of the things that was brought up was the shorter length of many modern games, and one of the responses was that the people who were playing and developing computer games in their 20s during the 1990s simply don't have the time now that they're in their 40s. My own approach is that I could use my free time to play a fan mission, or I could read a fanfic; both are of unknown quality, but I feel the fan mission (or a computer game) requires more investment and I'm more keenly aware of my time limitations compared to reading. If not for the time limitation, though, I think the fan mission would be the more immersive of the two if they were of the same quality. (I think it's also often quicker to judge a piece of fiction than a fan mission.)

Instead, I started replaying Jazz Jackrabbit 2, a platformer with fairly short levels and easy to do in short bursts.

In theory, I'm also watching a Let's Play of last year's Thief reboot, but I got so bored that I'm just flipping through the videos and watching the parts that tickle my fancy. Yahtzee named Thief last year's worst game, which surprised me a bit even knowing he's a big fan of the original Thiefs. (In contrast, I've watched about seven Let's Plays of System Shock 2, plus played the game myself, and I haven't gotten bored yet . . . though I do like some parts more than others.) Of course, the newest game I've played is S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and I'm pretty sure I'll never finish it, which means the newest game I've played to completion is . . . Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines from 2004.

I didn't have anything set in mind when I sat down to write, so it was interesting to see what came out.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Wolfram and Yuuri)
I had an absolutely amazing weekend with Kun in which we did many things. Inspired by our talks, there are several anime series I'd like to re-watch:

-Hikaru no Go. I started re-watching this series earlier this year and really enjoyed it, but stopped only ten episodes from the end as seeing Hikaru fall into his depression and having the focus temporarily switch to Isumi, dealing which his own loss of confidence, was difficult. I'm finishing the last few episodes now.

-Kyou Kara Maou. This is a series I haven't watched in years, and I think I even lost interest as the second season was airing as there are many episodes I don't remember. I'm up to about episode 22 now -- I'd forgotten how much development all the characters receive, and the show isn't quite as cracktastic as I recalled, though it does have its moments. Since I stopped following Kyou Kara Maou, there's been an OVA, a third season, and a musical!

-Kashimashi. Kun and I watched this series together several years ago and it was a very emotional event, not to mention that this series is one of the few (only?) shoujo-ai series we really loved. We watched the first two episodes during my visit, so I have 11 more to go.


[lower priority]

-Gankutsuou. Another series I haven't re-watched since my first viewing many years ago. Very emotional and good memories.

-Yuu Yuu Hakusho. We watched an episode from the Sensui arc during my visit, plus some extras that I'd never seen before. I only have parts of this series on DVD, including all of the Sensui arc, which is my favourite.

-Hunter x Hunter. I've only watched one episode from the 2011 series, but there are a few episodes from the Chimera Ants arc I'd like to see as they had some of my favourite scenes in the manga. I also haven't followed the manga for a couple of years and am at least 20-30 issues behind. I don't know if I'll re-watch the original anime, but I do want to see the second musical again.

-The Prince of Tennis musical. I didn't see much of the anime or manga, but I had a good friend in college who was a fan and showed me parts of the first musical. I still have it and have never watched it all the way through; there are some catchy songs, though my version isn't subtitled and my Japanese isn't as good as it used to be.

-Yami no Matsuei. This is the series Kun and I keep coming back to again and again and have cosplayed more than any other.

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argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
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March 2016

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