firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 02:04 am
Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal, has passed away from breast cancer. She was only 40 years old. The cancer recurred and spread to her bone marrow; though she was rushed to the hospital, the doctors could do little before she died.

I'm absolutely heartbroken by the news.

Maryam was a brilliant mathematician and teacher, truly a genius in her field - a field that's historically been dominated by men, many of whom didn't believe women had the capacity for genius. Her contributions to complex geometry and dynamical systems are just incredible and far beyond what I can understand. More than that, she's a woman from a Iran, a very patriarchal, misogynistic culture, who broke down so many barriers of sexism and racism to get to where she is today. Many of us women in STEM looked up to her. If Maryam can win the Fields Medal, it proves women are just as capable of brilliant breakthroughs in the "hard" sciences as men. We were excited to see what else she'd accomplish in her lifetime.

...Then cancer took her from us suddenly.

The world is not fair. Good people die so young. It's like they're a flame sent to Earth for a brief time, then reclaimed by the Fates because they're too bright, too intense, too pure of spirit and mind to exist among the evil dictators and murderers who pollute human society.

I hope Maryam is in a better place now.
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 04:54 am
Thank you everyone for your emotional support and well wishes through this ordeal :) I gave a great presentation, had a productive Q&A that prompted some new research questions, and at the end, the chair congratulated me on my performance! Needless to say, I got the official e-mail telling me I'd passed within the day.

I finished my last final exam (ugh) today, and I've just been packing for my spring vacation with [tumblr.com profile] chabouillet. So excited! We're going to Austria to stalk watch our favorite German musical star, Uwe Kroger, in a couple of musicals and concerts. I bought him a little gift of chocolates and perfume - hope I can catch him at the stage door to give it to him!

Anyway, it's the middle of the night, I gotta get some sleep before my flight.

All's well that ends well! Though I swear, this quarter nearly killed me. Definitely taking it easy in the spring.
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Sunday, January 1st, 2017 05:18 pm
Title: Said the Spider to the Fly
Author: [archiveofourown.org profile] Verabird
Rating: NC-17 for explicit sexual situations
Fandom: Political RPF - France 19th century (aka, Paris Police Prefecture soap opera)
Pairing: Chabouillet/Gisquet, Casimir/Gisquet, Gisquet/Jules-Ernest, ...okay look, everyone’s pretty much fucking everyone.

I was so spoiled this Yuletide! I received a novel-length P^3 fic by [archiveofourown.org profile] Verabird who knows all my kinks and introduced me to a few I didn’t even realize I had XD. Lots of hot men, porn, and political intrigue featuring the Cabinet particulier and Paris’s Next Top Dom(s) with a few new OCs thrown in as well ;) You’ll have to read to find out who.

Read More
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Sunday, January 1st, 2017 05:12 pm
Title: Memory Exercises
Rating: PG for heavy flirtation
Fandom: Political RPF - France 19th century
Pairing: Casimir Perier/Henri Gisquet
Summary: Gisquet strives to impress Casimir with his talented memory, among other skills he brings to Périer Bank.
Note: My Yuletide 2016 gift for [archiveofourown.org profile] Kainosite: a historically-inspired meet-cute between Casimir and Gisquet. Many thanks to [personal profile] iberiandoctor for the beta and [archiveofourown.org profile] Verabird for the information on the all-male singing society.

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firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Wednesday, December 28th, 2016 05:15 am
I would have posted earlier, but it's been a busy few days flying home and spending the holidays with family :) For the first time, my aunt, uncles, and cousin visited, so we had a big dinner with plenty of American food (ham, mashed potatoes, etc) as well as my favorite Chinese food (dumplings!!). My sister brought a bottle of expensive bai jiu (a very strong liquor), which I only managed a few sips of... my alcohol tolerance isn't what it used to be, heh. Gifts were lovely, of course. I received a soft wool sweater, yummy chocolate, gorgeous diamond-studded gold necklace and earrings, and a cute stuffed bunny with a mustache. Then, we played mahjong late into the night. I won quite a few rounds to my uncle's consternation ^_^ with my lucky hand.

The day after Christmas, we went out for a day of shopping, which wasn't very fruitful TBH. The best purchase we made was huge bags of incredibly discounted Lindt chocolate truffles. (Kudos to my cousin for noting the sale, I seriously thought it was a price mistake.) So I'm sitting here now, unashamedly stuffing my face, because damn it, I deserve truffles after this exhausting school year.

We'll be heading out to watch A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder this evening. Before then, I'll try to sneak in some studying and work on my research paper...

Oh! I almost forgot! Yuletide was amazing this year!! I received a novel-length Paris Police Prefecture fic with lots of hot sex, beautiful men, and political intrigue :D Really, I feel utterly spoiled, given that I only managed a ~2,700 word fic between the end of finals and the deadline. Will post both fics here once authors are revealed.

Till then, I hope everyone else is having a Merry Christmas!
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firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 11:43 pm
Title: The Last Temptation
Rating: NC-17 for explicit sexual situations
Fandom: Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
Pairing: Chabouillet/Javert
Summary: Javert survives his leap into the Seine and is brought before his patron, M. Chabouillet, to answer for his actions. Learning of his protégé’s derailment, M. Chabouillet endeavors to reel Javert back to the side of the law... by any means necessary.
Author’s Note: For Verabird's [community profile] lesjoursdete 2016 prompt. A huge thanks to my wonderful beta, [personal profile] iberiandoctor, who brainstormed with me, patiently edited my drafts, and cheered me on throughout this process. I couldn’t have finished this without you :) Also, many thanks to groucha for his immense research into esoteric bits of French history. All the little details, from street addresses to the latest in cravat fashion, are accurately portrayed due to his help.

Story on AO3
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Friday, May 6th, 2016 11:46 am
“I’ll be father and mother to you.”

That's my favorite line from the Les Miserables (2012) movie. Valjean has just saved little Cosette from a lifetime of abuse by the Thenardiers. As they walk away from the wretched couple, he gives her a beautiful doll - the first she's held - and Cosette asks him with a sweetly innocent smile whether he'll be like a papa to her. That's when Valjean sings the above line.

Notice how Hugh Jackman emphasizes "mother." I have no doubt this is a deliberate choice. Cosette asks Valjean to be a father to her, and Valjean replies he'll do one better: he'll be a mother as well. It's a major shift in his character, and one of the key themes in Victor Hugo's classic. Up till this point, Valjean's main identity was a mayor and factory boss in Montreuil-sur-mer. He was a compassionate one to be sure, but ultimately a man who sat at the top of a privileged hierarchy, disconnected from the lives of his subordinates. This mirrors the role of fathers in his society.

Back in those days (and many places today), a good father’s duty was simply to be a financial provider and protector of his family. He made money, he dealt with threats, and in return, his wife and children were to show him obedience whether or not he actually enriched their lives. There was no expectation of nurturing, sensitivity, emotional support, heart-to-heart communication, or engagement in the daily work of raising a healthy, happy child. Fathers were supposed to be invulnerable, and they maintained this facade by keeping their distance. For Valjean to be a father in this cultural context is similar to his role as the capitalist boss: he’s a benevolent patriarch in a position of power who provides materially for his children/workers, but doesn’t care about them personally.

Now, for Valjean to be a mother is a different story. Hugo depicts the archetypal mother, Fantine, as a heroic figure, her unconditional love for Cosette a sublime and noble quality, which stands out against the cold indifference of society. She sacrifices everything for her child and is rewarded in the end with God’s grace. This motherly love is held up as an ideal. To be clear, by "motherly" I don’t mean a female and the child she birthed (Mme. Thenardier is a poor role model despite being a biological parent), but the genuine holistic love displayed by both men and women in the brick. It's a love that is strikingly vulnerable: Bishop Myriel risked being robbed or worse by sheltering Valjean, Enjolras lost his life in a failed revolution to improve the lot of his fellow man. Neither asked anything in return. Valjean promising to be a mother to Cosette is a promise to strive for this kind of love, the kind that is tender, compassionate, and most of all, human in a way that is unexpected - and indeed unusual - for men even today.
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Saturday, April 16th, 2016 11:41 pm
After extensive Google-fu, I've compiled as much information as I can find on the French police bureaucracy during Les Miserablès and specifically, Javert's mysterious patron, M. Chabouillet. If anyone cares to add to this post, please do; I can't read a word of French, and aside from the almanacs, I haven't dug into any original documents from that time period. Most of my conclusions regarding the police hierarchy are from papers written in the mid-to-late 1800s, which saw great changes in the Paris bureaucracy.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Chabouillet )

Miscellaneous Interesting Information )

Contributions From Anonymous )

References and Further Reading )
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Monday, April 4th, 2016 01:23 am
So I was reading stonecarapace's excellent Breaking Through fic, which features female Valjean and Javert meeting in Montreuil-sur-mer, and it got me thinking: how would their character arcs differ if they were born women? Valjean would retain her immense (almost supernatural) strength as in the brick, which would give her some advantages in her sexist society, but she would be sent to a women's prison, not a bagne for breaking the law. And would Javert even be able to join the police force? It's doubtful historically, but if we're going to suspend disbelief for this thought experiment, I can see her going from a guard in a women's prison to an officer under the patronage of M. Chabouillet. She would likely be sent on undercover missions in which a policeman would be too conspicuous, such as spying in a nunnery, an all-girl's school, or restricted parts of a brothel. So there'd be a reason for a man like M. Chabouillet to keep her around on the force.

Anyway, I think I can tell a very interesting feminist story with genderswapped Valjean and Javert. It would contrast Valjean's feminist values of nurturing and compassion with Javert's patriarchal values as the father's daughter, supporting the patriarchy against other women.

Specific Scene Ideas )

I'm unsure what other major scenes matter after this. I can see Gorbeau House being interesting with the rape threat to Valjean, and also with Javert taking down a dangerous gang, something her colleagues doubted she could do as a woman.

The big change would come at the barricades. What would be clever thematically is to have it mirror the Punish me M. le maire scene, except with Javert crossdressed as a man and Valjean as herself. This shows how Javert, who starts out womanly, eventually must hide herself completely beneath the identity of a man, symbolizing her allegiance to the patriarchy, while Valjean goes in the opposite direction: from taking on male privilege as M. Madeleine to becoming a motherly, nurturing figure to Cosette. But I'm not sure how to make this work in the context of the barricades, since the brick has women standing by Les Amis, while the musical has Eponine crossdressing as a man to sneak in. Which is it?

I'm also stuck on Javert's revelation: I originally conceived this as male Valjean showing her that no, criminals aren't all rapists, just like male authority figures can't all be trusted (implying that M. Chabouillet sexually exploited Javert). But I'm not sure what to do here with a female Valjean. In that case, it's an identity crisis, where Javert must realize she's been in the wrong all along by aligning with patriarchal figures, while Valjean lived authentically. Perhaps Javert expects Valjean to kill her because that's the cowardly thing to do? And Javert has always looked down on "those other women" as weak and cowardly? However, Valjean lets her go free, and in so doing, shows her that the feminist value of forgiveness is a source of strength. I still don't know how this would lead to her derailment though.
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 12:20 am
After years away, I've finally decided to revive this journal, since I got sucked into the Les Miserables fandom and can't stop writing Javert fic. I already posted two ficlets to [community profile] pbam, and I've got a long case fic in progress, along with a huge pile of outlines/prompts/plot bunnies. It really has become an obsession. I miss this part of my life. My day job in tech doesn't exactly surround me with creative types, so I'm starved for contact with writers and in-depth analysis. Feel free to drop me a line in my inbox if you wanna chat.

Most of fandom seems to have moved to tumblr, alas, which doesn't have the nice comment system here. Nevertheless, I keep two accounts over there: [tumblr.com profile] extremistonystark for fannish postings, and [tumblr.com profile] firestorm717 for my writing. (Yes, I realize it would make more sense to set the latter as my fandom account, but it's a little too late). The staff recently re-enabled replies, and there's a live chat window as well, so it's possible to have a dialogue on there, though I find it rare.

More Personal Stuff )
firestorm717: Assassin's Creed Lineage: Lorenzo de Medici (Lorenzo de Medici)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 02:17 pm
Confession: I have a hard time watching medieval/fantasy costume dramas anymore, because they are all invariably set in the same misogynistic era of Europe. Sure, there's the token kickass tomboy or manipulative Lady Macbeth, but the overall societal structure just serves to remind me of the oppressive WASP patriarchy - and especially how it dictates women's sexuality - and I can't get past that to enjoy the rest of the story.

Can anyone recommend me a series that radically upends this stereotype? Of all the settings, you'd think a fantasy would take the most liberties with challenging gender roles, traditional family structures, in essence, the norms that we take for granted in real life.
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Friday, January 6th, 2012 09:15 pm
A little belated, I know, but Happy New Year 2012! Had a fantastic night out in the city with [livejournal.com profile] kitsunec4 and [livejournal.com profile] sorairo_laina, first dining at a top-notch, very fancy French restaurant and then drinks at a classy bar afterward. The food was fantastic - they had a special New Year's Eve menu, which included among other things, foie gras, black truffle linguine, a beautiful cut of filet mignon, and various other dishes, one after the other, accompanied by some excellent champagne. The finale was a delectable red-and-chocolate layered cake, topped with a little plaque inscribed with 2012. I actually took a photo of it on my iPhone, it was so beautiful. Afterward, it felt so good to hang out with friends at the bar, trying out different mixed drinks, I had something pink and girly-looking, which hid a surprisingly strong vodka content ^_^; and later a... rum blend of some sort? Not sure, I was a bit tipsy by then, as my friends can attest. (*cough* Sorry for the embarrassing questions, [livejournal.com profile] sorairo_laina LOL). We actually retired back to the apartment before midnight so we could watch the ball drop in NYC, and ended up staying awake all night, watching The Tudors. Nothing like some good old-fashioned costume drama to ring in the new year, eh?

Anyway, I spent the last few days of break chilling at home, finishing up the feather-collecting in AC2, and stocking up on delicious food. You know, it's funny, but just these 3 weeks of chatting up old friends and relaxing among loved ones has done an immense amount of good for my mental health. Playing mahjong with the family was a great way to unwind. So for the new year, I have but a few simple resolutions: to separate work from play by going to the office regularly (when your workspace is home, it's hard to tell when you're off the clock), to learn to cook a variety of simple, healthy dishes so I'm not eating the same thing all the time, to take at least one whole day off every week from schoolwork, to make time every day for creative ventures - reading a non-academic book, practicing my writing/drawing skills, etc., and trying to exercise more. I've got a busy class and research schedule, but I'm going to endeavor to squeeze in a half hour jog or a visit to the gym. Less time in front of the computer.

So here's to a fresh start and a more creative, productive, and most of all, happier year ahead!
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firestorm717: Assassin's Creed Lineage: Lorenzo de Medici (Lorenzo de Medici)
Friday, December 30th, 2011 10:37 pm
I wrote a long entry about ACR and fucking Firefox ate it, so here I am posting everything again.

Overall, I Feel Disappointed... )

In summary, the game's not bad, it just didn't live up to my expectations. The enjoyable moments were few and far between, while a lot of other elements got tacked on with no real plot purpose. I do have to say that I loved Ezio the minstrel, though. That was by far my favorite mission XD. I can only hope Ubisoft releases a skin~ so I can run around tra-la-laing to annoy the populace.
firestorm717: The Long Firm: Harry Starks Smoking a Cigarette (Default)
Monday, December 26th, 2011 05:24 pm
Hey, everyone. This is [personal profile] firestorm717, moving over from my old Livejournal account. I've had this DW space carved out for awhile, but never made the move because 1) I didn't feel like the fandom community was that robust over here, and 2) I had no idea how to make a new layout (a fancy, original one with all the CSS ribbons), as I'd forgotten all my coding and couldn't find a decent guide or examples to work from. Nevertheless, after realizing most of my friends on LJ were gone, I decided it was time to turn over a new leaf.

I'm going to try to post here more often about life, as I've been bottling up a lot of emotional angst, and only by coming home this Christmas did I realize how depressed it was making me. Apparently, all those rants on LJ served a purpose as an outlet after all! But don't worry, you won't just hear me whine about crazy professors and agonizing papers. I plan to dip my toes back in fandom, little by little, first off with my beloved Assassin's Creed and then... well, we'll see what else comes along, no?

My RL academic life is soul-crushingly dull, so I'll spare you the details, but my interests lie in a good number of other directions as well. I used to be an avid anime fan, I love art and have been drawing since middle school - am starting to take more serious classes on figure drawing - I enjoy reading philosophy, and thanks to AC2, have recently taken a keen interest in the history of Renaissance Italy, particularly the Medici and their friends. Of course, as a long-time fangirl, I also do a lot of creative writing in the form of fic. I've several seeds of ideas for original novels, which I may explore during a NaNoWriMo someday.

Annnnd I am a slash/yaoi fan. More slash than yaoi nowadays, but anyway. Expect me to ramble on about my favorite pairings and the handsome men in various video games/movies/TV series. Hey, girl's gotta dream, after all!