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Far from the Madding Crowd

Our agency is having a conference today, and apparently it's filled to capacity, if not actually SRO. And then, although the weather is not very spring-y today, it's apparent that the yearly spring school field trips to Our Nation's Capital have started. So when I went out to fetch lunch (I had a yen for curry today), I was dodging hoards of clueless people wearing name tags, all the way through our lobby, around Union Station, and down into the food court. People, don't stop dead at the bottoms or tops of the escalators, and please turn, look, and walk, instead of just turning 180° and charging off ... .

> sigh <

Well, it's Friday. And the curry was tasty.

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
chomiji
Mar. 9th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)

Yes, that's about the right level! I don't want to seriously hurt the poor schmoes, but they need some training up.

Hey - off topic - I just got blue-hobbit hooked on Saiyuki! But she's not sure who she likes best yet ... I can rec her some fics, but they'll be mostly 585 - you would be a much better person to recommend Sanzo-centric ones. She liked my Hakkai/Sanzo thing, which was pretty angsty. Do you have any favorites for her?

smillaraaq
Mar. 9th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
And I'd love to see such a list as well -- I haven't explored the 393 very much, but one of my Avatar friends who's dabbled in Saiyuki is fond of it so I do like to keep an eye out for fics she'd like.

Oh, and if you think she'd be interested in Sanzo/Gojyo, Cho, I can make a few recs there. It's not my usual poison but I've found a few folks who do it quite nicely indeed.
chomiji
Mar. 9th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)

At the moment she's interested in all of them ... .

:-D

smillaraaq
Mar. 9th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Well, just off the top of my head, here are the two most memorable lengthy 353 series I've enjoyed:

The Maze -- this is perhaps the longest Saiyuki series I've ever found, it's easily novel-length and an excellent, if rather harrowing, read...the author notes that she's structured it as a nekyia, the descent-into-the-underworld dark version of the hero's journey, and it more than lives up to that warning. It can be hard going for the squeamish or tender-hearted -- all of the leads face some serious trauma throughout the course of the story, physical, sexual, emotional, the works; Gojyo in particular is absolutely put through the wringer, but really none of them has a particularly easy time of things. For me, at least, it never quite crosses the line to where it just feels like gratuitous character torture -- part of what makes it work IMO is that the various traumas and assaults are shown as such horrific things with long-term consequences, this isn't the sort of story where a good night's sleep and a little magical healing sex is enough to have someone bounce back good as new after traumatic experiences. If you can deal with angst and violence and just buckets and buckets of trauma, there's a lot of complex character exploration, numerous interesting original characters and a fairly detailed look at the complex, fraught relationships between humans and youkai in Shangri-La. Also, while the primary pairing is eventually Gojyo/Sanzo (it takes a long time and working through a lot of misunderstandings and plot complications and trauma to get there), this isn't a story that focuses exclusively on the shipping while neglecting the guys' other relationships; the friendships between the boys, particularly Gojyo and Hakkai, is beautifully shown.

On the opposite extreme, where The Maze is angst and trauma and complicated plotting before the boys finally manage to get together, Beautifully Broken Evolution starts right out of the gate as cheerfully flat-out "I hate you but you're hot and I'm horny" smut, with the more emotional/romantic angle building up slowly between the guys as the story goes along. This one's not work-safe at all except for an occasional lighter chapter here and there -- the smutty fun is creatively varied and pretty omnipresent, and along with the Sanzo/Gojyo primary focus there's a Hakkai/human-form Hakuryuu subplot and a couple of tasty Hakkai/Gojyo and Sanzo/Gojyo/Hakkai diversions.
chomiji
Mar. 13th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)

OK, I'm reading the Evolution things, bit by bit, and they're great smut, but you know what? That isn't Gojyo. Maybe it's Kenren, or just AU Gojyo. Saiyuki's Gojyo simply doesn't have that much self-confidence - half of his bragging is to make himslf feel better, because if he can make the person he'd talking to bellieve it, then he can, too. And he half-despises his romantic charm. Remember what he's saying, just before he finds Hakkai in "Be There"?

So I'm taking my time reading them - I'm not reading them compulsively, because I don't feel much of an emotional attachment to this version of the character. For me, this much PWP is like eating a whole box of of taffy at once.

smillaraaq
Mar. 13th, 2008 08:28 am (UTC)
Well, in my head at least it's total canon that Gojyo and Hakkai are meant to be together, so anything with him in an alternate pairing is AU by default. This AU just happens to be one where he actually believes in that self-confident sex-god act he likes to put on. ;)

What I like best about this one, aside from the smut being so creatively varied, is that the emotional progression is very gradual. Even with 585 where they're so close and have so much trust and friendship between them, I have a lot of trouble imagining that taking the relationship to a sexual/romantic level would be an easy process -- they've got so many issues in the way. So for Gojyo and Sanzo, who don't even have that long history of trust and affection behind them, and are dealing with Sanzo's extreme emotional constipation, the process needs to be even more difficult for me to buy into it; and that's precisely what's going on here. This AU Gojyo may be totally confident about his sex appeal, but he's just about as nervous and uncertain about actual emotional commitment as canon Gojyo. And Sanzo's resistance to tenderness, to attachment, to needing and wanting things, is appropriately cranky.

And, um, given my kinks, Sanzo's raging hair fetish doesn't hurt matters any... ;)

this much PWP is like eating a whole box of of taffy at once.

Save it to read in between chapters of The Maze, perhaps? That Gojyo is so not blessed with excessive self-confidence. And after that sort of darkness, a bit of sweet taffy might be just what the doctor ordered...

chomiji
Mar. 17th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)

Before the angst over the relationship set in, it was beginning to resemble a fangirl's how-to manual: Basic Bondage, Basic Sex Toys, etc.

XD

Also, the additional kappa powers were just another thing that made him seem just too confident and in control for the Gojyo I know and love, who can be an awful woobie. And frankly, the antennae are just too exposed and easy to reach for the serious effect they were having ... . And the match-ups with Hakkai and Goku really seemed liked afterthoughts, and of course the Hakkai one contradicts Gaiden canon. (So does the main event, but it's only using Gensomaden characters so it's not quite so in-your-face.)

The Maze was another issue ... arrrghh, anguish, despair! I was reading it last night while I was trying to play the conbini game, which was weird, to say the least. And then I was too tired to finish it - gave up around 2/3 of the way through the middle section. So I had to go online the minute I got up today to finish it. And I raced through it so fast that I'm really not sure about all the politics going on with the humans in the town and the long-time-resident youkai and so on. I'll have to re-read it ... why does that site make it so hard to get back to the first page (with the part I. II. III links), BTW? The bread-crumb trail is near-useless - it only takes you back to the main Saiyuki fic page. Anyway, the resolution between Gojyo and Sanzo was sweet and beautiful and well-earned, and I only had one or two stray thoughts that Sanzo shouldn't know so much what he was doing ... and I liked their thoughts about Hakkai, afterward, when they were on the road again. (And the postscript was horrifying ... .)

(Deleted comment)
chomiji
Mar. 10th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)

Thanks! I'll have to check those out myself, when I'm not at work!

smillaraaq
Mar. 11th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
Still working my way through the links, thanks!

(I am particularly amused to see that the first author is yet another case of Saiyuki/Due South fannishness overlapping, since part of what drew me to 585 was how much it reminded me of the Fraser/Ray K. dynamic.)
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Mar. 11th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
No crossovers (that I've seen yet, at least) but when I backtracked to see what else the author had written, she's got a whole subsection of Duesie stories. viridian5 is another one that I was reading back in the Due South days who's also written some lovely Saiyuki stuff. harukami is the only one I've seen so far who's actually deliberately played with the parallels in her comical Due West drabbles. :)
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Mar. 12th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
this leads me to ponder more on the consumers of Art as much as the creators and on how it becomes something different for each of us depending, not only on our experiences, but also on the books/movies/music that have touched us.

*nods* I had a fabulous conversation with macavitykitsune a few weeks ago about Saiyuki and Yeats -- we're both rather obsessive about his poetry and have worked it into fic, so it was quite amusing to see how easily we could fling references back and forth "oh, and this one's so Gaiden..." And it can work in the other direction, too -- I've got a conversation going on with Cho in another thread here about a SF series I picked up (on a rec from freeradical9, who'd used it as the basis for a wonderful 85 scifi AU) and fell in love with because the protagonist is quite reminiscent of Gojyo. And don't even get me started on the music thing or I will never, ever shut up! My 585/10K fanmix ran to double-album length and there's still a ton of songs that I loved but couldn't fit into the structure...and I've got all sorts of incomplete notes for a gen mix focused on the whole ikkou. :)

Due South was quite a lot of fun, a buddy-cop show with heavy comedy elements. The crackiness of some of the plots and the unpredictability of its shifts between fairly serious, angsty plots and sheer random goofiness were really rather unique for its time. The 585 parallels come in the third season, when the Mountie character gets a new Chicago PD partner; Fraser is very much the prim and proper, erudite, overgrown Boy Scout sort...with a rather angry, controlling, violent streak carefully hidden under the politely repressed paragon exterior. He's also possibly not quite sane. Ray K. is a sensitive, wounded romantic, hiding that side not terribly well under a brash, loud-mouthed tough-guy routine. He's a kid from the wrong side of the tracks, feels rather insecure about looking stupid and uneducated next to Fraser; but despite being haunted by one great disappointment in love, Ray's still a cheerful extrovert, and an excellent foil for the introverted Fraser, whose family losses and one doomed relationship have all just driven him deeper inside his own head.

The slashy subtext, btw, is quite generous and admittedly deliberate on the part of the writers and actors. Ray's a divorcee, still pining for his ex-wife, Frase has pretty much had only one past relationship in canon and it ended badly; meanwhile in the course of the series Ray flirts CONSTANTLY but never seems to have much luck (sound familiar?), while Fraser's good looks and natty uniform draw an immense amount of admiring female attention, which he is either oblivious to or embarrassed by, depending on how blatantly the girls throw themselves at him. And the series literally ends with those two riding off into the wilderness for more adventures together -- as a fellow fan jokes, "we all know they got gay married in Nunavut and had a bunch of puppies".
(Deleted comment)
smillaraaq
Mar. 12th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
Hee, I quite *like* hearing other people blather on about music and song associations, but I try to give folks a warning before they trigger a musical coredump on my part! ;)

And Fraser even has a too-intelligent-to-be-normal white pet that's always around -- a deaf half-wolf named Diefenbaker. He talks to Dief, and with the show's usual ambiguity it's never quite made clear if they really are seriously communicating or Fraser's just being a little nuts. Unlike Hakuryu, though, Dief and Ray K. generally get along fairly well -- mostly because Ray indulges the pooch with junk food that Fraser disapproves of.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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