contextual references

We need to have a serious talk about this Gilmore Girls fic.

As Will Smith once said, OK. Here’s the situation. 

Someone is writing The Subsect. Jess’s novel. I’m frankly amazed that in all the years of online Gilmore Girls fandom that no one has attempted to do this before, and it’s entirely possible that someone has. But I’m too new to this fandom to know, and if someone tried to write The Subsect before, it probably wasn’t like this story. 

Because here’s the thing. This version of The Subsect, in its current online metafictional form, is fucking amazing. It’s so good that I thought, after a first pass, that it might actually be very good, very well-placed guerrilla marketing for the revival. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s just a fic. Written by some wicked smart person somewhere out there. 

If you want to read it, it’s here. The single most devastating thing about it, so far, is that it’s only two chapters long. 

I have many thoughts about this story, but let’s start at the beginning, in the first chapter. 

And as a note, the following contains many spoilers, so if you want to remain unspoiled in regards to this story – however filthy and corrupted your mind may already be – stop reading now, go read the damn first chapter of The Subsect, and then come back and read this. 

I’ll wait. 

Thoughts on the first chapter of the fanfictional Subsect, in no particular order. Here come some bullet points…

  • The first chapter is set in New York City, where we find Jess growing up as a youthful hoodlum and accomplished card shark, as you would expect. The level of accurate, ultra-specific detail about NYC in this story, though, is mind-boggling. Subway stops. The names of businesses. Geography. Every word of it – with a couple of fascinating exceptions, which I’ll talk about – is real. And it’s not just accurate in general. It’s accurate to the period of the story. An example: At some point, the narrator – called J., but I’ll presume it’s Jess – mentions a bookstore near Columbia University named Labyrinth. It’s real, but it’s now under new ownership and has a new name. You’d never know this, ever, unless you went to that bookstore before it was renamed. So whoever’s writing this is a New Yorker and has been for a while, or they’re a research freak of truly epic and admirable proportions. 
  • The story contains a freakishly contextual reference to Italian opera, and an ominous quote from Julius Caesar in Latin that both foreshadows the conflict later in the chapter and harkens back to Jess’s growing affinity for gambling. This is not garden-variety fanfic, friends.
  • The story invents a completely genius plot device that has Jess leaving NYC for Stars Hollow not just because he’s bad and is doing bad things — although he is and does, per cannon and the details of this story — but he also leaves the city in the wake of 9/11. The craziest thing about this? It totally works. The episode where Jess steps off the bus in Stars Hollow aired on October 20, 2001.
  • There are two references in this story that are clearly fictionalized. (And there may be more. I just haven’t spotted them yet.) The first one is about Liz working at Shrafft’s as a waitress. Newsflash: There is no Schrafft’s anywhere in NYC, and there hasn’t been since maybe the 1970s. So why the fictional reference amidst all this hard, cold, New York-y reality? Well, here’s the deal. As the story mentions, the Scrafft’s where Liz works is on 79th Street, and there was indeed a Schrafft’s restaurant on East 79th Street, though it was closed long before the action of this story takes place, and has now been torn down. But this particular Schrafft’s is notable because it was mentioned in a J.D. Salinger novella called Raise High the Roofbeam. Who would write that kind of obscure reference into a novel that’s otherwise positioned as a thinly veiled memoir? Why, your favorite pretentious literature nerd and mine: Jess Fucking Mariano. In fact this reference breaks the otherwise factual fabric of the story. It fucks up everything that’s been so meticulously plotted before and after it — including the piece’s careful attention to geography. As Liz gets off her shift at the fictional Schrafft’s, she beelines it for the 2 train to head uptown to her next job in the Bronx. Well, the Salinger Scrafft’s was on the East Side of Manhattan, where there is certainly no 2 train. The point of all this? To make you, dear reader, believe in your soul of souls that Jess Mariano wrote this story. If he wasn’t a fictional character on TV show, I might think that he actually did. The other fictional reference is when J. describes being robbed and beat up in a park in Bensonhurst by the Jones Street Boys, who are a fictional gang in the video game The Warriors.
  • It’s also worth mentioning that the chapter’s opening language is so very, very true to Jess’ character. The sense of poetic surreality. The ten-cent words. The thin veil of fiction over what’s clearly a memoir. It is the kind of stuff that first-time dude novelists do when they’ve spent too much time reading the beats. The result? It’s all weirdly convincing. I don’t just believe that Jess wrote this story. I believe that there is, in fact, a Jess. So how did we get here? Where the best piece of metafiction I’ve read all year is a Gilmore Girls fanfic? Tell me that.

I have more to say about this story. But I need to re-read the second chapter first and this post is really long and annoying, so I’ll stop. 

I will preface this one by saying that I am mad ill - like, ugly sick, weird fever, unexplained contextual bends in my reference sphere - and so I thought what better time (and also gotta keep busy or death will claim me, 100 percent) to tackle the episode with the Metaphor of the Three Candles, which is a staunch, businesslike metaphor and will probably keep me nailed down as my head (two? three sizes larger than usual?) bobs about the corners of the room.

So: things may be shaky.

We begin with the camera cutting straight from a close-up of Wakaba’s onion dome to an exterior shot of Utena gazing wistfully out the window, which slowly pans in, giving the impression that Utena is eavesdropping on Wakaba’s conversation from a completely separate building, but, y'know, everyone makes mistakes.  Why read into it?   I mean you could say that it serves to underscore the way that Utena cannot usefully take on board Wakaba’s common-sense advice to Prince Onion - that a fundamental schism has taken place [see episode 20, faithful fans] and that Wakaba is no longer able to save her from the attentions of predatory dudes, having demonstrated herself to be entrenched in a culture that enables them.  But it’s probably just clumsy editing.

All this talk of first kisses has Utena thinking about her prince, which means it’s time for the cock tower to loom out at us once again.  We find that Akio has baked a cake.

It’s even rarer to find a guy who can bake a metaphor.  This all has the feeling of sympathetic magic about it - maybe the dude has learned a few tricks from his witch sister.

Utena fawns over Akio’s cake-making skills.  Wakaba arrives and repeats Utena’s fawning word for word.  Utena successfully identifies this as flirtation when Wakaba is doing it, but doesn’t make the connection to her own behavior. Then she looks at Akio and makes this face:

And then her eyes stray down to Anthy and her face changes.

She knows, on some level, at this point.  Doesn’t she?  That’s guilt, isn’t it?
The candles gutter in the wind.

Then, inverting the Friendship Between Girls tarot card, Wakaba tells Utena that if she doesn’t lighten up, she’ll never fall in love.

A smash cut to the sacrificial authority figure from Episode 1 underscores that Wakaba is currently doing the work of the female wing of the patriarchy, the collaborationist Stasi of this divided state, who strive to keep everyone behind the Dudely Curtain at all times.   The guidance counselor tells Utena that she needs to be more feminine, because going through life in drag on the battlefield is no way to be.   Utena risks never developing into a functional member of this society if she persists in ignoring her role.  The representative of genuine power present here puts this another way.

Keep reading

We are discussing Lord of the Rings.

I make a contextually and conversationally appropriate reference to Celebrimbor and the rings of power.

Someone throws their hands up and backs away as if I just demanded all their money.

Someone else mutters “that sounds like some Silmarillion nonsense.”

Everyone throws fearful side-eyes until the subject moves on.

This has been a true story.

ANASTASIAOFRP makes a Masterlist - Words that have no English Translation - requested by anon

↳ As a native English speaker who speaks other languages, I find it difficult translating other languages to English, often finding that the word they use doesn’t quite exist in the English language.

Here is a list of (40) words in other languages that have no English Translation - but are explained to the best of an English speaker’s ability.

Labeled 1-40, includes the word, the native language of the word, and a description or translation of the word.

Enjoy under the cut.

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I figured the scene in You Can’t Handle The Truth was too small to warrant a post of its own, but I might as well since I’ve received private communications from Concerned Citizens on the scene with the sexy kind of drilling.

The scene follows the murder committed by a dentist, which Sam and Dean discuss in a motel room:

Sam: There was another one.
Dean: Yeah? What?
Sam: Dentist drilled a guy to death.
Dean: You mean the non-sexy kind of drilling, right?
Sam: 50 bucks says he’s mixed up in all the crazy.
Dean: You think?
Sam: Yeah. Let’s go talk to him.
Dean: Okay. Uh… why don’t you go ahead? I’ll catch up. I’m gonna do a little research.
Sam: You sure?
Dean: Yeah. We got to know what we’re up against, right?
Sam: Yeah. Yeah, good idea.

What you must note here is the textual level, the subtext, and the interpretation – what ever way people choose to do the latter. The textual level is that Dean calls the drilling done by one man on another sexy kind of drilling in contrast to other types of drilling. That’s the text. How you interpret it is your business.

But what it is, and I’ve yet to see anyone discuss this, is a reference to the Marathon Man. It’s not a cheap gag, it’s a literary reference. To contextualize the reference, Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder actually make an explicit reference to Marathon Man in the very next scene:

Dean: Anything from Marathon Man?
Sam: Not exactly. He hung himself in his cell before I could get to him.
Dean: Yikes.

The book (and film) famously feature scenes of dental torture. It is, in fact, the pivotal scene. A very topical reference from Dean.

If you’re in doubt about Eric “Pink Flamingos” Charmelo dropping queer fucking references in his first episode, let me riddle it out for you. There’s a film and a book, the film based on the book by William Goldman, both from the mid 1970s. People have been discussing the queer subtext of the film for decades. The queer relationship between Doc and Janeway is subtext in the film, it’s never maintexted in it, only heavily implied given the standards of the day. “Get your ass in here, I wanna see you!”

But in the book, friends. In the book on which the film was based, it’s explicit text. In the book, the main character’s older brother Doc who is murdered by the nazi dentist is in a relationship with a man (who, due to his unisex nickname, the reader assumes is female until told otherwise). While the word bisexual is not used in the novel, Doc is bisexual. And not only is he a big brother that knows his way around guns, he shares many character traits with Dean Winchester.

When Dean mentioned the sexy kind of drilling done by the dentist on another man, he was thinking about the Marathon Man. That was the first thing he thought. There is no doubt whatsoever that he made the association since he mentions it in text. The question that warrants asking is whether he’s seen the film or whether he’s read the book.

If he’s seen the film, he picked up on queer subtext. The film isn’t from his time but sure, he could have picked up a re-run at some motel. It’s not the first time he’s picked up on queer subtext (cf. Bert and Ernie). The other alternative is that he’s read queer-themed literature of his own volition. Given that we know he’s a fan of Vonnegut and literature broadly of this era, it seems more likely that he might have read the book. Dealer’s choice, again.

But there’s also the meta-textual reference here. The meta-textual reference is to a film that without a shadow of doubt contained queer subtext, whether people picked it up or not, whether people noticed it or not, whether the actors were in on it or not. The explicit text of the book legitimizes the subtext of the film. But a lot of people noticed the subtext without ever having read the book. And other people claimed adamantly that there couldn’t possibly be queer subtext in this macho film.

So yeah, Dean referred to a man drilling another man as sexy by negation. But why his mind went from dentist murder to gay sex is rather an interesting question.