i-love-this-arc

hey kids

you know why I like redemption narratives? because a redemption narrative says: no matter how broken or wrong or bad or stupid or ridiculous or harmful or sad or terrible, you can atone.

there is still a road back. it might be rocky and steep, complicated and messy. walking it may take all your life. you may lose your foothold, slip and fall back into the abyss, but the wall is still there. the ascent is still there. hard is not the same as impossible.

you are never too far gone. you are never beyond saving. 

For those of you who write military fics

If you have never been in, or aren’t around people who’ve been in, I would dearly love to give you a few pointers.

Let me preface this: I love it when people write military fics (be they AU or canon-fic). I love the characterizations, the story arcs you create, and the love with which you create the stories.

But I’d like to help you make the actions of military personnel as accurate as possible, so someone who’s actually in doesn’t start to read your fic and roll their eyes at some of the things you unknowingly write.


-First off, you do not salute in civilian clothes. It’s actually unauthorized. There are only two exceptions to this rule: the President is allowed to salute in civvies, and if the national anthem is playing outdoors, combat veterans are now allowed to salute. (That came about in 2010, for accurate reference.)

-Do not salute indoors, unless during a formation (but I doubt people who don’t have intimate knowledge of drill and ceremony would bother writing about a formation, so that point is mostly just thrown in for shits and giggles). 

-The army and air force do not say, “sir, yes sir”. That’s a marine thing (I’m not sure about the navy, since I’m not in the navy, but I’m sure someone else could help out if there’s a question about it).

-Saying “black ops” isn’t really something we do. For the army, you’ve got SF (which is how we refer to special forces–the guys you’re probably thinking about (”green beret” is an old term for them that’s not really used anymore)) and Rangers for the two big special operations forces. SEALS are the navy force, and I apologize, but I don’t know the other branches’ special forces. Again, ask someone who’s served in that branch.

-People don’t usually refer to themselves (or others) by their ranks. Exceptions are usually made if hanging out with people from your unit speaking about a superior, such as “Yeah, LT and I were talking the other day and …”. 

-Sergeants are not referred to as “sarge”. You have no idea how many people got the shit smoked out of them in basic for that error.

-Army goes through Basic Training (or Basic Combat Training now; BCT for short), and marines go through Boot Camp. Yes, there is definitely a difference in terms. Army people tend to refer to their initial training as simply “basic”. I don’t know about marines or other branches.

-Calling someone “Soldier” is really something only done on TV/film. It’s usually mocked by people who are in.

-In the army, it is against regulation to just stick your hands in your pockets. We mockingly call them “Air Force gloves”, though I don’t know if they typically put their hands in their pockets. There is also a big stigma against wearing “snivel gear”: the poly pro cold-weather protection gear worn underneath your uniform.

-The everyday Army uniforms are called ACUs (Army Combat Uniform). They are never called anything else, but especially not fatigues. If you’re going back to 2003 or earlier, the uniform was BDUs, or the Battle Dress Uniform. The tan uniforms worn during the Gulf War and first few years of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF; Afghanistan) were called first chocolate chips (gulf war-era) and then DCUs (Desert Combat Uniform). 

-The dress uniform is called something different depending on what time period you’re going for. Saying “dress uniform” is usually a good bet, because you’ve also got Class A’s, Class B’s, ASUs, Dress Blues, Khakis, etc. 

-Typically when meeting someone else who’s in, the first things you ask are, “What’s your MOS (military occupational specialty–your job)? Where were you stationed?” Giving out rank and deployment backgrounds out of the blue don’t usually happen. 

-Time spent in the military is usually referred to as simply being “in”. “How long were you in for?” is heard way more often than “how long did you serve for?” That question is usually asked by civilians. 

-There are enlisted, and there are officers. Enlisted are those who start out as privates, work their way up through the NCO, or non-commissioned officer ranks: sergeant (called “buck sergeant” in a derogatory term for someone who has been freshly promoted), staff sergeant, sergeant first class, and eventually get to first sergeants and sergeants major after fifteen to thirty years in. Officers also usually start out as privates and specialists, then graduate from college and commission as second lieutenants (the derogatory term is “butter bar” and is usually used in reference to said officer’s lack of experience and knowledge) before working up to first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel (”light colonel”), and colonel (”full bird”). The general timeline is making captain (”getting your railroad tracks”) after about 5-8 years for competent officers, and spending 5-10 years as a captain. 

-We do not stand at parade rest unless forced. Ever.

-Or at attention.

-When talking to an NCO, a lower enlisted will stand at parade rest. When talking to an officer, an enlisted will stand at attention.

-The highest ranking NCO is lower ranking than the lowest ranking officer. 

-If you want to throw in some humor, if there is a lower enlisted (E-4 (specialist) or below) joking with an NCO, and the lower enlisted says something, the NCO can snark back with, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you because you weren’t standing at the position of parade rest.” It’s a dick move usually to call people out for that, but it happens often enough that if you put that in a fic, someone who’s in will likely laugh at that for a few minutes.

-There is a term for a slacker in the army called POG (pronounced “pohg” with a long o). It stands for Personnel Other than Grunt, meaning everyone who’s not infantry. The term has transformed to mean anyone who shirks their duty or is kind of a shitbag and should be kicked out. 

 -There’s also a bit of a stereotype that infantry are made up of dumb guys, because you don’t need a high GT score to get that MOS. Their nomenclature for their MOS is 11B (eleven bravo), which is often referred to as an “eleven bang-bang” when trying to insult them. 

-If someone is making someone else do push-ups, they do not say “drop and give me x number”. They’ll tell them either to push, or tell them to get in the front-leaning rest. The front-leaning rest position is the starting position for the push-up. 

-Usually referring to basic training and AIT (advanced individual training, where you learn your military occupational specialty), you get “smoked” on a regular basis. This refers to PT (physical training), usually in the form of push-ups, flutter kicks, and sprints. It’s not fun. One of the least favorite phrases to hear in basic is, “Platoon, attention! Half-left face! Front leaning rest position, move. In cadence! Exercise!” Because that is the full command for getting people to do push-ups. There is literally no other reason for the half-left face movement. It honestly exists only for push-ups.

-It is awkward as fuck to be told “thank you for your service”. It’s wonderful that people want to show their support, but it is very difficult to respond to that without sounding like a douche.

I know I said a lot about basic training in there, but that’s because I tend to read a lot of fics that are either about basic or about deployments. I can give some pretty firm answers on basic, but everyone’s deployment is different, and I also could be violating a shit-ton of OPSEC (operation security) by telling you guys specific details about deployments. Everything I’ve told you is information you can look up on your own on the internet, but this is a bit more insider’s culture for you to help make your stuff more accurate.

And if you ever find yourself writing a military fic and have questions, by all means, inbox me. I’ve been in for almost nine years and I do have one deployment under my belt, so I can give you accurate army info. I’ve never served in any other branch, though, but I can probably give you a little bit more accurate info than what the movies do if you’ve got general questions.

Also, if you’ve got questions about PTSD, I can help with that. It’s not the cake walk that a good deal of fics portray it as, and it doesn’t always involve nightmares and aversion to touch. It can present as depression, intense anger issues, pulling away from loved ones, driving in the middle of the road, freaking out over pops, bangs, crashes and other unexpected noises, being easily startled by things other than noises, hypervigilance, the inability to sit with one’s back to the room, sudden bouts of anger, depression, tears, silence, or mood swings, among many others.

-Also, please, please, if you’re going to write about someone with a disability, or something that gave them a medical discharge, talk to me about the VA first, unless you’ve got a lot of knowledge about them. Not only am I in, but I’ve also worked professionally for the VA, some of that time in enrollment and eligibility, so I know a lot about disability pensions, who would qualify, what type of benefits they would qualify for, etc. I also know the ways that people can accidentally get screwed over from the VA. (It’s actually one of my long-term professional goals to change some of those things, so I am very passionate and very knowledgeable about it.)



TL;DR: I know shit about the military and the VA. Ask me if you have accuracy questions.

8

Gintama Weekend → 08.20.2017 - GLORIOUS DAYS;
Anything you want to remember: Courtesan of a Nation.

“Even if the cherry-blossoms bloom, at chilly nights like this, I remember your face; Are you alright? Sure I’m fine. Jokingly waving my hand, the promise we made that day. If we could find the other half of that broken moon, and if we could share our solitude, then, again I’d take the vow. The changing townscape seems to rush us; Where are you now, and what are you doing? We have decent lives and decent happiness, but we’re still chasing it. Since then, I was searching for the other half of that broken moon, so that one day, I can return by the full moon, where cherry-blossom flowers bloom.”

A few more thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (yeah, I have a lot of them): while I totally get the rush of “galaxy’s best dad!/Yondu did nothing wrong in his life!” posts and fanart (I do! honestly! Michael Rooker did an amazing job) that’s just… not the story I think the movie is telling, or the story I really want it to be telling. James Gunn is at it too, what with him basically saying “Well, Peter wasn’t a great son either!” in that Q&A he did…

…Yondu was an absolutely abusive parent, yeah? He loved Peter a lot in his own equally-abused way, but he was. Peter even says it, when Yondu demands a prize for basic decency in the first movie “Normal people don’t even think about eating anybody else, let alone that person having to be grateful for it!” He doesn’t know Yondu was never planning to seriously hurt him, he just knows that he pretty much grew up under the constant threat of violence (no matter how ordinary that apparently seems to be for Ravagers.) There were presumably some nice moments every now and again, since Peter does have a clear, maybe rather begrudging affection for him, but yeah, the point: at the beginning of the Guardians films Yondu’s not even deserving of a World’s Okayest Dad mug, let alone a World’s Greatest Dad one.

But that’s why his storyline in GOTG2 is so satisfying, and hits all the tropes I love in a redemption arc, because it’s entirely about Yondu realising just how utterly, utterly he fucked up (with both Peter and the other kids he unwittingly delivered to their deaths) and setting out to try and make up for it, even if that means dying basically unmourned (as Stakar told him) and unloved. When he’s with the others on Ego’s planet, it’s obvious from his words to Rocket that he doesn’t intend to leave it at all, but rather stay and try to regain some remnants of his honour by helping to kill the thing that killed his adopted son’s siblings.

And I love the “[Ego] may have been your father but he wasn’t your daddy” line, I think everyone does, but those would have been terribly disappointing and selfish last words. I don’t think Yondu was talking about himself, it’s just a simple affirmation to make Peter feel better, what matters is the apology he makes afterwards. “I’m sorry I didn’t do none of it right, I was lucky you were my boy.” Not a plea for forgiveness, just a flat-out statement really: Peter deserved better than him. All he can do is die to keep Peter alive and hold his face when he cries and hope that that’s enough.

…..And that’s just, such a much more interesting story than “he was secretly good all along.”

9

xxxHolic: Kei ✦ - E03 Half || Everything is half-half. It is impossible for one side to take on everything. Otherwise, the world would tilt too much to one side, and everything would collapse. “Half the work for each of us, right?”

Korrasami is canon.

You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it. That is the official story. We received some wonderful press in the wake of the series finale at the end of last week, and just about every piece I read got it right: Korra and Asami fell in love. Were they friends? Yes, and they still are, but they also grew to have romantic feelings for each other.

Was Korrasami “endgame,” meaning, did we plan it from the start of the series? No, but nothing other than Korra’s spiritual arc was. Asami was a duplicitous spy when Mike and I first conceived her character. Then we liked her too much so we reworked the story to keep her in the dark regarding her father’s villainous activities. Varrick and Zhu Li weren’t originally planned to end up as a couple either, but that’s where we took the story/where the story took us. That’s how writing works the vast majority of the time. You give these characters life and then they tell you what they want to do.

I have bragging rights as the first Korrasami shipper (I win!). As we wrote Book 1, before the audience had ever laid eyes on Korra and Asami, it was an idea I would kick around the writers’ room. At first we didn’t give it much weight, not because we think same-sex relationships are a joke, but because we never assumed it was something we would ever get away with depicting on an animated show for a kids network in this day and age, or at least in 2010.

Makorra was only “endgame” as far as the end of Book 1. Once we got into Book 2 we knew we were going to have them break up, and we never planned on getting them back together. Sorry, friends. I like Mako too, and I am sure he will be just fine in the romance department. He grew up and learned about himself through his relationships with Asami and Korra, and he’s a better person for it, and he’ll be a better partner for whomever he ends up with.

Once Mako and Korra were through, we focused on developing Korra and Asami’s relationship. Originally, it was primarily intended to be a strong friendship. Frankly, we wanted to set most of the romance business aside for the last two seasons. Personally, at that point I didn’t want Korra to have to end up with someone at the end of series. We obviously did it in Avatar, but even that felt a bit forced to me. I’m usually rolling my eyes when that happens in virtually every action film, “Here we go again…” It was probably around that time that I came across this quote from Hayao Miyazaki:

“I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live - if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.”

I agree with him wholeheartedly, especially since the majority of the examples in media portray a female character that is little more than a trophy to be won by the male lead for his derring-do. So Mako and Korra break the typical pattern and end up respecting, admiring, and inspiring each other. That is a resolution I am proud of.

However, I think there needs to be a counterpart to Miyazaki’s sentiment: Just because two characters of the same sex appear in the same story, it should not preclude the possibility of a romance between them. No, not everyone is queer, but the other side of that coin is that not everyone is straight. The more Korra and Asami’s relationship progressed, the more the idea of a romance between them organically blossomed for us. However, we still operated under this notion, another “unwritten rule,” that we would not be allowed to depict that in our show. So we alluded to it throughout the second half of the series, working in the idea that their trajectory could be heading towards a romance.

But as we got close to finishing the finale, the thought struck me: How do I know we can’t openly depict that? No one ever explicitly said so. It was just another assumption based on a paradigm that marginalizes non-heterosexual people. If we want to see that paradigm evolve, we need to take a stand against it. And I didn’t want to look back in 20 years and think, “Man, we could have fought harder for that.” Mike and I talked it over and decided it was important to be unambiguous about the intended relationship.

We approached the network and while they were supportive there was a limit to how far we could go with it, as just about every article I read accurately deduced. It was originally written in the script over a year ago that Korra and Asami held hands as they walked into the spirit portal. We went back and forth on it in the storyboards, but later in the retake process I staged a revision where they turned towards each other, clasping both hands in a reverential manner, in a direct reference to Varrick and Zhu Li’s nuptial pose from a few minutes prior. We asked Jeremy Zuckerman to make the music tender and romantic, and he fulfilled the assignment with a sublime score. I think the entire last two-minute sequence with Korra and Asami turned out beautiful, and again, it is a resolution of which I am very proud. I love how their relationship arc took its time, through kindness and caring. If it seems out of the blue to you, I think a second viewing of the last two seasons would show that perhaps you were looking at it only through a hetero lens.

Was it a slam-dunk victory for queer representation? I think it falls short of that, but hopefully it is a somewhat significant inching forward. It has been encouraging how well the media and the bulk of the fans have embraced it. Sadly and unsurprisingly, there are also plenty of people who have lashed out with homophobic vitriol and nonsense. It has been my experience that by and large this kind of mindset is a result of a lack of exposure to people whose lives and struggles are different from one’s own, and due to a deficiency in empathy––the latter being a key theme in Book 4. (Despite what you might have heard, bisexual people are real!) I have held plenty of stupid notions throughout my life that were planted there in any number of ways, or even grown out of my own ignorance and flawed personality. Yet through getting to know people from all walks of life, listening to the stories of their experiences, and employing some empathy to try to imagine what it might be like to walk in their shoes, I have been able to shed many hurtful mindsets. I still have a long way to go, and I still have a lot to learn. It is a humbling process and hard work, but nothing on the scale of what anyone who has been marginalized has experienced. It is a worthwhile, lifelong endeavor to try to understand where people are coming from.

There is the inevitable reaction, “Mike and Bryan just caved in to the fans.” Well, which fans? There were plenty of Makorra shippers out there, so if we had gone back on our decision and gotten those characters back together, would that have meant we caved in to those fans instead? Either direction we went, there would inevitably be a faction that was elated and another that was devastated. Trust me, I remember Kataang vs. Zutara. But one of those directions is going to be the one that feels right to us, and Mike and I have always made both Avatar and Korra for us, first and foremost. We are lucky that so many other people around the world connect with these series as well. Tahno playing trombone––now that was us caving in to the fans!

But this particular decision wasn’t only done for us. We did it for all our queer friends, family, and colleagues. It is long overdue that our media (including children’s media) stops treating non-heterosexual people as nonexistent, or as something merely to be mocked. I’m only sorry it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories.

I’ll wrap this up with some incredible words that Mike and I received in a message from a former Korra crew member. He is a deeply religious person who devotes much of his time and energy not only to his faith, but also to helping young people. He and I may have starkly different belief systems, but it is heartwarming and encouraging that on this issue we are aligned in a positive, progressive direction:

“I’ve read enough reviews to get a sense of how it affected people. One very well-written article in Vanity Fair called it subversive (in a good way, of course)… I would say a better word might be “healing.” I think your finale was healing for a lot of people who feel outside or on the fringes, or that their love and their journey is somehow less real or valuable than someone else’s… That it’s somehow less valid. I know quite a few people in that position, who have a lifetime of that on their shoulders, and in one episode of television you both relieved and validated them. That’s healing in my book.”

Love,

Bryan

spoilers: 

can we just talk about how in the first film, Peter broke the Ravager code and went against Yondu and the crew only to save an entire planet and find his own ragtag team of heroes - but the fact that before him, Yondu broke the code (albeit, for a more sinister purpose) but by the end of the second film, he managed to become a Guardian of the galaxy in his own right by protecting Peter and keeping him alive? 

I mean, Yondu must’ve been so proud of the fact that Peter surpassed him (and so similarly) instead of ending up like him or dead. 

low-key waiting for the next GotG or Infinity Wars and for Peter to say “I’m a ravager like my father before me”