December 24th, 2007

pointy teeth

your Christmas season rec

I post this rec pretty much every year, I think, or at least tip somebody to this story: if it's Christmastime, and you're a fan of the Batfamily, you owe it to yourself to pour a tall glass of eggnog and enjoy "The Romantic Machinations of Timmy the Elf Who Didn't Want to be a Dentist, and his Faithless Sidekick, Yukon Cassandra; OR, A Story in which Dick and Babs are Doomed." There is an awful lot of fanfic fluff out there, but there isn't any as good as this one; it's my favorite Christmas fic and my favorite fluff fic in this fandom, because when it comes to sheer madcap insanity, this is the way to go.

seriousfic recently posted "Cass's First Christmas, a story in a similar vein, which is also worth your time. If, you know, you are fond of goofy, fluffy Cass fic around Christmastime, which I totally am. (You might wish to *not* pour yourself a tall glass of eggnog while enjoying this story, however. YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE IT COMES FROM.)
bruce and diana

dog update

Went to the vet this morning. The dog has no chip, and she's much older than I thought -- based on her dentition, she's ten months to a year old. So, um, yes, I was *extremely* off, probably because she's so small; I'm used to larger dogs, particularly larger pits, and she's only 29 pounds. She is quite small. Very mild positive for heartworm, the kind of thing preventatives are enough to take care of. But that she has it at all means lack of preventatives, which means lack of care; she's friendly, so she once had a home, but she's not housebroken. (Though I'm crate training her now, and it seems to be taking.) Which means she's been neglected, and she's not a recent stray.

So, um, I have a dog now.

After the vet's, where she got a hefty sum of vaccinations and preventatives, we went by Petsmart and bought a few supplies. She likes fuzzies rather than squeakies, apparently, so I got her a fuzzy monkey, and a rubber ball to chew and chase. Plus the usual supplies. Now she's snoring beside me on the couch, with her paws in a tangle.

You may be wondering what I'm calling her. The question was pretty much settled when I found her. When my father was young, a friend of the family, Captain Bennett, had a pit bull. When she had a litter, my father got one of the puppies. He named her Cigarette. Much later, he had another pit bull, and he named her Cigarette, too. I knew that Cigarette when I was a kid: she was an absolute mushpot who weighed twice what a pit was supposed to weigh but thought she was a lapdog. I have a lot of fond memories of that dog. (She also brought home Watson, an Irish setter who was being neglected by a neighbor. We fed him for months, and when the neighbors moved they sold Watson to us for twenty bucks.) So the precedent was set: apparently, when Hines men take on a female pit bull, we name the dog Cigarette. It's what we do.

This is not Cigarette as in "so round, so firm, so fully packed." No, this is a literary reference: in Ouida's (Marie Louise de la Remée) 1867 French Foreign Legion novel UNDER TWO FLAGS, the romantic heroine is a camp follower named Cigarette. I have not yet managed to make it through the book, because it is *really* Victorian, but I've downloaded it from Gutenberg and am giving it another crack. Curiously, while I know the book had a strong appeal for my father, I didn't know much about our pits' namesake; Da died when I was very young, so I wasn't able to ask him about it. So I checked around online, and -- well. This is from the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana:

Ouida's father, who she worshiped, abandoned her, and so Ouida seems to be using Under Two Flags to work out her daddy issues. Everyone in the novel worships Bertie, as Ouida clearly does. Cigarette proves her great love to Bertie just as Ouida wanted to but never could to her own father. In fiction written by amateurs or first-time writers, whether published in fan magazines, vanity presses, or on the Internet as "fan fiction" (stories written by fans featuring characters from their favorite books, television shows, or movies), a common phenomenon is the "Mary Sue" character. A Mary Sue character is an idealized stand‑in for the author, and is tougher, smarter, cooler, nicer, sweeter, more charming, more capable, and more skilled than the established characters, and becomes worshiped by them. Although Mary Sues appeared in 19th century magazine stories written by teenagers, as in stories where a teenaged girl saves a sleeping Indian chief from being mauled by a bear or is raised by Indians and becomes their leader, the traditional modern Mary Sue appears in Star Trek fan fiction, where a new ensign on the starship Enterprise is a better pilot than Captain Kirk, smarter than Spock, and makes both fall in love with her. Cigarette is Ouida's Mary Sue. dog is a Mary Sue.

I think my father just punked me from beyond the grave.

Love you, Da.
cass groovy

God bless Shane MacGowan

His birthday is tomorrow.

Of course it is.

Given that he has the sort of thirst that keeps the average off-licence in business, along with well-documented drug problems, did he ever expect to reach 50? "To be honest, I never thought too much about getting to 50," says Shane. "But if everybody is making bets that you are going to die at 4.30 tomorrow afternoon you just tend to think, 'F*** it, I'm not going to die as long as those f****** are alive.'"

We meet a few hours before he is due to leave London for his combined Christmas and birthday bash in Ireland with his long-term girlfriend Victoria and his parents. His luxury room in a Knightsbridge hotel is a scene of hard-partying devastation. Half-finished and empty bottles of cider, vodka, port, Dubonnet, wine, lager, gin and beer sit on every available surface. Books - biographies of Eric Clapton and Sam Cooke, poetry by WB Yeats, and a biography of Stalin - are strewn everywhere... while we chat he takes regular swigs of retsina, slugged straight from the bottle, and chain-smokes, holding his cigarette perilously close to the bedclothes.

The empties scattered around give a good indication of how he plans to spend tomorrow.

"I'll just drink wine, cider and gin - and anything else I can find," says Shane. "I think Victoria and her sister might have something special planned. I used to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but if I don't manage that I might go on Christmas Day. I go to Mass every now and then. Smoking, drinking, partying - that's why I've stayed alive as long as I have. And I've got better with age, that's what's meant to happen. I party my way through life, it's what I like to do. I'm even partying right now, only I'm doing it on my back. Booze is definitely good for your voice - it greases the whistle."

Then he laughs his distinctive laugh, releasing a sound like steam escaping from a broken-down engine.

He played a gig in town when I was at the University of Chicago. I didn't see it -- alas -- but I remember the review to this day. MacGowan showed up two hours late, cursed at the audience, and sang incomprehensibly -- more than usual, I mean; he was so appallingly drunk that the only thing keeping him upright was the microphone stand. The reviewer broke kayfabe so far as to say that it was a terrible thing to watch a brilliant performer in the process of killing himself.

That was more than eleven years ago. Shane's still here.

At an early birthday party thrown for Shane at his favourite North London pub The Boogaloo, all his exes - including former Pogue Cait O'Riordan - were in attendance. How has he managed to stay on good terms with them all?

"Well, I'm a nice guy and a romantic at heart," he says with a smile that exposes raw, bloodied gums and barely any teeth at all.

I would never want to live the way Shane does. I don't even think *Shane* should live the way Shane does. But dammit, I'm glad that he's alive. In his own special way.

God love ya, you mad Irishman.

Edited to add: Here's Shane, in his role as lead singer of the Pogues, in a live performance of that great duet with Kirsty Maccoll, "Fairytale of New York." Filmed in 1988; his teeth were going even then.