Category Archives: Musings

HC Bingo Card

AN: transferred from livejournal – unfortunately it did not help me write more.

Maybe participating in this challenge will help me write more.

I’m very excited about getting the unwanted transformation square because it would have become my Wild Card – I’ve had two plot bunnies bouncing in my brain that are quite relevant.

And … tentacles! So many possibilities. (On a related note, I had the letters for HENTAI in Words With Friends game earlier today.)

Least excited – waterboarding, which I almost veto’d. Thems the breaks. I don’t care. I got unwanted transformation.


If You Can’t Handle the Review, Disengage

There is a new brou-ha-ha in the author blogging world. As often happens, I found out about it on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog. Basically there are accusations of a “YA Mafia” who have the power to prevent authors they don’t like from being published. Both Scalzi and Holly Black have written funny and scathing rebuttals. Basically, authors are too lazy to sabotage other people’s work. Even if they did, the agents and publishers would ignore those types of requests.

Alas, the publishing industry does not, and cannot, protect (online) reviewers from insecure authors.

I’ve seen authors post comments on negative goodreads reviews (and I don’t think I’ve ever seen this go well).
comment by phoebenorth

No Trolls Allowed by hawanjaWORD. A couple years of ago I defended a friend’s bad review on Goodreads. The author in question is very successful and writes books, screenplays, and comic books. Yet bad reviews seemed to shatter his world. I realized that the author had to be extremely insecure. And he had to have the last comment despite claiming that we were the ones who kept the thread alive.

I decided to boycott his work since he is a troll. Unlike other authors I have consciously stopped reading (for various reasons), it has been a bit difficult to avoid giving him any of my money.

Alas, other authors are also trolls, or displaying troll-ish behavior. On this LiveJournal thread, an author* who received a bad review keeps prolonging the negative discussions despite claiming the opposite:

I’m out — I hate internet debate with a fiery passion.

I love Internet debate. I do not love Internet flame wars. There is a difference.

The former can be thoughtful, polite, and enlightening; the latter is like watching talking heads scream at other on a new show. I prefer to not wear asbsetos gloves while reading about books on my laptop.

Reviewers: If an author metamorphoses into a troll on your site, disengage. Stop responding. Whatever you do or say will piss them off, so do nothing. Don’t spend more of your valuable time stoking their neuroses.

Authors: If you are an insecure writer who is not very good at taking criticism (and honestly, I count myself in that camp), disengage. Don’t read the reviews. Don’t respond by attacking or threatening the reviewers. Don’t try to prove your superiority by getting in the last word. Inciting a flame war with people who took the time to write a review of your work is not worth it. You’ll get the responses “ Dude, you’re kind of a prick.”and “Troll!” People following the “discussion”  may stop buying your work. Worse, they may encourage others to do so as well.

Image: No Trolls Allowed by Hawanja on Deviant Art

* I have not read this author’s work, nor had any plans to.  I don’t care if you buy her books or if you enjoyed them.

Fan Fic Kerfuffle

As some of you may have heard, there was a recent eruption of authors vs. fans on the interwebs. Diana Gabaldon wrote about how she really felt about fan fic. Fan fic writers responded, most somewhat unpleasantly and others downright troll-ish.  Other authors joined in on both sides. Gabaldon wrote a measured response, and another, and then poof! took down the posts and comments.

For a good recap, check out Fan Wank’s roundup.

I’m neither a writer nor a regular reader of fan fic. I’ve never read her works, though a friend of mine had recommended the Outlander series to me just last month. I do deal with copyright and fair use on a daily basis and often curse the estates of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein who do not want anyone to appropriate their images even though those artists appropriated them from elsewhere.

And yet, I do want to respond in my little corner room on the interwebs. I know that no one will read this post, but I feel the need to shout into the universe.  Note that I will not be discussing copyrights, trademarks, IP law, or money. No, I want to talk about emotional and ownership.

Watch the writer poke the snake pit! The first post took great issue with the amount of sex in the fan fic, especially the slash fic. Tee hee. I admit that most fan fic I read is slash fic. Because it’s fun. And according to my friend as well as many commenters, her novels are full of graphic sex.

In her second post, Gabaldon said that she was shocked – shocked! – to find out that people wrote fan fic out of love. That pissed me off, partly because I believe that most fan fic writers do it because they love the story/characters/universe. Sometimes they love it so much, they come up with satisfying alternatives to lousy plotlines (yes JMS, I am talking about the last season of B5.) Really, who hasn’t played with the idea of recasting a character or having one writer take over the universe of another.

What spurred me to actually write this post, however, was reading the cached page of her third post:

Characters—good characters, “real” characters—derive their reality from the person who created them. They _are_ the person who created them, refracted through the lens of that writer’s experience, imagination, love, fear, and craft. Another writer seeking to duplicate that character might equal—or conceivably surpass–the craft; they can’t touch the essence.

When you mess with my stuff, you’re not messing with my characters—you’re messing with _me_.

Wow, she really subscribes to the idea of the lone artist genius. What bullshit. Glad to know that so many collaborative writing projects, e.g. most television shows, and collaborative universes, e.g. the Star Wars books, are doomed to fail. Authors such as Michael Moorcock who are willing to share their characters must be hacks. If only one writer in the entire history of the world can get to the essence of a character, then who has done the perfect and definitive Faust. Or Queen Elizabeth I – surely no author can touch the essence of a real, live person historical person. Balderdash.

And then she goes on about how here characters are part of her. That can be a valuable way to interpret dreams, but she identifies so much with her characters that it seems quite narcissistic, enough to warrant therapy. And it raises the hackles of my inner literary critic.

Attention all writers, artists and creators. Sharing your art with other people is scary. As much as you try, you cannot absolutely control how another person will experience, feel, or interpret your work. In fact, they might find stuff there that you were not consciously or even subconsciously aware of. You may mightily disagree with your fans and how they reference your work. As the creator, know that your intentions and interpretations are privileged, but those of your readers, watchers, listeners are also valuable. And fan fic is a valid response. Get over yourself.

I know, you’ve put a lot of yourself into your work. Once you put your creation out into the world, though, let it find its way in the world. Don’t keep it in a walled garden where only people who agree with you may visit. The more people it comes into contact with it, the more it will mature, gain insight, become beloved. Relax and enjoy how your work moves people and moves through people. This process may spark new ideas and directions for your next work. Take a deep breath and keep on, keep on creatin’.

Reading Meme

Reading Meme!
These are the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

(from [info]truepenny) via exceptinsects
Continue reading

Last Week in TV

Random musings about what I’ve been watching for the last few days. Oh, any many spoilers below.

The Amazing Race – NOOOOOO! Mel and Mike are gone. Part of me doesn’t want to watch it any more. They were smart, funny, and nice.

The MentalistArchie MacDonald is back! Still cute. Gosh, I’m a sucker for that voice. And he’s still cute. I hope this means that he will pick up some more acting gigs. I need more Archie in my life.

Speaking of The Mentalist, I have a casting suggestion. Please cast Jeffrey Pierce as Owain Yeomnan’s brother, for at least one episode if not as a recurring guest. Why? Well, Owen and Jeffrey played brothers in the show The Nine. Then Owain played the original Cromartie in the pilot for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Now Jeffrey is playing a different terminator on that show. Obviously, these two actors need to share some screentime together in The Mentalist, then guest star in another TV show at different times, and finally share more screentime together as brothers in yet another show. Let’s make this pattern happen.

Life on Mars v. Battlestar Galactica finales. This may be blasphemy, but I actually preferred the resolution of LOM (both versions) over BSG. I just couldn’t buy all the colonists and cylons dispersing themselves around the world in ones and twos. Humans (and cylons?) are herd animals. Wasn’t that abundantly clear in the first season of the show, if not the premise? We group together despite our differences in order to survive. After years of war and journeys, I can see them wanting to spread out and get space away from each other. But I think that would have only lasted for a few years. And we wants our toys. I don’t believe that everyone could give up their creature comfots. And the montage of dancing robots at the end seemed to reinforce the idea that technology is evil. I’ve read that the creators did not intend that interpretation, but that’s the nature of literature. You can’t control how your work will be interpreted, and you may add themes unconsciously and unknowingly.

LOM (US) also had a WTF twist. Sam and the other cops are really astronauts on their way to Mars, using virtual reality while in hibernation to keep from going insane or somesuch. The show actually brought life to Mars with a shot of a white loafer stepping onto red dust. (By the way – that dust was the worst f/x of the series.) Literal, but the twist made sense and explained the prevalence of robots. As much as I loved the British original, I didn’t like the suicide ending. Maybe it was the US editing, but I needed a few more scenes to fill out his post-coma life, especially one with Sam researching whether Gene, Annie, Ray, Chris, and the others actually existed. Something to make Sam account for the details of him comatose dream. And I needed him to explore another way to return to 1973 before killing himself. The decision happened too abruptly. That said, I loved LOM.

I didn’t watch the ER series finale. Yes, I was once a loyal viewer. Saw the pilot and loved it. Kept watching even when Carter went to Africa. I gave it up, though, a couple of years ago when they de-legged Ray and bad things happened to every other character in the season finale. The show seemed to hate its characters, and the events seemed so contrived. So I stopped watching. Adding Angela Bassett to the cast couldn’t even bring me back. I hope that the finale was satisfying, but I just didn’t want to take the chance that the show would screw over its characters once again. Or give them all happy endings.

Last but not least My Boys is back. PJ and Bobby are finally together! All is right in the world.

Why Poetry?

Poets remember
the words we forget, keeping
their sounds neat and quick.

Of Comedy and Tragey

This morning I watched the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, “A Disquiet Follows My Soul,” followed by an apertif of Psych and The Game. I like all 3 shows (though I’m not sure how much of cross-over there is between audiences*) though they are so different in tone. BSG is all tragedy, with no comic relief, whereas Psych is full of maniac energy and surprisingly small bits of seriousness, despite being a detective show. The Game, somehow, does manage to balance stereotypes and serious issues consistently and entertainingly.

Spoiler alert! Plot points revealed ahead.

After last week’s BSG episode, how could this week’s not disappoint? The reveals – Tyrol is not the father, Zarek is corrupt – weren’t on the same level as Ellen is the Fith Cylon. Instead, it felt like a scene from act two of a five act tragedy. Plans are in motion, hurlting towards a climax (act three) and resolution (act five). I’d call it Shakespearean if there moments — scenes — of humour in the show. But the tone is unrelentingly bleak. There’s not even much gallows humour. When I rewatch the show, I enjoy the intricate plotting more than its world. That saddens me.

psych3Psych, on the other hand, is a wacky procedural cop show with little character development. The same sorts of things happen every week: a murder or two, Shawn sees details that others miss, behaves manically, he hits on a girl and solves the case. The show is chock full of silliness. The characters don’t progress that much. Each time a new woman is introduced, Shawn hits on her because he can and/or to make Jules jealous. I live for the moment for Shawn and Jules get together. I am tired of being teased. In one episode, they hold hands; in the next, they have no spark. I understand that their sexual tension is part of the show; having them get together could kill the fun. After all, they’ve had an object lesson on set —  Cybil Shepherd of Moonlighting plays Shawn’s mom. I just wish that the showrunners would take a look at Ed or other shows where the couple did get it on without killing the chemistry.

In this week’s episode, Shawn hit on an arson investigator, Morgan Conrad. It seemed like he was doing it because that’s what he always does, not because he was interested in her or wanted to make Jules jealous. I wanted Lassiter to step up – he and Morgan has chemistry, plus they have matching hair color**! Alas, there were no movement forward or backward on the Shawn-Juliet hook-up.

The Game, though, is adept at having consistent plot and character development with moments of humour and gravity. Shocking, I know, especially for a weekly sitcom. The main couple, Melanie and Derwin, are going through infidelity issues; he’s fathered a child on a groupie, she’s sleeping with her boss. Though the show began focused on them, the other couples — married, but separated Kelly and Jason, and mother/son pair Tasha and Malik — are much more compelling characters. In fact the Kelly and Jason break-up has taken center stage in recent episodes. Yay! And the three women get together for booze and trash talk, the best scenes of women-liberating inebriation since Cybil. [Yep, another reference to La Shepherd. Now I need to find a link between her and BSG.]

The show does have its share of stereotypes – single-mom Tasha speaks “ghetto;” Malik is the playboy football star/aspiring rapper who dates celebrities and strippers while wearing lots of bling; Kelly is the boozy, ditzy, blonde gold-digging ex-cheerleader; and Derwin is a God-fearing Christian good boy. And yet the show manages to acknowledge and tweak  these stereotypes and grow them into compelling characters.  For instance, we’ve gathered that Tasha developed that hard shell to protect herself and her son. When Melanie imitated her speech in the episode, Tasha responded with “Do I really sound like that?” in disbelief. Kelly might have married her husband for money, but she really loves him despite his being a tightwad that could out-Scrooge Scrooge. Their break-up is heart-wrenching.

game-mallik1Best of all, this episode about the private lives of NFL football players finally had a gay subplot. Malik’s ex-wife intimates that their marriage failed because he was really gay. His team members ride him, complete with a musical interlude in the locker room: disco ball and high-kicking dancers in lycra football uniforms frolicking to the tune of “It’s Raining Men.” Ha-ha. The guys play up the fey stereotypes – lisping, preening, gold lame and short shorts. Later, alone at dinner, Clay, another team member, hits on Malik, thinking that he is actually gay. Surprised, Malik throws Clay out of his aparment. During the next game, Malik accidentally outs him to the rest of the team. The episode ends with the coach (played by Lee Majors) benching Clay for the rest of the game. Clay sits in the empty locker room angry, sad, betrayed.

And this is why I love this show. The flirting scene was taken seriously. Malik is somehwat metrosexual; his responses could credibly confuse Clay’s gaydar. Lee Majors surprised me with his acting: the coach’s decision to bench Clay was ambiguous. Did he put in a sub because he is homophobic, because he is afraid that the other players will hurt Clay on the field because they are homophobic, or because Malik was obviously so uncomfortable around Clay that he couldn’t quarterback effectively? It could any or all of these reasons. Whether or not the reason(s) are revealed in the next epsidoes, l’ll keep watching, enjoying its deepening blend of comedy and tragedy.

*And to make matters more bizarre, USA ran an ad for The Getty during the last few minutes of Psych. How much cross-over of Psych fans and museum-goers are there? I am one, may there be more because of this commercial. but the ad is surreal and the pairing of the two is bizarre.

**My friend Jason has a theory that all couples on TV shows have the same color of hair; blondes end up with other blondes, brunettes end up with other brunettes, etc. Though they may date outside their color, the hair of their true love’s hair will match their own. Oh no! Shawn is a brunette and Jules is a blonde! May this exception prove the rule.

Mii and Mirrors

Two weeks ago I bought a Wii. This is the first time I have ever purchased a game system. Even though I grew up in a family that played games – alphabet soup in the car, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, cards, Stratego, and later RPGs – we never became obsessed with computer games. My family had some antiquated console (not Atari!) that we got for free from a timeshare presentation. My sister had C-64 that had some adventure/strategy game; its codeword at the end was CONDOR, if my memory serves me well.

Back in the 1990s, my roommate had Myst. I was engrossed within its world. When I was out in the real world, I wanted to click on buildings (especially ones on BU’s campus) to see what would happen. This level of involvement/addiction scared me. I swore off computer games. It helped that I didn’t had an old computer that wouldn’t run most games.

Yet I broke my self-imposed bad an bought a gaming system. I love it! Best of all, I have not become addicted to it. Yet.

I am troubled, though, by my Mii. I had fun putting it together. I even added a mole to my face. The face did reflect my own. And then I realized it was a mirror reflection. The mole on my Wii is on my right cheek, but is on my left in real life. Same with the part on my hair. I had created myself as if I were looking in a mirror.

Is this normal? Do most people create avatars that are mirror reflections? Wouldn’t that be a cool research project – compare how people construct their avatars across different systems? I hope that someone has already done this, or is in the midst of it. As we said at Reed at that moment of epiphany, “Thesis!”

My Second Life avatar is fanciful. I never even tried to make it into a self-portrait. Yet with the Mii, it felt natural to make one look just like me. I’m going to make a new Mii that is not a mirror reflection. I wonder if it will disturb me at some level.

Screaming at the Scream Awards

Last Saturday, my friend Stacey and I attended Spike TV’s Scream 2008 Awards at the Greek Theater. It was my first awards show and the closest I’ve ever come to a live red carpet. I had won tickets to it at Comic-Con; I didn’t research the show much.

While waiting in line to get in, we marveled at how many people were dressed up in costume. A man in a yellow uniform from Old Trek was with a woman dressed in black & red as a cat. Lots of people were dressed up as Heath Ledger’s Joker. There was a large assortment of goths and punks as well as characters from various horror movies, and Gumby.

The show lasted about 3 hours, only 2 of which were shown on television. Despite that, several awards were not mentioned or awarded at the show but did make it into the press release. That document’s funniest line was about a rousing performance by The Smashing Pumpkins. Admittedly, I am not a fan, but I was so bored during their song that I forgot that they were playing. So unmemorable. Kerli, on the other hand, was awesome. I tried to look more at the dancers and musicians that at her; I figured that she would get most of the facetime during the broadcast. I loved the performance. The dancers wore white masks and black bondage gear; they moved in fluid jerks, successfully generating an eerie scene. I missed seeing most of the climax of the song, Walking on Air, because the confetti and smoke obscured my view of the stage. Despite that, the performance was transcendent. Unfortunately, that energy and otherworldliness did not translate in the broadcast. I think it was the confetti in the air that the cameras could not adequately capture.

Gerard Way seemed to be the most sincerely geekiest happiest presenter. Others were comfortably in their element (Kevin Smith, Rosario Dawson) and others were at home in front of a crowd (Sharon Osbourne). Frank Miller seemed nervous; we couldn’t hear half of his banter. Somehow they edited his words together as a coherent bit for the broadcast.

There were other goofs by presenters. Marilyn Manson seemed to be too tall for the mike. A fan came up and held the mike stand closer to his mouth. It was hilarious even though the sound kept cutting out. Unfortunately, they make Marilyn redo his bit. Compared to the first version, he gave it in a monotone. I was cracking up at his f**k you to the show’s producers. Marilyn, though, is a smart and talented presenter because the low energy version broadcast on tv was surprisingly funny and bearable.

Julie Benz forgot that she was presenting a second award; the trophy girl, Julie, and Christopher Nolan were trying to find their way backstage when a producer came out and made them take their places again. I feared another complete do-over, as happened with Marilyn Manson. How did they not capture his speech? It flowed in an enjoyable manner. What torturers were these producers if they were making him give another version of his acceptance speech? Luckily, Christopher explained the situation, described it as a pick-up, and repeated the last line of his speech. Julie announced that Christopher and his brother had also won best screenplay; there were more speeches. That doubling-up of award winners was a common, and puzzling, occurrence. On a couple occasions they didn’t even bother to list the other nominees.

The producers ran into technical difficulties not related to speeches. Rosario Dawson had to repeat announcing the winner of the best film award because the Batman prop didn’t light up properly the first time. They also kept Tim Burton in the balloon for several minutes. He looked so uncomfortable. I do not know what caused them to stop his trip about one-third of the way across the audience. He was racing out of the basket once he landed.

We were told that there would be audience participation during the finale. When the green lasers went off, we were supposed to wave green glow sticks. When the sticks were passed out, though, a different set of instructions were taped on; now we were supposed to wave them when Samuel L. Jackson began talking. Right before the finale, the announcer came back on and asked us to break open the glow sticks but hide them until the appropriate time. Of course, he did not specify what that appropriate time was. My friend and I dithered – do we wave them when Sam Jackson starts speaking, or when the lasers go off? In the end, we followed the crowd and started waving when Sam walked on stage. From the broadcast version, I now know that we were wrong to be lemmings. The editors definitely had a hard time finding footage without the the glow sticks in motion. The audience was rowdy; several people threw their sticks onto the stages, at the Stormtroopers, and across different sections.

The producers did keep the crowd entertained during breaks. Before the Smashing Pumpkins went on, an aerialist entertained the crowd. During the regular commercial breaks, they showed the original trailers for Blacula, Terminator, and Escape from New York. They also showed trailers for obscure offerings, including The Sinful Dwarf and The Multinauts. I must watch the latter.

The Gardens of Adena

My friend and I were in the cheap seats above on the right side. Although there was free beer & wine available, no one seemed to be assigned to our section. We had to highjack another server. Direct views of our area by the cameras were obscured by the bank of lights on the railing. No matter. If you re-watch the awards, listen to the first woo in response to Frank Miller’s name-dropping of Jean Giraud, aka Moebius. That’s me. I cheered loudly, then stopped and realized that I was about the only in the entire audience woo-hoo-ing. I sat in my seat embarrassed yet happy, wishing that the volumes of Moebius were back in print.

All in all, I had a grand time at the show. I’d like to go again next year, in better seats, and perhaps in costume

New Motto for a New Year

My father cited a phrase in my birthday card that I’ve decided will be my new motto. So, in bastardized Latin like Lorem ipsum, I say unto to you:

Illegitimi non carborundum

Don’t let the bastards grind you down