Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fanfiction with a Copyright – Lost in Austen

I’d like to take this blog to talk about one particularly annoying mini-series - Lost in Austen. As soon as I figured out that the premise of this film was that a bumbling moron was going to replace Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, I knew it was time for me to go. Personally, I am sick to death of Pride and Prejudice without adding more idiotic characters and truly, if we’re going to mess with Jane Austen’s done-to-death plot we may as well add 30% more zombies.

If Pride and Prejudice had a copyright in place, something like this would be out of the question. However, since Jane Austen’s dead—

“Zombie! Get the elephant gun!”

Okay, forget that little outburst. Since she’s as dead as whatever copyright she had – anyone can make over her novel however they want – purchase their own copyright and boom – they’re making money for a minimal creative effort.

Once again, if Pride and Prejudice had a current copyright, the writer of Lost in Austen would be sitting back counting their reviews on fanfiction.net – or the lack thereof. The scenario presented in Lost in Austen is what us fanfiction gurus call a self-insertion. This is when you write up a plot based on your favourite existing fandom and place yourself in the middle of the action. Whether you remove an existing character to compensate is up to you. These are not very popular and it’s easy to see why. Can’t you just see me sitting back going, “Man, I’d love to re-read Harry Potter but instead of chowing down on the original books, I’m going to go read some cheap imitation online with Harry replaced by Johnny Nobody who had nothing better to do with his Saturday night.” Can you taste the mouthwatering appeal for authors and the total disinterest for readers? I can. How boring.

The thing that’s so ultimately painful is that the fantasy is so … undesirable. If you’re going to sit down and fantasize about being romanced by Mr. Darcy wouldn’t you rather be quirky, willful, unexplainably intelligent Elizabeth Bennett, and not a vulgar London girl who yanks up her drawers to show off her landing strip when she thinks she’s got a camera on her? Classy.

It might seem surprising, but I’m not actually writing this in defense of Jane Austen’s copyright. What I’m complaining about is the lack of creativity. As a creatively minded person, I believe that it is impossible to start from scratch. We have to work off each other to come up with the best ideas. The secret is coming up with something daring, reaching – something that awakens nostalgic sensations within as well as makes cracks in our consciousness so that suddenly we believe that anything might be possible. Anything might be true.

The truth is that I feel sorry for an audience that doesn’t demand more.

“Rat soup! Again rat soup! At least she could use a different rat, the third night anyway.” -- The Last Unicorn

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Tattoo is a Beating

I’m going to get beaten. I hate tattoos. I don’t understand them. One day I sat on the sidelines at a water park because I couldn’t go in the water and to entertain myself, I checked out everyone’s tattoos. I only saw one guy with a tasteful tattoo. It was the outline of two perfectly symmetrical stars on his shoulder blades. Everyone else looked … bad. Here were the things I noticed.

No one’s tattoos had clean lines. How long does it take for those lines to bleed? How often do they need touch-ups? Do people actually get the touch-ups done like they’re supposed to?

The next thing is the permanent nature of a tattoo. I saw a lady the other day with a Tweety bird tattoo just under her collarbone. I remember when Tweety bird was cute and cool – it was about 20 years ago. What on Earth would make someone believe that what’s in style now will still be in style in 20 years? That means that unless you choose something intensely personal for your tat, eventually it’s going to go out of style and you’re going to look like a loser.

So speaking of tattoos that are reminiscent of something personal, I remember reading this article on choosing names for your children and the writer of the article wrote about how you shouldn’t name your baby after anyone. Relationships change. If you name your baby after your Aunt Jessamine and the old broad swindles you out of your life savings through bad investment advice – you’re never going to want to hear her name again as long as you live – never mind screaming it every ten minutes at your toddler to make her stop colouring on the walls. I think it must be the same with tattoos. That miserable SOB might cheat on you like a rapper and then you’re not going to want the lyrics to his hip hop song tattooed on your hip. Think about it.

Now I would like to suggest an experiment. Have you ever seen a broccoli elastic? They’re fat and blue and hold broccoli stalks together. Grab one of those and a ball point pen. Draw a design on it. Let it dry. Then stretch it. Notice what happens? The picture gets ruined. Human skin is not like canvas – it’s like a rubber ball. Someday it’s going to stretch and then sadly – sag. Finally, it’s going to wrinkle and by the end of your life no one is going to know what was so desperately important to you when you were 19.

Yeah, I’m gonna get beaten. Sorry kids. I feel ungrateful. My first fan that was found in the wild had a tattoo of her own flesh bleeding on her arm, but when I wanted a tattoo – I wrote ‘Dragon’s Moon’ where everyone had a tattoo. It was incredibly expressive, great fun, and totally free.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shedding Skin ... ny Jeans

I suppose you’ve all read about how I plan to boycott pants. My last post on this subject was all about the atrocities we’re all been forced to commit under the reign of low rise jeans. Now I mean to tackle the subject of their skinny nature mostly around the ankle area.

I was a child of the 80s which means that I wore tapered pants for more than a decade, because we were still wearing them for a good portion of the 90s. However by 1995, I’m certain I was the only one wearing them. I totally remember when flare jeans came in fashion. All the women a generation older than me scoffed heartlessly, “Bell bottoms are in style again” like they’d all been on that train before.

Back then I couldn’t understand those matrons who didn’t change their tapered jeans for flares. I would have given my left leg for a pair of flares (though that would have defeated the purpose). And now the situation has come full circle on me. I’ve become exactly like those hopeless old broads. You see, the idea of cramming my heels back into a pair of tight-around-the-ankle pants makes me break out in hives.

The point of skinny jeans and tapered jeans is to accentuate a woman’s hips. If she’s got no hips, the pants do a little magic trick and she looks like she’s got hips. For a woman like me (remember – built like a Christmas tree), I’ve already got hips. Whenever I get dressed, I’m always trying to work the opposite magic trick – make it look like my hips are smaller.

Is it to save fabric? This is the conversation between the designers.

“See? We can cut the pants so low around the waist that they cover her bikini briefs when she’s trying them on in the dressing room.”

“What about when she sits down?”

“Not our problem. She’ll buy them and then be too lazy or ashamed to take them back.”

“Okay. What else do you want to do to cut costs?”

“We can ditch the whole flare/boot cut/regular cut philosophy and make them so tight around the ankle that there’s no room for airspace between her and the jeans. We’ll call it retro even though we’re using much less fabric all the way up the leg than we did in the 80s. We can make three pairs of jeans out of the same amount of material that it took us to make one pair of flares.”

“How will she get her leg in there?”

“We’ll make them stretchy.”

Give that man an award and tell him to get his hand out of my pants.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Dating Theory

I have this dating theory. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until after I was already married. I still get to do it, but the impact is different since he already loves me. The thing is that I can’t get over the idea that my theory would work wonderfully if used appropriately. However, please bear in mind that any act to attract attention should really be tailored to that special someone. Romancing ought to be personal (at least check for allergies).

All right, so here’s the situation. You are interested in Man A who I will now refer to as Austin. Austin works down the hall. He’s somewhat moody, has a straightforward way of speaking and you can tell by looking at him that his mom doesn’t pack his lunch. Normally, I would recommend flirting, but that would ruin the experiment. Instead, act friendly when you’re around him. Be calm, take a breath before you speak and give yourself that moment to act like a lady – cool and beautiful – but not forward.

Next you’ll need a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. This should be store bought, since it’s going to be anonymous. When Austin is not around, put them on his desk with a tag that has his name on it. Leave absolutely no signature or indication where they may have come from. But he absolutely has to know they’re for him.

Anonymous gifts drive people crazy, thus creating a feeling of mystery. Did you know that the words mystery, romance and seduction are all synonyms of each other?

For your next gift I recommend a caramel apple from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, but it’s up to you. Once again - make it anonymous. Keep your identity secret and send him a gift once a week for a month. No need to do more - it will get his attention. And if you find out that he doesn’t like your gifts then cut it out and no one is the wiser.

After about a month, sign the first letter of your name on the card. With just that little of a hint, Austin should be at your desk within minutes asking if it’s you – since he’s probably been going nuts. Immediately confess, but act like it’s not a big deal. He’ll probably ask you why you did it. Say, “To cheer you up.” You are absolutely not allowed to say that you like him. Why? Because the fun part of a romance is at the beginning and it would not be any fun to jump the gun. Prolong it.

Then on the Monday afterwards, show up at Austin’s desk around lunch with something tasty (and not sweet) and offer to share. It’s a win/win situation. Because you’ve been so cool you won’t come off as a stalker and even if a romance with Austin is impossible, I bet you’ll have earned yourself a great friend.