Fan is Short for Fanatic, You Know

Not that it’s inherently a bad thing, of course, given that I’m a fan of a great many things.  I often cross the line into obsession, just a little bit. That doesn’t mean I blame other people for liking things I don’t. And that the creators probably have a different agenda than I do.

For an example I didn’t plan on using, Hawaii 5-0 (the new one) has decided to jump genres from quasi-police drama to extreme Super Spies! (this choice I don’t get so much).

However, many fans are complaining about the season premier of NCIS because they blew up the building last season’s finale and then wrapped up a plot line taking at least three months in less than an hour. While I missed the potential for character development and hurt/comfort, the writers aren’t thinking about it from a fan’s perspective. I also wonder if they understand fan angst after such a dramatic event: like that TV show that shot a main character and made the entire season a dream. It’s kind of a cop-out.

In the case of NCIS, though, a lot of time wrapping up last season’s plot probably would distract and tedious for regular television watchers. If you don’t obsess over a show, how are you supposed to keep all the necessary back story straight? The generally episodic nature of NCIS probably explains much of its longevity (and lack of on-screen shipping—offend no one, engage everyone!).

Have you heard the term ‘shipping’? I could link you, but you may want to preserve your innocence.

English: Shipping dock in Hawaii

Not this kind of shipping [Shipping dock in Hawaii] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Suffice to say, it’s the point where many fans start slipping the line to fanatic. People get passionate about which characters have relationships and who they have them with. I find the intensity odd, but since I read primarily non-relationship works (called ‘gen’), I don’t bother with it. More insidiously, some less than level-headed fans direct their attentions to just one character. Of course, they’re writing fan fictions, or participating on forums, and they are incapable of sympathetic reasoning toward any other character, cannot under any circumstances recognize on-show teasing, and refuse to recognize their character could possibly have any flaws.

Perhaps this explains Twilight. Despite all the flaws written into both Edward and Bella’s characters, when viewed objectively (snobbery, jealousy, possessiveness), because they are never explicitly stated in-text as flaws, and indeed, are written as virtues, people who enjoy the series can’t stand to hear that anyone dislikes what they  love.

Clearly there is a failure to teach critical thinking.

Just because I like McGee, for example, best of the characters on NCIS, doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that all his flaws are non-existent. Like all the characters, he suffers from inconsistencies  what with all the years and all its producers, NCIS isn’t a show built for canon purists.

But so many people can’t seem to accept this at all. They attack other fans, other fan-works and they can’t believe their prejudices aren’t supported by evidence: to the point where they can’t even participate in a reasonable discussion. For instance, NCIS takes little seriously, it’s a funny show. But Tony fans take every single joke as an assault on his character, regardless of whether the character takes any particular notice. I should also note this trend holds steady with any show, any character.

Fans can be the best at the ‘question anything’ mentality, coming up with wild theories to make sense of plot holes or reused actors playing different roles. Critical thinking begins with asking questions, but when fans find a pet theory and stop asking, it defeats the purpose. It’s not ‘thinking’ anymore, it’s delusion.

That Wolf Movie

Well, okay, it’s actually Alpha & Omega, which is probably not the first thought you had reading “that wolf movie”.

Alpha & Omega advertises the presence as wolves as their main characters, although I must admit I’m not sure why—or for that matter, that the claim is even justified.

It is a perfectly decent kids’ movie. The plot is trite and so cliché that they didn’t actually bother to build the story. They offered the characters and you knew the end, and got some random stuff in between meant to be funny. With interesting names. Kate, the alpha, is the daughter of alpha parents Winston and Eve. Her childhood friend, Humphrey, is an omega. And her father arranged her marriage to the son of the “east” wolf pack, Garth, son of Tony. And Kate’s sister’s name is Lilly. Anyway, Humphrey, though crushing on Kate, can obviously have nothing to do with her. Until they are captured by poaching park rangers and sent to Idaho and have to find their way home before the wall. While Idaho ultimately had little importance other than to be the “there”, the story is bland, mildly entertaining, and mostly forgettable.

Other than the awful, awful “howling”. The story seems to posit that two wolves of equal status (alpha=alpha, omega=omega) will howl together to prove compatibility and to find partners. Indeed, the sequence serves little more than as a straightforward euphemism for sex. Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of the lines. Poor Garth did get a cute moment when he howled so badly the birds kept dropping out of the sky (and why were blue jays flying at night anyway?). But Kate and Humphrey howled like pop stars and it’s supposed to be true love.

We did get real howling at the end now when Kate pulls a fake-out after being hit by the stampeding robot caribou clones. The warring packs stop to mourn for her (because it’s the obligatory “we thought you were dead!” scene) and ultimately reminded me of nothing so much as the magical healing tears of Pokemon: the First Movie.

Wolves can read by the way. And apparently have adopted human land designations. When Humphrey and Kate are relocated, they know they should be in Jasper National Park, and they can read the forestry sign in Idaho.Not to mention the billboard “Welcome to Canada”. And their friendly French-Canadian goose (with his yellow-duck valet/caddy) knows that Idaho is the land of potatoes. This fortunately means that the two wolves know perfectly well what “repopulating” means, and don’t let the idea disturb them in the slightest.  These wolves use human terms and human ideas and I just questioned why not just use people of towns with warring sports teams?

 

This is a shot of Lake Edith in Jasper Nationa...

Jasper National Park—it's a real place!

 

I did like that the movie makers used 3D effects, and not just in random scenes utterly dull in the 2D theater.  While they may have been a little longer than necessary, they were overall well-integrated, and actually made me want to see the movie in 3D.

Kate isn’t ever repulsed by Humphrey. They are friends when young, she gets winter alpha-training and still thinks of him in friendly terms. Then they end up together in Idaho and she thinks he’s aggravating but funny. Then they are on the train back to Jasper (like the vampire in Twilight, not quite the friendly ghost) and she still thinks his immature but funny and an omega and therefore not an option. But during her “wedding” to Garth (that term bugged me) she’s the one who finally pulls back and says, oh by the way, I’m in love with an omega. While the other wolves start to get to war, Garth gives a fist pump because he’s fallen for Lilly.

Garth and Lilly were the real couple here, and had a far more interesting relationship and story. She hears his howl and teaches him how to sing, he helps her learn to hunt. They talk and joke and have fun with each other. Both are actually cute. Kate does not know this though, even though her sister drops anvils anytime Kate mentions the wedding.

But the truly awesome character? Eve. Mother of Kate and Lilly and alpha female of the protagonists’ pack. Eve,  sweet-as-southern-style-tea “I will personally rip out your eyes and shove them down your throat so you can see my claws tear your carcass open!”

 

Crazy, Crazy Day

Swiss house under demolition (so internal stru...

Image via Wikipedia

I pulled myself out of bed promptly at six this morning. So early that the sun wasn’t up yet, nor even the cats—though they did slink around the corners a bit. It’s a nice time, and for once I had the house to myself. This could do wonders for my mental health.

Having a goal made the endeavor far more palatable. Not that it was much of a carrot, it still gave me purpose.

I revised my short story. It’s not a good story, and never was, but hopefully it’s a little better. Got some of the little edits in, playing with paragraphs and sentence structures, that sort of thing. Most importantly, I filled in a sort of missing scene. The story itself had no indication that this scene existed, much less missing, but it builds the step between the ignorant beginning and the “epiphany” of the climax. Nothing quite so grand actually, but it’s far too late after my early morning to remember what the term I want is. Oh, the shame!

Then at 7:40 I got the call to sub. Maybe I planned the early wake up as me time, but it certainly made it possible for me to get to school that quickly. And it was the last day I needed this month to pay the bills.

And at 4:30, my brother and I had to head toward the theater to set up the movie. But brother had locked his keys in the projection room. And when he finally called other brother, he found that the other set of keys was in other brother’s car. Which my mom was driving, since other brother is out-of-state. So we went home. I remembered to pick up my jacket if it got cold again at night (it didn’t) and my glasses to focus the movie. We got back to the theater and brother got started setting up the movie, and my friend came over to hang out since we hardly ever see each other. Brother was kind enough to let me get away with this. Friend and I made fun of a certain book that she had lent me from her sisters’ collection.

Now, we could have finished the day off like this, the three of us: setting up the movie, and watching it (to check for errors of course). Except M.P.A.T. schedules “blocking” (play practice) at the theater on Thursday evenings. I forgot to inquire as to why this is so.

I had to go and walk about on stage while trying to read my lines and several actors not present.

It wasn’t much fun. I’m the only newbie on set; as brother put it, I “haven’t been in a play since kindergarten.” I told him that was a little excessive, because who could count kindergarten pageants plays? Other than possibly parents. Nothing against kindergarteners here. At any rate, I can’t enunciate and I don’t know what to do with myself on stage. As every other person in the cast has, I think, several years experience at least, I found this to be hugely embarrassing. Maybe not hugely. And even ’embarrassing’ doesn’t convey all that much, as I get embarrassed by almost everything. Although at least I can finally spell the word.

We finally cleared out the play paraphernalia (that is to say, the metal folding chairs on stage) about 8:30, at which point brother and I were finally able to eat dinner. An over-backed bake-at-home pizza. It was hot though, and dad delivered honey too, so it was almost palatable.

Brother helped me actually set up the movie—run the film through the projector and flip most of the switches. And we finished the rest of the flip switching by eleven.

Crazy, crazy day, I tell you.

Help, I’m Trapped Online and I Can’t Get Off!

sleep disorder

Heh, it's called "Sleep Disorder"

So I’m up too late again, if only because I didn’t quite get enough sleep last night after watching Inception (after setting it up) but could only do so after going to play practice, and Inception is a very long movie. Once you get past the first hour and a half, it’s compelling, interesting story! And then I woke up too early after a fabulous dream, and although I might have been able get back to it enough to remember exactly why it was so fabulous, I was called in to sub for PE.

I remember I didn’t like PE in school. If I had to do high school over again knowing what I know now, I’d be much better at it, but I’d never be in that situation in the first place. I don’t have a high-school soul. Not like the Cullens.

Anyway, I got home. And subbing is always tired, I don’t know how teachers aren’t perpetually unconscious. So I got online, although only after finishing an art thing for my friend (yay me, I got something done!). Anyway, then I got online, and then I ended up on tvtropes.org, which just linked and linked and linked and now I have way too many tabs to catch up on when I’m not trying to write a blog post while falling asleep at the keyboard.

At least I’ve learned many interesting things.

For instance, that the only reason they could show her bellybutton was because Roddenberry got the censor drunk.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice


Teasing a Sleeping Girl

Originally uploaded by Maulleigh

Having written some 4000 words on Killing Time—a book that I can’t stand, less because I hate it, but because it has so many of my pet peeves—I’m suddenly questioning my reasons for posting it online.

Not that it isn’t practically tradition online to do so. There are several websites dedicated to nothing more than poking fun at badly written, plotted, and conceptualized stories. Sometimes published works like the Twilight ‘saga’, the two series of Laura K. Hamilton, and even the later Harry Potter books. Sometimes, and more often, the focus is on awful fan fiction or other online stories.

Killing Time wasn’t meant to be published, but it was published, so I think I’m covered. It’s started to seem kind of mean though. Which I don’t like to be, I think it’s a bad habit.

While I’ve thought before while reading some sporks that they go too far, I allow myself to be seduced by the amusingness. In some cases. For example, I generally don’t read the websites making fun of fan fictions. They aren’t as funny, to me, so I can’t claim a virtue here, but they are also generally working with avereragely bad fics. As opposed to those, say, Rose Potter. Which are well-known in sporking circles for their exceedingly awful badness and creepiness. So fandom itself will sort out the worst of the worst, and those are funny sporks.

Anyway, I think I might continue with my various reports on Killing Time, but only likely if I can continue to post more short essays about the tropes that I dislike rather than an actual spork. Although maybe later I’ll find time to do so, if on a more appropriate medium.

But this whole thought process came about because Laurell K. Hamilton recently made a blog post. Another author wrote a response. A link was posted on amazon.com and discussion continued for several pages. Naturally, this ended up on FandomWank. Well, I don’t really remember the wank report, but I was, intrigued, let’s say, buy the other author’s response.

Now I’ve never heard of Jennifer Armintrout, the other author, but I thought her blog post rather well-reasoned. As did the person who posted it on amazon, unless they intended to cause a kerfluffle (which is entirely possible). However, the thread really got going when someone, called R. Harinandansingh (R.H. and given the masculine pronoun, because the shes are confusing already), objected to Armintrout’s calling out L.K.H. Because it’s ‘unprofessional’. When I first got to his comments, I immediately dismissed them. First they were inflammatory, and secondly ridiculous. In what way does being a published author take away your right to critique? How does being any kind of career-artist (as he seemed to imply) mean you can’t have an opinion on others in your field?

Then I started feeling uncomfortable about having dismissed R. H. so readily. It’s not like the original post was an attack on Armintrout. As another poster brought up, yes, there is a long history of author’s taking pot shots at each other—see Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”, and Twain is vicious, though witty—but it’s never been nice.

Of course, Armintrout never claimed to be nice. And though L.K.H. may not have directly addressed any specific author’s in the post, she was talking about the craft of writing. And as another author, and especially a published one, she has a right to respond to a post that essentially demeans authors who don’t write the same way L.K.H. does. Also, when it’s online, it’s public. As far as I’m concerned, when it’s published (and a blog is a form of publication), it is, by definition, published. Now, if L.K.H. had written this in a protected, private journal, online or otherwise, I might take more issue with the propriety of responding like that. But she made her opinions public.

I just don’t see why the response by Armintrout, however emotional, is less than professional. R.H. makes a point of saying that only artists can’t critique each other (or he seems to) and that lawyers and doctors should because their professions actually make a difference. (Or so I recall, it’s been a few days since I read the thread.) However, I very much enjoyed the beginning of Armintrout’s first (only?) response on the amazon thread, defending her original post:

1. I did not write the blog because I have a problem with LKH’s writing. I have adored all the books I’ve read from her…My blog was not a criticism of her as a writer.

3. I didn’t write the blog out of professional jealousy or “cattiness”. I would love to have the word “catty” removed from any discussion of female authors from now on. When Nicholas Sparks routinely slams the romance genre, no one calls him “catty”. They call him “outspoken” and “opinionated”. “Catty” is a word we use to describe women who aren’t acting like sugar, spice, and everything nice, and it’s bs.

I wrote the blog because I don’t like it when people who are feeling insecure for whatever reason decide that the only way to bring themselves up is to attack others. LKH has a lot to be proud about, and other authors do not threaten the success she’s made for herself. You may find my blog unprofessional. That’s fine. I’m really, really unprofessional. I approach my career as one approaches their first year of college: too much partying and running of the mouth and not enough work. But I get really p.o.ed at the idea that LKH gets a free pass to sling passive-aggressive attacks at every other author who puts a pair of fangs in their books in order to make herself feel smarter, more successful, more like an innovator, or whatever she was trying to accomplish.

Can I say, firstly, that I love number 3 wholeheartedly? Spot on, and also, Nicholas Sparks strikes me as an obnoxious idiot. And, actually, fits the definition of “catty” to a T. So perhaps it just needs to be a cross-gender insult. But it isn’t and so should be given up.

And the only way any profession keeps itself going is by discussion. Authors don’t write in a vacuum either. Perhaps all the cutesy niceness has done nothing for the quality of writing produced. Perhaps a good challenge once in a while might do some people some good.

Fursplode

I talk about the Twilight series (saga :P) far too often for not having read any of the books–well, other than the first few chapters of the first–or having watched the movies–although now I’ve seen the first and the most recent. But I don’t really discuss the books or movies, I make fun of them…or rather, I enjoy reading about others’ reactions and critiques of the books (when it’s funny, it’s called a spork). And then I like to share those indigent and intelligent readers/watchers’ conclusions with my friends and family–who either agree with me (hey, two younger brothers who are the opposite of the ideal audience, which is helpful) or really, really don’t care (unless I’m telling my mom about some of the awful things that Meyer says, or awkward ideas in the text, like imprinting, after which I get a “wait, what?” and it’s funny).

But because my family has been volunteering at the local nonprofit theater for years and years, we get free movie tickets. The most recent movie, Eclipse, finally arrived here, so I thought I’d go see it, as it’s supposed to be the best of the movies. But I didn’t have any friends in town that weekend, at least not any I could get in touch with in time. Fortunately however, my youngest brother had just returned from working at camp, and he agreed to let me drag him to the movie, on the mutual terms that as soon as we thought of something amusing/irritating we could make fun of it at once. Also, I was not to tell other brother.

Pshaw.

So, after getting distracted by my five other open tabs, where was I? Oh, yes. I very much enjoyed the movie, actually. Although I was a little disturbed that, though there weren’t very many people there, there were several pretty young kids. Which with some of the scenes in the movie made me uncomfortable. But hey, kids these days.

About the movie itself: the first thing I distinctly remember thinking was that Frost’s “Fire and Ice” did not deserve to be in this movie. Also, sparkles! I love those little rainbows. (What happened to them in that last scene?) Why would you hang out in a meadow like that? The whole time I was thinking of the stickers, and the bugs. I’m an indoor personality, I admit.

I already can’t think of any coherent way of putting this together, but I do remember specific instances, like when the werewolves came out (when they were still guys) and all I could think about was Spoony’s review of New Moon, the movie, and the homo-erotic undertones of their interactions. Again, haven’t seen that movie myself. But he makes a good case for it, especially when you consider Jacob really isn’t the ‘chosen one’. Except for the daughter. Anyway, while I’m not going to choose sides in that “Team So-and-So” thing, other than enjoying the Burger King commercials, I like the werewolves in the movie. They’re giant and cuddly! like great big stuffed animals! although I imagine the hip surgeries would get expensive and hard to explain (did you see the way they were walking?).

My brother and I decided that Bella and Edward were boring and irritating, but if the story had been about the other Cullen vampires, it would have been awesome. Like Jasper, the one with crazy eyes and Shakespearean hair, although his backstory didn’t make any sense. (Also, I’ve spent so much time of sites making fun of it that I know all the characters. It’s very sad.) And my brother couldn’t stand Charlie’s uniform, and spazzed every time he came on screen with it on.

Bella is horrible to the poor guy, but we both thought he was cool. And, at least in the books, everyone got mad when Jacob kissed (almost typed killed) Bella ‘against her will’, which is bad, as are all the stalker-ish things he says (you know, the same things Edward says). In the movie, though, it does show Bella as very much leading him on (or that’s how I saw it) and though I don’t want to stray into blame the victim territory, because she does push him away. Yay!

Of course then she breaks her hand on his face trying to punch him–which first of all was unnecessary, I mean, she pushed him off, she should have just left–and really, she breaks her hand? I think should ought to go to the hospital to find out if she has a bone condition, or maybe cancer. That’s a really worrying symptom. But it’s supposed to be LOLclumsy, so I had no trouble with everyone else making fun of her.

Except Ed of course, but heh. And, aside from that whole “I’d rather see you dead than undead” line, where I twitched a lot, I liked Jacob. He was just really really confused after what apparently happened in New Moon. And again, I appreciated any screen-time not devoted to Bella/Ed.

Then the tent scene, which was fun to watch with a boy scout, because apparently that’s a cold weather tent and it shouldn’t be much lower inside than 40F degrees, and he said she was in a 0-degree sleeping bag (or at least a 25 as he’s just informed me). So they were well-prepared. And Bella was just faking. Sporfle. Then they have the whole argument in which Ed reveals their engagement and Jake loses it, so Bella gets him to kiss her, and how awful was that? I felt so bad for him, although he does keep falling for it.

Then we get to the battle, which I liked, because it made me think of vampire movie!football and “GAP AD FORMATION”. They certainly didn’t seem to be accomplishing much other than knocking them over repeatedly until the wolves got there. And I don’t get how Jake got injured, because the vampires move too fast to make sense.

But poor pretty captured vampire. The one the ogre vampire killed because…? Well, I have no idea. But I guess the Cullens as a whole don’t care for anyone but Bella. (Which was admittedly demonstrated when they watched the national news and all the havoc being wrecked, knowing the problem early on and moving on with less than a shrug of the shoulders.) And when they agree to save the pretty little vampire, but just give her up to the red-eyed Sith–oh wait, Volturi, because what’s-her-name asked them to. Dakota Fanning. If it had been about her and the Riley gang, it would have been a cooler movie.

Well, in addition to everything else that would have made it a cooler movie, if a less funny one.