Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whatever Happened to "My Immortal"

On New Years Eve, when most people are out at parties drinking champagne, my friend Ari was giving me a full-scale performance reading of the horrible and hilarious Harry Potter fanfiction "My Immortal."  If you haven't read it, really, just look at the first few chapters (I ended after chapter four, where they "both smoked cigarettes and drugs")  and come back . . . I'll wait.

(la dee dee dum . . . Walton Goggins . . .  la dee dum)

Back?  Okay, good. 

So a couple of google searches for the infamous Tara Gilesbie turned up a twitter account and several fanpages, including links to her now-defunct myspace page (Ah, MySpace . . . for general losers, shitty bands, child molesters and cheating scumbags like my ex-stepdad.)  Whether any of these are really her is up for debate.  Whether she wrote the story as a joke or as an actual fanfiction from the deepest recesses of her black goffik Mary Sue heart, we will never know.

Oh Hi Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way
I wonder who she is and what she's doing.  Did she really slit her wrists because of all the trolls?  Did she go on to college, get her bachelors in creative writing and end up at Stonecoast MFA telling me I needed to work on my sentence structure?  Does she look back on this and find old pictures of herself in chalk makeup and Lip Service dresses and laugh her head off, or does she still turn out page after page of fanfiction, hidden away in a Mead notebook scrawled with anarchy symbols and upside-down pentagrams while My Chemical Romance blares from a stereo painted in white-out?  Does she admit that she is the one who wrote "My Immortal" and does she show it to people from time to time, pulling out the orignal notebooks with the math equations to prove it when they don't believe her?  Has she become the Tommy Wiseau of fanfiction, once so serious, now pretending it was all a joke?

Tom Servo Does Not Endorse Fanfiction
I ask this because, in my own stupid way, I was that girl.  I revile fanfiction as a rule, but if you go through my trunks you'll find tons of X-Files stories, complete with a Mary Sue named Gina and a lot of Scully hatin', all in spiral-bound Mead notebooks with Tom Servo drawn all over them.

I also have tons and tons and tons and tons and TONS of bad poetry, but I'll let you read my fanfiction before you read my poetry.  Yes, Morrissey, I wrote such bloody awful poetry.

And yes, I was a goth chick.  In my defense, I was a goth chick before it was cool, and only my finest dressed came from Hot Topic, because I was fifteen and I didn't have any money for an $80 lace dress when I could modify one from Salvation Army for $10.  My mom wouldn't let me dye my hair or wear makeup, so at least I was saved from that embarassment.  I listened to the Cure and the Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees, none of which were cool in Cobleskill, NY in 1998.  I watched Tim Burton movies before he was fashionable with the Claire's crowd, but, unbenownst to me and despite all this tragic hipness, I was just like every other idiot loser teenager.

The Author, Looking Goffik

I look back on those photos with a combination of embarassed laughter and envy.  Laughter because, well, I'm wearing Queen Amidala lipstick and a black lace dress with sleeves that drag when I walk.  Envy because I didn't care.  I wasn't a particuarly self-conscious girl; I didn't get hurt when people made fun of the way I dressed. I chose to dress that way, and I knew it had consequences.  I didn't care.  I miss those days.  I miss my striped tights and my long black dresses and my bad makeup.  I still have the dresses, and sometimes I put them on, but I look at myself and feel silly.  I'm not that girl anymore. Sure, I still have my Morrissey hoodie and I bought some skinny black jeans and sure, I've got a pair of striped tights that are really really warm, but I'm not Belladonna Ravenwood or whatever stupid name I probably called myself on whatever goth messageboard I frequented.  Despite what I told myself, it was a phase.  A long one, but a phase nonetheless.  I got to college, where I should have been "free" to "be myself" (already had that one covered) and was too lazy to go through the motions.  I didn't have a bus to ride, I had to hoof it to class and that's hard to do in 4-inch platform heels.  I realized myself had grown up and could move on to new fashion statements--the Tom Waits/Patti Smith/Jackie Boy inspired androgyny I went through when I lived in Brooklyn.  The Cyndi Lauper/New Wave phase I went through in grad school.  The Victoria Beckham skinny jeans and heels phase I like to pretend I'm in now (Victoria Beckam has heating oil and lives in California, so she can wear heels all the time).  Or the freedom to say, "fuck it, it's cold, I'm putting on my boyfriend's big wool sweater and I don't care."

And my writing changed, thank God.  But I look back on those with a sort of affection too.  Those were my first crime stories.  Writing those paved the way for the kind of writing that would help me make a name for myself.  Will I be sending them to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine?  Probably not.  (Then again, they've rejected everything else I've sent them, couldn't hurt, right?) But maybe one day I will resurrect Gina, my first assassin, and make a name for her without Mulder and Scully.

Tara, wherever you are, I hope you're well.  I hope you've learned to spell.  And I hope you've learned to laugh at yourself . . . and maybe gotten some better taste in music.  If you want, I'll make you a Siouxsie mix tape.

Friday, February 25, 2011

You're Dead to Me, Chaz

Charlie Sheen has been saying a lot of crazy things lately, among them "Thomas Jefferson is a pussy" and "Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult."  But nothing is as crazy as him calling Major League 3: Back to the Minors "an abortion."  Well, I guess that's something Charlie Sheen would know a lot about (you think the clinic gives him a discount punch card?) but in his coke-fueled ramblings, Charlie Sheen has failed to see the good things that Major League 3 has given us, things that Charlie Sheen is trying to take away from you.

1) Walton Goggins.  He'd mostly done TV up until Major League, and this movie gave America a chance to see his glorious ass in a tight baseball uniform.  America's favorite pastime ladies and gents . . . staring at nice asses on a big screen.

2) Kenny Johnson.  From a series of TV bit parts came this glorious hunk of a man, with his bowl cut and his six pack abs.  He and Walton Goggins were roommates on the set, and BFFs for life.

All Signs Point to HOT
3) Kenny Johnson in a leotard.  It took me awhile to decide whether this was sexy or not

Without Major League 3, there would be no Lemansky.  No heartbreaking season 5 finale of The Shield.  Charlie Sheen is trying to take that away from you.  You wouldn't let a coke addict break into your house and take your stereo, would you?  No, so are we going to let one come into our hearts and take away something so much more precious?    

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fuck You, Nathan Rabin

It should be noted that in a few weeks, I'll be giving up swearing for Lent, so I might as well get this out now.

Fuck you in the face, you hipster douchebag

Rabin's "Two Cheers for the Maligned Slacker Dude" is the most self-serving piece of tripe I've read this side of, well, The AV Club.  For starters, fuck him for thinking he understand what it means to be a 20-something.  Rabin is 35 years old.  He's in a completely different generation from the so-called "slackers" he's writing about.

Secondly, the difference between the Gen-X slacker and the New Slacker Rabin can't shut up about is that the New Slacker comes from a different economic situation.  Mark Zuckerberg didn't create/steal Facebook from the dorm of his state college, he started it from Harvard.  This generation of losers can afford to waste time on MFAs in lolcats because their helicopter parents will let them move back in with them.

And hey, what about slacker broads?  What about those of us who are putting off marriage and children in the face of our mothers asking when we're going to get hitched, or our sisters and friends who've already had babies?  Why not?  Rabin knows as much about being a woman as he does about being a 20-something--i.e nothing. 

Worse, I hate being praised for the so-called courage of my creativity.  I don't need you to pat me on the back, Rabin.  I lost my job and we're heating our place with space heaters and wool sweaters because we can't afford fuel oil and we don't qualify for any government subsity programs.  I chose to major in creative writing, I chose to go to grad school for the same thing. It's my fault that I'm cold, but damn it if I'm not busting my ass to send out submissions, write another novel (the first two were universally rejected) write spec scripts with my awesome partner Matthew (a badass Gen-Xer who could hand Rabin his ass) and make my degree work for me.  Hell, this blog was started as a grad school project.  I don't need a handjob from Nathan Rabin any more than I need anyone's pity.

I didn't go into writing to be brave.  I didn't go into it to make money.  I went into writing because 1) I didn't get into theater school and 2) Because I love writing.  I love writing enough to risk being cold and hungry and miserable for it.  Having some of that Harlan Cobin money would be nice, but it's not my sole reason for putting pen to paper.  There are easier things I could do for cash, like escort work. 

For a really lovely piece of writing on Nathan Rabin, check out Daryl "Fucking" Hall's Profiles in Coverage, which features a picture of Rabin looking like David Cross' wang in a novelty colored condom from the punchbow in the RA office.

 And finally, to apologize for all this rage and for yesterday's picture of Snooki, here is a picture of my kitten, Bosco, with his tongue sticking out.  Yes, those are my mix CDs on the floor behind him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Owe Liz Hand a High Five

I was pretty harsh on Generation Loss and the author, Liz Hand, possibly cosmically, found my blog. You can read her comment, but what it basically boils down to is that she didn't throw a fit or call me a douchebag or say "fuck you, I'm a real writer and you just have a blog," she kept the line open for discussion and allowed me to interpret her work.  She gave me the real explaination, which probably wasn't easy, but said "And I personally would never take it amiss that you (or anyone else) would beg to differ as far as opinions of writing or writers go"


This is a real deviation from most of the writers I went to school with.  If you made one comment other than "this is brilliant and it will be taught alongside To Kill a Mockingbird," a few things might happen:

1) The writer would come up with some long-winded bullshit explaination about how it's explained in the other chapters, or in the movie, or the comic book series or the line of toys, none of which actually exist.  Or worse, the dreaded "but that's how it really happened!" (although I will admit, I have given answers 1 and 5)

Pictured: New York Times Bestseller

2) The writer would call you a moron and tell you to go back to watching The Jersey Shore with all the rest of the illiterate hicks.

3) The writer would go to administration and cry, then administration would threaten to kick you out of the program.

But no, Liz wrote to me, honestly and earnestly, and opened up a dialogue.  She didn't throw a hissy fit or try to have my blog shut down or send me pictures of her sitting on piles of money kissing her World Fantasy Award.  She said, "hey, let's talk, writer to writer."  Those of you who aren't writers cannot possibly comprehend how rare and cool that is.

So Liz, if you're reading, I owe you a major high five.  Thanks for setting me straight.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And we're back . . .

 . . . so I just finished watching the 1st season of Justified and I was ultimately unimpressed.  Before I get to my big thesis, some stray observations:

1) Walton Goggins is brilliant . . . most of the time.  But a lot of his performance as Boyd Crowder is straight out of the Billy Bob Thorton handbook, (minus the head cocked slightly to the side) and Billy Bob Thorton creeps me out because he looks like this guy who's dating my mom.

2) Enunciate, Mr. Olyphant.  I'm from Oklahoma City, and half the time I can't understand a damn thing you say.

I Hate You Like Anakin Skywalker Hates Sand
  3) Ava is now number three on the list of TV Women I Utterly Loathe.  Rita (Dexter) is number two, and Mara (The Shield)  has the proud place as Public Enemy #1.  For the record, Corinne (The Shield) is Number Four.

But my real problem with the show, I realized (other than that it's boring as sin) is that it, like Dexter, The protagonists don't have anything to care about, therefor, they lack vulnerability and connection.

In the first episode of The Shield we learn two things about Vic--he has a family and his team is also his best friends, and he will do anything, literally anything, to protect them. Later on, when Shane takes center stage, we feel for him because we believe he's doing all these bad things to protect his friends, his horrible, shrewish wife and his newborn son. These characters, as horrible, unlikable and damned as they are, are real in the sense that they are vulnerable, they have people they care about, they have something to lose.
Raylan and Dexter don't have these things.

The first season of Dexter is so great because despite Dexter's "I can't care about anything because I'm a monster boo hoo hoo" attitude, he does care about someone--the mysterious killer who keeps leaving dismembered Barbies in his freezer. He is fascinated, so we are fascinated. By the second season, though, the novelty has worn off, and his fascination/caring/murdering Lila is just half-heated leftovers of the season before.
In Justified, Raylan is such a badass that he lives in a motel. He can pack up and go at any point. Sure, he bangs Ava, and Wynonia, but generally, the audience gets the sense that he doesn't give a fig about anyone or anything other than his stupid cowboy hat.
THIS in contrast to Boyd.  There's a scene where the other prisoners have him pinned up against the wall, and he's clutching his Bible, but not in an overwrought community-theater/Frightened Inmate #2 sort of way, like "please don't hit me, I'm a man of God!" . . . he's holding it tightly to his skinny chest, with a look in those small, dark eyes that says, "I'm scared, but I have faith that my God will protect me." And sure enough, someone comes to his rescue.
Point is, Boyd has something to care about, so we care about him. It's a small, beautiful scene, and Goggins plays it sublimely.

Neither Could Kenny Johnson in a Leather Jacket

Sons of Anarchy tried to give the main character something to care about, (a premature crack baby) which was a good start, but it's such a poorly written show that even a half-dead baby couldn't save it.

HOWEVER, the reason people love Justified and Dexer is because they are pure wish-fulfillment. "I wish I could murder bad people!" "I wish I could wear a cowboy hat and shoot bad guys!" "I wish I didn't have to care about my nagging wife and my yelling kids." "I wish I lived in a motel and could just pack up and leave." Dexter and Raylan are living out our fantasies, and we've confused that with good writing because it makes us feel placated instead of making us feel something that might confuse or hurt us.

So keep your sexy badasses . . . and I'll keep my handsome screw-ups.