I Think Stephanie Meyer Needs to Start Suing

Another person has gotten a book deal from Twilight fanfic. In other words, they took characters Stephanie Meyer created, utilized information about those characters and scenarios she developed in her books, and expanded upon them. And then, when their derivative works got popular, they changed the names and maybe some slight details, and got book deals. With major publishers. Who should be willing to shit a brick and go after anyone who tried that with one of their author’s intellectual properties.

I think fanfic is wonderful. If you love my characters enough that you want to invent other adventures for them, great. As long as it’s free and as long as your debt to my work is clear, it seems like great free publicity.

But the second you’re making money passing off my characters and my plot points as your own? And getting paid for it? I’d be pissed.

Maybe Meyer has some kind of licensing arrangement with these guys and, if so, fine. Make her rich.

But if not, I think Meyer needs to sue–not just for her own benefit, but so there’s legal precedent about whether this is legal.

Things You May Enjoy

1. Zazel, who took off most of her clothes to be shot out of a cannon, which, frankly, is the only reason I take off most of my clothes anymore. Otherwise, it’s either all or nothing.

2. I hope this is true and I know one of you will be able to tell–are the old docks under there? Also, I think my favorite view of downtown is from that spot.

3. I got to use my knowledge of antique Spanish porn over at Pith. I am guessing Professor Reynolds never had the experience of going through his proper Methodist grandmother’s things after her death and finding postcards from all the titty bars she went to in New Orleans, but I refuse to accept that we’re so much dirtier than our grandparents were.

Good People

I promise, I’m not going to write about this a ton, because I know it would get tedious to read. But I am really, really grateful to you guys.

I have a ton of thank you notes to write, but as I was saying to S., I’m a little stressed because clearly they will have to go out via email and how will you guys really know how grateful I am if you don’t have to decipher my handwriting?

Today when Mrs. Wigglebottom and I were walking, I swear I heard a bobwhite. I don’t know what one has to do with the other, just that it made me feel lucky. And y’all make me feel very lucky as well.

I Have Better Friends than I Deserve

Last week, K. called me up and said, “We’ve already planned this, so you can’t say ‘no.’ Just be gracious and agree to it.”

“Agree to what?” I asked, already sensing that this would be something that went against my every Midwestern instinct to just pretend that, if we just never mention something, it’s the same as it not being a problem. And then she told me and then I cried like a baby.

Some of you have been asking for a way to help with the expense of the ceiling and I was ignoring your requests because that’s the same as it not being a problem. See, everything’s fine! I don’t need to accept help!

But I am going instead to just be grateful. No pressure. Times are tough for everyone, so please don’t feel obliged. Honestly, that you read here every day is more than I can ask of anyone.

But here’s the information, if you want it. I will be reading the crap out of almost everything I have to read to people on the 18th. Please, feel welcome to come. I will probably be a snotty, weeping mess, but I will be a snotty, weeping mess happy to see you.

Either Music is Getting Better or I’m Losing My Taste

The Butcher and I were watching videos this morning and I swear, we hit a whole block between commercials that was just fantastic. I kind of feel like we’re living in a really wonderful moment in music. Either that or I have no taste. May be either thing, truth be told.

My favorite new thing I’m listening to is Jack White’s new album. I’ll admit, I tend to love everything Jack White does for like six months and then I just can’t bear it. But eh, who cares? Those first six months are wonderful.

I also dig this kid’s dancing, a nice mix of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and then–surprise–a little breakdancing.

I’m also tickled by St. Rita’s dance.  It clearly should be St. Vitus’ Dance, especially with the subject of the song, but I like the idea of the patron saint of battered women having a dance she does. Why not a little joy from St. Rita, you know?

I Hate My Brain a Little

It’s remarkable how it can say to me on one day “Well, you know, this thing isn’t right for that place, but you should go ahead and submit it on the outside chance they like it. No harm, no foul if they don’t” and then on another day say “Oh my god, they didn’t accept it. They probably hated it. You suck as a writer and should go back to just dreaming about doing it.”

Same damn brain in the same damn head. It’s like it doesn’t listen to the very pep talks it gives.

Does It Work?

One of the hardest things for me about writing is figuring out if something works, when I think it’s finished. It seems like there should be some basic formula–did the action build in this way? Was there a nice twist? Did the climax make sense? etc. But the truth is that I’m not always sure where the climax in my stories is. Which I probably shouldn’t admit, but there you go.

But let’s take the Chris Benoit story, which I have been farting with for months. It doesn’t work. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t. I still like the idea, and the execution seems right, but it just doesn’t do it for me.

And the truth is that, when I’m writing short stories, I revise until I get this certain feeling at the end. It’s hard to explain, but, if a story works, my stomach drops, just a little and then I literally feel like “ta-da!” when I reach the end. If I don’t feel that way, then I know it’s not a good story.

It’s all I have as my guide. So, I don’t know what, if anything, I’m going to be able to do to fix the Chris Benoit story. But I know it’s not right, right now.

On the other hand, I’ve got a story about a gal from East Tennessee I think works right and I’m going to see if I can find it a home.

There’s this thing–which I will tell you all about later, probably Monday or Tuesday, but it involves K. saying “It’s already done so just be gracious and go along”–which caused me to have to pull together some stories to read. And it was weird thinking about which stories I wanted to share, because I want them to be a mix of stories people can buy–A City of Ghosts, “Frank,” and The Witch’s Friend–and a mix of stories I hope they can someday read some place–”Sarah Clark,” something from the Sue Allen project, this new thing I have.

And I admit, I was tempted to read some of “Allendale,” the October story, because I am so excited about it. But it is not on the reading list. We will all go through it slowly together in October.

That story works. Mostly thanks to Lovecraft.

Anyway, it has me excited again, about my work.

She Liked It!

The Professor read the Sue Allen thing and liked it!

I have only given it to two people to read so far just because I’m so nervous that it’s too weird.

But she likes it.

Whew.

Also, I was at Ugly Mugs this morning to meet with the other person I’ve boobed up enough to give it to and the guy behind the counter introduced me to the concept of the joy-to-calorie ratio. This lets you add whipped cream to your cafe mocha without guilt because it has a high joy-to-calorie ratio. But I also think it’s brilliant because it’s going to dissuade you from eating McDonald’s if it makes you feel like shit, because that has a low joy-to-calorie ratio.

It’s not HAES, people, but it works. Or not. I don’t know how to quantify joy.

But I’m feeling it today.

The Butcher

I’m having… let’s call it an interesting day. I don’t want to go into the particularities, though believe me, I had a whole post devoted to it, because I’m becoming more aware of how public this place can be.

But interesting.

And the Butcher came home, listened to me talk about the interestingness, and then said, “Hey, things are going to be a little tight around here, but it will be fine. We can do this.”

And you know, I believe him.

Reason Number #34 I’m Glad I’m Not a Parent

My youngest nephew is on Twitter now. Why his father would let him do that when his Facebook account is just a wall of crap I’m not sure. He’s just too young. And yet, for his age, he’s pretty mature, due to his life being so hard. And it’s not like my brother or his wife would be able to enforce a social media moratorium so… yeah, not my kid. Not my problem.

But… among his first tweets on Twitter? The affectionate use of the term “my niggahs.” He has never, ever used that term around me. And I am pretty sure that he was quoting a rap song. And I am almost positive that he probably believes that there is a difference between “nigger” and “niggah.” I know how he thinks and I know how his mom thinks. Like I said, the use was clearly affectionate.

Here’s my problem. I think that my nephew, who is a young child, just hasn’t really thought about this. And he hasn’t had anyone talk to him about it. Yes, it’s racist as fuck, but he’s not tossing it around to intentionally disparage someone. He’s repeating lyrics of the rappers he admires. But, like I said, he’s smart. I think that, if someone–say me–talked to him about it, told him that it’s a terrible word that it’s just too easy for people to misunderstand a young white boy’s use of, he’d get it.

So, this should be as easy as just talking to him the next time I call my brother. Except (and yes, I knew you’d know there was an “except” here) I’m afraid that, if my brother or sister-in-law learned I had gone out of my way to talk to him about it, the repercussions for him would be of a severity that I would find very upsetting. There’s a little bit of a weird class dynamic going on here where I’m often presented to my nephews as the “smart” one or the “successful” one or the “one with money.” And I definitely get a feeling that the boys are not supposed to do or say anything around me that might embarrass their parents or there will be repercussions.

And I have my concerns that this particular behavior might be punished not because his parents think it’s wrong or want him to stop, but because he did something I had to reprimand him for.

So, it kind of sucks but I think I’m going to have to wait until I see him in person. We do get time to talk alone then and I can address it and he can ask me questions and we can discuss how words mean different things when different people use them without worrying about bringing the wrath of god down on him.

I guess that’s the way to go.

Deer Skull

S., because she is awesome, brought me a deer skull. I had intended on putting it in my room but the Butcher was so delighted by it that he talked me into letting it live here in the living room once we get the living room back together.

I have better friends than I deserve. I have long thought so, but this month has proven it.

Cigars

When I tell you what I’m about to tell you, you will be unsurprised to learn that my Grandpa Phillips died of brain cancer that riddled the bottom of his brain all along his sinuses. My Grandpa Phillips practically chain-smoked Muriel Magnum Cigars. They came in boxes of 50 (they still may, I don’t know) and my Grandpa would go through at least five boxes a month. The empty boxes became trunks for Barbie clothes. They held nuts and bolts and washers and screws in his workroom in the basement. They were everywhere, useful boxes.

Nothing brings him to mind as quickly or as firmly in my mind as the smell of Muriel cigars. My Grandpa didn’t really like men, to put it mildly, and my dad was among his least favorite men on the planet. My Grandpa died when the Butcher was quite young, about three and a half, but the Butcher still has vivid memories of him hooking his cane around the Butcher’s ankle and toppling him over. For some reason, that cane came to the Butcher. I don’t know if my dad took it after my grandpa died or if the Butcher took it after my Grandma died, but it hangs over our mantle now.

It’s because of men like my Grandpa that I hope the afterlife is either a lie and we all just rest, finally at quiet, dark, nothing-filled peace, until we are food for worms and trees and grass. Turned over like you turn over a compost pile, reused in some way that requires nothing more of us than moulder in our graves until even they crumble. Or that we are unbent, unburdened by the things that weigh us down here. I hope people are recognizable, but I hope more that they are happy.

Ha, speaking of my dad, he just told me on the phone that I have to stop insinuating on Facebook that I’ve been cursed, since “life just happens.” I didn’t share with him that he sounds a lot like an old chthonic goddess.

Anyway, I think all us Phillips granddaughters have been known to smoke a Muriel in our day. At least, in our younger days. I’m not sure my lungs could handle it now.

Just What I Didn’t Know I Needed

Last night I had dinner with some friends and managed to drink just the perfect amount of wine and a delicious cup of coffee. The conversation was excellent. And I could tell the story of my ceiling as a story and not as the traumatic thing that happened to me that I want to throw up over. And that was really, really nice.

The tire turned out to be a minor thing, a $20 fix. There was a little piece of metal in it which they found and removed and fixed. I was so relieved I almost started crying.

I would like to get back to writing. I don’t know what, but I had just been so nicely in the groove of it and I’d like to get back to it.

I had a dream, like a meaningful dream, that I was on a sled with Hel, who was, as you’d expect, half soft, beautiful woman and half skeleton and we were going down the hill–this huge hill–into town and in the dream, right when we’re about to curve to make the final descent into town, she says something like “That’s where you go, but if you didn’t?” and she flung me over the side of a cliff and I fell and fell and fell until I was in the underworld where I found a black pearl and put it in my pocket.

And I think the meaning is straightforward–things are going to be okay. But even if they weren’t, there would be value in the experience.

And I think that’s true. I may be too hung up on luck.

Though, I must say that I love the idea of life being a sled-ride with Hel. Creepy, but it feels right.

Again on Luck

I still don’t know how to think of this month of July. Are the events of it bad luck–too hot weather, double paying the cable bill, the ceiling crashing down, the car tire? Or were they just neutral events that were likely to happen no matter what? If they are just neutral events, how can I see myself as anything other than fortunate that I have managed to escape them thus far with only minor inconvenience (and enormous stress)?

I can’t help but feel that something in July wants a taste of my broken heart, though. And the fact that I have bruised but not broken–yet, knock on wood–as I race for the end of the month does not dissuade it from reaching its spindly fingers after me.

Updates

My rear driver-side tire was low on air yesterday. The Butcher filled it up and we both fully expected it to be low again this morning. But it looks fine to me. But I don’t trust my judgment. But I am also almost completely out of money until the first of the month. I have enough to get my prescriptions and enough to get gas this weekend and that’s it. I really, really need the tire to have magically repaired itself. I also need to not double-pay my cable bill like an idiot ever again.

But what can you do? It’s a weird month. Double-paid cable bill? Sucks, but eh, it’s okay. Ceiling caved in? Well, no one died. And the air conditioning didn’t go out because of it. Lawn mower stopped working? Lawn mower mysteriously started working again. Tire mysteriously low on air? Tire now not losing air.

I had another drywall guy out to the house yesterday and he reiterated what Monday’s guy said–he would not try to screw the existing ceilings back into the joists. There’s too big a risk that you’d just be making a fault-line along which the ceilings would break. But he then also went through the house with me and pointed out that a.) the kitchen and the bathroom already have new ceilings. No need to worry about them AT ALL. b.) the dining room and the Butcher’s room’s ceilings look excellent. Flat and lovely. c.) the ceiling in my room has one small low spot, but it also has already had some repair work done to it. He showed me where. And he’s not very concerned about it coming down. So, d.) the only other ceiling we have to figure out how to deal with as soon as possible is the one in the den. But he gave me some advice on shoring that up in the meantime. (Not really to keep it from falling, but to keep it from hitting anyone when it does.)

So, we’ll see what his bid is. But even if I don’t go with them, I owe those dudes a real solid, because they gave me good advice and helped me see what to look for and kept me from making the costly mistake of trying to shore up the other ceilings.

Still, WTF, July?

That’s My Car!

On our way back from lunch, my co-worker said to my other co-worker, “Do you see that silver car over there? You can tell that person has a dog by all the nose prints on the back windows.”

I guess I should be embarrassed that my car’s nose prints are visible from across the parking lot, but I am not.

Some People Talk to Themselves. I Sing to Myself.

There were times when we first lived in Nashville that were pretty dire, when we ate rice for dinner for weeks because it was cheap. When I was so sick and we didn’t know why. And I would find myself, often curled over the counter, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just singing without realizing it, “Everything’s going to be all right.” I was raised on lullabies, what can I tell you?

I believe in the power of music to soothe when nothing else will.

It’s funny, because I just sang it, over and over again. I never wondered where it came from. And then years later, when the Butcher was going through a substantial Peter Tosh period, I realized, it was, of course, a snippet of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” which I must have picked up in college and carried with me until I needed it.

This morning, as I was walking the dog, I realized I was singing out-loud, “I’m for love. I’m all for happiness. I’m for–if you don’t like it, can’t you just let it pass?” and I laughed to myself and I thought, “Who the fuck sang that reasonable song and why the fuck can’t he have a talk with Hank Jr.”?

I know you already know where this is going. It was Hank Jr.

Fun with Search Terms

Some days I like to see what searches brought people to Tiny Cat Pants. Today, though, I have two odd terms, terms so odd that the Butcher and I have just spent twenty minutes discussing them.

Case one: “rugby penis”  Is this some kind of sports injury? “Man, my jock strap rode up on me strange and I got a terrible case of rugby penis”? Do rugby players have distinctive kinds of penises? “Oh, you can tell he’s an athlete by his rugby penis.”?

Case two: “man carrying woman and kissing her boobs at the same time” Is this a dude carrying a large-breasted woman in the classic “bridegroom & bride vs. threshold” position? Is this a guy carrying a gal in reverse piggy-back? If so, how does he see where he’s going? Is he walking backwards so that she’s shouting directions while looking over his head? How can she concentrate on giving directions?

Most importantly, can we call the injury a man sustains from trying to carry a woman and kiss her boobs at the same time “rugby penis”?

I wish that I could find someone to do an “illustrated search terms that bring people to Tiny Cat Pants” but I feel like it would be completely NSFW.

Bagster

We got a Bagster bag to put the ceiling in and get it hauled away and they’re coming today. I swear, I am dying of a desire to throw up because I’m so terrified they’re going to say that ceiling weighs more than 3,300 lbs.  I like the idea of Bagster, but they have so many complicated rules–don’t put it under electric wires but don’t put it by your driveway unless your driveway is 10 feet wide. Put it by the road, but only if it’s within two Bagster lengths of the road. Don’t overfill it with more than 3,300 lbs of stuff.

I’d already bought the bag when I realized that there really wasn’t any place I could put the bag on my property that would satisfy all of their rules. I’m just hoping they don’t charge us a billion dollars for not following them.

I’m also obviously overly-anxious about this because my head is still fucked.

I wonder if I will ever get my brain back, frankly.

Short Things

–I admit, I have outsourced the True Blood watching to the Butcher (He says, “It’s nice to see the Smoke Monster from Lost getting work.”) and so I was unprepared for just what a hot mess it is these days. But what the fuck kind of Yoda shit is that? Literally the only interesting thing I saw was some bad ass grandma werewolf and a wedding video. What happened? Dear lord, what happened?

–”I demand, by the way, a five-year moratorium on all song references to beer.  There are other ways to go:  ‘This vodka will rockya.’  ‘A guy likes his rye.’  Anything.  Try water; the Sons of the Pioneers did.” I loved this whole thing. I will now make my millions writing a love song using Diet Dr Pepper as the central metaphor. I will rhyme it with “Oh, sure” and “yep, sir.” Though, with my luck, it will only make the Americana charts. Though, if it made the Americana charts because the Band of Joy performed it? That’d be okay, I guess.

–Hee hee hee.

–Today is kind of a weird day at work. I mean, obviously, I’m not there yet, but it will be. I love my job and these kinds of things rarely happen–where something we produce directly relates to the biggest news story of the moment and so we need to market our product based on that tragedy. But it’s still weird. It makes you think that there is something fundamentally fucked up about marketing, about turning everything into a way to sell something.

–But it will be nice to get back to work. Get back into the routine a little.

The Dark Knight Rises

I loved it. I thought Anne Hathaway was amazing. A revelation. Really, a loving nod to the old 60s TV show Catwoman, I thought. And the only place in Nolan’s movies I really saw any acknowledgment of the TV show at all. But there’s no mistaking the silhouette. It’s Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar in a size we’re more comfortable lusting over these days.

Still, it was hard not to wonder at what point the real shooting started. I cried at the end, even though I didn’t think they were going to do the thing they of course didn’t do, because the movie ended on such a hopeful note–that people could really be their best selves, that they could find happiness, that they could escape from the weight of the tragedies that define them.

And yet, that movie will be forever associated with the dude who literally stole that ending from the people in that theater in Aurora. It’s impossible to put that out of your mind, I think, when you’re watching it–how many people literally never made it to the end, because some fuckers have to throw their lot in with evil.

I don’t know. It’s a good movie, but due to circumstances, it’s incredibly sad. In some ways, the movie posits a better world than the one we live in.

I Think I’m To the Staring Off Into Space Point

Yesterday was something of a total loss. I was a tired wreck all day and the first guy to come over and give me an estimate said I need to take down all the ceilings and put up new ones, because it was the only way to be safe. I asked him to give me a quote on drywall screwing the other ceilings to the rafters–you know, just reattaching or more firmly attaching the ceiling to the joists that have been holding them for all this time and he quoted me a price that was–seriously, the same as the cost of doing the whole living room. The living room, which has some minor demolition that needs to be done, new drywall that needs to be purchased, taping, etc., is the same price as running screws into the rest of my ceilings?!

By this reckoning, I can only assume that drywall screws must be the biggest materials cost on a construction site.

I’m half tempted to get a construction dude to give me his honest opinion for which I promise, in writing, not to hold him liable, about which kind of screw would be best suited and get the Butcher a stud-finder, a chalk line and a bunch of screws. Hell, people, I will happily live with looking up and seeing screw heads in my ceilings. I will make it so cool to have screwheads in your ceilings that other people die of jealousy that they do not.

How can it possibly be that expensive to do that? And anyway, how could I possibly afford to get all new ceilings? It’s just ludicrous. We’d have to move out of the house, which we can’t afford–even if we stayed in the camper, where would we bathe?–, we’d have to move everything somewhere, and then… what? Pull money to do that out of our asses? Just the logistics of it are insane. Plus, it seems like the kind of thing that just starts to ratchet up costs rather quickly. “Oh, you need all new insulation because we had to take yours down, even though it was only ten years old.” “Oh, we broke your light fixture.” “Oh, don’t you want us to rewire while we’re in there?” “You know, it’d be easier to rewire if we took the walls down.” “Since we have the walls down, do you want us to frame you up a new bathroom?” “Oh, hey, we need to replumb.” “Now’s the time to attach to city sewer!” “Oh, and by the way, we wrecked your driveway with all our equipment.”

I mean, my god, let’s just build a whole new house directly behind this one and then I’ll move in there and you can tear this one down. I’m sure that would be the easiest way to make sure the ceilings never again fell.

And what’s two mortgages in the grand scheme of things? After all, it is my safety.

Ugh.

Bless My Uncle B.

I called him to see if the estimate I got on shoring up the rest of the ceilings was reasonable and I told him how I’m just sick with the idea that ever pop or snap in the house is a nail popping out of the ceiling joist and he pointed out that I could measure the ceiling height at the wall and the ceiling height in the middle of the room and voila! I would know if the ceiling was sagging.

Of course, I can’t find the tape measure, but it still makes me feel better.