Monday, April 27, 2009

It's a wild life.

I boiled a chicken, stripped the bones and boiled them and the skinny cartilaginous bits to make chicken stock. This, of course, coincided with a heat wave. I was very happy with the temperature between 60 and 70. It was at least 95 on Friday. It hasn't been quite so hot since and the daffodils are holding up nicely.

So, chicken soup: I strained it and wanted to offer some to the cats, particularly Nigel as he is a vacuum cleaner. I put it on a plate on the porch and forgot about it. At night, Marten scratched at the window and said he wanted to come in. I went to the door and there was ALREADY a kitty there eating the chicken, a nice BLACK and WHITE kitty with a PLUMY TAIL. The not-really-a-kitty kind of skunk-kitty. Who, fortunately, was not too bothered and left. Marten ignored him.

That was last night.

Saturday Sarah came over. Because of her job in a nature center she has some odd habits and some odd things in the back of her car,, to which she has added carrying a stuffed (roadkilled) bobcat. It has a lifelike pose, just a little taller and a little longer than Marten. Willow thought it was awful. She crept up almost to it, her tail fluffed, but changed her mind and slinked away. Then Marten showed up. He had no interest in it until he saw its face, when he fluffed up. Sarah, who claims to be a nice person, bumped the bobcat with her hand. It fell over and the two cats fled ZIP!!! under the cars.

Nigel touched noses with it. He's either quite intelligent or quite dumb.

Sarah's cats still hadn't gotten over it after a couple of hours of it being in their home.

Sarah's cat Abbey upon meeting "Bob"

The sink is now fully installed, the last piece of counter is ordered, and the stove is in process. After many calls to GE, we established that the adapter for liquid propane had actually not come a) installed, or b) in a plastic bag in the oven. It's now on order. I may actually move everything into the kitchen soon. Some of it for the second time. Whatever. It turns out that in hot weather the kitchenette is not nearly as attractive as the cavernous, cooler parts of the house, which will be an incentive. I had never spent any time here before last fall.

And now for some anthropology.

This is supposed to be a fiber-arty blog, with birds. The person who writes it, however, is not ashamed of being a science fiction and fantasy fan (maybe a touch defensive, but not ashamed). Fanfic (the Wikipedia entry is quite good, too) is a basic human desire, to take the good stories and add to them, maybe put yourself in. In Greek every two-bit village had a hometown boy who went to Troy, whose stories may or may not have been folded into the Iliad and the Odyssey. In mediaeval Europe, there were the tales of Arthur and his knights, who may have started out post-Roman Britons, seasoned with some magic cups from Wales and spiced up when the French got in on the act and put Lancelot in. Pre-literate fanfic, oral tradition, eventually met up with publication-- which can be immortality or zombie-fied stasis (The Once and Future King suggests that not all oral tradition is dead, along with new versions of Beowulf from Seamus Heany, Neil Gaiman and friends, and John Gardner). It's very hard to keep a good archetype down, and some stories are too good to leave alone.

By the late 20th century the archetypes were all over the place on TV, but no itinerant minstrels to promote them. (This was after movable type, but before plain-paper copiers.) There were expensively self-printed zines available, sometimes with COLOR! if you knew where to look, sometimes for sale at science fiction conventions, but years would pass between chapters in a serial. The writers, always an unreliable lot, had to be herded, and editted, and the editors had to come up with a substantial sum of money (this was before 'yuppie food stamps' and hedge funds). I was particularly impressed by one friend of mine who couldn't afford the $25-$45 for the zines in the Robin of Sherwood fandom. So she had poems published in all of them and got complimentary copies.

I survived high school writing pretty bad Star Trek fanfic (this was before there was more than one kind of Star Trek. Or more than a couple of Star Wars movies, either, thank God). It wasn't great art, but it was a good place to go and as the years passed it caused occasional self-discovery (like when I noticed how fed up my character was trying to pass for Earth-normal. I was living in England at the time. Alien angst, how interesting.) It is possible I may have written fan fiction about other TV shows, as well as original fiction. Eventually, mostly because of Katherine Kurtz, I fell in among some other literate fans and felt a little less freakish. (This was before, above all, before the Internet. You're not alone any more. Whoever you are. Even if you shouldn't exist.)

So one grows out of things, not enough to deprive me of some strong opinions about what constitutes Star Trek's canon (my God, there are articles on _everything_ on the Internet!) (and no, I won't be seeing the movie unless there is some STRONG recommendation), but I never had the hankering to write about Buffy or X-Files, even though I had strong convictions about some of the plot lines and how they ought to have gone. I haven't (skritched) it no more.

And for awhile I was TV free and snotty about it. And the Internet struck again. Then last week, for various reasons probably along the lines of 'idle hands,' I happened to Google 'Fanfic' the other day.

O Brave New World! or possibly, Holy CRAP!!!

I haven't delved too deeply, but have a look at this: There is fan fic about comics? about songs? about TV from the 70's _and they are still writing it as of this month? Alias Smith and Jones only lasted about three seasons, for goodness sake! and there's 90 stories or fragments up! More than Thirty-five THOUSAND Buffy fics? M*A*S*H? Teletubbies? Fics about Bill Nye the Science Guy? Mammoths having "Ice Age" sex?

If we could harness the energy of the inner and outer teenagers who write this, we could end world hunger.

But we'd still be hungry for stories about people we know and love and who, we know, would NEVER act like that. But they might.


Alice said...

You mean you really didn't notice when Sam started joking about Rosencrantz/Guildenstern around age 13?

Pyracantha said...

Legion of Superheroes fanfic.
15 PAGES of titles of Legion of Superheroes fanfic.

Laurie said...

I had NO idea that Star Trek canon was canonized. Jeez. On one hand, I want to say "get a life". OTOH, I'm happy someone is doing this. For posterity. For something.

LauraJ said...

Well, if you want to base anything on it (stories, morality, wars) you really have to define your terms. I wonder whether the Christians (and next, the Jews) deciding which of their books were canon was not the downfall of religion. Maybe just one more downfall. But 'in' and 'out' is pretty basic.

And I sincerely believe, as I tried to show, that fanfic is a basic human thing to do with stories.

I vary between "Get a life" and thinking a) writing fanfic at least exercises creativity and ideally, grammar and style (I think it helped me on the SATs, where you're supposed to rewrite sentences?). It allows people like me who are not inclined to write visual description to cut to the chase and work on character deployment (and possibly development). And you know, I would rather read a developmentally young person's take on people we both know than have to read her attempts to make up people from the beginning.

And some independent writers started out in fanfic, like Naomi Novik who pens a wonderful dragon and started out writing Aubrey & Maturin.