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Carla M. Lee
I'm not linking to the damn thing right now, because I don't want to look at it again, I don't want a link to it here in my space, but XOJane just published an essay in which the author flat out says that a person with a mental illness was better off dying than living, because there was no way for her to have a real life because of her mental illness.

My immediate response was on Twitter: What the fuck were you thinking, @xojanedotcom?! The essay about a mentally ill person being better off dead is harmful, exploitative, wrong. Everyone involved with its publication should be ashamed, @xojanedotcom. I am disgusted and enraged. I am harmed. I ache for others you hurt.

I am angry. I am harmed. I am trying to formulate an actual response, one that I can publish and share. I'm not yet to that point, because I am still so enraged.

Clickbait or not. Flip personal essay or not. Words matter. Words mean things. Words hurt people. Fuck XOJane and fuck the author. I am ashamed that I have a pub credit at XOJane, if they are going to publish shit like this.

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Carla M. Lee
19 May 2016 @ 08:44 am
I’m a Book Depository affiliate, and will receive a small credit if you order from BD using any of the BD links below. There is no additional cost to you.


Not sure how the day got away from me yesterday, but here's this week's belated Wednesday Reading.

What I've Read

TEN MILES PAST NORMAL by Frances O'Roarke Dowell (Book Depository link): Lovely, quiet contemporary about reluctant farm girls, family dynamics, girls playing bass, and Civil Rights activists. I know I've read the first half before, but I did not remember the second half at all, so I'm not entirely sure if this was a first time read for me or not. It was a lot of fun, and I'd love to spend more time with these characters.

SLEEPAWAY GIRLS by Jen Calonita (Book Depository link): A cute contemporary about a girl standing up for herself from her best friend for the first time and going away to camp for the summer. There's a little bit of BUT THIS COULD BE FIXED IF YOU JUST TALKED TO EACH OTHER that annoys me no matter where it shows up, but it's cute and fun. I just learned there's a second book, so that's exciting.

THE GIRL I USED TO BE by April Henry (Book Depository link): Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. A (fairly quiet) murder mystery about a girl whose mother was killed when she was just a toddler, and whose father was suspected of being the killer. Now, when she's nearly an adult, additional evidence reveals that her father was killed at the same time, and the killer is still out there somewhere. It's a fairly interesting story, but I had a hard time staying engaged with it, even though I liked the grumpy main character a lot. I'm working on a review of this one.

THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS by Sarah Jude (Book Depository link): Creepy horror\suspense that is super atmospheric and wonderful. A few decades ago, one of the townsfolk killed their May Queen and disappeared into the woods; they can still hear his screams. Now once again animals are being brutally slaughtered, and then girls start dying. There's a sweet little romance, the descriptive writing is fantastic, and I ended up loving this book despite the fact that it falls squarely in the Kill Your Queers trope. (TV Tropes calls it Bury Your Gays, but that leaves out a lot of sexualities.) I really like horror set close to home, and this works for me a lot. If I could read it on its own, divorced from a world where there are so many dead queer girls in particular in fiction, I wouldn't even have minded that the death drives the straight girl's motivations and emotions, but I can't. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. Still, excellent book.

What I'm Reading

TRUST ME, I'M TROUBLE (sequel to TRUST ME, I'M LYING) by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Book Depository links): I really enjoyed the first book, even though it has some absolutely ridiculous parts, and so far, I'm loving the second one even more. These are fun grifter-gone-good stories with some awesome teen girls, and I am a fan of that combination.

LISEY’S STORY by Stephen King (Book Depository link): Yes, I am still reading this. I really like Lisey, and I love the way her history with her husband unfolds throughout the story, in pieces and present thoughts and scenes set back in what she remembers, but it is really slow paced and easy to put down, so it is taking forever.

TREASURES, DEMONS AND OTHER BLACK MAGIC by Meghan Ciana Doidge (Book Depository link): I think I'm at least going to finish the first trilogy. I don't know if I'll continue it after. We'll see how much annoyance at the main character's "quirky" traits (and my dislike of first person narrators) balances against the stuff I do enjoy. So far, the stuff I enjoy is losing out, but maybe once I'm done with the cliffhanger ending, I'll like it more.

What I'll Read Next

HOLDING SMOKE by Elle Cosimano: Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. It also came out this week, and I'm so excited to read it. It's about a boy imprisoned for murder who can leave his body at will and the girl he teams up with to find the true killer.

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire (Book Depository link): Don't know why I haven't read this yet, because I normally read McGuire's work immediately, but I am looking forward to it.

DARK ALCHEMY by Laura Bickle (Dark Alchemy #1) (Book Depository link): I'm trying to avoid buying new books this year, except for a few favorite authors, but someone recommended the second book in the series to me recently, and I bought this book immediately. It sounds like western + magic + kick ass women, and I am here for that so hard. SO HARD.

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Carla M. Lee
16 May 2016 @ 10:42 pm
It's the middle of the month, time for a project update.

Current active projects:

UK Horror Project
(cowritten with Sarah)

1. Talking Dead
Young adult supernatural adventure. Ghosts, monsters, and killers, oh my. Status: Fourth draft in progress. Fourth draft combines Talking Dead and Monsters & Magic into one book. We generally write one chapter a writing session, and try to have at least one session a week though we've each had to cancel a few sessions, so while this seems like slow going compared to 2014, it's actually moving along quite well.

(Monsters & Magic used to be #2. Young adult supernatural adventure. Flirtatious werewolves and incorporeal monsters.)

2. Supernatural Slumber Party
Young adult supernatural adventure. It's a slumber party of supernaturals, see? Status: First draft complete. Second draft on hold until Talking Dead draft four complete.

3. Wicked Witches
Young adult supernatural adventure. Witches, dude, always with the witches. And the world goes BOOM. Status: First draft complete. Second draft on hold until Talking Dead draft four complete. Second draft combines Wicked Witches and Monster Mash into one book.

(The Monster Mash used to be #5. Young adult supernatural adventure. The world goes BOOM.)

Stand Alone Books

1. Monsters in the Trees
Young adult horror. Friends, makeouts, and monsters in an isolated cabin. Status: Draft one in progress. Slow progress. I need to do some more outlining on paper, I think, before I sit down at the computer again. We'll see if that helps.

2. Winter Cabin
New adult or adult paranormal romance. Flirtations and sexy times while snowed in interrupted by monsters and mayhem. Status: Draft one nearly complete. Though not as nearly as it should be. I hit the end of the outline around the end of March as planned, and then realized there's probably another 15k of story to write. Good times. (This will go under the pseud if it is published.) Got stuck partway through April, had to go back and reoutline in May to figure out where I went wrong. Just about to start the last 15k again off the new outline.

3. Monsters and Music
Young adult horror. Ghosts and werewolves, oh my. (witches and dead people and haunted things, too.) Status: Draft two in progress. Had an epiphany about the main romantic relationship, which I think will help structure the story.

4. Frozen World Fantasy
Adult fantasy. Brainstorming and talking to JBJ, another fantasy author, about how to write a fantasy novel. Doing some research on the writing side, working through world building before I start outlining.

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Carla M. Lee
15 May 2016 @ 08:31 pm
Inuit, Tattoos: 'This is so powerful:' Kitikmeot women revive traditional Inuit tattoos by Juanita Taylor, CBC News

Indigenous people are bringing back sacred practices that were forbidden by Christian missionaries a century ago, and it is wonderful. They're learning and sharing the traditional hand-poke and skin-stitching tattoo methods, too, and sharing with their community. This is so, so important.

Millie Angulalik broke down in sobs after seeing herself in the mirror.

Her niece had practised her new skill flawlessly, creating an exact replica of a traditional Inuit facial tattoo on her aunt's face.

"I feel so complete," said Angulalik. "Like really complete. I feel like flying like a bird."

The lines on her forehead represent her parents, who have died. The lines on her chin represent her niece, parents and two sisters.

"My mom and dad ... they're right there, they're the centre of me. They'll be with me forever to guide me through the Inuk way of life. This is so powerful and I'm really blessed my niece did it.

"I've always been Inuk but this is real Inuk, you know? I love it, I'm so proud of myself for doing that. I know I'm going to be strong now to walk forward in life."


Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nostalgia: 'Pioneer Girl' Laura Ingalls Wilder's Real Memoir Overturns Our False Nostalgia by Jennifer Grant at Christianity Today

One of my earliest memories is of my mom reading the Little House books to me. I can remember how she read, her lips shaping the words, precise, careful. I visited Mansfield, Missouri (Where the Little House Books were Written) as a child and as an adult, for different reasons, with different results. A friend of the family bought me LET THE HURRICANE ROAR when I was young and staying with her; we read it together, and then road tripped to Mansfield, and she told me stories about her own childhood. Episodes of the show were on in the background when my great-aunt taught me to cross-stitch.

There is a nostalgia, for me, that supersedes the actual story, and is much more about the experiences surrounding it, when I read it, when it was read to me, where, by whom. But there is a nostalgia to the books themselves, and it sounds like PIONEER GIRL really pushes back against that. I'd like to read it, because false nostalgia is interesting to me; Sarah and I talk a lot about the false nostalgia for the 50s and how to use that in our writing. (Not our current project, but one slated for the future.) I hope that it also pushes back against the way western expansion is idealized and the treatment of the Indians, but we'll see if it does.

I can’t imagine an editor that takes more pains in her diligence than does Hill in the new volume, published by the South Dakota Historical Society. Her notes detail everything from the differences between kinds of plums and varieties of jackrabbits to detailed minutiae about every person whom Wilder mentions in Pioneer Girl. The book is nearly 500 pages long; many of these are devoted to Hill’s research.

Despite my wistful memories of the Little House books and TV show, Pioneer Girl is not all grassy meadows and hymn sings. As has been noted in many reviews, the book paints an uglier picture of life “on the prairie” than do the children’s stories. The blizzards are colder, the people are generally less respectable, and the food is much, much scarcer.

Not long into reading Pioneer Girl, that sentimental fog that’s risen in me whenever I’ve thought about Laura Ingalls completely burned off. As Hill said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the real Laura Ingalls saw a “much grittier world” than did the fictional one.


YA, Publishing, ARCs, Blogging: On ARCs, Ethics & Speaking Up by Kelly at StackedBooks.org

This was written back in 2012, but is still applicable; there's a pretty huge discussion going on right now, after BEA (Book Expo America, a giant book event; 2016's event just took place in Chicago).

The problem emerges when ARCs show up with a price tag attached. When one person puts a price tag on a book that’s clearly an unfinished copy, that clearly has a note on it saying the item is not meant for sale, they’re practicing something that is unethical.

But the blame isn’t just on the person who sells the ARC. It’s also on the person who buys it, especially if it’s someone who knows better than that. It sort of sounds like a no duh moment, but the fact is, it happens, and it’s not as hidden as people think it is. Buying and selling of ARCs is much more common than we like to believe it is.

When someone purchases an ARC, rather than a finished copy of the book, they rob the book of a sale. The author and the publisher and the agent and the editor and everyone else involved in the production of a book sees nothing. The money spent on the ARC goes to the person unethically selling it, rather than to those who worked hard to put together the best finished version of that story.


Tattoos, Disability, Ableism, Queer: Tattoos and Disability: Surviving An Experience Not Everyone Can Handle by Carrie at Autostraddle.com

The suggestion that you manicure your disability (like you’re plucking your eyebrows or fixing your hair), the hungry curiosity, the gut reaction to stay “in hiding” while everyone else “walks nude through the house”—I’ve felt all of that, deeply. Sometimes I do it to myself. That’s the ableism I know: benevolent, well-meaning, even familial. The kind that everyone understands is wrong almost never happens to me. No one yells at me on the street, I’m not being denied social services or lifesaving care, and walking means that I can access most spaces (if not always on the first try). Instead, I get pity dressed as compassion. I get “I forget you’re disabled!”, glares for not giving up my seat on the train, and congratulations on being “so close to normal” (yes, that’s an actual thing somebody said). Able-bodied strangers ask “what happened?” not as an accusation, but in a way that invites sympathy. As if I’m going to say “yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it?”. They expect common ground. I look and behave and sound and succeed so much like them that I get an honorary spot on the team. That’s what ableism looks like filtered through privilege: an invitation to distance. Vitamin E for erasing parts of the body that bother other people.


Law, AIs, Tech: Artificially Intelligent Lawyer “Ross” Has Been Hired By Its First Official Law Firm

Don't mind me, I'll just be over here humming "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)". (Technology progresses, takes jobs, AIs inherit the earth.)

Literary Journals, Diversity, Marginalization: Who really needs another literary journal? by Ron Charles at The Washington Post

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a friend of mine, recently took over as editor in chief at the Offing, and I was interested to see this interview from last year about the journal and its purpose and goals.

And the fact is that, though necessary and laudable, the recent strides made by the literary community hardly touch its historical reality: The sheer volume of published work by mainstream writers versus historically marginalized writers speaks for itself. The Offing’s reason for being is, at least in part, to move beyond liberality, beyond tolerance, even beyond ‘welcome,’ to seek out and amplify the voices of these writers and artists, to put them at the center, to put them in charge. We are working, alongside many others, toward a more profound transformation of, and a true diversity in, the literary world — and the world beyond.


Vin Diesel, Social Media: A Powerful Collective Rooting for You: On Vin Diesel's Facebook by Muna Mire at the New York Times Magazine

I remember a time, not all that long ago, when it was difficult to find other people who were fans of Vin Diesel, even online. (This was post-Pitch Black and before The Fast and the Furious really started to take off.) And now look at him.

I also think there's an interesting look at traditional masculinity versus what he's creating there, but I haven't yet put those thoughts into order. If I ever do end up writing about this, I'd want to look at Dwayne Johnson's social media presence, too, because I think he does something similar in how he presents himself, though it's not quite the same sort of community building. (In part because it is on a different platform.) Actually, I'd also want to contrast them to Steve Austin and Chris Jericho -- crap, I do not have the time to do an in-depth analysis of masculinity tropes and how they are subverted (or not) in certain (former) pro wrestlers (and Vin Diesel, who is what started this whole train of thought in the first place).

It would be saccharine coming from anyone else, but Diesel's Facebook page stands in stark contrast to the gritty, unbreakable masculinity that has made him famous. VinBook certainly complicates his public image, adding a layer of earnestness that is both unexpected and welcome.

...

VinBook allows us a rare glimpse at a man who is so secure in his sense of self that he is able to be painfully sincere. Diesel is not self-conscious in the slightest; he posts about his love for Sarah McLachlan's music and his Dungeons and Dragons birthday cake (he wrote the foreword to the game's 30th anniversary retrospective book), decidedly unmasculine attributes.


Evolution, Fossils, Science: A Monster Comes out of Hiding: Researchers solve a long-standing phylogenetic mystery by Rachel Nuwer at Scientific American

If I had another life to live (or enough money that even more education wasn't prohibitively expensive; alas, I am still paying off my last degree), I would go into paleontology in a heartbeat.

In 1955 amateur fossil hunter Francis Tully discovered an exceedingly odd specimen in Mazon Creek, a collecting hotspot near Chicago. Imprinted on Tully's rock were the remains of a tubular creature with stalk eyeballs and a long mouth apparatus terminating in a feature that resembled an alligator clip. Dubbed the Tully monster, the 300-million-year-old specimen later became Illinois's official state fossil. Despite its popularity, though, researchers have made neither heads nor tails of it—until now.


Technology, Diversity: The 7 Very Coolest Things I Found At NY Tech Day by Ali at Autostraddle.com

My favorite of this list is the Bitsbox, because it is CODING FOR KIDS, and it sounds amazing.

I LOVE box subscriptions. Love love love. And this is a box for kids that teaches them how to code—every box comes with dozens of apps, and everyone gets everything. No girls box or boys box. The Rocket Girl project goes out to everyone. The coolest thing, said Anastasia, the Director of Operations, is then watching the kids break the apps and rebuild them into exactly what they want. Kids build with real code, not visual building blocks. The box is $30 per month.


Fat, Feminism: 6 Ways I Was Taught to Be a Good Fatty (And Why I Stopped) by Kitty Stryker at Everday Feminism

(Photos may be NSFW.)

Still, I’m not immune to the messaging on television or on the street, where my body taking up space was always seen as a threat and something to be ashamed of.

So I learned, over time, how to perform the dance of the “Good Fatty” – the fat person who can never be socially acceptable, but at least publicly flogs herself for the sin of excess pounds.

The Good Fatty comes in many guises, though the one I encounter the most often is the performative, apologetic, trying-not-to-be-fat Good Fatty.

The Good Fatty is the one who acknowledges and accepts their Othering, both by the people in their personal lives, and the professionals they interact with. The Good Fatty is influenced by the medical profession, the corporate world, the advertising that seeps into our lives.

The Good Fatty is the fatty that people will tolerate – so it quickly becomes a survival strategy for many fat folks, including myself. But it’s also a strategy we can learn to leave behind – for other forms of self-preservation.

So here are some of the lessons I learned – and how I’m beginning to unlearn them.


Money: The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans: Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I'm one of them. by Neal Gabler at The Atlantic

I did not find anything about this surprising, but a ton of people I know from law school did. I think that says a lot about the family wealth situations of people who go to elite law schools, to be honest. (Obviously not all of them.)

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.


Racism, Work: The Customer is Not Always Right: Microaggressions in the Service Industry by Saher Naumaan at the Toast

Working in the service industry, I was involuntarily subjected to this uncomfortable and often intrusive examination of my history on a regular basis. It’s as if I had tacitly agreed to become an object of scrutiny — on display — due to my job and my background, and every inch, every aspect of my life was fair game for questioners. In a context in which responding in kind to a rude question is never an option, I felt trapped by the need to maintain a professional demeanor, even if I would prefer to be flippant. You know how “the customer is always right”? That phrase takes on a whole new meaning when you get inappropriate questions about your racial and ethnic background in your place of employment.


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Carla M. Lee


Previously on the Chaos Legacy: Babs went around casting spells on everything and everyone around her in an unending quest to increase her magic skill until she can turn dead people into zombies; Cade, Chazza, and Cesaro grew from feisty children into ridiculous and wonderful teens; the heir race was super tight; Stiles died (oh, god, everyone was so sad, I couldn’t take it – and he was only the first death in the legacy); and they moved into their new house.

This update, we’ll see how Cade, Chazza, and Cesaro handle being teenagers and finally determine an heir.

”3.3”Collapse )
 
 
 
Carla M. Lee
11 May 2016 @ 09:33 am
I’m a Book Depository affiliate, and will receive a small credit if you order from BD using any of the BD links below. There is no additional cost to you.


What I've Read

CAMP FEAR by Carol Ellis: Out of print, but one of the Point Horror-esque books from the 90s that I love most. Mother's Day is a difficult time of year for me, so I went back to some easy comfort reading. A bunch of counselors are getting a summer camp ready before the campers show up, but there's an old secret about a dead boy that haunts them. (Also, I love Point Horror snarky recap sites: CAMP FEAR at The Devil's Elbow.)

THE INVITATION by Diane Hoh (Amazon link): Another 90s Point Horror book (this time actually a Point Horror), but this one has been reprinted as an ebook. Biggest social party of the year turns into a Most Dangerous Game situation. More comfort reading.

HEIR APPARENT by Vivian Vande Velde (Book Depository link): Another comfort reread for me. Shocking, I know. Total immersion gaming goes wrong, and a teen player must solve the swords and sorcery game before her brain melts. This was my introduction to Velde, and I love it still.

What I'm Reading

THE GIRL I USED TO BE by April Henry (Book Depository link): Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. It came out this week, and I'm about halfway through. I like it so far. It's about a girl whose mother was killed when she was just a toddler, and her father was suspected of being the killer. Now, when she's nearly an adult, additional evidence reveals that her father was killed at the same time, and now no one knows what happened. Of course Olivia sets out to solve the mystery.

LISEY’S STORY by Stephen King (Book Depository link): Yes, I am still reading this. I really like Lisey, and I love the way her history with her husband unfolds throughout the story, in pieces and present thoughts and scenes set back in what she remembers, but it is really slow paced and easy to put down, so it is taking forever.

TREASURES, DEMONS AND OTHER BLACK MAGIC by Meghan Ciana Doidge (Book Depository link): I think I'm at least going to finish the first trilogy. I don't know if I'll continue it after. We'll see how much annoyance at the main character's "quirky" traits (and my dislike of first person narrators) balances against the stuff I do enjoy. So far, the stuff I enjoy is losing out, but maybe once I'm done with the cliffhanger ending, I'll like it more.

What I'll Read Next

THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS by Sarah Jude: Just arrived in yesterday's mail. It's supposed to be a creepy horror-esque book set in small town Missouri, and I can't wait to read it.

HOLDING SMOKE by Elle Cosimano: Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. It also came out this week, and I'm so excited to read it. It's about a boy imprisoned for murder who can leave his body at will and the girl he teams up with to find the true killer.

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire (Book Depository link): Don't know why I haven't read this yet, because I normally read McGuire's work immediately, but I am looking forward to it.

DARK ALCHEMY by Laura Bickle (Dark Alchemy #1) (Book Depository link): I'm trying to avoid buying new books this year, except for a few favorite authors, but someone recommended the second book in the series to me recently, and I bought this book immediately. It sounds like western + magic + kick ass women, and I am here for that so hard. SO HARD.

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Carla M. Lee
Copyright, Language, Star Trek: 'Star Trek' Lawsuit: The Debate Over Klingon Language Heats Up by Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter

I first heard about it because some attorneys I know from my stint at Microsoft were talking about it, and of course I am both delighted and intrigued, because it combines two of my favorite geeky loves, SFF and IP law.

Basically, Axanar is a crowdfunded Star Trek film series. There was Prelude to Axanar a few years ago, and then this one, which is a feature-length film Star Trek: Axanar. Paramount Studios owns the Star Trek franchise (I suppose I should say allegedly, because there's a challenge to that as a part of all this, but it is at least commonly believed that they own it), and traditionally allows fan-made projects to occur as long as they're not selling anything (e.g., tickets, copies of the finished project, merchandise).

At the end of 2015, Paramount Pictures and CBS filed a lawsuit claiming that the Axanar works infringe their rights, including by making use of the Klingon language.

AND NOW EVERYONE IS DEBATING WHETHER YOU CAN COPYRIGHT KLINGON AND I AM FILLED WITH SO MUCH FUCKING DELIGHT.

I've seen a lot of people dismiss this as a bit of a pointless discussion, because it's really about the broader Star Trek IP and it doesn't really matter whether this one language is copyrightable, but if this precedence is set, it could have a hugely damaging impact on coding languages, which are arguably also created languages.

Once the Axanar defendants made their claim that Klingon is not copyrightable because it is a useful system, Paramount and CBS argued that: The Klingon language is wholly fictitious, original and copyrightable, and Defendants' incorporation of that language in their works will be part of the Court's eventual substantial similarity analysis. Defendants' use of the Klingon language in their works is simply further evidence of their infringement of Plaintiffs' characters, since speaking this fictitious language is an aspect of their characters.

The Language Creation Society filed an amicus brief supporting the defends that discusses whether the Klingon language is copyrightable, and it is glorious: you can read the brief here, and see how it incorporates Klingon into the brief itself. (An amicus brief, or friend-of-the-court brief, is a document filed by people who aren't directly involved in the litigation, but who have a strong interest in what is being litigation, and offer the court information and arguments the court may consider. They show up pretty often in IP law, where people are terrified of what sort of precedent will be set, especially by judges who aren't super familiar with the nuances of technology.)

Now, with 250,000 copies of a Klingon dictionary said to have been sold, Klingon language certification programs being offered, the Microsoft search engine Bing presenting English-to-Klingon translations, one Swedish couple performing their marriage vows in Klingon, foreign governments providing official statements in Klingon and so on, the Language Creation Society is holding up Klingon as having freed the "bounds of its textual chains."

Ultimately, the amicus brief comes back to the theory that Klingon is not copyrightable.

"What is a language other than a procedure, process, or system for communication?" asks the society. "What is a language's vocabulary but a collection of words? The vocabulary and grammar rules of a language provide instructions for a speaker to articulate thoughts and ideas. One cannot disregard grammatical rules and still be intelligible, and creating one's own vocabulary only worked well for the Bard. Vocabulary and grammar are no more protectable than the bookkeeping system in Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 101 (1879)."


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Carla M. Lee
It's Marvel movies time! Watched Captain America: Civil War and with it an X-Men: Apocalypse trailer, and I have non-spoilery thoughts. (Well, at least no more spoilery than what appears in trailers.) Before I get into that, though, I wanted to share a quick thought I had while hashing things out with JBJ last night via text (I love technology -- half a country away and we can still watch movies more or less together): IP licensing can be such a pain in the ass, because but for the licensing agreement about certain Marvel characters, we could have had two sets of Maximoff twins. ALL OF THE WANDA AND PIETRO STORIES COULD HAVE BEEN OURS. WHY DO YOU HATE US, IP LAWYERS? WHY?

The Good



First up, saw Captain America: Civil War last night. I loved 90% of it, maybe 95%, and it's been a long while since I could say that about a movie that wasn't a Fast and the Furious movie. It was so good and so much fun and filled with wonderful (and wonderful-in-terrible-ways) character moments. I'm already looking forward to watching it again. It's also made me look forward to the next Avengers movies, which neither Avengers nor Age of Ultron managed (Joss Whedon stepping away from Marvel was an A+ idea).

I was already looking forward to Black Panther, but I NEED IT NOW IMMEDIATELY GIVE IT TO ME. BLACK PANTHER IS THE GREATEST. T'CHALLA IS MY KING. And so on.

The Bad



I haven't had the chance to watch many trailers lately, so I hadn't seen the X-Men: Apocalypse trailer we got with Civil War. (I expected it, though.) On the one hand, I am so, so excited about it, which is unusual. I haven't been this excited about an X-Men movie since X3 came out and was just terrible.

On the other hand, WHAT THE HELL, FOX, REALLY?! Once again, it appears as if the good guys are all white characters and the bad guys are majority minority characters. And here I hoped they'd learned from First Class and it's stupid. (I started to rant here about the whole Darwin death in First Class, but no, I've raged about that enough, including last night to more than one person.) What the hell is wrong with you, Fox? Marvel?

(Rhetorical question. It's racism.)

The Ugly



Not actually a Marvel movie, but we also got the trailer for Warcraft: (a) could they have made it look more like a ripoff of Lord of the Rings and other movies, and (b) much more importantly, why is there a weird flatness to all the CGI?

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Carla M. Lee
04 May 2016 @ 09:41 am
I’m a Book Depository affiliate, and will receive a small credit if you order from BD using any of the BD links below. There is no additional cost to you.


What I've Read

GUARD WOLF (Amazon link) by Lauren Esker: GUARD WOLF is the second book in the Shifter Agents world. You guys, this has become the Seattle werewolf book of my heart, and I can't wait for the third book, which is supposed to be out this year. I will be doing a review of the first two books later.

THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Boys #4) (Book Depository link): Went ahead and read it to avoid spoilers. (Also, it gave me something to read that wasn't online, so I could also avoid spoilers for Captain America: Civil War.) I liked it well enough, I guess, but I thought the pacing was off, especially in the ending. And I have some concerns. I will need to think about this further.

EARTHBOUND BONES by ReGina Welling (Amazon link): Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. I think the bones of the story were good (pun intended), but the pacing was terrible; the beginning, in particular, dragged, and then the ending felt rushed. I didn't connect with any of the characters, in part because of the random head hopping. And I have a problem with the way angel-magic is presented as this cure for mental illness. I won't be reviewing this in more depth (...probably), so I don't want to get into great detail, but I was mostly left frustrated and annoyed. I wish I'd liked it better, though. The bones of the story were wonderful. (Basically, it is about an angel who thinks she has fallen from grace and is now trapped in a human body, the small town that embraces her, and the old mystery she solves.)

What I'm Reading

THE GIRL I USED TO BE by April Henry: Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. It came out this week, and I'm about halfway through. I like it so far. It's about a girl whose mother was killed when she was just a toddler, and her father was suspected of being the killer. Now, when she's nearly an adult, additional evidence reveals that her father was killed at the same time, and now no one knows what happened. Of course Olivia sets out to solve the mystery.

LISEY’S STORY by Stephen King (Book Depository link): Yes, I am still reading this. I really like Lisey, and I love the way her history with her husband unfolds throughout the story, in pieces and present thoughts and scenes set back in what she remembers, but it is really slow paced and easy to put down, so it is taking forever.

TREASURES, DEMONS AND OTHER BLACK MAGIC by Meghan Ciana Doidge (Book Depository link): I think I'm at least going to finish the first trilogy. I don't know if I'll continue it after. We'll see how much annoyance at the main character's "quirky" traits (and my dislike of first person narrators) balances against the stuff I do enjoy. So far, the stuff I enjoy is losing out, but maybe once I'm done with the cliffhanger ending, I'll like it more.

What I'll Read Next

HOLDING SMOKE by Elle Cosimano: Received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. It also came out this week, and I'm so excited to read it. It's about a boy imprisoned for murder who can leave his body at will and the girl he teams up with to find the true killer.

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire (Book Depository link): Don't know why I haven't read this yet, because I normally read McGuire's work immediately, but I am looking forward to it.

DARK ALCHEMY by Laura Bickle (Dark Alchemy #1) (Book Depository link): I'm trying to avoid buying new books this year, except for a few favorite authors, but someone recommended the second book in the series to me recently, and I bought this book immediately. It sounds like western + magic + kick ass women, and I am here for that so hard. SO HARD.

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Carla M. Lee
03 May 2016 @ 01:42 pm
It's that time of the year again, when I start avoiding advertisements because they're all so focused on Mother's Day in the US. To be honest, this is not the worst time of year for me (that essay I wrote a few years ago, "How to Survive Thanksgiving When Your Family Keeps Dying in the Fall," is still true), but it's not the greatest, either.

This morning, Facebook reminded me that six years ago today, I was called home because Mom went in for emergency surgery and no one thought she would survive it. That was not the first time I was called home, nor the last, but it was probably the worst. I was in Michigan, I was literally in the middle of a take-home final, and I couldn't afford a last minute flight, so I had a 10 hour drive ahead of me before I could be there in person. Mom didn't die at that point, but she was sick enough that neither she nor Dad made it to graduation, even though they'd been looking forward to it from pretty much the moment I moved to Michigan for law school.

Thanks for the memories, Facebook!

Two other times I was called home stand out. One was in either 2005 or 2006, and I wasn't so much called home, because I'd already moved back to my hometown to be closer to my family, but called out of work to the hospital a couple hours away where she was receiving special treatment. Pretty much all the siblings came home for that. We took over a section of the ICU waiting room (we are legion), said our good-byes, and waited. It was terrible. It was, perhaps surprisingly, wonderful, too. We don't get a lot of time to be all together like that, even back then, and sitting and waiting gave us a lot of time to talk. My sister, Kris, tried to teach us to knit. My youngest brother renamed "knit" and "purl" to "neal" and "diamond." I failed miserably at everything about knitting. Youngest brother turned out to be a fast learned. We sat, and we talked, and we brought in food, and we were together. It was terrible. It was wonderful.

Mom lived.

The other time that stands out is in 2012. I was called home, had to leave work in the middle of the day. I was working on office action responses for a trademark client. I'd been called home so many times I didn't even pack funeral clothes, just threw a pair of jeans into the car and a couple shirts. Figured I'd be back at work by Monday. It's just about a four hour drive between Kansas City and my hometown. I did it in less than three. I avoided the interstate, took roads that twisted and curved and forced me to pay attention to my driving, didn't give me much time to think. I made it home. Not everyone did. Mom's birthday was the week before. She'd been at home for it. Had a steak dinner with Dad. I went home. She was unconscious. I went home, held my father's hand. She couldn't hear us. I went home, listened hard, caught her last breath. I went home. It was terrible.

Mom died.

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