- Who looks nice but is actually mean? Honestly, there were some attractive Craigs who could be pretty rude. Obviously. Paul’s one sister has her moments, too.
- Who looks mean but is actually nice? I can’t think of anyone I know that looks mean, but I have had some rough-looking acquaintances that were the sweetest people ever.
- What are your thoughts on red velvet cake, or on the plethora of red-velvet-flavored stuff out there nowadays? I like actual red-velvet cake, though it’s not my favorite cake. I’m not a huge fan of red-velvet-flavored stuff out right now, in part because cake-flavored things make me really thirsty and in part because I don’t think these things taste much like actual red-velvet cake.
- What’s the most ridiculous name you’ve ever heard for an actual band? I can’t think of any now, but a lot of the independent artists I’ve written about had some weird, stupid names. And I am so, so happy Kesha dropped that fucking stupid dollar sign. Butthole Surfers is pretty ridiculous.
- Who in your life seems to be great at everything except romantic relationships? I don’t know that anyone fits this. Most people I know seem to be about even with general life stuff and romantic relationships–either all is well or all is a mess.
- What’s a really appetizing sound? Basically anything involving food cooking.
- Who in your life has a voice you really had to get used to? You know, probably Paul. He has such a deep voice.
- What’s a sound you hear in your neighborhood that would puzzle newcomers but which you barely even notice anymore? The huge amount of sirens. I live right on a main road pretty close to the fire and police stations, so they’re pretty common. Unless there are a lot that sound like something pretty huge happened, like the other night, I don’t really notice.
- A dentist’s drill make a sound that most of us can barely tolerate, but it means something is being done for someone’s well-being. What’s another sound like that? Probably most medical or dental equipment.
- Of the sounds you hear when out on a walk, what’s the best? I like general nature sounds–wind blowing through trees, leaves rustling, critter noises.
- What is a most pleasant sound to wake up hearing? Music. I also enjoy birds chirping as long as it’s not super early or obnoxious, or light chatter and laughter on weekends or vacations.
- What is a most pleasant sound to fall asleep hearing? Music, but it has to be slow, calm, relaxing music. Otherwise, I get all wound up and won’t be able to sleep.
- What’s a more annoying sound: car alarms or leaf-blowers? Car alarms. Leaf-blowers blend in and are more like white noise to me. And I’ve had car alarms wake me up late at night or early in the morning. It’s pretty terrible. A lead-blower wouldn’t get that much attention from me.
- What’s a sound most people seem to like but you hate? Does most mainstream pop music count?
- What’s a sound most people seem to hate but you like? I’m not sure about ones I like that others don’t, but I do seem to be less bothered by a lot of noises. A good example is my humidifier I sleep with–sometimes when Paul stays over, it bothers him and he has to shut it off but I don’t mind it. In fact, with sounds like that and things like heaters, fans, etc., I’m more likely to notice it when it stops and think the silence is weird than I am to be bothered by the noise itself.
Do you think censorship should vary depending on the impressionable age of the readers? Or is it always wrong? How about the difference between ‘official’ censorship by a government or a school system, as opposed to a parent saying No to a specific book for their child?
I think when dealing with parents or even older siblings, censorship depending on age is mostly okay. There were things my parents didn’t want me to watch based on my age and the content, although they didn’t seem to care much about books. Reading is seen of as such a good pastime that people are generally happy when kids do it at all, plus when most of my books were gifts at a young age, they were pretty familiar with the content anyway. Getting into middle school and high school, they didn’t pay much attention. I was reading some things they probably wouldn’t have been crazy about, but by then they also figured I could handle these things.
I do think parents can take it so far as to shelter their kids. It’s one thing to consider their age and the content, but it’s another to object to it because you don’t like it. Books offer a lot of truth and perspective and knowledge, and if a parent is consistently censoring their kids’ reading material, they could be keeping them from a lot of good stuff. And if, say, your kid is an adult living at home or even in their teens, you should be pretty much done with your say in what they can and can’t read.
Maturity is a huge factor, though. For example, my boyfriend is the oldest of six and they all pretty much like reading, so often books I loan him end up being passed among interested siblings and sometimes I loan things out just to them, though mostly only more romance stuff to his sisters. But when we discuss which books to loan which sibling, there are times when we think younger siblings could handle certain books better than older siblings based on their personalities and maturity. And we’ve basically ended up being right, like with American Gods. We thought one sibling would be fine with it and another wouldn’t, but he loaned it out to both and turns out our predictions were accurate.
Official censorship, though, is never okay because it’s too controlling. I don’t think banning a book is ever justifiable, and it’s never okay for a government to censor content. Just because someone finds content questionable doesn’t mean someone else will, and it doesn’t make it somehow dangerous.
Dealing with any censorship, whether official or not, I think books can simultaneously less and more powerful than people think. On the one hand, they provide perspective and information and ideas and can certainly influence people, but not necessarily to the point that some fear. Reading about sex and drugs isn’t gonna make someone go out and do it.
Plus those censoring content forget–especially if you’re dealing with telling teenagers they shouldn’t read something–that if you tell someone they shouldn’t be reading something, they’re gonna get curious and try to read it.
- What’s on your toilet tank? Nothing. Occasionally a bottle of cleaner ends up there like the thank’s a shelf or something.
- What’s on the dashboard of your car? Nothing.
- What’s on top of your fridge? A think a loaf of bread and am empty cookie container.
- What’s on your front porch? I don’t have one! I live in an apartment. But I do have a little patio. There’s nothing on that, either.
- What’s on your bathroom sink? Here we go, stuff on that! A duckie hand towel, soap, my hair dryer, brush, scented room spray, and a box of fortune-cookie soaps.
- How have you personalized your space at work? Not at all. Just like my dorm senior year.
- What’s the most you’ve spent on one meal out, and was it worth it? $80 on hibachi because we accidentally bought $50 worth of sashimi because the waitress misunderstood and thought we wanted this huge-ass sashimi boat when really Paul wanted a few lone pieces for himself. Good food, not worth it.
- What’s the greatest height you’ve looked down from? I guess technically an airplane.
- What animal have you seen in the wild that most people see only in books, in other visual media, or in zoos? I’m not sure. Pennsylvania doesn’t really have exotic wildlife, and I haven’t seen much when I’ve traveled. Except maybe gators in Florida, which is kind of a big deal when you’re from Pennsylvania.
- Among songs in your iTunes (or other media player), how many contain the word “eye” or “eyes,” and which is your favorite? 53. Favorite is “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli, which is also one of the greatest love songs of all time.
- What did you dissect in high school? Nothing–the closest we came was some sort of digital dissection but it was a Catholic school so we had to share computers, and I don’t even remember what we dissected.
- In what non-bathroom places have you relieved yourself? I think just outside–once in the woods and a few drunken times out in the grass at Shed parties instead of going all the way back into the house to use the bathroom.
- When you first understood the concept of sexual intercourse, what did you think of it? I remember first hearing about it when I was probably about six or seven, and it sounded really weird. And then when I found out that’s where babies came from not too long after, I didn’t believe it at first and thought it sounded ridiculous. Fun bonus: I asked my mom what it was after I heard something on the news even though I already knew so I’d have an official explanation.
- If you’re a neat person, what’s something you’re messy about? If you’re a messy person, what’s something you’re neat about? My bookshelf is very organized, and my CDs are, too, in terms of all being stacked up until I remember to bring towers and such from my parents’ house. My dresser drawers are a work in progress–they’re usually okay, but I saw some Pinterest organizational tips I’m in the process of switching to.
- What did you like best about high school geometry (the subject, not the teacher, classmates, or whatever)? Easily the teacher, Geibel hero Mr. Orlando. I’m not horrible at math but I have an English degree so I’m obviously not good at it, either, but Mr. O explained things so well, I almost never struggled. My math skills basically hit this point where things suddenly stop making sense–one day, I’m acing my tests (with some effort, sure), the next, I can’t do it. I didn’t reach that point in Mr. O’s classes until about the last week of Trig/Pre-Calc senior year, and by that time seniors didn’t have to take the last tests of the year so I lucked out. Plus he was smart, really funny, and kept class interesting.
- What item at a salad bar gets you the most excited? I really like when they have eggs. And cucumber. I love cucumber.
- Do some brands of bottled water taste better than others? I think so, but I don’t like water so I don’t drink it much and therefore don’t notice much.
- If you could be employed in one of the technical jobs in film-making, what would you choose? Maybe actually being a camerman.
- How do you feel about couples (married or dating) having joint email accounts or joint Facebook accounts? I feel terrible about it. I think for a relationship and an individual to be happy and healthy, you need to have some separation and some sense of individuality and privacy, and you’re not really getting that if you’re presenting yourself as one entity to the world. You’re two separate people with separate likes and dislikes and personalities. Being a couple doesn’t strip you of that. E-mail is a slightly different beast because that almost suggests a lack of trust where you’ve got to see what the other’s getting.
- Which character from The Wizard of Oz do you best relate to? My favorite has always been Scarecrow, but I think I relate most to Dorothy. A bit of wanderlust, possibly taking things for granted sometimes, attachment to a dog, stubborn, but sincere, caring, loyal, and well-meaning.
This has been the Friday Five bonus round.
- What do you order to drink when you’re at a fast-food restaurant? Iced tea or cherry Coke. Or cherry Pepsi. Occasionally Sprite. Or limeades at Sonic.
- What kind of dressing do you have on your salad when you eat out? Almost always some kind of vinaigrette, but I’ll also go for Italian or ranch.
- What do you like at those self-serve frozen yogurt places? Usually a fruit-flavored yogurt with fresh fruit on top with chocolate and sprinkles.
- How do you like your popcorn? Very buttery.
- What kind of shampoo do you use? Usually Garnier Fructis, but recently I switched to Herbal Essences. If I feel like dishing out the money, Bed Head. I miss the shampoos designed for curly hair, but as soon as I find one I like, it gets discontinued. Oh, and I hate that damn Wen shit.
What do you think of fanfiction? In general—do you think it’s a fun thing or a trespass on an author/producer’s world? And of course, obviously specific authors have very firm and very differing opinions about this, yet it’s getting more popular and more mainstream all the time. Do you ever read or write it yourself?
Basically, I think it gets unfair criticism. Except when it’s about real people because that gets gross and disrespectful fast, but for the purposes of this post, we’re talking about fanfiction dealing with solely fictional works.
Technically, I have both read and written it, but I only read a little Harry Potter fanfiction that I think Sarah suggested years ago. I’m not particularly interested in it. And I wrote a little because I kept thinking about possible alternate outcomes, so I wrote it down to get it out of my head–a pretty good summary of most of my writing, at least early on.
But I think those hypotheticals are what fanfiction was born out of, and I think it’s fine. The only difference between a fan saying, “But what if this happened instead?” and a fanfiction writer is the writer explores that alternative at length, especially when the canon isn’t satisfactory. So in that sense, I can understand why some original creators don’t like it–their word is gospel, although when you put something out into the world, you have to expect
But at the same time, readers and fanfiction writers often have very good reasons for being displeased with the way a work turned out. Just based on snippets from my Tumblr dashboard, Dr. Who fans often don’t like the way things are handled, and there was lots of talk from Once Upon a Time fans–from what I can gather without having watched the show and gotten too involved for that reason–about what they perceived to be lots of obvious, intentional homoerotic tension that was literally laughed off by show creators when fans addressed it and wrote about it. After Paul and I were really disappointed by Prometheus, he joked about writing fanfiction exploring its strengths and cutting out what we felt was super predictable, messy filler.
A big factor in this, too, is when continuity and characterization are ignored. Fanfiction writers might not necessarily be better, smarter, or more well-equipped to write a story, but readers/viewers are smart and attentive, and if they’re thrown off by characterization and continuity, then you have a problem. Whenever Paul and I talk about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, especially the last movie, we almost always mention that the characters acted completely differently in that film than they did the previous two, and as a fan and viewer it made the movie confusing and unsatisfactory. Similarly, I’ve been watching the show Lie to Me on Netflix, and one of my biggest complaints about it–especially since I’m watching it in the span of a few weeks as opposed to spread out over the three-ish years it was on the air–is that it ignores previous characterization and continuity. What should be major plot points are glossed over or ignored with little to no effect on later events. Characters’ previous actions and statements are similarly ignored, leading to other statements and actions that don’t make any sense within the context of what we already know about them. This obviously isn’t an isolated problem in books and TV, so it’s no wonder readers speculate about alternatives and write about them. If you’re going to be careless with the world you create, don’t be surprised when others invite themselves in to clean it up.
That said, I think it’s mostly harmless where writers are playing around, not something that could be considered trespassing or undermining, unless, of course, the writer openly does it for the reasons above. And unless that’s the case, the original creators should be flattered that someone was taken enough with their creation that someone else played with it.
I think it has other advantages, too–good writing exercise in general, good for writing within a certain world and with certain characters, good general exercise in creativity.