Jean Marie Bauhaus

Category: Internet

Farewell, Tubey.

So NBC Universal is shutting down Television Without Pity (normally I’d link that, but I guess there’s really no point, since they won’t even be keeping an archive online). I haven’t actually been on that site in over a year (I think the last show for which I kept up with the recaps was Fringe), but even so, this announcement is stirring up a lot of nostalgia and remembrance. It’s funny how what began as a snarky little website that featured a handful of friends riffing on Dawson’s Creek every week grew into something so big and influential, and how many lives were affected and careers were launched because of it.

I started hanging out on the site when it was still known as Mighty Big TV. I visited it here and there for various show recaps, but I didn’t really get into the forums until Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, specifically right after the episode Fool for Love aired, which marked the point where my fondness of the show (and the character Spike) ramped up to full-on obsession. My burning need to discuss it with somebody who wouldn’t just nod at me with glazed over eyes led me to the MBTV Buffy forum, which led me to several friendships. Most of those have, sadly, dissolved since then, but not before they led to me travelling to places like Nashville and Louisville and Chicago and San Jose and San Franscisco to meet up and have adventures and form amazing memories with some awesome and hilarious women.

The Buffy forum also launched my former fanfic career, so if you’re here because of my Spuffy fic, we can all thank TWoP for that. I still get more feedback and fan mail for my fan fiction than I do for any of my original novels, which is equal parts flattering and frustrating. Would I be a fiction writer now if not for TWoP? Certainly. I was already a writer when I came to it, so I can’t give it credit for that. But writing all that fan fiction, and having it vetted and beta’d by those aforementioned awesome women, taught me a lot about plotting, pacing, characterization, dialogue and other useful mechanics of building a novel. I might have still learned all that stuff by writing in my own sandbox with my own characters, but I wouldn’t have had half as much fun in the process.

Eventually, though, the forums devolved into a lot of drama, and I think I even got banned from them. If I recall correctly, some of my friends got banned, and then all of the rest of us flamed out and got ourselves banned in solidarity. Looking back, I know we all took both the show and the forums and the whole fandom (not to mention the whole Spike vs. Angel debate) just a wee bit too seriously. At least, I know did. But that’s fandom for you.

Which is all to say that, like many People On the Internet, MBTV/TWoP was a pretty big influence on my life, and because of this I’m sad to see it come to an end. Somewhere around here I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a Cafe Press mug made just for the Buffy forum that says “Snark, Snerk and Scoobie Snacks.” I think tomorrow I’ll dig it out and use it to drink a toast to Tubey.

Are you a former TWoPer? If so, I’d love to hear your TWoP memories in the comments. Also, if you’re still addicted to the recaps and this news has hit you especially hard, you should check out Previously.TV, a new iteration created by the original TWoP founders (they just opened a forum, even!). And for hilarious recaps by good-natured people who just really love TV, check out Hey, Don’t Judge Me!

18 Years Ago

18 years ago today, I was working as a retail clerk at Dillard’s department store. I had just started my lunch break, and was passing through the electronics department on my way to the break room. Sales clerks and customers alike were standing around a big screen TV, staring in shock at scenes of chaos. First responders rushing to and fro, small children being carried by firemen and paramedics, the federal building with its face sheered off behind a mountain of rubble and smoke. I had never seen anything like it before, at least outside of the movies, and I never thought I’d see anything like it again.

How wrong I was.

It’s fascinating to me, the way the Internet and social networks have evolved the way we deal with things like this. In 1995, we didn’t have text messaging or Twitter or immediate access to the Internet in our workplace. As news of the bombing spread through the workplace, everyone was shocked. How does this happen in Oklahoma? Oklahoma City is not a major city. Apart from oil, Oklahoma’s not really that important on a global or even national scale. We thought we were safe from that kind of attack. But our illusions of safety and insignificance were shattered in the blast, and the only ones we had to talk to about that, at least until our shifts ended and we could go home and be with our loved ones, were each other. In the meantime, we relied on the Electronics department clerks to keep us informed about new developments.

On 9/11, the Internet had grown up a bit, and my world had gotten somewhat smaller. I had friends all over the country now, and we kept in constant touch via group e-mails and a Yahoo! list. I found out about the first plane from one such e-mail, sent to the group by a member who worked in downtown Manhattan. A plane had crashed into a nearby building, she said, and her building was being evacuated. I was attending college then, and was late for class, so I fired back a response that I hoped she’d let us know when she made it home okay, and went to class, assuming that it had been a freak accident and nothing more. I didn’t find out that the nearby building was the World Trade Center, or about the second plane, until I got to class. A while later, someone came in and told us about the Pentagon. In my next class, there were rumors about a fourth plane headed for the White House.

All of this information came to us from faculty who were listening to the radio. It was also on the radio, on the drive home, that I learned the fate of that fourth plane, and that the first building collapsed. I got home just in time to see the instant replay on TV. I spent that day glued to the TV, and exchanging horrified and frightened e-mails with my group of distant friends.

On Monday, we had been home from running errands for about half an hour before I saw the first phone pic a spectator had taken of the bombing site re-posted on Facebook. I clicked over to Twitter, and saw a stream of confused and horrified tweets from people wondering what was happening. Those were followed by tweets with helpful information: the best way to find out if your loved ones were okay; where to find free WiFi in Boston if you needed to check in; where to hang out and get free drinks until authorities said it was safe to go home. There were messages of support, offerings of prayers, and, later in the day, more practical help: people offering up their homes to stranded survivors, people offering to buy pizza and takeout for that first group of people to help them feed the survivors. The world had gotten very small, and suddenly, for a while, the nation was one big community, taking care of each other, making sure those who needed it were taken care of.

That was not something I had ever even imagined 18 years ago when my fellow employees and I felt isolated and cut off, completely helpless, constantly taking turns going upstairs to Electronics to see if there was any new news.

We live in a different world now. After such a tumultuous week, it’s nice to be reminded that, in some ways, it has changed for the better.

Other Writer Wednesday Open Thread – with CORGIS!

Well, I thought I had a spotlight author lined up for today, but he never gave me his info. So here are some corgis pulling a tiny sleigh.

Corgi Sleigh

And while we’re at it, go ahead and have an open pimp thread.

Dominion of the Damned on IndieGoGo – Put a Cover On It!

IndieGoGo… IndieGoGo… IndieGo! Go! Go-oooh! (cue Japanese Speed Racer theme…)

So I’ve mentioned here previously that I was planning to do a Kickstarter campaign to generate the funds I need to finalize my book cover, and also just to learn about the process so I can help other authors get it figured out. But after doing more research, I decided instead to go with Kickstarter’s slightly less popular little sister, IndieGoGo, for two major reasons:

Reason the first: IndieGoGo has a flexible funding account which lets you keep whatever funds you’re pledged, regardless of whether you meet your goal; whereas with Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing — your project has to be fully-funded, else you don’t get any money, and those who contributed don’t get their perks. That’s fine and dandy for some projects, but for what I’m doing with this particular campaign — pre-selling copies of my book — I don’t want my readers to not be able to get their books early just because I couldn’t find $500′s worth of people willing to pre-order ($500 is the minimum funding goal that it will allow you to set). This way, anyone who orders gets their books, and I get paid regardless of how many people order early, and everybody’s happy. The fees on a flex-funding campaign are a bit higher if you don’t make your funding goal (9% as opposed to 4%), but that seems like a pretty small cost for a pretty big benefit.

Reason the second: IndieGoGo lets you route your payments through Paypal, whereas Kickstarter uses Amazon Payments, which I’m really not a big fan of. Amazon Payments tends to hold your money in escrow for a while before releasing it to your bank, which, if you need to raise funds quickly, kind of defeats the purpose. I need access to the funds for my cover ASAP if I’m going to finish in time to get the book out in time for Christmas shopping. Also, Paypal is already hooked up to my accounting software and is just darn convenient.

At some point I’ll do a more in-depth post about what was involved in setting up the campaign. In the mean time, you can check it out (and help me spread the word! …please?) here, and watch my campaign video (which was going to feature me talking, complete with makeup and styled hair, but since my computer decided to stop detecting the existence of my webcam, I had to go a different direction) below.

Friday Five: Five Scariest Film Monsters (Blog Hop)

I’m combining the introduction of a new regular feature with the advent of Halloween and the upcoming Blog Hop I’ll be joining in next week.  Introducing my Friday Five — which I know is not a new concept, but instead of five random things from the week, I’ll be posting my top (or, occasionally, bottom) five list for a given category.

This week’s category? In the spirit of Halloween, I give you my Top Five Scariest Film* Monsters:

*I’m using the term “film” loosely to include both movies and television, and even YouTube. Why? Because Marble Hornets.

Five: The Gentlemen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush”) – They have faces like grinning skulls, they float along with their creepy, straight-jacketed henchmen who look like something out of Silent Hill, they steal everyone’s voices, and oh, did I mention that they come into your room and hold you down and cut out your heart and you can’t scream because of the whole stolen voices thing? Easily the scariest demons from all seven seasons of Buffy.

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The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The long wait between new updates for Marble Hornets left me flailing about a few Sundays ago, scouring Youtube for a Slender Man fix (but not yet willing to commit to one of the other Slender Man series, because the last thing I needed was another thing to obsess over and eat up all my time). And somehow I landed on The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, which A) has nothing to do with Slender Man and B) instantly became a new thing to obsess over and eat up all my time.

Hi there, irony! Won’t you have a seat?

Something always happens with me this time of year. We get into the dog days of summer, and the weather is nasty hot, and I start yearning for fall like whoa. And then I start craving good ghost stories, because they put me in mind of Halloween and my favorite month of the year. So it’s no wonder that when I stumbled onto this little gem of a vlog about a teenage girl and her mom and the scary, paranormal goings-on in their house, it really hit the spot, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough.

The series is broken up into “seasons,” each with its own story arc. Like any show, some seasons are better than others, but they’re all pretty entertaining.  The current season (which I believe is the sixth or seventh) seems to be struggling a little to find its way, especially in the wake of a rather disappointing end to the prior season’s plot line, which was building to a pretty cool climax that would have taken the show into a really interesting direction before it suddenly got dropped in rather anti-climactic fashion. I can only guess that the direction they were headed in would have outstripped their budget and resources, so they had to re-think a few things. But regardless, Sunshine Girl remains entertaining, primarily because at it’s core it’s about the mother-daughter relationship and how they stick together to weather all the weirdness in their lives; and besides, the sometimes erratic storytelling fits better with the conceit that this is a reality vlog about real people experiencing real hauntings.

But it is, in fact, a work of fiction, despite the many, many YouTube commenters who insist it’s all real and will cut you if you dare to suggest otherwise. The brainchild of Coat Tale Productions, they set out to make Sunshine Girl a sort of Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity, and I think they’ve succeeded quite nicely. I think part of what makes it work so well is it’s rather unique nature as a blend of fiction and reality. The hauntings and situations are made up and plotted out in advance and the characters are played by actors, but the dialogue is entirely unscripted; the mother and daughter are such in real life and are basically playing themselves, so all that chemistry between them is real.

So is it scary?  Sometimes. I’d say not as deeply unsettling as Marble Hornets, but there are some genuinely creepy moments that might come back to haunt you when you’re lying in the dark. Otherwise, it’s good, clean fun, and its star, the bubbly Sunshine Girl, is about as engaging and charming a heroine as you’re likely to find.

Ehrrrmagrrrrd, you guys, Marble Hornets

I’ve got a new obsession, folks, and it’s taken me by surprise — if you had described this little Youtube series to me a few weeks ago and told me that I shouldn’t watch it because I would spend my days obsessively refreshing all of the relevant sites for updates and reading fan blogs and Tumblrs and what have you (and spending my nights being terrified of every dark corner…) I would have scoffed. And then I probably would have watched it anyway and been right where I am now.
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