Vancouver Convetion - Further Thoughts

  • Jun. 30th, 2010 at 3:21 PM
my_daroga: Sirius from Diana Wynne Jones' Dogsbody. Based on my dog. (dog)
Part of going to the Star Trek con last weekend was about never having been. I never thought it'd be "my thing"--as I observed to [personal profile] lettered/[ profile] tkp, "I don't think that's where I'll find my people." But fandom, in and of itself, has always fascinated me, and I wanted to try out this aspect of that experience. Just once.

I don't feel I got that.

The convention was very small, for one. A tiny vendor room, with some signed photos and shirts ranging from XL-XXXL. Very few people in costume (though I appreciated the many TOS-era mini-dresses). And not much to do aside from lines for photo-ops, lines for autographs, and the auditorium, where the main attraction was naturally Shatner/Nimoy and little else (for me).

Now, I didn't want to buy anything, and I was in a mini-dress, too, and it was my choice not to pay for photo-ops and autographs or to meet my heroes. But I'm glad I had a job to do (passing out fliers for Outdoor Trek), or I'd have been bored.

So. I have some questions, and maybe a few of you can answer them.

-Those of you who have done the con thing--I mean the Trek-like kind--are there bigger ones? Looking at the website for the Vegas version by the same people, it seems like the place to be. But I find myself wondering if the internet has changed the face of "real life" fandom--we no longer have to converge on physical spaces to trade fic or squee or discuss.

-Where are the cons for fans? I mean our kind of fans, the meta-fen, the places where stuff is discussed and people are social (when they want to be) and it's an extension of what we do here? WisCon, I'm looking at you next year, for sure. But is there a Trek version of something like this? Where's the meta-Star Trek convention? I don't know anything.

In short... Where's the primer on fan conventions? Because I never thought I'd be saying this, but if my show wasn't the same weekend, I fear I'd be buying a ticket to Las Vegas right now. I was fiercely jealous of those who went to WisCon this year, only because I finally figured out what it is once they got there and started telling me about it.

I want the convention experience. What's next?

Hollywood RPF

  • May. 25th, 2010 at 8:39 AM
my_daroga: From Powell's "Peeping Tom" (camera)
Last year, while exploring a warren of a used bookstore in Kutztown, PA, I came across two volumes of Hollywood RPF. Two flaking, bound volumes from 1942-43:

Ginger Rogers and the Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak by Lela E. Rogers, and
Betty Grable and the House with the Iron Shutters by Kathryn Heisenfelt.

Title page and verso )

I was, understandably, fascinated, so I bought them both, put them on my shelf, and promptly forget about them. Until now. Looking at them, they're that very lightweight, cheap sort of thing that I doubt would have held up in a library setting for long. I do wonder where these copies came from. (Betty Grable shows 50 copies on, from $3.79 to $88; Ginger Rogers shows 114 copies from $3.64 to $47.81, if you're curious.) The back pages list charming titles from the same publisher, segregated for girls and boys, though the page of interest reads thus: )

This website has a complete listing of the actress titles, which also include Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, Gene Tierney, and Dorothy Lamour. It also reveals that Lela E. Rogers was Ginger's mother, and lots of other stuff I don't have access to, like general information about the writing and the way in which the "real person" angle is handled. According to the site, Heisenfelt wrote half the books, all of which "read like parodies of series books":

Heisenfelt's characters nearly always encounter one or more people who are stricken by fear that is superstitious. The heroine is usually fearful as well, with the difference being that the heroine is able to control her fear enough not to make a complete fool out of herself. Every event in the story has a mysterious importance, and normal, everyday sounds, such as a shutting door or a cat's meow, are often taken to be extremely scary. The mystery usually turns out to be a fairly insignificant mystery, and in some cases would not have been a mystery had everyone communicated with each other. In short, Heisenfelt's books tend to be overly-dramatic. The entire plot of each Heisenfelt book usually occurs in a very short period of time, often in fewer than 24 hours.

It also explains that there are two groups of stories in this loosely-defined "series": books in which the main character is in fact the actress named, and "while the heroine is identified as a famous actress, the stories are entirely fictitious and center around a mystery that convenient appears while the heroine is briefly visiting a dear friend. In some of these stories, many of the other characters fail to recognize the actress in spite of her openness about her identity!" The others are AU adventures where the character has the same name and looks as the actress but is, in fact, just a regular girl. Since I have one of each here, I'll see what I can see without actually reading them cover to cover.

Betty Grable and the House With the Iron Shutters )

Ginger Rogers and the Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak )

In short: these books are not very good. Nor did they really need to be, if you think about it. And the fascination lies not in their quality, but their existence. How did people respond to the idea of RPF back then? Was this a common practice in movie mags of the time? Who authorized the use of these personae? I haven't found a link by studio or anything like that. And what else are we missing from the history of RPF, before it got a clever name? Does it even count as such, when no effort is made to make it "real" beyond the names and likenesses?

Roundabout Avenues to Sixties Television

  • Jun. 8th, 2009 at 11:59 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (iconic)
So, as you all most likely know, my household is currently enthralled by TOS. (Current proof of utter ridiculousness: not only have I finally changed my layout to one from [ profile] thefulcrum, I altered the colors. Look closely.) What I could not recall was why, after years of Star Wars vs. Star Trek debates, we'd decided to watch TOS a few years ago.

Mr. Daroga remembered last night.

Apparently, we were actually brought to TOS fandom via William Shatner's music career. Mr. Daroga heard "It Hasn't Happened Yet" (ignore the images; bonus live version here) on the radio (npr?), got interested, bought the album, and that was it.

I am a Star Trek fan because of William Shatner's "singing." I'm fairly certain this is an uncommon phenomenon.

You know what else I'm a fan of? Batman. With Adam West. It's not available on DVD due to weird rights reasons, but we "found" some and we've been watching season 1.

The thing about Batman (the tv series--henceforth that's what I mean in this post when I say "Batman") is that when I was a kid, I remember seeing it on tv and wondering how everyone in the sixties could have been that stupid. I mean, it was so dumb! Did anyone actually think that was funny? I was a very serious child, I guess; later on, when I started watching the animated series and reading some comics I probably became even more offended by the campy excess of Adam West's Batman.

I was so wrong. Several years ago now, when I was momentarily in a house that actually had cable, I saw an episode on TV Land. Batman and Robin are chasing Kitt!Catwoman through a pageant or a fashion show or something and she goes into the dressing room, forcing them to a painful decision:

Can they, or can they not, enter a womens dressing room?

They finally determine they can, if they cover their eyes. That was it. I was done for. For some reason, this crap delights me. I know this is nothing new and I haven't discovered the moon or anything. But imagine the shock of realizing that I actually thought this was funny!

It hasn't stopped yet, either. I love how self-aware and absurdly meta it is. I love that Robin can't follow criminals into clubs because he's underage. And that Batman realizes he can't drive the Batmobile when he's been drugged because he's under the influence. And how he almost moves it when he realizes he's parked in a no-parking zone. And how Dick always hangs his head in shame after Bruce admonishes him about music or algebra or whatever being important to human culture, and says, "Gosh, Bruce, you're right." And how they both get the Riddler's totally stupid riddles as if they're totally obvious. Also the Riddler's hot in his unitard. And how Bruce and Dick keep going "fishing" and Alfred wonders what will happen if Aunt Harriet actually finds out what those boys are up to.

In short, I think I hated it when I was a kid because I didn't get the real joke. Which was that it was all a joke. I still don't know why I think this is so funny, but more than that I don't know why it's important to me to figure it out--I mean obviously lots of people found it hilarious, or it wouldn't be here. And lots of people still find it stupid. I have half a mind to do a post about the socio-cultural implications of this version of Batman vs. others.

One semi-serious thing this suggests to me is that it fits in with the increasing tolerance I have for multiple visions. It's more than just tolerance--I embrace it. I remember when I was a teenager, affronts to my vision of canon (for whatever value of fandom you want to discuss) were MORTAL. Canon--my interpretation of it--was absolute. Which was obviously hypocritical, since my canon probably involved Erik/Christine shipping, which is obviously not supported by actual canon. This is probably not a startling revelation, but it's interesting to me that not only do I love that there are different versions of things, and have a far greater tolerance for fanworks that support alternate interpretations/pairings/whatever, I watch everything with a greater eye to multiple visions within the text itself. Which is one reason I love watching TOS--there are so many places to diverge from each episode, I almost want to watch them again as soon as I'm done.

Maybe I'm just mellowing out in my old age.

Then again, there's this:


Which pretty much blows all pseudo-intellectual argument and soul-searching out of the water.


my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (Default)
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