Tag Archives: Star Trek

Do not go to the elves for writing advice

(UPDATED with TWO pertinent quotes and a couple of fixed typos.)

For when you ask about fanfic, they will say both No and Yes:

On the one hand, this bothers me as being somehow analogous to a sort of intellectual piracy flying a flag of hommage, but on the other, I’ve never had much difficulty with Sherlockiana, or post-Lovecraftian contributions to the Cthulhu mythos. And I certainly think there’s a difference between giving away a song written in the manner or style of a band and uploading that band’s original work to a free torrent site (a frequent problem for musicians these days). But in that case, where does a cover band, or even more nebulously, a tribute band, fit into such a discussion?

So what does this naughty and neglectful¹ elf say? As you may guess, it’s No and Yes, but there’s an explanation. But first, we need a little background.

A lot of fan fiction, like a lot of everything else, is prone to its own tropes and lazy little shortcuts. The best-known is the dreaded Mary Sue, where the fictional framework really only exists to flatter a thinly-disguised avatar for the author. What would you say if you were forced to read a Star Trek story in which dashing young Leiutenant Flightny saved the whole Federation, with the principals of the show reduced to marveling one to each other how awesome that new guy is, and shouldn’t he be promoted to command that new invincible prototype ship, the USS Millenium TARDIS?

Hopefully you wouldn’t say anything, because no power on Earth could force me to write it for you. But if I did (and may you all hunt me for sport if it happens), it would be out there for you to read if you so desired. This is not always a good thing.

Come back with me, below the jump, to the dark days…

:::doodilly-doop, doodilly-doop, doodilly-doop:::

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One… more… time!

The singing cowboy used to be a standard back in the 50’s. From Gene Autry, the actual “Singing Cowboy,” through Roy Rogers, on to The Mellomen (who featured the rumbling bass voice of Thurl Ravenscroft), a lot of people married the Western visual of the cowboy on the range to the songs of Country.  In 1973, Elton John could sing a twangy country-western tune  “of roundups and rustlers and home on the range” without any trace of hipsterism or post-modern irony.

We’ve lost one of the last of them today: the yodeling cowboy, Slim Whitman.

He maybe didn’t get a tribute quite as exotic or heartfelt as Sir Elton’s, but he was name-dropped in one of my favorite tunes:

I put on a Slim Whitman tape
Mama wore a brand-new hair net
Kids are in the back seat
Jumping up and down, saying “Are we there yet?”
And all of us were bound together in one common thought
As we rolled down the long and winding interstate in our ’53 DeSota
We’re gonna see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota!

More importantly, he seemed like a man of decent heart and good humor, such as in the closing quote from the linked obituary above:

I don’t think you’ve ever heard anything bad about me, and I’d like to keep it that way. I’d like my son (Bryon) to remember me as a good dad. I’d like the people to remember me as having a good voice and a clean suit.

But if that’s not enough, one of the standards he had a hit with was later remade (in a matter of speaking) very famously:

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One of our earliest successes

Today the dread Doctor Darth J links a WSJ piece contrasting Romeny and Obama.

The article is worth your time, but this is more a quick note on Lokai and Bele, the two fellows pictured in Doctor J’s post.  Together they pulled off one of the first signature gags in the history of the Department of Practical Jokes.

The United Federation of Planets is* useful, but also often annoying.  They often think they’re actually in charge instead of the Masters.  Being a forward-thinking despot, the Czar ordered our Department to prank ol’ Bossy Britches himself, James Tiberius Kirk.  Lokai and Bele (not their real names, obviously) were duly dispatched.

* Or will be, or has about to, depending on your temporal reference point.

The Full-Contact Cosmetics Team were unsung heroes.  They actually fooled Doctor McCoy, who is nobody’s fool, into thinking that was their natural pigmentation!  But Lokai and Bele sold it so well, Bones could hardly be blamed.  Hell, at the end we began to wonder ourselves.  They were only supposed to fill all the Jeffries tubes with rice pudding, but instead they wove that outlandish tale of a millenial vendetta… I’ve got to hand it to them, it was brilliant.  The UFP has that soft spot for making everyone play friendly.  And whenever things got dicey, they hit Kirk right in the ego, and distracted him from actually asking five minutes’ worth of hard questions.  I swear, he must have majored in journalism at Starfleet Academy.

So the whole Enterprise wound up diverted light-years off course, to their “home planet,” where we scooped them up and brought them back to the Supersonic Rocket Ship.  They crack us up near tight deadlines by jogging down the corridors with those drippy stoner faces they used “remembering” the “civil war.”

Now, you may ask, gentle reader, what point there was in merely inconveniencing a Federation starship like that, just for a joke?  Well wouldn’t you love to know…

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