(On Saturday, I participated in an evening of Say Anything fan fiction as part of Lit Crawl NYC. Here is my contribution, an attempt at double fan fiction. It is best read as I read it Saturday – with the Game of Thrones theme playing in the background.)
"I am Eddark Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Hand of the King," Lloyd Dobler said loudly, his voice carrying across the entire restaurant, "and I come before you to confess my treason in the sight of gods and men."
A dinner roll came sailing out of the crowd. More rolls – and the occasional balled up napkin – followed. A hundred voices were screaming. King Joffrey stepped out from behind the shields of his Kingsguard.
"My mother bids me let Lord Eddard take the black, and Lady Sansa has begged mercy for her father. But they have the soft hearts of women. So long as I am your king, treason shall never go unpunished. Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!"
Ser Ilyn Payne gestured and the knight in black-and-gold gave a command. The gold cloaks flung Lloyd Dobler to the marble, with his head and chest out over the edge. Ser Ilyn drew a two-handed greatsword from the scabbard on his back. As he lifted the blade above his head, the harsh fluorescent lighting seemed to ripple and dance down the dark metal, glinting off an edge sharper than any razor.
So concluded Lloyd’s appearance as Ned Stark, at Winterfellow’s, Gatlinburg’s only Game of Thrones theme restaurant and medieval dinner theater. The lights went out and Lloyd felt around for the styrofoam replica of his head, which was removed from his shoulders twice nightly before modest – but enthusiastic – crowds of landlocked tourists. Finding it, he tucked it under his arm like a basketball and exited the arena.
He rarely bothered to remove his makeup or to unbundle his hair before leaving for the night. It was drawn back somewhat effeminately, like Katherine Ross’s in The Graduate. He did not even change clothes. He drove home – and stopped off to buy beer – looking like the bass player from Krokus.
The recent removal of Corey and her things from Lloyd’s rented brick bungalow had caused the house to list forward, or so it seemed. The floors sloped perceptibly toward the small front yard, and maybe always had, although the effect was undeniable now with no throw rugs or rock posters or guitars to distract from what was really a very steep grade. A pencil, or even a quarter, dropped at the right angle between the couch and the coffee table might roll, unimpeded, to the front of the house, and disappear forever in the warped gaps between the floor and the baseboards, which flared as wide as two inches in places – something Lloyd had never noticed until Corey was all the way gone.
He put the beer in the refrigerator, took two bottles for himself, and sunk into the living room couch. He turned on his laptop.
He had resisted Facebook for as long as he could. Everything about it screamed bought, sold, and processed. But it helped him keep up with Connie and Jason, who had become quite a mixed martial artist, although he was a better grappler than a striker.
And it was how he had reconnected with Corey, a voice from the past. She had moved down from Chicago and it seemed so right. What he should have done all along. But even that didn’t work out. She was still too angry. Still at Joe. Still at everyone, really.
Lloyd logged in. A little red square appeared by the icon of two people – a man and a woman – very close together. The Facebook symbol for friends – and possibly more.
He clicked and the menu dropped down.
“Diane Court,” it said. “15 mutual friends.”
His heart raced. He looked at the tiny picture but could not bring himself to click it. He tossed his laptop aside and stood up. He paced and finished his beer. He sat back down on the couch and stared at the screen, considering his options.
The choice couldn’t have been simpler, or more difficult. His mouse hovered across them both.
“Confirm” or “Not Now.”
But whether you read “Rip Van Winkle” as a statement on politics, marital relations, or as a tale that binds history to nature – Van Winkle’s bowling partners are determined to be Hendrick Hudson’s crew, and summer thunder in the Catskills is taken to be the sound of their pins crashing – the fact remains: Rip Van Winkle does nothing and gets away with it.
Dialastar.com and the Future of Micro-Access
At first blush, dialastar.com appears to be a crass scheme by a former porn star to leverage the shameless desperation of attention-starved D-listers and the lower impulses of celebrity-crazed American dimwits and/or ironic potheads. And it is all that. Users pay up to $25/minute to speak to future trivia questions like Michael Lohan, Chris Crocker, and Angie Everhart.
But might it also be more?
While credible literary lights like Emerson, Dickens, and Twain supported themselves — in their day — via public appearances, something has always struck me as not quite right about returning to that model. For one thing, it will mean we have arrived at a point where each pole of the marketing magnet — the book and the tour — is supposed to pay for the other, with the result that both are given away. Plus, the idea of supporting modern media with something so 19th-century as a speaking tour is just a little too steam-punky, if you know what I mean.
But this dialastar.com, this makes sense. What Emerson, Dickens, and Twain were really selling — after all — was access. Writing was their advertisement, but proximity was their product. And for many writers, who make livings as academics, it still is. The paid speaking tour hasn’t gone away. We’ve just jacked up the price, extended it to two years, and dratically limited enrollment (although probably still not by enough.) We sell maxi-access to writers, in the form of MFAs. But what about micro-access? Where’s the model for that? Maybe it’s dialastar.com.
Imagine dialanauthor.com, a site where you can talk to Jonathan Franzen or Jennifer Egan or, gulp, David Patterson for $5/minute or $5/minute or $500/minute (respectively). Do you think people would call? Do you even doubt for a minute that they would? Can you imagine if Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon were on there?
Go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive.
If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men—you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.
Next I blew my entire Amazon gift card balance on — and this is the delicious part — a Kobo Touch eReader. That’s right. Amazon doesn’t handle these directly, of course, but you can spend gift card balances with Amazon merchants, which is how I was able to buy the Kobo. It should arrive in a week and then, as a reader at least, I’ll be Amazon-free.
I don’t want to make any heated edicts or promises I can’t keep, but Amazon seems bent on forcing me to reconsider my agnosticism. I note all this, despite the fact that it exposes me as less than ideaologically pure, because I want to warn Amazon how they are alienating content producers — even friendly ones — bit by bit.
K8lin!’ I yelled, hitting the screen with a rolled up People. K8lin winced, balancing on her juice-stained little wings.
Like Ami Greko, I’m not exactly sure what the cover of this week’s New Yorker is trying to say. Books are dead? E-books are bad? Old white men are befuddled? In any case, my friend Daniel Radosh long ago taught me the appropriate response to non sequiturs in The New Yorker. That’s right: a caption contest. There is a prize.