7 Quick Takes (3/15/13)

7 Quick Takes (3/15/13) March 15, 2013

— 1 —

I’ve joined up on one of the online campaigns for Dungeons and Discourses, and, meanwhile, friend of the blog Christian H has invented an expansion pack for Scott’s game.  He’s invented spells and feats for a new Critic class and you can see how he put it all together chez lui.  Here’s one I particularly enjoyed:

Type: self, feminist, lgtbq, postmodern
Prerequisite: 2 Level Utopian or Ethicist
Cost: 2W
Duration: 2 turns
Spell: You use your knowledge of gender performativity to take control of your own gender. From the duration of this spell, you can decide whether you count as male or female for any given spell or effect

— 2 —

Also, there are more cosplay montages in the word, and you know how much I love sharing them:

— 3 —

And, oh, how much would I like a comic book or graphic novel about the superheroic efforts to free Sherlock Holmes from the dread Copyright Conspiracy.

The suit, which stems from the estate’s efforts to collect a licensing fee for a planned collection of new Holmes-related stories by Sara Paretsky, Michael Connelly and other contemporary writers, makes a seemingly simple argument. Of the 60 Conan Doyle stories and novels in “the Canon” (as Sherlockians call it), only the 10 stories first published in the United States after 1923 remain under copyright. Therefore, the suit asserts, many fees paid to the estate for the use of the character have been unnecessary.

— 4 —

But speaking of works that are in the public domain, OMG JOSS WHEDON’S MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING!

(which I dramaturged in college and is only my favorite romance ever.)

— 5 —

Much Ado is old enough to be free of copyright problems, but Alyssa Rosenberg has some great points to make about the difficulties of making the plot work in a contemporary setting.  She writes:

I wrote on Friday that this is a scenario that’s exceedingly hard to move into the modern era, and I thought the success of Much Ado About Nothing would depend on the ability of the movie to find a contemporary scenario into which this conflict fit without seeming jarringly anachronistic, making it easier to suspend disbelief about the characters’ reactions. While there’s no question that cheating on your wedding night is a big deal in modern society, we’re—fortunately—not a society where it would be a reasonable test of your lover’s affections to ask him to kill his best friend for besmirching your cousin’s sexual reputation. There are options here, of course. I would have been curious to see a slightly larger social context where Hero and her family are Christian, and the film took seriously the idea that her honor is valuable to her because she’s been taught it’s the most important thing about her. And even more interesting could have been a setup where Claudio’s reaction seems to come more from a sense of anxiety about the revelation that his bride has more sexual experience than he does than from the idea that Don Leonato has offended him by pretending to honor him but offering him “this rotten orange” as a sign of that honor.”

— 6 —

Fun fact from my dramaturging days?  The line:

There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour.

was sometimes bowdlerized because ‘orange’ was considered a little racy.  The reference is to the pitted skin of an orange, which might resemble that of a woman of, er… negotiable virtue, after a bad case of venereal disease.

— 7 —

And in other parts of the internet, Noah Millman responds to some “There aren’t any plausible barriers to relationships left!  Modern RomComs are doomed!” comments chez Sullivan:

 The genre that has obsolesced is not romantic comedy but romantic tragedyRomeo and Juliet is tough to update. You could set it in a community where you still have arranged marriages and honor killings. Or you could turn the “families” into rival mafia clans, or into warring ethnic groups. But all this does is displace the heart of the tragedy away from the lovers and onto the larger society. At the end of Romeo and Juliet, you think, “gosh, the way you fall in love as a teenager – it’s never really that powerful again, is it? – powerful enough to kill you?” You don’t think “feuding is so terrible – look how it ruined the lives of these two lovely kids. There oughta be a law.” But a version of the latter is precisely what you think at the end of West Side Story – among other thing, because Maria – not some second-string prince, but the romantic lead – tells you that’s what you’re supposed to think.



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  • Melody

    Leah! Yours is definitely one of my favorite blogs. I love the way your mind works. I know you are still settling into your new environment and may not have time, but have you heard of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge? I think your posts would be interesting!

    • Melody

      (Still learning how to do the hyperlink signature.)

  • Beadgirl

    Leah, you might be interested in <url=http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/03/06/173424536/are-romantic-comedies-dead.this article, where Linda Holmes discusses modern romcoms.

  • Beadgirl
  • David J. White

    A couple of issues with Alyssa Rosenberg’s analysis:

    There are options here, of course. I would have been curious to see a slightly larger social context where Hero and her family are Christian

    Um, given that the play as written is set in Renaissance Italy, Hero and her family are Christian, yes?

    and the film took seriously the idea that her honor is valuable to her because she’s been taught it’s the most important thing about her.

    If one wants a contemporary setting that incorporates this aspect, it would make more sense to set the play in some modern Muslim communities.

    • deiseach

      What I’d love to see is a film or anything that took seriously the idea that her honour is valuable to her because her honour is valuable to her.

      I get the notion that women were exploited and kept repressed by the patriarchy by the over-valuation of their virginity as the token and guarantee of their value as breeding stock in the exchange for money or power between men. Really, I do. And I agree that restricting the definition of “honour” as it applies to women to mean only and solely their sexual purity, whereas for men “honour” connotes a much wider range of reputation, repute, worldly standing and power, but at root, for both men and women “honour” was held to have a personal meaning affecting how they behaved and what their real character was like.

      But how about a woman who does indeed think that being accused of lying, deceiving and being party to an attempted fraud reflects badly upon her character? How about a woman being anxious about her reputation for probity as much as a man might be? How about a woman who loves her fiancé and is stricken to the heart by the accusation that she doesn’t really care about him? I won’t broach the notion that a woman might indeed think it an insult to be accused of committing the sin of fornication, because that would be too big a cultural jump to inflict upon you, but why not broaden your definition of “honour” beyond that of virginity yourself?

      The same attitude drove me nuts in the adaptation of “Little Women” where Susan Sarandon as Marmee lectures Meg about keeping the appearance of virtue because society would judge her and punish her if she was perceived to fall beneath its standards; this was completely false to the source material and shows a lack of understanding of the time when, yes, once upon a time, people genuinely (not as a matter of being hypocrites pretending to hew to a societal standard that was rigged) and really did believe that it mattered to herself and her character as a good person if a young woman was careful to avoid occasions of sin. People really did think, once upon a time, that it was a good thing not to have sex before marriage and this attitude was not merely one of calculation for their value on the marriage market:

      “I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good . To be admired, loved, and respected. To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Meg, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy. My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.”

      Okay, here ends the sermon 🙂

  • jenesaispas

    3. Weird story about the collector that died before the auction, sounds pretty suspicious.
    4. Sounds good, might make me enjoy Shakespeare.

    I have a quirky quick take to say thankyou in kind.

  • James Jarvis

    Have you read any of James Morrow’s books. If you have I’d be interested in what you think about them. If not you might check out Only Begotten Daughter.

  • Bob

    I think it’s arguable that Shakespeare intended the point of Romeo and Juliet to be ‘isn’t feuding awful, there ought to be a law against it’. That’s what I took from it when we studied it at school. The prince might be a ‘second-string’ character but he delivers the closing speech of the play, which is the part you’re left to think about when the play is over, and contains the lines:
    “See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
    That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
    And I for winking at your discords too
    Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.”

    Romeo and Juliet aren’t the only people to be destroyed by the fued, just the last. There’s Tybalt as well, and Mercutio, who was my favourite characters, and has the wonderful dying line “A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES!”
    The play isn’t so much about love as it is about the destructive effects of fueding on a community.

    It seems kind of touchingly naive to think that social class or race or nationality or religion and so on are not barriers to romance anymore. Maybe among super-liberal progressives they’re not, but the world isn’t made just of progressives and there are loads of familes where these things might still be a barrier. There are also things like extreme age differences (18+50) or incest or polyamory which are still very much taboo.

  • And, oh, how much would I like a comic book or graphic novel about the superheroic efforts to free Sherlock Holmes from the dread Copyright Conspiracy.

    Until that happens, there’s always this (which you may have already heard of, come to think of it):

    [T]the comic’s heroine, Akiko, brandishes a laser gun as she fends off a cyclopean ‘Rights Monster’ – all the while learning copyright law basics, including the line between fair use and copyright infringement.

    Source: http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/

  • Darren

    #1 – My suggested spell


    TYPE: Targeted

    SPELL: The target becomes incapable of predicting the result of any action based upon past events and must stand idle during the next round. Empiricist classes are further affected, being slowed for one additional round as they struggle to construct a priori reasons for their desired actions.

    May also be used as an interrupt, causing the target to lose the current action prior to its completion.

    Ineffective against Determinists.