Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Marianna's Jukebox

Marianna with instruments

When Marianna asks to have songs on it's only going to go one of two ways. It either means Swifty - Taylor Swift encompassing every female starlet of the last fifty years or so to Marianna's mind - and at least three repeats of Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass. Or a random mash-up of vintage music hall and comedy songs.

When Father Papered The Parlour

This was actually one of my favourite songs as a kid, courtesy of a 'Hello Children Everywhere!' compilation tape from the local library. Now Marianna loves it too, though of course it has to be the 1912 recording by Billy Williams. The song was written for him in 1910, when Williams - born Richard Isaac Banks in Melbourne - was the toast of the British music hall. He was a prolific recording artist with over 500 recordings which continued to sell well long after his premature death in 1915.

Wait 'Til You Get 'Em Up In The Air, Boys!

The world was a different place when Billy Murray recorded this song in 1919. Prohibition was about to change the face of the United States, and air travel was still in its infancy. Some bright spark saw an opportunity to combine the two because, well, if a guy was worried about his ability to pull now the liquor had dried up he could take solace in the news that 'an aero ride will have the same effect'.

Sometimes you try to love a girl and she says no to you
It makes you feel so blue, But there's nothing you can do! 
 You take her for an auto ride and start that mushy talk
But if she doesn't like it, she gets out and starts to walk. 
 They've fooled us ever since the world began, 
But listen boys, I've got a little plan! 
 Wait till you get them up in the air, boys, 
Wait till you get them up in the air. 
You can make them hug and squeeze you too, 
For if they don't, Just say you won't come down until they do! 
 Wait till you get them up in the clouds, boys, 
There won't be anyone to watch you there! 
You can loop the loop and she can hardly get her breath, 
It isn't hard to reason with a girl who's scared to death! 
So wait till you get them up in the air, boys, 
Up, up, up up, way up in the air!

What Can You Give A Nudist For His Birthday?

Written by Arthur Le Clerq, responsible for various novelty hits, this one was first recorded by Gracie Fields in 1934. It never fails to crack me up!

What can you give a nudist for a present?
I somehow think that cufflinks would be wrong.
And a watch chain would look silly draped across the front of Willy,
Oh, what can you give a nudist when his birthday comes along?

I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am

Harry Champion made his stage debut in 1882 at the age of 17 and went on to become one of the biggest stars of the British music hall. Henery the Eighth, better known today for the Herman's Hermits 1965 cover, was written for Champion in 1910 when he was at the height of his fame and popularity. He recorded it in 1911 and in our house, at least, it's still going strong...

You'd Be Surprised

This comedy song was written by Irving Berlin in 1919, and recorded in September of the same year by Eddie Cantor. It's about a poor bloke named Johnny who really isn't much of a catch. At least, that's what people assumed until Mary started telling friends that they'd be surprised if they got him alone...

He isn't much in the light but when you get in the dark
You'd be surprised...
On a streetcar or in a train, you'd think he was born without any brains
But in a taxicab, oh, boy, you'd be surprised!

The Window Cleaner

George Formby is a legend, and this is probably his best known hit. It was originally performed in the 1936 film Keep Your Seats, Please and then went on to receive the first silver disc in the UK for selling over 100,000 copies - despite being temporarily banned by the BBC for being 'disgusting'.

Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army

Irving Berlin wrote the songs for 1954's White Christmas, and even got to reuse the titular Oscar winner from 1942's Holiday Inn. This one is a whole lot more fun though!

There's a lot to be said for the Army, 
The life without responsibility. 
A soldier out of luck
Was really never stuck - 
There's always someone higher up where you can pass the buck!

My Old Man (Said Follow The Van)

Written in 1919, this song has been performed by scores of people, but was first made popular by music hall star Marie Lloyd. Marianna is a particular fan of this version from the BBC's 2007 docudrama, Miss Marie Lloyd: Queen of the Music Hall starring Jesse Wallace.

The Prune Song

Vaudeville (like a US version of the music hall) star Frank Crumit recorded this in 1928 and it's the cutest little song you've probably never heard!

No matter how young a prune may be 
He's always full of wrinkles 
People get them on their face 
Prunes get 'em every place. 

Baby prunes, just like their Dad 
Wrinkled but not quite so bad 
Their life's an open book,
For no matter how young a prune may be 
He has a worried look!

In Between

Judy Garland sang this song about the indignity of being 'too old for toys and too young for boys' in the 1938 romcom Love Finds Andy Hardy. Marianna thinks Judy looks like a princess, and invariably calms down when we put this one on for her. Apparently she feels she is in much the same boat - for all that Judy was waiting to turn sweet sixteen and Marianna is only just three!

For more like this, please click the below image:
Family Life

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Civic Life in the UK

Civic Life in the UK

Civic life, according to, can be defined as 'the public life of the citizen concerned with the affairs of the community and nation, as contrasted with private or personal life.' In other words, civic life is all the stuff that is going on across the country, day in day out, for the good of the community. The fancy civic dinners and the engagement consultations in drafty halls. The fetes, and the fairs, and parades - and the litter picks, the neighbourhood committees, and the town council meetings.

Before I became involved in local politics there were so many aspects of civic life I had no idea about. I'd never heard of the high sheriff, for example, and I had no idea what the difference was between a borough and community council.

Serving as Mayor gave me chance to learn so much more about the intricacies of public life - who's who and what's what - and I figured it might make for an interesting blog series to share what I've learned with anyone and everyone who stumbles across my little corner of cyberspace!

Who's Who?

High Sheriff.

For more like this, please click the image below:
Politics at Babi a Fi

Monday, 26 February 2018

A - Z Fandom Ask Tag

A - Z Fandom Ask Tag

Fandom asks meme I found on Tumblr...

A - Ships that you currently like a lot. (Friendships, pairings, threesomes, etc. are allowed.)

Right now I'm liking Hastings/Poirot, Jim Gordon/Clancy O'Hara, and Gaston/LeFou.

Arthur Hastings and Hercule Poirot Batman 1966
Gaston and Lefou from Beauty and the Beast

B - A pairing–platonic, romantic or sexual–that you initially didn’t consider, but someone changed your mind.

I didn't see the attraction of Jim/Harvey in Gotham until I came across some fanart. Then I saw that scene where it looked like Jim was going in for a desperate snog and suddenly I was like, yeah, okay, I get it now!

C - A ship you have never liked and probably never will.

Sherlock Holmes / Moriarty. I mean, I get the appeal, what with the hero/villain dynamic. But I just can't like a ship that encroaches on the epic love of Holmes and Watson...

Holmes and Watson

D - A pairing you wish you liked but just can’t.

I really wish I was fannish about Nygmobblepot - Nygma / Penguin. It would probably make my time in Gotham fandom much easier but... I like it just fine on the show, but I'm not interested in reading or writing about it.


E - Have you added anything cracky/hilarious to your fandom? If so, what?

I created a group of OCs for a fandom once because I needed a bunch of dumb bullies to be sniping at the main characters. When my fics became popular lots of people who hadn't seen all the show, or didn't canon review, assumed they were real characters and wrote them into their fics too!

F - What’s the longest you’ve ever been in a fandom?

In terms of both contributing and consuming, probably Harry Potter. I wrote my first HP story in 2002 just after the Chamber of Secrets film came out, and I wrote my most recent one for a fic exchange last summer. Read more about my thoughts on HP fandom by checking out the Harry Potter Blogger Tag.

Harry Potter

G - Have you ever had an OTP? If so, do you remember your first one? Who was in it?

I have had so many! The first one was probably something from Star Trek - I have had so many ST ships over the years.

Garak and Bashir

H - What is your favorite source text for fandom stuff (e.g., TV shows, movies, books, anime, Western animation, etc.)?

TV shows. They're easily accessible these days, offer more background to go on than your average movie, and just about every fandom I've been really into has been based on a TV show.

30 Days of TV Challenge

I - Has Tumblr caused you to stop liking any fandoms, if so, which and why?

I've been in Gotham fandom about two years now and Tumblr makes me want to leave it on a weekly basis. Some of the fandom's antis are just spectacularly nasty people.

J - Name a fandom you didn’t think about until you saw it all over Tumblr. (You don’t have to care about it or follow it; it just has to be something that Tumblr made you aware of.)

Yuri on Ice. I don't watch or follow anime anymore so Tumblr was the first I'd heard of it.

K - What character has your favourite development arc/the best development arc?

Dr. Michaela Quinn. I love how she learns to compromise and to listen more to what other people want rather than steaming on with what she decides is best for them. Well, sometimes!

Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman

L - Say something genuinely nice about a character who isn’t one of your faves. (Characters you’re neutral about are fair game, as are characters you merely dislike. Characters that you absolutely loathe with the fire of ten thousand suns are exempt, as there is no point in giving yourself an aneurysm over a character that you hate.)

Er, Little Women's Laurie never let rejection get him down for long. I mean, he was trying to get into Jo's little sister's knickers in scarcely more than a nanosecond...

M - Name a character that you’d like to have for a friend.

Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He might not be completely au fait with the social niceties, but he will save you from planetary destruction.

Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect 

N - Name three things you wish you saw more of in your main fandom (/ fandom of choice).

  1. Fic for my OTP.
  2. Art for my OTP.
  3. Literally anything related to my OTP.

O - Choose a song at random. Which ship or character does it remind you of?

I used a YouTube randomizer and ended up with Firework by Katy Perry. :/ So it has to be an American ship - 'just own the night like the fourth of July' - and probably kind of cheesy. ...I pick Dorian and Kennex from Almost Human. I can imagine Dorian singing John it to highlight some point about the horror of 21st century culture and, of course, to irritate him as much as possible.

Dorian and John Kennex from Almost Human

P - Invent a random AU for any fandom (we always need more ideas).

Crackily switch all your fave fandoms to your hometown. I get the feeling the plots of most US film / TV fandoms I've ever been in would just be brought to an end in moments by the simple existence of the NHS and gun control.

Q - A fandom you’ve abandoned and why.

The Hobbit. I just kind of wrote everything I wanted to for it and moved on to the next thing.

R - Which friendship / platonic relationship is your favourite in fandom?

I'm not sure I ever met a friendship I wouldn't ship romantically... I'll go with Alison and Robert in Afterlife. I was really pleasantly surprised that the show never once played that angle with them.

Alison Mundy and Robert Bridge in Afterlife

S - Show us an example of your personal headcanon.

No matter whose backstory it is, I'm sure I can think of a way to make it angstier!

T - Do you have any hard and fast headcanons that you will die defending?

Jimmy Olsen knows all about Clark's secret identity. The guy is obsessed with Clark and has a shrine to Superman in his bedroom... He was clever enough to build his own signal watch in various versions of continuity, he's clever enough to see past a pair of glasses.

Superman Returns

U - Three favorite characters from three different fandoms, and why they’re your favourites.

Lucifer - Lucifer. Duh. Tom Ellis is amazing in the role and it's one of the few current US TV shows, in my own opinion, to manage consistently good writing.

Lucifer Gene Hunt

Life on Mars - The Gene Genie. Gene Hunt is the embodiment of so much that was wrong with Britain in the 1970s, but you keep getting these glimpses of the real bloke beneath the surface. The guy who cares about his team, and supports Sam no matter how certifiable he's acting.

Red Dwarf - Arnold Judas Rimmer. He might be the biggest smeghead in the history of the universe, but he just does it so well.

V - Which character do you relate to most?

Adrian Mole.

Adrian Mole

W - A trope which you are virtually certain to hate in any fandom.

I don't know, anything can be good if it's done right.

X - A trope which you are almost certain to love in any fandom.

Fake relationship. Forever and always. ♡

Favourite Fictional Tropes

Y - What are your secondhand fandoms (i.e., fandoms you aren’t in personally but are tangentially familiar with because your friends/people on your dash are in them)?

Most of the big juggernaut fandoms - MCU, Supernatural, Teen Wolf, Yuri on Ice, etc. I've never seen any of them and have zero intentions of changing that.

Tyler Hoechlin as Superman
I was legitimately amazed to learn what the actors behind Sterek looked like. Fic had not given me that image at all!

Z - Just ramble about something fan-related, go go go! (Prompts optional but encouraged.)

Check out my post on Fanfiction and TPTB:

Fanfiction and The Powers That Be

For more like this, please click the image below:
Fandom - my life as a fan

Saturday, 24 February 2018

30 Days of Tumblr

30 Days of Tumblr Blogging Challenge

#01 - How did you find out about Tumblr? 

Probably on LiveJournal. I used to be pretty active on there but as it died down more and more people moved over to Tumblr.

#02 - Have you had another account before this one?

No; I've just changed usernames a few times.

#03 - What other URLs have you had?

I don't remember them all, but they include starrrz, babiafi, and horrorsaurus.

#04 - What does your current URL mean?

Serenwib is Welsh for shooting star - all my fandom accounts have names related to stars.

#05 - How many posts do you have?

852. I go through now and then and delete posts that are no longer relevant, etc.

#06 - Is your portrait photo actually you?

Nope, not unless my mirror has been lying all these years...

Blue Stripe Background

#07 - Let’s see your Tumblr crushes!

All the fanartists. They're amazing! <3

#08 - How many followers do you have?


#09 - How many people do you follow?


#10: Do you follow back?

Yes, unless it's a spambot or something.

#11 - Have you ever submitted something to a blog?

Probably, but it's not something I do often.

#12 - Do you run any other blogs?

Yes, but not on Tumblr.

#13 - What theme are you using?

Oscar, apparently.

#14 - Who is your go-to theme maker?

I just use the basic free ones.

#15 - What is your Tumblr pet peeve?

It's more of a general fandom pet peeve, but it's still annoying: people misusing the term 'drabble'. It means a story of exactly 100 words. A 'double drabble' is a story of 200 words. Other lengths below 1,000 words are a 'ficlet'. A 1,200 word fic is never going to be a drabble. Don't call it one!

#16 - Give a shout-out to your followers! What would you like to tell them?

Thank you for putting up with me! :)

#17 - Do you think there should be an age limit on Tumblr?

Definitely. If I wanted to talk to kids I wouldn't be on the internet avoiding them.

#18 - Are you 'Tumblr Famous'? Do you want to be?

No and, sure, why not? Gotta get my five minutes somewhere, after all!

#19 - What is your favourite FuckYeah_____ blog?

Heck Yeah Tumblr Challenges!

#20 - What’s a blog you really enjoy that you don’t think gets enough love, promote them today!

Brainy Facts. So much trivia, so little time.

#21 - How many of your followers do you know in real life?

Only a handful.

#22 - Do you have your Tumblr connected to / advertised on your other accounts (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter?)

No, and it's not a prominent link on my blog either. I like having a network that's a little more private and disconnected from my work / public life.

#23 - What’s the main difference between Tumblr and Facebook for you?

Facebook is a public facing network full of people I know - just another channel where people contact me for work or stuff I need to do. Tumblr, in contrast, is full of people I've never met 'IRL' and is where I talk about fun hobby things.

#24 - What’s the most amount of notes one of your posts has gotten?

No idea! Maybe a couple of hundred.

#25 - If you could only ever post text or photo posts ever again, which would you choose?

Text. Surely the whole point of a free blogging platform is for me to share my mundane thoughts with the rest of the world?

#26 - What do you think of anon ask box questions/comments?

I love them! It's one of the better features of the site.

#27 - If someone was checking out your blog for the first time today, tell them what they would expect to see if they followed you.

Lots of Gotham stuff, interspersed with giveaways and random pretty pictures and gifsets.

#28 - Ask your followers a question for them to answer in your ask box!

Done and dusted.

#29 - How many posts do you have in your queue?

Only three at the moment.

#30 - Post a verification picture today! (A picture of yourself holding up a paper with your URL written on it)

In the immortal words of The Pretenders - maybe tomorrow, maybe someday...

30 Days of Tumblr Blogging Challenge Questions

#01 - How did you find out about Tumblr?
#02 - Have you had another account before this one?
#03 - What other URLs have you had?
#04 - What does your current URL mean?
#05 - How many posts do you have?
#06 - Is your portrait photo actually you?
#07 - Let’s see your Tumblr crushes!
#08 - How many followers do you have?
#09 -How many people do you follow?
#10 - Do you follow back?
#11 - Have you ever submitted something to a blog?
#12 - Do you run any other blogs?
#13 - What theme are you using?
#14 - Who is your go-to theme maker?
#15 - What is your Tumblr pet peeve?
#16 - Give a shout-out to your followers! What would you like to tell them?
#17 - Do you think there should be an age limit on Tumblr?
#18 = Are you 'Tumblr Famous'? Do you want to be?
#19 - What is your favourite FuckYeah_____ blog? (Or heck yeah, hell yes, etc)
#20 - What’s a blog you really enjoy that you don’t think gets enough love, promote them today!
#21 - How many of your followers do you know in real life?
#22 - Do you have your Tumblr connected to / advertised on your other accounts (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter?)
#23 -What’s the main difference between Tumblr and Facebook for you?
#24 - What’s the most amount of notes one of your posts has gotten?
#25 - If you could only ever post text or photo posts ever again, which would you choose?
#26 - What do you think of anon ask box questions/comments?
#27 - If someone was checking out your blog for the first time today, tell them what they would expect to see if they followed you.
#28 - Ask your followers a question for them to answer in your ask box!
#29 - How many posts do you have in your queue?
#30 - Post a verification picture today! (A picture of yourself holding up a paper with your URL written on it)

For more tag challenges, check out my blogging tags, memes and challenges post.

For more fandom stuff, please click the image below:
Fandom - my life as a fan

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Great War - The Terrible War

The Great War Exhibition at Pontypool Museum - image from the south wales argus
L-R: Cllr Gaynor James, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Cllr Alan Jones, ? (it'll come to me!), Anthony, Ashleigh Taylor (TCBC Community Heritage Development Officer), Me, Marianna, Ivor Davies (Museum Chairman).

We attended the opening of a new exhibition at Pontypool Museum on Saturday, commemorating those who lived and died during WWI. It was a small exhibition, but very moving.

The South Wales Argus published an article about it in February 18th edition:

The people who lived during the First World War are remembered in a special exhibition that opened on Saturday. People of all ages attended the unveiling of The Great War The Terrible War exhibition at the Pontypool Museum. 

Welcoming people to the launch museum chairman Ivor Davies said he was very proud of the exhibition. He said: “We are very proud as a trust to put this on show. It will be the last time it will be on display and the schools have been very involved.” 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and the exhibition remembers the people of Gwent who not only fought in the war but were also involved in the war effort. 

One of those featured is Mary Bond from Griffithstown who was a member of St Johns Ambulance and worked at Panteg House. 

Cllr Alan Jones spoke at the event. He said: “This is the anniversary of one of the most horrific wars ever fought and we remember, we commemorate the fallen, the wounded and the survivors from our local area who gave their all to protect our way of life.” 

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP also spoke of the tradition of public service in Gwent and said the exhibition honours the sacrifice people made. Mayor Jessica Powell also attended the event and said that its important that people remember the contribution of people in the Great War.

For more like this, please click the image below:
15 Seconds of Fame - find me in the press

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Nodffa Baptist Church Outreach

Nodffa Baptist Church Outreach image from South Wales Argus
At Garnteg Primary with pupils, headteacher Susan Roche, Pastor John, and Cllr Giles Davies who is very much taller than me!

The thing I love most about being Mayor is getting to visit schools and youth events, so I was really pleased to attend a series of special assemblies recognising the work pupils had put into a project run by Nodffa Baptist Church in Abersychan.

It aims to help deliver some of the primary RE curriculum in a fun and accessible way, and at the assemblies children were receiving certificates and awards for their success in a quiz completed at the end of the project. Pastor John always has such great energy, and it was fab to see the kids singing and really joining in!

Our local paper, the South Wales Argus, came along to one of the presentations at Garnteg Primary and printed a story in the Feb 14th edition:

A church project bringing costumes, workshops and exhibitions into schools has been embraced by pupils and staff in the Abersychan area. Earlier this month, more than 600 pupils across Garnteg, Cwmffrdoer and Victoria Village primary schools received visits from the Noddfa Baptist Church as part of outreach work. In the church visits, pupils interacted with church volunteers dressed up as characters as well as working through graphic displays and filling out a quiz.

 Noddfa Baptist Church’s Pastor John later returned to the schools in assemblies filled with fun and laughter where he gave out prizes and presentation packs to each child.

He was joined by special guests including the mayor of Torfaen, cllr Jessica Powell and cllr Giles Davies, of Abersychan ward, who helped gave out prizes.

 Pastor John said: “We warmly embrace our partnership with the local schools and hope that such collaboration will inform the children and their families of the many services that we provide for the community as a church.”

 The Free Press attended one of the visits at Garnteg Primary School on February 12 which included an assembly and prize-giving ceremony.

 Head teacher Susan Roche said: “The whole week last week was great as it gave the children something different. It combined very important aspects of the curriculum like RE, history and the humanities and brought it together in an interactive way which made it very meaningful.” She added that the project could be carried on as it fits within the RE scheme for the term and thanked the school’s RE coordinator Linda Davies for her help during the partnership work.

 Cllr Giles Davies added he has worked with Pastor John in the ward for five years and credited his work with schools and the Carols Under the Arch event which attracted hundreds of visitors last year. “Basically, I call Noddfa a beacon of hope for the ward because ever since Pastor John has been here he has brought the ward together,” he said.

 Mayor Jessica Powell, added it was “absolutely fantastic” to see how the pupils were engaging with the project. The church is now working with Torfaen Play Service to run a half-term holiday club and for more information on how to take part, search for Noddfa Baptist Church on Facebook.

For more like this, please click the image below:
15 Seconds of Fame - find me in the press

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

500 Writers Who Started Out In Fanfiction

500 Authors Who Started Out In Fanfiction

While researching my International Fanworks Day post on creators and their thoughts on fanfiction - cue obligatory pimping of that article - I kept running into listicles of authors who started out in fandom. It quickly became clear to me that these represented only the tip of the iceberg, especially as many of them struggled to actually name writers who had been in fic fandom rather than who wrote stories independently for their own amusement, or who are known to be okay with fandom like, say, John Scalzi or Neil Gaiman. I figured I could do better, so here I am putting my money where my mouth is.

You'll find huge household names in this post, rubbing shoulders with obscure writers with a single self-published book to their name. And every possible permutation in between. It's just not the oddity the newspaper articles would have you believe.

Fanfiction is absolutely everywhere in published fiction. For the most part it is not labelled as such, and the authors probably wouldn't consider it so either. But, to my mind, getting paid to write a tie-in novel or writing about a character now in the public domain doesn't make the work any less derivative. If you're playing in somebody else's sandpit, be that setting, character, or concept, chances are you're producing fanfiction. That, however, is an argument for another day! This post will look at the still plenty sizeable number of pro-authors who have admitted to writing or are well known to have written fanfiction, as well as fanfiction which has been picked up or 'pulled' for publication.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Mini Mart - Dateman Books

Dateman Books

Supplier: Dateman Books
Website: Webstore - Ebay Store - Etsy Store.

Products: 1/12 scale books and magazines. You can buy books in kit format for £4.50 or, if you're lazy like me, ready made books for £7 or £8.50 each. Some titles cost a little more, like the Rupert Bear annuals which due to licensing and so on are £16 each, but £7 or £8.50 is the norm. The books come in two sizes - large which equates to A4 in 1/12 sale, or small which equates to A5 - and the price for each title is the same regardless. (i.e. the price difference depends on book series not size.)

The first one I bought was Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys; it's a hardback with printed cover and legible pages. It really is so well made! Then, a couple of years back, Dateman Books were at the Cwmbran miniatures fair at the Stadium and obviously I couldn't resist buying something from their stall. I went with one of the James Bond titles (the first chapter is printed in miniature), which even has a paper jacket.

They also sell a range of miniature newspapers, comics, sheet music and magazines, which are generally £1.50 each. Here are a couple I bought about five years ago.

Dateman Books Miniature Magazines

Post and Packing: £2.50 for first book, subsequent items free, or 75p for first magazine / newspaper and 25p for each subsequent. (Within the UK)

For more like this, please click the image below:
Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Man Who Has It All + Giveaway

The Man Who Has It All changed my life. Because it didn't matter how many trashy tips or bullshit lifestyle advice I read in the women's mags, there was always a nagging little voice inside of me insisting that if I was just better at making home made face masks and packing creative lunch boxes the rest of my life would all surely fall into place.

What the @manwhohasitall Twitter account highlights is how dumb that notion is. Simply by switching the gender this advice is aimed at it becomes ridiculous - something you can't imagine anybody taking seriously. In fact, it's really kind of hilarious!

Man Who Has It All Book
The Man Who Has It All: From Frazzled To Fabulous brings all that spoof advice together to produce a read that will bring a smile to your face - but also make you think about the kind of messages we are bombarded with every day, and whether or not we give them too much credence.

For your chance to win a copy of the book, fill out the Gleam widget below - it's perfect for the working father in your life! :)

Man Who Has It All

For more like this, please click the image below:
Win with Babiafi

Friday, 16 February 2018

30 Days of Thinky Thoughts

30 Days of Thinky Thoughts

1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

As old as you wanted to be.

2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Never trying, for sure.

3. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

I do like talking, so quite possibly.

4. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

Somewhere in the middle, I'd say.

5. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

I'd be way more picky about the things I'm willing to put up with.

6. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

Limited, really. I've kind of fallen into things more than actively chosen them.

7. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

Doing the right things.

8. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don't let anybody tell you that you can't achieve your dreams. Even if, like my own daughter, they're to be a princess and live on the moon with a herd of unicorns.

9. Would you break the law to save a loved one? 

I mean, it depends on the circumstances, but yes.

10. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

I'd love to do all kinds of things I don't have the money for. Travelling in style is at the top of the list!

11. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

Yes, no matter how often we declutter our hearts, minds, and homes.

12. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

A joyful simpleton.

Bertie Wooster

13. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

Not always. :(

14. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

Losing touch with a friend who lives close by. You don't even have the distance as an excuse.

15. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

Okay, now this one is just cruel! Lose my old ones, I guess.

16. Has your greatest fear ever come true?

No, but every time I see one of those news stories about giant spiders I remember that the potential is still there...

17. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Does it really matter now? 

No. That's actually a really cheering thought!

18. What is your happiest childhood memory? What makes it so special?

Just playing games and having fun. It's the little things.

19. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

Er, pass.

20. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?


Good vs Evil

21. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? 

Hell yes.

22. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

More work I enjoy.

23. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

No, but today was awful. 100 more like it don't really bear thinking about.

24. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

My family. <3

25. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

Hmm, famous maybe. With fame comes money, and with money comes knowing that Marianna would be set for life even after I was gone.

26. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?


27. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

When it feels right...

Carpe Diem

28. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Because they're not easy lessons to learn.

29. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Lots of things, probably. I'd definitely dance more!

30. Have you learned more about yourself by answering these questions the past 30 days?

Not really.

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Thursday, 15 February 2018

Fanfiction and TPTB

Fanfiction and TPTB

Today is International Fanworks Day, aka the day to celebrate fandom in all its geekish finery. So I'm going to talk about fanfiction and, more specifically, its relationship with TPTB - The Powers That Be. Those who create or own the work can often feel threatened by the existence of fanfiction, and over the years many have attempted to ban transformative works based on their creations. Of course, that's a thankless and nigh impossible task, so these days more and more creators are embracing fandom.

For one thing they're more likely to know what fandom is and what it's all about and, correspondingly, they're also much more aware of how an active fandom can benefit their brand and their own ability to make money from their creative work. Because fanfiction has come a long way since I first stumbled across it some 20 years ago. Back then there was real fear - justified fear, at that - that your uncool hobby could bring the legal might of big name authors, TV companies, and more down upon your broke ass self.

Today fan loyalty is rightly recognised as the vital ingredient for success that money just can't buy.

(Note: this post focuses on authors and actors portraying characters - rather than the subjects of RPF (Real Person Fiction) because it's one thing for people to be writing about something you created, and another for people to just be writing about you.)

Let's just say it - some creators are against fanfic. Really really against it.

Anne Rice on fanfiction

Anne Rice, author of the Vampire Chronicles series, is renowned in fandom circles for her, er, enthusiastic insistence that there is only one way to interpret her work: her way. Not content with formal cease and desist letters, Rice personally harassed fan authors to get work taken down in the early 2000s, and infamously attacked those who dared to leave negative reviews of the Blood Canticle on Amazon, claiming that they had used the site as a 'public urinal' and, still worse, were 'interrogating the text from the wrong perspective.'

Diana Gabaldon on fanfiction

Diana Gabaldon, known for the Outlander book series, is perhaps even more zealous about ensuring that nobody tampers with her creative vision. In 2008 Gabaldon wrote: "A good bit of my objection to fanfic ... is that 99% of it is Just Awful, and it's revolting to see your characters being made to do and say idiotic things, or be forced to enact simple-minded sex fantasies (which is what most fan-fic that comes to my unwilling attention is). Like someone selling your children into white slavery." Seeing as she willingly admits that the main male character of her book, forced to enact multiple simple-minded sex fantasies, is basically poor Jamie McCrimmon from Dr. Who it's hard not to see this as one of those cases of pot, kettle, and black...

Although few take it to such extremes, plenty of authors are explicitly against fanfiction - either from a moral standpoint or because they believe it invalidates their copyright. These range from big names like G.R.R. Martin to people who probably ought to know better - e.g. a writer who believes fanfic is 'the equivalent of stealing someone else's work and putting your own name on it' while making a living writing tie-in novels for TV shows. However as times change increasing numbers of authors are actively embracing transformative fandom.

JK Rowling on fanfiction

As the creator of one of the biggest fandoms of all time, it would be impossible for JKR to avoid fanfiction based on her work completely. By publicly embracing fic in 2004 Rowling really paved the way for acceptance. Nobody seriously tried to claim Rowling had relinquished her copyright because teenagers were publishing short stories about Harry and Hermione going to Yule Ball together - or even because adults were writing multi-volume epics about the love-hate relationship between Snape and Lupin. Regardless of her own personal feelings, possibly ambivalent based on previous attempts by Warner Bros to suppress HP fic, by supporting the fandom Rowling really cemented the support of the fanbase that has made her one of the richest women in the world.

Neil Gaiman has long been openly supportive of fanfiction and here addresses a growing phenomenon in the world of published fiction: many authors wrote or are still writing fic. Big names like Cassandra Clare and Naomi Novik first made their names in fandom - Novik was the founding board member of Archive of Our Own, the go to website for fanfiction based on western media, and her fanfic pen name is an open secret in fandom circles - while others made the bestseller lists by 'filing off the serial numbers' (i.e. switching out names and identifying features) and publishing the fanfiction they had written based on other works. E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey was originally Twilight fic, for instance, while Jen Archer Wood's Point Pleasant started out as Supernatural fanfiction.

500 Authors Who Started Out In Fanfiction

These authors come into the professional publishing world already knowing what a lot of writers are only now waking up to - fandom can make or break you. Nowhere is this more evident than with film and television. Long gone are the days when 20th Century Fox aggressively demanded the removal of every piece of X-Files fic they could find on the internet; today Fox, and all its rivals, pour a lot of time, effort and money into encouraging that kind of fan engagement.

Joss Whedon on fanfiction
John Rogers on fanfiction

When I discovered fanfiction the first rule of fic fandom was that you didn't talk about fic fandom. In the early 2000s people still genuinely feared being sued for writing fic, and were almost universally mortified at the idea of TPTB or anyone connected with them finding out about it. These days that seems so quaint because, well, in this age of personal branding and digital literacy it is almost unthinkable that writers, showrunners, actors, etc, don't know about the fandoms based on their work. Now TV is courting it: official social media channels encourage discussion of fanon (as opposed to canon, i.e. what is actually on screen) pairings and share fanart, while Viacom held an official Teen Wolf fic contest. There is an incredibly interesting interview on The New York Times with Sarah Barnett, president of BBC America, talking about how Orphan Black fandom turned a relatively unpopular show in terms of ratings into a success.

Sarah Barnett on fandom

Orphan Black provides an example of how interaction between fandom and TPTB might look in the future. Going forward it will be particularly interesting to see how this impacts on not just the showrunners and the PR team, but those at front of house - the actors portraying the characters. In the past the first encounter with fandom for these people was usually when an overeager fan brought it to their attention. Because for all that fandom as a collective was obsessed with not breaking the 'fourth wall', not outing themselves to TPTB, individual fandoms had good relationships with actors and creators, and there were always members of any fandom who didn't know or disregarded the accepted etiquette. How people reacted depended in large part on what aspect of fandom they were exposed to, and their own personal sensibilities.

William Shatner on fanfiction

Some stars were shocked and dismayed at the concept, but many strove to be accepting and supportive. Star Trek, as the granddaddy of modern fandom, lead the way on this too. 'Slash' - derived from the '/' symbol used to denote romantic pairings (i.e. Kirk/Spock) and now a catch all term for male/male pairings in fandom - was particularly controversial and some of those working behind the scenes on the show made no attempt to hide their disgust and derision. Shatner and Nimoy, on the other hand, chose to maintain the so-called fourth wall in deference to fans' wishes, unless specifically asked about it. There's a lovely story on Fanlore about Leonard Nimoy being asked his views on slash at a convention Q&A in the early 1980s, to which he simply responded that he thought Star Trek fans had great imaginations.

Tyler Posey on fanfiction

The difference between then and now, of course, is that in 1982 that kind of support was a sign of liberal understanding. Today, outrage at the idea of two male characters getting together just comes across as more than a little homophobic. Tyler Posey, star of MTV show Teen Wolf, caused a stir in fandom in 2014 when he said in an interview that Sterek - the smushname given to the most popular slash ship (i.e. romantic pairing) on the show - was bizarre, weird and twisted. Fan backlash was swift and widespread. Similarly, in 2017 the cast of Supergirl felt their fandom's wrath after they made fun of Supercorp (Kara/Lena) shipping, mocking the idea that the pairing could ever become canon. Feelings were hurt, apologies were made, but formerly hardcore fans still chose not to continue watching amid a slew of bad publicity. Your fandom can be your biggest cheerleaders and will forgive you a lot, but nobody likes to be singled out for mockery.

Orlando Jones on fanfiction

In 2014 The New Statesman used the above quote from Orlando Jones, an actor who actively engages with the fandoms based on his work, to contrast his positive approach to fanfiction with that of Benedict Cumberbatch, star of BBC drama Sherlock, who admitted to being somewhat bemused by the whole thing. Sherlock is a fascinating case study of what happens when fans get over invested and showrunners don't always balance the fine line between engagement and promising things they can't deliver. It's particularly interesting because Sherlock's writers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, are solidly pro-fandom. They are both open about their love of the cult and the geeky, and have sought to be inclusive of themes close to fandom's heart, like depictions of LGBT+ characters. But. Some feel they could be better, they could do more, and, when Holmes and Watson ('Johnlock') didn't become more than just good friends, fans complained, vented, and some even sent death threats.

Steven Moffat on fanfiction

Because fandom is no longer a niche interest. Fanfiction is no longer confined to paper zines circulated on a need to know basis. As creators attempt to harness the power of fandom, they have to recognise that, as with any community, fandom has its good eggs and its bad. Some see the involvement of TPTB as validation - as a sign that if they only lobby hard enough their preferred ship or plot points will become canon. Others resent the outside interference - fandom is for the fans, the argument goes, not the creator who left the glaring plot hole or unresolved tension fanfiction is seeking to resolve. Both sides need to learn how to work together as the dividing line between the two worlds, the fabled 'fourth wall', is worn away. Fandom sometimes needs to reign in the enthusiasm, while creators need to do their homework if they want to make best use of their fanbase. It can be difficult to predict which ship will become the 'juggernaut' (the most popular), and impossible to ensure all the fanwork produced will match your vision, although you can certainly set parameters for content that can be officially engaged with. Just make sure everybody's singing from the same hymn sheet; it's no good basing your marketing on fan engagement if your top star is going to turn around and say fan activity is weird and twisted.

Keep it positive, be respectful, but don't make any promises you might not be able to keep. If creators follow those three golden rules, they won't go far wrong. I leave you with this excellent response from Ben McKenzie's 2016 Reddit AMA...

Ben Mckenzie on fanfiction

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