Thursday, September 16, 2010

Class Action Suit Against Mahalo

If you were a Mahalo writer or manager, someone is finally getting a class action suit together to throw at them. The full information is here. If you were burned by Mahalo when they decided that they didn't feel like paying people anymore and decided to change their terms from "you own all of the rights to your work and you will be paid as long as your work is on our site" to "nener neners," the lawsuit may need your input.

This year has seen a rash of content companies who have pulled this, from eHow changing its rights statement from writer ownership to complete eHow ownership to Mahalo firing thousands of people and flat out stealing their work with no notice. They were pretty classy and moral next to How to Do Things, however, who simply stopped paying people and didn't bother to even send an email about it. After being burned by all three companies, content sites are now guilty until proven innocent. I don't care how great a company sounds, they will screw you in the blink of an eye if they can. And they can. So if you were screwed this time around, please help send the message that every company, even large and well-funded ones, is expected to conduct business honestly and without making a profit from screwing over other people with dishonest practices.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

DragonCon, Creativity and Double Chins

I attended DragonCon last weekend and have just recovered from the sleeplessness (and drunkenness). If you've never heard of it, it's a massive science fiction and fantasy convention held in Atlanta every year. I hadn't been in more than 10 years, and was pretty astounded at how enormous it's gotten. Aparently it's no longer embarrassing to be a sci-fi geek or a writer- it's swelled to more than 30,000 con-going geeks, about half of whom wear costumes.

DragonCon is many things to many people, but to me it's always been about writing and being creative. There are always dozens of writers' panels that bring in well-known writers to dissect technique and to talk about their own works and genres. I got to meet several interesting writers, including Mike Resnick. During his panel he mentioned that he had "won several awards." Studying the DragonCon book later I discovered that he's been nominated for Hugos 34 freaking times and has won five Hugos. My biggest dream in life is to win a Hugo. I mean, have healthy offspring and be nice and all, but yeah, mostly to win a Hugo. Being able to meet such epic writers and listen to them discuss their methods of creation was truly mind blowing. My conclusion? I need plots.

Warning: Double Chin Ahead

One of the highlights of the four-day sci-fi experience was to get my picture taken with various Star Trek personnel. Spouse had sprung for me to get my picture with Denise Crosby and Jonathan Frakes (thanks!). No lie- Denise Crosby had a fight with Jonathan Frakes and she left the pictures early before people could get their photos with her. I got mine with Frakes first, and told him that the offspring love him. His reply? "Well, they have great taste."

Ok, so in two years I have never posted a picture of myself here, but I have to now. Just try not to look at it. I now present: Tom Baker meets Jonathan Frakes:

When it was time for the second picture, freaking Tasha Yar was nowhere to be found, so I was offered Marina Sirtis in her place. That was fine with me, she's pretty awesome, so I agreed. What I didn't realize is that all of her single pictures were already taken. By the time I got up there, I was told that only the group shots were being taken. The group shots were with every Star Trek person there, not including freaking Denise Crosby. I kept trying to tell them that I only had a single shot (the group shots cost five times more). They were trying to figure out how to get only Marina Sirtis out there, and then I saw them. Star Trek people.

Geordi LaForge was standing right in front of me trying to figure out what my costume was about. Then, BRENT SPINER came out and looked at me with a sweet smile on his face. He was walking toward me and I totally froze. I squeaked a tiny "hi" in my saddest fangirl voice. He stopped and squeaked "hi" back at me ironically. It was probably my best experience of the con. Tons of Star Trek folk came running out- even Q was there. It was so bizarre and surreal, and the shot or two of vodka I'd swilled beforehand wasn't helping a lot. I'd show the picture, but my smile is crazy and my double chin is way more pronounced, so I won't.

Conclusion: Geek Is Good

Other than Wil Wheaton not appearing (Wheaaaaaaaaton!), the trip was an effective effort to get a get a quick booster shot of creativity. It was amazing to see the creativity of ordinary people who aren't ashamed of being intelligent and fanatical. Everyone is fanatical about something, and if it's about Firefly or Ghostbusters or writing about new worlds that you've just created, that's fantastic. I actually met people there who had dressed up in elaborate costumes based on short stories that they had written. If I could, I would do that every day. It's hard to re-enter the real world after a few days like that.