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Q and A

May 15, 2008; Lance Besore Asks:

I remember you from the time I lived in Tucson (88-96). Where do I know you from? Please forgive me if it's obvious but I drank way too much during that period of my life. I know that I know you somehow but it's eluding me and driving me nuts. Please Help!

Stacey answers:

Though I don't remember you either, my best guess is that I slept with you.

May 13, 2008; Luke G. Asks:

Say I wrote a story that prominently featured a fairly well-known cartoon character. Any legal ramifications to worry about if I were to publish it? Thanks.

Stacey answers:

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. It's incredibly unlikely that the copyright holder would bother with small fry like us. Here is an elaboration from my copyright consultant Dan Coleman:

There is a kind of copyright "safe harbor" for parodies, but the problem is that if pressed on this point, the writer would have to go to court and convince a judge (and probably a jury) that her work was a parody of the cartoon character and not simply an unauthorized use of the copyrighted character.

Even with parody as a possible excuse, there may be trademark issues to deal with in addition to copyright issues. A copyright issue would come into play if the character kept saying something like "Eh, what's up doc?" and the trademark issue might come into play if the title of the novel was "For the Relief of Unbearable Wascaly Wabbits (and other Loony Urges)"

If this were a graphic novel, or illustrated book, and drawings of the cartoon character were featured, then this would definitely require a license from the copyright holder.

Thanks, Dan. There's a good Wikipedia article entitled "Fair Use" where you can find even more info, including info about the Stanford University Fair Use project that helps with the legal defense of little people who do things like use cartoon characters in their stories (though I still don't think you need to worry about it).

I think the real copyright issue that writers should be concerned about is using song lyrics in their work. You will need to pay for these lyrics. A journal might try to sneak it in under fair use (which is not your problem), but a book publisher will insist on getting the rights, and usually they make the author pay for them, and they're not cheap, and it's a royal pain in the ass in any case. You may think, "my publisher will pay for them," but I wouldn't be so sure. I noticed that Zadie Smith's On Beauty contained incorrect lyrics to "Hey Ya," which I found incredibly jarring. I couldn't believe that she got them wrong...until I realized that she changed them so that she wouldn't have to buy them. And really, it wasn't until then that the veneer of her absorbing, ultra-lifelike prose cracked for me and I realized in a flash that the entire plot of the book was utterly preposterous. I don't think I would have noticed otherwise.

I say keep the mouse but don't let him sing a song.

May 08, 2008; Wag Asks:

Isn't taking relationship advice from the poet Richard Siken tantamount to putting on a Joy Division record as make-out music?

Stacey answers:

Yeah! That's exactly what it's like! Though, to be fair, the Richard Siken wisdom is not relationship advice per se but rather advice about how to best feel really bad--in which case he's sort of the anti Norman Vincent Peale, a guru of the night. Which is also my band name for the day. Anti Norman Vincent Peale.

May 05, 2008; Zeke Asks:

What happens when you eat too many of them? I mean, what happens if one were to get carried away with 100% sugar free acne medicine?

Stacey answers:

Okay, these are vitamins that are supposed to prevent acne, to fill things in for you kids at home. It says on the website that the maltitol syrup in these vitamin-acne-candy things may have a laxative effect. So try this experiment while you are near sanitary facilities.

May 03, 2008; Small Hearted Asks:

I just got broken up with by a guy who I only kind of liked. But he did it like an adult, which is unusual in this day and age, and that sort of made me respect him so now I'm sad although I was usually annoyed with him when we were going on. What do I do to get over it?

Stacey answers:

Being broken up with sucks universally, Small Heart, so you're going to feel like shit for a while no matter what. But I will pass on a trick I learned from the poet Richard Siken: accept that you're going to feel like shit no matter what--you're not allowed to fight it!--then, at the same time, try to have the best time you possibly can while feeling like shit. I'm not sure what this involves for you, maybe things like bubble baths, the Enquirer, drinking, Law and Order marathons, sushi, cake, the Lush store, purging your closet/shelves/desk (strangely satisfying), digging holes and putting plants in them, knitting a wallet, going to the thrift store, painting something orange, blue, or green, drinking lattes, low-dose nicotine patches (better than coffee), 1/2 a valium, arranging knick knacks, sleeping, visiting a friend's dog/cat/monkey, etc. And, while you are doing these things, you can remind yourself that at least you weren't in love with him. It's impressive that he broke up with you like a grown-up (I've never heard of a man doing this), but nevertheless, I read what you wrote and even if he's earned your respect I can tell that you weren't in love with him. In fact, every pang of humiliation, embarrassment, worthlessness, and self-recrimination you feel is good, because those feelings mean you feel dumped, and feeling dumped, terrible as it is, is a lot easier than the pain of losing someone you love.

If that doesn't help, then sleep with someone else.

May 03, 2008; Asks:

can I make a suggestion? It would be awfully fun and internet hip of you to put your film on You Tube. Then we could all see it. Or, if You tube is too much for you, you could put it on your website here somewhere and we could all click and be amazed.

Stacey answers:

I can't. I made it with someone else and I don't have her permission to put it on You Tube. Life is complicated, making things is complicated--in other words it's complicated. But someday I might get permission and put up an excerpt and you'll see that it's not that great anyway.

May 01, 2008; suffocating in cincinnati Asks:

Living with men is . . .

Stacey answers:

...optional. And I've proved it by avoiding it my entire adult life.

Whenever I'm with my boyfriend and feel suffocated I just go home (where he does not live). So, once again, I am not the right person to ask. Since I am a sociopath.

Apr 28, 2008; Wag Asks:

Victor, I already tried prying a copy of Invisible World from Stacey, to no avail. Hey Stacey, what's up?

Stacey answers:

God, I'll give you one. Do I have one?

We are talking about a cute but embarrassing 16 mm movie I made 15 years ago. It has a lot of great Tucson landmarks in it, some gone, some about to go, like Magic Carpet Golf. This is the Tiki God hole.

Wondering who to worship? How about the Tiki God Hole. tiki head

Apr 28, 2008; victor of christmas past Asks:

how does one go about acquiring a copy of invisible world? it is presently "unavailable" at my local Blockbuster.

Stacey answers:

Victor, I will send you one when I get it put onto DVD, probably sometime this summer. Will you email me in a few months and give me your address? I'm

Apr 20, 2008; Col. Mustard Asks:

What's your favorite murder weapon? What's your favorite literary death?

Stacey answers:

I like the garrote. Ivan Ilych is my all-time favorite literary death.

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