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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California • Page 30
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California • Page 30

San Francisco, California
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6 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 2 9, 2001 SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER 0 Fanfic is more than 'Star Trek' rrrrnrr Feast in a plethora of fine arts options I Af More to Cousteau than meets the eye taken seriously. They're right. With the exception of the most mainstream "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" franchises, most fanfic hasn't gained the attention of the world at large. But that doesn't deter writers like Holmes, who says, "You can't really write to please others. You have to do It for yourself, and hope that others will enjoy it, too.

I wouldn't say no If some license holder came up and asked if they could publish my books professionally, but if they don't, It doesn't matter to me." Just for fun Murphy views the prospect of publishing his work as a golden ring. He says, "I do it for fun. If I decided to have it published, I'd have to go through the whole bureaucracy of getting permission from the creators of 'Back to the Future." Some writers, though, are trying to build their careers with fan fiction. Rene Stephens, a 20-year-old based in Virginia Beach, honed her writing skills on "Weeping Willow," a continuing story documenting a girl's adventures with the pop band Hanson. She says when she approached Teen People magazine with a submission, she referred the editors to her site, "Weeping Willow," which attracts 200 regular readers, She subsequently published a piece in the magazine.

"I am thankful every day for 'Weeping Willow' and the writing that it led me to," says Stephens, who will study writing when she starts college this winter. Why, then, are fanfic writers are so passionate about one film, or band, or TV show that they want to devote large chunks of their time recreating some already established entity? "What attracted me was the whole package," says Holmes. "The first time I saw that movie, I was very impressed with the tight writing, and found the characters and the situations to be very likable." '-V, "Most of my stories are ere- ated on a whim," says "I am greatly influenced by music. I listen to almost everything and I love to have a CD playing when I write. It provokes feeling and emotion two very important factors when it comes to creating stories." Holmes says she loves the possibilities presented by fan fiction.

"You can do anything, and believe me, I've seen just about everything fan writers will try. But can you do It well? times yes, often no. Many fan writers are young and inexperienced, and writing with their hearts on their sleeves," she says. But she adds, "The older and more experienced, fan writers, or those seriously interested in pursuing careers as professional authors, do tend to follow certain unwritten rules." It's clear that fanfic writers take their work seriously. While some are interested in taking things to a level of greater recognition Stephens says, "I am living for the day that I can see my books in a book store" most do it mostly for the love of the work.

Lundrlgan says many writers don't care if the public Isn't Interested, or is laughing at them. "It's Just that we'd rather read Continued from FICTION, CI "I was pretty dubious," he says. "The only fan fiction I'd been exposed to was some pretty awful 'Star Trek' stuff I'd run across back in college. But I gave a look anyway, and discovered to my surprise that quite a lot of it was actually very well written." Another fan fiction writer, Charles A. Murphy of San Carlos, spends 20 hours a week on his craft.

Since 1988, he's been writing the continuing adventures of Marty and Doc from the three "Back to the Future" movies. He posts the stories on his Web site: -charlesmurphylObttfstorles. Murphy, in addition to being a "Back to the Future" fan is also a Beatles fanatic. He says, "One day it hit me. Why not have the Beatles in 'Back to the Future He's crossed the two worlds In several episodes, including "Tomorrow Never Knows," a story In which Marty and Doc go back in time to 1957 Liverpool.

And in the first story he wrote, "Time Travel to a Hard Day's Night," Marty and Doc are transported to the Beatles' 1964 appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show." It's difficult to determine when and where fan fiction started. Since it typically involves science fiction, most fanfic (as the writers often refer to it) points to show or the "Star Wars" movies. Fans of "Star Trek" (which first aired in 1966) were inspired by episodes like "Mirror Mirror," in which Captain Kirk is transported to a place where morals are oppposite of the norms he knows. "Star Wars" fan fiction was inevitable as soon as George Lucas claimed that the first "Star Wars" movie was merely No. 4 in a nine-episode saga.

If fan fiction started with "Star Trek," "Star Wars" drove it into the mainstream as much as fan fiction can be called mainstream. From the beginning Among the early writers of fanfic is Leslie Fish, who started writing about "Star Trek" in 1976. Today, she's still considered the best and most popular fanfic writer. Her work, which has a decidedly feminist edge, serves as a model for other fanfic writers many of whom are women. Some estimate that 70 percent of fanfic writers are female.

Murphy was inspired to start writing fan fiction by Kristen Sheley and Mary Jean Holmes, two writers who also work within the "Back to the Future" realm Holmes, who lives in Muskego, Wise, runs the Web site Future-visions ( futurevlslons). The site is a library for her writings as well as an information site for fans of the franchise. She updates it regularly with news items concerning BTTF cast members, conventions and the occasional interview. When Holmes first started writing fanfic, writers were self-publishing their stories in photocopied fanzines or trading the stories among friends at conventions and by snail mail. But with the Internet, a writer's potential visibility has greatly increased.

While Holmes made copies of her stories for a handful of friends back in the '70s, these days her site receives hundreds of hits every month. Many fan fiction writers believe their craft isn't always on our ON Ml TOWN CfifiMri rout 1 Continued from NOISE, CI Cross probably would have had a much longer career as a schmaltzy balladeer if his star hadn't risen at the dawn of the MTV era. It was surely a shock for millions of mushy-headed romantics when they first heard that tender tenor coming out of a Meat Loaf look-alike. Similarly, Liam McKahey looks more inclined to ask for your wallet than offer you a song. He's well-tattooed, sports a craggy and slightly sinister mug and has a lanky, lager-loutish air.

But his voice is a velvety baritone croon you'd expect from a tuxedoed sophisticate from another, classier era. He was rescued from wasting his talents in bad psy- Davev Rav Moor, who invited him to Join his band, Cousteau. He soon took over lead vocal duties, and the result so far has been a self-titled debut that Is one of the musical highlights in a grim pop-music year. As is so often the case with buzz bands, Cousteau's sound has been compared to just about everyone. My vote is for the moody soundtrack reveries of Tlndersticks combined with the orchestral cocktail pop of Burt Bacharach.

The bonus is there's nothing retro kitschy about it. This is genuinely soulful music. They play Saturday at the Justice League, 628 Dlvisadero St. Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.

JwjiinJtrrrr.r Jeff Tweedy's vocals make him sound like a lazy, drunken hick from time to time, but that's nothing new. In short, there's nothing to keep Wilco's extremely loyal fanbase away. It probably won't win many converts, either, but there was a nice quasi-Radiohead buzz building up around the "new direction" for the band before Reprise pulled the plug, and that could have helped boost sales among the curious. Wilco will never be a stadium act, but it has steadily built a devoted following through the band members' obvious musical gifts and constant willingness to stretch. This is precisely the kind of band that big corporate labels used to have enough sense to keep happy.

They're a consistent draw, they have long-term appeal and they're a status act, meaning they add luster to the label's reputation and entice promising new bands to come onboard. Things are really bad when monster labels don't even have the brains to watch out for their own interests. Dorks. Wilco plays the Fillmore, 1805 Geary Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The first two shows are sold out (take that, Reprise!) but at the time of writing there were still tickets for Monday's event.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. with the amazing Mercury Rev. Tickets are $25. Call (415) 421-8497. E-mail William Friar at

(no kidding), Jeeem's Pantheon of great directors, the "definitive" list of the greatest films ever made, and his essay about his Ill-fated Involvement with the film "It's Pat" (no kidding). 9. JAMES BERARDINELLI'S REELVIEWS ( I don't often agree with James, but I love his site, which features over 2,000 online reviews, done In a simple text format with a four-star rating scale. Reviews are all cross-linked, and you can search by star rating, by year or by title. The low-tech format also loads quickly on slow machines.

10. CULTUREVULTURE.NET ( "A somewhat haphazard and pronouncedly Idiosyncratic sharing of matters cultural." My friend and Editor Arthur Lazere operates out of San Francisco and Is one of the biggest snobs I know. But he also has pretty good taste. He doesn't suffer Hollywood films lightly but has a huge appetite for lengthy foreign films and "Time Regained" are among his favorites). He and his talented team of writers Including locals Tom Block and Dave Fear cover movies, TV, opera, theater, classical music, art and architecture, dance and books.

Their hundreds of reviews are all archived, linked to and from everywhere and easy to access. Continued from SCORE, CI Broadway), with Virgil Thorn-ion's and Gertrudo Stein's charming "Four Saints in Three Acts." There is a there there. And, duh, those buloh Cockroaches are still at it at the Artaud. SUNDAY Cockroaches rest on the seventh day, while planning future survival. SFO trundles out "Merry Widow" for a matinee, and California Bach Society's Monteverdi Mass moves to S.F.'s St.

Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church (500 De Haro At Davies, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, 300 voices strong, performs its annual holiday concert under its new director, Susan McMana. Michael Tllson Thomas moves out of Davies and over to Herbst for a symposium on his upcoming "Italian and Pan-American Mavericks" series. Lots of Witty chat from MTT plus music by Lou Harrison, John Cage, Luciano Berlo and Glacinto Scelsl, At Temple Emanu-El (Lake Street and Arguello Boulevard), a festive Hanukkah celebration of fers Handel's oratorio "Judas Maccabeus," with its exciting double choruses. Conductor Joshua Habermann leads the S.F. State University Chorus, Women's Chorus and Handel Jubilate Orchestra.

Admission is free. MONDAY Cockroaches are still recruiting their strength for a new assault starting Wednesday, and opera singers are resting. So San Francisco Contemporary Music Players come vQutrto dance by the light of the moon. Their concert at Yerba Buena Center for the Arls Forum (near Third and Mission streets) features percussionist William Wlnant, pianist Julie Steinberg, soprano Karol Bennett and guest conductor Mary Chun. At Davies Symphony Hall, SFS, plus Its Chorus, Youth Orchestra and mezzo soprano Frederlca von Stade, join MTT to pay tribute to departing SFS board president Nancy Bechtle, who has overseen more than a decade of growth, international acclaim and Just plain exciting concerts.

Now what are those people in New York and London bellyaching about? E-mail Tiger Hashimoto at thashimoto(a 11. LOUISE BROOKS SOCIETY ( This San Francisco-run site pays tribute to one of the greatest and most underappreciated stars of all time, Louise Brooks, who played numerous bit parts and starred in only two films during the silent era. It contains tons of Info, pictures and history. 12.

DREW'S SCRIPT-0-RAMA (www.script Drew Is the king of online screenplays, transcripts, TV scripts and other stuff. If you need something to read, or want to steal a great line of dialogue, this Is the place. Drew only provides links to other places, though, keeping himself In the legal black. His "links" page Itself contains hundreds of interesting film sites. 13.

THEN F- YOU JACK, THE LIFE ANDART0FVERN ( outlawvern) I only recently discovered Vern, a former junkie and prisoner trying to go the straight and narrow by writing poetry and movie reviews for the Web. Vern's not big on punctuation or proper style, but he has a voice all his own. Just read one of his reviews, and you'll want to erase all your other bookmarks, Only problem: Vern's kinda slow and doesn't update his site very often. His latest movie review Is "Osmosis Jones." E-mall Jeffrey M. Anderson at Call (415) 440-0409.

Wilco's back! If you need yet more depressing proof of Just how wussy big record labels have become, visit Wilco's Web site ( and listen to its as-yet unreleased new album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." You'll note it's not alt-country. It's not even the Brian Wilson-influenced pop of Wilco's last outing (barring the Woody Guthrie projects), "Summerteeth." But it's hardly the commercial suicide that the honchos at Reprise, Wilco's former label, allegedly pegged it as when they heard the tapes earlier this year. That led to an (also allegedly) amicable divorce between the band and the label. Wilco posted a streaming-audio feed of the album on Its Web site and went on tour on the strength of the new songs. Meanwhile, the band entertained offers from slightly less plnheaded labels.

The album is expected to get a real-world release early next year. So what does this avant-garde, career-killing concoction sound like? Like a fairly decent, fully accessible lndie-rock album. There's no bizarre experimentation here, unless you include a couple of chaotic, collapsing jams at the end of a tune or two. It does start off deliberately sloppy, but Wilco is too willfully tight to stick with that for long, and the well-crafted tunes come quickly. thing from celebrity arrests to political embarrassments.

This fairly new Web site archives most of Joe Bob's columns, plus his new "Ultimate B-Movie Guide" with hundreds of short entries. Jeff says check It out. 7. ROB BLACKWELDER'S SPLICEDWIRE ( Rob's a friend, a great, witty writer, and passionate about movies. He's covered nearly every major film release by himself over the last five years, plus conducted filmmaker and celebrity Interviews, and everything Is archived here (about 600 pages).

It's a gorgeous, flashy site with lots of pictures (many shot by Rob himself), designed In what Rob calls "hot dog stand colors." It also Includes DVD reviews, online trailers, "quickies," and pull-down menus linking to reviews of cast and crew members' past films, Rob also acts as his own wire service, and his reviews appear on several sites all over the country. 8. JEEEM'S CINEPAD ( I always get lost In Jeeem's (aka Jim Emerson) Clnepad, the most baffling and dense film page on the Web, But every single page offers something unusual and amazing, so getting lost turns out to be a good thing. Some of the treasures: tributes to Buster Keaton and Barbara Stanwyck, an Interview with Bette Davis Click here for movie information Continued from SITES, CI dating back to 1985 and includes a search engine that allows fans to search by title or the names of actors and directors. But the site's highlight is the "Great Movies" section: reviews of four-star movies, which Ebert adds to every two weeks.

5. TIM DIRKS' GREATEST FILMS ( In 1996, Dirks compiled his own list of the 100 greatest American films ever made and wrote long, complex and detailed plot synopses Including snappy bits of dialogue for each. He then added his second 100 films, plus synopses for those. Now he just continues to add "reviews" for all kinds of classic American films, plus lists of great directors, great stars and comparative top 100 lists, He also has a huge database of vintage posters. Though not really reviews in the strictest sense, these entries do come In very handy for those Interested In classic film.

6. THE JOE BOB REPORT ( The Drive-In scribe. Joe Bob Briggs (aka John Bloom) began his ironic "drive-in" movie reviews back in the early '80s and made a career out of It. He has since developed other columns, such as "Vegas. Guy" and "Wild America," and emerged as a brilliant American satirist.

He also does a pretty hilarious "Week In Review" mocking every and write about chicks kicking ass than, say, following NBA scores," he says. Eminem sparks controversy HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. -Residents and officials are fired up about Eminem's plans to burn down a house during the filming of his untitled movie. The rapper's request comes with a pledge to demolish three vacant homes, a $2,000 donation to a Highland Park charity and a lecture to high school students about the movie business. But these gestures failed to appease about 50 residents who protested the blaze Tuesday.

Highland Park's emergency financial manager, Ramona Henderson Pearson, said she supports the fire. Council members In Highland Park are mostly opposed to the fire. They held an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the Issue and approved a nonbindlng resolution opposing the filming. Associated Press A rf -j Shane West.

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