Michaeline: Copyrights of the Future?

This week on my corner of Twitter, there’s been a lot of discussion about copyright, and how long it should last. Someone suggested 30 years after publication! (See below.) The discussion isn’t about a real-world change in laws, as far as I can tell, but a what-if scenarios that may stem from the Dr. Seuss estate pulling some of the Seuss books with racist imagery. As a lot of internet conversations do, the discussion has drifted from the original “problem” to a lot of different ideas about how to do things. Some “solutions” are silly, some are impractical but some have brought up some great tangential points.

In my corner of Twitter, Dr. Seuss wasn’t even mentioned. I’ll get into that later. The reason why it caught my attention is that most writers I know there are extremely concerned about their rights, their old age, and taking care of dependents who may not be able to take care of themselves.

A mid-30s slightly balding writer is seated at a table, writing, in a sparse room while Death as a skeleton aims a spear flagged with "Finis" at his chest. The man is holding up the left hand to ward off Death, but holds onto the quill with his right.
Copyright and royalties can mean a lot to a struggling author facing death. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

In general, writers are also readers, and many readers would like to be writers. So, I would say there’s a significant minority of readers who see both sides of the copyright problem.

In America right now, copyright is for the life of an author plus 70 years. (For all the ifs, ands and buts, visit Copyright.gov. The website is a cornucopia of copyright facts in America.) It’s basically the same in the UK, but I’m sure there are some different details. (British Library) In Japan, it’s the lifetime of the author plus 50 years. (Page 5 of this PDF) The problem for me as a reader

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Michaeline: Meet Cute

A woman walking her bike notices a man who has taken a tumble on his bike. He is upside down, and the wheel is still spinning, maybe. TEXT: ELLIMAN'S UNIVERSAL EMBROCATION 1/1 1/2. i WILL HAVE IT OR WILL HAVE NONE. Prepared by ELLIMAN Sons & Co. Slough ENGLAND For STIFFNESS. ACHES. SPRAINS. BRUISES.
Meet Cute story idea: Nurse Nightingown comes across a terrible bicycle accident in the country. Well, not so terrible. He’s awfully cute, and only has a mild concussion. A little bit of Elliman’s fixes him right up! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Every month has a chance for romance, but there’s something about the shortness and sweetness of February, what with the increasing daylight in the northern hemisphere, and the lengthening of nights in the south, and the abundance of chocolates and roses thanks to Valentine’s Day, that sets a particular mood.

My husband and I celebrate our own meet cute this month – he went to a Valentine’s Day dance with a group of his fellow exchange students, and I popped in quickly after some sort of event (concert? movie? art gallery? I just can’t remember), and saw this guy with a million dollar smile.

Roughly speaking, I think most

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Michaeline: Valentine’s Day Short Story

Two young lovers wrapped in blankets. One set of feet. Fish head imagery, and also a mysterious night with swirling stars and lanterns.
Melusina and Raymund (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

It was late winter, and it was the season when Melly’s lake was soft and slushy during the day, and frozen hard during the still-long nights. It was an unpleasant time of year, but one that reminded her that spring would surely come, and she’d be swimming in the green bottoms all day soon. But now, there was nothing to do. She combed her long red hair and sang across the surface. She shut her eyes and let the waxing sun warm her lids and her tail fins, still covered in short winter-white fur dappled with black spots near the tips. Nobody but a complete fool would come out here today.

Her song was interrupted by the crack of ice and a yell for help; she sighed. One should not underestimate the number of fools in the world, she thought, and went to see who had fallen into the ice.

She swam across the lake, under the frozen ice. It was a young man in velvet and furs, and he was floating face down in the cold, cold water. Melly paused and thought of her mother.

“You must sing every day and keep in good practice. Your voice is your weapon, and with it, you will lure strangers to their death. Smash them upon the rocks, or they will surely steal you away from here and kill you,” Priscilla had said.

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Michaeline: February Inspiration

February, the shortest month of the year! The coldest two weeks of the year in my area; I’m sure some of our southern-hemi friends find it the most miserable hot days of the year. So short, yet so packed with inspiration for writing!

A fashionable lady in a befeathered big hat and stole holds a Lippincott's magazine. TEXT: Lippincott's February. The Chaple of Ease
February — a great time for reading and writing. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

First up, Groundhog Day in the US. It’s come and gone, but if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, it’s supposed to get scared, run back to its hole, and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, though, the groundhog will play around, and there will be an early spring.

This reminds us that it’s fun to play with opposites in a story. Does our heroine have a terrible, awful life, and then get hit by a car, only to wake up as Queen of the Vampires (MaryJanice Davidson, Undead and Unwed)? Or does she have a happy, sunny life, suddenly get pelted with unsuitable suitors who make her life miserable, but after six weeks of BS (OK, six months or so), discover that one of the suitors loves her deeply and would rescue her wayward sister for her . . . and she loves him (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)?

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Michaeline: Twitter Break

When you need a break with a little conflict to wake you up, Writing Twitter nearly always delivers. There’s gonna be a writing fight going on somewhere, sometime; this is just a given for our time.

HARSH WRITING ADVICE is the one trending this morning, and I’ve got to say, it’s a juicy topic!

All Writing is a Leap in the Dark (my headline). All (Marriage, crossed out in red) Is a Leap Into the Dark (text body) Marrying a Person You Never Have Seen Is No More Risky Than the Chances We All Take in Picking a Husband or Wife, Says Dorothy Dix; Golden Rule? There Is None. By DOROTHY DIX (picture: a middle-aged woman with a Gibson girl up-do, strand of beads, and modest yet rich-looking top)
There’s so much advice out there — what was your favorite writing advice, best or worst? (Image via Wikimedia Commons, modified by E.M. Duskova)

According to Tessa Dare’s screenshot, the inception tweet went like this:

“HARSH WRITING ADVICE: Your writer friends are also your competition. Sorry.”

This was one bad take (apparently deleted by the original writer https://twitter.com/RebeccaRennerFL/status/1355246427337859079?s=20) that provoked a lot of thought. The community came up with bad advice, good advice, a lot of humor, and several celebrations of why writing friends are so important.

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Michaeline: A Season for Poetry

Amanda Gorman, youth poet laureate, in front of the Library of Congress in 2017. The 22-year-old recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, at the 2021 presidential inauguration. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I think Amanda Gorman’s poem at the inaugural (“The Hill We Climb” here at CNN) is going to revive an interest in poetry in the mainstream. She did an excellent job both in the composing and in the reading. I love her use of alliteration, and the striking images: “. . . Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest . . . .” And I really like the allusions, both the ones I caught, and the ones I only suspected. And the repetition? Yes, I like the repetition. I like the way it emphasizes her points, plays with the words and turns the meaning from one shade to another like a light show on a winter’s evening.

I have to admit, I’m picky about poetry, which feels weird to me because I’m very undiscriminating when it comes to prose. I can enjoy the back of a tissue box. Poetry is harder than prose. You have to read each word, and you often have to think about those words on many different levels. And so much of it is about depressing topics. But when poetry works for me,

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Michaeline: Romantic fantasies

Woman lounging on a couch with a long jacket, long shirt and loose pants tied at the ankle
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor and patron of the arts. (via Wikimedia Commons)

I was surprised to see a romantic vignette this morning on Japanese TV.

A cute young salaryman was getting coffee, when a rich woman spilled a cup of latte all over him. I came in just at the point when she said, “You have some time. Let me buy you a suit.”

The young man was shocked, but persuaded to go to the suit shop. She picked several for him to try on, and like a Ken doll, he dressed and submitted himself for review. “This is fine,” he said about the first one, not caring. She sent him back to the dressing room.

“I’m a little embarrassed; this is a bit flashy,” he said. He came out in a subtly striped suit with a definitely striped dress shirt and patterned tie combination – it worked, but was not conservative. “Next,” said the woman.

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Michaeline: Witness

You may already be journaling or writing daily, even through the daily crises and tribulations of 2020/2021. If so, good for you. Keep doing the good work!

If not, you might consider spending just 10 minutes today witnessing the world around you, and writing it down for posterity.

A lot of the best things I read in 2020 were the result of witnesses who saw, and told, the story of a time of trouble.

A woman in a dark room writing with feather quill and ink. She has a shawl around her shoulders, and a velvet slouchy beret.
Writing in times of darkness. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
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Michaeline: The Fabulous Five Weeks of New Year Plan

a check. Upper banner: May Courage and Good Health and Fortune Favour You. Your Course keep Cleap (clear) Through all the Year. The Consolidated BANK OF SUCCESS Pay to (blank line) the Bearer, Three hundred and sixty-five days of Prosperity, Good Luck and Happiness. L (pound mark?) New Year Greeting. Being the sincere wish of (blank line). Mountains, crest, New Zealand (?) flag bearer woman, native person (Maori?) with a spear and two feathers. Mountains and a road with a small bridge. The border repeats: Good luck, happiness, prosperity.
OK, Capitalism. But from New Zealand! So it’s got to be better for us! Wishing you all a nice draft from the bank of success in the coming year. (Image via Wikimedia)

Look, it’s been a rough 2020 for the world as a whole, and for many of us personally. I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not do. Except for this: you need to make room in your life for things you enjoy. Some of you are probably doing an excellent job of this already, while others may feel guilty about failing yourself on this as well as other things.

Well, first of all, stop feeling guilty about fun. It IS a luxury, no matter what people these days say. If you don’t find room for fun, well, that was life for millions of people all through the ages.

But . . . it is a delicious feeling to have a little fun when you’ve already got a lot going on. There’s no failing this quest – but there is winning this quest.

So, go ahead and read through my advice – and I’m going to tell you, making plans is really, really fun for me! I love giving advice, particularly if I think it’s good advice. But if it’s not for you, no hard feelings. You can comment about what does work for you, or go research a little deeper into methods that look more interesting. But I hope this will work for some of you (and I hope it will work for me, too).

Four kittens marching through the snow on hind legs, with ribbons around their necks, holly in their front paws. Flag by biggest cat reads: Bright and happy thy New Year. Caption is Happy and Free Jolly Cats are we.
May your new year be full of metaphorical jolly cats (and literal ones, if that’s the way you like it). (Image via Toronto Public Library)

The whole Fabulous Five Weeks of New Year Plan hinges on second chances and redemption. Maybe you don’t keep resolutions well for a whole year. This is a shorter-range plan than that. You only have to try for five weeks at a time. Then, the beauty of 2021 is that February 12 is almost

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Michaeline: Learning from a Christmas Story for 1945

Barbara Stanwyck being kissed by Dennis Morgan in a Warner Bros Poster for Christmas in Connecticut
Rom-com for the holidays! Barbara Stanwyck is fabulous in Christmas in Connecticut. (Image via Wikipedia Commons)

Happy Boxing Day, everyone! It’s the second day of Christmas as well as Saturday, which means for a lot of people, it’s a day off and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is starting to slow down.

Christmas isn’t such a big deal in Japan, although the merchants try to make it so. This year, most people worked; some kids got off school but only because Christmas fell on Friday this year and we lost the old emperor’s birthday in December now that the new emperor is on the throne. My kid and I had the day off, so I decided to make a Christmas feast on Christmas Day for the first time in, well, far too long.

To keep me company while I sliced and diced and boiled and roasted, I put on Christmas in Connecticut, a 1945 screwball comedy starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet with Reginald Gardner and S.Z. Sakall. I wrote about it being my favorite Christmas movie back in 2017, and guess what? It still is!

Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a magazine writer who is scamming her publisher with fables of rural American womanhood – cooking, cleaning, shopping for antiques and even taking care of cattle. In reality, Elizabeth doesn’t

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