Monday, October 20, 2014

And Another Stolen Painting

This has not been my year.

I decided to try and reverse image search a few of my paintings, just for kicks. I started with this old tree I never got a proper sized picture of:
There were a few avatars, which didn't surprise though it does confuse me, scattered across tumblr and youtube. Then I found this: (link doesn't work anymore, as it's been removed)


 The background contrast is blown up, so it looks like shit, but that's my tree.

That's definitely my tree!

Combing through the sales list of only 31, I saw that they'd sold my tree image once on some earrings.

I wasn't just pissed, I was ready to shred and destroy all in my wake levels of angry.

Summoning up my best scary language I messaged the shop owner that they were using my image and illegally violating my copyright.

Despite being in hong kong, I got a response back in a half hour late on Saturday.

The first one was basically "Oops, my staff made a mistake (uh huh). I didn't know it was yours. (What? You think magical internet elves make those images you download and slap in cheap tin to sell as hand-made jewelry?) I'll take down the listing (at least hiding the evidence also works in my favor)"

Then it got kinda weird. I wasn't purposely avoiding it, I was working out some rage and kinda watching Doctor Who.

I got two more messages from FlowerCatJewelry asking if I was the owner of the picture and again blaming it on some magical staff for a place that's only had 31 sales. Yeah, staff, sure. All ten fingers of them, I bet.

This last message is so weird I have to show it in its glory:

"Hi Blablover,

I search some inforamtion around an hour.
I believe the picture comes from you. (As there are several guys sending a conversation to me, I am not sure which one is owner before.)

I just also discussed with my staff.
He told me that he saw it from other website (not your etsy, not your deviantart, !! I believe you are the picture owner!!).

I am trying to find that website to show my unintentional and apology now( It really my mistake for haven't checked detail)

The thing I can do now is trying my best to find that website and compensate to you"

I don't give a flying fig shit where you stole it from. And trust me, you got it off deviantart. I just did a reverse image search, I know where it's wandered off to. Walking back to a bank and saying, yep, that's the one I robbed, doesn't get you off scot-free. Figuring out which website you ripped it off of really doesn't alter the facts. Nor does blaming it on that mythical staff.

Painting, stolen, more than likely along with all the other images stored inside FlowerCatJewelry's pieces. She just made a mistake and swiped from a little guy, who occasionally gets bored and googles her own shit.

I was forgiving of Dark Candles using my image as their catalog picture. It wasn't actively making them money or being sold as their shit. I still wasn't happy, and am hesitant to want to do business with them again, but I can let it slide with some attribution.

But for this...that's a big ol' nope! At least the response to getting caught wasn't to double down and insist they were "in the right. Their second cousin twice removed had actually painted it." It probably helped that so many of my friends reported the listing (thanks guys). One voice can be ignored, a multitude not so much.

It's gone, and that's probably the best I can hope for. Any mythical compensation would mean I'd have to give more than my shop info to someone in Hong Kong (or god knows where) that steals paintings. I'd rather not.

I think I'm gonna avoid reverse image searching for awhile.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Her Fault

Blood dribbled into the slits of the pallet as the investigator lifted the body’s arm.

“Female, aged 20-25, lacerations across her throat and upper torso,” he thought aloud.

“That’s a shame,” one of the detectives said, still spooling out the Caution Tape.

“Oh?” the investigator asked, stepping away.

“You know, for her to die so young.”

“I suppose, I suppose,” the investigator yanked off his gloves and stared down at the body, “but she was asking for it.”

“What?”

“Look at her. Barely dressed, shoes missing, no cell phone. Clearly, she was walking down this back street at night, all alone, never stopping to think how easily she could be murdered. It’s her own damn fault.”

“But that’s…” the young detective turned his head, trying to imagine the girl sashaying through the discarded trash on the street as if she owned it. “Yeah…”

“And how do we even know she was murdered,” the investigator continued.

“I…what?”

“Women are always lying about shit for attention. I bet she faked her murder and wasn’t stabbed to death at all. They love getting that victim card. It’s all a false flag.” The investigator held a hand up to his mouth and shouted at the bruised face, “You’re not really dead! We know you’re faking it!”

“Yeah,” the detective agreed, nodding his head, “And…” A rush of temerity rose from his shins at the investigator’s attention and he drove onward, “And how come we never talk about all the men getting murdered? Way more men are killed every year than women, but you don’t see people taking statements or following clues about all of them at this crime scene! It’s a travesty!”

The investigator wrapped his arms around the detective’s shoulders, “Come on. Let’s get out of here. We’ve got better shit to do.”

Disregarded blood dried to the pavement.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Flash - Pilot Recap

Nobody thought much when the CW announced it was working on a Green Arrow show. Come on, he's not even Batman. But the show became a juggernaut for the teen drama/sexy vampire network and by season two they decided it was time for a spinoff.

Enter The Flash.

We were first introduced to clumsy, cocker spaniel puppy Barrie Allen (Grant Gustin) in season two of Green Arrow. It was an interesting choice as we learned how he got his powers, got to see him awkwardly flirt with awkward Felicity, become best buddies with Ollie, then they stuck him in the deep freeze for nine months to cook until the writers could figure out what happens next.

The Flash opens with the schmaltzy, go to character-building trope for nerds: Barrie Allen got picked on by bullies as a kid. He'd try to defend himself, but his father told him to run away (plot point!). We know he has to be a good guy because he was picked on and beat up as a child. ‘Tis Superhero law!

Because that isn't enough, they also threw in a dead mother to open with. You’re a rare super hero if you make it to adulthood with a mother still kicking around. Child Barrie wakes from sleep to find liquid floating out of his fish tank (I guess he loses his fish the same night, too). He hurries downstairs as flashes (wink wink) of red and yellow blurs zip around his screaming mother. Within the blurs he spies a face hiding in the yellow. Anyone with even a passing history of the Flash already knows who this is. For the sake of spoilers, I will call him Zune.

Somehow, child Barrie is transported a mile away from his home and begins to run back. That transitions to the present day where older Barrie is running to a crime scene, a small case in his hand. We learned back with Arrow that Barrie's a CSI, but apparently he's a CSI for the cheapest and tweest police department. He's not allowed a car, or to have anyone swing by and pick up the criminal investigator, or even anyone else to assist him. He doesn't even get a real lab. Instead, Barrie does his investigating out of a loft refurbished from an old warehouse. Which it seems is also where he lives, surrounded by wire racks of food dye in glass bottles. (Being comically late was something someone should have talked the writes out of. It’s an uncle joke, you laugh the first time, then grow angry with each subsequent telling.)

Barrie goes all Sherlock for a second (blissfully brief) and realizes there's poop on the tire tracks. He uses his innate feces super powers to determine that the murderer must have come from this one farm and nowhere else. Poop is that specific.

We're introduced to Iris(Candice Patton), the daughter of our main stockphoto detective and nearly life long best friend. Which means, of course, Barrie is hopelessly in love with her. She very politely and correctly explains that he's like a brother to her, but you can see the phrase "friendzoning" turning through his head. Luckily, he doesn't throw a fit, or whine, but the show seems to be leading down the "he deserves Iris" road.

While at a rally about the super collider (groupies go crazy for physics), Isis has her dissertation stolen (because everyone takes their dissertation for a walk). Barrie tries to run after the guy, who knows a black market he can sell hard sociology data too, but gets clobbered. Instead, a pretty cop swings out of nowhere and stops the guy.

And that cop's name is Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). Dun dun dun! (Obvious spoilers from that annoying fan - though Arrow's danced around using names and then backing off, so it's hard to be 100% certain)

Iris is unimpressed with him at the time, calling him a pretty boy who keeps score on his busts. Uh-huh. Methinks the writers doth protest too much.

But to the accident. We have to mentally jam in the two Arrow episodes Barrie was in before this scene. He's now back from his brief Starling City foray, chucking things around his lab/apartment and moping because he missed out on attending the big super collider onswitching. At the same time, the detectives are on the poop bust, staking out a farm.

They burst in on a stringy haired blonde guy named Clyde (the slack jawed yokel), who shoots captain deadweight and tries to escape in a plane. Except, just as he's taking off, the super collider goes all critical wonky and a burst of energy smashes up the plane, sending his body crashing hundreds of yards to the ground.

Barrie, still moping to himself, looks up as the energy smashes through his windows. Because super collider energy isn't enough, he's also struck by lightning AND falls into a vat of his food dye chemicals. Rather than come up with one possible superpower source, they decided to mix all three in a bucket and dump them on his head.

The rest of Arrow's season and a summer later, Barrie wakes up not in a hospital but inside the warehouse floor of Star labs. He's rightly freaked out as two fast talking scientists hover over him (why is it always fast talking scientists? I miss the days of Bunsen and Beaker), telling him he's been out for nine months. Oh and we kinda destroyed parts of the city, decimated the building your comatose ass sat in for nine month, and got our boss, Wells, paralyzed. Oopsie. And we stole your body, but it’s okay. They said we could have it for study. Rather than remain with the people that kidnapped his body from the hospital, Barrie leaves.

His first stop is to catch up with Iris, still working at a coffee shop. Maybe she got her dissertation stolen again. We get a quick flashey sense scene when time slows and Barrie watches a waitress fumble a tray of mugs. He freaks out a bit, but tries to remain calm by waltzing back into the police department to check in. This gives him a chance to have even more power freak-outs as he smashes into a cop car window, a truck, and just general mayhem. Everyone takes a man twitching and breaking police cars surprisingly well, just the sort of bewildered nod and a sense of “Oh, not this again.”

Because this is still a super hero show, we need a baddie of the week even if he can't get much characterization or do anything all that evil. Mysterious man slides an "I'm here to rob the bank" envelope to a teller, who glares at him with an "I don't have time for this shit" look. He steps back and dun dun dun! It's Clyde, amazingly not with broken limbs. He holds open his arms and a fogger kicks in from under his shirt and robs the bank with his mighty powers of condensation! The detectives refuse to believe this guy is real, despite eyewitness testimony from three other bank robberies, until they see some cell phone footage of Clyde going full Malestorm on them.

Barrie's facing his own superhero crisis and goes back to the people that stole his body. I get the impression this guy is way too trusting for his own good. Good-natured funny bro, Cisco, whipped up a Flash emblem from his cereal box and pins it to Barrie's wrestling outfit. The female scientist, Caitlin Snow, waves her windows products around and delivers some science babble, giving Barrie the perfect opportunity to flash his Nice Guy™ teeth again.

He asks her why she never smiles, and rather than open up, or feign one so the weird kid doesn't keep pressing the issue, she tells him that "she paralyzed her boss, her fiancé died in the explosion, and her bioengineering career is over." I'm not sure why a bioengineer was working in a physics lab to begin with, but it shuts up Barrie and he gets to running.

The writers realized that some people might nitpick the physics a human going near the speed of light. So, during Barrie's little test, he has a mental freak out and smashes into some barrels he'd have hit anyway. He breaks his wrist, but because healing factor is all the rage these days, it sets itself in three hours.

Back to Iris and we find out, surprise surprise, she's getting down with Eddie Thawne (dun dun dunnnn!!) Barrie catches them kissing, and she begs him to keep it quiet because she doesn't want her dad to find out. All detective dads are incredibly overbearing and want to lock their daughters up in a convent until they're 45, apparently. He agrees and makes sad puppy dog eyes as if he had a chance with her. She thinks you're her brother. That's creepy. Move on!

Because we haven't hammered home all the nice things Barrie will do for Iris, a car chase breaks out. Malestorm (Weather Wizard - maybe. We're down two Count Vertigos by now on Arrow. Names are traded like baseball cards) tries to drive through them, but Barrie throws Iris aside, probably cracking her ribs in the process. Flash may have super healing powers, but average humans still not so much.

He takes off after Malestorm by jumping into the car. I'm not sure how he thought that would help. Maybe he believed the person was lost and he wanted to provide directions. Mostly, he distracts the driver causing the car to flip and roll. Malestorm rolls out of the wreckage and kicks up his fog machine again. But there's still a lot of time left in this episode so rather than have it out there, Malestorm runs for it.

Barrie gets a yelling at from his Detective stand-in father and told he's not a hero. The first response of the not-a-hero is to run away. He heads back to Starling City to have a heart to heart with Arrow. If there's someone I want no nonsense, helpful advice from Oliver Queen ranks just below the Joker. He tells Barrie he won't be a vigilante, he has to fight for his city, which sounds an awful lot like a vigilante, but whatever Ollie.

The new crowned Flash returns home to find Bunsen and Beaker have miraculously already designed a suit he can wear. Originally, they wanted to humiliate firemen in the molded/padded red leather monstrosity, but Barrie's a much better choice.

He straps on the Flash costume and is out the door. Because he must have a police scanner hidden up his ass, he runs back to the poop farm where Malestorm's been hiding this whole time. We're not dealing with a criminal mastermind here. Malestorm says he wants bigger and better things, so he turns himself into a tornado. I'm a bit hazy on how he'll make a lot of money by destroying buildings, but that was also Merlin's big plan with Starling City and it worked out perfectly.

Barrie's idea to stop the tornado is to run counterclockwise to it. The scientists are all freaking out because it'll be either 1. dangerous and maybe kill him or 2. cool! I don't understand why Mr. Super Fast doesn't just run into the middle of the tornado and knock Malestorm out.

Of course, somehow Malestorm is able to chuck something at Barrie even as he's going 200 mph, and toss him on his butt. We get the obligatory "You can do this. We believe in you. You're a hero" speech. Barrie gets up and is able to take down the tornado with the speed of his shredded feet. Then the detective lumbers up the hill and shoots Malestorm I'm guessing dead, but it's hard to say.

Because we still have to tease for the season, while everyone's celebrating the death of Clyde, we cut to Wells wheeling into a secret room. After the door closes, he stands and marches menacingly to a podium with a headline from Infinite Crisis...I mean the future. As we all know, people in wheelchairs are secretly faking it and evil.

Congrats Flash. You're not the hero this city needs, or wants, or is even sure about, but I guess you'll do or something. At least you don’t have a body count that could rival some super villains unlike a certain verdant vigilante who’s not Batman! Seriously though, that outfit is hilarious.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rejected Story

You Owe Me
 
A feral dragon’s roar shattered the crumbling caverns, entombing it. The brave knight wrenched off his helmet and held a hand out to the fair maiden.
“My lady,” he said, inching closer to her, “you are safe from the serpent’s grasp.”
She smiled, and touched her singed hair, “Yes. Very good. Thank you.”
“Thank you?”
The lady dug some rubble out of her ear, “What?”
“I brave the fires of hell burning within the monster’s gullet and all you grant me is a humble ‘Thank you?’ Don’t you believe I deserve so much more?” he asked, nudging his unclasped hand towards her and puckering up lips for a kiss.
She paused in checking for damage and glared at the hand poking near but not quite into her chest. “You have my gratitude?” Patting her dress she added, “I’m sorry, I seem to have left all my purse at the castle where I was kidnapped by a dragon.”
The knight frowned and muttered, “That is not how this should go.”
“How what should go? Is there a manual on kidnapping by giant flying lizards? Perhaps it’s in the big book of Monster Slaying. Dragon abduction, yep that’s a 2-14.”
He kicked his toe into one of the fallen rocks, “You owe me.”
“I owe you? I owe you? What do I owe you?!”
“I donned the armor, I crossed the treacherous lands, I broke you free from the wyrm’s bonds!”
“I never asked you to!” she shrieked at him.
“You were absconded by the beast. That is as good asking for it.”
“Oh, I get it. Because you just one day decided to involve yourself in my life, I owe you – what -- a kiss? A fuck? My whole life? I don’t even know you, your name, your job, if you eat bacon or not. You think women will fall all over you because you do one thing for them? Look, I put in a minimal amount of effort, award me with marriage. Thanks!”
“That is the bargain.”
The exasperated maiden threw her hands in the air, “Bargain? Does this work in other aspects of your life, making bargains with people who don’t even know they’re involved? You eat twenty pounds of bread and then tell the baker he owes you five gold coins for doing something kinda stupid and dangerous? Do you figure if you just finish enough quests, score enough points, insert enough coins you’ll win whatever woman you want off the peg?”
“I…isn’t that how it works?”
“NO!”
She shoved past him to the collapsed cavern’s rubble and yanked out a fallen boulder.
“What are you doing?” the knight asked, fiddling with an expensive sword he bought just to rescue her and not because it was really shiny and he always wanted one.
“I’m going back to the dragon,” she cringed through straining muscles. The boulder crashed to the floor -- one down, a hundred more to go.
“You would return to that maiden kidnapping, virgin consuming monster?”
“That doesn’t believe I owe it sex. Yeah, I think I will.”
“Wenches be crazy,” the knight muttered and walked out of the dragon cave.
The maiden twisted her head through her work, catching his words, and said, “Chain mail Rights Adventurers are the worst.”

My First DMCA

 I'm a terrible narcissist and rarely google my own name But yesterday, to avoid writing, I gave it a go for the first time in a few years.

And then I remembered why I almost never do it.

Mixed in with all the book and painting and cthulhu barbie links was one to a forum. A forum for pirates. Not one for broken down animatronics from Pirates of the Caribbean looking for a new job. Nor for buccaneers trying to wriggle under the slander of the name pirate.

It was that kind of pirate.

Here's the forum posting.
They were even kind enough to highlight my name for me so I could find it getting ripped off even easier.

Well, Bob -- Do you mind if I call you Bob? Actually, I don't care if you do. Bob, see, the thing is BOB, if you want to download my book, it's really easy. There's this thing called Amazon. Maybe you've heard of it?

Big place, full of trees, man eating snakes, and mono-breasted women that ships everything under the sun directly to your door.

That's where you download my book, Bob. That's where it costs you a buck. A freaking candy bar to download what you have to have to so bad you'll go slumming with pirates to get.

Someone kindly did the pirate search for Bob in that forum and found one of god only knows how many sites that was hosting my book. The best part, that site charged $2.99 so people could steal whatever they want off it. Bob could have just bought my damn book and had change left over.

But then Bob wouldn't have that thrill of sticking it to the man. The man of some self publisher scraping by just to break even. That man. We all really hate that man.

After I stopped seeing red, I noticed a DMCA link at the bottom of the page. Big shock a download site would have one to cover their assess. Tee-hee, of course we're serious about copyright. I'm just shocked that so many recent and new things we have and charge for are in public domain. It's amazing really. People sure like giving their stuff away for free for some reason.

I filled out their form and was informed they took down the link. It's tossing a pebble into the stream I know, but I felt a bit better for slightly inconveniencing a few assholes.

The favorite argument of people who really enjoy stealing is that pirating is a good thing. It'll encourage people to find your stuff and share it for free.

Except, you now have a vast fanbase of people who don't believe in ever paying for anything. Which means that artist gets nothing, no money, and will starve while that rabid fanbase insists they get whatever they want but still for free. Because paying for things is for chumps.

Like weeding the side of a ditch one pluck at a time, I can't hope to stem the tide; but I suppose some good can come of this.

There's the question of at what point someone can call themselves an author. Is it with the first book published? The first sale? The first The End? No one really knows. But, I'm pretty sure you can definitely call yourself one with your first DMCA takedown.

So I'm an author now. A furious, starving one; but an author.