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The Laughing Academy
A Life of Noisy Desperation
Yuletide 2010 letter 
18th-Nov-2010 06:45 pm
Yuletide - Narnia
Dear Yuletide Writer,

Hello! I've never written one of these missives before, but I am requesting some extremely rare fandoms this year, and if you're game enough to accept the challenge it's only fair I do what I can to make your life easier.

Before I delve into specifics, here are a few basic requests:
  • Please spell everything correctly.
  • Proper grammar is our friend.
  • No out-of-the-blue OOC behavior unless you're prepared to back it up with a convincing argument that draws on canon. You think Character X is secretly a serial killer? Prove it.

Okay! And now, the canon...
If you picked the Fu Manchu stories

Sax Rohmer's novels about the Yellow Peril, especially those featuring the Oriental Doctor "with a brow like Shakespeare and eyes like Satan," are some of my favorite literary guilty pleasures. They are politically incorrect, more than slightly misogynistic, and 100% unadulterated Orientalist pulp. These stories are crammed with sinister fogs, cunning disguises, mysterious low whistles, fast cars, fiendish death traps, mysticism, pseudoscience, and hidden dens of iniquity with silk brocade hangings and embroidered cushions. There is also fetish fuel galore: bondage, torture, slavery, multiple forms of mind control (drugs, hypnotism, telepathy).

One more point: when I read these books, I’m rooting for Fu Manchu. He is one of those villains who steals the show right out from under the supposed heroes. I would love to to get a story from his POV, or that of his female accomplices/victims — his daughter, Fah lo Suee, or his one-time slave, Kâramanèh.

So, to sum up: Give me atmosphere. Give me kink. Give me the other side's story. If you want to be really daring, how about a world where Fu Manchu has won?

Resources: Some of the stories are available through Project Gutenberg. If you only have time for the Cliff Notes version, I recommend watching The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), which captures the flavor of the source material (aside from the paucity of convincing British accents) and stars Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu and Myrna Loy as his daughter.

If you picked ‘Sherlock, Jr.’ or Three Ages
First of all, if you're a fellow Buster Keaton fan I congratulate you on your taste in classic slapstick; if you haven't seen these films, well then, I applaud your bravery.

The reason I picked these two titles out of Keaton's oeuvre is that they have structures and premises that lend themselves to fanfiction. In Three Ages, Buster’s Boy woos Margaret Leahy’s Girl in paleolithic times, in the Roman Empire, and in the Jazz Age. The protagonist of Sherlock, Jr., a wannabe detective who works as a movie projectionist, dreams himself into a mystery melodrama, where he's a dashing, daring hero.

There are so many fun possibilities! We could see how the Boy and Girl fare in other Ages: a sixties Beach movie, perhaps, or a 21st-century indie romcom. Meanwhile, perhaps the jumpcut montage that sends the Projectionist into Movieland could land him in a few more tight spots -- how would he fare in a war newsreel, a sci-fi movie, or a stag film? And in both cases, how did those crazy kids fare after their Happily Ever Afters?

Resources: Both of these movies (along with most if not all of Keaton's silents) are available online for free. Hie thee to YouTube and Google Video.

My final requests: have fun, and when in doubt, go for the gusto. I like audacity, and prefer bewilderment to boredom.

Thank you, good luck, and Happy Yule!
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