Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, April 24, 2021

oh my lordi
Meet Lordi, Finland’s official entry for this year’s Eurovision competition.

Man, if I were GWAR, I’d be mighty pissed right now.

But perhaps not quite as pissed as many Finns, who are aghast that such a garish death-metal act is representing the homeland for the “American Idol”-like contest. And not only because they pretty much guarantee yet another last-place showing:

First, Finnish religious leaders warned that the Freddy Krueger look-alikes could inspire Satanic worship. Then critics called for President Tarja Halonen to use her constitutional powers to veto the band and nominate a traditional Finnish folk singer instead. Rumors even circulated that Lordi members were agents sent by President Vladimir V. Putin to destabilize Finland before a Russian coup — an explanation for their refusal to take off their freakish masks in public.

Geez, what thousands of hokey death-metal bands on this side of the Atlantic wouldn’t give for this kind of reaction…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/24/2006 10:35:59 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture
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Let’s add Kaavya Viswanathan to the ever-growing lineup of authors who’ve pilfered copy from other authors. The 19-year-old wunderkind writer of junior chick-lit tome “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life” confirmed what was already obvious — her lifting of wording from a couple of Megan McCafferty novels for use in her own book, albiet under “unintentional and unconscious” circumstances.

And the borrowings may be more extensive than have previously been reported. The Crimson cited 13 instances in which Ms. Viswanathan’s book closely paralleled Ms. McCafferty’s work. But there are at least 29 passages that are strikingly similar.

At one point in “Sloppy Firsts,” for example, Ms. McCafferty’s heroine unexpectedly encounters her love interest, Marcus. Ms. McCafferty writes:

“Though I used to see him sometimes at Hope’s house, Marcus and I had never, ever acknowledged each other’s existence before. So I froze, not knowing whether I should (a) laugh (b) say something (c) ignore him and keep on walking.

“I chose a brilliant combo of (a) and (b).

” ‘Uh, yeah. Ha. Ha. Ha.’

“I turned around and saw that Marcus was smiling at me.”

Similarly, Ms. Viswanathan’s heroine, Opal, bumps into her love interest, a boy named Sean Whalen, and the two of them spy on one of the school’s popular girls.

Ms. Viswanathan writes: “Though I had been to school with him for the last three years, Sean Whalen and I had never acknowledged each other’s existence before. I froze, unsure of (a) what he was talking about and (b) what I was supposed to do about it. I stared at him.

” ‘Flat irons,’ he said. ‘At least seven flat irons for that hair.’

” ‘Ha, yeah. Uh, ha. Ha.’ I looked at the floor and managed a pathetic combination of laughter and monosyllables, then remembered that the object of our mockery was his former best friend.

“I looked up and saw that Sean was grinning.”

Twenty-nine “unintentional and unconscious” slips? Riiiiiiiight.

Regardless of the reasons for Viswanathan’s indiscretion, that it got through at all makes me wonder just what, if anything, the publishing industry is doing to cover its ass against a problem that’s not going to disappear anytime soon. Why on earth haven’t these companies instituted a basic scan-and-search of every manuscript, as an early phase of editorial rigor, to check for such obvious plagiarism? Hell, engage Google’s Book Search tool as an industry-wide resource for guarding against any more such surprises.

Beyond that, basic fact-checking for non-fiction accounts is easy enough to pull off; if the existing pool of literary editors can’t figure out how to do that, hire professionals who can.

I mean, this isn’t rocket science. If the publishers don’t catch the copycatting, someone else likely will. How many more embarrassing exposés like this is it going to take?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/24/2006 09:56:47 PM
Category: Publishing
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