Friday, January 9, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: Meet the Creepy Lawyer Who's Supposed to Be a Good Guy

It's been a while since we visited Brianna! Last time, Brianna and Sonya talked about God and forgiveness on their way to The Big Music Company Meeting. One might even say they were on a quest for forgiveness. But the problem was that none of the things they said made sense because this author is... not so excellent at writing dialogue. Or description. Or plot... or song lyrics... Anyway, on to the next section, where I hooooope we'll finally get to the meeting.

Brianna and Sonya talk more about sin and forgiveness, and Brianna says her only wish is to meet her birth parents so she can ask why they dumped her. Sonya says maybe they were hoping for a better life for her, but Brianna is unconvinced:
“I was in an orphanage in Kuwait, and almost sent to Asia to become a child porn star at age six. Can you imagine the life I would have had on the big screen?” She shaped her fingers into a square and emphasized the word “Big.”
OK, at first when I saw "emphasized the word 'big'" I figured it was a sex joke, which didn't really work and seemed surprisingly risque for Rothdiener. But now I have no idea what that means. This is another one of those moment where I just want to sit him down and say, "Look. Look. DO this. Say that sentence while making a square with your fingers and saying 'big' with emphasis. Does this make any sense? Does this sound like something a human would say or do? No? Then don't write it."

Seriously, I have no idea what the square + emphasis have to do with her story. Is she being sarcastic calling it the "big screen" since it's not about legitimate movies? But if that's the case, then why the suqare? I'm assuming the finger square represents the screen, but all movies are shown on screens of some sort, so why would her finger square mean porn screens instead of cinema screens? NONE OF IT MAKES ANY SENSE.


The subject of Brianna's adoptive father comes up, and she says again, "No, he's out of the picture." That leads to this:
Sonya stared at Brianna. “Do you want to talk about it?” 
“I’d rather talk about the flu I caught last year.” 
“S-o-r-r-y,” Sonya deliberately drew the word out long. 
Again there was an uneasy quiet with only the soft hum of the car engine. 
Brianna finally spoke. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to belittle you. That’s part of my life I never want to talk about and won’t. Do you understand?”  
“No. I sure don’t, but there’s someone who does. I will abide by your wishes.”

This may have hit a pet peeve for me, but I don't like Sonya anymore. This is like the umpteenth time she's brought up Ethan, gotten the impression that he's not up for discussion, and yet she continues to do it. THIS time, she respond with a "Soooooorrrryyyy," which is clearly sarcastic, which is really rude since she KNOWS Brianna doesn't want to talk about it and is trying to instigate it anyway.

And then Brianna apologizes. For "belittling" her. What part of "He's not in the picture" and "I'd rather talk about the flu I caught last year" are "belittling" to Sonya?

Sonya's the one belittling Brianna. By doing that annoying awful supposed-friendship thing where they force people to talk about things they don't want to talk about and then get personally offended when the other person is like, "I SAID, I don't want to TALK about it."

If Sonya was a good person, then when Brianna apologizes and reiterates for the hundredth time that she doesn't want to talk about Ethan, she would say, "Oh! No need to apologize. That was entirely my fault. I knew you didn't want to talk about him, and I brought it up. I won't do that again."

Instead, she says that she apparently doesn't understand the concept of not wanting to talk about something (...really?) and then claims she'll "abide by [Brianna's] wishes," though I have no confidence she'll actually do that.

Guys, I've had like a page and a half of ranting already and we're only like four paragraphs into this chapter. Anyway. Brianna asks what's going to happen at the meeting (appropriate, as they're pulling into the parking lot right now), and Sonya instead asks Brianna if her baptism was real (less appropriate, as... it's just not). Brianna asks not to talk about it and Sonya acquiesces.

She explains what's probably going to happen at the meeting and what they're going to ask for: 1) an open-ended contract from Petrichor, 2) payment for all her songs, 3) a press release stating she wrote them, and 4) she will get to sing that "Time" song at the Motion Picture Awards.
A confused Brianna shook her head as if she understood.
She IS confused. When most of us shake our heads, it's as if we don't understand.

They arrive at Petrichor and meet Sonya's associate, Harry:
Eyeing Brianna, he blurted, “When you said she was beautiful, you weren’t kidding. She’s drop dead gorgeous. She’s... she’s a goddess. Look at those eyes.”  
Brianna smiled a sheepish grin.
Which is kind of a terrible way to greet a potential legal client. He's not even talking to her, he's talking to Sonya about her as if she doesn't even exist. Gross.

Also, this is part of my issue with the book as a whole -- it tries to paint Brianna as some sort of hardened, jaded cynic who's been burned by life, but she's clearly not. Someone with her past and with her proclaimed attitude toward men (annoyance that they can't leave her alone) doesn't grin sheepishly when yet another man gawks over her beauty, unless it's a ploy to give them a little bit of attention so when she then ignores them they'll still feel validated. "Sheepish" is how you describe someone to whom compliments are unusual, awkward, or a surprise. None of that applies to Brianna.

That's the problem with these books -- you can say "she had a tough life" but you can't actually show her acting like someone might who have had a tough life, because showing Brianna being manipulative or flirty or angrily responding to an inappropriate comment like Harry's is out of bounds or maybe even not a reaction the author would think of in the first place.

Characterization is not easy. That's why not just everyone should write a book.

Harry then asks, "Can I give her a hug?" because she's definitely not STANDING RIGHT THERE FOR YOU TO ASK HERSELF.

I'll tell you right now, if I was out with a group of friends and a friend's friend saw me, told my friend they thought I was beautiful, and asked if I would give them a hug, I would have to respond, "No, you cannot give her a hug, because she doesn't like hugs or when people talk about her in the third person as if she's not even there, so she thinks you're pretty dang creepy and demeaning right now."

We learn a bit more about Harry:
Harry and Sonya had a comfortable relationship. They kidded with each other, but both knew when to be serious. Their work ethic was identical.
Sonya also thinks it's totally cool to treat a potential client as a beautiful object who has no opinions or thoughts of their own. Harry and Sonya are both great people.

OH MY GOSH, Harry gets even creepier when he finds out it's Brianna's birthday and asks if he can give her a birthday kiss. I mean, he actually asks Brianna, so that's a plus, but, still, this guy should not be a lawyer.

Turns out Sonya is also taking on Brianna as a client... not through her firm? Just as a personal client? I'm not entirely sure how that works. Someone in charge at the firm says Brianna is Sonya's client because Sonya found her so they'll "step aside." I mean, I don't know what that would entail, or whether Sonya's allowed to do that or if this means she'll be quitting the firm to open her very own Just Brianna practice or what. (I did a little scouting on Google but couldn't find anything, so anyone with a better knowledge of how lawyers work within law firms should set the record straight on this.)

Sonya, Harry, and Brianna head on into the Petrichor building (with Harry making further sexual harassment-y comments about Brianna's appearance). Brianna's "I'm Thinking of a Time" song is playing in the lobby and in the elevator, and Brianna hates that version. Then they show up and all these CEOs and record label lawyers are there and they do weird trash talk for a few minutes -- they get especially snarky about Harry being there for some reason.

Petrichor's offer is: $25,000, no rights to the original songs, and a contract for one CD of Brianna's, and if Sonya doesn't take it, they'll sue Brianna for defamation of character. Sonya has an "AHA!" moment where she says, "But you listed all the songs you stole from Brianna, even though we never told you what they were." And they are stumped.

Harry plays one of Brianna's demo recordings from 2002 against the stolen version recorded three years later. We also get this weird exchange:
Harry picked up the CD and waved it around. “Oh, the miracle of technology.”
...That music can be recorded onto in 2002? I can't wait to see how amazed he'll be when he figures out MP3 players.

Of course, he is being snarky, and in fact, he's long-windedly snarky for two more pages.
Harry had the gift of sarcasm, and knew how to use it to his advantage.
I don't know what "advantage" he's getting from this. Mostly he's just being annoying, and he's not accomplishing anything that couldn't be accomplished by simply saying, "Here, we have evidence." Ta-da! Looks like you don't actually need sarcasm to be a terrible creepy lawyer.

Their revamped offer is a million dollars for Brianna and writing credit for those songs, an exclusive highest-price-available recording contract, and she sings the song at the Motion Picture Awards. The record people are NOT happy with that last one, charmingly putting it this way:
“There is no way that tramp is going to sing at the Motion Picture Awards.”
In response, Sonya and Harry announce that they're suing Judd Stevens, the guy who's been singing Brianna's "Time" song (from the album "Time Time" in the movie "Time Time Time") for $20 million.

The record people are not happy with that either. They argue that the statute of limitations has passed, and I had to do some fact-checking on this one. It gets complicated. "Plagiarism" doesn't have a statute of limitations because it doesn't exist in legal terminology, but "copyright infringement," which is essentially the same thing in legal terms, does: five years since the theft began for criminal proceedings or three years since the last infringement for civil actions OR since the infringement was discovered if it had been "hidden" in some way. Since these songs are obviously still being sold, the infringement's still happening, so Brianna's well within her right to sue them, because the clock on the statute of limitations hasn't even started yet.

So the three possible answers for how long the statute of limitations is, all based on different criteria: none, five years, three years.

What does the book say?
“Seven years is the statute of limitations, this copyright was six years ago.”
So... there's that.

And we'll see the exciting conclusion of the meeting with the music company next week!


  1. Harry should totally have said, "Gosh, you're sure beautiful."

    1. That would have smoother than anything he actually said.