Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lend a hand, if you can...

From http://community.livejournal.com/care_faith_hope/:

care_faith_hope is a fandom auction to benefit faithhopetricks. Bidding begins on September 28, 2009, Monday, 10 a.m. Pacific time, and closes on October 10, 2009, Saturday, 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. Please do not bid until bidding opens.

What's the cause?
This auction is to raise money for the medical expenses of faithhopetricks and her husband. They have no health insurance and no savings, and her husband requires immediate heart surgery.

Her husband has a congenital condition which caused him to have a heart attack and double stents placed while he was still in his thirties. He now needs to have either multiple stents placed or a bypass operation. Which occurs will be determined by his doctors this week when he goes in for surgery. It has also not been determined how much of the costs of the operation will be covered by the hospital: it may cover most of the costs, some of the costs, or none of the costs.

Regardless of the costs of the procedure itself, he will require cardiac rehab afterward. He also has multiple and, given his heart condition, potentially life-threatening other conditions, all of which have gone untreated or poorly treated due to his lack of health insurance. faithhopetricks also has multiple and severe health conditions which have also gone untreated or poorly treated due to his lack of health insurance.

This auction is to raise money for their combined medical and medical-related expenses. (Medical-related includes things like taxi fare to get her husband to his cardiac rehab appointments.)

Folks, there are some great things in this auction. There are hand-made items, rare books, custom written fanfiction stories, all up for grabs for you to buy and help out this person, who is obviously a Buffy fan, judging from her LJ name. You get something, she and her husband get their medical problems treated. Follow the link above for more information, and look for an autographed copy of Queene of Light that's up for grabs in the auction.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Get thee to a bookstore!

I know, you're probably just slavering for my next installment of "What happened on that vampire show I'm constantly bitching about," but I have to be a good little doobie and tell you all that tomorrow is the official release date for Queene of Light. And because tomorrow is the official release date, you can probably find it today, because it's not a hard, Harry Potter type release thing.

So, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Open Letter to Kirk Cameron and People Like Him.

If you're familiar with the Left Behind series of books, or Christianity in general, you're probably aware that Kirk Cameron is basically Jesus' BFF 4EVA. So much so, that when he heard that this Charles Darwin guy was saying a bunch of shit about how Jesus didn't create the world like he said he did, and maybe evolution happened, Kirk was like, "THIS WILL NOT STAND" and totally made a bunch of low-budget movies and even lower-budget youtube videos asking you to come to Jesus and pray and also send his foundation some money. In fact, in this one, you're informed of people having yard sales to be able to fund Kirk Cameron getting Jesus' back in his ongoing fight with sense and reason. Damn, Jesus, take a chill!

But yeah, basically, people are selling their shit on their lawns in order to raise money so that Kirk Cameron can annoy college students about Jesus:

Oh, Kirk, Kirk, Kirk. Gentle Kirk. Let me answer some of your questions and ease your troubled mind.

First of all, Kirk, kids are allowed to pray in public. You're allowed to pray in public. The guy on the street corner who is always screaming at me that he can see the demons in my soul, he prays all the time. It is not illegal to pray in public. There isn't some commando force that has little bugs planted all over your town, just waiting to hear you drop a stray "Praise Him!" so that they can screech up in their black vans and pile out and zip-tie your wrists and beat you with Islamic propaganda. Though it would be cool if they did exist. They could call themselves "The God Squad" and wear badges with crosses on them with the red circle with the line through it over them. And they could say things like, "Not on my watch, Churchy!" while they hit people.

But that would be discrimination.

Anyway, Kirk, stuff like that just doesn't happen. And one of the reasons that the Gideons aren't able to give their Bibles away in schools is, well, because of your side. You see, in some school districts, they've tried making an all-inclusive policy about religious materials. See, in Abermarle county, in Virginia, two kids wanted to include information about their church's vacation bible school in their classroom's "backpack mail," a system by which notes are sent home with students for their parents to see. Because it was a religious announcement, the school said no. And after many concerned individuals got involved in protecting these kids' "liberties," it was determined that okay, religious groups were welcome to include in the "backpack mail" information on upcoming community activities.

And then, a Unitarian Universalist church decided to send home information about a Yule celebration, inviting families to come and share the Pagan side of the December holidays. Christians, just like you, Kirk, had a collective tantrum. You see, when they were fighting for the "liberties" of people who wanted to share their religion with other people, the religion they had in mind was, well, Christianity. And anything else? Well, fuck their liberties, they don't get any!

In other words, Kirk, in this case, Christians were the ones who squashed religious liberties. Not evil, leftist atheists.

Now, you're disgusted that Christianity isn't allowed in schools. And you go on to inform us that 61% of professors in the fields of biology and psychology are atheists or agnostics. Isn't it good for you, Kirk, that the same rule prohibiting you from marching into a classroom and demanding that everyone open their hearts to Jesus is the exact same rule that prohibits those professors from sharing their beliefs with students? Yes, yes, I know, atheism is on the rise in the 19-24 year old age group. But the thing about statistics is, you can skew them to mean anything you want. Because 19-24 year olds also are the highest age group applying for Pell grants, I'm going to link atheism with that. See how it works? It's ridiculous, right? Well, it's also ridiculous for you to assume that a rise in atheism in 19-24 year olds can be linked to 61% of professors of two subjects at fifty universities.

I'm a reasonable person. By that, I mean, I like to think about things logically and without emotion. And that's hard for me, Kirk, when talking about religion. Because I'm a fan of Jesus. I'm a fan of most religions, except for Scientology. But I think that you and others of your ilk have really made a nuisance of yourselves. You look for things that aren't there in order to prove your points. Like saying that Charles Darwin was racist and sexist. Well, say it ain't so, Kirk! A racist, sexist white man in the 19th century? No great man could ever be racist or sexist! Like the Apostle Paul, for example. He loved women, right? I mean, you're hip to the old B-I-B-L-E, right Kirk? I'm sure you can show me all sorts of enlightened, feminist writings in the New Testament, right?

If you're going to try and argue science with me, Kirk, you need to list some scientists who "believe that God created the universe," who were born after 1879, and who didn't live in a society where suggesting that God might not exist wouldn't be punishable by burning at the stake.

So, your friend is going to distribute fifty-thousand copies of On The Origin of Species, with a new introduction with a Gospel message, in the nation's fifty top universities, and the students, who, by your own admission, are not stupid, and they're going to read this book and decide that evolution is a lie? The joke is on you, Kirk, because they're not going to BYU. They're going to real colleges, where non-Jesus related classes are taught.

Now, this message is straight from the devil, who dwells within my evil soul (Praise his infernal name): All thinking people, the world over, do me a solid. Tonight, when you're getting all fired up with your beloved (or with yourself, because I'm a heathen and all about the masturbation), imagine Kirk Cameron. Imagine Kirk Cameron engaged in sweaty, filthy, low-down and raw man-on-man, homosex lovin' with Charles Darwin. Take it as far you like. And really, give it the old college try.

And then write down those fantasies and send them to me, and I'll insert them as erotic scenes into public domain novels, so that we can all enjoy them just as much as those college kids are going to enjoy the new "introduction" to On The Origin of Species. I'm thinking Little Women would be a good choice for that project.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Vampire Diarrhea

...That is what Mr. Jen calls the show, by the way.

So, I have this problem with things that are bad. I can't not look at them. In fact, the worst thing someone can tell me is, "Don't watch that movie, it's terrible," or "don't watch this youtube video of a guy popping a giant cyst on his ear, it's gross." (If you want to see that video, happy watching and bring a barf bag). If I'm reading a series of books, and it starts to tank, I will continue to read, because I can't look away. Hell, I sometimes buy books that just LOOK bad, because of the evil voice in my head that insists my eyes need to be punished. And, as if you needed more proof that I'm criminally insane, I'm excited about the two-hour season premier of House tonight, because let's be honest, this season is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

So, in that spirit of "This can't be that bad guys OMFGWTF YES IT IS!" I watched the second episode of The Vampire Diaries on the CW.

Now, I have explained before how very much I loved these books as a tender young pre-teen. Imagine something that you loved, very much, and look back on fondly, with much nostalgia. Really, really imagine it. Now, imagine that thing, that doll or blanket or grandparent, being run over and over and over with a two-ton truck with a CW logo on the side, while a Gossip Girl commercial interrupts every five to eight minutes. This is what I experienced watching episode two of We Took The Title "The Vampire Diaries" and Some Of The Character Names and Then Just Did Whatever The Fuck We Wanted To.

Our story began, Thursday last, with a couple of crazy young "kids" of about thirty-years-old trying to pass for teens while they grope each other in a tent in the woods. The girl mentions that they're going to "miss the comet," if they don't stop their sweaty wrestling around. The fact that they're in a tent in a forest, both conditions completely negating any chance of a clear view of the night sky, isn't brought up. Eventually (predictably) there is some scary noise or something, and the boyfriend goes out to investigate. When he doesn't answer his girlfriend's frantic shouting of his name, she goes out to investigate. I probably don't have to tell you that what follows involves a dead body hanging from a tree, a car that is locked, and screaming, followed directly by the title screen.
Back from the credits, Elena and Stefan are both writing in their journals. We hear this in voice overs that sound like they're from a prescription antidepressant commercial. Elena finds her Aunt Jenna in the bathroom, trying out various looks to impress Jeremy's teacher, Mr. Tanner. I couldn't tell if she was trying to show Mr. Tanner what a very serious single-mom she is, or if she was trying to get a date. Either way, neither work out, as you will see later. Partly because Aunt Jenna will believe anything Jeremy tells her and has absolutely no idea what is going on in the lives of her teen charges: she tells Elena that Jeremy had to leave early for wood shop, to which Elena responds that the school doesn't have a wood shop class.
Somehow, it's brought up that the comet will be visible "tomorrow" night. Meaning, those amateur astronomers died in vain. It's okay, they would have missed the comet, anyway, because they're terrible at picking spots with a clear view of the sky.
In Mr. Tanner's class (because the CW can't shell out to show any other classroom or teacher), Stefan and Elena throw each other longing looks, and later walk through the halls, bonding over Wuthering Heights. Because comparisons to Twilight aren't flying thick and fast already, they needed a scene of a pale, brunette girl being romanced by a vampire over a copy of Wuthering Heights. O RLY?
Jeremy and Tyler fight with each other over the fact that, while Jeremy has been dutifully visiting Vicki in the hospital, Tyler is the one who gets to nail her, and that is just not fair, cry cry, deal drugs. Matt informs Elena that Vicki doesn't really remember what happened, but he imparts this information in a halting, spooked-out kind of way, so that when it is revealed that Vicki has been bitten by a vampire, there will be a lot of forehead slapping going on in Mystic Falls.
Back at Aunt Jenna trying to pretend to be a grown up, she meets with Mr. Tanner. After some painfully clunky exposition, during which Mr. Tanner addresses Jenna as "Miss Summers" (O RLY?), Jenna says that she thinks she's doing a pretty good job with the kids, you know, aside from not realizing that her nephew is whacked out on prescription drugs and totally not in woodshop. Mr. Tanner tells her that Jeremy has missed class six times, and Jenna is totally surprised; I was, too, because the first episode covered three days of school, maybe, and Vicki is still in the hospital. I guess they don't have weekends in Mystic Falls. Jenna, who has been paying better attention to the chronology of the show, tells Mr. Tanner that it's impossible that Jeremy has missed so many classes, and he responds, "Not if he's on drugs." He continues to berate her for her bad momming skills and tells her that someone else should be the kids' guardian.
At the hospital, Vicki Bennet has a true-to-book freak out, but in her room, instead of the school cafeteria. Something is horribly wrong with her memory of that night, and now her head is all messed up. This is due to Stefan messing with her head; he's tried to make her think it was an animal, not a vampire, who attacked her. Matt sees Stefan leaving from the general direction of his sister's room and immediately thinks there's something funny going on. Not because of any proof, but just because Matt has the permanent willies, I guess. He follows Stefan into the dialysis ward, where he loses track of him, finding only an open, second-story window. Wide open, with no screen on it, in a hospital. He finds this a bit odd. You know, like you would.
Bonnie, Caroline, still no Meredith, and Elena are hanging out after school when Caroline, in an attempt by the writers of the show to establish her as the morally bankrupt slut of the group (YAY FEMINISM!), tells Elena she should just sleep with Stefan already. Elena seems to be ready to take this advice, because she hops right up from the table they're eating at and takes off.
At home, Aunt Jenna has an awkward, "back when I was cool" talk to Jeremy about the drugs he's on. She goes on to remind him that while drugs might solve their totally hellish, upper-middle class white people problems, once they endanger your education, that's not cool. Jeremy doesn't really get the end of her, "Lean on me, because I've been there, broseph," speech, because he totally bails while she's raiding the fridge, presumably to do a little stress eating.
Where does Jeremy go? To the hospital, where Matt seems super psyched that his crazy freak-out sister is coming home. When Jeremy shows up, he and Vicki have the bajillionth conversation about the fact that Tyler doesn't care about her, but this time, Vicki seems to actually care. One could point out that Jeremy is pretty selfish, too, what with bringing their non-relationship problems up while she's still recovering from a vampire bite that's made her go crazy.
Elena drives over to Stefan's house, only to be brutally cock-blocked by Damon and his giant bird. He doesn't seem to mind that Elena has basically illegally entered the house, but he does awkwardly start talking about his brother's ex-girlfriend, Katherine, and how Stefan isn't over her. But at least he doesn't rip her apart and throw her into a tree. When Stefan shows up, it's to be all brooding and Angel-esque-- his forehead even appears to be getting bigger-- and basically blows Elena off. Right there, she should know he's a vampire. What teenage boy is going to be like, "No, hot girl who just came by to hump me. I'd rather sit in the shadows and look pained." Sure sign of a vampire there, my friend.
When Elena leaves, Damon and Stefan engage in some more clunky exposition, which I am beginning to think will be a hallmark of this show, and it is revealed that because Stefan doesn't feed from humans, his powers are weak and he totally botched his roll on hypnotizing Vicki. Stefan asks Damon why he's doing what he's doing, but Damon, being the only character true to book, just gives some lame answer that boils down to, "I'm chaotic evil, dude, check my stats."
Back at the Gilbert/Summers residence, Aunt Jenna and Elena compete in the bad date Olympics. AJ medals in every event. Jeremy comes home just in time to remind Jenna that, even though she is the youngest-looking actor on the show, she is so old she probably rode a dinosaur down to the Circle K to score her drugs, and she doesn't know his problems.
Back at the hospital, Vicki is still suffering from an improper memory wipe, and apparently, Mystic Falls is big on comets, because everyone is gathered in the middle of town to watch it. Elena tells Bonnie and Caroline that Stefan never called, so, good advice there, Caroline. Caroline doesn't really care, though, because she sees Damon there, staring at some kids. The warning bells associated with seeing a grown man giving a line of kids the sexy-eyed once over do not go off in Caroline's head, and she decides he's one fine piece, while at Castle Dracula, Stefan's nephew warns him that Damon's presence puts them all at risk.
While showing up to argue with her boss over the schedule-- she just got attacked by a vampire, dick!-- Vicki takes the time to score some drugs and reject Jeremy once she's got them. Stay classy, Vicki.
The organizers of the comet-watching event have made sure there is plenty of light pollution, so the chances of seeing the very comet they've come out to see are greatly reduced, but at least it's bright enough for us to see Matt get totally shut out by Stefan, who impresses Elena with a bunch of bullshit comet facts. Elena seems pretty dazzled, to borrow a phrase from Twilight, at first, but then gets all huffy because in the one conversation she has ever had with Stefan, he didn't mention that he had a brother. She goes on to compare losing her parents to him breaking up with his girlfriend (and yeah, she's totally dead, but Elena doesn't know that), showing us that Elena has either never broken up with anyone or was pretty lukewarm on her parents. Elena basically tells Stefan, "It's not you, it's me, and also it's you, and also the timing is bad."
In the bar where minors are allowed to hang out, Vicki runs into Damon. She's pretty sure she recognizes him, so she takes a handful of pills. Because when your memory is all fucked up, six or seven Oxycotin are exactly what you need to stay sharp and clear-headed. Just when she thinks she's in the clear, Damon totally shows up, looking all evil.
Conveniently, all the supporting teen characters, even the ones who don't really hang out together, are all sitting at the same table in the bar when Jeremy realizes that Vicki is missing. Before anyone goes off to look for her, Tyler calls Jeremy a drug dealer, Elena is all, "OMG, you're a drug dealer?" and Jeremy is all, "FYI, I've been totally banging Vicki for weeks now." Jeremy tells Elena that he's "sick of the tough love speech," and I sympathize with him, and it's only the second episode.
While looking for Vicki, Matt finds Stefan and asks why he was at the hospital. Stefan should have probably just said, "Out. For. A. Walk. Bitch." but he doesn't, he just says he was visiting someone. Even though his recently released from the hospital, prone to hallucination, drug addicted sister is missing, he takes the time to assert his ownership of Elena, because, like the writers of the show, he skipped Feminism 101. Stefan immediately knows that something Damon-related is up, and he uses his spider senses to hear Vicki screaming her head off. Damon is dangling her off the side of a building, and for some reason none of the people who are supposedly staring upward at the comet notice. Stefan tries to get Damon to stop torturing Vicki, but Stefan doesn't know Damon that well, apparently. Damon hynotizes Vicki into saying that she was attacked by Stefan, and Stefan, not having the same powers that Damon has, has to resort to a very Lestat/Louis moment of, "Eat people," and "Never!" There is a veiled reference to vampires having been in Mystic Falls before, and then Damon reverses his whammy and takes off. Vicki tells everyone that Stefan found her on the roof, but since we don't get to hear what Damon whispered in her ear, that will probably come into play later. Or, maybe they'll never reveal it, like the end of Lost in Translation. Because Stefan found his sister, Matt grudgingly admits he might be an okay guy.
With things back to normal, Caroline announces that drug users are attention whores, and Bonnie has a psychic moment with Stefan. So, if you're keeping score at home, Bonnie and Matt both have uneasy feelings about Stefan.
While Jeremy is out, presumably dealing drugs, Aunt Jenna ransacks his room while unloading on Elena about how hard it is to take care of her and her brother. Hey Jenna, you know what's harder than trying to raise your sister's kids after she dies? Having your parents die in a horrible accident that you somehow miraculously survive. Or, breaking up with your girlfriend, if we're using Elena's empathy scale. She gives Elena some advice about how she shouldn't let opportunities pass her by, or at least, I'm guessing that's what happened, because I had to pee.
Anyway, when I came back, Jeremy catches Vicki up to her old shenanigans with Tyler, and he's surprised for some reason, even though she's flip-flopped between the two of them once already in this episode. Caroline, in a scene out of every vampire movie, ever, walks to her car, but has a creep feeling. Once at the door, she drops her keys, bends to retrieve them, and SURPRISE the vampire is standing right next to her! The vampire in question is Damon, who, having probably seen this scene in every vampire movie, ever, tells her, "I didn't mean to scare you." Yet. Bwahahahahaha.
Reflecting on the wisdom of Aunt Jenna's advice, Elena drives over to Stefan's house to tell him that they haven't looked at the bad CGI comet enough. As the music of the loudest crickets ever nearly drowns out even more clunky exposition about Elena's diary and its exact location in her house, Sarah Barilles music swells in the background and Elena and Stefan kiss, ending the bulk of the episode.
Caroline and Damon are doing a whole lot more than kissing, and Damon chooses to ruin perfectly hot, non-angsty vampire-on-teen action by biting her. And that, my friends, is the hook, fade to black, time for Supernatural.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Excuse me, Mr. Wonka, but your Puckerooms are showing...

Holy cow, Wonka candy company, just holy cow!

These are "Puckerooms," from the same company that brought us heavenly Kazoozles. I'm wondering what the company's intended market is. I mean, look at the orange/lemon one on the package...

I said GOOD DAY, sir!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oh, way to self-promote, Jen!

I totally spaced out and forgot that I'm the guest author at the Border's "True Romance" blog today. Go over there and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Queene of Light. http://bordersblog.com/trueromance/

Writing in my Vampire Diaries at Twilight.

I've mentioned it before, and I thought I would be remiss not to blog about it. There are some stunning similarities between Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and L. J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries. Now, I'm not using the P-word here, because that's a serious accusation, and I truly think that a lot of these similarities stem from the fact that teen love stories always have the same elements, and vampire books always have the same elements, and so it was just going to happen at some point that someone was going to combine them in the same ways.

The Vampire Diaries vs. Twilight: A Battle Of The Similarities!
The Heroine:

  • Elena Gilbert, The Vampire Diaries: Elena is beautiful, tan, and popular. Every boy wants her, every girl wants to be her, yadda yadda. Often accused of being a "Mary Sue," a character so sickeningly perfect that she simply must be an avatar of the author's idealized self.
  • Bella Swan, Twilight: Although Bella doesn't recognize that she is beautiful, she is, but in a pale, brunette, tragic sort of way. Every boy wants her. Often accused of being a "Mary Sue," because she's sickeningly perfect aside from one token flaw, so she simply must be an avatar of the author's idealized self.

The similarities between Elena and Bella aren't that many. Sure, the book opens with Bella "losing" a parent, but her move to Forks is far different than Elena's loss of both her parents in a car accident. And where Elena is living with her loving aunt, with whom she has a great relationship, Bella is going to live in a strained domestic situation with her father, who she hardly knows. Elena is popular, and Bella drives the people who inexplicably want to be her friends away with her single-minded obsession with Edward and her basic iciness. Elena has a younger sibling, Bella is an only child. But there are similarities. Both of them start out the school year with a pretty bleak opinion of how this whole thing is going to go down:

Elena: Dear Diary, Something awful is going to happen today.

Bella: He wished me good luck at school. I thanked him, knowing his hope was wasted.

They also both have run-ins with vampires on their first day of school. Naturally, these are:

The Heroes

  • Stefan Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries. An Olympic gold medalist at brooding, Stefan is very European and mysterious, with dark, curly hair, pale skin, and a certain something about him that makes every single girl at school want him. He'll have none of them, though, even feigning disinterest in Elena, who he feels an instant connection to. Because he doesn't want to be a monster, Stefan feeds only on wild animals.
  • Edward Cullen, Twilight. An Olympic gold medalist at brooding, Edward is very old-fashioned and mysterious, with copper-colored, curly hair, pale skin, and a certain something about him that makes every single girl at school want him. He'll have none of them, though, even feigning disgust at Bella, who he feels an instant connection to. Because he doesn't want to be a monster, Edward feeds only on wild animals.

Sure, Edward is about four centuries younger than Stefan, and they hail from difference countries, but they're basically the same guy, different baggage. For example, Edward wants to be a nice, vegetarian vampire because his maker is a nice, vegetarian vampire. Stefan wants to be a nice, vegetarian vampire because his brother, Damon, is a full-time psychopath who burns through teenagers like they're walking cans of Pringles. Stefan is sullen and morose because the only woman he ever loved died horribly. Edwards is sullen and morose because he's never been loved, and doesn't feel he's worthy of love. Both are going to high school for ridiculous, badly explained reasons. They both pretend not to be interested in the heroine, until they can rescue her after an unfortunate decision puts their virtue in danger (Elena goes to a cemetery with her prom date, Bella goes out wandering in town at night after shopping for prom dresses):

And the something picked Tyler up and threw him against his grandfather's headstone... Something moved in the darkness, and she saw the person who had plucked Tyler off her. Stefan Salvatore. But it was a Stefan she had never seen before: that fine-featured face was white and cold with fury, and there was a killing light in those green eyes. Without even moving, Stefan emanated such anger and menace that Elena found herself more frightened of him than she had been of Tyler.

Headlights suddenly flew around the corner, the car almost hitting the stocky one, forcing him to jump back toward the sidewalk. I dove into the road-- this car was going to stop, or have to hit me. But the silver car unexpectedly fishtailed around, skidding to a stop with the passenger door open just a few feet from me.
"Get in," a furious voice commanded.

I'll point out here that in the movie, the confrontation between Edward and Bella's would-be rapists is much more like the scene from The Vampire Diaries than the same scene in the book was. I can only assume someone on the screen-writing team was a fan. But this isn't the only scene the two books have in common:

Scenes With Similar Themes:
Scene with the high school secretary:

  • The Vampire Diaries: Elena watches as Stefan uses his hypno vampire powers on the school secretary in order to get a class schedule. It works.
  • Twilight: Bella watches as Edward uses his teenage whining powers on the school secretary in order to get his class schedule changed. It doesn't work.

Scene in which the heroine wonders why the aloof vampire didn't just leave her for dead:

  • The Vampire Diaries: "Why do you hate me?"
    He stared at her. For a moment he couldn't seem to find words. then he said, "I don't hate you."
    "You do," said Elena. "I know it's not... not good manners to say it, but I don't care. I know I should be grateful to you for saving me tonight, but I don't care about that, either. I didn't ask you to save me. I don't know why you were even in the graveyard in the first place. And I certainly don't understand why you did it, considering the way you feel about me."
    He was shaking his head, but his voice was soft. "I don't hate you."
  • Twilight: "It's too bad you didn't figure that out earlier," I hissed through my teeth. "You could have saved yourself all this regret."
    "Regret?" The word, and my tone, obviously caught him off guard. "Regret for what?"
    "For not just letting that stupid van squish me."
    He was astonished. He stared at me in disbelief.
    When he finally spoke, he almost sounded mad. "You think I regret saving your life?"

As I said before, there is always some element that vampire fiction for teens is going to recycle. There is always going to be school, there is always going to be a "new kid" element. There is always going to be repressed sexuality (although Smith really pushed the envelope in terms of steamy scenes with the blood drinking in The Vampire Diaries, in a way that Breaking Dawn never came close to). If Twilight had come out in 1991 and The Vampire Diaries had hit the way Twilight did today, fangurls would be watching Twilight on the CW and complaining that it was ripped off. But basically, they would still be idiots, and that's what I'm really trying to say here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Input required.

I was thinking today about Amazon.com, and the reviews on their site. Now, I am all about product reviews before I buy something. There have definitely been books I've bought and then gone, "You know, I wish someone would have told me this sucked." But I've been thinking about Amazon.

First of all, the reviews are sometimes either not that honest, or the people have really bad taste. I'm sorry, it's true. I've read some incredibly lame books that are pretty much universally panned, but someone has always left one or two reviews that are five stars and say [AUTHOR'S NAME] HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!!! Well, who do I listen to? The seventy reviews that say this book should only be used as some kind of interrogation torture, or the two that say it's the best book of the year?

Another thing that I noticed is that, out of all the genres, Paranormal Romance gets some really fervent fans. And those fans will go to other authors' book pages and leave reviews either panning the books or giving lukewarm praise, then suggesting their favorite author. There was a review I saw on one author's book lately where someone basically said, "This book was alright, but I like Kresley Cole better." Okay, good for you, but what does that have to do with the book you're reviewing? Is your suggestion that this author should be more like Kresley Cole? Or that the customer buy a Kresley Cole book instead? What is the point of your comment?!

One of the weirdest things I've found is that sometimes I have used Amazon to tell me what I think of a book that I'm reading. That's weird, and I don't know how I got into that habit, but it works like this: I start to read a book, and something about it isn't quite right. I don't know exactly how, I'm just not digging it as much as I think I should. So, I think, "hmmm, I wonder if this gets any better, or if someone else feels the same way I do?" I pull up Amazon and read the reviews, and sometimes the positive ones will make me go, "You know, I'm going to stick with this, they're right, I do like x and y!" Other times, I'll side with the negative ones and think, "They're so right, this book sucks, I'm going to reread Twilight."

What do you think about Amazon reviews? Are you more likely to buy a book if it has positive reviews? Have you ever left a review? Have you ever had an Amazon review sway the way you feel about a book you were reading/have read? I'm really curious, because I don't know exactly what purpose the reviews are serving.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not so much an "adaptation" as a clusterfuck of unending horror.

First of all, I want to apologize for my atrocious grammar and the myriad typos I make on this blog. But it came to my attention recently that someone on the internet was mocking me for my typos and grammar, and the conclusion they came to was that my books obviously could not be any good, because I make grammar mistakes on the internet. So, nameless idiot, I feel like I need to school you about one of the little known facts of the writing world: the editor. I am sure you assume, based on your comments, that other authors must tirelessly revised every online posting, Christmas card, and grocery list they make out, because the grammar in their novels is so flawless, with nary a misspelled word, and from this you can infer that an author who does make the occasional mistake must also sort of pound their forehead against the keys while swearing and hope that what comes out is a book, and then that manuscript is transformed into a book without anyone double checking to make sure that it is readable. I can understand why someone with your limited critical thinking skills might make this leap, however, I can assure you that it is not true. Instead, writers simply write their novels, likely making many mistakes in the process, and then a specially trained (read: masochist with a BA in English) person called an editor reads it, makes notes on the sections that appear to have been written while the author was high, and then cheerfully sends it back to the author to make corrections. When that is done, the editor reads it again, and then another specially trained person (read: bleary-eyed golem chained in a publishing house basement) goes over the manuscript with the sole purpose of finding grammatical and typographical errors.

As you can imagine, this process requires the publishing company to pay their specially trained employees for their time, but that expense is recouped by sales of the books. The same cannot be said for blog posts and comments, so the author is left to fend for herself like every other mortal on the planet.

In other words, shut up.

Now, onto the real meat and two veg of this post. Every single interview I do, I get asked the same question: When did you first become interested in vampires? I always give the honest answer, that I don't know how I became interested in vampires, and that I cannot remember a time that I was not aware of the idea of them. It's not like the first time I hear about stuff, I make mental notes to remember the date or what I was wearing just in case I write a book about it later and someone wants to know, okay? But I can remember exactly what the first vampire book was that made me want to be a vampire, or have a vampire boyfriend, and that book was The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith. Of course, I read the follow ups, all three of them, which, owing to the fact that the publishers wrote "A trilogy" on the front cover, made me believe that a trilogy was four books instead of three until I was in college. When Twilight came out, I flipped my shit because it seemed like I was the only person in the world who noticed that Twilight had a lot of uncomfortable similarities to The Vampire Diaries.

That's a blog post for another time, and that time will probably be Monday.

Anyway, I freaking lived that book in 1992, and now, some seventeen years later, holy shit, it's a TV show. Look, I expected there would be changes. I mean, look at how many liberties HBO is taking with True Blood, and that's still awesome, so why wouldn't The Vampire Diaries be? I sat down and watched the first episode last night.

Have you ever watched a film or television adaptation of a book and gone, "Hmm, that's just not how I imagined they would look?" I'm sure you have. I totally had that very, "Wait, who the hell is this?" moment when I watched the television movie of The Stand and Harold Lauder was skinny and nerdy instead of fat and just sort of socially awkward. But holy cow, is The Vampire Diaries a buffet of "What the fuck, didn't they even read this?"

Elena Gilbert, cool and blond and slender, the fashion trendsetter, the high school senior, the girl every boy wanted and every girl wanted to be.
Gives you a good idea of what Elena looks like, right?
And the dress was all right; the iced-violet color brought out the violet in her eyes. But even to herself she looked pale and steely, not softly flushed with excitement, but white and determined.
So, Elena looks like this:

Oh, wait, I'm sorry. That's actually the actress who portrays Caroline, described in the book like this:
Caroline's green eyes barely flickered toward Elena, and she pushed glossy auburn hair out of her face.
This is Elena, in the series:

Okay, so they got the two flipped around. That's not that big a deal, compared to what they did to Bonnie:
Bonnie hadn't grown at all, and her curly red head barely came up to Elena's chin as she flung her arms around Elena.
and Meredith:
Meredith never wore any make-up, but then, with perfect olive skin and heavy black lashes, she didn't need any.

Poor Bonnie and Meredith were clearly fused together in some terrible accident. In the ensuing struggle for dominance over the body they now must share, Bonnie's personality has overcome Meredith, and the resultant MereBonnie is known on the series as simply "Bonnie." Meredith is never mentioned in the first episode.

The worst casting was that of Elena's four-year-old sister, Margaret:

Wait, what?

Maybe I'm being too hard on the casting. After all, there were so many other things I hated about the show. Like the fact that Stefan and Damon Salvatore are now Americans, born before the Civil War, and not transplants from the Italian Renaissance. Or the bizarre side story involving Elena's brother, Jeremy (who replaced Margaret, as seen above) and his drug-dealing, and the seemingly unnecessary change to make Vicki and Matt brother and sister.

There were some things I liked about it. The cemetery where Elena's parents are buried is exactly the way I imagined in the book, and Damon looks and acts like he just stepped off the page. There was a pretty cool Kate Bush cover on the soundtrack, as well, even if there were just a few too many musical moments in the whole thing. But I don't know if I'll be able to get past the many places where they changed or ignored things from the books. I love them with all of my heart, and to this day I still keep copies of them on my nightstand and will flip to my favorite parts. The Vampire Diaries was practically my Bible growing up... and The Passion of Elena Gilbert is not turning out to be the spiritual experience I thought it would be.

I mean, they even changed the name of the town from "Fell's Church" to "Mystic Falls." Mystic Falls? You gotta believe you're gonna have a vampire problem in a town named Mystic Falls.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Five Characters That I'm Pretty Sure You Aren't Supposed To Find Hot, But They Are, Anyway.

I have a thing for bad boys. Not like, leather-jacket wearing, hard-outer-shell-gooey-emotional-center paranormal romance bad boys. I'm talking like, villains. Scary, slit your throat, problematic personal ideologies bad.

They have to be fictional, though. That's the thing. I don't want people like them to exist. I want the real world to be full of nice people. Nice people who are funny. And, preferably, beautiful.

Like those guys, right there. ROWR.

Still, there is something about a guy who is dangerous in a real way, not a motorcycle jacket way, and it's safe, so long as he's fictional.

I give you my list. My top five shameful, why-am-I-into-that, fictional guy crushes.

  • #5. Captain Barbossa, The Pirates of The Caribbean franchise

    Know why I like him? Because he's not just evil. He's honest about being evil. I mean, okay, Jack Sparrow was funny, and he was also Johnny Depp, so he wasn't lacking in the looks department. But he was selfish and awful, and everyone seemed to forget that simply because he was cute and funny. Barbossa, now he's not cute, and he's not funny. He's a bad guy. He doesn't do anything that isn't self-serving, he has no qualms about spilling blood to get what he wants, no matter who you are. He doesn't seem to have any sort of attachment to any person, place, or thing, except for his pet monkey. And I'm pretty sure he'd drown him in a toilet if you paid him enough, and be pretty satisfied with his actions doing it.
    Still, there is something elegant about a villain like Barbossa. He might cut your throat, but he'll probably apologize for the inconvenience right before he does it.
  • #4. Citizen Chauvelin, The Scarlet Pimpernel novels

    Ah, I do have a girl boner for French police inspectors, don't I? But I've chosen Citizen Chauvelin for this list because he's truly a total asshole, not just misguided about morality. He seems to know what morality is, and he's moral when he feels like it. He wants to support the people's revolution, but when he finds out that Sir Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernel, he doesn't tell anyone because he wants to be the person who gets credit for catching him. That's right. Screw the revolution, screw the people who are depending on me to help them reform their government, I need to appease my ego and make sure my career advances.
    Depending on which version of the story you're familiar with, Chauvelin is either the former acquaintance or lover of Marguerite, who just happens to be married to the Scarlet Pimpernel. When Chauvelin gets tired of using her for information, he turns her over the convention to lure the Pimpernel into a trap. Basically, he's totally okay with cutting his ex-girlfriend's head off as a step toward his long-term goal.
    Why is he sexy? Because he's ruthless. He knows what he wants, and he'll stop at nothing to get it. Kind of like those Greek Tycoons and Australian Billionaire Bosses in Harlequin novels, except he'd have no problem handing someone over to be guillotined.
  • #3. Dracula

    Really, are you surprised to see him show up here? Dracula is the single most bad-ass vampire of all time. Why? Because he doesn't pretend to be evil and end up being a total pussy with a bunch of feelings and heartbreak (cough *CYRUS* cough cough). He just is evil. "Oh, I'm sorry, you don't want to be my blood-enslaved minion? I'm going to go ahead and let my hell-bitches devour you. And just to show that it's nothing personal, I'm going to turn your wife into a vampire and lead you on a merry chase as you try to destroy me." Seriously, this guy is rich and powerful enough that he doesn't have to use his paranormal powers to scare people, but he does anyway. Because he can. When Jonathan Harker goes to Transylvania to hammer out the details of the Carfax Abbey purchase, he does nothing to deserve being imprisoned and tortured, besides being the single most over-zealous real estate agent of all time. But-- and I'm going to remind you that it's just because he can-- Dracula goes all Prince of Darkness on him and then brings the fight back to Harker's home turf.
    The upside of Dracula? He's rich, he's handsome, and he does seem capable of forming romantic attachments, even if they're only temporary. Plus, vampire, helloooooooo!
  • #2. Col. Landa, Inglourious Basterds

    Hey, you know what's even worse than a French guy who'll happily serve the Revolution but turn his back on it when he could stand to profit? A guy who has the same "Me First" code of honor, but also he's a Nazi.
    The combination of taboo factor, elegance, plus the fact that he seems to delight in setting psychological traps for his victims, really cements his place on this list.
  • #1. Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris's crime novels

    If this guy right here drove up to my house in a respectable car and said, "Get in," I would do it. Why? Because even though he's a homicidal cannibal, Hannibal Lecter is a gentleman. He genuinely likes the people who aren't out to get him, and seems content only to murder those who intend to do him grievous harm. Of course, since he's crazy, "grievous harm" could mean anything from unknowingly offending him with your poor playing in a symphony orchestra to getting a wee-bit too close to figuring out that he's a murderer. Still, he passion and sensuality for the finer things in life really make my knees weak. You're not going to see this guy eating someone's face on a plate next to some Pringles or Cheetos. He's first class all the way.
    Plus, he's a doctor, and we all know that we're supposed to snag one of those, am I right, ladies?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There is no Beyonce, only Zool.

I have blogged in the past about Beyonce's terrifying dance habits. A commenter recently reminded me of that post:

"I have to say, Beyonce is indeed frightening... I'm pretty sure all the thrashing she does would be fatal to anyone else. I don't know how she does it, and I don't mean that as a compliment."

That wasn't the whole thing, I'm rocking movie-poster review style. Anyway, it remembered me of the fact that Beyonce has a new video out. How could I not share it with you, and include commentary?

The beginning of the video gives us Beyonce floating, Dana Barret style, above her bed, while a creepy lullaby plays. The Holy Spirit makes an appearance, too, but he's hauling ass to get out of there before the Prince-inspired guitars take over. Then, we're into the song proper. Beyonce demands that someone "turn the lights on," despite the fact that she's standing in a desert, under a rainbow. Silly Beyonce, if the lights weren't already on, how would that rainbow be there? Don't you know that rainbows are the product of light refracting and reflecting off of moisture in the air? Rainbows are light!

For a few seconds, Beyonce dances solo and backward, and the effect almost makes me expect King Leonidas to show up and ask if he can has war now. Instead, a couple of the mannequins from the Robert Palmer video show up, and they join Beyonce in her orgy of spastic movement. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what they're trying to accomplish. It seems like she's trying to portray the lyrics through modern interpretive dance, but also finger spell things without quite knowing the alphabet.

Next up is the Beyonce fashion show. Capes are gonna be big this fall. Also, a word to America's Next Top Model contestants: do as Beyonce and lead with your chest.

At this point, Beyonce delivers on her terrifying promise to begin violently dancing without warning. To my horror, this involves a lot of grabbing of private areas and demonstration of hip motion that she will probably not be able to do in five years without surgical intervention, if she keeps it up.

Another costume change appeases the hungry goddess Beyonce, and she seems almost cheerful during the next verse, waving at the camera and even, wait, no, it couldn't be... is she... SHE IS! BEYONCE IS SMILING!

Now, Beyonce visits a hall of mirrors, which one can only assume she rented from Tyra Banks's house. She grinds against herself and delivers a few lines to herself while directing sultry gazes at herself and wait, was this DIRECTED by Tyra Banks?

The mirrors shatter, and Beyonce dances as glass shards whip through the air. Which probably explains what happened to her shirt.

At the bridge, C-3PO's hot sister takes over dancing duties, but unfortunately, she's just as graceful as her big brother. Which is okay, because then Beyonce comes back from her coffee-and-get-glass-out-of-my-eyes break. She seems to have forgotten her pants, but that doesn't stop her from flashing crotch in yet another, seemingly spontaneous, deviation from all sense and reason to rub her chest and thrust her hips. She also does a few dance moves that are fair game now that Michael Jackson is dead, and it's back to She-3PO.

Remember that giant metal glove thing Beyonce was rocking in her video about how if you like it, then you should have put a giant, medieval gauntlet ring on it? Well, now she's doing like, two of those, and chest armor, and I'm thinking that if she isn't a robot already, she's trying to become one.

Basically, what I'm saying is, don't look into her eyes there at the end, because she's probably using her robot hypno ray to enslave human kind, and I will not be forced into some kind of robot death camp where I'm forced to dance like that.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Everything I Need To Know, I Learned From Fantasy Movies

It's true. Everything I ever need to know about life, I have learned from fantasy movies. For example, without The Dark Crystal, I would never have known that birds are fucking evil. And without Labyrinth, I would have taken a lot longer to realize how awesome David Bowie is. So, without further ado, here is a list of things I have learned from Fantasy movies:

  • Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it, and then you'll realize that you're way too young to handle it and also it is probably just a tube sock. (Labyrinth>
  • Never run from from anything immortal; it only attracts its attention. (The Last Unicorn)
  • You know that guy you think is so hot? He's going to grow up to be Tom Cruise crazy. (Legend)
  • Every situation can be fixed with a well-timed dance number and a chipper, upbeat song. (Enchanted)
  • Death is something you're going to be able to pretty easily bargain your way out of.(Darby O'Gil and The Little People)
  • There is no way to make roller skating look cool. (Xanadu)
  • Evictions are a bitch. (The Secret of NIMH)
  • When all else fails, pretend to be Swedish. (Splash)
  • When that fails, pretend there is an imminent gas main explosion. (Ghostbusters 2)
  • Don't worry, no matter what you do, you'll probably never fuck up as bad at anything as Disney did at this. (The Black Cauldron)
  • Your English teacher CLEARLY did not watch this movie before she brought it to class. (Excalibur)
  • True love really can conquer all, but you have to have a whole team of people working on it. (Ladyhawke)
  • Wolves, lions, it really doesn't matter because both of them will eat you. (Le Pact Des Loups)
  • Fucking rabbits. (Harvey/Donnie Darko)
  • No one will notice how racist your movies are if you make a Holocaust movie and a slave-mutiny movie back-to-back a few years later. (Any of the original Indiana Jones movies)
  • Wizards are just like bombs. They even have remote detonators (Dragonslayer)
  • What is this I don't even... (Clash of The Titans)
  • Just because you imagine yourself as the hero of a really exciting book doesn't mean you aren't still a total nerd in real life. (The Neverending Story)
  • There can be only one. Until later. Then, there can be another one. Possibly three or four. (Highlander, the entire series and tv shows)
  • The afterlife is going to be a lot like the DMV, so be sure to die with a magazine in your hand. (Beetlejuice)
  • Cary Elwes is a badass mother fucker, even if he does have a girl's name. (The Princess Bride)
  • Size doesn't matter, little people are capable of great things, whatever, what is up with Sorcha's hair? (Willow)

Feel free to add to this list, in the comments.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009