Polyphony vs. Messieurs Jekyll and Hyde

I like big words. Which is kind of like saying, “I like to eat jellyfish tentacles.” You get weird looks, some rolled eyes, and a sort of “prove it” attitude from most. One of the big words I rike isth a oord room — oh, excuse me, I had to slurp up my jellyfish tentacle there and it was impeding my ability to type in a way so that it sounded like I had something in my mouth. Excuse me.

(Sometimes you get people who don’t like big words yelling at you for using said big words and all you can do to tell them off is use more big words and then all of a sudden you’re back in time, killing your grandfather, creating a paradox and then the fourth dimension will collapse upon itself, you stupid bitch. [That’s a quote from a movie called Southland Tales, which I never saw, but my friends quote it all the time. In fact, I could write an entire post on the whole simulacrum-thing between them, me, and Family Guy, but I’ll save that for a rainy day.] More often than not I try to use “indubitably” in these conversations. Maybe I’ll throw  in an antediluvian troglodyte or a boorish back-sided broom-calumniator for good measure.)

A Russian literary critic named Mikhail Bakhtin wrote an extensive (and rather exhaustive, in my humble opinion) series of articles on Dostoevsky’s work entitled “Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics,” in which he talked about a big-word-favorite of mine: polyphony, or  having many voices in a one-narrator novel. Basically, each character within a Dostoevskian novel has their own psychological platfrom from which they think, act, and speak. Or, to quote my favorite website for literary techniques, wikipedia: “each individual character is strongly defined, and at the same time the reader witnesses the critical influence of each character upon the other.” Wow. Usually I’m rather sarcastic about wikipedia, but that’s actually a rather succinct definition. Good job. Now go clean up your article about adverbs and then we’ll go for coffee or something. Uh-uh, second date, no tongue!

Now, being a humble narrator, though not completely immune to the effects of sleep-deprivation and inspiration as of right now — something I refer to as the orange juice and toothpaste combo of the writing world — I find it hard to reconcile the two very distinct voices I have in my head. (Leave the schizophrenia jokes to me, kids. I’m a professional. Well, not really, but I am a Notary Public. WITNESS MY HAND AND SEAL. Uh, I mean, SEAL! Whatever. Club sandwiches, not seals.) The first is the rather irreverent, sarcastic, and Joss Whedonified. Basically what you read here. The other, however, is what I call the Emo Nathaniel Hawthorne. Now, those three words — harmless by themselves — together can be somewhat misleading. You haven’t had an example of this yet, though when I tend to get all literary on you, it gets closer to my main voice. I go for the psychological heartstrings — hence the emotional bit — and I’m rather descriptive — hence the Hawthorne bit. Where the Nathaniel comes into play, I have no clue. I don’t even know how this dude got here.

Can't you just see some manliner on those baby blues?

My dialogue is often closer to the first and my paragraphs are usually in the second style. It bugs me a lot that they don’t mesh well together, leading me to wonder if this is an act of polyphony or a case of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes. I also have no idea how jarring it really is, since I’m too close to my work to have an accurate view. Well, one day, when my looks have faded, an editor will tell me exactly how annoying it is. I have the feeling it’ll go over much like the introduction of 3D movies to the one-eyed and depth-perceptionally challenged. (I actually have no idea if the new 3D movies work with one eye or not. I guess when I’m playing the Avatar drinking game where you take a shot everytime there’s a horrible cliche watching The Last Airbender, I’ll figure it out.)

So, if I’m Dr. Jekyll, where’s Mr. Hyde? He’s right behind me, isn’t he? I guess I’ll go run upstairs—

Misery Loves Company That’s Invited

I don’t sleep well. In fact, I maybe manage four to five hours a night. The causes are numerous and varied, but we’ll just chalk it up to an overactive brain and insomnia. However, I always know when I’ve slept because I’ll dream. My dreams are notorious for being creepy, crazy, and cr-grisly and I almost always remember them with a ridiculous degree of detail.

This is generally how I start conversations at work with coworkers now, and even how I update my Facebook status regularly. The words “I had a weird dream last night,” are statistically the most probable to come out of my mouth. Well, those and “vampire,” “twat-waffle” and “Humperdinck,” though not necessarily in that order or really even in the same sentence. (“Holy hog-wrangling Humperdincks, Batman! That vampire is totally being a twittering twat-waffle!” My other job is a catch-phrase writer for DC Comics.) My somnolent thoughts have become such an ingrained personality trait, that if I don’t wake up with a sense of utter confusion like I had just watched three seasons of Lost in Portuguese, then I feel the sudden need to eat jalapeno cheese-covered cinnamon rolls three minutes before falling asleep to try to artificially induce the wackiness.

The priceless vision perceived by me last night? I was a vampire Kathy Bates from Misery, flying over suburbia in broad daylight. Once I landed, I was approached by a young blonde girl who was petitioning to Save the Whales and I rudely dismissed her. Her brunette friend, apparently not seeing I had just bypassed her compatriot, tried to approach me as well and I told her off. (The word “twat-waffle” or “douche-canoe” may or may not have been used. I would assume that vampire Annie Wilkes would talk like me since she’s a figment of my imagination, but I’ve also had dreams in Russian and Arabic and since I have no speech pattern unique to me in those languages, it may not follow that even imaginary, undead Annie Wilkes sounds anything like me.)

After that, I felt bad — a serious case of the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire-cooties coming over me, I suppose — and flew the two of them to the local cemetery where I tried to make amends by making fun of their ex-boyfriends with them.

Let’s re-cap. I’m given the awesome powers of the vampire and the ankle-breaking, cringe-inducing, heebie jeebie-causing, googly-eyed vacant stare of a Kathy Bates’ role that garners at least a 8.2 on the wiggins scale and I spend it making fun of boys. I mean, at least I’m in a cemetery, which is kind of creepy, but it was still in broad daylight. Talk about wasted opportunities. This happens to me often. I once dreamt I was Wonder Woman and what did I do? I slept. My sidekick — uh, we’ll call her Wonder Strumpet — tried waking me up to try to save the world, but I just rolled over and went back to bed while I was actually in bed dreaming about sleeping. Hold on, I think Keanu Reeves’ head just exploded. I’ll be back after I clean that up.

“Werewolf” by Cat Power

Welcome to Songs to Die By on Radio Sunlight ‘n Silver. I’m your host, Macabre Melissa and tonight we’re going to be exploring the depressing world of ladies ‘n guitars, with some Eddie Vedder thrown in because, let’s face it, Pearl Jam’s latest is a wee bit, well, disheartening. My mother heard them on the local adult-alternative station the other day and said, “Ooh, I like them.” That’s sort of my standard for whether or not it’s acceptable for me listen to music. If my mother can hear it on the station that regularly rotates the BeeGees, Elton John, and Chicago, then that band has delved into the misty Brigadoon-like nexus of faded glory and/or soft-rock.* (Though Mr. Vedder doesn’t lend his vocals to this song particularly, he does for “Good Woman,” another song on the same album named “You Are Free.”)

(At my place of employment, sometimes we pop on the ol’ iPod and my coworker calls my selection of music the Songs to Die By Hour. The Macabre Melissa part I made up meself. I also call my iPod the Empanada, because I replaced the i with an M, and M-pod naturally translated into a stuffed bread pastry from Spain.)

I randomly become obsessed with songs for no good reason other than the reason that the songs themselves are good. This week it’s “Werewolf” by Cat Power. I know, I know, it’s ironic that I’m rather beset with vampires and my first song post is about werewolves, but I can’t pick and choose my infatuations at will. If I could, I wouldn’t be obsessed with making the toilet water turn blue by placing one of those automatic cleaner thingies in the tank, now would I?

The song is haunting with just the slightly distorted vocals of Ms. Power, a softly strumming guitar, and a mournful violin. She croons,

I saw the werewolf, and the werewolf was crying,
Crying nobody know, nobody knows, body knows,
How I loved the man, as I teared off his clothes…
All through the night, until the light of day, and we are doomed to play.
For the werewolf, for the werewolf, has sympathy.

This is a perfect discussion for my own relationships. I’m really not lying because I’m a man-eater. The transformation of man into beast is symbolic of the losing of the self when a connection is made between two people. Do I change myself so he’ll like me more? Is he changing himself for the same reason? Any relationship will obviously incur some sacrifice upon one or both parties, and the imagery of the consumption relates this. Also, the clothes are images for all of the somewhat ridiculous beautification rituals we go through on first dates and the masks we wear in order to seduce said partner into thinking we’re something we most certainly aren’t.

Is love nothing more than a play upon which our hero-werewolf struts and frets his hour upon the stage? The idea that we act out our roles as we think they should be dooms us to mere actors in life, instead of originators; we become molds for our own selves and think the mold to be real life and reality to be a dream. The night casts its shadows and we are too enthralled to care, squinting as daylight approaches and we fear, lest our carriage turn back into a pumpkin.

Let’s not forget the allusion to “Sympathy for the Devil,” which is quite possibly the best song ever. (It’s loosely based on The Master and Margarita, so there’s a giant soft spot in my heart for it.) The sympathetic werewolf is a stand-in for a so-called “Fatal Man,” which was a figure in the Romantic Era of literature of a character who destroyed everything he loved. This was a time when evil became glamorous because of its assumed rebellion against God, as man at this time was defying established ideas of propriety and thought. The Devil became an ethos to pity through the recognition of his role as a scapegoat.

So I’m a little bitter about love at this point in my life. It doesn’t really show, does it?

But it’s really no fun to just give you the songs I love, so each week I’ll also put out a song that’s randomly derived from Empanada. I won’t cheat by skipping over embarrassing songs, and this way, you’ll get to know the recesses of my mind…if you dare venture where no man has boldly gone before.

Wheel of Empanada, turn, turn turn,
Show me the song that I should burn (literally):
Hey! It’s “Geek USA” by the Smashing Pumpkins.

*Though, to give credit where it’s due, I once saw Neko Case live in Denver. There, a rather loud — and most likely inebriated — heckler cried, “YOU ROCK,” and Ms. Case replied, “Yeah, we’re going to soft-rock your balls off.” This may or may not have ripped a hole in the space-time continuum. Well, either that or Anton Yelchin, but that’s a post for next week.

Late Night Bonus: Hair

I have recently discovered that I usually start hating my hair two weeks after it’s cut. Science says that hair grows half an inch every month, but I feel like mine’s more like twice that. Well, at least my fingernails don’t grow after I’ve cut them off, leading my supernaturally-powerful college roomie to try to kill me or something.

I last cut off a large portion of my hair in February so that it was a wee bit above my chin. (Does anyone else pronounce that extra ‘r’ in February? No, just me? Damn, I hope a ninja doesn’t come after me, because I feel like I also say com-fort-table instead of comf-ter-ble.) And now it’s ridiculously long. Well, maybe not Rapunzel long or even really Mord-Sith-y long, but well below my chin.

So, when I first got my hair cut, it would flip out to the side like I was headlining a Farrah Fawcett convention. Or, as I liked to call it, THE LUKE SKYWALKER. I mean, sure he’s a little whiny, but the dude has some skills. However, it grew out, and so now I call it THE RICHARD CYPHER. The Season 2 Richard Cypher, you know, the one where he sort of looks like a cross between Shaggy and Kurt Russell’s mullet.

And then the horror struck. My hair doesn’t actually look like either of those, but instead, has become THE CONNOR. Angel’s whiny, Irish-named, super-power-wielding, oh-I-need-to-sleep-with-my-father’s-once-love-because-this-is-all-a-big-Freudian/Oedipal-complex-and-almost-destroy-the-world son’s hair. There’s a word for this: SHAZBOT.

The only way this can get better is if I develop some superpowers. Preferably without the help of radiation, lighting strikes, or hellish experimentation. Let’s see, I’ll just take The Force, a sweet sword, and the ability to ruin an entire season of an awesome show.

Oh, and my hairdryer broke. Oh, fudge.

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself

I’m not exactly a man of wealth and taste, but I would say that I have a wealth of imagination and a taste….for blood. Okay, okay, I’ve been up late again, watching Dracula movies from the 70s. (To tell the truth, Frank Langella was the only performance I believed, but Udo Kier has the best pronunciation of the word “wirgin” this side of the Thames.)

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have multiple personalities, or am a sociopath or talk to the dead, but I feel that writing is a little bit of all three. You have to be somewhat inclined to talk to yourself (I do this in parking lots all the time when I walk to and from my car and then proceed to say, “Stop talking to yourself. Great, now you’re talking to yourself about talking to yourself–Stop it…stop!”), somewhat inclined toward the darker UV side of the human spectrum of emotion (looks cool, kinda trippy, best with sunglasses), and able to channel the voices of others in a somewhat authentic way (because dialogue, let’s face it, is more than just putting quotes around a bunch of random words. You get me, James Cameron? What? No, I don’t see you. Get lost, this is my blog.)

I’m a lady. Whoa-oah-oh. I’m a lady. I joke all the time about my obsession with Kate Beckinsale, and the like, but this clears up any confusion. Not that this lets you off the hook, Len Wiseman. I’m still coming for your wife. What? She’s hot, she’s a hotter vampire, and SHE STUDIED RUSSIAN LITERATURE. I study Russian literature. INSTANT ICE-BREAKER. You know, the ice-breaker after the awkward, “Sorry I pushed your husband down the stairs. See, there was a bug…” speech.

I had a conversation once with a professor about the difference between a woman who writes and a woman writer and got looked at sternly for saying that I didn’t want to be known as a woman writer because that carries the connotation that everything I write about has something to do with being a life-bearer and that the words you’re reading now were inked in my own menstrual blood. Don’t ask, just let that happen. I’ll be taking complaints in the comments section shortly about this. There shouldn’t be a difference with a reaction to my novels based on my gender. Yes, I’m a lady, but I also like explosions. And replacing limbs with various weapons-that-can-produce-a-lot-of-gore. (My right big toe has been replaced with a mini-zamboni, just so you know. Those things can cause some damage. Just ask Mr. Wiseman.) And my main character is a lady, but she also likes to eat people.

See, I write about vampires, in case you couldn’t tell from all of the vampire-riddled paragraphs around here. I call it high-brow horror. Dracula meets Dostoevsky, if you will. It’s not your grandpappy’s vampire novel and it ain’t your daughter’s neither. No sparkly posers here. In fact, sparkly posers bother me. I deal with the psychological impact of what it means to be turned into a vampire after a lifetime of abuse. I also deal with chopping up peoples’ legs and ruining peoples’ lives with amphibians. (Hey, just ask Hellboy and he’ll tell you all about those rascally frogs and how we need to get them off of our streets now.)

The Lost Boys is my favorite movie. I read Dracula when I was 12. Every year for my birthday, I have a vampire movie marathon. The good, the bad, and the so-bad-it’s-good make an appearance, and every year I try to watch as many as I can before falling asleep. It is one of my goals in life to actually induce hallucinations from sleep-deprivation caused by vampire movie overload. (Also known as the Death By Stereo syndrome.) I do not actually intend to survive this event because nothing else will compare with it, ever. Not even Sinead O’Connor. Or Prince. Or the dude formerly known as the bald-lady-who-ripped-up-a-picture-of-the-Pope-on-TV-once. I always get those two confused. I own several pairs of fangs and act out parts of my novel with Bloody Marys and my cardboard cut-out of Keanu Reeves dress up like a vampire for Halloween costumes.

I have blue hair. Well, now, at least. It’s more of a teal-ish color, or, as I like to call it, Atomic Peacock. A few months ago it was lime green. Soon it might be purple. It’s been every color but orange, which will probably soon change.

I have ginormous feet. And you know what they say about big feet? Big shoes. And you know what they say about big shoes? Good luck trying to find a pair of heels that don’t make you look like Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. Or, DAMN, if we’re in Japan. Or, you know, however one says DAMN in Japanese, which I figure to translate roughly as, “Man, look at the size of that tentacle!”

Dracula is My Co-Pilot

Welcome to my blog! Enter freely and of your own will, and leave some of the happiness you bring (and by happiness, I mean, of course, your soul.)

What if blogs were like the thresholds to a person’s home? And what if vampires couldn’t enter them without being invited first? Well, the internetz would be much more bloodthirsty, more nocturnal, filled with pasty-looking weirdos, but also be filled with horrible puns (a la “Who ordered the stake? Oh, you? Is medium rare all right?”). So, basically, it wouldn’t change at all, but it’s my part here to change it just a little bit.

See, I’m a writer. No, you haven’t heard of me, but you will. I plan on enslaving you all using my Hypno-Ray into thinking that I am the second best writer on the planet. (Where do you think I got the MK from? From that article on wikipedia about MK Ultra, damn straight. Actually, from my parents.) Well, see, I can’t be the first because that belongs to a dead Russian author, but I can be cool with second. Lots of second things are pretty awesome: silver medals — good for melting down for silver bullets to kill werewolves. Uh, being second-string quarterback is pretty glamorous. (Or so I’ve been told because, let’s face it, I watch a man’s sport: curling. I mean, I wish I got paid for sitting around and doing nothing! Which is nothing at all like writing novels. No. Not at all. That’s silly.) And, let’s face it, where would Count von Count be without the number two? One! One bad joke! Ah ha ha. Ha. *sobs*

(I really don’t usually use this many parentheses when I write, but I feel that by exaggerating their application, I’m showing how hip I am in displacing the usual grammatical structure of these things by placing my somewhat irrelevant thoughts in them to show you that this is, indeed, not like your mama’s blog.)

No, I mean you’ll hear of me one day because I’ll become published and swanky and tattooed. *Needle scratch* Hi, mom. And by tattooed, I mean respectable. Like, monocle-wearing respectable. Maybe even a top hat. But not a Lincoln-sized top hat because, I mean, I’m not Lincoln-sized myself. That would just look ridiculous. I’m maybe 3/4 Lincoln-sized. But I do have an Indiana Jones hat that I may or may not wear and hum the theme song to Raiders of the Lost Ark when I’m re-enacting the Nazi-melting scene with my skull, Rochester bored. (I also have a whip. Ladies?)

Achnyway (I have a kid that I work with who always puts an ‘ach’ in front of words like anyway, okay, and hello, so that he sounds very Fiddler on the Roof-esque), this is a blog to introduce you (the reader and sometimes commenter, but hopefully not stalker or raging hater) to me (the writer and sometimes artist, but hopefully not attention-whore or annoying, awkward basement kid) as I finish up the second half of my novel and try to get published. This is sort of a way to get my name out there so I can create a fan base before even getting published! I hope to one day become Queen of the Interwebz. What? Felicia Day already has that title? Well, slap me with some whipped cream and get that ginger over here so’s we can fight for the right to bear that moniker! I mean, read this blog. Because I write it…covered in whipped cream. Okay, not really, but I’m sure there are tons of crumbs in my keyboard to attest that I eat next to my computer all the time, which is practically the same thing.

Mainly, I’ll be posting my thoughts about stuff that I encounter. Most of it will be about writing, but some will, admittedly, be about the stuff that keeps me up at 2AM. Who am I kidding? This might just be the weirdest blog you’ll check every day ending in -day and/or month ending in….er….-ber, but it’ll keep you up at night. Because you’ll be wondering what kind of brain thinks of things like what I’ll be posting. Not because I would ever stare at you while you sleep or anything. Only vampires do that. And remember, you invited me in.