My hair is now magenta and choppy and rock-star like. (Making it, officially, no longer Connor-like. There is no longer a great disturbance in the Force; you can relax.)
I’ve been compared to both Ramona Flowers and Hayley Williams by various friends. I had no idea who those two were until they were mentioned. And I call myself well-schooled in pop culture. I shall now commit seppuku.
Reading and writing go together like GIR and tacos. So I’ve decided to make a section about all of the books I read because sometimes they affect my writing, but most of the time, they’re just the novelizations of popcorn-movies with Victoria Secret models and ‘splosions, directed by Michael Bay philosophically stimulating.
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Victor Pelevin is actually both brain-candy and retains more depth than all of the CW’s programming combined. It follows a girl named A Hu-Li (which is a cuss word in Russia, where she lives) who’s a fox — metaphorically and mythologically. She’s an ancient Chinese being who sucks the life out of men using her tail, that’s otherwise hidden when she’s not feeding. She meets up with a Russian werewolf and adventures abound.
It’s first-person narration — my favorite — and A Hu-Li’s thoughts are wildly entertaining and thought-provoking. Her interactions with people border on the comically anti-social and pop-cultured; she’s talking with a client — did I mention she works as a prostitute? — and I quote: “‘You look like Captain Nemo.’ ‘From 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?’ Oho, I thought, what a well-read portfolio investor! ‘No, from the American film The League of Extraordinary Gentleman .'”
She also talks about how whenever someone says something — an opinion or impassioned speech — to her, she has to repeat it sooner or later in her life because that’s just what foxes do. They reflect back on the human population that keeps them fed. This struck a chord with me because I feel I do that a lot. I will ingest something that someone feeds me and then digest it a little and then spit it back out in order to keep a conversation alive. (I’m notoriously bad at making small talk, which is funny, given that I work in customer service for a living.)
A highly original book, which is mostly what I crave. A little intensive on the critique of Russian society which can be a little obtuse at times, but relevant to life that spans Eastern philosophy and Western perception.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching all of the movies I’ve ever watched, it’s that if I’m ever in a horror movie, I’m moving as far away from the security guards, med lab assistants, and truck drivers as possible. If there’s another thing I’ve learned from movies, especially Kill Bill Volume Two, it’s that Superman is unlike all of the rest of the superheroes because his alter-ego is Clark Kent, not the other way around; he pretends to be human whereas Batman already is human and wasn’t Batman until Michael Caine said it was all right or something. (I mean, you can go into the psychological aspect that they’re just releasing their inner animae and that Bruce Wayne has always been Batman and Batman is even the truer expression of himself and he has to masquerade as Bruce Wayne in order to fit into society, but this is my blog, m’kay Jung? Get lost.)
So, who am I? I’m certainly not Spider-man, but am I only just Peter Parker? My friend wrote me a letter (hi, Jessica!) and PS’d that she wanted me to start up a twitter account, which got me thinking. Would I tweet — if I even tweet at all, because to tweet means tweeting about tweet-worthy tweets, in 180 tweets or less* — as Melissa Sauer or as MK Sauer? I know the difference may seem minute to you, but is rather upending to me. Does polyphony even happen to real people? Is this like the end of the second Matrix — Matrix: Uh, Crap, Did You Know Where We Were Going With This? — where Neo’s all “whoa” and stops the squiddies in real-life?
As Melissa, I’m a complex lady: someone who enjoys vampire movies and geeky things and dresses up as a pirate to go to the Renaissance Festival. As Em Kay, I am broody (with my broody-clapper that dims the lights whenever I clap to set the mood…if you know what I mean), obsessed with diction, and very picky about my writing utensils. It’s not like these two are incompatible, or really even all that distinct, but as Melissa I would tweet, “OMG, MY CONNOR HAIR IS ANNOYING THE SHIZ OUT OF ME.” As Em Kay, I would tweet, “OMG, IT TOOK ME 20 MINUTES TO WRITE TWO SENTENCES.” Melissa would be vastly entertaining, whereas Em Kay would be darkly intriguing.
I asked Jessica what she thought and she said, “Why not both?”
I responded, “That’s too schizophrenia-y for me.” Of course, writing this whole post about how I’ve come to think of MK as a separate entity outside of myself is rather strange as well. I guess it’ll be a sign of my maturing writer-dom if I wake up one day as MK and have to put on a Melissa mask.
But what do you think? To tweet or not to tweet? To go softly into that great night or just carry a big stick? I’ve never been able to write anything under the page limit since the age of 7, so I think twitter will either be a really good, or a really, really bad thing, but will MK eventually become a celebrity that needs to let the world know she likes Kraft macaroni and cheese the best? Will twitter even be around then? Inquiring minds want to know.
The Sneaker Pimps is my favorite band. I have strange memories associated with them, however, because the day I bought their first album — Becoming X with the talented and haunting Kelli Ali singing — I received a phone call from a friend, saying that her sister had just been evacuated out of Columbine after the shootings happened there. Needless to say, we were all shocked and her sister was, thank God, all right.
Chris Corner took over singing for the last two albums and I love him to itty-bitty-serial-killer-bite-sized pieces. He now fronts the amazing IAMX, a second-runner up in my favorite bands (and we all know how much I like second-place, eh?), and is an overall outstanding artist, not just in terms of music, but in presentation, ambience, and stage presence. I saw IAMX in October of 2008 and it remains, to this day, the best concert I’ve ever seen. (Fittingly enough, I was under 21 at that time and had giant, black Xs on my hands. Best game of hand-tic-tac-toe ever with the lovely Miss Ren. This is also a not-so-subtle plea — I’LL SELL MY FIRST-BORN 14TH BORN — to have IAMX tour Denver again.)
“Lightning Field” comes off of their second album, Splinter, my personal favorite. It’s organic trip-hop, electronica that’s soulfully warm, but still distinctly eerie and macabre. (You didn’t think I’d forgotten, did you?) It’s also more complex than anything I’ve posted here before and just so happens to be my song du jour for when I had to choose my favorite song back in high school.
(I was in TOK — Theory of Knowledge — a strange class that dealt with the different areas of enlightenment and how they affected the Human Condition — I kid you not — and when we studied Music, we all got to bring in our favorite songs and listened to the vastly different musical tastes of a bunch of 17-18 year olds. What I learned, though not necessarily connected to the existential complications of society, was that everyone, with the exception of yours truly, knows the words to “I Got Friends in Low Places” and that Michael Jackson’s creepiness could not fend off a good 1/4 of my classmates from loving him to death.* I also got this gem from my teacher: “I thought you’d have picked something classical.” I’ve grown in my appreciation of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich since then, but give me my electronica [or FREEEEEEDOM] and I’m a happy woman.)
Strike me down
Better left it all unknown
Strike me down
Should have held it all alone
Wash the questions off my hands
I’m the fate in no one’s plans
I’ll be everything I’m not
Oh, free will and determinism. Those two like each other as much as Legos and vacuum cleaners. (I just got a funny picture in my head of Legolas made out of Legos fighting a giant vacuum cleaner Transformer. SOMEONE NEEDS TO MAKE THIS A MOVIE, STAT. Not you, Michael Bay. Get lost.)
Lightning strikes are chances of fate — a prevalent theme in this song — and, like love in a Shakespearian play, they touch down quickly before dissipating into the ether. In all monomyths there is an instant of temporary death where the hero undergoes the abyss, either physical or spiritual, in which case a part of him dies in order to be reborn so he may fulfill his mission. (Think Luke Skywalker when he’s eaten by the Death Star and subsequent apotheosis of Obi-Wan.) This may be an instance where the abyss wins, looks into your soul and finds something lacking until the unknown becomes all-encompassing and impenetrable, a hero turned into a fateless lone wolf, unable to continue existence in a world that doesn’t need him. (Think Han Solo(!) as a reluctant hero, at least in A New Hope before the big damn hero saving-bit with the Millenium Falcon.)
Washing hands recalls Pontius Pilate, yet another reluctant hero figure who is just a cog in a machine, playing his role, but ends up being stuck in a moonlit limbo, a liminal space. This song calls attention to all those who have lost their faith in “higher things,” shooting blindly in the dark, trying to recall their positions but never quite reaching the top of their abysses just yet.
A note about the video: I just finished watching the season finale of Legend of the Seeker and thought that someone knows me too well and made this specifically for me. The theme of the song goes better with Cara — a liminal figure in transition between emotionless Mord-Sith into doing a heel face turn, trying to maintain a balance between her love for her friends and pride for her past — but Kahlan’s super hot too. I guess Richard’s pretty good looking as well.
Wheel of Empanada, turn, turn, turn
Show us the song that makes stomachs churn:
“Hell” by Squirrel Nut Zippers
I don’t know what a frangipani is. At least, I didn’t until earlier this morning. See, I woke up from my somewhat restless 4-hour limbo between waking and sleeping that happens every Saturday night to Sunday day because I have to get up at 5:30 when I usually go to bed at 2:00, and had that word stuck in my head.
Have I heard this word before? Maybe, but not in recent memory. However, I knew how to spell it and that it actually existed somewhere, despite the protests of others who dismissed me as making yet another neologism, sort of like going into a coma and waking up speaking a completely different language. I looked it up and it’s another name for a plumeria, a rather beautiful flower I associate with Hawaii. Was I thinking about Hawaii? Nope. Not even a Snakes on a Plane reference within the last month — which sure has made my co-workers happier than usual as of late.
My only logical conclusion is that it was put there by Mr. Fedora. (My incessant chattering about fedoras, however, has maybe taken the luster off of the Snakes on a Plane quietude.) “Who’s that?” you may ask, thinking that this is a character from Lost or something. (May I make a side note about how over Lost I am and everyone’s incessant chatter about that? See, it works both ways.)
Mr. Fedora is my ghost. Yes, like Phantom Dennis haunts Cordelia, the young child whose hands got cut off in an industrial accident in the early 20th century at my coffee shop haunts my co-workers, and like Annie haunts the sets of Being Human, Mr. Fedora haunts my basement.
In order for this to be fully explained, however, you have to learn one thing about me and remember another. I get night terrors, or the cooler-sounding pavor nocturnus, which means that sometimes I’ll partially regain consciousness whilst dreaming so that my dreams are projected onto real-life and scare the complete and utter be-jeezy-creezy outta me. I had one two nights ago where there was a man standing at the bottom of my bed with a bear’s head, turning his head from left to right and being as creepy as a David Lynch movie. Next to him, though, was a dude in a fedora, pale as a black-and-white movie, leering at me like he wanted to eat my soul.
Fast-forward to my pseudo sleep last night and I had a dream where I was in a 60s convertible Buick, going down the aisles of a hardware store and who should be there in the back driver’s side seat, but Mr. Fedora, all sepia-colored whereas everything else was vibrantly colored. (Charlie “Detective Kumquat” Crews from the brilliant-yet-cancelled Life was there, which is, surprisingly, not the first time I’ve had a dream about him, and his hair was as ridiculously red as ever.) He was still staring, but this time more concerned with the lady in green to his right than devouring my immortal essence.
What you have to remember about me is that there were, until recently, four dudes in my basement, two feet from my room, cleaning out my crawl-space and disturbing things that maybe shouldn’t have been disturbed.
I’ve got a theory. Construction guys — totally ruining my moment at a romance novel and turning it into a Stephen King horrorfest — dug up Mr. Fedora’s unhallowed remains and now he haunts my dreams, telling me to write him into my novel holding a bunch of…really pretty….flowers. Lamest. Horror. Novel. Ever.
Wait, wikipedia to the rescue again? Frangipani are associated with death, funerals, and ghosts? And even an Indonesian vampire? I am both incredibly heebie-jeebied out and suddenly inspired to add a little fedora’d frangipani to the mix.
On a good day I can’t remember where I parked my car or where my sunglasses are, but on most days, I can’t remember the names of my characters or even what they look like.
“But, MK,” you say — and every time you do, I think of the cartoon Darkwing Duck and how I always wanted to be called Dee-Dubya when I was a kid, and have a friend like Lauchpad, but as it is, it just sort of sounds like you’re saying m’kay in order to shut up a pestering kid and none of my friends are that heart-rufflingly clueless — “you created them. Shouldn’t you take a little responsibility and at least remember their names?”
“No,” I respond — deciding to think of you like how my nerd-o-vision interprets Joss Whedon, that is to say, looking somewhat as a cross between Xander Season 2 and Cap’n Mal instead of his pasty, slightly balding creepophile actual self — “because it really doesn’t matter.”
And that isn’t a nihilistic or self-loathing existentialist “doesn’t matter,” but to me, I could care less how a character looks, or what they’re wearing, eating, doing, or even what everything around them looks like. Sure, it’s important to Gwennie if she’s in the forest or a town — symbolism and all that, what have you, indeed, yes, hmm, quite — but I don’t really care if that forest has pine trees or deciduous ones, or if that town has a population 2,500 or 250,000. It’s a there-are-more-things-in-heaven-and-earth-type of “doesn’t matter.” Relationships between people, how they act, why they act the way they do — oh, man, do I ever hate the word “why” — are what I believe drive a good, dramatic, page-turning, you-paid-for-the-whole-seat-but-you’ll-just-need-the-edge type of novel I want to read and therefore am writing.
This is another fine-balancing act — much like polyphony, or Mr. Eco’s dilemma — between being descriptive versus just racking* the pages up because I made a deal with my agent to be paid by the word. Here’s looking at you, Mr. Charles “The Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Three” Dickens. I don’t dislike authors for being really, really on point in trying to make their novels as realistic as possible, even going so far as to chart individual street names and research specific trade routes for countries in the 11th century so that a character can etch out a real-life route to work or have an incredibly detailed background in ship-mastery as possible, but it does annoy me because I don’t feel it to be necessary. It’s not my job as an author to spell everything out for you — well, literally yes, but I’m a figurative person….if you know what I mean — and I’d much rather have some buffer zones for people to imagine for themselves what Gwennie’s dark and dismal forest looks like. A kind of buffer zone not unlike the ones that heated up the Cold War.
I digress, however, in that in order to maintain at least a semblance of control over my characters and not allow them to run slip-shod throughout my brain like little Tinkerbells with ink on their feet, I needed to create a handy system of classification so Ann — resident goody-goody and all-around citadel of Gwennie’s humanity in the first half of my novel — doesn’t have brown hair in one scene and red hair in the next.
I started imagining my characters as famous people. This isn’t a “who would play so-and-so in a movie version” type of situation, but rather a “I think Doc looks kind of looks like Uncle Joey from Full House.”
Sometimes it just comes to be, unbidden, like a neighbor’s cat dragging a mouse to show it loves you. Sometimes, I have to make a stretch, like when I hadn’t read the assigned 250 pages of The Brothers Karamazov and had to extrapolate my knowledge of Dostoevsky and say that, of course Smerdyakov, as a bastard Karamazov, completely personifies the absurdish, carnivalesque feeling the best out of all three brothers because he’s the closest in disposition to Fyodor, and because his name means to smell icky. True story.
I also can’t say with any certainty why I get certain faces associated with characters — the whole Doc/Uncle Joey thing remains, to this day, a complete mystery to me — but it helps to keep the inconsistencies to a low.
As it is, Gwennie looks like me because she’s based off of the type of person I would want to be — a serial killer independent, snarky and sarcastic, completely bad-ass — and Ann looks like Amy Acker because I love Ms. Acker to bits. Andrew — main antagonist and favorite character — looks like Keanu Reeves for much the same logic as the Doc/Uncle Joey combo.
The only character that I purposefully modeled after a famous person is Nathaniel and he looks like Robert Pattinson. Why? Because my little pet name for Nathaniel is the Flying Douche-Canoe. He is my least favorite character. I have made a mental note to myself to kill him off in the most horribly disgusting and painful way possible.
And maybe one day, when my looks have faded, I’ll give little character bios so y’all can see how personalities match with how they look in my head. As it is, this post is already entirely too long.
*I wrote this as “wracking” before editing it. Freudian slip.
I can’t sleep. And this time, amazingly, it’s not because of insomnia, but rather, good books and construction workers. Now, if those two were somehow mysteriously combined, well, then I’d be calling myself Melinda de Winter and writing romance novels — a profession that has been suggested to me by my own mother on occasion.
(“Why don’t you write romance novels, Melissa? I hear they make such good money and it’s a way into the publishing houses. Then after that, you can publish whatever you want.”
“Ma” — because I sound like Murphy and Connor when their mom calls when I talk to my own progenitor — “I won’t do that. I have standards. You know what happens to people when their go against their own moral codes of creative ingenuity?”
“What?” — she already knows that an obscure Russian writer is somehow going to be involved in the next few sentences, so she braces herself accordingly.
“They get calls from Stalin and die from kidney disease. Well, they can fictitiously get their heads cut off and have a bunch of petty tricksters run rampant around them too, but that’s only if living under a repressive totalitarian dictatorship.”* True story.
“Well, how about screenplay writing?”
“Ma” — I told her, I says, “Ma, I will not, under any circumstance, barring wild hot monkey sex with Nathan Fillion, or ridiculous amounts of money, ever allow my vision to be bastardized by a so-called ‘director.’ Do you even know what happens to screenplay writers? They oftentimes commit suicide, and aren’t you always warning me not to move to Seattle because that’s the ‘suicide capital of the world?'”)
So, this word-and-power-tool-based sleep deprivation has caused a few random thoughts to enter my head, so I shall share them with you.
Bruce Campbell is the poor man’s Chuck Norris.
At my place of employment we give out samples of one of our most popular frozen coffee drinks called the Ice Cap. (In reality, we named it that solely so we could make the joke of calling it a Global Warming when someone gets an extra shot of espresso added, causing the slushy goodness to melt.) We give out samples of these in, what I consider to be, little plastic cups that look like the things pills come in when you’re confined to a mental asylum and the nurses are distributing medication. Thus, I have become the Nurse Ratched of my coffee shop, giving caffeinated junkies their fix. I affectionately call the rather addicted ones Cuckoo Nesters.
Attila and the Puns would be a great band name.
I really want to use this line one day in an appropriate situation: “You’re just mad because you can’t turn into golden dust and impregnate me.” I have thus started trying to get myself into rather awkward scenarios in order to use said line.
I want to grow strawberries outside on my deck. When my parents grew strawberries in their backyard, they popped up like little Greek city states. I would refer to one patch as the Spartans, another as the Athenians, the Thebans, the Corinthians, etc. The Persian War started when onions tried to move in. Later, the Spartan and the Athenian patches started to merge and I called it the Peloponnesian War.
In the Russian language, there are two aspects to verbs: the imperfective and the perfective. The former indicates an on-going process and the latter to an already-accomplished task. I added a third aspect: superfective. Otherwise known as what happens when you’re dead.
The Russian language also has no articles, so that leaves no convenient excuse for Russian males reading Playboy.
*My mother has by now gotten used to the fact that I basically have conversations with myself, which is something all of you should become aware and as accepting of as she is. My two-year-old-niece, however, may still need some adjusting. We were going through the colors of her barrettes and she asks, “What’s this?” “Orange,” I responded. “What’s this?” “Well, it’s technically salmon-colored, but that may be a little advanced for you. We’ll go for pink.”
On another occasion, whenever you call her a name — “You’re a stinky-butt” — my mother’s favorite epithet — she’ll respond with an adamant, “I’m not…stinky butt.”
“You’re a goof-ball!”
“You’re a pretty girl.”
“I’m not….pretty girl.”
Me: “You’re an antediluvian troglodyte.”
“I’m not….” *blank stare*
Vampire popularity goes through waves. A coworker of mine was writing a paper on just such a rise in popularity as of late and used me as a non-official source to sort of get a kick start on his actual research. I never in my life felt as proud as I did at that moment for squandering a good portion of my life away on the abstruse knowledge of the evolution of the vampire and just how every generation (or rather, into every generation is born a….nevermind) uses the vampire as a symbol for their own problems/desires.
However, with all of the popularity vampires are getting right now, I feel I must share some rather obscure — and much bloodier — interpretations in the lovely genre of film. Let us now share the limelight of The Lost Boys, Interview with the Vampire, and Underworld with some of their lesser known brethren, shall we?
Most of these are foreign flicks which explains away some of the obscurity, in that some have subtitles, but most don’t have a Hollywood ending, so even if most of the population could bear reading subtitles — or really bear reading anything but the backs of cereal boxes — they still would sweep these into the dust-bins of history for their rather unique and non-standard (at least the somewhat-standard broody vampire goody goody image that’s infected mainstream vampires, and I’ll admit, myself) perceptions of the children of the night.
Let the Right One In (2008) — Crafted in Sweden off of the book of the same name, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite movies of all time, let alone vampire movie. The atmosphere is dark and sticky, like sweating in a coffin, but at the same time carries a sweet resonance between Oscar, the main protagonist, and his rather off-color partner, Eli, the next-door-neighbor vampire. Such dialogue from Eli — “Would you like me anyway?” — after trying to tell Oscar the truth makes it bittersweet and chilling. Also one of the few times where I’ve liked the movie as equally as I’ve liked the book.
Bonus! Watched this movie on my 22nd birthday. Best. Birthday. Ever. Unlike my 23rd birthday, which was spent watching New Moon. I’ll let you make a pithy comment.
Thirst (2009) — Director Park Chan-Wook (Old Boy) is a favorite of mine for being incredibly twisted and Thirst is no different. I found it to be alternatingly hilarious — the scene where Father Hyun and Tae-ju are haunted by a ghost while having sex cracked me up so hard my roomies thought I had been body-snatched* by a happy person — macabre, and bloody. It’s slow moving, but also deals with the dysfunctional relationship between a former-priest-turned-vampire and his Lady Macbeth-type lover. Who corrupts whom? Much like Lolita, untangling just who exactly bears the brunt of their sins makes this gory mess a dramatic interpretation of passion, bloodlust, and damnation.
Fearless Vampire Killers Or, Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (1967) — An early Polanski movie that is much more comedy than horror, but I’ve always loved camp in my movies and humor with my terror, so I can understand if this isn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea. Polanski plays a young, fearless vampire killer who finds out that he’s bitten off more than he can chew after trying to save a young, fearless peasant Sharon Tate. The old professor is a mastermind of slap-stick comedy and great timing, and the rather flamboyant son of the Count Dracula-figure almost steals the show. Of course, I always get the wiggins (scale of 6.1) when I think of the real-life tragedy that struck Polanski and Tate shortly after this movie came out.
On a lighter note: there’s an even more hilarious, if not better, interpretation of this movie in the form of a German musical by the same name — Tanz der Vampire. All of the parts, with English subtitles, are on youtube and I highly recommend watching it. I’ve heard the translation’s a little wonky with the link I’ve provided, but eh, I don’t speak German, I just play one on the Internet.
Blood for Dracula (1974) — Udo Kier is the best Count Dracula, hands down. Unfortunately, this movie is not really anything but a pseudo-pornographic, surrealist adventure in crazy-land, but provides some of the best lines I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear. One of them is the ubiquitous, “The blood of these whores is killing me!” that I’ve quoted before and the other is below, since there isn’t a trailer for this way-under-the-radar film. Dracula needs the blood of “wirgins” to survive and has depleted his supply in Transylvania. He goes to Italy and tries to find purity in three sisters who have been deflowered by the strangely-New-York-accented gardener. The ending is very Monty Python-esque and it’s worth seeing if you’re like me and watch strange, strange movies dealing with vampires.
Near Dark (1987) — Kathryn Bigelow directed this kind-of-a-western-but-replace-the-cowboys-with-vampires film before she made it big and it stars a young and somewhat blonde Nathan Petrelli before he made it TV-big. Bill Paxton has, arguably, his best performance ever as the brutally violent, chaotically anarchist, Severen who turns the afterlife of a small-town boy (living in a lonely world) upside down. The soundtrack makes this stark, deserted thriller into a masterpiece, weaving tension and dark ambience throughout the entirety of the film. I learned from this movie how to kill vampires with a semi-truck. Handy skill, that.
The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998) — A (relatively) bloodless vampire movie that falls perfectly into the categorization of high-brow horror. Jude Law (oh, Jude Law) is Steven Grlscz, an is-he-a-legit-vampire-or-is-he-a-crazy-path modern vampire who doesn’t need just blood to survive, but love as well, so he becomes a twisted Diogenes, looking for the perfect woman in order to satiate his hunger. The Dostoevskian Raskolnikov-Porfiry Petrovich relationship between Grlscz and the police officer who starts sniffing around too closely intersects with Grlscz’s seduction of lady after lady. Heart-breaking, sorrowful, and thought-provoking, this extremely dark and brooding film needs several viewings in order to fully appreciate its reptilian wisdom. In the States it’s known as Immortality because apparently we can’t appreciate a vampire movie unless there’s something very Nosteratu-esque about the title. Jude Law’s portrayal, however, is probably the most haunting on-screen performance of a charming sociopath to boot. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ridiculously hot.
Night Watch / Day Watch (2004, 2006) — You really can’t watch one without the other as Night Watch is creepy and atmospheric, setting the mood for the modern-day Russian saga of Anton Gorodetsky, an Other, who works for the good guys, fights vampires, but at the same time questions his own (and his superiors’) motivations. Day Watch, on the other hand, is much more coherent, at times wonderfully amusing and intrinsically Russian. Anton is almost an anti-hero, pondering just what exactly is the difference between his work as a force for good and the doings of those that have been deemed “evil.” It’s both a special-effects masterpiece that echoes Hollywood big-budget movies, but at the same time, has the heart of a non-Western movie that isn’t afraid to wax philosophically. Also, the hottie-next-door, the vampire Kostya, just might be my future husband. Just sayin’.
If you can, watch the Russian versions of these movies, as the American edits are slightly different. As a warning, though, the Russian edits are a bit jarring and don’t really stop to explain much. This wildly popular series — the highest grossing movies ever in Russia — is based on the novels of the same names by Sergei Lukyanenko and all of them have been translated into English and can be found in most bookstores. Timur Bekmambetov — noted for directing Wanted with Angelina Jolie — is a visionary and one of my favorite directors.
Honorable non-movie mention: Being Human (BBC version) (2008–) — And you thought Jude Law was the hottest vampire ever, right? Wrong. Mitchell, the darkly handsome vampire scene-stealer might take the cake as being hotter’n’Jesus, as a friend of mine likes to say. This sounds like a bad joke — a vampire, werewolf and ghost all share the same apartment — but is oh, so much more. The humanity displayed by each non-human character and the oddly specific supernatural problems they deal with are correlated with real-world problems. Much more similar to a True Blood feel than a Vampire Diaries or Moonlight environment, this violent, sexy, intense series is well-worth watching. The Syfy channel is reworking this as an American series under the same name, but I have my doubts about the merits of any stolen-from-foreign-countries-and-remade mentality, as it often seems to dumb-down and scrub clean the original until it’s an unrecognizable pulp. Season 2 just aired in Britain and I’m profoundly jealous as Season 1 has yet to hit DVD State-side.
*I’ve watched enough TV (er, Buffy and Angel) to know that a person has been body-snatched if they start wearing black leather pants. I’ve told my roomies to tranquilize-on-sight if they ever see me wearing said pants.
There are a few things that I’m rather good at, nigh semi-proficient. You know the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” Well, just call me Jack (Jill?), give me a square block of Los Angeles to blow up* and some terrorists to torture, and I’ll save the day yet.
One thing I’m actually not so good at but pretend to be better at than most in order to be somewhat ironic and hipster-y, but not so hipster-y that I stray into the gray area between douche-canoe and git-clog and start popping collars and whitening my teeth, is playing the guitar. I’m proficient, nigh somewhat sonorous, but what I really want to do is have a band just so I can have a cool band name. Yep. It’s like getting a dog just for the sake of naming it Monsieur Rochambeau du Bastille avec Les Sprinkles, nee Foofoo Cuddlypoops (or Megatron)
And while I may be horrible at naming things — novels, children, blogs, the machines at work (which are all named after Star Wars characters, so don’t sue me, George Lucas) — I’m rather fantastic, nigh awesome at naming bands. See, you gotta be somewhat referential to pop culture, but not so much that your band’s name is That’s What She Said (or Megatron), and it has to roll off the tongue easily. Sure, any schmuck can go and name his band The Snogging Penelopes, or The Leafy Manhood of Odysseus, but that’s kind of a mouthful, albeit it feels good in your mouth. And any joe-schmoe can go and name his band Hello, My Name Is… but a band like that is bound to drift off into obscurity after their first indie-pop-rock-hit.
How’s about Ilsa’s Glove, eh? It’s got the pop culture, the Cordelia-approved mouth texture, and follows the traditional Proper Name’s Object format.
Or what about Bruce and the Boomsticks? Sure, technically none of my band members (which, at last count was…me) are boys, but that doesn’t even need to be addressed until the monkeys monies roll. And who doesn’t love a nice, succinct alliteration? Which, of course, spawns Dewey and the Decimals. Yeah, I spent a good portion of my middle-school years volunteering at the local library where I re-shelved books and memorized the Dewey Decimal system. I like to think of that as Useless Talent #34. And to think, there are 33 more before that and maybe a gazillion after that. Yep, Useless Talent #249 is to exaggerate things to the gazillionth degree.
The Juice Boxes is also another one that I really like, though is a little too dreamy shoe-gazer pop for me. There’s also a really hilarious scene in Day Watch where evil Yegor is sipping out of juice box that has “evil” in Russian written on it before trying to suck the life juices out of Svetlana. Now, if you haven’t seen that movie and that rather insane description of it didn’t make you want drop everything you’re doing and bow to the awesomeness that is Konstantin Khabensky, stop reading my blog. I mean, come back! For the love of God, come back! I’m lonely. (There’s also a hot make-out scene between two ladies! Got you back, didn’t I? Male selective-typing FTW.)
The Toe Tags is for an alt-metal, industrial goth band. The Past Participles are for a cerebral, minimalist avant-garde folk band. And let us not forget: Melissa Reads the Phonebook.
Alas, my own musical aspirations will probably never come to fruition, so I’m now giving these away for FREE on the internet as a show of good faith. I expect you to pay me royalties if you become famous. If you don’t, well, don’t let the un-cool kids come to this site. We wouldn’t want the riff-raff coming in, now would we?
*I can never figure out why, with the proliferation of people who have last names ending in -auer, a la Jack Bauer, Matt Lauer, and Eddie Bauer, people insist on still pronouncing my last name as Saywer. As in friend of Huckleberry Finn. Or sewer. As in the thing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live in. There’s also sauerkraut, which I hate, but also serves to correctly pronounce my name, if not be a stinky reminder of Germanic food. Sour. Like, if I were to marry a relative of Jodi Sweetin, I would be Mrs. Sweetin-Sauer. Or if I were to marry someone whose last name is Lemon, I’d be Mrs. Sauer-Lemon. I think people are afraid to say “sour,” so they pawn it off as something that’s even worse than “sour.” Please, for the sake of the children — my future children — buy my books when I publish them so I can become famous and end the dispute once and for all.
I know I said I was going to post a happy/ier song this week, but, surprise! It’s not Monday so that means I get to bend the rules even further. ‘Sides, it’s the Songs to Die By Hour with me, your host, Macabre Melissa.
There is nothing I love more than a lady and a piano. A lady and a guitar are pretty fantastic, but there’s something oh-so-haunting about pianos and their culture, texture, and even symbolism. Marina Tsvetaeva is a Russian poet from the early 20th century and she’s fantastic, but she wrote a prose piece about her early childhood with her mother, a pianist unable to come to fruition, and the struggles between generations fighting amongst music and poetry. Ever since reading “My Mother and Music” — and writing a few papers on it — piano and great poetic heights have been chained together ever since. Well, those two and hippopotamuses, but that’s another story entirely.
Liz Pappademas is both a poet and a songstress. The featured song, “Keep Going West,” off of the album “11 Songs” is just one of the incredible songs that are a simple and touching as a voice, a piano, and the mellifluous words of inspiration.
The horses’ heads hold up the morning,
And the low sky hangs in God’s own noose.
With my lashes long, I dream of the ocean,
And the glow that rang when last I kissed you.
Keep going west, keep going west, keep going west.
This is all about the connections we make with other people and the effects thereafter. As the initiator and survivor of many failed relationships with people, this song sometimes brings tears to my eyes as I think about the way people hurt each other and the resultant flooding emotions. The mantra of “keep going west” could be “keep breathing” or even “keep living.” The Russian propoganda poster symbologist in me wants to link it to posters of Lenin and Stalin looking stalwartly to the west — to the future — to show that the past is over, but this song isn’t as simple as that. The past affects us and seemingly everything around us, like the turbulent storms in Shakespearian plays as the main character is emotionally and internally conflicted.
Independence is important — the shedding of skins as relationships change and morph — and the line that the sky hangs in “God’s own noose” is the extreme extrapolation of this. The Dostoevsky scholar in me wants to link this to the line of “everything is permissable” in The Brothers Karamazov and the implications that if anything can be done, then God is dead and man has haphazardly taken his place like a three-year-old dressing up as a businessman, signing papers in crayons and fingerpaint.
She sings, “I looked back,” after all of the tumultuous events of the stanzas, showing that foundations are built between people, they may crumble and fall, but each failure is sacred, something to be learned and gleaned from, the “glow” of memories will eventually soothe over any angry welts. We cannot allow God to hang in his own noose; we must dream of the ocean, of the ever-changing tide and current that will eventually make the interrupted sand smoothe again.
On a more personal (and writerly!) note, I listened to this song non-stop while writing an extremely hard part in my novel. I have a character named Nathaniel and he has this love/hate relationship with Gwennie, the heroine. He concurrently loves her and hates himself for loving her and takes this out in many different forms of abuse upon her. One particularly difficult scene deals with his domination over her completely which sparks a change in her thinking about the way she deals with the people around her. This song was sort of a perfect soundtrack for that. Gwennie, after much more crap happens to her — there are some sleepless nights where I’m unable to lay my head down because I feel like I’m a horrible human being for doing these things to her, a fictional character — starts going west, and sometimes she looks back, but one of her many character flaws is that she doesn’t often enough.
On another related note: someone in the comments section of youtube posted: “You broke my heart a little.” I agree, for the first time ever, with a commentator on youtube. What is the world coming to when people actually say smart things on the Internet?