Slap my hair in a bun, give me a pair of glasses and call me Giles Wesley

Wesley is just so much cuter. And less inclined to concussions from being head-bonked, though, surprisingly, more susceptible to gunshot wounds, slit throats, and eventual death. Also, he’s a rogue demon hunter.

So, as part of my non-New-Year’s-resolution — the learnin’ bit — I’ve decided to go to my local library, ask for the British librarian to check if I’m the Chosen One and get kicked out and get books on anything vaguely related to my non-vampire novel. This includes, but is not limited to: dreams, memory, death, Jungian archetypes, and motorcycle maintenance.

Much to my surprise, a vague perusal of the library gave me this: On Dreams and Death, a book about Jungian interpretations of death dreams with an Egyptian mythology chaser. Ha! Perfect! Take that, Internet! Good ol’ fashioned research once again proves to be the victor, playing the Germans in this re-enactment of WWII, Risk-style.

Hey. Get your manky paws off of my little plastic battalions, huh? I’m trying to symbolically show the reasons for the brutality of 20th century skirmishes by comparing it to the effects of the Industrial Revolution and the penalties of compartmentalization on the human psyche. Oh, that’s not how we play this game? God, I just thought it was so boring, that modernization and Jungian archetypes must somehow figure in.*

Sometimes I feel as though I’m growing stupid, so I have to learn things in order to combat this. This sentiment, coupled with years of indoctrination at the hands of IB/AP/Honors schooling, means that I’ve started taking notes on this book. Notes. Cornell style for no reason other than the fact that I want to pretend I’m still in school so that my boring life is less pathetic. And because I don’t want that nifty callus on my right middle finger to go away.

So, what have I learned? A little bit about Egyptian death ceremonies, the fact that people dream really weird shit right before they die and that the pun Forever Jung is still just as hilarious as it was to me before this little adventure.

*While playing the game of Life I took the little plastic men and women and made a four-car pile up with many, many victims. Look! Here’s a picture!

The only Russian phrase I understood when I saw a bootleg Day Watch back in 2006 was "Where's my mommy?" "Your mother's dead!"

*No real Life figurines were harmed in the making of this production. But they were scarred mentally.


Imagine the poor little children of these plastic people, the blue-and-pink strewn body parts, the polymer intestines! Oh, the horror! The humanity!

Happy New. . .whatever

I’m not a fan of the New Year resolutions. Why decide to change something NOW when there are gazillions millions okay, fine, 364 other days (save for leap years) to do that?

It just so happens that this year the impetus to finish a novel (not even the one I started ten plus years ago, but just a novel, and it could be one that I haven’t even thought of yet) came around the time of the new year. It’s not a resolution, it’s just something I’ve decided to do. Around now. You know what? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

Another new-thing-I-want-to-do-that’s-in-no-way-connected-to-a-resolution-or-a-new-year? Learn things. I learned that learning things makes you have wacktastic dreams. DOUBLE SCORE ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE SKY. I research things for the novel about dreaming and then dream strange things that can also be used in my novel. Are you pondering what I’m pondering? Yes? Then let’s go learn Yiddish for that opera!

And now for something completely different: I will never go see the movie No Strings Attached. I see ads for it everywhere. I try to listen to music on Pandora and there’s ads for it every five minutes. NATALIE PORTMAN, YOU ARE USING UP ALL OF YOUR GOOD ACTRESS POINTS FOR SHIZZ LIKE THIS. Stop it or I’m going to make you watch that horrible dialogue scene between you and Hans Christian Andersen Hayden Christensen over and over and over. And over.

“Oblivion” by Patrick Wolf

Being a fan as I am of both idiomatic expressions and fine music, I decided to kill two birds with one youtube video and present my song obsession of the week and talk about the new novel in my life. First, I’ll let the awesome Patrick Wolf take the stage:

Followed the hunt far as I could
Through desert weathers, petrified wood
And I took one shot in the dark
Backfired the bullet silver to heart

First of all, one of my very favorite movies is the French Le Pacte des Loups or, The Brotherhood of the Wolf staring my girly crush, Monica Bellucci*. (Also, The Chairman from Iron Chef colon America is in it, but in his most bad-ass way as Mani. Interestingly enough, Mani is the name of the Norse god of the moon and this movie has somewhat to do with the werewolf mythos.) This song reminds me of that movie. And really has nothing else to do with this post because, unlike some writers, I don’t get paid by the word.

There’s a sense of urgency in the song as he struggles with problems with the eternal struggle — “war” — against his father, quite possibly as a prodigal son and strays between needing to be alone, to forge his own path, and the recklessness of charging head first into that “darkness deep down” inside of everyone.

Every story ever written is about one of two things at its core: saving a prostitute or rebelling against a father figure. Either way, it’s about one’s path through life, through the “hunt,” in becoming a complete person and figuring out a place in life. Some people do this by trying to save those who have fallen and others do it by destroying the thing that created them in the first place.

The narrator in this song is lost in the “desert” of his mind, surrounded by “petrified wood,” symbolic of that moment of petrification when the path is lost and the darkness in each of us begins to rise. Which is, really, what this whole song is about: the self-destructive want to become part of oblivion instead of facing the hardness of life. He sings, “I do not fear oblivion” (with a flourish with one “oblivion” that makes me think of a bullfighter, but that’s another story), but is this true courage or a rejection of life?

The non-vampire novel (or the ne-v-en, as I call it), is all kinds of about this. Well, really there’s a place in it called The Void, which is kind of a synonym for Oblivion, right?

Achnyway, Serafina, the Main Character, and Kade, the Love Interest, are both what I am calling Roamers.** They’re kids who develop the ability to take stuff apart with their minds around the age of ten. In healthy Roamers like Kade, this ability eventually allows them to open portals into the land tentatively called Hypnos, or the liminal space between Life and Death, otherwise known as Sleep. In girls, this power makes them Pariahs, or Roamers who are unable to control their breaky-apart powers and open portals into the Void, the thing between the three levels of Life, Sleep, and Death.

Evil Villain, tentatively called Thanatos, is using Serafina and her universe-tearing stare to weaken the boundaries so that she can come through Death and reign over Earth, or somesuch. I’m really not there yet.

Regardless, this Void routinely sucks people into it either through their dreams or because they’re a character I’ve introduced just so they can die*** or because it’s a metaphor for growing up, which is kind of what Patrick Wolf is talking about here. Serafina is, on some scale, a bit like me — as is every main character written by every author ever — and sort of a cathartic way for me to deal with my own issues of growing up, becoming an adult, asploding evil NKVD agents, and the tendency for all of us to want to destroy or hurt ourselves.

Oh, and if Serafina and Kade touch, the universe might implode. So it also deals with my issues about relationships just a wee bit.

*I don’t know why, but I keep on linking to The Matrix which isn’t bad, but I refuse to believe the last two movies exist, save for this scene, which is still pretty ridiculous.

**I’ve been giving co-workers the play-by-play of what I’ve been writing throughout November and every time I get into it, I start sounding like Bill Paxton from Aliens. Mostly.

***Me: “It’s been twenty pages. Have I killed anyone yet? No? Well, let’s go on over to babynames.com, pick out a random letter and kill someone off!” *rubs hands like a mustache-twirling villain tying someone to a train track*

Oh, November, November, the Month of Novel Writing (and explosions, if you’re into that)

*camera zooms into the back of Emkay’s head; she turns around gracefully like she’s in a 60s sitcom opening*

Oh, hey. What’s that? Oh, nothing. I just have this:
All for a measly month of my otherwise thrilling life

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. (Personally, I like to say na-no-ree-mo instead of na-no-rye-mo, but then again, I do pronounce it as ree-ting instead of rye-ting.* I’m from Colorado and just learned that I have a Colorado accent.) That is, you write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. (Other than the fifth, that is, which is devoted to vivacious violence and Agent Smith Hugo Weaving. And the 18th, which is devoted to MY BIRTHDAY.) You don’t really get anything, other than sweet badges Boy Scout-style, but it really forces you to sit down and write a lot every day (or, in my case, in sporadic bursts of 6000+ words every Tuesday) and doesn’t allow you to overthink or edit as you go. Which is, really, what I needed.

See, my dear readers, I suffer as a SOB. Whoopsie. I mean, SOP: self-oriented perfectionist. It used to be really bad, but now, I’m actually kind of lazy. But this means that everything must be perfect from the moment it flows from my fingertips and is indelibly inked into the very fabric of my computer. Which is MK code for 30 words every 30 minutes. Or, a sentence that takes an hour, if not longer. It’s exhausting and I get a paragraph done and then feel as if I’ve climbed Everest.

So, NaNoWriMo was an exercise in two things for me:
1.) Writing every single fracking day. Or, at least, every few days. Which is more than I’ve been doing lately.
2.) Writing something new. Which is crazy, because I’ve been writing Gwennie’s story for 10 plus years now.

That’s right. A new novel. About vampires something other than vampires.** It’s science fiction, has the tentative title of “Roam” and stars a crazy Russian girl — dubbed the Main Character — and a cute American boy — dubbed the Love Interest — and their adventures*** thereof. “Adventures” being MK code for messed-up Joss Whedon-like doomed romance, a subplot involving Death herself, communism, a man with a mustache, and people in fedoras. Oh, how I love fedoras.

So, I wasn’t boycotting the Internet again. I wasn’t watching Casper Van “I-Have-Something-In-My-Teeth-Oh-It’s-Just-My-Chin” Dien. I was writing. Legitimately. Film at 9.

*Sarcasm is hard on the Interwebz.+

**Dammit.

***Mathematical! This week, for the make-your-facebook-profile-a-cartoon-character-from-your-childhood-week-for-the-fighting-of-the-child-abuse, I chose Lumpy Space Princess. I contend that I still watch cartoons and therefore am still a child, even though I turned 24 also in November.

+Which is maybe, probably sarcastic in its own right.

New Favorite Pastime

After the proliferation of turning website addresses into verbs — like google, netflix, facebook, etc. — I’ve decided to use this same logic and have begun pushing the titles of somewhat obscure short stories as verbs.

For example:

“Oh, noes! Phantom Dennis just got Cask of Amontilladoed!

Or:

“That girl better watch out; my sister was just like her and now she’s all A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

Help spread the word.

Chekhov’s Oeuvre

I’ve always wanted to use that word. Ooh-vrah. (If you go to the dictionary.com definition of that word, the lady pronouncing it sounds like she might be doing something else, if you know what I mean.)

Achnywhoo, Chekhov, a source of constant surprise for me, is known for his short stories — more because he could never finish a novel to save his life* — and plays, but I like the former better. There’s only so many breaking strings that you can hear before you just want to get to the gun part last act. Amirite?

I’ve decided to try my hand at some short stories. Mind you, I haven’t written anything less than 10 pages since I was 10 myself, still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts to come in the mail. Since that never happened, I shut myself into the basement and started writing novels. Not short stories, but novels. I never looked back. *80s power ballad*

Which is what my notes from last post were all about. As it is, I’m not trying to plan anything out or make anything perfect. I don’t even really know what’s going to happen after the line, “No, this is what we get for lying about what we saw.” I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY SAW. It’s exciting.

*Too soon?

“Star-Crossed Lovers” by De/Vision

I figured the theme of the week these two posts should be lovers, so I’m going to give you a visual/auditory synthesis of epic proportions! Last post we talked about Plath’s poem that deals with inverted love and the benefits and dangers thereof. This post, we’re listening to a Germanic synth-pop/darkwave interpretation of a Shakespeare classic!

(Yes, this is what being in my brain is like. If you’d like an even broader example I will direct you to my notes that I wrote at 3 this morning for short story ideas: Hates colors in LL Bean — replace w/ Raskolnikov’s yellow, Prynne scarlet, etc. Hates mirrors — sister Frankensteins bikini bodies like he paper maches literature. Likes dulling of darkness like B&W TV — hates when TV goes off — reflection, darkness for ppl inside TV. It makes vaguely more sense to me than you, but, there you go.)

This song plods along, building tension, scratching out a melody before going back to a simplistic metronome-like piano rift until the climax and eventual denouement. And boy, howdy, does this song deliver. There are two things that always get me with songs: an awesome bass line and grungy, crunchy percussion.

Don’t lose your heart
We’re made of sterner stuff
We like a bit of rough
Nothing in this world
Can keep me away from you
Lights up the night like you do

Life goes on
It holds no fear for us
Taking the smooth with the rough
Everything seems familiar
Weightless like a dream
Sometimes I can’t even feel

Nothing too amazing in the lyrics here, but, remember this is the same country that gave us “Du Hast,” so you have to be patient. There’s a creeping sense of an unhealthy relationship dynamic here, just like the bottom-of-the-wheel, luckless chap whose passion is turned against him in Plath’s poem. In the song, he’s a controlling, Sting-listening creeper whose entire existence is pivoted on the object of his devotion, and he sees himself as a soldier-of-fortune, a fatalistic man who makes his universe die around him just so he can show how great his love is.

They are, to his mind, “star-crossed lovers / like no others.” He will make her his possession* until there’s nothing left of her; her “heart,” her light, even her dreams are “familiar” because he’s made them for her. He’s unable to anything else because, like Leo in Inception, he can’t tell what is his own creation and what is merely reality, and even if he did, it wouldn’t matter. This is Romeo and Juliet today because there’s no way in hell any parent would allow their 14-year-old daughter to run off with some Don Juan who may or may not be a ladykiller. Shortest play, ever.

Love and what it does to people, good and bad, is obviously a universal theme in poems, songs, *ahem* novels about vampires, but I tend to like the somewhat inching, lurking covetous lust that suffocates all else until love is perverted into a mockery of its true form.

No, I’ve had healthy relationships with all of my boyfriends. Why do you ask?

Also: naked ladies. Your argument is invalid. Is it me, or does that hand on the left there look like it belongs to someone else?

*My father upon listening to Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart”: “Ooh, it’s the stalker song!”

“On Looking into the Eyes of a Demon Lover”

I was told by a very influential teacher — Mr. Renaissance Man as I call him because he flies helicopters, speaks Ancient Greek and Latin, builds cabinets, makes his own bows and arrows and shoots them, teaches History, Latin, and Philosophy and is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met — that I would have to don some spiritual armor if I ever wanted to read two specific books. They are A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and The Red Cavalry by Isaak Babel.

(Of course, both of these books have incredibly tragic histories regarding the lives of the authors — Burgess based his satiric novel on an assault on his wife by marauding soldiers and Babel served in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War and saw the horrors perpetrated by disenchanted, roving men and was later killed by Stalin — so that may have something to do with it.)

I’m going to go ahead and add The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath to that list. (I cried my eyes out managed a few manly sniffles at The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, but that’s different.) In the instance of Plath, however, it may be because I was forced to read her poetry for about a month in high school and analyze up the wah and out the zoo of her. Regardless, there’s still a soft spot in my heart for her, unlike Latin American Literature.*

Achnyway, here’s an awesome poem by Plath that may be the inspiration for an awesome title!**

Here are two pupils
whose moons of black
transform to cripples
all who look:

each lovely lady
who peers inside
take on the body
of a toad.

Within these mirrors
the world inverts:
the fond admirer’s
burning darts

turn back to injure
the thrusting hand
and inflame to danger
the scarlet wound.

I sought my image
in the scorching glass,
for what fire could damage
a witch’s face?

So I stared in that furnace
where beauties char
but found radiant Venus
reflected there

This poem stabbed me in the back with a Finnish knife.*** I was flabbergasted at the 24 lines of brilliance that absolutely encapsulated the texture of my novel in words I wish I could have written myself. (I would write poetry, but after being editor of a high school literary magazine and having my lines cut down like Justin Bieber on the internetz by a bunch of swarthy, pimply-faced, angsty-poetry-writing teenagers, I’ve been scarred.)

The main theme here is inversion; what is expected is not what ultimately appears. This gives a sense of both defamiliarization (a favorite literary technique of mine, though I under-use it) and altered expectations. Beauties look into this ‘mirror’ and are left with the “body / of a toad” and the narrator, a “witch” with a demonic boyfriend, finds “radiant Venus.”

First of all, a demon, an Other, as a reflection of human nature is an iconic theme. Demons, or even the Devil himself, are a natural mirror for those aspects of ourselves that we don’t like, or are unable to comprehend. Much like the Devil was created because there are aspects to God — like, why does he allow us to suffer? Why is he so wrathful? — that are projected onto a separate figure, so are demons already a reflection of those unsavory aspects of humanity. Like a Jungian Trickster figure — think of Joker from Batman as a classic example of a chaos-inducing, evil-for-evil’s-sake anarchist — this poem inverts the normal into the profane and vice-versa. Marilyn Munster’s relationship to the rest of the macabre clan is an example of this.

The fire imagery recalls both the hellish aspects of the poem and passion. If we’re talking Dracula-type of passion, in that Dracula himself is a symbol for the repressed sexuality of the late 19th century, this could be an allegory for the narrator’s meditations on her own sexuality in the form of Venus, but a somewhat perceived danger to others, those beauties who end up charring because of the narrator’s daring. The participles — “thrusting,” “scorching,” and “burning” — along with the constant references to fire are all very aggressive, something that would not be tolerated in a woman during Plath’s time.

I particularly like this poem because I share some of the imagery in my novel. Especially toads, which are a symbol of betrayal and ugliness — see the African myth explained in the first Hellboy graphic novel — and the mirroring aspects. My characters may not always have reflections, but that could be because they don’t like what they see; Main Character Gwen is much like the narrator in that she has a demon lover, is often thrust into a cluster-cuss-furnace of anger and “burning darts,” but can always find the humanity buried deep beneath the surface.

This also can describe the love/hate relationship that Main Villain #2 Nathaniel-the-Douche-Canoe has with Gwen. He loves her but is also repulsed by her; he wants to possess her, but oftentimes at the cost of his own flesh and sanity. His love is never returned and he becomes enmeshed in his own private hellish furnace that turns him into a “cripple.”

Which is why, dear readers, I really want to pay homage to this poem in my novel by either having it at the beginning or by having the title refer to it. Problem is, Two Moons of Black sounds like a mixture of bad angsty teenage poetry and Native American mythology; Where Beauties Char doesn’t really fit with the vampire theme; and anything else just sounds like a bad romance novel.

*I rate Latin American literature like I do the band Vampire Weekend: such an awesome name, such a bad band. If you carry that metaphor a little better, I love the idea of magical realism, but haven’t been able to shake my knee-jerk I-just-drank-coffee-after-eating-grapes reaction every time I even hear about Pedro Paramo or One Hundred Years of Solitude or House of the Spirits. Though, technically The Master and Margarita is classified in that same genre, but, let’s face it, there are vampires in that book. I’ll get Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the phone and see if he wants any pointers.

**My sister was reading an article that says the word du jour of the American teenager right now is awesome. Maybe those guys should get a thesaurus or go to a writer’s workshop or something.

***The Master and Margarita. Don’t worry ’bout it.

All is Not Quiet on the Western Front

And by “front” I mean “vampire movie remakes” and by “western” I mean just that in one of the two cases. And by “quiet” I mean “good.”

I’ve been keeping y’all* updated on the two vampire movie remakes due to be hitting theaters near you in the near future. The first is the Fright Night remake and the other is the Americanization of Let the Right One In, retitled Let Me In.

I’m sorry to report that neither is looking promising.

They’ve turned Peter Vincent into Criss Angel:

Doctor, why? This is worse than when the Daleks and the Cybermen fought each other. Exterminate! Exterminate!

Even Roddy McDowall didn't wear that much makeup for Planet of the Apes

No one should look like Criss Angel. Not even Criss Angel wants to look like Criss Angel, which is why he always looks like a douche-canoe different.

They’ve turned the morally ambiguous, romantically turmoiled, sparsely intense Swedish thriller into an oh em gee she’s evil, dumbed down, American snore-er with the subtitle: INNOCENCE DIES. ABBY DOESN’T.

Half of the dialogue is stolen from the Swedish and half of it is made up to fit into the black-or-white-there-is-no-gray mentality that Mr. Cloverfield thinks American audiences want. He’s also reporting that he’s “written” the screenplay. I feel as though I need to have a talk with Mr. Cloverfield and tell him the difference between “writing” and “adapting.” One involves him choosing to acknowledge a respected source that simultaneously guides and shapes his work, but leaves him room to grow as a movie director and the other involves my fist.

And in case you’re wondering, The Vampire Diaries is back and I’m still hoping that SOMEONE OF IMPORTANCE (read: Elena**) is going to die and stay dead. This has yet to happen. I have a feeling it never will.

*VAM-pie-ur. SUH-kie. She-YET. These are all words I’ve learned from True Blood.

**I named a character in my novel Elena. She died. A horrible death. There was much gnashing of body parts, but not so much of teeth.

“In Exile” by Lisa Gerrard and “The Proximity of Death (Blue Eyed Boy)” by Jordan Reyne

It’s almost Monday, right? Not that I’ve been sticking to the Muscial Mondays all too vigorously as of late, but as a friend (hi, Jessica!) once pointed out, she keeps tabs on my musical tastes and enjoys my recommendations. Which is really just a way of me saying I’m flattered that many people think it’s okay to bribe someone in order to destroy American Idol forever so no one has to be subjected to Daughtry ever again I can spice up music collections.

Lisa Gerrard is the lucky lady tonight and the song “In Exile” is off of her second solo album The Silver Tree. (The cover, to me, looks like the tree o’ dead bodies in 300, but that just makes her more awesome.) I say solo album because Ms. Gerrard likes to collaborate and was a founding member of Dead Can Dance, one of my favorite bands in the darkwave/dream pop/goth rock genre. Which is more impressive than that sounds. Most people, however, will recognize her voice from the vast amount of soundtrack collaboration she’s done, and most notably, the theme to Gladiator. (And if there’s one thing I love, it’s stamping my toilet with cleaners that turns the water blue. And if there are two things I love, it’s stamping my toilet with cleaners that turns the water blue and crazy socks. And if there are three things I love, it’s those two and movies where ‘British’ is synonymous with Greek, Roman, or my personal favorite, Bad Guy.)

Now, usually I take a few moments to post some lyrics and sort of analyze a deeper meaning to the song, but, alas, since Ms. Gerrard sings in many languages, simple vocalizations, and even in an idioglossia, I can’t do that here. Or, I could try and get a little something like:

Ohhhhouyeeeeeee ayiiiii ieeeeeeee
Ummmmmmmmmmmm’aohhhhhhhh’aoouuuuu
Ohhh’aaaaaaaaa’a’a’a’a’a’a’a’aaa

And be like Professor Higgins. Or, rather, ‘Iggins. So, does that make me a misanthropic yet brilliant genius? Well, my right knee hurts

But, most of Ms. Gerrard’s stuff is melancholy, meditative and redemptive. Her deep range, searching vocals and glistening vibrato create a creeping, dark atmosphere of loss and heartbreak. There are rarely songs that can be classified as uplifting — at least, not without a bitterness to them, almost as if peace has finally come at last, but only at the cost of a greater sacrifice — and all invoke a deeper sense of longing for simpler existences and innocence.

Which is why I believe she fascinates me so; we can all understand an emotion like happiness. There are many times, even in my own life, when I’m happy without a particular reason in mind. But if I’m sad or despondent, I’m constantly searching for a reason and trying to rationalize it and break it into digestible and palatable chunks that are a mite more manageable. Anyone can be pitifully annoying and happy and write a song about it, but it takes real self-reflection, a deep ability to dive into depression and see what makes it tick in order to write a sad song. A sentiment, I believe, that testifies to why I love sad music so much here on the Songs to Die By hour.

And because I’m such a nice gal, I’m giving you a double dose of the depression! Since I can’t really analyze Ms. Gerrard any more than that, and certainly because I don’t want you to suffer from a lack of mysterious and depressing music, I give you Jordan Reyne! She’s from New Zealand and sings a lot about her homeland. She reminds me of Lisa Gerrard because of her voice, her strange arrangements, and even “The Keening Song” is in an idioglossia. Unfortunately, I can’t find that one on the tube of you, (but if you go to her website you can download much of her music and Dr. Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine or The Ironman is what I’m obsessed with now) so you get:

It’s an actual music video! When has that ever happened before? Never! Time to go call in my flying pig. His name is Harvey.