Quirks

Quirks are to fictional characters what favorite ice cream flavors are to regular folk: humanizing. Sure, you may hate your next door neighboor (I did that on purpose) because of all of the loud music they play at three AM when you’re trying to sleep for a morning shift at a coffee shop, but you find out that his favorite flavor is also Rocky Road and the two of you will bond like a wounded war vet and an eccentric crime-solver.

A fictional character has quirks in order to make them seem more real. Will Ferrell’s character Harold in Stranger than Fiction brushes his teeth thirty-two times in each direction. One of the Brothers Grossbart in Jesse Bullington’s book The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart hates anything that has more than two legs. Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer always dates demon women. These things make them seem warmer to us and allow us to identify with them.

A good example of a quirk, because, just like lies, the best ones are based in the truth: a car stereo that doesn’t work when the character’s car takes a right turn, but immediately gets fixed as soon as the character turns left. (My car does this. Sir Blimey has many issues, the least of which being his propensity for trickery.) Or, because this happens to me too: the radio doesn’t work in first gear but is marvelous in all others. (In Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens the character Crowley drives a car that turns any tape into Freddy Mercury once it’s been inserted into the tape deck for more than a fortnight.)

A bad example: anyone from The Big Bang Theory which takes stereotypes about nerds and hot chicks and then … does nothing with them. Yes, I understand it’s a show that has nerds as main characters and not just the goofy sidekicks, but comedy is only funny if it takes stereotypes and subverts them. Continually having every character wave their nerd flag is tiring and not funny at all. AND I’M A HUGE NERD.

SIDETRACKSTORY in case you don’t believe me about the nerd thing:

I walked into a comic store and was immediately ignored by the male members of staff — which were all of them — until I was ready to check out. I bought the hardcover edition of the third volume of the excellent American Vampire and was snidely asked if I even understood what they had been talking about. (They had been talking about Magic: The Gathering, which is not my cup of tea. D&D and World of Darkness — especially Mage — are my cups of delicious RPG tea.) I hatched a plot so that the next time I was there, a friend would call me and we would discuss Romulan battle techniques for a Star Trek themed RPG campaign in which we happened to be ensconced, loud enough so as to put them in their place. Now I realize the ridiculousness of it, but I wanted my nerd-cred card.

Doom comes when a quirk turns into a flaw. The Big Bang guys are hampered by their quirks and rely on them instead of using them to propel interesting plot and character development. Basically it’s like the Manchurian Candidate flaw from the World of Darkness. (Think Wolverine, who randomly forgets the things he’s done and the people he’s killed, only without the cool healing powers and the adamantium skeleton. You lose control over your character and the storyteller assumes the mantle instead.) Yeah, it sounds fun, and it may get you extra XP, but it’s no fun if someone else makes the character for you. Relying on quirks is making the audience fill in the characterization gaps. And that’s just lazy.

(There’s a meme out there of a cute kid saying THAT’S RACIST! I need one that says THAT’S LAZY! and then post it like crazy over the internet.)

The Art of Seduction Querying

Once, in a D&D campaign, when I was playing a Wilden rogue, I, along with a few other adventurers, brutally killed a dragon. I — and this I did alone — took his teeth and then displayed them on a necklace that also held other little mementos from earlier vanquished enemies. Little did I know (but very well known to our DM), I would later encounter said dragon’s mother and she, seeing my necklace, decided to poison me with her barbed spiky tail, directing most of her attacks toward me, and, instead of fighting her (I was a rogue!), I tried to seduce* her. After failing my charisma rolls and not knowing how to speak Draconic (don’t all dragons speak Common?), I was unable to woo her successfully and died in the ensuing combat, only to be revived later because my friends cut off a piece of my tail and were able to bring me back.

This is somewhat the same relationship I have to querying agents.

I labor and labor, finding out exactly what they want and how they want it, only to be bludgeoned over the head with a poisoned barbed tail.

Now, you can read websites and books and blogs and seminars galore about how to query, and these may help (this one, I found especially insightful), but ultimately, it’s a gut feeling thing. You craft a letter that you think is enticing to said agent and sometimes you win and sometimes you get eaten by a dragon.

I thought I had an in. A published author friend of mine gave me his agent’s information and I queried and waited with baited breath and trembling hands and all of the characteristic unsettllings of a Victorian gothic novel heroine, only to be rejected by what I believed to be my best chance. A REFERRAL, DEAR GOD, THAT’S LIKE THE HOLY GRAIL OF QUERYING. (Or, to continue the D&D metaphor, like the giant pile of gleaming treasure underneath a dragon’s leathery yet still quite deadly wing.)

But I was rejected. And not all of the gold nor any small piece of me cut off by my adventurer friends from my dead corpse can help bring me back from the sadness that brings.

Just like D&D, however, the story continues and you can either get back on that direboar (we saved a direboar from the evil, evil clutches of Veckna, and he — his name was Tusky — will soon become a battlemount for me to ride on into the throes of war once I get enough XP), or you can go back to your goddess or god and give up and sit in the corner and pout while everyone else gets treasure and experience points.

IN THE END, WRITING QUERY LETTERS IS LIKE GETTING EXPERIENCE POINTS. Each one makes you a little bit better and you learn valuable lessons. Like don’t kill the quest-giver until AFTER he’s given you all of his quests.

As of this writing, I have seven query letters out there. I’ve been rejected four times. I’m sure those numbers — both of them — will grow. Maybe I’ll start thinking of rejection letters as gold instead of what they are. All adventurers — especially rogues — love gold.

*On a somewhat related note: when reading a book on volcanology (hey, I felt I was becoming stupid after I graduated college and thusly consoled myself by checking out books from the library and reading them — and even taking notes — so as to slow the inevitable progression of my own stupidity) I kept on reading subduction zone as seduction zone. Changed the connotation of that book entirely. I can’t even look at a volcano anymore without thinking about that one picture of George Costanza. You know the one I mean.

A Brief Summary of the Last Three Years

Hello, internet.

It’s been a while, huh?

I’ve been doing a lot of things in the last three years. Here’s a brief summary of them:

THE WRITERLY ONES:

  • Published a short story (remember how three years ago I talked about writing them?) in the third volume of Devilfish Review.
  • Won a contest to be a guinea pig for Apparatus Publishing.
  • Wrote a novel entitled STAR-CROSSED OR: THE CONFOUNDING CALAMITIES OF BYRON THE CAD AND MARIETTA THE ZOMBIE. It’s 120,000 words of absurd speculative fantasy horror.
  • Massive amounts of queries to agents to represent said novel have gone out.

THE NON-WRITERLY ONES:

  • Bought the coffee shop where I worked for seven years about a year ago in August of 2012. (This is mostly the reason for my recent disappearance, but I can’t blame it for everything.)
  • Found a great guy and we’re getting married in T-MINUS 17 DAYS. Yep. Halloween. It’s steampunk themed.
  • My hair color has been, since you’ve last been updated, blue, then purple, then blue again, then green and now it’s both green and yellow.

Whew. I think that’s it. More to come about the bulleted points later. But for now, it’s good to be back. (And Darth Highlighter is making sure I’m going to post a MINIMUM of daily. We’ll see how that holds up.)

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

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!”
“I’m not….goof-ball.”
“You’re a pretty girl.”
“I’m not….pretty girl.”
Me: “You’re an antediluvian troglodyte.”
“I’m not….” *blank stare*

The Nerdy Children of the Night

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.

This one time, when I wanted to start a band…

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.

“Keep Going West” by Liz Pappademas

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?

The Remakier Tween

I have a few new pieces of news on the Anton Yelchin front. (We’ll call it the Eastern Front because technically I’m German, Anton’s Russian, and I just read a 500 page book about the siege of Leningrad in World War II not too long ago, and as my previous post points out, books affect me profoundly.)

(I also feel the need to make sequel names into comparative and superlative adjectives. For example: Iron Man, the Sequel, becomes Ironier Old Coot. Evil Dead II becomes Eviler Deader. Boondock Saints II becomes Boondockier Gods. This also goes for trilogies, so that Spiderman III becomes Dead-Thing-On-the-Wall-That-I-Squished-a-Year-Ago-But-Forgot-to-Clean-Up-Carcass. So my way doesn’t also work out, but it makes for an entertaining conversation starter. You know, the one you make with the cop after he pulls you over for speeding after trying to talk to Kate Beckinsale about Digging-to-China-World and then you have to run from her bodyguards.)

This is a good news/bad news situation. I’ll start with the good news first, because the bad news is far, far worser than anything I’ve come into contact with all week, and that includes snobby Tom-Cruise-sized frat boys who yell at me because their cappuccinos are too foamy.

The good news is that Mr. Yelchin is set to star in a production of The Winter Queen. What’s that, you ask, because you’re waiting with baited breath to see what I compare you to next? Only Harry Potter….for Russians. Well, sort of. I mean, there isn’t magic, and granted Harry Potter is more of a world-wide phenomenon than country-specific, but regardless of my horrible analogy, it’s an adaptation of the first of the Erast Fandorin mysteries by the writer Boris Akunin. Fandorin is a fictional 19th century Russian detective who solves crimes, like Columbo, but 100 years ago and more Slavic. These books are wildly popular in Russia and I am excited to see Mr. Yelchin in something that’s rather original, if not entirely out of the perilous zone of “Remake.” I also really like Akunin’s other body of work about Sister Pelegia, a crime-solving nun, who’s kind of like Jessica Fletcher, only 100 years ago, more Slavic, and you know, married to God instead of to a, uh, typewriter.

The bad news is that he’s also set to be the voice of Clumsy Smurf in the live-action/CG adaptation of the 80s cartoon. I just…it’s 10:30, I’ve had maybe four hours of sleep, had a tumultuous dream that underscores my all-too-familiar sense of underachievement and lackadaisical momentum in my life at this moment, I had to drive through tons of traffic for my sister and may have to do so later in the afternoon, so I just can’t process this.

Whatever good non-remake-y karma Mr. Yelchin might have picked up from The Winter Queen has been erased for good from this announcement. This had gone beyond the caption of remake and has passed into the no-man’s-land of anthropomorphic cats rendered in CG that suck the life out of everyone around them, creating uncanny valley zombies.

What? Milla Jovovovovovich is starring in The Winter Queen too? Well, cut off my hand, reveal my bastard-state after having an asthma attack and call me Luke. Okay. You’re even this time, Yelchin. But that doesn’t mean that you can go starring in any more adaptations of cartoons unless we’re talking about Gargoyles or something. And even then, only if Guillermo del Toro directs.

As for the remake of Fright Night, Colin Farrell has been cast as Jerry Dandrige, in a role previously filled by Chris Sarandon, better known as the voice to Jack Skellington. I know, when I found out I almost force-choked my television.

Round Two. *Ding Ding*

I finished reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco the other day, and as usual, what I read affects what I write. There was once where I stayed up the entire night to finish The Road by Cormac McCarthy, only to be unable to sleep before my shift at the coffee shop and writing a rather visceral scene in which our heroine, Gwennie, beats up some rival vampires, eats a young French aristocrat and then goes into a stupor from her poisoned blood. Another time I read a novelization of the second Care Bears movie and proceeded to write a scene in which our one-legged hero, Doc, goes to summer camp and finds out that there’s an evil camp counsellor possessing kids, or something. I might have blocked out the ending to that movie from my childhood because it was rather traumatizing, though I was totally cool with seeing Se7en when I was eleven. Except I can’t eat SpaghettiOs anymore.

Achnyway, Mr. Eco sort of has the same problem I do. And I quote: “The dialogue created another problem for me. In other words, as I was writing the book, I realized that it was taking on an opera-buffa structure, with long recitatives and elaborate arias….but the dialogue? At a certain point I feared it would sound like Agatha Christie, while the arias were Suger or Saint Bernard” (Eco 517). Well, strip me naked, send me to the past and call me Kyle Reese! I have the same problem as a respected Professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna. (Just call me Professor MK Sauer. I teach Vampire Literature at the University of Blogna.) I don’t even know what semiotics is, but that’s unimportant. What’s important is that a dude who wrote an entire book about monks murdering monks, who then goes on to say that if you read his book solely because you want to read about monks murdering monks then you’re stupid, had the same problem as me. Wait a tic…I think that kid might be the Avatar.

What problem is this, you ask, because you’re astute, not unlike Brother William of Baskerville, the Holmesian hero of our holy, yet hugely highbrow history? We both like fedoras. No, I mean, really like fedoras.

That fedora really IS ruggedly handsome!

Well, where doesn't it hurt? HERE!

Think of Indiana Jones in Temple of Doom when he almost loses an arm trying to get his fedora. Almost there. Now replace Ilsa from the Last Crusade with that same fedora, and then you catch my drift.* No, I jest. At least about Mr. Eco, as I’m sure any relationship he has with that really good lookin’ hat is purely Platonic.

No, the problem we both have is that our dialogue and our narration have seemingly two different voices! My blog post about polyphony covered that and I just wanted to let you know that this is a legitimate concern for writers and that the first step to overcoming voices in your head trying to fight for the narration wheel is to admit you have a problem. Hi, my name is MK Sauer — (Hi, MK) — and I’m constantly trying to reconcile two completely different moods for my novel.

(Hey, wasn’t there an episode for Forever Knight where Nick the Vampire was trying to treat his blood-drinking like an addiction and he went to an AA-type of meeting and met Ms. Trinity-before-she-was-Trinity-and-all-impaled-and-junk and she was a sex addict? Is that a stretch? Well, I guess vampires are the recurring theme, so we’re clear. )

*I can only say a German accent when saying, “This is how we kiss in Austria.” Unfortunately, I have to play out the whole scene and continue macking on air and then say, “And this is how we kiss in Germany,” and the smack the air, and then become rugged and handsome and tired and say, “I liked the Austrian way better,” and then do my best Sean Connery accent and say, “So did I.” Usually by the time I’m done, if there are witnesses who don’t know me, I’ve accumulated a few stares and/or phone calls for help.

On a somewhat related note, Brother William is played by Sean Connery in the 1986 movie version of The Name of the Rose with a very, very young and very naked Christian Slater, who was in Interview with the Vampire. So that just goes to show that everything in my blog is connected. EVERYTHING. Which is why I have a game called Six Degrees of Count Dracula. Now all we need is Kevin Bacon to play Dracula.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Harcourt, Inc, 1984.

God, I’ve been out of school for two years now and I still have to quote properly. What’s next? Taking notes on a Dostoevsky novel when I don’t have to? Wait, I’ve already done that. What’s next, next? Reading up on my 17th century New England history by watching The Libertine? God, that movie’s only good if you want to see someone die of syphilis.

Destiny Revealed

I had a weird dream last night. (Twat-waffle! Sorry, sometimes it’s like Tourettes.) And this dream, unlike most, actually revealed my destiny.

It all started with an 80s beauty salon/consignment shop run by four Swedish ladies. Three of them would stand in the display window and switch out their heads so that they could display rotating hairstyles every fifteen minutes or so. I walked into their shop — and hopefully there was a little bell that tinged when I did — and went into the back where I found this sweet leather jacket. Lo and behold, once the leather jacket was puteth upon the shoulders of me, your humble and star-tinged narrator, a bright light shoneth above, pointing out the path kismet hath chosen. Again, we’re hoping that there was an angelic choir or something, but I digress…eth.

All of a sudden a giant winged demon appeared above me — something like out of Fantasia — and a magical skeleton sword appeared in my hand. It was sort of like Zavulon’s spine-sword from Night Watch only skinnier and red, more like a rapier than a broadsword. It had become my destiny, the moment I put on the sweet leather jacket, to rid the world of all of the foul and sulphur-filled demons belched from Hell. I defeated the Mephistopheles wannabe pretty easily and then received thanks from the Swedish ladies and a sweet dagger, also in the red bone motif.

I’d like to think that I’m kind of more like Buffy than the average citizen now because of this. I’ll be taking demon-destroying requests in the comments box shortly. Or maybe I’ll just change my voicemail message to: “Thank you for calling MK Sauer, I help the helpless. If that’s YOU, please leave a message.”

PS: I would have posted earlier but there was a clustercuss of events, a perfect storm, if you will, that prevented my posting. 1.) My internet was out. The studly Comcast dude saw to its replacement in the form of a new modem. That hindered me greatly. 2.) Lots of work. Lots and lots of work. And not the fun kind where I ‘work’ at my typing speed by playing Typer Shark, but the coffee shop related work. 3.) Insomnia. That third one’s no excuse because it happens all the time, but I like to throw it in there for consistency’s sake. 4.) A new episode of *coughchokethevampirediariescoughchoke* that documentary on modern politics that’s super interesting and makes me a better and more intelligent person.

PPS: It’s Mothers’ Day, so the tag of “your mom” will finally fit. And the peasants rejoiced…